by Eric C. Rust
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2017. 256.
. $24.95 paper. ISBN: 1682472310
The Junior Officers of the Kriegsmarine
In contrast to numerous works on German Army officers under the Third Reich, Rust’s profile of the Kriegsmarine’s 1934 officer candidate class, originally published in 1991 and long out of print, was the first account of naval officers under the Nazi regime. In researching this book, Rust delved deeply into available documents. He was thus able to give us a look at the social and educational background, private lives, political perspectives, and naval careers of the 318 members of the class. Although directly concerning the men of the Class of 1934, Rust’s work also throws some light on the lives and careers of those of earlier and later classes.
Some 40 percent of these men did not survive the war, most dying the U-boot service, and Rust gives us a good idea of what it was like serve in and command submarines. Of the survivors, Rust follows them into the postwar period, when some returned to duty and helped found the new navy of the German Federal Republic, the “Bundesmarine”, in the 1950s.
In a preface written for this reissue, Rust notes that his profile of these men, and his broader conclusions about the German navy’s officer corps, have largely been confirmed by subsequent research and adds some general observations about the lives of the men in question. A very scholarly work, Naval Officers Under Hitler remains of critical value for those interested in the Kriegsmarine and the motivations of naval officers in the service of the Nazi regime.
Note: Naval Officers Under Hitler is also available in several e-editions.