Dr. Ulrich Abel

Oberleutnant zur See der Reserve (entry, Jahrgang X/39)

No ships sunk or damaged.

Born  3 Mar 1912 Leipzig
Died  24 Apr 1944(32)


1 Dec 1934 Rekrut
30 Sep 1935 Obermatrose d.R.
24 Jul 1937 Bootsmannsmaat d.R.
30 Sep 1938 Bootsmann d.R.
18 Oct 1939 Leutnant zur See (R)
1 Feb 1942 Oberleutnant zur See der Reserve


23 Apr 1940 Iron Cross 2nd Class
5 Jun 1941 Iron Cross 1st Class
15 Nov 1940 Minesweeper War Badge
18 Jun 1942 German Cross in Gold
Dec, 1943 U-boat War Badge 1939

U-boat Commands

U-193 1 Apr 1944 24 Apr 1944  (+)  1 patrol (2 days) 

The Oskar Kusch Case

Abel was 1st Watch Officer of U-154 under the command of Oskar Kusch. Kusch had given Abel a poor review after their first patrol and rated him unfit for command. This deeply angered Abel, who along with the boat's other officers began to conspire against their commander (who was well respected by the crew).

On Christmas day 1943, just after returning to base after their second patrol, Oskar Kusch actually gave his 1WO a "good review" (stating that while he was an "inflexible, rigid and one-sided officer" of "average talent" he was, nonetheless, suitable for U-boat commander training). This assessment shocked and further infuriated Abel, who on 12 Jan filed a formal complaint accusing Kusch of sedition, followed by another on 25 Jan accusing him of cowardice. Kusch was arrested on 20 Jan and a court martial convened on 26 Jan. The verdict, a death sentence, was delivered on 29 Jan 1944 (Blair, 1998).

Having a doctorate in law, Abel would have known that his actions would at the least result in a court martial and heavy punishment, but more likely a death sentence for his commander.

Oskar Kusch was executed by firing squad on 12 May 1944 - having just turned 26 years of age. The court decided to sentence him to death even though the prosecutor had only asked for 10 years imprisonment. A fellow U-boat commander, Otto Westphalen had been one of those deciding the sentence. (Rust, 2001).

Oskar Kusch's record was wiped clean in 1996 and he was deemed a victim of Nazi injustice. This case, however, continues to raise arguments, with some believing the charges against Kusch were true (Rust, 2001).

Dr. Abel himself had died three weeks before Oskar Kusch, when his first command, U-193, was sunk on its first patrol.


Blair, C. (1998). Hitler’s U-boat War. The Hunted, 1942-1945.
Rust, E. (2001). The Case of Oskar Kusch and the Limits of U-boat Camaraderie in World War II: Reflections on a German Tragedy

Patrol info for Dr. Ulrich Abel

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-193 23 Apr 1944  Lorient  24 Apr 1944  Sunk  Patrol 1,2 days

About ranks and decorations
Special thanks to Fernando Almeida for data on ranks and decorations.

Media links

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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