Steinhoff, Friedrich.

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Steinhoff, Friedrich, born 14-07-1909 in Küllstadt, was a former merchant marine officer. After serving on minesweepers, Friedrich Steinhoff transferred to the U-boat force in March 1941. With his first command, U-511, he undertook submerged rocket trials, his brother Ernst August Wilhelm Steinhoff was a researcher at Peenemünde. Ernst August Wilhelm Steinhoff was a rocket scientist and member of the “von Braun rocket group”

   , here on the right with von Braun, at the Peenemünde Army Research Center (1939–1945). Ernst Steinhoff saw National Socialist (Nazi) doctrines as “ideals” and became a member of the NSDAP in May 1937. He was a glider pilot, holding distance records, and had the honorary Luftwaffe rank of “Flight Captain”.  Ernst, six months after his brother’s death, was among the scientists to surrender and travel to the United States to provide rocketry expertise via Operation Paperclip. He retired in the USA and died 02-12-1987, age 79, in Alamogordo, New Mexico. He was awarded the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service in 1958 for his contributions to the US rocket program. In 1979 he was inducted into the  New Mexico International Space Hall of Fame.

After a year’s duty in the Staff of the 7th Flotilla, Friedrich commissioned the Type IX D2 boat U-873 in March 1944. His U boat torpedoed the following ships, the Esso Aruba, the Rotterdam and the San Fabian.

      On her first patrol in 1945 the war ended, and Steinhoff surrendered on 16-05-1945 near Portsmouth, USA. Steinhoff and his crew were taken, not to a POW camp, but to the Charles Street Jail in Boston,

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Death and burial ground of Steinhoff, Friedrich.

While awaiting disposition to proper camp, a city jail with all kinds of common criminals lodged there. Stories that some crew members were mistreated are often told. A broken man, Friedrich Steinhoff committed suicide on the morning of 19-05-1945, age 37, opening his arteries using broken pieces of his sunglasses. The doctor from U-873, Dr. Karl Reinke, tried to give first aid, but it was too late. Some documents regarding the surrender of U-873 and interrogations of its crew can be found at Steinhoff is buried on the Military Cemetery of Fort Devens in the USA.


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