Friedrich Steinhoff

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 34)

2 ships sunk, total tonnage 21,999 GRT
1 ship damaged, total tonnage 8,773 GRT

Born  14 Jul 1909 Küllstadt/Thür (Küllstedt)
Died  19 May 1945(35)Charlestown (Charles Street Prison), USA

Kptlt. Fritz Steinhoff in 1942


8 Apr 1934 Offiziersanwärter
1 Jul 1935 Fähnrich zur See
1 Jan 1937 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Apr 1937 Leutnant zur See
1 Apr 1939 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Dec 1941 Kapitänleutnant


 Iron Cross 2nd Class
 Iron Cross 1st Class
 U-boat War Badge 1939

U-boat Commands

U-511 8 Dec 1941 17 Dec 1942   2 patrols (112 days) 
U-873 1 Mar 1944 16 May 1945   1 patrol (48 days) 

Friedrich Steinhoff was a merchant navy officer before joining the Kriegsmarine in 1934 (Rust, 2009). After serving on minesweepers, he transferred to the U-boat force in March 1941. With his first command, U-511, he undertook submerged rocket trials (his brother was a researcher at Peenemünde). After a year's duty on the staff of the 7th Flotilla, he commissioned U-873 in March 1944.

During her first patrol the war ended, and Steinhoff surrendered his boat and her crew on 16 May 1945 near Portsmouth, USA. Steinhoff and his men were taken, not to POW camp, but to Charles Street Jail, a Boston city jail where they were locked up with common criminals while awaiting disposition to a POW camp. There are many accounts of mistreatment of the U-boat men while they were held there.

After suffering harsh interrogation, Friedrich Steinhoff committed suicide on the morning of 19 May 1945, opening his arteries using broken glass from his sunglasses. U-873's doctor, Dr. Karl Steinke, attempted to give first aid, but was too late. Documents concerning the surrender of U-873 and the interrogation of her crew can be found at

Friedrich Steinhoff's grave in the military cemetery at Fort Devens, Mass.


Busch, R. and Röll, H-J. (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II.
Niestlé, A. (1998). German U-boat losses during World War II.
Rust, E. (2009) E-mail correspondence. Author of Naval Officers under Hitler.

Patrol info for Friedrich Steinhoff

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-511 16 Jul 1942  Kiel  29 Sep 1942  Lorient  Patrol 1,76 days
2. U-511 24 Oct 1942  Lorient  28 Nov 1942  Lorient  Patrol 2,36 days
3. U-873 17 Feb 1945  Kiel  22 Feb 1945  Horten   6 days
4. U-873 21 Mar 1945  Horten  22 Mar 1945  Kristiansand   2 days
5. U-873 30 Mar 1945  Kristiansand  16 May 1945  Portsmouth, USA  Patrol 3,48 days
3 patrols, 160 days at sea

Ships hit by Friedrich Steinhoff

Date U-boat Commander Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
27 Aug 1942U-511Friedrich Steinhoff Esso Aruba (d.)8,773amTAW-15
27 Aug 1942U-511Friedrich Steinhoff Rotterdam8,968nlTAW-15
27 Aug 1942U-511Friedrich Steinhoff San Fabian13,031brTAW-15

2 ships sunk (21,999 tons) and 1 ship damaged (8,773 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.
(d.) means the ship was damaged.

About ranks and decorations
Ranks shown in italics are our database inserts based on the rank dates of his crew comrades. The officers of each crew would normally have progressed through the lower ranks at the same rate.

Media links

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Naval Officers Under Hitler

Rust, Eric C.

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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