|Nickname(s)||Der Stier von Scapa Flow, Prientje|
16 January 1908|
|Died||7 March 1941
200 miles south of Iceland
|Years of service||1933–41|
|Service number||NSDAP #1,128,487|
|Unit||7th U-boat Flotilla|
|Commands held||U-47, 17 December 1938–7 March 1941|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Günther Prien (16 January 1908 – presumed 7 March 1941) was a German U-boat ace of the first part of the Second World War, and the first U-boat commander to receive the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) and the first member of the Kriegsmarine to receive the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. It was Germany's highest military decoration at the time of its presentation to Günther Prien.[Note 1]
Under Prien's command, the submarine U-47 sank over 30 Allied ships totaling about 200,000 gross register tons (GRT). His most famous exploit was the sinking of the British battleship HMS Royal Oak at anchor in the Home Fleet's anchorage in Scapa Flow.
Prien was one of three children of a judge. Born in Osterfeld, Prussian Province of Saxony (Germany) and after his parents divorced raised in Leipzig, Prien joined the Handelsmarine (German Merchant Navy) in mid-1923, studying for three months at the Seaman's College in Finkenwerder in Hamburg, before going to sea as a cabin boy on the full rigged three-master Hamburg. His first voyage touched at the Azores, Pensacola, Hobart (Tasmania) and Falmouth. While sailing to Cork in October 1925, the ship was caught in a storm and ran aground near Dublin. The vessel was abandoned and later declared a wreck. Prien and the crew were taken to Bremerhaven and then Hamburg, where Prien was given his papers as seaman and found the cost of items he had drawn on board exceeded his six months wages.
Aiming for his master's certificate, Prien quickly signed on the Oldenburg (now the Suomen Joutsen), which was another full rigger (as noted in Jost Metzler's book The Laughing Cow': The Story of U69). While still an ordinary seaman aboard the Oldenburg, Prien took Metzler, who later commanded U-69, under his wing. Metzler relates at the beginning of The Laughing Cow how his relationship with Prien was "very strained" at first, and how Prien, as a young seaman, "could on occasion be very hard and unjust." Later they became good friends.
After several years of work and study as a seaman, Prien took and passed the required examinations, obtaining his mate's license and a wireless operator's certificate. He signed on for his first berth as an officer, becoming the Fourth Officer on the passenger liner San Francisco out of Hamburg. He had no sooner assumed his responsibilities when the ship collided with another vessel, Karlsruhe, in a dense fog in the ship channel near the Hoheweg lighthouse. Prien, who had gone forward at the time to supervise preparations to drop anchor as a precaution, was the first to see the oncoming Karlsruhe's light as she loomed out of the fog. Some weeks later, he was summoned to an inquiry into the accident by the Marine Court in Bremerhaven, causing him to fear that he might somehow be blamed for the collision and lose his freshly-minted license, thereby ending his budding career as a Merchant Marine officer when it was barely begun, but the Court ruled that the weather was solely to blame for the accident.
Prien passed his captain's examination and received his Master's License in January 1932, but was unable to find work due to the severe contraction of the German shipping industry during the Depression years. He returned to Leipzig and, failing to find work there, was finally forced to turn to the Assistance Board for sustenance. Angry with what he considered to be an inept government, which seemed impotent in the face of the country's economic disaster, he joined the National Socialist Party in May 1932. (In Wolf Pack: The Story of the U-Boat in World War II, Gordon Williamson states that the navy did not accept members of the Nazi Party NSDAP or the SS and one was obliged to revoke his membership in the party before joining.) Donald Macintyre described Prien as "the most Nazified U-boat captain", "an ardent ruthless Nazi" (article, p 32 onwards, in issue 4 of War Monthly, Marshall Cavendish 1974). Bored and restless, in August 1932 Prien joined the voluntary labor corps of Vogtsberg at Olsnitz, where he literally dug ditches for several months, quickly rising to the rank of Group Leader and then deputy to the camp commander.
Having heard that the navy was giving commissions to Merchant Marine officers in order to fill out its ranks after the loss of the Niobe, Prien applied to the Reichsmarine,[Note 2] on 16 January 1933 and was accepted as an "Officer Aspirant," with the rank of ordinary sailor. He underwent standard training and served on the light cruiser Königsberg before he was posted to the U-Boat training school at Kiel. At the end of U-Boat training he was posted to U-26 at the Deutsche Schiff- und Maschinenbau AG (Deschimag) Yard in Bremen as First Officer of the watch. U-26 at the time was under the command of Kapitänleutnant Werner Hartmann. U-26 went on two patrols in 1937 (6 May – 15 June and 15 July – 30 August) during the Spanish Civil War.
Prien rose steadily in rank, from Fähnrich zur See (midshipman) in 1933, to Oberfähnrich zur See (senior midshipman) in 1935, Leutnant zur See (acting sub-lieutenant/US ensign) also in 1935, then Oberleutnant zur See (sub-lieutenant/US lieutenant j.g.) in 1937. He was appointed to the command of the new Type VIIB U-47 on her commissioning (17 December 1938) and promoted to Kapitänleutnant (lieutenant) on 1 February 1939. Prien married his fiancée Ingeborg in 1939, with whom he had two daughters, Birgit and Dagmar.
World War II
World War II commenced during Prien's first patrol in U-47. He departed Kiel on 19 August 1939 for a patrol lasting 28 days. On 5 September, he sank the British ship Bosnia, the second U-boat kill of the war. Two more British vessels fell victim to Prien over the next two days. U-47 returned to Kiel on 15 September.
Second patrol — Scapa Flow
On 14 October 1939, Prien risked shallow water, unknown shoals, tricky currents and detection by defenders to penetrate the Royal Navy's primary base, Scapa Flow. Although most of the Home Fleet was at sea, Prien sank the battleship Royal Oak and returned home to instant fame. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, personally by Adolf Hitler, and was the first sailor of the U-boat service and the second member of the Kriegsmarine to receive this award. The mission into Scapa Flow called for volunteers only; Prien had no hesitation in accepting the mission. In a token to the voluntary nature of the mission, Prien spoke to his crew while U-47 was lying off Scapa Flow, and having briefed them, he announced that anyone not wishing to volunteer could leave the boat immediately. Unsurprisingly, no one accepted the offer to disembark in the middle of the North Sea. Prien received the nickname Der Stier von Scapa Flow ("The Bull of Scapa Flow"); the emblem of a snorting bull was painted on the conning tower of U-47 and soon became the emblem of the entire 7th U-boat Flotilla. Two members of the Scapa Flow crew earned the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II: the chief engineer (Leitender Ingenieur) Johann-Friedrich Wessels and 1st watch officer (I. Wachoffizier) Engelbert Endrass.
Kept secret by the German naval command was the fact that Prien had fired a total of seven torpedoes at his target, of which five failed because of long-standing problems with their depth steering and their magnetic detonator systems. These problems continued to bedevil the German submariners for a long time and particularly during the German invasion of Norway, when the U-boats were unable to keep the Royal Navy at bay.
Prien narrated the attack in the book Mein Weg nach Scapa Flow (1940, Deutscher Verlag Berlin).
U-47 under the command of Prien with 1st watch officer (I. WO) Oberleutnant zur See Engelbert Endrass and chief engineer Oberleutnant (Ing.) Johann-Friedrich Wessels left Kiel on 16 November 1939. U-47 attacked a British cruiser on 28 November 1939. Prien had identified the ship to be a London-class cruiser. Prien fired a spread of three torpedoes, and believed he had hit the cruiser at least once. He had observed through the periscope how one torpedo struck the stern of the cruiser, causing the deck side mounted aircraft to go overboard. Prien surfaced and tried to pursue the cruiser but was driven off by depth charges dropped from the escort. It turned out the cruiser was HMS Norfolk which was slightly damaged by the torpedo detonating close by. The attack was reported in the daily Wehrmachtbericht on 29 November 1939, claiming the destruction of the cruiser. The war diary of the Befehlshaber der U-Boote (BdU) on 17 December 1939 stated that even though a hit was observed the cruiser was not sunk.
On 5 December 1939 U-47 spotted 12 merchant vessels escorted by 3 destroyers. Prien fired three torpedoes sinking the British steamer Navasota from Convoy OB 46 on its way to Buenos Aires, killing 37 sailors. The next day at 20:29 the Norwegian tanker Britta was sunk killing 6 of her crew followed by the Dutch Tajandoen on 7 December 1939. Trimming the boat on 8 December 1939, Wessels reported that the boat only had sufficient fuel to make the return trip. The BdU ordered U-47 to return to port. U-47 returned to Kiel on 18 December 1939. The claims made by Prien are noted in the war diary of the BdU on 17 December 1939:
Amongst the ships sunk by U-47 was the SS Arandora Star, carrying over 1,200 German and Italian civilian internees and 86 German prisoners of war to captivity in Canada. Over 800 lives were lost.
Following later patrols and raids on Allied merchant shipping, Prien was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross in 1940.
Heinz Rühmann, Hans Brausewetter and Josef Sieber sang a persiflage of the 1939 song Das kann doch einen Seemann nicht erschüttern (That won't shake a sailor), written by Michael Jary from the film Paradies der Junggesellen—Bachelor's Paradise, on account of the Oak Leaves presentation to Prien. The reworded lyrics are Das muss den ersten Seelord doch erschüttern—That must shake the First Sea Lord, alluding to Winston Churchill.[Note 3]
U-47 went missing on 7 March 1941 while attacking Convoy OB-293. She has generally been thought to have been sunk by the British destroyer HMS Wolverine west of Ireland; the submarine was attacked by Wolverine and HMS Verity, which took turns covering each other's ASDIC blind spots and dropping patterns of depth charges until U-47 rose almost to the surface before sinking and then exploded with an orange flash visible from the surface.
To date, there is no official record of what happened to U-47 or her 45 crewmen, though a variety of possibilities exists, including mines, a mechanical failure, falling victim to her own torpedoes, and possibly a later attack that did not confirm any kills by the corvette team of HMS Camellia and HMS Arbutus.
Prien's death was kept secret until 23 May. Churchill had personally announced it to the House of Commons, and propaganda broadcasts to Germany had repeatedly taunted listeners with the question "Where is Prien?" until Germany was forced to acknowledge his loss.
Although Prien was at sea for less than two years, his record stands high among the U-boat aces during the Second World War. He spent 238 days at sea and sank 30 enemy vessels for a total tonnage of 193,808 GRT.
German actor Dieter Eppler played commander Günther Prien in the 1958 war film U 47 – Kapitänleutnant Prien, directed by Harald Reinl. Günther Prien had been considered as namesake for the 1967 commissioned guided missile destroyer Lütjens. However the legend surrounding Prien, that he had distanced himself from Nazism and had become an active member of the German resistance and was held captive at the Wehrmachtgefängnis Torgau (Torgau Wehrmacht Prison), turned out to be false. Consequently, the name Lütjens, named after Admiral Günther Lütjens, was chosen instead.
Summary of career
|5 September 1939||SS Bosnia||United Kingdom||2,407||Sunk at|
|6 September 1939||SS Rio Claro||United Kingdom||4,086||Sunk at|
|7 September 1939||SS Gartavon||United Kingdom||1,777||Sunk at|
|14 October 1939||HMS Royal Oak||United Kingdom||29,150||Sunk at|
|28 November 1939||HMS Norfolk||United Kingdom||10,035||Damaged|
|5 December 1939||SS Novasota||United Kingdom||8,795||Sunk at|
|6 December 1939||MV Britta||Norway||6,214||Sunk at|
|7 December 1939||MV Tajandoen||Netherlands||8,159||Sunk at|
|25 March 1940||SS Britta||Denmark||1,146||Sunk at|
|14 June 1940||SS Balmoralwood||United Kingdom||5,834||Sunk at|
|21 June 1940||SS San Fernando||United Kingdom||13,056||Sunk at|
|24 June 1940||SS Cathrine||Panama||1,885||Sunk at|
|27 June 1940||SS Lenda||Norway||4,005||Sunk at|
|27 June 1940||SS Leticia||Netherlands||2,580||Sunk at|
|29 June 1940||SS Empire Toucan||United Kingdom||4,421||Sunk at|
|30 June 1940||SS Georgios Kyriakides||Greece||4,201||Sunk at|
|2 July 1940||SS Arandora Star||United Kingdom||15,501||Sunk at|
|2 September 1940||SS Ville de Mons||Belgium||7,463||Sunk at|
|4 September 1940||SS Titan||United Kingdom||9,035||Sunk at|
|7 September 1940||SS Neptunian||United Kingdom||5,155||Sunk at|
|7 September 1940||SS José de Larrinaga||United Kingdom||5,303||Sunk at|
|7 September 1940||SS Gro||Norway||4,211||Sunk at|
|9 September 1940||SS Possidon||Greece||3,840||Sunk at|
|21 September 1940||SS Elmbank||United Kingdom||5,156||Damaged at|
|19 October 1940||SM Uganda||United Kingdom||4,966||Sunk at|
|19 October 1940||MV Shirak||Belgium||6,023||Damaged at|
|19 October 1940||SS Wandby||United Kingdom||4,947||Sunk at|
|20 October 1940||SS La Estancia||United Kingdom||5,185||Sunk at|
|20 October 1940||SS Whitford Point||United Kingdom||5,026||Sunk at|
|20 October 1940||MV Athelmonarch||United Kingdom||8,995||Damaged at|
|8 November 1940||MV Gonçalo Velho||Portugal||8,995||Damaged at|
|2 December 1940||SS Ville d'Arlon||Belgium||7,555||Sunk at|
|2 December 1940||MV Conch||United Kingdom||8,376||Damaged at|
|2 December 1940||MV Dunsley||United Kingdom||8,376||Damaged at|
|26 February 1941||SS Kasongo||Belgium||5,254||Sunk at|
|26 February 1941||MV Diala||United Kingdom||8,106||Damaged at|
|26 February 1941||MV Rydboholm||Sweden||3,197||Sunk at|
|26 February 1941||MV Borgland||Norway||3,636||Sunk at|
|28 February 1941||SS Holmlea||United Kingdom||4,233||Sunk at|
|7 March 1941||MV Terje Viken||United Kingdom||8,106||Damaged at|
- Wehrmacht Long Service Award 4th Class (22 January 1937)
- Iron Cross (1939)
- U-boat War Badge with Diamonds
- Diamond-studded Navy Honour Dagger
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Mentioned eight times in the Wehrmachtbericht (29 November 1939, 28 June 1940, 1 July 1940, 6 July 1940, 10 September 1940, 25 September 1940, 20 October 1940 and 23 May 1941)
|Date||Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording||Direct English translation|
|Wednesday, 29 November 1939||Wie bereits durch Sondermeldung bekanntgegeben, ist ein britischer schwerer Kreuzer der "London" Klasse durch Kapitänleutnant Prien ostwärts der Shetland-Inseln torpediert und vernichtet worden.||As already announced, Kapitänleutnant Prien torpedoed and destroyed a heavy British cruiser of the "London" class east of the Shetland islands.|
|Friday, 28 June 1940||Kapitänleutnant Prien meldet die Versenkung von 40 100 BRT feindlichen Handelsschiffsraums.||Kapitänleutnant Prien reports the sinking of 40,100 GRT enemy merchant shipping.|
|Monday, 1 July 1940||Kapitänleutnant Prien hat in den letzten Tagen weitere feindliche Handelsschiffe vernichtet; die im OKW-Bericht vom 28. Juni bekanntgegebene Versenkungsziffer seines Bootes erhöht sich dadurch auf 51 086 BRT.||Kapitänleutnant Prien destroyed further enemy ships in the last few days; the reported tonnage sunk of the OKW report from 28 June thus increased to 51 086 GRT.|
|Saturday, 6 July 1940||Kapitänleutnant Prien hat mit seinem Unterseeboot auf der soeben beendeten Fahrt gegen den Feind insgesamt 66 587 BRT feindlichen Handelsschiffsraums versenkt. Dies ist das bisher höchste Ergebnis einer einzigen Feindfahrt.||Kapitänleutnant Prien with his submarine sank 66 587 GRT of enemy merchant shipping on the patrol against the enemy that just finished. This is the highest achievement of a single patrol so far.|
|Tuesday, 10 September 1940||Ein Unterseeboot unter Führung des Kapitänleutnant Prien, von dem am 8. September bereits ein Teilergebnis von 33 400 BRT gemeldet worden ist, hat auf einer Unternehmung insgesamt sechs bewaffnete Handelsschiffe mit 40 250 BRT versenkt. Ein weiterer Dampfer wurde beschädigt.||A submarine under the leadership of Kapitänleutnant Prien, of which a partial result of 33,400 GRT was reported on 8 September, on a mission sank six armed merchant ships of 40,250 GRT. A further steamer was damaged.|
|Wednesday, 25 September 1940||Das Gesamtversenkungsergebnis des Kapitänleutnants Prien auf seiner letzten Feindfahrt hat sich auf 45 130 BRT erhöht. Damit hat Kapitänleutnant Prien außer der Vernichtung des britischen Schlachtschiffes "Royal Oak" 151 400 BRT feindlichen Handelsschiffsraums versenkt. Er steht mit diesen Erfolgen an der Spitze aller Unterseebootkommandanten.||The accumulated result of Kapitänleutnant Prien last war patrol increased to 45,130 GRT. The total tonnage of enemy merchant shipping sunk by Kapitänleutnant Prien, excluding the destruction of the British battleship "Royal Oak", thus stands at 151,400 GRT. With these successes he leads the list of all U-boat commanders.|
|Sunday, 20 October 1940||An dieser Versenkungsziffer ist das Unterseeboot des Kapitänleutnants Prien mit acht Schiffen von zusammen 50 500 BRT beteiligt. Kapitänleutnant Prien hat damit als erster der Unterseebootkommandanten die 200 000 Tonnen-Grenze überschritten. Mit einer Gesamtversenkungsziffer von 202 000 BRT feindlichen Handelsschiffsraums steht er weiter an der Spitze aller Unterseebootskommandanten.||This tonnage sunk includes eight ships of 50,500 GRT sunk by the U-boat of Kapitänleutnant Prien. Kapitänleutnant Prien is the first U-boat commander who exceeded the 200 000 tons. He still leads the list of U-boat commanders with a combined tonnage of 202,000 GRT enemy merchant shipping.|
|Friday, 23 May 1941||Das von Korvettenkapitän Günter Prien geführte Unterseeboot ist von seiner letzten Fahrt gegen den Feind nicht zurückgekehrt. Mit dem Verlust dieses Bootes muß gerechnet werden. Korvettenkapitän Günter Prien, der Held von Scapa Flow, der vom Führer in Anerkennung seiner überragenden Verdienste mit dem Eichenlaub zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes ausgezeichnet worden war, und seine tapfere Besatzung leben im Herzen aller Deutschen weiter.||The U-boat under the command of Korvettenkapitän Günter Prien did not return from his last patrol against the enemy. The loss of the boat has to be assumed. Korvettenkapitän Günter Prien, the hero from Scapa Flow, who had received the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross from the Führer for his exceptional achievements, and his brave crew, will continue to live in every German heart.|
Dates of rank
|1 March 1933:||Fähnrich zur See|
|1 January 1935:||Oberfähnrich zur See|
|1 April 1935:||Leutnant zur See|
|1 January 1937:||Oberleutnant zur See|
|1 February 1939:||Kapitänleutnant|
|18 March 1941:||Korvettenkapitän, effective as of 1 March 1941|
- In 1940, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves was second only to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes), which was awarded only to senior commanders for winning a major battle or campaign, in the military order of the Third Reich. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves as highest military order was surpassed on 28 September 1941 by the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern).
- The German Reichsmarine was renamed to Kriegsmarine on 1 June 1935.
- First Sea Lord at the time was Admiral Dudley Pound. However, Churchill was the personified British enemy at the time.
- Williamson & Bujeiro 2004, pp. 3, 7.
- Uboat.net - Naval Warfare Books - Laughing Cow, The by Metzler, Jost at uboat.net
- U-Boat Commander, by Gunther Prien, Award Books, 1969
- Mulligan 2013, chpt. 11 Disinterested Service
- Busch & Röll 2003, p. 18.
- Kurowski 2008, pp. 57–58.
- Kurowski 2008, p.59.
- Kurowski 2008, pp.59–60.
- Ossmann-Mausch 2006, p. 151.
- Van der Vat 2000, p. 212.
- Blair 1996, pp. 249-253.
- Kemp 1997, p. 68.
- Neistle 1998, pp. 39, 223.
- Williams 2003, pp. 124–126.
- U47 - Kapitänleutnant Prien at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- "Mumm haben". Der Spiegel 35/1967. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
- "BOSNIA CARGO - VRACHTSCHIP 1928-1939 - WRAK WRECK EPAVE WRACK PECIO". Wrecksite.eu. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
- Busch & Röll 2003, p. 15.
- Thomas 1998, p. 171.
- Williamson & Bujeiro 2004, p. 23.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 604.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 344.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 270.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 53.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 25.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 60.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 247.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 249.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 252.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 300.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 311.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 336.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 536.
- Kurowski 2008, p. 149.
- Blair, Clay (1996). Hitler’s U-Boat War Vol I. ISBN 0-304-35260-8.
- Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (2003). Der U-Boot-Krieg 1939–1945 — Die Ritterkreuzträger der U-Boot-Waffe von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [The U-Boat War 1939–1945 — The Knight's Cross Bearers of the U-Boat Force from September 1939 to May 1945] (in German). Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn Germany: Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn. ISBN 978-3-8132-0515-2.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) . 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.
- Kemp, Paul (1997). U-Boats Destroyed. ISBN 1-85409-515-3.
- Kurowski, Franz (1995). Knight's Cross Holders of the U-Boat Service. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-88740-748-2.
- Kurowski, Franz (2008). Korvettenkapitän Günther Prien Der Stier von Scapa Flow (in German). Würzburg, Germany: Flechsig Verlag. ISBN 978-3-88189-766-2.
- Neistle, Axel (1998). German U-Boat Losses during World War II. ISBN 1-85367-352-8.
- Mulligan, Timothy (2013). Neither Sharks Nor Wolves: The Men of Nazi Germany's U-boat Army, 1939–1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-61251-080-4.
- Ossmann-Mausch, Christa A. (2006). Alles begann in Berlin: eine Jugend in Zeiten des Krieges (in German). Hamburg, Germany: Mein Buch oHG. ISBN 3-86516-493-5.
- Prien, Günther (1969). U-Boat Commander. Deutscher Verlag.
- Range, Clemens (1974). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Kriegsmarine [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Navy]. Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-87943-355-1.
- 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 Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9.
- Van der Vat, Dan (2000). Standard of Power. London: Hutchinson. ISBN 0-09-180121-4.
- Von Seemen, Gerhard (1976). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 : die Ritterkreuzträger sämtlicher Wehrmachtteile, Brillanten-, Schwerter- und Eichenlaubträger in der Reihenfolge der Verleihung : Anhang mit Verleihungsbestimmungen und weiteren Angaben [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 : The Knight's Cross Bearers of All the Armed Services, Diamonds, Swords and Oak Leaves Bearers in the Order of Presentation: Appendix with Further Information and Presentation Requirements] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7909-0051-4.
- Williams, Andrew (2003). The Battle of the Atlantic: Hitler's Gray Wolves of the Sea and the Allies' Desperate Struggle to Defeat Them. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-09153-9.
- Williamson, Gordon; Bujeiro, Ramiro. Knight's Cross and Oak Leaves Recipients 1939–40. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-641-6.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 1, 1 September 1939 to 31 December 1941] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2.
- Günther Prien in the German National Library catalogue
- "In der kleinen Hafenbar". DER SPIEGEL 39/1958 (in German). Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- "The Bull of Scapa Flow." Heavily illustrated. Includes video.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Günther Prien". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- "Günther Prien". Geschichtsthemen (in German). Retrieved 16 January 2012.