Otto Westphalen

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Otto Westphalen
Otto Westphalen.jpg
Born (1920-03-12)12 March 1920
Died 9 January 2008(2008-01-09) (aged 87)
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Kriegsmarine
Years of service 1938–45
Rank Oberleutnant zur See
Unit 21st U-boat Flotilla
13th U-boat Flotilla
Commands held U-121
(16 May 1942 – 8 February 1943)
(18 March 1943 – 8 May 1945)

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Otto Westphalen (12 March 1920 in Hamburg – 9 January 2008) was a German U-boat commander in World War II and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, awarded by Nazi Germany to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.


Westphalen joined the Kriegsmarine in October 1938, and took part in the invasion of Poland aboard the battleship Schlesien a year later. He then served on the torpedo boat Kondor for six months before joining the U-boat force in October 1940.[1]

He sailed on four patrols as watch officer of U-566 in 1941, and in May 1942 took command of the school boat U-121. In March 1943 he commissioned the Type VIIC U-boat U-968, and was attached to 13th U-boat Flotilla, based at Trondheim, Norway, for operations against convoys in the Arctic Sea.[1]

Westphalen sailed on seven combat patrols between March 1944 and May 1945, though all his victories were made in February and March 1945;[2] he sank three merchant ships, damaged another, and sank the British sloops HMS Lark and HMS Lapwing.[3] On 29 April 1945 he attacked but missed HMS Goodall which was sunk an hour later by U-286.

In January 1944 Westphalen served on the military court which sentenced Oskar Kusch, the commander of U-154, to death on charges of "defeatism".[4]

Westphalen surrendered in May 1945 in Narvik.[1]

Summary of career[edit]

Ships attacked[edit]

Ships attacked[1]
Date Ship Tons Nationality Convoy Fate
14 February 1945 Horace Gray 7,200  United States BK-3 Total loss
14 February 1945 Norfjell 8,129  Norway BK-3 Damaged
17 February 1945 HMS Lark 1,350  Royal Navy RA-64 Total loss
17 February 1945 Thomas Scott 7,176  United States RA-64 Sunk
20 March 1945 HMS Lapwing 1,350  Royal Navy JW-65 Sunk
20 March 1945 Thomas Donaldson 7,210  United States JW-65 Sunk



  1. ^ a b c d Helgason, Guðmundur. "Oberleutnant zur See Otto Westphalen". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "War Patrols by U-boat U-968". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-968". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  4. ^ "The Case of Oskar Kusch and the Limits of U-boat Camaraderie in World War II: Reflections on a German Tragedy". Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c Busch & Röll 2003, p. 507.
  6. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 509.
  7. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 782.


  • 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) [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. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • 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. 

External links[edit]

  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "Otto Westphalen". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 12 September 2013.