The Joint Interrogation Center at Fort Hunt was opened in August 1942.  Crewmen from U-701 and U-352 were the first to arrive.  In the letter below the Navy requests that the Army transfer the selected prisoners to Fort Hunt from the holding camps Fort Bragg and Fort Devens (later Fort Meade would be the primary holding camp for U-boat prisoners).

 

     
 
 

   
Op-16-F-9
  A16-2(4)  
     
                                                                                                  July 31, 1942.  
     
 
From: Interrogation Section, O.N.I.
To    : The Provost Marshal General.
Via   : Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2.
   
SUBJECT: Prisoners of War; Request for Transfer of.
 
     
          1.        It is requested that the Prisoners of War listed below be delivered to Fort Hunt for interrogation on Monday, August 3, 1942, or as soon thereafter as practicable:  
     
 
FROM THE U-352, NOW AT FORT BRAGG:
     
BERNARD, Oskar   RICHTER, Heinrich
NUEZKER, Johan   KOMINEK, Franz
THIELE, Rudolf   STARON, Edmund
GRANDKE, Walter   TWIRDY, Heinrich
KAMMEREH, Ernst   SCHWARZENBERGER, Heinz
THÖNNISSEN, Kurt H.H.   WESSOLY, Luther
BRAND, August M.   STENGEL, Otto
RATHKE, Hellmut   LINK, Wilhelm
SORG, Ludwig   DAKEN, Arthur
MATTIZ, Hans   KREKELER, Seigfried
RUSCH, erhard   WESCHE, Martin W.
HEINZE, Hanz   NEITSCH, Hans
RICHTER, Helmut   HENSCKKE, Otto
     
FROM THE U-701, NOW AT FORT DEVENS, MASS:
     
DEGEN, Horst   KUNERT, Winter
GROTHEER, Herbert   SCHWENDEL, Gerhardt
VAUPEL, Ludwig   SELDTE, Werner
FAUST, Bruno    
 
     
          2.        The following prisoners, now at Fort Bragg, should NOT be brought to Fort Hunt and, insofar as O.N.I., is concerned, can be transferred to a permanent internment camp:  
     
 
BOLLMANN, Heinrich   KRUGER, Kurt
HERRSCHAFT, Edgar   PICKEL, Erhard
HERING, Gerhard   RICHTER, Gerhard
 
     
          3.        It is further requested that the Provost Marshal General recommend to the Commanding Officers, Fort Bragg and Fort Devens, that the Prisoners of war be NOT advised beforehand that they are to be transferred, that care be taken to keep the officers and men separated, and that RATHKE be transferred in the first contingent so that he will be deprived of any opportunity to instruct his men.  Men from Fort Bragg and Fort Devens should not be permitted to come in contact with each other.  
     
     
                                                                                               John L. Riheldaffer.  
     
     
  Dict. 7/31/42. by Cdr. Riheldaffer.  
  Typed - Lesnick.  
     
     
 
 
     
     

 

Kapitänleutnant Degen was the first prisoner to arrive at Fort Hunt on August 5th.  The rest of the U-701crewmen arrived on the 6th.  U-352 Commander, Kapitänleutnant Rathke arrived on the 8th and the other members of his crew on the 10th.   Prisoners from U-210 arrived direct from their arrival in the U.S. on August 12th.  Interviews with Navy interrogators began on August 6th and lasted until 8 September when the U-701, U-352 and U-210 prisoners were turned over to the Army for further interrogation.  Prisoners from these boats left Fort Hunt for permanent internment on September 21 and 22nd.

 

     
 
 

 
Interrogation of Kpt. Lt. (Lt. Sr.) Degen,
 
 
 
by Lt. Com. Albrecht.
 
     
 
Q. When have you been there?
   
A. In 1934.
   
Q. And for how long?
   
A. Three weeks.
   
Q. Did you notify any of your people?
   
A. No.
   
Q. Where are you from?
   
A. Hamburg, since I am in the Navy I live in Hamburg.
   
Q. Since when are your parents dead?
   
A. My mother died when I was nine years ld, my father when I was fifteen.
   
Q. Well, and how did you get into the Navy?
   
A. Long ago I had in my mind to join the Navy, already as a schoolboy.  I used to know a Lieutenant-Commander from the old Navy, in the last war.
   
Q. And how could one get into the Navy?
   
A. One had to apply for it.  He had to write.  There are some forms for it
   
Q. Did you have to pass an examination?
   
A. Yes, every year.  Though I do not know how it is today.  Life history, pictures, school report cards, etc., were collected.  I had two examinations.  The first time only a few questions were asked.  The other time they demonstrated some machines to us and asked up some naval questions.
   
Q. And how did you get on the ocean?
   
A I applied for it.
   
Q. What academy did you go to?
   
A. I went to Kriegsmarineschule Luebbeck.
   
Q. What does it look like there?
   
A. It is situated very close to the water.  There is a large "Aula". A Huge hall and a large, red sail in it.
   
Q. For how long were you there?
 
     
 
 
 
- 1 -
 
     
     

 

     
 
 
     
 
A. It took me 3 1/2 years.  That time it took a little longer, now it takes a litle less.  I entered in Spring 1933 and I was made a Lieutenant in Autum 1936.
   
Q. And how about all the specialist, did you have them in 1933 already?
   
A. I cannot say about the year 1933, but I am well informed about the following years.
   
Q. Tell me something about that fight
   
A. Well that shows you, you have to be lucky.  That was such a thing.  Comes a destroyer and uses depth charges.  Of course, we know thay are using time-fused depth charges.
   
Q. nd what do you do ina case like that?
   
A. If I hear a depth charge, I get away at once.  Of course you know, and every American U-boat man knows the best tactic is, not to be seen during daylight.
   
Q. Yes, naturally.  One has to be very cautions then.  And how about the fight itself?
   
A. Well, I was on one side, with the Lt. Commander.  We saw a ship.  We emerged and the boat was heading towards us.  I submerge and that is the beginning.  Then we were attacked.  We fired.  The water came very close to us and then the oil poured out into the water.  We had the intention to fire again but due to the oil we could not see anything.  They kept on firing one shell after the other.  They cam as close as 10 meters.
   
Q. But you had some successes before?  How about that?
   
A. We torpedoed two boats.  One of them during the night in the English Channel.  While being under water, I can see every vessel.  Then I have to wait until the ship comes towards me.
   
Q. How deep can you submerge?
   
A. If I go as deep as 20 or 30 meters, it is very hard to drive.  But our commander knows where he is going.
   
Q. And how about it, if one of your boats were missing?
   
A. That usually works that way.  We have orders, that every boat has to report by radio.  Now if one of them does not answer for a certain length of time, he is announced as missing on the bulletin-board.
   
Q. Who was with you there?
   
A. Do you mean what other people?
   
Q. Yes.
 
     
 
 
 
- 2 -
 
     
     

 

     
 
 
     
 
A. I was alone, and nobody passed us.  Twice I saw a U-boat in the Atlantic.
   
Q. On your way back?
   
A. No, on my way here I saw two boats.
   
Q. Did you ever go on another boat?
   
A. Yes, I was on another boat too.
   
Q. Which one?
   
A. I do not know the number.
   
Q. Linda?
   
A. No, Linda came later.
   
Q. When?
   
A. I couldn't say for sure - about ten days later.  When my boat left Linda was still standing at the pier and had steam on.
   
Q. From where did Linda leave port?
   
A. Linda left from Lorient, and we went to Paris by ourselves and he, too, tho' I thought he is stationed at Lorient.
   
Q. You left on the 26th?
   
A. No, I left before.
   
Q. Did you hear about the raids on St. Nazaire?
   
A. But that was long ago.  That was already in March.  I went to Detro.  There were six boats which probably went back.  The destroyer was in a large Normandie Lock when it was blown up.
   
Q. What about Schulze?
   
A. Herbert Schulze?
   
Q. Yes, did he go with you?
   
A. No.
   
Q. Has he been transferred?
   
A. I don't know it myself.  I do not know where he went.
   
Q. What kind of a Commander did you have?
 
     
 
 
 
- 3 -
 
     
     

 

     
 
 
     
 
A. Well, he was an old officer, and I don't know where he went.  There are quite a few old officers at the front.
   
Q. Oh, yes.
   
A. There was Waffenburg.  If he hears anything personally, and all the Lt. Commanders and Commanders:  the first thing they do is to go ahead.  But I have heard that the picture has changed a lot.  Out there everything is for defense.  About Schulze, he left on the 10th of January and he told me severl things about his ship and what a voyage he had.  They sank 20,000 tons without seeing any depth charges.  They shot one torpedo into a ship, which blew it up.  There 10,000 tons were destroyed.  But that was in January.  When I went there now the whole thing was . . . . . . . .
   
Q. Well, I know all that.  That must have griped you.  But why all the secrecy concerning the numbers of the U-boats?
   
A. Well, I don't know it myself.  I do not understand why they keep the numbers secret.  They are becoming so numerous that I cannot remember the numbers.  As I said already in the beginning all the boats cruise now under their commander's name.  You can even find it in their orders.
   
Q. Can you understand that?
   
A. Yes.
   
Q. Now the boat does not travel as e.g., U-55 but as Hans Meyer, or Schulze.
   
A. Well, yes, I can understand that.  They cannot be so easily confused now as e.g. 132 and 133.
   
Q. Do you mean in radio messages?
   
A. Yes.
   
Q. How long did it take you?
   
A. I could not say that.  I was not present.  My boat is for the first time on June 1st . . . . . . . .   I did not know anything in advance.  First we left and then we came back, and I don't know where the boat is.
   
Q. Do you know Brege?
   
A. Yes, I used to know him very well.
   
Q. Tell me something about yourself
   
A. Once I read the following.  You know at the time we conquered France, several Naval booklets were published.  There was one English Memoranda about the invasion.  They also wrote about the Captain of a steamer who distinguished his crew.  He was torpedoed.  After the shot or being hit by the torpedo a U-boat emerged.  It was a Norwegian U-boat.  A thing such as that should not happen.  Then the Captain said that a black cat was painted on the U-boat.  (Then record goes bad and inaudible.)
 
     
 
 
 
- 4 -
 
     
     

 

Listening to the recordings of interviews, the interrogating officers produced a written summary

 

 
 
 
 
 
INTERVIEW OF DEGEN BY LT. CDR ALBRECHT & LT. IZZARD.
 
 
 
 
        Questioned as to his attitude during interrogation he said that all military matters in Germany were highly secret.  The destroyer Commanders who took part in the Norwegian campaign were not told, until a day before it took place.
 
 
 
 
        Stated that in the present circumstances he was prepared to disclose his date of departure on his last war cruise.  He left Brest on May 19th and Lorient on May 20th.
 
 
 
 
        Told that the saboteurs' U-boat left later but arrived earlier he said that that might be the case.  They, on a special mission, no doubt proceeded at a much greater speed.  His cruise was to an operational area and it was his duty to conserve his furl by proceeding at a very economical speed.  The limits he reached in his operational area were South about 15 miles south of Cape Lookout; North, opposite the Chesapeake Light.  The two most important men he took on board at Brest were Fähnrich Lange  and Steuermanns Unteroffizier Grundler.
 
 
 
 
        His total crew was 45 men including officers.
 
 
 
 
        He did not receive any oil from a supply U-boat - - he didn't need any, as once he reached his operational area to all intents & purposes he remained on the same spot.  He had ample fuel on board.
 
 
 
 
        Stated the Germans termed the shortest route between New York and Lisbon "the neutral course".
 
 
 
 
        Stated the Portuguese sailing ship he met en route was the "Gazella Primera" and it was proceeding to the Newfoundland Banks to fish.  It was a three master.  When well across the Atlantic he met the Swedish liner "Drottningholm" and turned round and chased her half a day, at high speed, thereby losing a day and a half's Westing.  The weather had been bad at first and this had delayed him some time.  When he met "Drottningholm" he had been unable to fix his position for some days owing to heavy cloud.  He had been warned of the course she would take but according to his reckoning she was well off it - actually he himself was in error.  He was still chasing the Swede when he again was warned by radio that she had left New York on June 3rd for Lisbon.  After that he approached nearer and identified her.  Shortly after he sighted an Eastbound British liner of about 15,000 tons.  He turned and chased her too, also losing about a day and a half.  The liner was steering a general course of 600, and deviating in a regular zigzag to 900 and then to 300.  Degen said he knew this as he followed a parallel course for some time.
 
 
 
          He denied that he was ever in direct contact with any other U-boat over here.  He arrived over the Shelf on 11th June.  He was reluctant to make his first landfall on the American coast with a new moon, which he remembers as being on the 13th.  He said it was bad for business.  He therefore made up his mind to lie over the Shelf for a few days.  On 12th June he was attacked by an aircraft of the same type which finally sunk him.  He had just time to crash dive.  He stated five bombs were dropped in a straddle round him when he had got down to about 40 feet.  His lights failed and instrument glasses were smashed in the Control Room.  The damage was not serious.  
     
          He moved in to the coast about 16th June.  The first incident was the sighting of a southbound 8000 ton freighter.  He followed her and fired two torpedoes both of which missed.  The ship then escaped.  She was too fast.  
     
          The next encounter was on the night of the 17th, when U-701 surfaced close to a U-boat chaser.  This vessel challenged the U-boat with a series of B's from a signaling lamp.  Degen said that he thought he was going to be rammed and he put about and drew away.  Degen said that he thought he was going to be rammed and he put about and drew away.  The next day he saw her again escorting a tanker and a freighter northbound.  When they had passed his position the U-boat chaser turned around and dropped some depth charges near him.  On the night of the 19th he sunk the U-boat chaser with gunfire.  There were no further events until the torpedoing of "British Freedom".  
 
 
 
- 1 -
 
     
     

 

 
 
 
 
 
INTERVIEW OF DEGEN BY LT. CDR ALBRECHT & LT. IZZARD.
 
 
 
 
        He stated that he followed the Great Circle course from Lorient to Hatteras.  He said is was general for U-boat commanders to follow Great Circle courses from their bases to their operational areas off the U.S.A. coast.  At the same time some commanders deviated to the Southward because they said that the better weather to the south enabled them to conserve fuel and make a shorter passage although the distance covered was actually longer.  He stated that he did not come down the American coast to reach Hatteras.  He emphasized the weather was a most important factor for U-boats, and that this spring he spent two weeks in the North Atlantic when the wind blew gale force the whole time.  He saw a number of ships but could not make a single attack.
 
 
 
 
        He stated that his quartermaster, Kunert, was remarkably efficient as a navigator and that once when his echo-sounding device failed Kunert brought the U-boat back from mid-ocean to their French base safely through fog.
 
 
 
 
        He stated that "Sonderführer" were really civilians who had been given honorary naval rank.  The majority were propaganda correspondents and cameramen.  They wore the uniforms of Leutnant zur See with a special badge on their arm.  He stated that leave for U-boat crews depended upon the time necessary to repair a U-boat after an operational cruise.  If a U-boat was comparatively undamaged, and could be turned around in 8 days or less no leave was granted.  The crew was supposed to get its rest on the voyage home to their base.  He stated that he saw Dönitz after each trip when he personally reported to him.  He said that Dönitz took great personal interest in each U-boat commander, pointed out his mistakes, made corrections to tactics and gave advice to them.  He was friendly to the majority but acted ruthlessly against those who failed, taking their boats away from them.  He said this had happened very seldom.  He said that a number of the older commanders had been given shore jobs because either they had developed illnesses or had lost their nerve.  He said that one personal friend of his who had operated a 250-ton U-boat off the East Coast of England, at the beginning of the war, had become a complete nervous wreck and was hardly capable of holding a shore position which he had recently been given after a long period in a nerve sanitarium.  He stated that there was a certain amount of ill feeling between the "Imperial Navy" and the "Party Air Force"; that Goering saw to it that the Air Force had the best of everything and that airmen, by shooting down 20 enemy aircraft, gained a comparatively easy "Ritterkreuz" compared to the 100,000 tons of shipping which a U-boat commander had to sink for the same award.
 
 
 
 
         He stated that Dönitz was more popular than Räder because he had more success and that if Hitler wished to know anything about U-boat warfare he called for Dönitz and not his superior officer, Räder.
 
 
 
 
        He had expected either to survive or be killed in his U-boat career.  He never dreamed that he would ever be taken prisoner and never thought of how he should behave as such.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
- 2 -
 
     
     

 

Kapitänleutnant Degen agreed to make a statement concerning his date of departure and operating area.  The handwritten statement and typed and signed version follow.

 

 

     
 
 

10. August, 1942
 
 
     
          Ich erklare hiermit, dass Ich keine Person, weder Zivil noch deutsches Militar, and der amerikanischen Kuste an Land gesetzt habe.  Mir ist von solchen Vorangen nichts bekannt geweses.  
     
          Ich bin ausgelaufen aus Brest; 19.5.42  
                                       aus Lorient; 20.5.42  
     
          An der amerikanischen Kuste hab Ich im Gebiet Cape Hatteras gestanden.  Nordgrenze war Chesapeake Lightship, Sudgrenze war ungefahr 15 m. sudlich Cape Lookout.  Ausserhalb dieser Linien bin Ich nicht gewesen.  
     
     
     
                                                                                          
                                                                                              DEGEN  
                                                                                             Kapitänleutnant (ISN 5-1N)  
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
 
 
 
     
     

 

Interviews were summarized by the interrogating officer and then the individual statements were assigned to the chapters of the Interrogation Report as in the following example

 

 

 

 


 

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