Where did the fish saw on the boats of the 9th Flotilla, or the origin of the symbol U-96

Perhaps all people interested in the history of the origin of the emblem U-96, watched the famous and has become legendary, the film Wolfgang Petersen (him. Wolfgang Petersen) released in 1981. Yes, of course, this is the movie “Boat” (Das Boot). In this epic, the Director showed how the famous emblem looked, from the point of view of history, “fish” looked the same as it once did in reality. It was a friendly smiling fish saw (lat. Pristidae), which c curiosity lowered the its nose, as-if something staring at. Why this emblem was on Board the famous submarine? Oddly enough, the reason is quite banal. Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (him. Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock), led a friendship with a certain artist Kossatz (him. Kossatz). So here is Kossatz as something painted and demonstrated commander U-96 this comical picture:

As we can see, it is a diver, to his diving equipment, as expected, attached to the air hose and wire for communication with the vessel. The fish saw a smile cut through this wire, and discouraged by the diver exclaims in disbelief: “what the Hell is going on, who broke the connection? Can’t they hear me talking up there?»

Willenbrock was greatly amused by this amusing caricature. He suddenly came up with the idea to draw this picture, or rather the fish itself on his submarine and make this image his business card, emblem. The artist Kossatz found this idea interesting, and in the end he put the image of the legendary fish on the cabin of the submarine. On the Internet you can find a photo in which He kossatz draws the most insidiously smiling fish. That’s how the symbol of the submarine U96 was born. As usual, facts are mixed with fiction, because it is almost impossible to know exactly how it was actually. But the probability that it was so is extremely high.

Georg Högel (Georg Högel) in his work “Embleme, Wappen, Malings deutscher U-Boote 1939-1945” (“Drawings, coats of arms, emblems on German submarines 1939-1945” writes that the image of “smiling fish saw” appears on the submarine U-96 before the fourth campaign. Let’s assume that this is true. Then we with big share confidence can say, that famous image of the on legendary boat dealt in precisely 41 St year, likely spring this year. Upon returning the U-Boot from the RAID combat, it was already possible to see who became the personal emblem of Captain Henry Willenbrock.

9th flotilla emblem

Willenbrock left the U-Boot in March ‘ 42. For his services he received the Knight’s cross of the Iron cross (him. Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) with Oak Leaves (Eichen-Blätter). He then took command of the 9th Kriegsmarine Flotilla, which was based in Brest. At this time Willenbrock is already known as a submarine ACE. For shrug our shoulders captain was 9 hikes on 2- ‘ s different submarines, more, than 200-thousandth sent on bottom an enemy tonnage. So, when Willenbrock left in its place on the U-96 Hans-Jurgen Hellriegel (it. Hans-Jürgen Hellriegel), as we mentioned above, he led the 9th Flotilla of submarines, which gave him jürgen Oesten (Jürgen Oesten). Then there was a very interesting event-the story with the emblem of the 9th Flotilla (9 Flotille) exactly reproduced as the story of the 7th (7 Flotille) Flotilla, told us above. 9 Flotille also received became personal emblem its new commander and famous fish again can be was watch on cabins submarines this Flotilla. Most likely, some special instructions for this were not given. Most of the submarines of the 9th Flotilla independently chose the “smiling fish”. In doing so, they paid tribute to the new illustrious commander. According to Hogel, at least 25 submarines from Flotille 9 at one time or another had “Wilenbrock fish”in their cabins.

The color hypothesis

Now we should answer the question: what color was the famous emblem? We decided to paint it green on our longsleeve. Why? Unfortunately, there are no color photos of that time that could tell us the truth about the color of the fish. So, green. Why him?

This is perhaps the main color-a contender for the genuine color of U-Boot 96. Profile English and German sites authoritatively claim that the fish was green, maybe with shades,but still green. Having studied this topic and read more than one thematic site, we have not found there convincing evidence of this claim. Rather, experts want to believe that the fish was exactly green, but they have no evidence. Here, we did not contravene the professional and in the same way as they accepted unsubstantiated for the truth of “green fish.” Still, let’s try to give a few arguments in favor of our choice. Before you have a personal pennant of Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock.

He kept it until 1986. He passed away this year. The fish is made of metal and, as we can see, it is dark green. Most likely, this artifact was located on the flagpole of the submarine. Agree, this is a very strong argument in favor of it is green. Who, if not Willenbrock to know what color was the well-known character. But that’s not all.

Here’s another proof: the German Kriegsmarine had a tradition. In Ships and shipyards during the Second World war was the guest book. Crews of submarines noted in them the unique, personal sheet in which except autographs of officers of the submarine, there was its fighting motto and that for us is important, in them the emblem or other image to it together with any comic poem was often drawn. Despite the fact that there are many such sheets from other submarines, the sheets with the pattern U-96 did not survive. Fortunately, there were witnesses who saw these documents. So here is they talked, that” fish ” on them was??? green color of.

In addition to the hypothesis that our “fish” was depicted green, there are also versions that it may have been black, blue, red. As you have already read above, about 25 boats Flotille 9 had on their cabins this symbol. Nothing prevents us from assuming that on different submarines the image could be of different colors-on some boat blue, on some black…

We believe that the color of the symbol was still secondary to the image of the saw fish itself. In addition, imagine that in those hard times to get the paint “right” color was not always possible. By the way, in the above-mentioned work of Georg Hogel, it is said that the emblem of Flotille 9 was blue. During the war, allied air and naval intelligence very carefully recorded any details relating to the German Kriegsmarine. So here is, from interrogation of captured German submariners well realistically to know about them. Flotille 9 as a result of fighting suffered losses and submariners who managed to survive after the death of submarines, were subjected to interrogation, which revealed that: for example, U-91 was a White horse, and the symbol of the whole 9 Flotille – blue fish saw. U744 has a shield on yellow with a black axe and the coat of arms of Posen. And again-symbol of the entire Flotille 9 blue fish saw.

Another interrogation of German submariners: “on both sides of the cabin submarine-symbols 9 Flotille-blue fish saw.” There is more than one interrogation that convinces us: the symbol of Flotille 9 was blue. It seems to us, not all submarines of this Flotilla carried on the boards “fish” of blue color. We have already discussed this above. In magazine with illustrations Urbanke Axel (Axel Urbanke) “U-boot im Focus” there is extremely rare photographs submarine U214 with the indication: symbol of on deckhouse boats was as times green. Black and white photo is quite clear and high quality for those times. Shooting the cabin large gives all the chances to assume that the shade of the color of the image is so light that with a high probability it can be blue. American pilots who conducted aerial reconnaissance, argue as Axel Urbanke: not all boats Flotille 9 had “fish”blue. This is proved by some photographs of quite good quality.

In the movie “Das Boot”, with which we began our story,” fish ” is black. At all, fact availability of precisely this emblem in movie not has the right on historical justice. The author of the novel of the same name Buchheim (Lothar-Günther Buchheim) did not have the opportunity to personally see her on U-96 during her well-known combat campaign, which became the basis for the book. During this period, the symbol of the submarine was the bull “Scapa Flow”. On photos of Buchheim it can be observed. As we can see, the authors of the film decided to deviate from the historical fact and returned the emblem. But they made it black.

Why? Let’s try to understand. Personally, Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock was on the sets of “Boats” is established. He even advised the creators of the film. But we don’t know if he commented on the color of “fish.” What exactly was the reason for the choice of black by the authors. If you imagine the filming process, we would be difficult to imagine that Willenbrock didn’t notice anything about it. We can only speculate as to what was the reason for the image is black “fish” on the submarine.

There is also speculation that the fish saw could even be red. But we have not found any evidence of this, so we will not comment on this hypothesis. All three of our color options seem to us quite real. The truth, as it often happens, somewhere in the middle and really all three options could be on the cabins of submarines Flotille 9. We liked the version with green, which is not difficult to guess by the design of longsleeve “U-96”.