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Helmut Witte

Helmut Witte

German World War II U-boat commander
The basics
Quick Facts
Occupations Korvettenkapitän Submariner
Countries Germany
Gender male
Birth April 6, 1915
Death October 3, 2005 (Duisburg, Düsseldorf Government Region, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany)
Helmut Witte
The details

Helmut Witte (6 April 1915 – 3 October 2005) was a German naval officer with the Kriegsmarine during World War II. As commander of the Type IXC U-boat U-159, he sank twenty-three ships on four patrols, for a total of 119,554 tons of Allied shipping, to become the 20th highest scoring U-Boat ace of World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross of Nazi Germany.


Witte joined the Reichsmarine in April 1934, serving on the light cruiser Köln, the destroyer Z22 "Anton Schmitt", and on several torpedo boats before transferring to the U-boat arm in July 1940. Witte was 1.WO (second-in-command) on U-107 under Günther Hessler, and took part in the most successful patrol of the war in early 1941, during which 14 ships totalling 86,699 tons were sunk.

Witte commissioned U-159 in October 1941, and in late 1942 accomplished World War II's fourth most successful patrol, sinking 63,730 tons of shipping. In his four patrols in U-159 Witte sank 23 ships in all totalling 119,554 GRT. From June 1943 he served in several staff positions.


At the end of the war Witte spent two months as a prisoner of the British. After spells as a farm hand and a factory worker, Witte had a successful business career, and in the 1960s became personnel manager of a large German industrial group. He died in 2005 aged 90.


  • Wehrmacht Long Service Award 4th Class (1 April 1938)
  • Spanish Cross in Bronze (6 June 1939)
  • Iron Cross
    • 2nd Class (12 January 1940)
    • 1st Class (10 July 1941)
  • Narvik Shield
  • U-Boat War Badge (1939) (10 July 1941)
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 22 October 1942 as Kapitänleutnant and commander of U-159
  • Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on Ribbon (10 December 1980)
  • War Merit Cross (1939), Second Class with Swords (30 January 1944)
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