Kiel May 1945: who was in charge?

Discussion in 'The Third Reich' started by Jonathan Saunders, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. Does anybody know the name/career details of the Naval officer who commanded at Kiel when British troops arrived in May 1945?

    Many thanks in advance,

    Jonathan S
  2. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

  3. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I think Jonathan is asking about the German officer in charge of Kiel .
  5. Yes I was ... apologies for the ambiguity.


    Jonathan S
  6. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

  7. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  8. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Grand Admiral Dönitz appeared to have full command of all matters after the death of Hitler.

    Any Naval Commander in Kiel, would, I suggest, be under the control of Dönitz, who was not far away in Flensburg.

  9. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Donitz was consulted at Flensburg later as to handing over documents etc - see #7 above. The commanding admiral (Gerlach) conducted the official surrender of the base. Prior to the surrender Kapitan Mohr phoned Donitz HQ and got confirmation that Germany had surrendered - unwilling to believe the word of a 'lowly British officer' with a few hundred men. 'He was a navy kapitan and I was a major so I saluted him and suggested he did not shoot me' - Mohr burst out laughing he was armed I was not, he extended a hand to help me up - #7 scroll up on page.
  10. Bluebell Minor

    Bluebell Minor Junior Member

    Unfortunately I have guests staying with me so unable to make a detailed response till the weekend

    I have three German language sources which confirm Kapitan zur See Wilhelm Mohr did surrender the City and Naval Port to Major Tony Hibbert. One of these sources also states that the official Naval Commander had fled the city proper a few days earlier.
  11. Many thanks to all who have responded to date. I am most grateful.

    I think the man I was trying to identify was either Admiral Gerlach or Kapitan zur See Mohr.


    Jonathan S
  12. Bluebell Minor

    Bluebell Minor Junior Member

    " Tactics is the opinion of the senior officer present"

    Apologies for the delay in clarifying my earlier comment

    My three sources are

    1. 5 Tage im Mai Des Kriegesende in Kiel

    A 10 minute clip showing events related to the capture of Kiel. A minute into the video, and filmed in 2006, Major Tony Hibbert and a group of T Force veterans from the King's Liverpool Regiment are seen outside the former Kriegsmarine Headquarters. He talks them through the sequence of Events leading to the surrender of the City and Naval Base involving a senior Kriegsmarine Officer and the Chief of Police, mentioning the phone call to Doenitz's Headquarters in Flensburg. Unfortunately the clip ends before he "names names"

    2.Die Briten in Schleswig Holstein 1945-1948 by Kurt Jurgensen

    Published in 1989 the book is a detailed description of the British Occupation of the area including the events leading to the final German Surrender.
    In Chapter 1 on Page 21 there is a brief resume of the activities in the Dockyard area of Kiel of 30 AU RM, under command of a Commander Curtis RNVR, on arrival on the 5th May There is no mention of Major Hibbert, T Force or any German personalities.

    3.Kiel Mai 1945 by Renate Dolphier

    A book descring the Events leading up to and the immediate aftermath of the British arrival in Kiel and its effects on the German population. Selected extracts are available on the internet. Between Pages 61 and 66 there is a description of the Surrender involving Major Tony Hibbert and Kapitan zur See Wilhelm Mohr. (including a photo of the latter) The text implies that Kapitan zur See Kochter (the Fortress Commander) and Konteradmiral Kummertz( the Naval Garrison Commander) had left the city centre a few days earlier.

    I have not seen a reference to Admiral Gerlach in these references.

    Hope this of interest.
  13. Blluebell Minor,

    Thanks very much for your time and effort on this. I don’t speak German but the Youtube was still very interesting with contemporary footage (craning my ears to try and catch what Tony Hibbert was saying over the narrator).

    If I can impose on you further, some questions:

    * Have you come across any references to the lead SAS squadron and (or a forward party of) 30 Advanced Unit arriving in Kiel on 4th May 1945? (I believe the normal date given for 30AU is 5th May).

    * Has the SAS officer ever been identified? Or whether he was commanding a full Squadron or half Squadron?

    * Has Tony Hibbert ever made reference to the presence of the SAS unit and whether they came under his command or what part the SAS officer played in negotiating with, lets say it was Mohr, regarding the surrender, defence of Kiel etc?

    Many thanks in advance,

    Jonathan S
  14. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    The SAS in Kiel

    In "The Regiment" if I'm reading it correctly there was an SAS group in 3 armoured jeeps from A Squadron that entered Kiel on May 3rd. Among them were Cooper, Seeking and Terry. They went to the town hall and accepted the surrender of the Deputy Mayor. In the hall they smashed up Hitler portraits and anything sporting a swastika. It was about then after receiving a message that they had crossed the armistice line, they beat a hasty retreat out of town. So more of a false start than anything. Strangely the author, Michael Asher, had no more to say on Kiel

    There's an audio of SAS veteran Bob Bennett where he briefly mentions his experience of Kiel on Reel 5 after the 13+ minute mark. Some names are mentioned but you have to listen carefully to make out what's being said.

    The following is from the Operation Archway report ( W0218/199)

    Force HQ moved to Luttjensee and subsequently to Gross Handsdorf.
    Major Poat's 1st SAS Squadron reached Lubeck and moved on to Kiel with
    30th Assault Unit.
    Frankforce embarked for UK on 10th May.

    The impression I get from the Longden book is that the SAS were under T-Force command. They didn't stay long in Kiel before rejoining Paddy Mayne in Poperinghe.

    Regards ...
  15. Bluebell Minor

    Bluebell Minor Junior Member


    Thank you for your kind remarks

    First of all my apologies to all concerned but I have incorrectly named the author of my third source, it should be Renate Dopheide.
    More importantly I have found another internet access which permits a greater access to her book, it is

    To pick up on the various queries

    1. In the final paragraph of the introduction the author appeals for information on the "unofficial contact between the British Forces and the German authorities in Kiel on the 3rd May". This would support your belief that there was a brief SAS presence in the city ahead of Tony Hibbert's Column

    2. Reference 3 implies that initially there were three separate groups moving on the city (the SAS,T Force and 30 AU) but north of Neumunster the road was severely cratered and fearing ambush by SS rearguard units believed to be operating in the area, the columns united for the final stage of the journey

    3 Source 3 also states that it was a Troop from D Squadron who provided the SAS presence and all the sources imply that Major Hibbert was in overall command of this Troop.

    All the sources I have seen implied that Tony Hibbert was the sole British person present during the Kiel Surrender negotiations.

    Sadly I could possibly have had an impeccable source. An acquaintance was the son of a wartime member of the SAS who always refused to talk about his wartime experiences other than he had witnessed the closure of the Falaise Gap and had been one of the first into Kiel. Knowing my interest in military history and Schleswig Holstein/ 8 Corps in particular, the son tried persuade his father to talk to me but he always politely refused, though he did grin cheerfully when shown some of my working notes. Sadly he died a month ago and took his wartime experiences to his grave untold.

    Finally it is not surprising the A Squadron members left hurriedly. It had been agreed that following the Surrender of the German Wehrmacht Forces in Schleswig Holstein a cease fire/no move forward of existing front lines was agreed between both sides in order to prevent unnecessary loss of life. Following the complete Final Surrender of Nazi Germany there would then be a controlled move forward by the British Army, initially to the southern banks of the Kiel Canal, subsequently to the Danish border. The SAS presence in Kiel on the 3rd May was a clear breech of this agreement, indeed Major Tony Hibbert was similarly threatened with a Court Martial for his supposedly unauthorised move into Kiel.
  16. Cee and Bluebell Minor,

    Great stuff! Thanks very much for your further contributions. I am going to reflect on what you have both added today and I may return to this in a day or so.

    Many thanks once again,

    Jonathan S

    Bluebell M - a great shame about your friend's father's reluctance to discuss his wartime experiences but his decision had to be respected (as you obviously did) however much it is frustrates. Sadly it doesn't help in our search for the truth.
  17. Cee,

    The Bob Bennett interview is brilliant! Thanks for pointing me to Reel 5/00.13+

    Bennett appears to confirm the SAS and possibly an advanced detachment of 30AU were first in to Kiel and that Major Tonkin of the SAS was negotiating with Donitz immediately upon their arrival. I'm not sure Donitz was in Kiel - I think he was in Flensburg - so any negotiation and/or understanding/acceptance of Allied presence in Kiel was probably through another senior German Naval officer ... Mohr?

    Tonkin commanded D Sqn (ref Bluebell's #15) from late 1944.

    Thanks and regards,

    Jonathan S
  18. Bluebell Minor

    Bluebell Minor Junior Member


    You are correct, any negotiations involving Doenitz and the surrender of Kiel must have been carried out through a third party

    At the time of Hitler's suicide in Berlin Doenitz was in the Kriegsmarine Barracks in Ploen. Having been appointed Hitler's successor he then moved directly to Flensburg to form a new Government nominally responsible for both civilian and military affairs throughout the rump of Nazi controlled Germany. He was however most concerned with negotiating a cease fire with Field Marshall Montgomery's 21 Army Group in order to cause any further unnecessary loss of life and to take effect ahead of any Final Surrender on all Fronts.

    Incidentally my interest in this subject stems in part from the fact that I am a very proud Old Boy of King Alfred School Ploen, one of the Secondary Boarding Schools set up for the education of Forces children living in Germany and located in the former Ruhleben Kaserne Ploen
  19. Thanks Bluebell for the additional information and the route of your interest in this subject.

    It appears we are back to Gerlach or Mohr. On the face of it you would think Mohr too junior but from Wills #9, we know Mohr was in Kiel and was in direct contact with Donitz. Also your post #12.

    I'm still unsure of the extent of Gerlach's involvement.

    However I think we have established that German co-operation and the early contact with Donitz was through Tonkin. Tonkin remained in Kiel for 4 days and this is where I get confused as to how the roles played by Tonkin and Hibbert overlapped or how the two co-operated (both Majors, but Tonkin with the greater experience).

    Tonkin's job was to get to Kiel first to establish the Allied presence and if required defend Kiel against SS or other German units that wanted to continue the fight. But having surprised the German naval garrison and opened communication lines with Donitz its hard to imagine he would then allow himself to be pushed out of the loop when Hibbert arrived. In that initial period before Hibbert arrived he would also have been involved with 30AU in taking over U-boats (the new mark U21s) and other German (military and civil) shipping on the Canal.

    Of course what would have been really interesting is if the Russians had turned up just after Tonkin but we should be thankful that did not happen.

    My thoughts still arent clear on this so I may adjust what I've written above.


    Jonathan S
  20. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

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