Count Not the Dead

Count Not the Dead: The Popular Image of the German Submarine

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Count Not the Dead
    Book Description:

    Basing his study on some two-hundred-and-fifty German novels, memoirs, fictionalized histories, and films (including Das Boot), Michael Hadley examines the popular image of the German submarine and weighs the values, purposes, and perceptions of German writers and film makers. He considers the idea of the submarine as a war-winning weapon and the exploits of the "band of brothers" who made up the U-boat crews. He also describes the perceptions of the German public about the role of the U-boat in the war effort and the hopes that it carried for victory in two world wars against the Allied forces. Analysed in context, the U-boat emerges as a central factor and metaphor in Germany's ongoing struggle with its political and military past.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6526-5
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Illustrations
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. Introduction: The Seeds of Tradition
    (pp. 3-15)

    “No weapon has fascinated the Germans so much as the u-boat, the poor man’s truncheon,” a journalist wrote in 1985.¹ “No other German weapon in World Wars One and Two has had such a mystical aura,” wrote another.² All evidence confirms such views. During both wars, and during the interwar years as well, the u-boat was mythoiogized more than any other weapon of war. It became identified with raw maritime prestige and national destiny. Germans had gone to sea in submarines from 1906 until 1919, and again from 1935 until 1945, for a total of twenty-three years. As a partner...

  7. 1 U-boats in the Imperial German Navy, 1914–18
    (pp. 16-47)

    Kapitānleutnant Freiherr von Forstner published his first memoir of the war in 1916 after the submarine had already proved itself an impressive weapon. The German u-boat in particular had demonstrated its ability to destroy warships and merchant vessels alike, and to trigger a disconcerting psychological malaise in the enemy camp. To its opponents, the u-boat seemed to bear out the oft-quoted conviction of a British observer of 1902 that the submarine was “underhanded, unfair and damned un-English.” German writers, of course, saw the matter differently. In words reminiscent of u-boat skipper Walter Forstmann’s internal paper of 1912, one German wartime...

  8. 2 In the Wake of Versailles, 1919–38
    (pp. 48 -78)

    Reichskanzler Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg published his reflections on the Great War within a year of war’s end. He had been deposed in 1917 for failing to support unrestricted submarine warfare; for failing, that is, to use Germany’s “ultimate weapon” out of fear that it would provoke the United States to cast off its precarious belligerent neutrality and join in the battle against Germany. Amidst the ashes of defeat, Bethmann, like Tirpitz in his memoirs of the same year, sought meaning by examining the past. At the time that the peace conditions were being announced in May 1919, Bethmann was...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. 3 Dönitz’s Men: U-boats in the Third Reich, 1939–45
    (pp. 79-108)

    Unabated since the early 1930s, u-boat literature had been looking forward to, even forecasting, the new age of Germany's maritime offensive against Great Britain. Scarcely had war begun in 1939 when two mass-produced booklets on the subject appeared: Otto F. Schütte's illustratedDeutschlands U-Boote: Der Schrecken Englands[Germany's U-boats: England's Terror] and Fritz Otto Busch'sU-Boote gegen England[U-boats against England]. With an introduction written by a submarine engineer, Schütte's work bridged the gulf between the grand of theme of the 1914-18 war “against England” and the theme of the new age. In doing so it gathered together all the pent-up...

  11. 4 Redemption of a Myth, 1945–76
    (pp. 109-139)

    Karl Dönitz completed his memoirs in 1958 after having served ten years in prison for war crimes. The path of his brilliant career had led from submariner in the First World War to Commander-in-Chief, Submarines, and then, in the Second World War, Grand Admiral. It had reached its pinnacle in 1945 when he succeeded Adolf Hitler as head of state. In the words of a British journalist, this made Dönitz “The last Fuhrer.”¹ His memoirZehn Jahre und Zwanzig Tage[Ten Years and Twenty Days] is one of the more unusual autobiographies of the last war. During his imprisonment, Dönitz...

  12. 5 Revising the Past: The Buchheim Wave, 1973–88
    (pp. 140-171)

    No book or film of the postwar era promoted the u-boat’s image more successfully than Lothar-Günther Buchheim's literary memoirDas Boot(1973). In reaching the widest audience, his novel triggered often rancorous debate about just what that image was. It raised searching and often acrimonious discussion about the nature of the reality that the fiction portrayed. Veterans charged Buchheim with having distorted truth and having failed to communicate “the facts.” Buchheim replied that his work was a product of the imagination; it was a novel, a historical novel. The positions of both Buchheim and the U-boat men became still more...

  13. 6 Epilogue: Legacies of History and Tradition
    (pp. 172-196)

    Among the relics of the U-Boat Archives in Cuxhaven hangs a poem of Second World War origin. Printed in the old German script and surmounted by an ink-drawing of a submarine crashing through daunting seas, the framed and glass-encased piece conjures up a storm-weathered, orphic tradition. The verses are as central to Germany’s u-boat tradition as is John McCrae’s “In Flander’s Fields” to the Allies’ Armistice Day. Though published anonymously and undated, its author was machinist’s mate Fritz Thomas, who had been killed on 13 October 1939 in a naval action that none of his shipmates survived.¹ Behind his rhymed...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 197-214)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 215-240)
  16. Index
    (pp. 241-253)