Peter Ottmar Grau

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Peter Ottmar Grau
Peter Ottmar Grau.jpg
Birth date 3 May 1914(1914-05-03)[1]
Place of birth Hamburg, German Empire
Death date 7 October 1994 (aged 80)
Place of death Hamburg, Germany
Resting place Friedhof Ohlsdorf
Allegiance  Weimar Republic
 National Socialist Germany
Service/branch  Reichsmarine
Years of service 1934–1945
Rank Kapitänleutnant
Commands held U 46
U 601
U 872
U 3015
Battles/wars World War II
Awards German Cross in Gold
Relations ∞ Antje Buehl

Peter Ottmar Grau (sometimes also Peter-Ottmar; 1914–1994) was a German naval officer (U-Boot-Kommandant) and recipient of the German Cross in Gold in WWII. During seven patrols (Feindfahrten) and 191 days at sea, Grau sank four enemy ships with 8,869 tons.[2]

Military career

Peter Ottmar Grau (left) with wife and Walter Klemm[3] with wife Dagmar, née Mauritz, at the annual meeting of the survivors of Crew 34 in 1952.
Cemetery Ohlsdorf (Hamburg)
Grab Buehl-Grau (Plangger) FriedhofOhlsdorf (1).jpg

After his Abitur, Grau joined the Reichsmarine as an officer candidate on 8 April 1934 (Crew 34). He received his mandatory naval training (II. Schiffsstammabteilung der Ostsee, Stralsund) and on training ships like the sailer "Gorch Fock" and the cruiser "Emden". He then attended the Naval School (Marineschule, Flensburg-Mürwik) in 1935/36 and was transferred on board the heavy crusier "Admiral Hipper" in 1936.


In August 1939, he became Kommandant of the experimental boat "Otto Braun" and took part in the Poland Campaign. The boat received a hit on 12 September 1939 from a Polish gun battery on the Hela Peninsula. From October 1939 to 26 January 1941, he served with the minesweeping 12. Minensuchflottille (Vlissingen) as Kommandant of the Minensuchboot M 1201 and M 1204. He then received many training courses for a future U-Boot officer (U-Wachoffizierslehrgang, 1. U-Lehrdivision, Pillau; Torpedolehrgang für U-Torpedooffiziere, Torpedoschule, Flensburg-Mürwik; Nachrichtenlehrgang für U-Wachoffiziere, Nachrichtenschule, Flensburg-Mürwik; Artillerielehrgang für U-Wachoffiziere, Schiffsartillerieschule, Kiel-Wik). He was deemed to become U-Boot-Kommandant in 1941 (Kommandanten-Lehrgang. Kommandanten-Schießlehrgang, 24. U-Flottille, Memel), became commandant student (Kommandantenschüler) on U 201 and took command of U 46 on 16 September 1941. He became Kommandant of U 601[4] (13. U-Flottille) from 18 December 1941 to 29 November 1943, being replaced by Otto Alexander Hansen. U 601 took part in five wolfpacks, namely:

  • Boreas (19 November – 6 December 1942)
  • Wiking (20 September – 3 October 1943)
  • Eisenbart (19 December 1943 – 5 January 1944)
  • Isegrim (16 – 27 January 1944)
  • Werwolf (27 January – 1 February 1944)

Grau became training officer of the 27. U-Flottille in Gotenhafen and was Kommandant of U 872from 10 February 1944 to 10 August 1944. He ended the war as Kommandant of submarine U 3015 (17 December 1944 to 5 May 1945) with the 4. U-Flottille in Stettin. U 3015 was sunk on 5 May 1945[5] by Grau and his crew in the Gelting Bay at the exit of the Flensburg Fjord near Gelting during Operation Rainbow. Operation Regenbogen (German: Regenbogen-Befehl, "Rainbow Order") was the code name for the planned mass scuttling of the German U-boat fleet (at the end c. 200), to avoid surrender, at the end of World War II. In the early hours of 5 May, the Regenbogen order was given, only to be countermanded 8 minutes later, to avoid jeopardizing the surrender negotiations, and later that day all operational U-boats were ordered to cease hostilities. Despite this a further 87 boats were destroyed on 5 May; 64 on the Baltic (41 at Gelting Bay, 13 at Flensburg and 10 at various other points), while on the North Sea coast 23 boats were disposed of, 13 at Wilhelmshaven and 10 in the Weser estuary. As the Allies closed in on the North German ports the Kriegsmarine started to destroy what was left to prevent its capture, while all serviceable boats were ordered to bases in Norway. During May a final massacre of U-boats fleeing to Norway took place; 23 U-boats were destroyed or damaged beyond repair in transit in the first week of May. On 23 May 1945, British soldiers surrounded the special area in Flensburg-Mürwik. Karl Dönitz and with him all c. 420 members of the last government of the German Reich are arrested by British soldiers.


Grau was married to Antje Buehl (1920–1999), daughter of Werner Buehl (1889–1960) and granddaughter of Council of State in Hamburg Dr. jur. Wilhelm Adolf Albert Alfred Buehl (1860–1948).[6][7] The family grave was created in 1938 by the German sculptor Hans Plangger.[8]



  • 8.4.1934 Offiziersanwärter (Crew 1934)
  • 26.9.1934 Seekadett (Cadet at Sea)


  • 1.7.1935 Fähnrich zur See (Officer Cadet)
  • 1.1.1937 Oberfähnrich zur See (Senior Officer Cadet)
  • 1.4.1937 Leutnant zur See (2nd Lieutenant at Sea)
  • 1.4.1939 Oberleutnant zur See (1st Lieutenant at Sea)
  • 1.1.1942 Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant Captain)

Awards and decorations


  1. Peter Ottmar Grau,
  2. Peter-Ottmar Grau,
  3. Walter Klemm (b. 19 December 1909 in Breslau) joined the Reichsmarine together with his friend Ernst von Bergen-Windels (), became a minesweeper and was watch officer in the 2. Minenräumflotte in 1938. At the beginning of the war, Klemm served in various minesweeping units, primarily in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. In January 1941, Klemm married Dagmar Mauritz, with whom he had two children. In early November 1941, he was promoted to Kapitänleutnant while serving at the Headquarters of the 8th Mine Sweeping Flotilla. In 1942, he served with the 3rd Security Command (3. Sicherungskommando), a unit operating out of Lorient, France, the largest German U-boat base on the French Atlantic coast. Their task was to secure the exit routes of the German U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic. In July 1943, Klemm was promoted to command of the 6th Minesweeping Flotilla, which operated in the Mediterranean and Adriatic. On 10 January 1945, he received the German Cross in Gold. He served there until the end of hostilities. The 6th Mine Sweeping Flotilla, captured by New Zealand troops, was used by the German Mine Sweeping Administration (GMSA) in the Adriatic Sea for mine clearance. He later joined the German Navy of the Bundeswehr as Korvettenkapitän and commanded the 1. Minensuchgeschwader from 1 November 1958 to 31 October 1960 as Fregattenkapitän. His cousin Helmut Klemm (1908–1969) from Siegen also joined the navy, was Fregattenkapitän in WWII and would become Flottillenadmiral of the Bundesmarine and Commander of the Bundeswehr Logistics School in Blankenese.
  4. U 601
  5. The boat was raised and scrapped in 1948.
  6. Adolf Buehl
  7. Eckhard Hansen, Florian Tennstedt (Hrsg.) u. a.: Biographisches Lexikon zur Geschichte der deutschen Sozialpolitik 1871 bis 1945. Volume 1: Sozialpolitiker im Deutschen Kaiserreich 1871 bis 1918. Kassel University Press, Kassel 2010, ISBN 978-3-86219-038-6, S. 26 f. (Online, PDF; 2,2 MB).
  8. Hans Plangger (1899–1971)
  9. Peter Ottmar Grau, (Archive)