Germany's Last Mission to Japan: The Failed Voyage of U-234

By Van Nederveen, Sheila-Llyn | Aerospace Power Journal, Fall 2000 | Go to article overview

Germany's Last Mission to Japan: The Failed Voyage of U-234


Van Nederveen, Sheila-Llyn, Aerospace Power Journal


Germany's Last Mission to Japan: The Failed Voy age of U-234 by Joseph Mark Scalia. Naval Institute Press (http://www.nip.org), 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, Maryland 21402, 2000, 250 pages, $29.95.

This book tells the remarkable account of U234, a German submarine carrying German experts,Japanese officers, and German experimental technology, that ran the Allied blockade and surrendered on 15 May 1945. Germany and Japan decided to exchange technology and war material because Japan lost its overland link to Germany when the latter attacked the Soviet Union. At first the two allies used blockade-running ships, but that became too dangerous. So by 1943, Germany started sending material and specialists to Japan in Uboats to avoid the blockade.

U-234, a minelaying U-boat, left Germany on 5 April 1945, her mine-storage areas full of material for Japan. The 12 passengers included the new air attache to Tokyo, General of the Air Force Ulrich Kessler, who had directed the air attack on Poland in 1935 and was implicated in a plot against Hitler in 1944. Accompanying the general were two military advisors-Ist Lt Erich Menzel, a radar specialist, and Lt Col Fritz von Sandrart, an expert in antiaircraft defense strategy. Gerhard Falcke, a naval construction expert with diplomatic experience, headed the naval contingent. Heinrich Hellen-- dorn, a naval antiaircraft specialist, was studying the Imperial Navy's tactics at sea. Richard Bulla, a naval aviator, had been sent to observe Japanese carrierborne naval aviation. Naval judge Kay Nieschiling was to be the judicial officer in charge of military justice for the two thousand German naval personnel in Japan. Dr. Heinz Schlicke, one of Germany's leading electronics experts, was to help Japan develop new radar and countermeasures systems. August Bringewald, who headed a two-man Messerschmitt contingent, was in charge of ME262 jet-fighter production. Franz Ruf, an industrial machinery specialist, was to help the Japanese build new aircraft factories. Also on board were two Japanese officers, Lt Comdr Tomonaga Hideo, a naval aviator and submarine specialist, and Lt Shoji Genzo. …

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