Ernst von Witzendorff

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 37a)

No ships sunk or damaged.

Born  26 Jun 1916 Neustrelitz
Died  6 Feb 1999(82)Kirchbarkau, Schleswig-Holstein.

Oblt. Ernst von Witzendorff


21 Sep 1937 Seekadett
28 Jun 1938 Seekadett
1 May 1940 Leutnant zur See
1 Apr 1942 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Jan 1945 Kapitänleutnant


  Iron Cross 2nd Class

U-boat Commands

U-121 26 Mar 1942 19 Apr 1942   No war patrols 
U-46 20 Apr 1942 May, 1942   No war patrols 
U-101 May, 1942 25 Oct 1942   No war patrols 
U-650 26 Nov 1942 13 Jul 1943   1 patrol (72 days) 
U-267 14 Jul 1943 26 Nov 1943   1 patrol (55 days) 
U-650 27 Nov 1943 30 Jun 1944   2 patrols (79 days) 
U-2524 16 Jan 1945 3 May 1945   No war patrols 
U-1007 Apr, 1945 2 May 1945   No war patrols 

Ernst von Witzendorff served in torpedo boats from the start of the war, and transferred to the U-boat arm in April 1940. He served as IWO (1st Watch Officer) on U-62 from August to November, and was then assigned to Baubelehrung (U-boat construction familiarization) for U-77, becoming IIWO (2nd Watch Officer) when she was commissioned in January 1941 and was promoted IWO before being posted to the 23rd Flotilla at Salamis, Greece in December 1941.

He returned to Germany in January 1942 for his first U-boat command, U-121, a school boat with the 21st (Training) Flotilla, for three months, followed by U-46 for one month, then U-101, (both also training boats) until October 1942.

Sharing a joke. From left; Oblt. von Witzendorff, WO Burchard, Kptlt. Hubert Nordheimer.

Oblt. von Witzendorff commissioned his first active service command, U-650, in November 1942, but had no success during his eight months in her, also sinking nothing with his next boat, U-267. He returned to U-650 for another eight months in November 1943, and operated in the Bay of Biscay during the Allied landings in June 1944. He enjoyed no more success in U-650 this time around, but it should be remembered that at this stage in the war it was something of an achievement for a U-boat just to return from patrol.

Oblt. von Witzendorff was similarly unlucky with his last two commands, a new elektroboat, U-2524, and U-1007, a type VIIC U-boat: he was forced to scuttle both after they were disabled by air attack. For the last week of the war he commanded a Naval infantry unit, the Wachbattalion Dönitz. His bad luck then continued, as he then spent a remarkable two and a half years as a POW until November 1947.

After the war

In 1956 Ernst von Witzendorff joined the Bundesmarine (Federal German Navy). From Jan 1969 to Sept 1972 he commanded the famous Segelschulschiff (Sailing school ship) Gorch Fock. Later he was the head of the advisory department to the Merchant Shipping Association in Hamburg (Marine für die Handelsschiffahrt).

He retired as Kapitän zur See (Captain).


Kommandanten der GORCH FOCK.

Patrol info for Ernst von Witzendorff

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-650 10 Apr 1943  Kiel  13 Apr 1943  Bergen   4 days
2. U-650 18 Apr 1943  Bergen  28 Jun 1943  St. Nazaire  Patrol 1,72 days
3. U-267 14 Sep 1943  St. Nazaire  16 Sep 1943  St. Nazaire   3 days
4. U-267 18 Sep 1943  St. Nazaire  19 Sep 1943  St. Nazaire   2 days
5. U-267 22 Sep 1943  St. Nazaire  24 Sep 1943  St. Nazaire   3 days
6. U-267 26 Sep 1943  St. Nazaire  28 Sep 1943  St. Nazaire   3 days
7. U-267 3 Oct 1943  St. Nazaire  26 Nov 1943  St. Nazaire  Patrol 2,55 days
8. U-650 25 Dec 1943  St. Nazaire  27 Dec 1943  St. Nazaire  Patrol 3,3 days
9. U-650 29 Dec 1943  St. Nazaire  31 Dec 1943  St. Nazaire  Patrol 3,3 days
10. U-650 1 Jan 1944  St. Nazaire  2 Mar 1944  St. Nazaire  Patrol 3,62 days
11. U-650 6 Jun 1944  St. Nazaire  16 Jun 1944  La Pallice  Patrol 4,11 days
4 patrols, 206 days at sea

Media links

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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