The Madman Across the Water


Rare color photo taken by the U.S. Navy of the capture of the U-234 at the end of World War Two

Kapitänleutnant Johann-Heinrich Fehler commanding the U-234 had been convinced by Luftwaffe General Ulrich Kessler and the two high-ranking Japanese passengers that the radio message to all U-boats from Admiral Karl Dönitz ordering them to surrender to the Allies was a fake. Dönitz was supposedly now German Head of State following the death of Adolf Hitler and the Soviets were reported to have captured Berlin. The orders commanded all U-boats to surface, hoist a black flag, and to surrender to Allied forces.

Fehler was not terribly fond of the two Japanese, respectively a naval architect and an aircraft specialist, but Kessler’s loyalty to the Reich was without question. The General kept emphasizing how their mission to deliver Germany’s remaining cache of 1,200 pounds of uranium oxide to the Japanese occupied harbor at Konan in Korea was vital.

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