Important Personalities

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Important Personalities involved in the East German UBoat legacy

1. Admiral Waldemar Verner

He was born on 27 August 1914 and learned the trade of window-dresser. Just being 16 years of age he joined the German Communist Party. He had to immigrate to the Soviet Union in 1935 and was then sent do Denmark in 1938 to support the Danish Communists. During the German occupation of Denmark he was actively engaged in the Danish Underground and Resistance Movement. Although he had no previous knowledge of seamanship or Naval affairs he was appointed the first Head of the “Hauptverwaltung See/HVS)” (= Main Department Sea) and given the Police rank of “General-inspekteur” (= Inspector General) on 16 June 1950. He transferred this organisation into the “Volkspolizei See” (= People´s Sea Police) to command this force until 1955, being given eventually the rank of Vice Admiral. 1957 to 1959 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the East German Navy (“Seestreitkräfte der Nationalen Volksarmee”/ Naval Forces of the National People´s Armed Forces) as the follow-on organisation of the “Volkspolizei-See”. From 1959 to his retirement in 1978 he was the Head of the Polit-Department of the East German Armed Forces holding the rank of Admiral since 1961. He died on 15 February 1982.

2. Rear Admiral Dr. Friedrich Elchlepp

He was born on 04 July 1924 and joined the Kriegsmarine as Officer Candidate in 1941 (Crew C/41). He became a submarine officer and experienced the end of war in Norway as Officer of the Watch I onboard U-boat “U-3514” (Type XXI). After the war he studied law in Halle. In 1950 he was appointed provisional Headmaster of the School of Administration of the province of Brandenburg and shortly afterwards tasked to prepare the administrative ground for the build up of East German Naval Forces. He received the Police rank of “Inspekteur” (= Captain (Navy)) and was appointed Chief of Staff of the Naval Forces in build up, as of 1952 called “Volkspolizei See” (= People´s Sea Police). From 1960 to 1981 he ran the office in the High Command of the East German Navy dealing with navigational incidents and accidents holding the function of “Havariekommissar” (=Chief Claims Agent) of East Germany. His last rank was Rear Admiral. He died on 02nd of March 2002. Elchlepp has published several reports and essays on the early years of the East German Navy and given also much insight into the short history of East German submarines.

3. Rear Admiral Heinrich Jordt

He was born on 15 December 1917 and learned the trade of blacksmith. From 1937 to 1945 he served in the Kriegsmarine, inter alia onboard Minesweeper “M-1”, holding at the end the rank of “Obermaat” (= Petty Officer). In August 1945 he joined the East German Police Force and started a series of appointments responsible for training personell of the Naval service, from being in command of the Training Establishment for recruits of Sea Police, later to be in charge of Naval Officers training, to eventually head the Fleet Training School. In 1953 he was the one and only Commanding Officer of the ULA (= Submarine Training Establishment) during its short existence. He continued to serve in the East German Navy, taking over for a long time command of the East German Coastal Border Guards. As the Commanding Officer of the “6th Grenzbrigade Küste” (= 6th Coastal Border Brigade) between 1964 and 1979 (the year of his retirement) he was appointed Rear Admiral in 1974. He died on 27 July 1987.

4. Known instructors for U-boat crews.

Most instructors at the ULA (= Submarine Training Establishment) hat some U-boat experience from their service time in the Kriegsmarine. The officer´s classes were run by the Kapitänleutnante (= Lieutenant Commanders) Gerhard Klippstein and Erich Thieme and the Oberleutnant zur See (= Lieutenant) Herbert Bauer. Klippstein was at the same time Head of the Officers training and was the designated Commanding Officer of the future U-boat Flotilla of the East German Navy. Thieme was at the same time Head of the training of Petty Officers and Ratings.

5. Ship Design Engineer Walter Schlaak

The Head of the “Zentrales Konstruktionsbüro/ ZKB” (= Central Design Office for Shipbuilding) in the early 1950ies, Dipl. Ing. Walter Schlaak, was an experienced designer and Office Head at the former Schichau Shipyards at Danzig and Königsberg. In the “Zentrales Konstruktionsbüro/ ZKB” the first project and drawings were developed of Naval vessel to be built in East Germany. A first design by Schlaak was the Minesweeper Type “Habicht” (= Hawk) in 1952, which was based very much the Kriegsmarine Minesweeper Type “M-43”. The ZKB was renamed “Institut für Schiffbautechnik Wolgast/ ISW” (= Institute for ship design Wolgast) in the mid 1950ies. Schlaak was also involved in the design of the first type of U-boat for the East German Navy.