Friedrich Ruge

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Friedrich Ruge
Bundesarchiv Bild 101II-MW-2064-17A, Friedrich Oskar Ruge bei MS-Flottille.jpg
Friedrich Ruge visiting a Minensuchflottille
Born (1894-12-24)24 December 1894
Leipzig, German Empire
Died 3 July 1985(1985-07-03) (aged 90)
Tübingen, West Germany
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
 West Germany
Service/branch  Imperial German Navy
 German Navy
Years of service 1914–45, 1955–61
Rank Vizeadmiral

World War I

World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Great Cross of Merit
Relations Peter von Zahn

Friedrich Oskar Ruge (24 December 1894 – 3 July 1985) was an officer in the German Navy and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross of Nazi Germany. He served as the first commander (Inspector of the Navy) of the post-war German Navy.

Early life and military career[edit]

Friedrich Ruge was the son and grandson of German educators. Joining the Imperial German Navy as a cadet in March 1914, he was soon a participant in the 1914, 1915, and 1916 Baltic Sea operations. In 1917 and 1918, he sailed with the destroyer raids in the North Sea and English Channel.

After the armistice, Ruge was an officer aboard the destroyer SMS B112, interned at Scapa Flow and in June 1919, he played a role in the scuttling of the German Fleet.

Returning to Germany to continue his naval career in the service of the new Weimar Republic, for the next two decades he concentrated on mines and mine warfare. From 1921 to 1923, he commanded a minesweeper. In the UK during the 1930s he met an ex British sailor at a regatta, Lt Aubrey Grey, whose ship, HMS Partridge, was sunk in 1917 by the SMS V100, the ship that Ruge had been serving on. The V100 was the ship that rescued Grey from the water after the sinking and the pair became friends after meeting, their friendship only interrupted by World War II.[1] After studies at Berlin Institute of Technology, he was the senior officer of a flotilla of minesweepers, and, in 1937, achieved the top post in that division.

World War II[edit]

In World War II, he was a part of the Polish Campaign in 1939 and the North Sea-English Channel operations during 1940. From 1940 to 1943, he was stationed in France, rising through the upper ranks to become Vice Admiral in 1943. Sent to Italy in 1943, he served as Senior German Naval Officer until mid-summer. He was appointed as Naval Advisor to Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in November 1943 to supervise the defense of northern France from the predicted Allied invasion. He had no faith in land mines and artillery shells struck underwater, but the marine mines he wanted weren't available. In August 1944, he became the Kriegsmarine's Director of Ship Construction, a position in which he served till the end of World War II.


At the end World War II, Ruge became a POW. In 1946, he started a new life as a translator, writer and educator in Cuxhaven. He was one of four Flag Officers who made up the Naval Historical Team at Bremerhaven, sponsored by the United States Navy. He entered politics as a political independent to the Cuxhaven Town Council.

In 1950, Ruge was part of a select group of former Wehrmacht high-ranking officers invited by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to take part in the conference to discuss West Germany's rearmament. The conference resulted in the Himmerod memorandum that contributed to the creation of the myth of the "clean Wehrmacht".[2]

During the early 1950s, he advised as to how the navy could be restructured in the new Bundesmarine, as detailed in Searle's Wehrmacht Generals. Called out of retirement when Germany became a part of NATO, Ruge was appointed Inspector of the Navy (a position similar to the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations), a post he occupied until 1961.

Afterward, he became a member of the faculty at the University of Tübingen, eventually becoming an Associate Professor on 21 July 1967 there. He was a guest lecturer at many universities, including the U.S. Naval War College at Newport.

Admiral Ruge was one of the umpires for the 1974 Sandhurst wargame on Operation Sea Lion.

He died in 1985.

Literary works[edit]

Ruge was the author of several books, including The Soviets as Naval Opponents, 1941-1945, written for Annapolis Naval Institute in 1979, and Rommel in Normandy, written in 1959.

Quoted at Normandy: Utilization of the Anglo-American air forces is the modern type of warfare, turning the flank not from the side but from above.

In the movie "The Longest Day" (1962), he played himself, and was a consultant to the film.




  1. ^ Jasper Copping (15 September 2013). "How WW1 sailor saved his life by laying it down for a friend". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  2. ^ Wette 2007, pp. 236–238.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Dörr 1996, p. 191.
  4. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 367.
  5. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 645.


  • Dörr, Manfred (1996). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Überwasserstreitkräfte der Kriegsmarine—Band 2: L–Z [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Surface Forces of the Navy—Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2497-6.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Searle, Alaric (2003). Wehrmacht Generals, West German Society, and the Debate on Rearmament, 1949–1959. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 978-0-275-97968-3.
  • Wette, Wolfram (2007). The Wehrmacht: History, Myth, Reality. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-02577-6.

External links[edit]

Military offices
New title Inspector of the Navy
June 1957–August 1961
Succeeded by
Vizeadmiral Karl-Adolf Zenker