Battleship Bismarck

Battleship Bismarck

Battleship Bismarck

Battleship Bismarck

Excerpt

It is somewhat unusual to write a personal account of something that happened nearly forty years after the event. However, the idea of writing this book was born while I was still standing on the upper deck of the sinking Bismarck on 27 May 1941: since there is no vantage point from which the whole of this giant ship is visible, I thought, will it ever be possible for anyone, even an eyewitness, to assemble the countless details of the battle now ending into a complete and coherent account? If so, who would do it and when? Given the uncertainty of my own fate and against the background of the war, it was an absurd thought and it left my mind as quickly as it had entered it. But it did not die.

I had to resist the temptation to spend the endless time I had on my hands as a prisoner of war in England and Canada in making notes about the ship's operations while they were still fresh in my mind, because, in that status, I had no way of safeguarding secret, or even confidential, papers. The only thing I could do was keep my recollections as intact as possible and rely on written records to fill in at least some of the gaps later.

In May 1949 I received a letter from Dr. Kurt Hesse, a writer on military affairs. He wrote to me at the suggestion of Admiral Walter Gladisch, one of our former Fleet Commanders, urging me to publish my unique story. He thereby encouraged me to do what I had first thought about doing years earlier. But at that time there were several reasons why I had to push it into the back of my mind again: so much of Germany was still lying in ruins that it did not seem an appropriate . . .

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