Branch: Reichsmarine / Kriegsmarine
Born: 29 January 1908 in Gotha, Germany.
Died: 27 July 1997 in Eisenach, Germany.
Fregattenkapitän 1 October 1944
Korvettenkapitän 1 December 1941
Kapitänleutnant 1 October 1936
Oberleutnant zur See 1 October 1933
Leutnant zur See 1 October 1931
Oberfähnrich zur See 1 June 1931
Fähnrich zur See 1 April 1929
Iron Cross 2nd Class 8 October 1939
U-boat War Badge 1939, 16 December 1939
Iron Cross 1st Class 6 April 1940
Knights Cross 14 August 1940
Knights Cross with Oak Leaves 10 June 1941
Takes command on 1 October 1936
Ends command on 31 January 1938
Takes command on 24 October 1938
Ends command on 22 July 1941
Heinrich Liebe was born on 29 January 1908 in Gotha, Germany and went on to become a highly decorated German naval officer who served as a U-boat commander during World War II until transferred to Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine (German Navy High Command). He sank 34 ships for a total of 187,267 gross register tons (GRT), placing him fourth on the Aces of the Deep list. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. It was Germany's highest military decoration at the time of its presentation to Heinrich Liebe.
Born in Gotha, Heinrich Liebe began his Reichsmarine career in 1927. Promoted to Oberfähnrich zur See on 1 June 1931, Heinrich Liebe served on the World War I battleship SMS Schleswig-Holstein for four years. In September 1935, Heinrich Liebe transferred to the U-boat arm.
Heinrich Liebe was promoted to Kapitänleutnant and assigned commander of U-2, a Type IIA U-boat attached to the U-Bootschulflottille. On 24 October 1938, Heinrich Liebe commissioned U-38, a Type IX U-boat assigned to 6th U-boat Flotilla.
U-38 embarked on her first war time patrol on 19 August 1939 from Wilhelmshaven. Operating off Lisbon, Portugal on the outbreak of war, Heinrich Liebe managed to sink two British freighters before returning to port on 18 September. On 2 November, Heinrich Liebe set sail for Norwegian water on his second patrol.
Heinrich Liebes fourth patrol, on 8 April 1940 was also set in Norwegian waters, to support Operation Weserübung, the invasion of Norway. During this patrol, Heinrich Liebe shared the same negative experience of failed torpedoes as many other U-boat captains operating in the area. In mid April 1940, Heinrich Liebe fired on the British heavy cruiser Effingham, but all the torpedoes fired failed to detonate.
U-38 left on her fifth patrol on 6 June 1940, tasked with patrolling the Western Approaches off southern Ireland. Heinrich Liebe managed to sink six ships during this patrol, and also succeeded in landing a German agent in Ireland on 12 June. During his sixth patrol, Heinrich Liebe sank three ships, and were ordered to the new 6th U-boat Flotilla base in Lorient, France. During this patrol, on 14 August, Heinrich Liebe received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
On 9 April 1941, Heinrich Liebe set sail for operations off Freetown, Africa. This was Heinrich Liebe's ninth and last patrol with U-38, during which he sank 8 ships for a total of 47,279 GRT. For these successes, Heinrich Liebe received the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross on 10 June 1941. On 29 June, U-38 returned to Lorient. On 22 July, Heinrich Liebe transferred off the U-38, which was put under the command of Heinrich Schuch.
Following his departure from U-38, Heinrich Liebe was assigned to the staff of Oberkommando der Marine. In August 1944, he was transferred to the staff of the Commander-in-Chief of Submarines (Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote or BdU), Hans-Georg von Friedeburg, during which tenure he was promoted to Fregattenkapitän on 1 October 1944.
After the war Heinrich Liebe returned to his hometown in the Soviet sector to live with his parents. Since he refused to train Soviet submariners, he felt that was to blame for his being held to menial occupations. He died in July 1997 and is buried in Eisenach, Germany.
For a complete list of sources