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Fritz Frauenheim

Fritz Frauenheim

German World War II U-boat commander
The basics
Quick Facts
Occupations Korvettenkapitän Submariner
Countries Germany
Gender male
Birth January 9, 1912 (Berlin, Germany)
Death September 28, 1969 (Hamburg, Germany)
The details

Fritz Frauenheim (9 January 1912 – 28 September 1969) was a German U-boat commander of the Second World War. From September 1939 until retiring from front line service in December 1940, he sank 19 ships for a total of 78,853 gross register tons (GRT), and damaged two others. For this he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes), among other commendations. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Early life

Frauenheim was born in Berlin-Friedenau on 9 March 1912. He entered the navy and spent his initial training on the cadet ship Schleswig-Holstein, followed by a period on the light cruiser Karlsruhe. He was transferred to the U-boat force in January 1936 and rose quickly through the ranks and on 1 April 1939 he was promoted to Kapitänleutnant. He appears to have spent time with the German forces supporting the Spanish Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War, as he was awarded the Spanish Cross on 6 June 1939.

Wartime career

Frauenheim had been made watch officer on U-25 in 1938, eventually spending over a year in this role, until October 1939. He was appointed to command U-21 on 1 October 1937, eventually carrying out five patrols, eventually sinking four merchant ships. He also laid mines, one of which damaged HMS Belfast on 21 November, putting her out of action for nearly three years. The Net-class boom defence vessel Bayonet was sunk by one of U-21’s mines on 21 December.

Frauenheim left U-21 on 6 January 1940, taking over command of the newly built U-101 on 11 March 1940. He commissioned the boat and took her on four successful patrols. He sank a total of 12 ships, including three sunk and one damaged from convoy SC-7. He left U-101 on 18 November 1940 and became a teacher in the 2nd ULD. He went on to hold a number of staff positions, before taking command of 23rd U-boat Flotilla in the Mediterranean in September 1941. In 1942 he moved to command 29th U-boat Flotilla. On 1 March 1943 he was promoted to Korvettenkapitän. In February 1944 Frauenheim joined the staff of the Admiral der Kleinkampfverbände (Admiral of Midget Assault Units), where he remained for the rest of the war. He was again promoted, this time to Fregattenkapitän on 1 December 1944.

Post war

After the end of the war Frauenheim spent eight months in Allied captivity before being released. Frauenheim for almost 20 years until his death worked at the Mobil Oil AG in the Federal Republic of Germany. His last position was a member of the board and head of the department of Marine Transportation and Pipelines. He died in Hamburg on 28 September 1969, aged 57.

Summary of career

Ships attacked

As commander of U-21 and U-101 Fritz Frauenheim is credited with the sinking of 18 ships for a total of 78,248 gross register tons (GRT), further damaging one ship of 4,166 GRT, sinking one auxiliary warship of 605 GRT, and damaging one warship of 11,500 long tons (11,700 tonnes).

Date U-boat Name Nationality Tonnage
21 November 1939 U-21 HMS Belfast  Royal Navy 11,500 Damaged (mine)
1 December 1939 U-21 Mercator  Finland 4,620 Sunk
21 December 1939 U-21 Carl Henckel  Sweden 1,352 Sunk
21 December 1939 U-21 HMS Bayonet  Royal Navy 605 Sunk (mine)
21 December 1939 U-21 Mars  Sweden 1,475 Sunk
31 January 1940 U-21 Vidar  Denmark 1,353 Sunk
24 February 1940 U-21 Royal Archer  United Kingdom 2,266 Sunk (mine)
26 May 1940 U-101 Stanhall  United Kingdom 4,831 Sunk
31 May 1940 U-101 Orangemoor  United Kingdom 5,775 Sunk
2 June 1940 U-101 Polycarp  United Kingdom 3,577 Sunk
11 June 1940 U-101 Mount Hymettus  Greece 5,820 Sunk
12 June 1940 U-101 Earlspark  United Kingdom 5,250 Sunk
14 June 1940 U-101 Antonis Georgandis  Greece 3,557 Sunk
16 June 1940 U-101 Wellington Star  United Kingdom 13,212 Sunk
19 August 1940 U-101 Ampleforth  United Kingdom 4,576 Sunk
28 August 1940 U-101 Elle  Finland 3,868 Sunk
1 September 1940 U-101 Efploia  Greece 3,867 Sunk
12 October 1940 U-101 Saint-Malo  Canada 5,799 Sunk
18 October 1940 U-101 Blairspey  United Kingdom 4,155 Damaged
18 October 1940 U-101 Creekirk  United Kingdom 3,917 Sunk
19 October 1940 U-101 Assyrian  United Kingdom 2,962 Sunk
19 October 1940 U-101 Soesterberg  Netherlands 1,904 Sunk


  • Wehrmacht Long Service Award 4th Class (2 October 1936)
  • Spanish Cross in Bronze (6 June 1939)
  • Iron Cross (1939)
    • 2nd Class (2 October 1939)
    • 1st Class (7 November 1939)
  • Sudetenland Medal (20 December 1938)
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 29 August 1940 as Kapitänleutnant and commander of U-101
  • Knight's Cross of the Order of the Roman Eagle with Swords (18 June 1943)
  • German Cross in Gold on 23 November 1944 as Korvettenkapitän with the Admiral of the Kleinkampfverbände
  • Mentioned twice in the Wehrmachtbericht (17 June 1940 and 19 October 1940)


10 October 1930: Seekadett (Midshipman)
1 January 1932: Fähnrich zur See (Officer Cadet)
1 April 1934: Oberfähnrich zur See (Senior Ensign)
1 October 1934: Leutnant zur See (Second Lieutenant)
1 June 1936: Oberleutnant zur See (First Lieutenant)
1 April 1939: Kapitänleutnant (Captain Lieutenant)
1 March 1943: Korvettenkapitän (Corvette Captain), effective as of 1 March 1943 with rank age dated 1 April 1943
1 December 1944: Fregattenkapitän (Frigate Captain)
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Early life Wartime career Post war Summary of career
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