5 May 1945 2100 Hours Off the Northeast Florida Coast Its bow cut sharply through the night-blackened waters of the Atlantic, leaving only the pale green glow of phosphorescent plankton spreading outward in its wake. Painted on both sides of the U-boat’s conning tower were the emblems of a conquering eagle, its talons fastened onto a globe of the world. The words Deutschland über Alles encircled the eagle, with Kriegsmarine printed beneath the globe. There was, however, neither name nor numerical designation identifying the submarine. A lone officer, the U-boat’s navigator, and two lookouts stood in the cockpit area atop the conning tower. They were positioned just forward of the submarine’s two raised periscopes and snorkel, the latter scooping in much needed fresh air for the spaces below. In the submarine’s control room, officers and crew listened to a declaration by Admiral Karl Doenitz over the BBC following Hitler’s death. Instructing Germany’s war machine to lay down its arms and prepare to surrender, he ended with “ . . . And finally, to my brave Uboat men! Six years of U-boat warfare lie behind us. You have fought like lions. Unbroken in your warlike courage, you are laying down your arms after an heroic fight that knows no equal. In reverent memory we think of our comrades who have sealed their loyalty to the Führer and the Fatherland with their death.” Comrades, maintain in the future your Uboat spirit with which you have fought at sea, bravely and unflinchingly during long years for the welfare of the Fatherland. “Long live Germany!” Korvettenkapitän, Helmut Strobel ordered, “Enough! Turn it off!” Gritting his teeth, he exploded, “Here we are, six thousand miles from home. Another six thousand to go. Errand boys for some Nazi bigwigs, most likely already sitting in Buenos Aires and waiting . . . for what?” Strobel turned on SS-Standartenführer Jürgen Krueger. “What are we carrying in those crates and burlap bags of yours, Colonel? Huh? Not pickled herring and sauerkraut, I’ll wager. Four torpedo racks I sacrifice for their stowage. Something to feather the nest of SS butchers like you who have already escaped? An impossible dream to establish the Reich at another time, another place?” “Carry out your orders, Captain,” Krueger snarled. “That’s all you have to do. If you so much as—” “Captain to the bridge,” the navigator’s voice was heard calling through the voice tube. “Captain to the bridge.” The urgency in the voice pushed Helmut Strobel up the ladder and through the conning tower. Within seconds he was on the bridge. “There,” whispered the navigator. “Off the starboard quarter. Through the jetties at the mouth of the river.” Strobel jammed the rubber eye guards of his binoculars over his eyes, ignoring Krueger who edged in beside him. “What is it?” Krueger asked, his voice low. Adjusting the binoculars, Strobel focused on the ship’s lights as it passed the final channel buoy and turned to starboard, heading in the direction of the U-boat. “Running lights, eh?” he grunted. “If the Führer is dead, they must also think the war is over.” “What is it?” Krueger demanded, grabbing Strobel’s arm. Strobel jerked away. “Keep your voice down.” With eyes still pressed against the binoculars, he said, “A tanker. Low in the water. Fully loaded.” As he studied the tanker, he envisioned the allies’ indiscriminate bombing raids of Stuttgart: his wife and two children screaming in fear; his own harrowing escapes from pursuing aircraft and destroyers with their damnable depth charges. His fellow submariners, so many dead. Only the previous December he had learned of his family’s fate, perishing in the firestorms of Stuttgart. And now he was alone with only a photograph and bittersweet memories. It was not simply the growing shroud of helplessness that had wrapped itself about him, but the deep-seated hatred of the Americans and the English that had eaten its way into his soul. Tortured by those thoughts, thoughts that really never left him, he said, “The war is not over. Doenitz said only to prepare for surrender. One last shot, and then we’ll prepare.” Read more. . .