Naval Officers under Hitler: The Story of Crew 34

Naval Officers under Hitler: The Story of Crew 34

Naval Officers under Hitler: The Story of Crew 34

Naval Officers under Hitler: The Story of Crew 34

Synopsis

This book is the collective biography of 318 men who joined the German Navy in 1934 to become professional officers. Eric C. Rust traces the lives and mentality of these men from their upbringing in the Weimar Republic through their post-war careers. Unique in its subject matter and methodology in both German and international military historiography, Naval Officers Under Hitler is a professional, political, and psychological group portrait based largely on personal interviews and correspondence as well as archival material.

Excerpt

This study explores, in the form of a collective biography, the lives of the 318 men who joined the German Navy in 1934 to become professional officers. Together they have become known ever since as Crew 34 -- a term and a practice indicative of England's role as Germany's erstwhile model and later rival. Inasmuch as the men of Crew 34 received their commissions on April 1, 1937, Americans may think of them as the German counterpart to the U. S. Naval Academy's Class of 1937. Such comparisons should not be carried too far, though, given the differences in the officers' backgrounds and actual careers. In fact, some of these divergent traditions and experiences lie at the very heart of this inquiry when we ask what has characterized Crew 34 and their world to this day.

Born in or around 1914 in Germany's Second Empire, the men of Crew 34 grew up in the ill-fated Weimar Republic, received their military training in the turbulent years after Hitler's takeover, and later fought with distinction in World War II. Their personal sacrifice, especially as submarine officers, was impressive: by 1945 more than 40 percent of the original Crew members were dead. The end of Hitler's Navy, the Kriegsmarine, forced the survivors into civilian occupations. In the mid-1950s a third of them chose to resume their former careers in the newly established West German Navy, the Bundesmarine. Whether in uniform or as civilians, the men of Crew 34 achieved considerable success in their post-war endeavors. Today, as septuagenarians, those still alive enjoy secure retirement and recently celebrated their fiftieth service anniversary with festivities in Kiel and at the Marineschule Mürwik, Germany's naval academy.

Surprisingly, neither a narrative history nor a comprehensive scholarly analysis of Germany's naval officer corps since 1918 exists, certainly nothing comparable . . .

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