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Günther Lütjens

Günther Lütjens

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Günther Lütjens was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 Admiral
Admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

 whose military service spanned almost 30 years. Lütjens is best known for his actions during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, primarily his service as admiral of the squadron comprising and her consort, , during the Operation Rheinübung sortie
Sortie
Sortie is a term for deployment or dispatch of one military unit, be it an aircraft, ship, or troops from a strongpoint. The sortie, whether by one or more aircraft or vessels, usually has a specific mission....

.

Early career


Günther Lütjens was born in Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden is a city in southwest Germany and the capital of the federal state of Hesse. It has about 275,400 inhabitants, plus approximately 10,000 United States citizens...

 and entered the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine
Kaiserliche Marine
The Imperial German Navy was the German Navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy and Norddeutsche Bundesmarine, which primarily had the mission of coastal defense. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded...

) in 1907. He spent his initial years on . After receiving his commission, he served onboard until 1910, and from 1910-1913 aboard .

World War I


From 1913 until the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Lütjens was commander of torpedo boat
Torpedo boat
A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval vessel designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other large, slow and...

s along the Flemish
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 coast, leading raids against Dunkirk. On 24 May 1917, Lütjens was promoted to Kapitänleutnant.

Inter-war period


After the war, he worked as an officer at the Warnemünde Ship Transportation Agency from 1918 until 1921, when he returned to the newly-reorganized German Navy
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

, by that time with the rank of Commander. Lütjens served until 1925 in the 3rd Torpedo Boat Flotilla and eventually became its commanding officer.

In 1933, he received command of . Lütjens first met Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz was a German naval commander during World War II. He started his career in the German Navy during World War I. In 1918, while he was in command of , the submarine was sunk by British forces and Dönitz was taken prisoner...

, future Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

 at Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea.-History:...

 in July 1935. At that point, Dönitz had been entrusted with the rebuilding of the U-Boat arm but had spent the summer at sea commanding Emden. After arriving at port, he met with Admiral
Admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

 Erich Raeder
Erich Raeder
Erich Johann Albert Raeder was a naval leader in Germany before and during World War II. Raeder attained the highest possible naval rank—that of Großadmiral — in 1939, becoming the first person to hold that rank since Alfred von Tirpitz...

. Raeder informed Dönitz that:
Lütjens is to become chief of the Officer Personnel Branch at Naval Headquarters with the task of forming an officer Corps for the new Navy we are about to build.

Dönitz was given command of the U-Boat arm at the same time.

In 1936, Lütjens was appointed Chief of Personnel of the Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

. In 1937, he became Führer der Torpedoboote (Chief of Torpedo Boats), with as his flag ship, and was promoted to Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

.

In November 1938, Lütjens was one of only three flag officers who protested, in writing, against the anti-Jewish "Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and...

" pogroms. Lütjens himself had a Jewish grandmother.

Operation Weserübung


At the outbreak of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Lütjens was Commander of Scouting Forces. In April 1940, during the invasion of Denmark and Norway (Operation Weserübung
Operation Weserübung
Operation Weserübung was the code name for Germany's assault on Denmark and Norway during the Second World War and the opening operation of the Norwegian Campaign...

), he served as Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

, commanding the distant cover forces in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 — which consisted of and — and fighting an inconclusive battle with the battlecruiser
Battlecruiser
Battlecruisers were large capital ships built in the first half of the 20th century. They were developed in the first decade of the century as the successor to the armoured cruiser, but their evolution was more closely linked to that of the dreadnought battleship...

 . In June 1940, he became Commander of Battleships and the third Flottenchef (Fleet Commander) of the Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

 in World War II, a position comparable to the British Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet.

His predecessor — Vizeadmiral Wilhelm Marschall
Wilhelm Marschall
Wilhelm Marschall was a German admiral during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Pour le Mérite which he received as commander of the German U-boat during World War I...

 — had repeated differences with the German High Command over the extent the Flottenchef should be bound to orders while operating at sea. Operating from Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, Marschall had realized the Allies were retreating from Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 and ignored his original orders by attacking the retreating British forces, sinking and her escorting destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s and , but also receiving a torpedo
Torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

 hit on Scharnhorst. This failure to follow orders resulted in Marschall being replaced by Lütjens. Since the first Flottenchef had been removed for similar reasons, Lütjens was determined to follow his orders to the letter to avoid suffering the same fate.

Operation Berlin


On 28 December 1940, Lütjens commanded Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in an Atlantic raid, during which he destroyed over 115000 LT (116,845.8 t) of Allied merchant shipping before returning to Brest, France
Brest, France
Brest is a city in the Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the Breton peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon...

. However, due to weather the German force had to return to port: Gneisenau to Kiel
Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

 and Scharnhorst to Gdynia
Gdynia
Gdynia is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodeship of Poland and an important seaport of Gdańsk Bay on the south coast of the Baltic Sea.Located in Kashubia in Eastern Pomerania, Gdynia is part of a conurbation with the spa town of Sopot, the city of Gdańsk and suburban communities, which together...

.

On 22 January 1941, the mission was renewed. Lütjens selected Gneisenau as his flagship. Gneisenau and Scharnhorst sank and captured 22 vessels, including six on 15 March and ten on 16 March. Lütjens—although sighted by battleships and and aircraft carrier —managed to evade British warships. The Operation lasted exactly two months, and the journey of 17800 nmi (20,483.9 mi; 32,965.6 km) in 59 days was a record for German capital ships.

The plan


Plans were then made for Lütjens to command Operation Rheinübung
Operation Rheinübung
Operation Rheinübung was the sortie into the Atlantic by the new German battleship Bismarck and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen on 18–27 May 1941, during World War II...

, taking all four modern German battleships and battlecruisers—, , , and —on a raid into the Atlantic. For various reasons, Tirpitz and the two battlecruisers could not be made ready for the operation, so it proceeded with only Bismarck and the heavy cruiser
Heavy cruiser
The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range, high speed and an armament of naval guns roughly 203mm calibre . The heavy cruiser can be seen as a lineage of ship design from 1915 until 1945, although the term 'heavy cruiser' only came into formal use in 1930...

 .

On 8 April 1941, Lütjens met with Admiral Dönitz in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. Dönitz made the following assessment of the plan:
I met Admiral Lütjens, the Admiral commanding the fleet, in Paris. I knew Lütjens well and held him in high esteem. During the same years we had been in command of the cruisers Karlsruhe and Emden respectively. At the end of our overseas tours of duty we had returned to Germany in company. In the years immediately before the war, while I was senior Officer, submarines, Lütjens had been officer commanding Torpedo Boats. We were often together, both socially and on duty, we held the same views on naval matters and saw eye to eye in most things. At our conference in Paris we defined the support to be given to the Bismarck by U-Boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s in the following terms:

1. The U-Boats would carry on as usual in their normal positions

2. If while the surface ships were at sea any opportunity arose for joint action with U-Boats, every effort should be made to exploit it to the full. For this purpose an experienced U-Boat Officer would be appointed for duty to the Bismarck.

3. On the radio frequency used by the U-Boats, the Admiral commanding the fleet would be kept constantly informed of the dispositions of the boats and the intentions of the U-Boat Command.

Rheinübung initiated


In the early hours of 19 May 1941, Bismarck and Prinz Eugen left Gotenhafen and proceeded through the Baltic Sea and out towards the Atlantic. Unbeknownst to Lütjens, the British had intercepted enough intelligence to suggest that a German naval operation might occur in the area, and had already sent the heavy cruiser
Heavy cruiser
The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range, high speed and an armament of naval guns roughly 203mm calibre . The heavy cruiser can be seen as a lineage of ship design from 1915 until 1945, although the term 'heavy cruiser' only came into formal use in 1930...

s and to monitor the strait. When the Swedish cruiser Gotland spotted the two German ships on 20 May, a message was sent to Allied forces that eventually made its way to the British Admiralty.

On 21 May, Lütjens ordered a fuel stop in a fjord near Bergen. While Prinz Eugen was refueled, Lütjens for some reason declined to refuel the Bismarck. This was in spite of the fact that Bismarck had not left port with full fuel tanks and had spent of her remaining fuel to get to Bergen. Lütjens also knew that a German tanker—the Weissenberg—was waiting for him in the Arctic, only an additional day's sailing away, but farther from prying Allied eyes. By this time, the British Admiralty, concerned by the Swedish report of two large German warships in the strait, had dispatched reconnaissance planes to scan the area. When one of these planes spotted the two German ships refueling near Bergen, the British immediately dispatched a task force consisting of the battlecruiser and battleship to intercept them. When further air reconnaissance revealed that Bismarck had left Bergen on 22 May, the British launched the Home Fleet Battle Fleet, led by battleship . However, Lütjens remained unaware that the British were tracking him until 23 May, when his ships encountered Norfolk and Suffolk. Though shots were fired, no serious damage resulted to either side, and the outgunned British cruisers quickly withdrew, though they remained in radar range and continued to shadow the German ships.

Lütjens did not have long to determine how to shake his British pursuers before, in the early hours of 24 May 1941, Prinz Eugens hydrophones detected two large British ships approaching. Hood and Prince of Wales had intercepted him.

Battle of the Denmark Strait


Lütjens' first instinct was to attempt to outrun the British ships, scrupulously obeying his orders to "avoid engagements with equal or superior forces unless forced to by the enemy". This was reinforced when the lead British ship was quickly identified as Hood, pride of the British Navy and arguably the most feared capital ship in the world at the time. Even after Hood began to fire on the two ships and it became obvious that an engagement was inevitable, Lütjens at first refused to allow his ships to return fire, much to the agitation of Captain Ernst Lindemann
Ernst Lindemann
Otto Ernst Lindemann was a German naval captain. He was the only commander of the battleship during its eight months of service in World War II....

, who is said to have argued with Lütjens over how to proceed, and after multiple inquiries by first gunnery officer Adalbert Schneider
Adalbert Schneider
Adalbert Schneider was the first Gunnery Officer on board the battleship Bismarck, and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for the sinking of HMS Hood on 24 May 1941 in the Battle of the Denmark Strait. The Knight's Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or...

, "Permission to open fire?", finally snapping, "I will not allow my ship to be shot out from under my ass. Open fire!". Finally, the order to return fire was given, though whether the order was given by Lütjens, or an impatient Lindemann, cannot be confirmed.

During the brief "Battle of the Denmark Strait
Battle of the Denmark Strait
The Battle of the Denmark Strait was a Second World War naval battle between ships of the Royal Navy and the German Kriegsmarine, fought on 24 May 1941...

" that followed, Hood quickly exploded and sank, killing all but three of her crew, after a shell from Bismarck penetrated her rear powder magazine. Bismarck took a hit to the bow which passed through the waterline and caused a leak in the forward fuel tank. Prince of Wales subsequently sustained seven hits from the German ships, and, with significant damage to the bridge and most of her guns malfunctioning, was forced to withdraw. With the battle over, Lütjens once again stuck to his orders—ignoring Lindemann's desire to follow Prince of Wales and "finish her off"—and allowed the damaged British ship to escape.

Pursuit by the British


After assessing the amount of Bismarcks fuel remaining and estimating its range and operational capacity (the ship had not completed its refuelling in Norway) Lütjens ordered Prinz Eugen to initiate commerce raiding on her own, while Bismarck headed for St. Nazaire. To keep the British from detecting Prinz Eugen's departure, Lütjens ordered Bismarck to steam directly towards Norfolk and Suffolk, forcing them to withdraw once more, while Prinz Eugen used the distraction to escape out of range of British radar.

In light of these developments, Lütjens addressed the crew as follows:

Seamen of the battleship Bismarck! You have covered yourself with glory! The sinking of the battle cruiser Hood has not only military, but psychological value, for she was the pride of England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. Henceforth the enemy will to try to concentrate his forces and bring them into action against us. I therefore released Prinz Eugen at noon yesterday so that she could conduct commerce warfare on her own. She has managed to evade the enemy. We, on the other hand, because of the hits we have received, have been ordered to proceed to a French port. On our way there the enemy will gather and give us battle. The German people are with you, and we will fight until our gun barrels glow red-hot and the last shell has left the barrels. For us, seamen, the question is victory or death.


In subsequent maneuvering on 25 May, Bismarck was able to elude the British for nearly four hours after Lütjens, taking advantage of his pursuers' zig-zag pattern of movement, performed a ¾ clockwise turn behind them. Bismarcks crew was unaware that the maneuver was successful, however, because they could only detect British radar, not gauge the strength of the signals, which only the British knew had become too weak to monitor. Unaware that his British pursuers—by now joined by the Home Fleet—had "lost" him, and in spite of Captain Lindemann's by-now-usual objections, Lütjens—still attempting to follow his orders to the letter—transmitted a 30-minute radio message to his superiors. This was intercepted by the British, who were able to plot Lütjens's approximate course. However, a plotting error caused the pursuing ships to veer too far to the north, allowing Bismarck to once again evade them through the night.

A British reconnaissance aircraft sighted Bismarck in the early morning hours of 26 May by following its oil slick. At this point, the Home Fleet and Norfolk following from the north were joined by HMS Rodney, while Force H
Force H
Force H was a British naval formation during the Second World War. It was formed in 1940 to replace French naval power in the western Mediterranean that had been removed by the French armistice with Nazi Germany....

 and light cruiser approached from the south, and light cruiser from the west. Bismarcks low speed and southeasterly heading away from its known pursuers made it very easy for the new attackers to the south to catch up.

At dusk on 26 May, Swordfish
Fairey Swordfish
The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during the Second World War...

 torpedo aircraft from HMS Ark Royal attacked. Though much of the damage was superficial, one torpedo jammed Bismarcks rudders and steering gear, rendering it largely unmaneuverable. Divers were put over the side but reported they could not clear the damage as the sea was then too rough. The crew was still able to steer Bismarck somewhat by adjusting the revolution speed of her propellers, but it reduced the ship's top speed to 7 kn (13.7 km/h; 8.5 mph) and effectively left it circling in the water. Throughout the night she was the target of incessant torpedo attacks by , , , , and Piorun
ORP Piorun (G65)
ORP Piorun was an used by the Polish Navy during the Second World War. The name is Polish for "Thunderbolt".-History:The ship was built by John Brown & Company of Clydebank, Glasgow. She was laid down in July 1939, launched on 7 May 1940 and completed on 4 November 1940...

 .

Lütjens recognised the gravity of the situation. At 23:58 on 26 May, Lütjens transmitted to Group West, the Naval HQ:

To the Führer of the German Reich, Adolf Hitler. We will fight to the last in our trust in you, my Führer, and our firm confidence in Germany's victory.


Hitler replied at 01:53 on 27 May:
I thank you in the name of the whole German nation - Adolf Hitler. To the crew of the battleship Bismarck: all Germany is with you. What can be done will be done. Your devotion to your duty will strengthen our people in the struggle for their existence - Adolf Hitler

Death


On the morning of 27 May 1941, during which Bismarcks final battle took place, Lütjens sent a request for a U-Boat to pick up Bismarcks war diary. In this last transmission, Lütjens included: "Ship no longer manoeuvrable. We fight to the last shell. Long live the Führer".

King George V and Rodney—accompanied by several cruisers and destroyers—inflicted severe damage on Bismarck. Although Bismarcks upper works were almost completely destroyed, her engine rooms were still functioning but filling up with smoke. Rather than risk her being captured, one of the remaining senior officers gave the order to scuttle and then abandon ship. Many of the crew went into the water, but a few sailors from the lower engine spaces also got out alive. 118 crew members were saved, while 2,106 died; many hundreds who had survived the sinking of the ship were left to die in the water by the British because of concerns that German U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s might be in the vicinity. Lütjens was among those who lost their lives — probably killed when a 14 in (355.6 mm) salvo fired by King George V destroyed the bridge, killing many senior officers.

Ship named after Lütjens


FGS Lütjens of the Deutsche Marine was named after Günther Lütjens; she was decommissioned in 2003.

Unrealistic film portrayal in Sink the Bismarck!


In the 1960 film, Sink the Bismarck!
Sink the Bismarck!
Sink the Bismarck! is a 1960 black-and-white British war film based on the book, the "Last Nine Days of the Bismarck" by C. S. Forester. It stars Kenneth More and Dana Wynter and was directed by Lewis Gilbert. To date, it is the only movie made that deals directly with the operations, chase, and...

, Lütjens is portrayed as egotistic, overconfident and a Nazi enthusiast angered over Germany's humiliation and his own lack of recognition at the end of World War I.
In reality, Lütjens was pessimistic of the chance of success of Bismarcks mission and did not agree with Nazi policies; he was one of the few officers who refused to give the Nazi salute when Hitler visited Bismarck before its first and final mission, deliberately using instead the traditional naval salute.

Lütjens also wore by choice the dirk
Dirk
A dirk is a short thrusting dagger, sometimes a cut-down sword blade mounted on a dagger hilt rather than a knife blade. It was historically used as a personal weapon for officers engaged in naval hand-to-hand combat during the Age of Sail.-Etymology:...

 of the Kaiserliche Marine
Kaiserliche Marine
The Imperial German Navy was the German Navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy and Norddeutsche Bundesmarine, which primarily had the mission of coastal defense. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded...

, rather than the more modern Kriegsmarine dirk which bore a swastika
Swastika
The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form in counter clock motion or its mirrored left-facing form in clock motion. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient...

. The film also makes a mistake in the sequence of events aboard Bismarck, showing Lütjens ordering Captain Ernst Lindemann
Ernst Lindemann
Otto Ernst Lindemann was a German naval captain. He was the only commander of the battleship during its eight months of service in World War II....

 to open fire on Hood and Prince of Wales. In the event, Lütjens actually ordered Lindemann to avoid engaging Hood, but Lindemann disobeyed and ordered the ship's gun crews to open fire on Hood and Prince of Wales.

Promotions

  • 3 April 1907: Seekadett
  • 21 August 1908: Fähnrich zur See
  • 28 September 1910: Leutnant zur See
  • 27 September 1913: Oberleutnant zur See
  • 24 May 1917: Kapitänleutnant
  • 1 April 1926: Korvettenkapitän
  • 1 October 1931: Fregattenkapitän
  • 1 July 1933: Kapitän zur See
  • 1 October 1937: Konteradmiral
  • 1 January 1940: Vizeadmiral
  • 1 September 1940: Admiral

Relevant commands

  • 16 September 1934 – 23 September 1935: Commander of the light cruiser Karlsruhe.
  • 24 September 1935 – 15 March 1936: Chief of Staff Naval Group North in Wilhelmshaven.
  • 16 March 1936 – 7 October 1937: Chief of the officer Personnel Branch at Naval Headquarters (Marinepersonalamt. MPA) in Berlin.
  • 8 October 1937 – 20 October 1939: Commander of Torpedo Boats (Führer der Torpedoboote. F.d.T.).
  • 21 October 1939 – ?? April 1940: Commander of Reconnaissance forces (Befehlshaber der Aufklärungsstreitkräfte. B.d.A.).
  • 11 March 1940 – 23 April 1940: Deputy Chief of Fleet (Flottenchef i.V.).
  • 18 June 1940 – 7 July 1940: Deputy Chief of Fleet (Flottenchef i.V.).
  • 8 July 1940 – 27 May 1941: Chief of Fleet (Flottenchef).

Auszeichnungen

  • Iron Cross
    Iron Cross
    The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

     (1914)
    • 2nd Class (6 October 1915)
    • 1st Class (17 August 1916)
  • Knight's Cross of the House Order of Hohenzollern
    House Order of Hohenzollern
    The House Order of Hohenzollern was an order of chivalry of the House of Hohenzollern. It was both a military and a civil award...

     with Swords (24 November 1917)
  • Oldenburgisches Friedrich August-Kreuz 2nd and 1st Class
  • Knight's Cross 2nd Class of the Order of the Zähringer Lion
    Order of the Zähringer Lion
    The Order of the Zähringer Lion was instituted on 26 December 1812 by Karl, Grand Duke of Baden, in memory of the Dukes of Zähringen from whom he was descended.-Classes:It had five classes.*Grand Cross*Commander, 1st Class*Commander, 2nd Class...

  • Hanseatic Cross
    Hanseatic Cross
    The Hanseatic Cross was a decoration of the three Hanseatic Cities of Bremen, Hamburg and Lübeck, who were member states of the German Empire during World War I...

     Hamburg (18 June 1917)
  • Honour Cross for Combatants
    Honour Cross for Combatants
    The Honour Cross for Combatants was one of three versions of the Cross of Honor to be awarded.- Recipients :* Walther von Brauchitsch* Wilhelm Keitel* Günther von Kluge* Erwin Rommel* Albert Kesselring* Erwin von Witzleben* Erich von Manstein...

     (12 September 1934)
  • Wehrmacht Long Service Award
    Wehrmacht Long Service Award
    The Wehrmacht Long Service Award was a military service decoration of Nazi Germany issued for satisfactory completion of a given years of military service...

     1st to 4th Class (2 October 1936)
  • Komtur mit Stern des ungarischen Verdienstordens (20 August 1938)
  • German Red Cross Decoration
    German Red Cross Decoration
    The German Red Cross Decoration is a decoration founded in 1922, first awarded in 1934 and re-founded in its present form on 8 May 1953. It is awarded by the German Red Cross....

     1st Class (17 September 1938)
  • Memel Medal
    Memel Medal
    The Return of Memel Commemorative Medal was a decoration of Nazi Germany awarded in the interwar period, and the last of the series of Occupation Medals.-Description:...

     (26 October 1939)
  • Sudetenland Medal
    Sudetenland Medal
    The The Sudetenland Commemorative Medal was a decoration of Nazi Germany awarded in the interwar period.-Description:...

     (20 December 1939)
  • Clasp to the Iron Cross
    Clasp to the Iron Cross
    The Clasp to the Iron Cross was a metal medal clasp displayed on the uniforms of German Wehrmacht personnel who had been awarded the Iron Cross in World War I. It was displayed on the uniforms of many high ranking officers during World War II as most had also served in World War I...

    • 2nd Class (4 September 1939)
    • 1st Class (25 October 1939)
  • Wound Badge
    Wound Badge
    Wound Badge was a German military award for wounded or frost-bitten soldiers of Imperial German Army in World War I, the Reichswehr between the wars, and the Wehrmacht, SS and the auxiliary service organizations during the Second World War. After March 1943, due to the increasing number of Allied...

     (1939) in Black (20 February 1939)
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
    Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
    The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a grade of the 1939 version of the 1813 created Iron Cross . The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II...

     on 14 June 1940 as Vizeadmiral and commander-in-chief of the reconnaissance forces
  • Destroyer War Badge
    Destroyer War Badge
    Destroyer War Badge is a German military decoration instituted on June 4, 1940 by admiral Erich Raeder and awarded to officers and crew for the service on Kriegsmarine destroyers...

     (11 November 1940)
  • High Seas Fleet Badge
    High Seas Fleet Badge
    High Seas Fleet Badge is a German military decoration awarded for service to the crews of the High Seas Fleet, mainly of the battleships and cruisers, but also those ships that supported them operationally for which there was no other award...

     (9 May 1942)
  • Mentioned three times in the Wehrmachtbericht
    Wehrmachtbericht
    The Wehrmachtbericht was a daily radio report on the Großdeutscher Rundfunk of Nazi Germany, published by the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht regarding the military situation on all fronts of World War II....

     on 22 March 1941, 25 May 1941 and 28 May 1941

Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Sunday, 25 May 1941 As also mentioned in a special report, a German task force under the leadership of chief of fleet Lütjens encountered, in the sea area of Iceland, heavy British sea forces. The battleship "Bismarck" sank the British battlecruiser "Hood," the largest battleship of the British fleet, after a short and heavy battle. A further battleship of the newest English "King George" class was damaged and forced to retreat. The German sea forces continued their operation without loss.
Wednesday, 28 May 1941 As reported yesterday, the battleship "Bismarck," after its victorious battle near Iceland, was on 26 May hit by a torpedo from an enemy aircraft and left unmanoeuvrable. True to the last radio message from chief of fleet Admiral Lütjens, the battleship was defeated by overwhelming enemy forces and sank with flag flying together with its commander Kapitän zur See Lindemann and its brave crew, on 27 May before noon.

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