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Erich Topp
2 July 1914(1914-07-02) – 26 December 2005 (aged 91)
Erich Topp.jpg
Place of birth Hannover
Place of death Süßen
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany (to 1945)
West Germany West Germany
Service/branch  Kriegsmarine
 German Federal Navy
Years of service 1934-1945 — 1958-1969
Rank Kriegsmarine: Fregattenkapitan
Bundesmarine: Konteradmiral
Unit 1. Unterseebootsflottille
7. Unterseebootsflottille
4. Unterseebootsflottille
11. Unterseebootsflottille
Commands held U-57, 1940-05-05 – 1940-09-15
U-552, 1940-12-04 – 1942-09-08
Flottillechef 27. Unterseebootsflottille, 1942-09 – 1945-03
U-3010, 1945-03-23 – 1945-04-26
U-2513, 1945-04-27 – 1945-05-08
Awards U-boat War Badge with Diamonds
Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
Great Cross of Merit
Other work Architect, Joined the Bundesmarine in 1958

Rear Admiral Erich Topp (2 July 1914 - 26 December 2005) was the third most successful German U-Boot Experten commander of World War II. He sank 35 ships for a total of 197,460 gross register tons (GRT).



Topp was born in Hannover, and joined the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) in 1934, serving his first stint after being commissioned as Leutnant zur See (Ensign) on the light cruiser Karlsruhe in 1937, before transferring to the U-Bootwaffe (submarine fleet) in October 1937. He served as Watch Officer on U-46 and took part in four combat patrols before he was given his first command on U-57 on 5 June 1940. He led U-57 on two missions during which the boat managed to sink six ships. She was sunk after a collision with a Norwegian vessel on 3 September 1940.

U-552 returning to St. Nazaire

Topp survived to take command of U-552, a Type VIIC boat, on 4 December 1940. With U-552, Der Rote Teufel, he operated mainly against convoys in the North Atlantic, sinking 30 ships and crippling several others on ten patrols. One of his victims during this period was the destroyer USS Reuben James, the first US warship to be sunk in WWII on 31 October 1941.

In October 1942 he was given command of the 27. Unterseebootsflottille, based in Gotenhafen (now Gdynia, Poland), which put him in charge of introducing the new Type XXI Elektro Boot boats to active service. He wrote the battle manual for the Type XXI, and shortly before the end of the war, he took command of U-2513, on which he surrendered on 8 May 1945, in Horten,Norway.

After the war, he worked as a fisherman and then as architect, until he eventually rejoined the Bundesmarine (Federal German Navy), reaching the rank of Konteradmiral (Two star Rear Admiral) before retiring in 1969. After his retirement he worked as an industrial consultant for various naval yards. In 2001 the submarine simulation computer game Silent Hunter II was released, for which Topp was the technical advisor, he also had interviews on it too[1]

He died on 26 December 2005, in Süßen at the age of 91.



  1. ^ "Technical Advisor=". Silent Hunter II Official website. Retrieved 2007-10-26.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Busch and Röll 2003, p. 142
  3. ^ a b c Scherzer 2007, p. 748.
  4. ^ Busch and Röll 2003, p. 143.
  • Berger, Florian (2000). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges (in German). Wien, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 3-9501307-0-5.
  • Busch, Rainer & Röll, Hans-Joachim (2003). Der U-Boot-Krieg 1939-1945 - Die Ritterkreuzträger der U-Boot-Waffe von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 (in German). Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn Germany: Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn. ISBN 3-8132-0515-0.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945 (in German). Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Savas, Theodore P., Editor. (2004) Hunt and Kill: U-505 and the U-boat War in the Atlantic. Savas Beatie LLC, New York, NY. (Topp Foreword)
  • Savas, Theodore P., editor. (1997, 2004). Silent Hunters: German U-boat Commanders of World War II. Naval Institute Press.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Topp, Erich (1992). The Odyssey of a U-boat Commander (in English).
  • Helden der Wehrmacht III - Unsterbliche deutsche Soldaten (in German). München, Germany: FZ-Verlag GmbH, 2007. ISBN 978-3-924309-82-4.

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