German Submarine U-505 Crewmember Hans Goebeler Recalls Being Captured During World War II | HistoryNet

German Submarine U-505 Crewmember Hans Goebeler Recalls Being Captured During World War II

6/12/2006 • Premium, World War II

It has been more than 50 years since the aircraft carrier USS Guadalcanal‘s hunter-killer group captured the German submarine U-505 off Cape Blanco in French West Africa, but for former crewman Hans Goebeler the memories are as fresh as ever. The 74-year-old retiree still bristles at any suggestion that U-505, the first ship captured on the high seas by the U.S. Navy since the War of 1812, was an unlucky ship.

‘There’s no reason to say that the U-505 was a hard-luck ship,’ says Goebeler. ‘No matter what happened to her, she always brought us back. She wouldn’t even let anything happen to the Americans who boarded her. Those other so-called lucky ships, well, you might have shaved with them yesterday because they are all scrap now. But U-505 is on display in Chicago [at the Museum of Science and Industry] as a monument to the boys on both sides who died in the war. I think our boat was the luckiest ship in World War II.’ Goebeler should know; more that 50 years ago, in the warm ocean waters off the West African coast, it was he who ‘pulled the plug’ to scuttle U-505 — the U-boat that wouldn’t die.

Goebeler was born in 1923 in the small Hessian farming community of Frankenburg, about 75 miles northeast of Frankfurt. His father was an official in the German Reichsbahn railway system and raised his son with a firm belief in the value of hard work, self-reliance and patriotism. ‘My father was a soldier in the First World War,’ Goebeler says. ‘He fought in the East but was captured by the Russians. He saw horrible, unspeakable things done by the Bolsheviks during the revolution. They did these things to their own people in the name of communism! I swore I would work to make Germany strong and to never let the Communists take over my country.’

Even as a youngster, Goebeler displayed the kind of abilities that the German navy required for

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