1. What is the U-boat-Museum at Cuxhaven-Altenbruch
Carrying that name, the U-boat-Museum at Cuxhaven-Altenbruch is composed of the actual museum with a collection of exhibits procured, donated and received from inheritances, given to the museum by descendants, and a separate archive. After more than 60 years the collection has grown to its current size, filling today an entire building. Separated thereof in 2003, the archive is a continuously growing collection of documents and literature on underwater operations with focus on the submarine force of the Imperial German Navy and the Kriegsmarine.
2. Is there access to the Museum at any time, what is the admission fee?
The museum can be visited after prior appointment only and has always to be accompanied by a guide. During summer months regular visiting times are on forenoons of each Thursday, prior appointment required. Access to the archive is possible as well subject to prior appointment. Following prior appointment private research can be carried out in the archive independently even several days. Fees will not be charged, donations, however, are welcome at any time.
3. What is the difference between “Museum” and “Archive”?
“U-Boot-Museum” is the general name for the museumlike collection and the archive of international underwater operations. Other than the U-boat-Museum with its showing of submarine-related exhibits the archive is a special compilation of documents, domestic and foreign literature, as well as photographs and films on international underwater operations.
4. Is there something special in the Museum and Archive?
In the U-boat-Museum there are unique exhibits to be seen above all from underwater warfare in WW I and WW II, ranging from ship models to personal equipment, to uniforms and medals of submariners, among those several from famous members of the submarine force. As a particular treasure, the archive holds more than 160.000 original photographs from submarines and their crews, absolutely unique private films from submariners, and, war diaries of U-boats of the Imperial German Navy and the Kriegsmarine secured by the British und US government agencies on microfilm after 1945, probably the most comprehensive collection worldwide.
5. Is the U-boat-Museum in reality not only a secret “place of worship” for Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz?
This accusation occasionally to be heard can be clearly rejected. With focus on the Imperial German Navy, the Kriegsmarine and the Federel German Navy, the museum and the archive maintain a collection of exhibits, literature, documents, photographs and films on international underwater operations that is largely free of any appraisal. In this context it stands to reason, that Grand Admiral Dönitz as a prominent person in contemporary history and Commander-in-Chief Submarines will neither be superseded nor featured incongruously. Rather, he is part of the exhibits and documents strictly in compliance with facts. The U-boat-Archive has gained a distinguished reputation by consequently editing provable facts and figures only – and no influence-originated opinions or assumptions (see No. 10).
6. Who governs the management of the Museum and who supervises the orderly conduct of business?
1986 the so far private collection for the museum and the archive was changed to be a foundation. Under the name “German U-boat-Museum – Archive of International Underwater Operations” it is now a foundation of legal status in compliance with civil law pursuing exclusively and directly purposes of public interest, it is a non profit making organisation. In accordance with its statute registered at the local court and composed of an Executive Board and an Advisory Board, the foundation governs the management of museum and archive. It is the aim of the foundation to maintain, to expand and to further care for the museum´s collection and the archive to pursue the purpose of fostering the tradition of submariners as well as supporting academic work in international underwater operations. The management of museum and archive is governed by the Executive Board of currently 6 members, Managing Director is the founder of the initial private collection that later became a foundation, Horst Bredow. The foundation´s Advisory Board with currently 10 members, among those the German Navy and the City of Cuxhaven as supervisory government body for foundations, checks annually the conduct of the Executive Board and approves, unless objections have to be raised.
7. Are there regular and publicly accessible business reports?
Annually, the foundation “German U-boat-Museum – Archive of International Underwater Operations” calls for a formal meeting, where an annual report is presented and voted upon, including a report of the treasurer and a business plan for the following year. This report is handed as a copy to all members of the Executive Board and the Advisory Board. In addition to that, the business report of the foundation´s Executive Board is published in the yearbook of the Association of Friends.
8. What happens to the Museum and the Archive in case condition of health of the founder and managing director Horst Bredow prevents him from continuing his work?
The statute of the foundation und the supporting “Association of Friends of the U-boat Tradition Archive (FTU)” and the routine of work in the museum and the archive by many voluntary helpers developed throughout the past will guarantee a further existence of this institution, although the power and the sheer memory of Horst Bredow will hardly be replaceable and constitute a great loss.
9. What publications are there by the Museum and the Archive?
Main publications by the museum and the archive are the contributions to the yearbook of the “Association of Friends of the U-boat Tradition Archive (FTU)”. Apart from occasional lectures by members of the foundation or the association of friends, there are no further regular publications. Indirectly, the museum and the archive are frequently mentioned in domestic and foreign expert literature or radio and TV productions, if documents and/ or interviews with members of the foundation or the association of friends have been executed before.
10. What are the Archive´s principle when answering to queries on events with U-boats involved?
Any response to inquiries on submarines, their crews and their employment, is strictly using information that is based on facts only, usually official documents. Responses will be avoided, that rely on tradition or subjective garnishing. When personal memories of U-boat veterans are the basis of the response, it will explicitly mentioned as a reservation. Simple repeat of data and facts from literature will be avoided, however cross-references to existing literature on certain events and problems can occur. In all responses to queries there will be no attempts for biased historical accounts through selective and palliative compilations. In responses, deficiencies of U-boats, their systems, equipment and weapons, are mentioned same as mistakes and wrong doings by U-boat crews, officers as well as the U-boat commands, also personal reports by Commanding Officers in war diaries, even if this would be unfavourable.
11. How can one do research on the history of underwater operation utilizing on the assistance of the U-boat-Museum and Archive?
Inquiries on U-boats and their crews, as well as operations by U-boats can be forwarded by letter. Subject to contents and amount of work necessary they will be answered within reasonable time. If there are copies of documents and photographs added a donation will be asked for to cover the costs of research in accordance with the statute of the association of friends. Whenever comprehensive research is required it is recommended to visit the museum and the archive, even if this would comprise several days of presence.
12. Are there facilities for accommodation close to the Museum and Archive during longer periods of stay for research purposes?
Yes, there are hotels, pensions as well as B & B available within close distance to the museum and the archive.
13. What is the role of the “Association of the Friends of the U-boat Tradition Archive”?
In 1992, the “Association of Friends of the U-boat Tradition Archive (FTU)” was founded to maintain and further expand the museum and the archive. Almost 1.000 domestic and foreign members suppor the work and further existence of the museum and the archive through voluntary work, fees and donations. Once a year all members are invited to an Annual General Meeting and at the begin of each year the yearbook of the association is published.
14. Is´nt that “Association of Friends” not merely an assembly of war-glorifying militarists and U-boat veterans who clinge to a radiant past?
80% of the members of the association are under 50 years old. Moreover, U-boat veterans still alive are well in their 80ies and beyond and most are hardly be able any longer to actively work within the association, very few excepted. Based on cruel experiences all of these have subscribed to a believe:
Whoever has lived through war, cannot glorify it. We know, how cruel and insane any war is. We fight for peace by passing on our experiences.
The vast majority of members are descendants or next-of-kin of former submariners. Therefore, they have great interest in supporting the work of the foundation as members of the association of friends. Others have no military background but have historical or technical interests. There are special interest groups for modelling enthusiast and ship wreck divers.