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Karl-Friedrich Merten
August 15, 1905(1905-08-15) – May 2, 1993 (aged 87)
Karl-Friedrich Merten.jpg
Karl-Friedrich Merten
Place of birth Posen
Place of death Waldshut
Allegiance Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Reichsmarine
Years of service 1928 – 1945
Rank Kapitän zur See
Unit 2. Unterseebootsflottille
Commands held U-68, February 11, 1941 – January 21, 1943
Awards Iron Cross 1st Class
U-boat War Badge with Diamonds
Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves

Captain Karl-Friedrich Merten (15 August 1905 – 2 May 1993) was a German U-boat commander during World War II.

Born in Posen, he joined the Reichsmarine in 1926. After training he spent many years on surface ships. He joined the U-Boat service on May 1, 1940. From October 1940 until January 1941 he joined U-38 as a trainee Captain with the experienced Heinrich Liebe.

On 11 February, 1941, Merten commissioned U-68 and lead 5 successful patrols. He operated all over the world, patrolling in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Indian Ocean. U-68 was in the U-boat wolf pack Eisbär (Polar Bear Group), consisting of four submarines, U-68 (Merten), U-156 (Werner Hartenstein), U-172 (Carl Emmermann), U-504 (Hans-Georg Friedrich Poske) a fifth U-boat, U-159 (Helmut Witte) joined the group later, which in the course of a few weeks during September/October 1942, sank more than 100,000 gross register tons (GRT) tons of shipping off South Africa.

On 22 September 22, 1941 Merten torpedoed his first ship the 5,302 GRT British Steamer SS Silverbelle sailing in convoy SL-87 and on the 6 November 6, 1942 he sunk his last ship the 8,034 GRT British Steamer SS City of Cairo. His total was 29 ships sunk at a tonnage of 170,151.

After this patrol Merten was appointed to the U-boat Flotilla in Pillau, and this and other training appointments curtailed his operational career. Nevertheless, when the war ended he stood seventh in the table of U-Boat commanders in terms of tonnage sunk. After the war he made a new career in shipbuilding, retiring in 1974.

Long after the sinking of the SS City of Cairo he was invited to a post-war reunion of survivors where one observed: "We couldn't have been sunk by a nicer man".

He died on 2 May 1993 in Waldshut.



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  1. ^ a b c d e f Busch and Röll 2003, p. 221.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Busch and Röll 2003, p. 222.
  3. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 538.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Helden der Wehrmacht - Unsterbliche deutsche Soldaten (in German). München, Germany: FZ-Verlag GmbH, 2004. ISBN 3-924309-53-1.

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