Herbert Schultze

For the German SS officer, see Herbert Schulze.
Herbert Schultze

Herbert Schultze in 1941
Born (1909-07-24)24 July 1909
Died 3 June 1987(1987-06-03) (aged 77)
Allegiance  Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany (to 1945)
 West Germany
Service/branch  Reichsmarine
 German Navy
Years of service 1930–45
Rank Leutnant zur See (Reichsmarine)
Korvettenkapitän (Kriegsmarine)
Kapitän zur See (Bundesmarine)
Unit U-Bootschulflottille
7th U-boat Flotilla
Commands held U-2,31 January 1938 – 16 March 1939 (Training)
U-48, 22 April 1939 – 20 May 1940 (five patrols)
U-48, 17 December 1940 – 27 July 1941 (three patrols)
3rd U-boat Flotilla
Department II, Marineschule Mürwik
Battles/wars Second Battle of the Atlantic
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Herbert Emil Schultze (24 July 1909 – 3 June 1987), was a German U-boat (submarine) commander of the Kriegsmarine (the German navy in World War II). He commanded U-48 for eight patrols during the early part of the war, sinking 169,709 gross register tons (GRT) of shipping and earning him eighth place on the Aces of the Deep list.

Schultze was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Legally it was Nazi Germany's highest military decoration at the time of its presentation to Herbert Schultze, although the later higher ranked Swords and Diamonds grades to the Knight's Cross had already been awarded in June and July 1941.[Note 1]


Schultze was born in Kiel and joined the Reichsmarine in April 1930. On 9 October 1930 he became a Seekadett. Serving aboard the cruisers Leipzig and Karlsruhe with other future U-boat aces, including Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock.

In May 1937, now an Oberleutnant zur See, Schultze transferred to the U-boat force, taking command of the Type IIA U-boat U-2 on 31 January 1938. U-2 was assigned to the U-Bootschulflottille (U-boat school flotilla); he spent the next year and a half training with the sub.

On 22 April 1939 Schultze commissioned U-48, a Type VIIB U-boat. U-48 was later to become the most successful submarine of the war. She was assigned to the 7th U-boat Flotilla, and spent the next four months in training. On 1 June 1939 Schultze was promoted to Kapitänleutnant.

World War II

Soon after the war started on 1 September 1939 Schultze took U-48 out on her first patrol. On 11 September 1939 he sank the British freighter Firby. After the sinking he sent the plain language radio message "cq - cq- cq - transmit to Mr. Churchill. I have sunk the British steamer "Firby". Posit 59.40 North and 13.50 West. Save the crew, if you please. German submarine." This message, addressed to the First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill directly, made Schultze famous, both in Germany and Great Britain. He sank two more ships for 14,777 GRT during the first patrol.

After returning to base, Schultze gave an interview to William L. Shirer, an American reporter, on 29 September 1939. During the interview it was established that Schultze had sunk another British ship, the Royal Sceptre and like the sinking of the Firby, had arranged for the crew to be rescued by another Allied ship. The interview was recorded and broadcast both in the United States and Great Britain.

Now something of a media celebrity, Schultze left for four more successful patrols. On 1 March 1940 he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for his successes. On 20 May 1940 Schultze handed command of U-48 over to Hans Rudolf Rösing due to illness stemming from a stomach and kidney disorder; Schultze spent five months in hospital recuperating. From October 1940 Schultze took up duties as Second in Command of the 7th U-boat Flotilla, now based at St Nazaire, in occupied France.

On 17 December 1940 Schultze resumed command of U-48, relieving Heinrich Bleichrodt. He commanded the U-boat on three more patrols, and continued sinking enemy shipping at a great rate. Schultze was thus awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross on 12 June 1941. The presentation was made on 30 June 1941 by Hitler at the Führer Headquarter Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) in Rastenburg (now Kętrzyn in Poland).[Note 2]

On 27 July 1941 Schultze left U-48 to take command of the 3rd U-boat Flotilla operating from La Rochelle, also in France. He served in this capacity until March 1942, when he was assigned to the staff of Marinegruppe Nord as Admiral Staff Officer for U-boats. He was assigned to the staff of Admiral Karl Dönitz in December 1942. On 1 April 1943 he was promoted to Korvettenkapitän. In March 1944 he was assigned as commander of Department II, Marineschule Mürwik, where he served to the end of the war.


In August 1945 he was employed by the Allies as commander of the Naval Academy at Mürwik near Flensburg and the Heinz Krey-bearing. In November 1945, now a civilian, he took the job of manager of the naval facilities in Flensburg-Mürwik until October 1946. In 1956 Schultze joined the Bundesmarine of West Germany and served in a string of staff positions. He became commander of the 3rd Ship home department, he served as Staff Officer Personnel (A1) on the command staff of the naval base, was commander of convoy ships, teaching group leaders at the Naval Academy and head of the volunteer adoption headquarters of the Navy until his retirement on 30 September 1968 with the rank of Kapitän zur See. Schultze died on 3 June 1987 in London.

Summary of military career








  1. Until late September 1941, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves was second only to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross, which was awarded only to senior commanders for winning a major battle or campaign. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves as the highest military order was legally surpassed on 28 September 1941 by the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. Hitler, without the respective governing law in place, made three presentations of the later higher graded Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords and one presentation of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, prior to 28 September 1941.
  2. Also present at the award ceremony were the U-boat commanders Kapitänleutnant Engelbert Endraß and Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe who were also awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross.



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Busch & Röll 2003, p. 21.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Busch & Röll 2003, p. 22.
  3. 1 2 Thomas 1998, p. 299.
  4. 1 2 Scherzer 2007, p. 690.
  5. Busch & Röll 2003, p. 23.


  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (2003). Der U-Boot-Krieg 1939–1945 — Die Ritterkreuzträger der U-Boot-Waffe von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [The U-Boat War 1939–1945 — The Knight's Cross Bearers of the U-Boat Force from September 1939 to May 1945] (in German). Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn Germany: Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn. ISBN 978-3-8132-0515-2. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 1, 1 September 1939 to 31 December 1941] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Kapitänleutnant Hans-Rudolf Rösing
Commander of 3rd U-boat Flotilla
July 1941 – March 1942
Succeeded by
Kapitänleutnant Heinz von Reiche
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