Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Five Things to Know About German U-Boats-- Part 3

4.  WHAT'S IN A NAME:  The U-boat-- or "unterseeboot" in German-- was first used un World War I by Ger many and its ally, Austria-Hungary.  German submarine warfare on merchant ships was one reason the U.S. entered the war in 1917 on the side of the Allies.

The German Navy still designates its submarines as U-boats.  Their small, modern fleet of submarines are diesel-electric powered, not nuclear.  I didn't know the German Navy still had U-boats.

5.  U-BOATS IN POPULAR CULTURE:  Feared and hunted by the Allies, U-boats and their commanders became romanticized over time, especially in the Cold War years when a rebuilt West Germany was a U.S. ally.

Among film portraying them was 1957's "The Enemy Below," in which U.S. destroyer commander Robert Mitchum and U-boat commander Kurt Jurgens are cast as noble adversaries as their vessels duel to mutual destruction.

In 1981's "Das Boot" starring Jurgen Prochow, filmmakers offered a gritty portrayal of U-boat life.

Visitors to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry can see the U-505, a U-boat captured during World War II.


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