Lindemann, Otto Ernst.

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Otto Ernst Lindemann, born 28-03-1894 in Altenkirchen, was the only commander of the battleship Bismarck   during its eight months of service in World War II. Generaloberst der Kavallerie, Georg Heinrich Lindemann ,  Georg was a 1st cousin of Dr. jurist Ernst Lindemann , father of Kapitain zur See, Ernst Lindemann, the only commander of the German battleship Bismarck.

Lindemann, the son of Ernst Heinrich Lindemann , who died age 63 on 08-05-1900 in Düsseldorf, joined the German Imperial Navy, Kaiserliche Marine  in 1913, age19 and after his basic military training, served on a number of warships during World War I as a wireless telegraphy officer. On board SMS Bayern, he participated in Operation Albion in 1917. Operation  Albion was the German land and naval operation in October 1917 to occupy the West Estonian Archipelago  After World War I, he served in various staff and naval gunnery training positions.

Ernst Lindemann met Charlotte Weil  (born Fritsche; 1899–1979), a Berlin singer, in the spring of 1920. The couple married on 01-02-1921, and they had a daughter, Helga Maria, born on 26-02-1924. Lindemann’s job as a naval officer demanded that he be away from his family for long periods of time. This proved to be too demanding on the marriage, and they were divorced in 1932. Lindemann was engaged again on 20-07-1933 to his youngest brother’s sister-in-law, Hildegard Burchard. Hildegard was 14 years younger than Lindemann. They married on 27-10-1934 in the St. Annen Church in Berlin–Dahlem . The ceremony was performed by Martin Niemöller , a founder of the Confessing Church, a prominent Protestant pastor who opposed the Nazi regime. He spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. Germany, 1937. Otto Ernst and Hildegard had a daughter, Heidi Maria, born on 06-07-1939.

On 30-01-1933, the Nazi Party, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler  came to power in Germany, ushering in a period of naval rearmament. In 1935, the Reichsmarine was renamed the Kriegsmarine. Between 22-09-1931 and 22-09-1934, Lindemann was a senior lecturer at the Naval Gunnery School in Kiel. He was then posted to the Hessenunder the command of Captain Hermann Boehm  and served as first gunnery officer from 23-09-1933 to 08-04-1934. Ernst Lindemann was promoted to Leutnant Commander on 01-04-1932. On 09-04-1934, he was ordered to the Wilhelmshaven Shipyard for training in ship construction and familiarization with the heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer, under the command of Captain Wilhelm Marschall 

One year after the outbreak of World War II, he was appointed commander of the battleship Bismarck, at the time the largest warship in commission anywhere in the world and the pride of the Kriegsmarine.


Death and burial ground of Lindemann, Otto Ernst.

In May 1941, Lindemann commanded the Bismarck during Operation Rheinübung. Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen  formed a task force under the command of Admiral Günther Lütjens   on board Bismarck. Orders were to break out of their base in German occupied Poland and attack British merchant shipping lanes in the Atlantic Ocean. The task force’s first major engagement was the Battle of the Denmark Straitwhich resulted in the sinking of HMS Hood. Less than a week later, on 27 May, Otto Ernst Lindemann, age 47, Admiral Lütjens and most of his crew lost their lives during Bismarck‘s last battle. Lindemann’s body was never recovered, and it is thought that he, Lütjens and other officers probably died when shells from the British warships hit the Bismarck’s bridge.

Lindemann was posthumously awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross , an honor that recognized extreme bravery on the battlefield or outstanding military leadership. The medal was presented to his widow, Hildegard, on 06-01-1942.

Lindemann’s comrades of Crew 1913 all contacted the young widow after his death. The former head of Crew 1913, Konteradmiral Otto Klüber,  contacted Mrs Lindemann in the fall of 1941 and offered her an honorary membership. Shortly after Christmas on 27-12-1941, exactly seven months after the sinking of Bismarck and the death of its commander, Captain Ernst Lindemann received a posthumous Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. He received this high award because the Oberkommando der Marine felt that his skilled leadership significantly contributed to the destruction of the British battlecruiser Hood  and the damage inflicted on the British battleship Prince of Wales.

Lindemann’s first gunnery officer— Leutnant Commander Adalbert Schneider   who, age 37, also drowned with the Bismarck—had been awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on 27-05-1941. Traditionally, the commanding officer would have received this award before any other crew member was so honored. This exception had been criticized by various circles in the Wehrmacht . It is thought likely that Ernst Lindemann’s cousin, the former General der Kavallarie Georg Lindemann, intervened. Grand Admiral Erich Raeder , with whom Lindemann shared a 20-year comradeship dating to the early days of the Reichsmarine , presented the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross to Mrs Lindemann on Tuesday, 06-01-1942, in Dahlem. Raeder went on to provide moral and emotional support to Lindemann’s mother and widow.

The Lindemann family plot at Cemetery Dahlem, Berlin, has an inscription in memory of Captain Ernst Lindemann.


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