Georg von Rabenau

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Georg von Rabenau
Paul Georg von Rabenau.jpg
Birth name Paul Georg von Rabenau
Birth date 3 July 1916(1916-07-03)
Place of birth Leopoldshall near Staßfurt,[1] Kreis Bernburg, Duchy of Anhalt, German Empire
Death date 29 March 1991 (aged 83)
Place of death Hamburg, Germany
Allegiance  National Socialist Germany
 West Germany
Service/branch  Kriegsmarine
Deutsche Marine der Bundeswehr.png German Navy (Bundeswehr)
Years of service 1936–1945
Rank Kapitänleutnant
Commands held U 528
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Iron Cross
Relations ∞ 1946 Sigrid Weber

Paul Georg von Rabenau (3 July 1916 – 29 March 1991) was a German naval officer of the Kriegsmarine and U-Boot-Kommandant in WWII as well as Frigate Captain (Commander) of the German Navy of the Bundeswehr in the post-war era.


Paul Georg von Rabenau II.jpg

Georg von Rabenau completed his schooling in Kiel and Hamburg and received his Abitur here. This explains his connection to water. He learned to sail as a schoolboy and took part in national and international sailing regattas as a young man. On 3 April 1936, he joined the Kriegsmarine with the 1936 Crew – the famous "Olympia Crew" with Wilhelm von Trotha and Claus von Trotha among others. The Crew of 1936 chose the Olympic rings as their symbol (the 1936 Olympic games were held in Berlin). It was the largest Crew, and produced more U-Boot commandants than any other – of the 164 who graduated, 140 took command of a submarine during the war.[2]

He received the typical training for a naval officer candidate on land and at sea on bord different ships.[3] On 1 October 1938, he was transferred to the naval aviators and trained to be an observer with the coastal flyers. On 31 August 1939, he was transferred to the 1st Squadron/Küstenfliegergruppe 506 in Pillau-Neutief. The group was subordinate to the leader of the East Air Force and was deployed over the Baltic Sea. From 13 September 1939, the 1st Squadron in Putzig was converted from Dornier Do 18 to the Heinkel He 115. The 1st Squadron was in Grossenbrode at the beginning of 1940. In January 1940, it moved back to List. When the occupation of Norway began, the squadron and the group staff moved to Trondheim on 9 April ​​and to Stavanger in July 1940.

In mid-May 1940, von Rabenau had been transferred to the 1st Squadron/Küstenfliegergruppe 806 in Uetersen. Here the entire group was converted to the Junkers Ju 88 A. In July 1940, the group moved to Nantes in France to Air Fleet 3. From 11 September 1940, it was deployed from Caen-Carpiquet. In Januayr 1941, von Rabenau was transferred to the U-Boot weapon and trained as a watch officer until June 1941. He eventually became First Watch Officer (I. WO) on U 504 under Hans-Georg Friedrich "Fritz" Poske. As such, he took part in three war patrols until 8 July 1942 sinking 10 ships with over 50,000 GRT.

After a driving device course and a course for commandants, he was placed at the disposal of the 24th U-Flotilla in Memel on 16 August 1942. On 1 September 1942, he was appointed as teacher in the 2nd U-teaching division in Gotenhafen.

U 528

1st Lieutenant von Rabenau was appointed commandant of U 528 (IX C/40) on 17 December 1942 and continued the training as part of the 4. U-Flottille in Stettin. At the end of March 1943, the boat was transferred to the 10. U-Flottille (headquarters in Lorient, France) and became active on 1 April 1943 in Kiel. The first war patrol began on 15 April 1945. After marching across the Baltic Sea and replenishing fuel in Kristiansand, the boat operated in the North Atlantic, south of Iceland. On this mission it belonged to the Wolfpack "Star". Von Rabenau writes:

On 15 April 1943, we left Kiel for our first patrol. Through the Great Belt to southern Norway, along the Norwegian coast, through the southern Norwegian Sea south past Iceland into the North Atlantic. On 15 April 1943, in very low clouds, the boat was surprised by a "Catalina" flying boat from the American US Navy Squadron VP-84 and was badly hit on the bow by bombs that detonated directly in front of the boat. The outer flaps of all four forward torpedo tubes were so damaged that they could no longer be moved. It was therefore no longer possible to shoot with the front barrels. On 29 April 1943 and 30 April 1943, U 528 was east of Cape Farewell with two groups of the convoy (ONS-5), which came from the east and was heading west.
However, because of the very heavy seas, there was no attack. Shortly before Cape Farewell we were forced to dive by a Sunderland flying boat on 30 April 1943. As a result, the contact to the escort was lost. I contacted the B.d.U. with reference to the damage to the boat, to ask to cancel the trip and be allowed to journey to Lorient. Approval was granted. We gave the excess fuel to the supply submarine U 461 (Stiebler) and headed towards Lorient. During the night of 10 May 1943 to 11 May 1943, the air-threatened area (western part of Biscay) was reached. According to orders, it went underwater. We still had about 2 to 3 days to travel to Lorient. After surfacing on the morning of 11 May 1943 to recharge the batteries and the compressed air tanks while traveling over water, the boat was discovered by the "Halifax" D (under P Off J.B. Stark of RAF Squadron 58 from the air security area of ​​convoy OS-47), attacked with bombs and forced to dive (the British pilot reported that he could see how the submarine was literally thrown out of the water and turned onto its side).
After about half an hour we emerged again. But the plane returned, this time it was spotted in time and we did not come under attack. But we had to dive again. Our intention was to stay under water a little longer until the plane finally flew away. After not very long we heard the noise of propellers from surface vessels, and shortly afterwards depth charges were thrown again. We went to great depths and stayed at depths between 180 and 130 meters for about 5 hours and received about 120 depth charges during this time. The resulting damage to the boat was still not very significant. The electrical system failed temporarily. An internal fuel tank burst and oil leaked into the bilge. Some valves started leaking, so some water gradually entered the boat.
When we finally had half an hour of peace and could no longer hear the vehicles, I decided to emerge. And when we were up there, there were initially no vehicles or planes to be seen. Our location was 46°55' North - 14°44' W. The visibility was no longer as good as in the morning. The sea was light. Since we first had to get the boat back in order, which was pretty battered by the long depth charge chase and diving trip, before we could continue on the water and recharge the battery and compressed air, we were still stopped. At that moment, two vehicles emerged from the haze and began firing artillery at about 5,000 to 6,000 meters. After two volleys, one short, one long, the fire was strangely stopped again (as I later found out, because we made no attempt to drive away or dive).
Since we were completely unclear to dive (battery almost empty, compressed air tank completely empty and around 13 tons of water in the boat) and couldn't have driven as fast as the enemy vehicles, and our guns weren't enough for an artillery battle, I sent a radio message to the U-Boat command saying that we were not clear for diving and were being attacked by enemy vessels and that I would therefore have to sink the boat. The sinking was then immediately initiated. While U 528 slowly sank, all of the crew went into the water. I was the last to jump off board after the chief engineer and saw the boat behind me go over the sternpost into the depths. All the men had life jackets or diving life preservers on, and we had a long line that everyone was supposed to hold on to if possible so that we stayed together.
At first we swam together in a fairly tight group, but gradually we were pushed apart a bit, so that I could no longer convince myself of each individual's swimming ability and endurance. In the meantime both vehicles had approached. The British corvette MIGNONETTE remained to leeward of us, while the corvette FLEETWOOD went to windward and thus drifted towards us. So the two vehicles had us between them. They lowered the sea ladders and launched one boat each. Little by little, all the men of my crew that could be found were picked up and brought on board the British ships. I swam for about 35 minutes until I was picked up and taken on board the FLEETWOOD. The water had a temperature of around 14°C. So we were very wet and cold, even though the last man picked up had only been in the water for about 45 minutes.
On the FLEETWOOD we were given warm clothes to wear and hot tea. I was then very soon taken to the bridge to the commander (Commander R.N.R. William Brown Piggot), who greeted me in a friendly manner. He asked the corvette MIGNONETTE how many of my crew had been taken on board. There were seven men, and with us on the FLEETWOOD there were 38 men. That was a total of 45. So there were 11 men missing, because there were a total of 56 men on U 528, all of whom got out of the boat and went into the water. Commander Piggot explained to me that he and the other corvette had now been stopped in this dangerous area for the British for over an hour and that he and two aircraft, that I saw flying above us, had been looking for my crew. Despite the usable view, no one could be seen swimming anymore, which I was able to see for myself with binoculars, and that he would now have to stop the search and run back to his association. I had to accept this decision with a heavy heart, without ever knowing why the eleven missing comrades drowned.[4]

The loss of eleven of his men (Bockorny, Rolf; Dettling, Kurt; Haschke, Gerhard; Häfling, Erich; Kolodzieoj, Max-Josef: Liszio, Gustav; Röder, Heinz; Schütz, Karl-Heinz; Schulte, Aloisius; Silbermann, Gerhard; Wiotte, Karl-Heinz) haunted him for the rest of his life. For the first three months, Georg von Rabenau was a British prisoner of war, then American prisoner of war in Papago Park near Phoenix, Arizona. He was released on 22 May 1946 and was repatriated.


Finally home, von Rabenau married and founded a family. He initially worked as a gardener for his grandfather in Detmold. His small family lived with his in-laws until 1950. In 1950, the family moved to Hamburg-Poppenbüttel and lived there until 1959. Von Rabenau had gotten a job at the Philips ship lighting company. However, he left Philips in 1956 and joined the newly founded German Navy as a Korvettenkapitän (Corvette Captain – Lieutenant Commander). During his first two assignments in Wilhelmshaven and Rheinbach near Bonn, he was responsible, among other things, for setting up and recruiting personnel for the new navy. From April 1959 to September 1963 he was Marine Attaché for the Netherlands and Belgium based at the German Embassy in The Hague. This time had a big impact on the whole family, in terms of expression, small rituals and a certain affinity for the country.

After four and a half years, he was transferred to Brake on the Lower Weser as commander of the 4th Marine Training Battalion before moving to the Ministry of Defense in Bonn in 1966. There, as a Fregattenkapitän (Frigate Captain – Commander), he was in charge of the German naval attachés abroad and the foreign naval attachés in Germany. In 1969, he took up his last position at the leadership academy in Hamburg. He retired from the Bundeswehr in 1972 and lived in Hamburg-Nienstedten until 1991. After leaving the Bundeswehr, he volunteered at the Mathilde Grell Foundation and in several other organizations in Hamburg.


Gothaisches Genealogisches Taschenbuch, 1942

Georg was the son of naval officer and U-Boot ace Paul Reinhart von Rabenau and his wife Christine, née Gante. He had two siblings:

  • Helga Klara Christine (b. 26 September 1918 in Staßfurt-Leopoldshall; d. 14 November 1946 in Detmold)
  • Christa Luise Adele (b. 3 January 1921 in Kiel)


Shortly before his departure to the 10. U-Flottille in March 1943, Georg became engaged to the physiotherapist Sigrid Weber (b. 1916), whom he married on 2 August 1946 after his return from captivity. They lived with his parents-in-law, teacher Hans Ulrich Weber (b. 1880) and his wife, teacher and painter Else, née Rouwolf (1893-1994),[5][6] until 1950. They had three children:[7]

  • Reinhart (b. 1948)
  • Marianne (b. 1950)
  • Cornelia (b. 1952)

Promotions (Kriegsmarine)

  • 3.4.1936 Seeoffiziersanwärter (Sea Officer Candidate)
  • 10.9.1936 Seekadett (Sea Cadet)
  • 1.5.1937 Fähnrich zur See (Officer Cadet)
  • 1.7.1938 Oberfähnrich zur See (Senior Officer Cadet)
  • 1.10.1938 Leutnant zur See (2nd Lieutenant at Sea)
  • 1.10.1940 Oberleutnant zur See (1st Lieutenant at Sea)
  • 1.8.1943 Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant Captain)

Awards and decorations (excerpt)


  1. On 1 April 1946, Leopoldshall was forcibly incorporated into Staßfurt.
  2. Georg von Rabenau,
  3. Georg von Rabenau, (Archive)
  4. U 528
  5. Nachlass einer ganz modernen Frau
  6. Sie nahm sich die Freiheit zu reisen und zu malen
  7. Paul Georg von Rabenau
  8. "Kommende" is the German term for the administrative districts or religious houses of the Teutonic Order or the Bailiwick of Brandenburg of the Chivalric Order of Saint John of the Hospital at Jerusalem (commonly known as the Order of Saint John or the Johanniter Order).