Merten, Karl Friedrich.

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Kapitän zur See

Merten, Karl Friedrich, born 15-08-1905 in Posen, His father was Dr. jur. Karl-Friedrich Merten, who in 1910 became the mayor of Elbing, present day Elbląg. In 1934, he was forced out of office when he refused to join the Nazi Party. Merten had a sister and a brother, both died before he had turned seven. His younger brother Klaus, as a Feldwebel (staff sergeant) in a pioneer platoon, died in 1942 of wounds sustained on the Eastern Front.

Aged thirteen, Karl joined the Königliches Preußisches Kadettenhaus (Royal Prussian Cadet House) in Köslin, present-day Koszalin, on 01-04-1918. Following World War I, the cadet house was transformed into a state-run boarding school. There, he attended the school from 1920–26 and graduated with his Abitur (university entry qualification) on 20-03-1926.

Karl joined the Reichsmarine later in 1926. After training he spent many years on surface ships. He joined the U-Boat service on 01-05-1940. From October 1940 until January 1941 he joined U-38 as a trainee Captain with the experienced Heinrich Liebe , Liebe died age 89, on 27-07-1997, in Eisenach. On 11-02-1941, Merten commissioned U-68 and lead 5 successful patrols. He operated all over the world, patrolling in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Indian Ocean. U-68  was in the U-boat wolf pack Eisbär (Polar Bear Group), consisting of four submarines, U-68 (Merten), U-156 , Werner Hartenstein , Werner Hartenstein died in action, age 35, on 08-03-1943, U-172, Carl Emmermann , Carl Emmermann died age 75, on 25-03-1990, U-504 Hans-Georg Friedrich Poske  a fifth U-boat, U-159 Helmut Witte , Helmut Witte died age 90, on 03-10-2005, in Duisburg, joined the group later, which in the course of a few weeks during September/October 1942, sank more than 100.000 gross register tons (GRT) tons of shipping off South Africa. On 22-09-1941 Merten torpedoed his first ship the .,302 GRT British Steamer SS Silverbelle sailing in convoy SL-87 and on the 06-11-1942 he sunk his last ship the 8.034 GRT British Steamer SS City of Cairo and was awarded with the Oak Leave . His total was 29 ships sunk at a tonnage of 170.151. After this patrol Merten was appointed to the U-boat Flotilla in Pillau and this and other training appointments curtailed his operational career. Nevertheless, when the war ended he stood seventh in the table of U-Boat commanders in terms of tonnage sunk. Merten here at the funeral of Grossadmiral Karl Dönitz

   After the war he made a new career, somewhat ironically, in shipbuilding, retiring in 1974. Long after the sinking of the SS City of Cairo he was invited to a post-war reunion of survivors where one observed: “We couldn’t have been sunk by a nicer man”.

Death and burial ground of Merten, Karl Friedrich.

   Merten died on 02-05-1993, old age 87, in Waldshut-Tiengen and is buried with his wife Ruth Maria, who died old age 89, in 1999, on the local cemetery..

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