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Admiral Gunther Lutjens


25 May 1889 - 27 May 1941

No roses bloom on a sailor's grave. But roses bloom in hearts for those honorable sailors.
 
The honorable life & career of Admiral Gunther Lutjens
His last radio message was actually a death message, which was informing the Kriegs Marine Group West, about their situation, "We will fight to the last shell. This was completely true. Admiral Lutjens and all the brave sailors of Bismarck fought to the last shell, and died with their great honour aboard the giant battleship. Their hopeless fight was unforgettable and legendary.

Admiral Gunther Lutjens was a quiet, humourless, inflexible and rather forbidding man, with a forceful character, given to fatalism. According to some sailors of Deutsche Kriegsmarine, he was that kind of interesting man. Some of them were nicknamed Admiral Lutjens the 'Black Devil'. But according to Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, he was an effective and intrepid leader and a perfect commander. His belief was not wrong.

Admiral Lutjens was a brave commander who dedicated his whole life to German Naval Forces both the Kaiserliche Marine and Kriegsmarine. Actually, his life was not only interesting, but mixed with some secrets too. When he died aboard DKM Bismarck as the fleet commander, he was 52 years old, who left many questions behind his life and decisions as well. According to some of his friends, he was aware about this 'death journey' and hopeless operation Rheinubung. It is not possible to learn his true ideas and beliefs today, but everyone knows that he tried to do his best against impossible odds. He lived as a gentleman, fought as a gentleman and died with honour. Lutjens was one of the last representatives of an elegant era, which was completely ended many years ago.
 
His life & career
Admiral Gunther Lutjens was born in 25 May 1889, at Wiesbaden, Germany. His father was a mobile merchant, who spent many years between Holland and India. Lutjens was an intelligent, silent and clever child.

After his childhood years, he decided to be a seaman, and began his new life as a student of Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) school in 1907. He spent his first years in SMS Freya, a cruiser and school ship. In 1909, he spent a year on board SMS Elsass. During the years 1910 to 1913 he served aboard SMS Konig Wilhelm (one of the powerful dreadnoughts of German Navy) as a naval teacher. Then, between 1913 - 1914 he served as the commander of the 4.Flotilla's G169, G172 torpedo-boats and A40 gunboat.

He was very succesful during the First World War. He put up a great performance during some attacks at Flanders Coast, especially. He bombarded the Dunkerque port with his small flotilla on March 23, 1917, and damaged some important and strategic points. After this attack, he fought against four British torpedo boats and destroyed them on May 2, 1917. On May 19, he attacked four French destroyers with five boats which were under his command, within a closed range of only 400 meters. He was considered as a brave, dynamic and very intelligent commander who especially liked to deal with strategy. It was not a wrong belief.

After WWI, between 1918 - 1919, he worked as an officer at Wernemunde Ship Transportation Agency and till 1921 for KWA-II. After these years, he returned to the newly organized German Navy again, and this time as a Fleet Commander. Between 1923 - 1925 he served for the 3. Torpedo Flotilla. And then, served as T-Flotilla chief till 1931, at Swinemunde. In 1936, he was the senior Kriegs Marine personnel chief. After this, he began his new work as destroyers and torpedo boats commander. On October 1939, Lutjens was an active war commander again. During the Norwegian Operation of German Armed Forces & Kriegs Marine, he served as Vice Admiral holding the command of battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, instead of Admiral Marshall (who was sick at that time) and put up a very successful strategy with the two great battlecruisers.

In 1941, he succeeded in another operation with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and this time the operation was an Atlantic raider attack. During this long-range Atlantic operation, the two battlecruisers destroyed more than 115.000 tons of British merchant marine (total of 22 ships) before anchoring at Brest harbor. After the success obtained by the two battlecruisers during the winter of 1941, the German Naval High Command decided to launch another but more ambitious and risky operation which was Operation Rheinubung (Rhein Exercises).

The project was to send a powerful battle fleet to the Atlantic formed by two new and powerful battleships, Bismarck and Tirpitz, with the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. But, because of several reasons, Tirpitz and the two battlecruisers couldn't be ready for the operation. Then, Admiralty decided to launch the operation with Bismarck and brand new heavy cruiser DKM Prinz Eugen. But this was a deadly gamble. Admiral Gunther Lutjens was again the chief commander, this time for Bismarck and Prinz Eugen during the operation Rheinubung due to Grand Admiral Erich Raeder's decision.

He was aware the risks of this operation, and Lutjens was the best choice for this kind of a hard task. But, this was the last mission of this brave and silent Admiral. He sailed Atlantic Ocean on May 18, 1941 with DKM Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. He never returned.

Gunther Lutjens was born in 25 May 1889. He won his greatest victory on May 24, 1941. Three days later, on May 27, 1941, he died aboard battleship Bismarck as a brave and honourable commander.

Operation Rheinubung was also the tragedy of battleship Bismarck and Admiral Gunther Lutjens.
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