WWI U-boat commanders

Alfred Saalwächter

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 4/01)

27 ships sunk with a total of 64,084 GRT
1 warship sunk with a total of 1,250 tons
3 ships damaged with a total of 19,326 GRT

Born:10 Jan 1883 Neusalz/Oder 
Died:6 Dec 1945 Berlin? 

Alfred Saalwächter


10 Apr 1901 Seekadett
22 Apr 1902 Fähnrich zur See
29 Sep 1904 Leutnant zur See
30 Mar 1906 Oberleutnant zur See
10 Apr 1911 Kapitänleutnant
21 Jan 1920 Korvettenkapitän
1 Oct 1925 Fregattenkapitän
1 Jan 1928 Kapitän zur See
1 Oct 1932 Konteradmiral
1 Apr 1935 Vizeadmiral
1 Jun 1937 Admiral
1 Jan 1940 Generaladmiral


1 Nov 1905  Order of the Crown (Siam)
9 May 1910  Order of St. Anna (Russia)
19 Sep 1912  Order of the Red Eagle
12 May 1914  Order of the Iron Crown
1 Aug 1916  Iron Cross 2nd class
14 Feb 1918  Iron Cross 1st class
5 Mar 1918  Royal House Order of Hohenzollern
5 Mar 1918  Hanseatic Cross
 U-Boat War Badge
9 May 1940  Knight's Cross (WWII)
   Clasp to the Iron Cross II Class
   Clasp to the Iron Cross I Class
14 Dec 1942  German Cross in Gold (WWII)

U-boat Commands

U 467 Dec 1916 - 15 Jan 1917
U 943 Mar 1917 - 24 Mar 1918


Alfred Saalwachter was born as the son of a factory director. As an eighteen-year-old was on 10 April 1901 cadet of the Imperial Navy, where he began studying at the frigate cruiser SMS Moltke and on the school cruiser SMS Hertha.

His first officer years until war broke out in 1914, he spent almost exclusively with on-board commands, first with the 2nd Sailors Division, then on the battleship SMS Hessen and at the 2nd Werft-Division. On 10 March 1906 he was lieutenant with 23 years at sea and then to 1908 at the 2nd Torpedo-Division used as adjutant of the First Department. He then served in the Great cruiser SMS Gneisenau. In 1910 he was flag lieutenant on board the ships of the line SMS SMS Westphalia Hannover and later, that one aide flag officer, Vice Admiral Hugo von Pohl (1855-1916), who commanded the First Squadron at the time. On 10 April 1911 was promoted to Lieutenant hall monitors and the Admiralty ordered the Navy to Berlin, where he served until March 1915, most recently as Head of Department in the Operations Section.

On 31 March 1915 was Saalwachter flag lieutenant in command of the sea forces on the battleship SMS Friedrich the Great. In February 1916 he was transferred to the U-boat arm. After completion of the submarine school he was from September 1916 to March 1918 as commander of SM U 25, SM U 46 and SM U 94 in use. His success as a submarine commander have been honored with the award of the Iron Cross First Class and the Knight's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with swords. He finished the war as a naval staff officer to the commander of the submarines, Commodore Andreas Michaelsen.

Between the wars

After taking over in the Navy hall monitor was appointed in 1920 lieutenant commander. After various other uses - including in the personnel office of the Navy - he was first Admiral Staff Officer on the staff of the commander of naval forces on the battleship Braunschweig.

On 1 October 1926, he became commander of the Amazon light cruiser and took over a year later as a frigate captain in command of the battleship Schlesien. After his promotion to Captain on 15 October 1928 was hall monitor for two years to the Chief of Staff of the fleet under Vice Admiral Oldekop allocated. Then he was for three years - from 1 October 1932 - as a rear admiral of the Navy as chief of naval military department.

On 2 October 1933 was appointed inspector of the hall monitor marine education. During the next five years, he had a strong influence on the development of the young Seeoffizierskorps. On 1 April 1935 he was appointed Vice Admiral and 1 June 1937 promoted to admiral. On 28 October 1938 he became the commanding admiral of the naval station of the North Sea, appointed in Wilhelmshaven, one of the highest positions in the former Navy.

Second World War and Death

When war broke out was Saalwachter the command of the Naval Group Command West and was in charge from September 1939 for the conduct of operations in the North Sea, but this leads to many of friction with the Fleet Commander, Vice-Admiral Hermann Boehm, William Marshal and Günther Lütjens. On 1 January 1940, he was promoted to Generaladmiral. Together with Admiral Rolf Carls, Saalwachter was responsible for the tactical management of naval operations in Norway use (companies Weser Exercise), in recognition of his performance he was on 9 May 1940 awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

From the summer of 1940 led Saalwachter the operations of German surface naval forces in the North Atlantic and English Channel until it was in September 1942 provided the commander of the Navy and replaced by Admiral Theodor Krancke. Saalwachter difference a few months after the final change of command from active naval service. He was arrested in July 1945 by the Soviet authorities and sent to the former youth prison Magdalene in Berlin-Lichtenberg. In August, he was there tried by a Soviet military court and sentenced to long terms of hard work. According to another version, he was sentenced to death on 6 December 1945 shot. The exact circumstances are not clear. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he was rehabilitated in 1994 by the Russian judicial authorities.

Text by Mr. Leonardo Formentini

Ships hit by Alfred Saalwächter

DateU-boat Name of shipType of shipTonsNat.
16 Dec 1916 U 46  Chassie MaerskSteamer1,387da
16 Dec 1916 U 46 Taki MaruSteamer3,208jp
16 Dec 1916 U 46  GerdaSteamer775da
17 Dec 1916 U 46 BayhallSteamer3,898br
19 Dec 1916 U 46 FalkSteamer948nw
23 Dec 1916 U 46 Marques De UrquijoSteamer2,170sp
25 Dec 1916 U 46 Marie PierreSailing Vessel166fr
27 Dec 1916 U 46 AislabySteamer2,692br
27 Dec 1916 U 46 GoulfarTrawler259fr
9 Jun 1917 U 94 DeveronSailing vessel1,261nw
11 Jun 1917 U 94 Thessaly (d.)Steamer4,310br
12 Jun 1917 U 94 AmakuraSteamer2,316br
13 Jun 1917 U 94 CedericSteamer2,344nw
20 Jun 1917 U 94 SalviaSloop1,250br
24 Jun 1917 U 94 SylvanianSteamer4,858br
26 Jun 1917 U 94  Haverford (d.)Passenger steamer11,635br
29 Jul 1917 U 94  IngeborgSteamer1,207da
29 Jul 1917 U 94 AdaliaSteamer3,847br
30 Jul 1917 U 94 KildinSteamer1,640ru
30 Jul 1917 U 94 Manchester InventorSteamer4,112br
30 Jul 1917 U 94 SoumaSteamer2,200ru
6 Aug 1917 U 94 ArgaliaSteamer4,641br
12 Aug 1917 U 94 LynortaSteamer3,684br
16 Aug 1917 U 94  SvanholmSteamer1,400da
19 Sep 1917 U 94  HydraSailing vessel174da
24 Sep 1917 U 94 Petersham (d.)Steamer3,381br
15 Dec 1917 U 94 BernardSteamer3,682br
16 Dec 1917 U 94 Bristol CitySteamer2,511br
19 Feb 1918 U 94 BarrowmoreSteamer3,832br
26 Feb 1918 U 94 SnygSteamer370nw
2 Mar 1918 U 94 RockpoolSteamer4,502br
28 ships sunk (65,334 tons) and 3 ships damaged (19,326 tons).

(d.) means the ship was damaged.
We have a picture of this vessel.

Media links

Kaiserliche Marine U-Boote 1914-1918

Dufeil, Yves

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