U-Boat Aces: The Knave of Diamonds: U-Boat Commander Albrecht Brandi

See the parts on other U-Boat Aces.

Albrecht Brandi wasn’t a skillful U-Boat Kommandant but he was a highly skilled liar in a society where lying was an art form. Only twenty-seven men in the entire Wehrmacht received the Knights Cross with Oak leaves, Swords, and Diamonds during World War Two, the highest military award in Nazi Germany – with the exception of the Golden Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds awarded to only man, Hans-Ulrich Rudel, the most highly decorated military man in Nazi Germany. Let’s look at a few of the others.

  • Luftwaffe Major Erich Hartmann, the ‘Blond Knight of Germany’, is the highest-scoring fighter ace in history and shot down 352 enemy planes.
  • Luftwaffe Major Walter Nowotny shot down 258 enemy planes.
  • Herr General Major Adelbert Schulz was a frontline combat general, wounded several times, who led his troops to numerous victories, often against impossible odds. He was killed in action on the Eastern Front.

You get the idea. It was a very high bar to get over. Only two U-Boat Kommandants, in fact the only two Kriegsmarine officers to receive the Knights Cross with Oak leaves, Swords, and Diamonds, were Wolfgang Lüth and Albrecht Brandi. What about Otto Kretschmer, the highest scoring ace? No.

What about other Kommandants among the elite 34 men who sank over 100,000 tons of shipping, as verified by historians? Only Wolfgang Lüth, the second ranking ace and true Nazi believer as opposed to Kretschmer who was not. That made the difference.

So Albrecht Brandi wasn’t even on the list of the top 34 U-Boat aces. Let’s take the next 50 Kommandants, those of whom sank over 50,000 tons of shipping, as verified by historians. Presumably Brandi must be on that list. No, he isn’t. Brandi sank only 31,869 tons of shipping as opposed to Kretschmer who sank 273,000 tons and Lüth who sank 225,000 tons.

How in the hell did Brandi manage to be one of the two officers in the entire Kriegsmarine to receive the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds? He lied. Everyone on every side over estimates their success in battle. But Brandi went way beyond overestimation to outright falsehood.

According to historian Jordan Vause, who wrote Lüth’s biography U-Boat Ace: The Story of Wolfgang Lüth, Brandi claimed to have sunk one battleship, two cruisers, several destroyers, and a fleet of merchant ships. But he didn’t. It takes real chutzpah to claim a battleship sunk since the Royal Navy always got ahead of the news by announcing such sinkings before the Germans did. If you claimed to have sunk a Royal Navy battleship, then you had better be right since the sinking would be announced by the Royal Navy itself. Brandi did not sink a battleship.

So Albrecht Brandi, I have to give it to you. In a régime of liars, built on lies, fed on lies, and living on lies, you out lied almost everyone and doing that in the Third Reich is your true achievement in life.

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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