Wolf von Trotha

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Wolf von Trotha
Konteradmiral Wolf von Trotha, 1934.jpg
Birth name Karl Wolf Gebhard Bernhard von Trotha
Birth date 1 October 1884(1884-10-01)
Place of birth Potsdam, Province of Brandenburg, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Death date 31 January 1946 (aged 61)
Place of death Soviet occupation zone, Allied-occupied Germany
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 National Socialist Germany
Service/branch  Kaiserliche Marine
Freikorps Flag.jpg Freikorps
Years of service 1902–1918
Rank Vice Admiral
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Iron Cross
Relations ∞ 1921 Irmgard Behr
Other work Naval regional leader of the Eastern Naval Regional Association of the National Socialist German Naval Association (NSDMB)[1]

Karl Wolf Gebhard Bernhard von Trotha (1 October 1884 – 31 January 1946) was a German naval officer of the Imperial German Navy, the Freikorps, the Reichsmarine and the Kriegsmarine, finally Vice Admiral in World War Two.


Seekadett von Trotha in 1902
Rear Admiral Wolf von Trotha (center) and Captain at Sea Erhard Maertens (right), Mürwik Naval School

Wolf von Trotha joined the Imperial German Navy on 1 April 1902. In September 1904, he left Germany for Woosung, where he served on the large cruiser SMS "Hertha" from 25 October 1904. The ship was used on station duty in East Asia and returned to Germany in May 1905, where she was decommissioned. After a time as a watch officer on torpedo boats in 1907 and his promotion to first lieutenant at sea in March 1908, he left Germany again on 25 April 1908 for East Asia.

In Shanghai, he became a watch officer on the gunboat SMS "Iltis". On 21 May 1910, he left Shanghai again and, upon his return to Germany, was placed at the disposal of the Second Naval Inspectorate. He then came to the naval school as an inspection officer from 1 October 1910.

On 1 October 1913, he returned to the II. Torpedo Division as an inspection officer and was commander of the torpedo boat "V 157" there from 1 November to 23 December 1913. On 16 March 1914, he was transferred to the VI. Torpedo Boat Flotilla and promoted to lieutenant captain in March 1914. At the VI. Torpedo Boat Flotilla he was commander of the following torpedo boats: between 29 March and 13 October 1914 the torpedo boat "V 157", between 24 October 1914 and 17 January 1915 the torpedo boat "G 41", between 18 January 1915 and 15 March 1918 the torpedo boat "G 37" and between 16 March and 15 November 1918 the torpedo boat "S 49". Shortly before the end of the war, on 17 November 1918, he was transferred to the Imperial Shipyard in Wilhelmshaven (from 24 November 1918, Reichswerft Wilhelmshaven).

In 1919, he fought with the Freikorps (adjutant with the Marine-Brigade „Ehrhardt“) alongside Wilhelm Canaris as well as many others and then re-joined the Reichsmarine. From 16 June 1920, he was head of operations of the II Marine Brigade and on 3 November 1920, he was appointed port captain of Wilhelmshaven. On 10 February 1921, he was transferred to the staff of the North Sea Naval Station as first adjutant. On 1 October 1923, he became head of the II. Flotilla (renamed the II. Torpedo Boat Flotilla on 1 November 1924).

On 12 May 1926, he joined the liner “Elsaß” as a navigation officer. After only a few months on the ship, Wolf von Trotha became commander of the torpedo and communications school on 21 September 1926. On 29 September 1930, Wolf von Trotha became head of the naval officer personnel department in the naval management (Chef der Marineoffizierspersonalabteilung in der Marineleitung). He was commander of the Naval-School Mürwik from 30 September 1932 to 23 September 1936, at the same time, he was Acting-Inspector of Training-Affairs of the Navy from 16 to 31 July 1934. On 30 September 1936, he retired.


  • 15.2.1939 Placed at disposal of the Kriegsmarine
  • 5.9.1939 to 3.12.1939 2nd Admiral of the Baltic Sea
  • 4.12.1939 to 20.1.1941 Taken ill and placed in the Führer-Reserve (Leader Reserve) OKM
  • 21.1.1941 to 19.10.1942 Senior-Shipyard-Director (Oberwerftdirektor) of the Kriegsmarine-Shipyard St. Nazaire (France)
  • 19.10.1942 to 31.7.1943 Placed at the disposal of the Commanding Admiral of the Naval-Station of the North Sea and granted leave
  • 31.7.1943 Final dismissal from active service

Afterwards, he is said to have been employed by the Marinepersonalamt as a civilian and was also Luftschutz (air raid protection) commissioner of Telefunken in Berlin.

Death and death date

On 4 December 1945, von Trotha was was abducted from his home in the US sector of Berlin by NKVD agents of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) with bogus/falsified documents about a necessary interrogation and was tortured to death in an unknown facility (some sources state in Teltow on the southwestern outskirts of Berlin). US attempts to get him back failed. He was never seen again.

His preliminary death date was recorded as 28 December 1945. On 24 October 1950, the Berlin-Zehlendorf district court set Trotha's date of death as 31 January 1946. This date was randomly selected for administrative purposes.



Wolf von Trotha came from the old German noble family von Trotha. He was the youngest son of the Prussian Major General Friedrich Lebrecht von Trotha (1841–1914) and his wife Hedwig Klara Marie, née von Brandt (1852–1920).[2] His grandfather was the Prussian Major General Friedrich August von Trotha (1812–1868). His brothers were:[3]

  • Friedrich Heinrich (1875–1932), German Major (field artillery); ⚭ Anni Schwartze (b. 5 July 1877 in Berlin-Pankow), four children
  • Maximilian Thilo (b. 3 September 1878 in Spandau; d. 22/23 October 1943 during the RAF raid on Kassel), German Major (among other things service with the Schutztruppe)
    • ⚭ 1913 Gertrud Irmgard Klara Freiin von Rheinbaben (1890–1916), two children
    • ⚭ 1919 (o¦o 1932) Ingeborg Maria Cäcilie von Tettenborn (b. 18 August 1898 in Schweidnitz), two children


On 6 January 1921 in Bad Harzburg, Lieutenant Captain von Trotha married his fiancée Irmgard Maud Anna Behr (b. 23 September 1898 in Danzig; d. 26 July 1976). One of her brothers was also a naval officer: Curt Otto Stamford Behr (b.14 April 1892) served in both World Wars (Crew of 1912). Corvette Captain z. V. Behr was killed in action at Stavanger in Norway on 19 August 1944, while with the Stab B Sankourand, Stavanger Military Unit. Wolf and Irmgard had four children:

  • Trutz Wolf Friedrich Otto (b. 27 Dezember 1921 in Wilhelmshaven); ⚭ Juliane Behrisch (b. 28 October 1934 in Hamburg), daughter (b. 30 March 1962)
  • Edelgard Irmgard Maud Hedwig (b. 30 March 1924 in Wilhelmshaven)
  • Goetz Wolf Friedrich Otto (b. 8 April 1930 in Kiel)
  • Renate Irmgard Maud Hedwig (b. 6 August 1935 in Flensburg-Mürwik)


  • 1.4.1902 Seekadett (Officer Candidate)
  • 11.4.1903: Fähnrich zur See (Officer Cadet)
  • 29.9.1905: Leutnant zur See (2nd Lieutenant)
  • 30.3.1908: Oberleutnant zur See (1st Lieutenant)
  • 22.3.1914: Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant Captain)
  • 1.3.1921: Korvettenkapitän (Corvette Captain – Lieutenant Commander)
  • 1.3.1928: Fregattenkapitän (Frigate Captain – Commander)
  • 1.1.1930: Kapitän zur See (Captain at Sea – Captain)
  • 1.10.1933: Charakter als Konteradmiral (Honorary Rear Admiral)
  • 1.4.1934: Konteradmiral (Rear Admiral)
  • 30.9.1936: Charakter as Vizeadmiral (Honorary Vice Admiral)
  • 1.9.1941: Vizeadmiral z. V. (Vice Admiral at disposal of the German Navy)

Awards and decorations



  1. Marine-Landesführer des Marine-Landesverbandes Ost des Nationalsozialistischen deutschen Marinebundes
  2. Gothaisches Genealogisches Taschenbuch der Adeligen Häuser. Der in Deutschland eingeborene Adel (Uradel), 1905, p. 809
  3. Gothaisches Genealogisches Taschenbuch der Adeligen Häuser, Teil A, 1941, p. 566
  4. Rangliste der Kaiserlich Deutschen Marine für das Jahr 1918, p. 36
  5. Rangliste der Deutschen Reichsmarine, 1929, p. 39