Commander of the U-boats
Befehlshaber der U-Boote
 Kriegsmarine
AbbreviationBdU
Reports toOberbefehlshaber der Marine
PrecursorFührer der Unterseeboote
Formation1917, recreated 17 October 1939
Abolished8 May 1945

The Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote or BdU (Eng: "Commander of the U-boats") was the supreme commander of the German Navy's U-boat Arm (Ubootwaffe) during the First and Second World Wars. The term also referred to the Command HQ of the U-boat arm.[1]

The title was established in June 1917, replacing the role of "Leader of the U-boats" (Führer der Unterseeboote, or FdU) for the High Seas Flotillas. The first incumbent was Kapitan zur See/Kommodore Andreas Michelsen, previously head of the High Seas Fleet’s destroyer force.[2] The post was abolished with the end of the war.

It was revived on 17 October 1939, when Karl Dönitz was promoted to rear admiral (Konteradmiral). His previous title had been FdU, a position he had held from January 1936.[3]

On 31 January 1943 Dönitz was promoted to grand admiral (Großadmiral) and became supreme commander (Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine) of the entire Kriegsmarine, replacing Erich Raeder. He retained the title, but was replaced as operational commander at BdU by his chief of staff Eberhard Godt.[4]

Godt's successor was Admiral Hans Georg von Friedeburg, who held the position at the end of the war and became commander-in-chief of the German navy when Doenitz became head of Nazi Germany after Hitler's suicide.

Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine)

Kriegsmarine

Commander

No. Portrait Name Took office Left office Time in office Other positions held
1
Karl Dönitz
Dönitz, KarlKonteradmiral
Karl Dönitz
(1891–1980)
17 October 193931 January 19433 years, 106 daysFdU (January 36 - September 39)
2
Eberhard Godt
Godt, EberhardKonteradmiral
Eberhard Godt
(1900–1995)
31 January 19438 May 19452 years, 97 daysAdmiralstabsoffizier (1939-1939)
Chef der Operationsabteilung (1939-1945)

Subordinate

Department Chief
No. Portrait Abteilungschef Took office Left office Time in office
1
Hans-Georg von Friedeburg
Friedeburg, HansKapitän zur See
Hans-Georg von Friedeburg
(1895–1945[note 1])
17 October 193911 September 19411 year, 10 months
2nd Admiral of the U-boats
No. Portrait 2. Admiral der Unterseeboote Took office Left office Time in office
1
Hans-Georg von Friedeburg
Friedeburg, HansKonteradmiral
Hans-Georg von Friedeburg
(1895–1945)
12 September 194130 April 19431 year, 7 months
Commanding Admiral of the U-boats
No. Portrait Kommandierender Admiral
der Unterseeboote
Took office Left office Time in office
1
Hans-Georg von Friedeburg
Friedeburg, HansAdmiral
Hans-Georg von Friedeburg
(1895–1945)
1 February 194330 April 19452 years, 2 months
2
Kurt Dobratz
Dobratz, KurtKapitän zur See
Kurt Dobratz
(1904–1995)
1 May 19458 May 19457 days

Dobratz had transferred from navy to Luftwaffe in 1935. He rejoined the Kriegsmarine in 1943 and was given command of U-1232 taking it out on one patrol before becoming chief of staff at BdU.[5]

Chief of Staff of the Commanding Admiral of the U-boats
No. Portrait Stabschef des Kommandierenden
Admirals der Unterseeboote
Took office Left office Time in office
1
Heinz-Ehler Beucke
Beucke, HeinzFregattenkapitän
Heinz-Ehler Beucke
(1904–1979)
March 1943May 19432 months
2
Ernst Kratzenberg
Kratzenberg, ErnstKonteradmiral
Ernst Kratzenberg
(1896–1984)
June 1943April 19451 year, 10 months
3
Kurt Dobratz
Dobratz, KurtKapitän zur See
Kurt Dobratz
(1904–1995)
April 1945April 19450 days
4
Ewald Engler
Engler, EwaldFregattenkapitän
Ewald Engler
(born 1913)
1 May 19458 May 19457 days

Beucke was withdrawn from command of U-boat (a single patrol with German submarine U-173) in 1942 because his brothers had been killed.

Notes

  1. ^ committed suicide 23 May 1945
  1. ^ Hague pviii
  2. ^ Tarrant p56
  3. ^ "Karl Dönitz". uboat.net. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  4. ^ "Eberhard Godt". uboat.net. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  5. ^ "Kurt Dobratz", uboat.net

References