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DEBRIEFING REPORTS FROM BISMARCK SURVIVORS

This section contains translations of the official debriefing reports of the five Bismarck survivors rescued by German ships.


Naval Group Command West
B.Nr. g.Kdos. 3156/41 A1
Headquarters, 14 June 1941.

To: Office of Naval Operations
Naval Group Command Nord
Fleet Command

The attachment presents in triplicate:
1) A preliminary debriefing of the three surviving soldiers of “Bismarck” who were saved by “U-74”.
2) One session with each of the five survivors of “Bismarck”.

The debriefing of both surviving soldiers who were rescued by the “Sachsenwald” [Lorenzen and Maus] was delayed, because they became ill after their arrival in Paris.

The proceedings provide a general overview of the events as they transpired from the instant of the sighting of the cruiser in the afternoon of 23.5 up to approximately 2 hours before the sinking of “Bismarck”. The statements of the Matrosengefreiter Manthey, Herzog, and Höntzsch agree fairly well with each other in content, they correspond overall with the first interrogation by “U-74”, and they provide an impression of the state of morale of the crew. A deeper search into their individual experiences has proven useless, since the recall capacity of all of them is impaired, and they are prone to flights of fantasy. This, for example, applies to the abandon-ship events described by Matrosengefreiter Manthey and Höntzsch, who stated similarly to Herzog, that, since there was no longer a chain of command nor telephone contact present on the upper deck, they jumped overboard taking an inflatable boat with them; but now, by contrast, they stated during a recorded written interrogation that they were washed overboard.

Since the 3 soldiers cannot make any reliable statements about personnel losses and damage, and since they did not repeat anything about the severe portside torpedo hit as they had stated in their first debriefing, even despite intensive questioning, only the statements of Matrosengefreiter Lorenzen provide a certain grasp of the situation and the effect of the hit. Therefore, the debriefing of Lorenzen appears to be the most objective and reliable in content.

The actual sinking was not witnessed by any of the survivors.

The Commander of Group West awarded the 5 rescued soldiers the Iron Cross 2nd Class.

For the Command of Naval Group West
Chief of Staff
Signed in draft form: Meyer

Verified
Signature
Commander and Adjutant


Attachments:

a) Preliminary hearing of Matrosengefreiten Herbert MANTHEY, Georg HERZOG, and Otto HÖNTZSCH concerning the operation (May 1941) of the Battleship “Bismarck” (transcript of a transcript).

b) Proceeding (2.6.1941) of Matrosengefreiter Herbert MANTHEY of the Battleship “Bismarck” concerning the sinking of the ship.

c) Proceeding (3.6.1941) of Matrosengefreiter Otto HÖNTZSCH of the Battleship “Bismarck” concerning the sinking of the ship.

d) Proceeding (4.6.1941) of Matrosengefreiter Georg HERZOG of the Battleship “Bismarck” concerning the sinking of the ship.

e) Proceeding (7.6.1941) of Matrosengefreiter Walter LORENZEN of the Battleship “Bismarck” concerning the sinking of the ship.

f) Proceeding (24.6.1941) of Matrosengefreiter Otto MAUS of the Battleship “Bismarck” concerning the sinking of the ship.




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