Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière

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Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière
Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière.jpg
Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière
Born March 18, 1886 (1886-03-18)
Posen (today Poznań), German Empire
Died February 24, 1941 (1941-02-25) (aged 54)
Le Bourget, France
Buried Invalidenfriedhof Berlin
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Imperial German Navy
Years of service 1903–32, 1939–41
Rank Vizeadmiral
Commands held
Relations Friedrich von Arnauld de la Perière (brother)

Vizeadmiral Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière (March 18, 1886 – February 24, 1941), born in Posen (now Poznań, Poland) and of French-German descent, was a German U-boat commander during World War I. With 194 ships and 453,716 gross register tons (GRT) sunk, he is the most successful submarine ace ever. His victories came in the Mediterranean, almost always using his 8.8-cm deck gun. During his career he fired 74 torpedoes, hitting 39 times.[1]

Arnauld de la Perière remained in the German Navy (Reichsmarine) after the war ended. During World War II, he was recalled to active duty as a rear admiral, and was killed in a plane crash near Paris in 1941 while taking part in secret negotiations with the Vichy French government.

Family background[edit]

In 1757 France, after a duel with a Prince de Bourbon, Jean-Gabriel Arnauld, Seigneur de la Perière, a young artillery officer aged 26 in Saint Plantaire (Indre), had to leave the country to avoid being imprisoned. He went to Prussia and joined the army of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. Because of his noble descent, he became a member of the Prussian nobility, and because of his service he attained the rank of three star general. Married three times, he had 14 children. His 12th, Eugen Ahasverus Albertus, born in 1800, was the grandfather of Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière.

Eugen von Arnauld de la Perière was married twice and had in total 10 children. His second wife, Olga Spalding, gave birth on April 28, 1856, to Eugen Emil Alexander Valentin von Arnauld de la Perière, father of Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière.

E. E. A. V. von Arnauld de la Perière was married to Bertha Müller. Lothar was their second child. His father being in the state service, Lothar was entitled to be educated at the cadet school of Wahlstatt and later at Gross‑Lichterfelde. His younger brother was Friedrich von Arnauld de la Perière (*1888), during the Great War a Oberleutnant zur See and flight commander of the Marinekorps Flandern.

First World War[edit]

U-35 in the Mediterranean Sea

Arnauld de la Perière entered the Kaiserliche Marine in 1903. After serving on the battleships SMS Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm, Schlesien and Schleswig-Holstein, he served as torpedo officer on the light cruiser SMS Emden from 1911 to 1913.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Arnauld de la Perière served as an adjutant to admiral Hugo von Pohl in Berlin. Upon the mobilization, he was transferred to an active post where he served in the Marine-Luftschiff-Abteilung. In 1915, Arnauld de la Perière transferred to the U-boats. After a course in Pula, he was given command of the U-35 in November 1915. He made 14 voyages with the U-35 during which he sank 189 merchant vessels and two gunboats for a total of 446,708 GRT. One of his kills was the French troop carrier SS Gallia, which sank with great loss of life. Transferred to the U-139 in May 1918, he sank a further five ships with a combined tonnage of 7,008 GRT. His record number of sunken tonnage and number of sunken ships is unsurpassed since then. For his service, he was awarded the Iron Cross, second and first class, and the Pour le Mérite in 1916.

De la Perière was punctilious about respecting rules of engagement for civilian ships, ensuring they had evacuated all personnel and passengers and knew the safe route to a port before destroying the ship. He typically used his deck gun or dynamite to do so, conserving torpedoes. In one famous incident he attacked a British convoy of twelve ships but became trapped by one as it sank. Facing the prospect of perishing at the bottom of the ocean, he blew his ballast tanks and freed his ship, continuing the engagement. [2]


After the end of the war, Arnauld de la Perière stayed in a vastly-reduced German Navy. During the 1920s, he served as navigation officer on the old pre-dreadnoughts SMS Hannover and SMS Elsass. From 24 September 1928 to 10 October 1930, he commanded the light cruiser Emden. Promoted to captain in 1931, he was put on the retired list. He then taught at the Turkish Naval Academy from 1932 to 1938.

Second World War[edit]

Grave in the Invalidenfriedhof in Berlin

At the start of World War II, Arnauld de la Perière was again called up for active duty. Until March 1940, he served as naval commandant in Danzig until he was sent to the Low Countries as naval commandant for Belgium and the Netherlands. Promoted to Konteradmiral Arnauld de la Perière was made naval commandant in Brittany and later for the entire western French seacoast. He was promoted to Vizeadmiral on February 1, 1941. Transferred to take up command of Navy Group South, he was killed when his plane crashed on takeoff near Le Bourget Airport. He is buried in Berlin at the Invalidenfriedhof.



  1. ^ www.histomar.net which contains information based on original ship logs
  2. ^ "Badass of the Week: Lothar von Arnauld". www.badassoftheweek.com. 

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