Germany's Sixteen Greatest World War I Heroes - A sixteen part series featured in the
Dunkirk Evening Observer, September 3 - 27, 1927

History has proved that the greatest blunder the Kaiser and his World War leaders made was the declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare, bringing into the conflict the great man power and resources of the United States.

But regardless of the policies of the Kaiser's war lords, the dusty files of the German war office at Berlin reveal that in the ranks of Germany's armed forces were many men whose feats in fighting for a cause they believed to be right rival the heroic tales of the allies' gallant soldiers.

Most of the German feats of heroism have never been told in America.

Milton Bronner, writer for NEA Service and the OBSERVER, recently spent several weeks examining the official German war records and interviewing scores of prominent Germans intimately connected with the war. He has prepared a series of 16 articles, telling for the first time in this country, the true stories of Germany's 16 greatest heroes.

Each story is full of thrills and daring adventure. And when you have finished the series you will realize why America's commander-in-chief, the late President Wilson, often stated that America was not fighting the German people, but the German war lords.

For you will find that Germany's greatest heroes were much like those of America or any of the allied countries. The Germans in the ranks were part of a great, stern and sometimes ruthless military machine, but individually they were much like the men of other countries.

This series begins in The OBSERVER on Wednesday, September 7. There is nothing in the articles to which any fair-minded person will object. You will want to read all the articles, because they will give you a new picture of the individual German of war days, in addition to revealing thrilling feats and almost impossible adventures.

Wednesday, September 7, 1927, Dunkirk Evening Observer, page 15

Beginning the Thrilling series, "Germany's Greatest War Heroes"


Many Ships Sunk Without Loss of Single Life

Editor's note: This is the first of a series of articles on Germany's greatest war heroes. These thrilling stories of what happened on the other side of the Rhine during the World War, written especially for the OBSERVER and NEA Service by Milton Bronner (NEA Service Writer)

Berlin, Sept. 7. - The surprise of your life comes when you learn that an American sailing vessel became one of Germany's most daring raiders in the late war.

She was the Pass of Balmaha, amd she belonged to the Boston Lumber Company. In August 1915 on her way to Archangle with a cargo of cotton, whe was captured by a German U-Boat and sent to Bremen.

Shortly afterwards Count Felix von Luckner, pet of the Kaiser, ex beach comber, ex prize fighter, ex Salvation Army worker in Australia, ex-Mexican soldier of President Diaz in Mexico, ex-sailor-before-the-mast in English and American merchantmen, was called before the German naval staff.

He was to take the Pass of Balmaha through the British blockade and prey on allied shipping.

A Daring Venture

"Will you trust yourself," they said to him, "in a sailing vessel as an auxiliary cruiser to break through the British blockade?"

When Felix von Luckner was a boy in his teens, he had failed in school and run away to sea. He loved a wind jammer, and a request from the general staff was as good as an order. And so began the romantic preparation for the most cunning expedition that ever sailed the main.

On Christmas Day, 1916, a British patrol boat in the North Sea hailed a sailing vessel, the three-masted Norwegian bark Irma, bound for Australia with a cargo of lumber.

The skipper spoke Norwegian, and so did the crew. They spoke glibly of the towns in Norway from which they came. The log was Norwegian. There was a picture of the king and queen of Norway in the skipper's cabin. And the ship was loaded with lumber, loaded clear to the gunwales.

British Were Deceived

The British officers came aboard, made their inspection, pronounced everything in order, and gave the word that the Irma should continue on its way.

A few days later the ship Irma showed her true colors. Overboard went the cargo of lumber. From under the hatches came two four-inch guns, six machine guns, two gasoline launches, and a crew of German sailors. Two concealed auxiliary motors began to hum.

The well-drilled crew of Norwegians who had passed inspection before the British navy officers became, as if by magic, Germans, who celebrated Christmas day with special gifts, put aboard by Baroness von Krupp.

The name Irma still stayed on, but the true name of the ship now was the Seeadler - the Sea Eagle - and it was none other than the American ship Pass of Balmaha, done over for its buccaneering expedition in the South Atlantic and South Pacific.

The American ship Pass of Balmaha rechristened Seeadler, by March 7, 1917, had captured 11 ships and taken 277 prisoners. When she made her twelfth capture she put her prisoners aboard and sent them into Rio de Janeiro, thus releasing her secret and informing the world that the Seeadler was at large, ready for battle.

She rounded Cape Horn and began operations in the South Pacific. In all, she sank $25,000,000 worth of shipping, and her fame spread over the high seas.

Von Luckner had a rare sense of humor - he was a perfect actor, and he would have made a perfect pirate, only he was too considerate of his prisoners.

Pursuing an English merchantman on day, von Luckner called out "Make ready the torpedoes."

The Englishman surrendered. On board the Seeadler, he asked to see the torpedo tubes.

"We have none."

At another time the captain of a French sailing vessel was captured.

"Serves me right!" he said. "Two other French captains warned me to avoid this route. Now they are safely on their way home and I am a prisoner, my ship sunk."

"What were the ships?"

"Antonin and La Rochefoucauld."

Von Luckner turned to a seaman and told him to bring No. 5 and No. 6.

The amazed Frenchman rubbed his eyes. There before him were the captains of the Antonin and La Rochefoucauld.

Repeat Robinson Crusoe Story

And so went the cruise for 230 days and 33,000 miles. Then came the catastrophe.

Von Luckner put in at the French Island of Mopeha, near Tahiti, to give his crew rest and to get fresh water. Kind hearted buccaneer that he was he organized a picnic for prisoners and crew. While they were on shore a tidal wave lifted the Seeadler over an uncharted reef and broke its back.


They salvaged all the lumber they could, got up the wireless station, built huts, and prepared to make the best of it.

Von Luckner had thought the island uninhabited but he was wrong. It was inhabited by three Tahitians, pig and chicken raisers from Papeete. The natives were expecting a supply ship but before it arrived von Luckner and his men set out in an armed motorboat hoping to capture a merchantman and come back for the crew and prisoners. They reached Cook Island, 2200 miles away, deceived local authorities, but were taken in by Fiji constabulary and turned over to the British.

They were sent to a prison camp in New Zealand, but von Luckner was to make one more characteristic and glorious adventure.

Organizing German prisoners in the camp, he managed to escape in an open boat. They traveled 500 miles, suffering greatly from lack of water and food, but they were finally run down and brought back to New Zealand, where they stayed till the war was over.

Friendly Enemies

Von Luckner made friends of all his captives, and when he sailed into New York harbor last November aboard his vessel Vaterland bound for a good will cruise around the world, he was entertained by some of the skippers whose ships he had sent to the bottom.

He was the world's most kindhearted pirate, for on his whole cruise he never took a human life.


Tomorrow: "The Wasp" and his 62 victories.


The Fate of Von Luckner's Marooned Crew and Prisoners

The story of what happened to the crew of the Seeadler and the prisoners left on Mopeha is an adventure in itself.

Two weeks after von Luckner set out in his motor boat to capture another ship, a Tahitian barque came to the island with supplies for the three native chicken raisers.

Lieut. Kling captured the boat, and with 73 of the Seeadler's crew sailed away. They were captured by a Chilean schooner and interned by the Chilean government.

After this main body of Germans left, a French captain took command.

In September, seven of the prisoners set out in an open boat to seek help. Eight days later they returned, exhausted.

A second expedition of four men under Captain Smith, the American skipper of the Slade, one the the Seeadler's victims, set out in a leaky whaleboat. After ten days sailing, covering 1000 miles, they reached Tutuila, an American island in the Samoan group.

Wireless to Papeete set out a relief expedition and late in October 1917 the last of the prisoners was freed.

Thursday,September 8, 1927, Dunkirk Evening Observer, Page 17


Ace Udet, Who will Soon Fly to United States, Brought Down Sixty-Two Allied Planes.

Editor's Note: This is the second of a series of articles on Germany's greatest war heroes. These thrilling stories of what happened on the other side of the Rhine during the World War, written especially for OBSERVER and NEA Service by Milton Bronner, are appearing daily.

By Milton Bronner, NEA Service Writer.

Berlin, Sept. 8 - One of Germany's greatest war aces plans an aerial trip to America in the near future.

He is Ernst Udet, victor in 62 combats with allied planes, known to his squadron in 1918 as "The Wasp," and today one of Europe s most prominent peace-time aviators.

Today the knickname "The Flea" has replaced his war time moniker. It has been given him by friends because of his habit of hopping gaily all about Europe.

Risked Life Many Times

Udet plans to hop from Hamburg to the Azores and thence to America. It seems safe to predict that if he starts he will finish; his life must be proof against catastrophe. If he could possibly have killed himself he would have done it long ago.

At 13 he had built a successful glider. Not much later he was a motorcycle racer. Finding those sports tame, he took to ski jumping, and at 18 he became a flyer. He had been flying a year when the war broke out and he was ordered to the western front.

Throughout the war he sought danger, took the greatest risks.

He preferred to fly alone and his chief delight was to drop into the middle of an allied squadron of a dozen planes, shoot down one of them and let the other eleven chase him.

When he was promoted to the command of a squadron he was grieved, for now he must fly with others. His style ws cramped.

Stalked Death Four Years

He came through the whole war almost without a scratch, and is flying today with nerves unshaken by catastrophes which made mental and nervous wrecks of hundreds of men in the air services of both sides.

He tells today of his most tragic experience in war time, an experience which in itself would make most people never wish to see an airplane again:

"Cruising along about a mile and a half above the earth one day, there dropped from the clouds above me a live man, legs spread apart, hands wildly waving. He was whizzing down to certain death. I never learned who he was, his nationality, or from where he had fallen."

Through horrors like this, Udet lived and fought for four years.

Udet's first service was as flying observer for an artillery regiment.

"We were then in Alsace," he says, "and my second flight came near being my last.

"I had an observer with me and we had flown about three miles high when we hit a tremendous thick cloud bank in which we were completely lost. Worse yet, our controls went. We came down through the clouds and estimated we must be 15 miles within the enemy lines. By good luck we just managed to glide to earth in a potato field one mile back of our own lines. I got the Iron Cross, second class for that.

Many Narrow Escapes

"It was some time before I began really to have command over machines. I had several accidents in which either the machine or I or both sustained injuries.

"I had two air combats in which nothing serious happened to either side, but in my third I made my first kill. I was high in the air when I saw a squadron of 18 French airplanes. I made a straight drop like a hawk, which brought me by surprise among them.

"At the short distance of 150 feet I let the nearest machine have the full contents of my machine guns. The French plane dropped burning to earth near Muehlhausen. That's how I won the Iron Cross, first class.

"On September 10, 1917 the French for the first time flew over that part of our lines with bombs. I dropped down amid a squadron of them and my shooting forced one of them to land. I had to do the same thing because of severe shooting my plane received. The comical thing was that the French loser made a beautiful landing and I, the German winner, made a rotten landing. The French came out of their machine and shook hand cordially. They even looked sheepishly at the sign they had painted on their machine - 'Here comes the destroyer'. We had a laugh together over that."

Preferred Solo Fighting

"As long as I was merely a fighter in the air, I preferred to go with my plane alone instead of making part of a group. A group was easily spotted and the enemy had warning that you were coming.

"I like to fly high, hidden often from the foe by the glare of the sun, I could thus drop like a kite amid even overwhelming numbers of enemy machines and put one of them or even two out of business. You see, they often got in each other's way and were often afriad to fire, lest they injure their own side.

"Later, when I was promoted leader of a battle squadron and later still made chief of a whole group of 50 planes, I had to change my tactics and lead my men. That somewhat cramped my style.

"Pride over my promotion gave me one of my greatest scares. I wanted to mark my elevation by smashing a big captive enemy balloon. Just when I was hovering over the thing, about ten English Sopwiths appeared on the scene and made for me.

"I rose into a very thick cloud bank. After a while I thought I would take a look above it. I dived back. Some of the Sopwiths were faithfully waiting for me. I took a look below. Some were there too. Finally I escaped them, but my compass went wrong and only by good luck did I reach our own lines, 70 miles from where I started.

"My closest shave was once when I sent an English plane to earth. Wanting to land myself and thinking we were back of our own lines, I was nearly on the ground when I saw several hundred Tommies coming on the run, rifles in their hands. I just did manage to rise and get out of harm's way.

"Your American fellows were good sports. My first encounter with them was when a squadron of ours encountered a squadron of Nieuports on which were painted the French colors.

"I shot down one of them and landed next to it. The young pilot was wounded in the leg and head [or hand?]. We shook hands. I greeted him in French but he did not seem to understand a word and then I realized I had at last met an American.

"I told him we had shot down two others of his squadron. He ga??ly said:

'Oh, a very good morning for us! But we'll do better. This is only the first inning.'"

Ace Udet to now 31.

Killer that he was in war time, he has none of the air of a killer today. He is rather chunky of build, smiling, blue eyed kindly. He has a liking for American cigarets and English "visky" soda.

Theoretically, his home is in Munich, where his father was an engineer, but Ernst Udet is seldom there. When I talked to him he had just flown in from Copenhagen, Denmark. When he had told his story he hopped off for Augsburg. From there he was to go to Bucharest, Rumania; then back to Constantinople and from there back to Copenhagen - all as a matter of course for a flying flea.


Tomorrow: How a German undersea raider foiled England's submarine nets and won a decoration for extreme heroism.

Friday, September 9, 1927, Dunkirk Evening Observer, [page 15]



Named "Ocarina" in Jest, Ancient Craft Becomes Toast of German Navy


Editor's Note: This is the third of a series of articles telling of the exploits of Germany's outstanding World War heroes. These articles, written especially for OBSERVER and NEA Service by Milton Bronner, are appearing daily.

. . . .

By Milton Bronner, NEA Service Writer

(Copyright 1927, NEA Service Inc.)

Berlin, Sept. 9 - The German submarine U-22 was known as the Ocarina.

It was the funniest looking thing in the German Navy, antiquated, shaped like a runt sweet potato and so cramped inside that the crew slept doubled up like jackknives.

In 1915 the command of this misshapen jest was given to Oberleutnant Heine von Heimburg, with orders to proceed through the British blockade, through the North Sea, southward through the Atlantic, through the narrow straits of Gilbraltar, through the Mediterranean, and over to the Dardenelles, where the allies were seeking to win Gallipoli.

One Chance in Fifty

His chances of getting through in the old fashioned submersible were perhaps one in fifty. The cruise of the big Deutschland to America was a lily pond adventure in comparison, and so when his comrades said goodbye to the skipper of the sea-going Ocarina, they never expected to see him again.

Three weeks laters Heine von Heimburg had gone through the Dardenelles; had won the German order of bravery, "Pour le Merité", had been caught in a steel net and successfully made his escape; had become the first, of not the only German U-boat commander to disable an allied submarine with a torpedo.

By 1915 the British had learned how to war against submarines. Steel nets had been placed at harbor entrances. Attached to the nets were big glass floats. They were invisible to the submarine, but if a U-boat became enmeshed, the glass float trailed along on the surface, making a wake which the allied destroyers could observe. Also, the depth charge had been developed, and was the U-boat's greatest hazard.

The first part of von Heimburg's trip was the routine stuff - sailing on the surface when no enemy was in sight, submerging when there was.

Then he came into Mediterranean waters and performed the first part of his job, which was to sink enemy transports. He left his "calling card," as the Germans dubbed their torpedos, twice. One of his victims was the Royal Edward, an 11,000-ton transport with 2,000 soldiers bound for Gallipoli and the southland.

Caught in Steel Net

Then he came to the Dardenelles. He knew the English had strong land batteries on both sides of the river and a strong patrol of destroyers and trawlers. He was forced to submerge if he wanted to pass.

This was at 6:30 in the morning. For two hours and a half the Ocarina went along beautifully. Then von Heimburg thought it was time to come up for fresh air and to replenish his storage batteries.

He heard a metallic banging and scratching on his little boat and realized that he was caught in a steel net.

The strands, finger thick, were all over the boat. Von Heimburg gave orders to submerge still deeper.

The boat went down 150 feet below the surface.

He tried to go forward. Nothing doing. The net stopped him. He tried to go backwards. The net tore, but part of it stuck to the boat, its upper end floating on the surface of the waters. A dead give away!

The allies were now firing down into the water, but he was too deep for them. Von Heimburg gave orders that his engines should be put full speed ahead, and soon they were pulling the net down so that the glass floats no longer revealed where they were.

Engine Goes Dead

Then his motor stopped. The steel net had wound around the screw. Engines fall on again. The screw tore loose from the netting - the Ocarina could move, even though it carried vast net with it.

Von Heimburg knew his only chance was to lie as deep as possible until dark. It was now 10 a.m. That meant waiting ten long hours, in the meantime the enemy had tossed depth bombs, which had come dangerously close.

At last night came. The Ocarina came to the surface. No enemy was in sight.

The whole crew, with hammers, hatchets and [saws?] began the work of clearing the submarine of a net 600 feet long. In two hours this was accomplished. There were still stands around the screw, but that didn't stop its revolutions. The Ocarina had escaped.

Sinks British Sub

It was later, when the U-22 was cruising around in the sea of Marmora, that von Heimburg came across the English submarine. He got within two miles of it. The English vessel was cruising on the surface, but the Ocarina was submerged, only the periscope showing. Von Heimburg let loose a torpedo and made a clean hit.

Looking through his periscope he saw black objects floundering in the water. It seemed almost impossible that these could be humans, but in some miraculous manner nine men had escaped from their frail steel cigar. Von Heimburg rescued them all - eight men and their commander.

The two young commanders sat together on the German submarine over a glass of something stronger than water. There ensued a funny lying match.

"How did you get through the Turkish nets?" asked the German.

"Oh, I put full speed on and tore through them," drawled the Englishman. "How did you get through our nets?"

"Funnily enough, I did the same thing."

They got along famously together.


Tomorrow: How an "army" of five men captured a fort.



In all, Germany had approximately 300 submarines.

About 200 of these submarines were lost.

It is doubtful if there were ever more than twenty of these submarines at sea at one time.

To combat this force of U-boats, the allied navies made use of some 5,000 destroyers, sub chasers, cruisers and battleships. Over 3,000 of these defense ships were kept busy about the British Isles. Hundreds of airplanes also aided.

During the four years of the war the allies lost some 21,400,000 tons of shipping, deadweight.

The total number of vessels sunk by submarines were about 2,750. In round numbers, these losses were divided as follows: Great Britain 2,200, France 240, Italy 230, U.S. 50, Japan 30.

At the beginning of the war there were 73,000,000 deadweight tons of shipping in commission. The German U-boats sank an equivalent of 30 per cent of this amount, although many of the losses were replaced by ships built during the war.

The actual loss of ships and cargo from the U-boats is estimated at nearly $8,000,000,000.

[Page Ten], Dunkirk Evening Observer, Saturday, September 10, 1927


Editor's Note: This is the fourth of a series of articles telling of Germany's outstanding World War heroes. These articles, written especially for OBSERVER and NEA Services by Milton Bronner, are appearing daily

. . . .

By Milton Bronner, NEA Service Writer

Berlin, Sept. 10 - The big war was only three weeks old when Lieutenant Otto von der Linde found himself celebrated in all Germany as an authentic hero - the first and youngest junior officer to win the most coveted of German military decorations, "Pour le Merité," instituted by the foremost of the Hohenzollerns, Frederick the Great, who wrote and talked French in preference to any other language.

Young von der Linde goose-stepped his way to glory.

He was an officer in the crack Fifth Regiment of Foot Guards, already mobilized when war was declared. It was in the lead when the westward advance of the gray-clad army got underway for what was to be a one-two-three march through Belgium, France, on to Paris, and a speedy end to this whole business before the snow flew.

Stopped at Namur

The unlooked for resistance of the Belgians threw the German general staff's time table out of gear by some two weeks.

The path of the Fifth Guards was blocked on August 23 by the forts of Namur. The particular hurdle which the goose-steppers could not take was Fort Malonne. It was a well laid out stronghold. Its approach was a bare, flat plain. To cross that plain, exposed to ruines [sic] and the raking fire of the fortress, was suicide, unless there was artillery preparation, and the commander of the Fifth Guards did not like the idea of waiting for artillery to come to his aid.

"I'll take it," spoke up young von der Linde.

Monocled senior officers stared at him in amazement. This was a "frech bursch," - a saucy fellow.

"And pray, how many men do you want with you!" asked one of them with heavy irony.

"Oh, about four."

"What are you relying on?"


The youngster seemed so much in earnest, it was decided to give him a chance. Von der Linde asked for volunteers. Forty came forward. He chose his imposing army of four, buttoned his gloves, drew his sword and gaily commanded: "March forth!"

His amazed compatriots saw him and his valiant four goose-step across the plain towards the fort just as if they were drilling in peace time in the barracks at Potsdam. The Belgian commander and his troops were apparently just as much amused. On came the four. They could not come clear up to the fort because it was surrounded by a deep flooded moat and the drawbridge was up.

"Heh, dah!" shouted von der Linde.

"What do you want?" answered a Belgian officer.

"I want the surrender of your fort and your men within ten minutes. Our regiments with artillery are posted in the forests all around you. We want to avoid the effusion of blood if possible."

The drawbridge let down. The ponderous gates were opened. Von der Linde's party of four, with guns ready, marched in.

Then the young lieutenant ordered officers and men to hie past, one by one, be searched for weapons, and pass on in to the fort's prison room. Five officers and twenty men thus surrendered.

Garrison Escaped

Four hundred escpaed by the back way because von der Linde's "army" could not surround the fort and guard all the exits. He captured four heavy cannon, many of smaller caliber, 100 rifles and pistols and 500 big shells.

The Begian flag was solemnly hauled down the flag pole. The young commander had no German flag with him, so he made one using a pair of the black breeches Belgian troopers wear, the white shirt of an officer and the red undershirt of a private soldier.

Shortly afterwards a German general riding by saw the homemade flag flying over the fort. He drove over and was received with honors and ceremony by five German soldiers.

The general scowled.

"Who's in command here?"

"I am, Excellency."

"Where are the rest of your men?"

"There aren't any more."

"Lost in the fight?"

Then von der Linde told his story. The general forgot his dignity, but the distinguished decoration quickly followed.


Monday: A daring pirate, a tramp steamer and a sea plane.

Monday, September 12, 1927, Dunkirk Evening Observer, Page Fifteen

He Ourdid Capt. Kidd with Seaplane in the Pacific


Editor's Note: This is the fifth of a series of articles telling of the thrilling deeds of Germany's outstanding war heroes. These articles, written especially for the OBSERVER and NEA Service by Milton Bronner, are appearing daily.

By Milton Bronner, NEA Service Writer

Berlin, Sept. 12 - Just as every small boy in America dreams of what he would have done aboard the ship of John LaFitte or the high handed Captain Kidd, so every boy in Germany reads and dreams of the heroic things he could have done aboard the German ship Wolf.

The brand of piracy which flourished aboard the Wolf was buccaneering that would make Blackbeard somewhat of a piker.

In the first place, the Wolf was no fleet corsair of the seas. She was a tramp freighter of 6,000 tons and the best speed she could make was perhaps 10 knots an hour. It was no insult to call her a tub, though she was new.

The Wolf's Crew