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Helmut Rosenbaum
File:Helmut Rosenbaum.jpg
Born (1913-05-11)11 May 1913
Died 10 May 1944(1944-05-10) (aged 30)
Place of birth Döbeln
Place of death near Constanţa, Romania
Allegiance Weimar Republic Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Reichsmarine
Years of service 1932–1944
Rank Korvettenkapitän (posthumous)
Unit Köln
U-35, U-27, U-26
Commands held U-2, U-73
30th U-boat Flotilla

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Helmut Rosenbaum (11 May 1913 – 10 May 1944) was a corvette captain (or lieutenant commander) in the German Navy of the Third Reich during World War II who commanded U-boat U-2, U-73 and the 30th U-boat Flotilla. He received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He is credited with the sinking of six ships for a total of 35,171 gross register tons (GRT) and three warships.

Born in Döbeln, Rosenbaum joined the Reichsmarine (navy) of the Weimar Republic in 1932. After a period of training on surface vessels and service on various U-boats during the Spanish Civil War, he took command of his first U-boat in 1939. After torpedoing and sinking the HMS Eagle on 11 August 1942, Rosenbaum was appointed commander of the 30th U-boat Flotilla. He was killed in an aircraft crash on 10 May 1944.

Military career

Helmut Rosenbaum began his naval career with the Reichsmarine on 15 August 1932 as a late for the year member of "Crew 1932" (the incoming class of 1932). He underwent basic military training in the 2nd department of the standing ship division of the Baltic Sea in Stralsund (15 August 1932 – 7 October 1932).[Tr 1][Tr 2] Rosenbaum was then transferred to the training ship Edith (14 October 1932 – 21 October 1932), attaining the rank of Seekadett (midshipman) on 4 November 1932. Following a 14-month stay on board the light cruiser Köln (6 November 1932 – 2 January 1934) he advanced in rank to Fähnrich zur See (officer cadet) on 1 January 1934. Rosenbaum then underwent a number of officer training courses at the Naval Academy at Mürwik and Kiel-Wik, including navigational training cruises on the tender Weser and Nordsee, before transferring to the cruiser Königsberg (19 April 1935 – 26 September 1935). Following his stay on Königsberg he was promoted to Oberfähnrich zur See (Senior Ensign) on 1 September 1935. Rosenbaum then attended more training courses, including a naval artillery course (27 September 1935 – 3 December 1935) and an anti U-boat defense course (4 December 1935 – 14 December 1935), before being posted to the cruiser Nürnberg (15 December 1935 – 11 October 1936). During this assignment Rosenbaum received his officer's commission holding the rank Leutnant zur See (Second Lieutenant) as of 1 January 1936. His stay on Nürnberg was interrupted in February and March to attend another training course at Kiel-Wik.[1]

Rosenbaum then attended various torpedo courses at the torpedo school in Flensburg from mid October 1936 to end of January 1937. His U-boat training began on 1 February 1937 ending with his assignment as watch officer on U-35 in the Saltzwedel Flotilla on 3 April 1937. U-35 at the time was under the command of Hans Rudolf Rösing.[2]

From 6 August 1940 to 29 September 1940 he attended U-73 construction briefing at the Bremer Vulkan ship yard and commissioned U-73 on 30 September 1940 after completing his first two war patrols on U-2.[Tr 3] He sank one ship on his first patrol on U-73 in the North Atlantic.[3]

Eagle listing to port and sinking, 11 August 1942

On his second patrol (25 March 1941 – 24 April 1941) on U-73 Rosenbaum departed from Lorient and attacked and sank five ships, returning to St. Nazaire after four weeks at sea.[4] He attacked convoy SC 26 on 3 April 1941 sinking the Alderpool, Indier, Westpool, and British Viscount. This achievement earned Rosenbaum a reference on 4 April 1942 in the Wehrmachtbericht (armed forces report), an information bulletin issued by the headquarters of the Wehrmacht. To be singled out individually in this way was an honour and was entered in the Orders and Decorations' section of a soldier's Service Record Book. The British 8,570 GRT Empire Endurance was sunk on 20 April 1941.

In February 1942 U-73 was heavily bombed during his first Mediterranean patrol but nevertheless managed to reach La Spezia. In August 1942, on his eighth and final patrol (4 August 1942 – 5 September 1942) on U-73, Rosenbaum attempted an attack on convoy WS 21S of Operation Pedestal bound for Malta. On 11 August 1942 he made contact and fired four torpedoes at the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle sinking her in the engagement earning him the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) on 12 August 1942 and a further reference in the Wehrmachtbericht.[3]

Following his command of U-73 he took command of the 30th U-boat Flotilla on 1 October 1942. At the same time he held the position of Admiralstabsoffizier (Asto—officer of the admiralty staff) in the staff of the Admiral of the Black Sea. Helmut Rosenbaum was killed in an airplane crash on 10 May 1944 near Constanţa in Romania as commander of the 30th U-boat Flotilla. Rosenbaum was on his way to a meeting with the commanding admiral of the Black Sea.[3] Rosenbaum was posthumously promoted to Korvettenkapitän (Corvette Captain) on 3 August 1944 with an effective date as of 1 May 1944.[2]

Summary of career

Ships attacked

As a U-boat commander of U-73 Helmut Rosenbaum is credited with the sinking of six merchantmen for a total of 35,171 gross register tons (GRT), and three warships, the HMS Eagle on 11 August 1942, of 22,692 metric tons (22,334 long tons; 25,014 short tons), and two motor launches on board Empire Endurance.

Date U-boat Name of ship Flag Tonnage Fate
24 February 1941 U 73 Waynegate  United Kingdom 4,260 Sunk at 58°50′N 21°47′W / 58.833°N 21.783°W / 58.833; -21.783 (Waynegate (ship))
3 April 1941 U 73 Alderpool  United Kingdom 4,313 Sunk at 58°21′N 27°59′W / 58.35°N 27.983°W / 58.35; -27.983 (Alderpool (ship))
3 April 1941 U 73 British Viscount  United Kingdom 6,895 Sunk at 58°15′N 27°30′W / 58.25°N 27.5°W / 58.25; -27.5 (British Viscount (ship))
3 April 1941 U 73 Indier  Belgium 5,409 Sunk at 58°13′N 27°36′W / 58.217°N 27.6°W / 58.217; -27.6 (Indier (ship))
3 April 1941 U 73 Westpool  United Kingdom 5,724 Sunk at 58°12′N 27°40′W / 58.2°N 27.667°W / 58.2; -27.667 (Westpool (ship))
20 April 1941 U 73 Empire Endurance  United Kingdom 8,570 Sunk at 53°05′N 23°14′W / 53.083°N 23.233°W / 53.083; -23.233 (Empire Endurance (ship))
20 April 1941 U 73 HMS ML-1003  United Kingdom 46 Sunk at 53°05′N 23°14′W / 53.083°N 23.233°W / 53.083; -23.233 (HMS ML-1003 (ship))
20 April 1941 U 73 HMS ML-1037  United Kingdom 46 Sunk at 53°05′N 23°14′W / 53.083°N 23.233°W / 53.083; -23.233 (HMS ML-1037 (ship))
11 August 1942 U 73 HMS Eagle  United Kingdom 22,600 Sunk at 38°05′N 03°02′E / 38.083°N 3.033°E / 38.083; 3.033 (HMS Eagle (ship))


Wehrmachtbericht references

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Friday, 4 April 1941 Bei den letzten Erfolgen gegen die britische Handelsschiffahrt im Nordatlantik haben sich die Unterseeboote unter Führung von Kapitänleutnant Rosenbaum und Oberleutnant zur See Endraß besonders ausgezeichnet.[7] The submarines under the command of Captain Lieutenant Rosenbaum and Lieutenant at sea Endraß have particularly distinguished themselves in recent successes against British merchant shipping in the North Atlantic.
Wednesday, 12 August 1942 Wie durch Sondermeldung bekanntgegeben, versenkte ein deutsches Unterseeboot unter Führung von Kapitänleutnants Rosenbaum am 11. August im westlichen Mittelmeer den englischen Flugzeugträger "EAGLE" aus einem stark gesicherten Geleitzug mit vier Torpedotreffern.[8] As announced by special bulletin a German submarine under the command of Captain Lieutenant Rosenbaum sank the British aircraft carrier "EAGLE" from amongst a heavily secured convoy with four torpedo hits on 11 August in the western Mediterranean.

Translation notes

  1. 2nd department —II. Abteilung
  2. standing ship division —Schiffsstammdivision
  3. construction briefing —Baubelehrung


  1. 1.0 1.1 Busch and Röll 2003, p. 237.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Busch and Röll 2003, p. 238.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Kurowski 1995, p. 215.
  4. Busch and Röll 2003, p. 239.
  5. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 364.
  6. Scherzer 2007, p. 639.
  7. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 464.
  8. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 244.
  • Busch, Hans-Joachim; Röll (2003) (in German). Der U-Boot-Krieg 1939–1945 — Die Ritterkreuzträger der U-Boot-Waffe von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [The U-Boat War 1939–1945 — The Knight's Cross Bearers of the U-Boat Force from September 1939 to May 1945]. Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn Germany: Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn. ISBN 978-3-8132-0515-2. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Kurowski, Franz (1995). Knight's Cross Holders of the U-Boat Service. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-88740-748-2. 
  • Range, Clemens (1974). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Kriegsmarine [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Navy]. Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-87943-355-1. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives]. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • (in German) Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3. 
  • (in German) Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3. 

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