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A constantly recycled wartime story relates to Germany’s refusal to rescue distressed seamen and ships passengers. The Laconia Order (War Order 194) was issued by Grand Admiral Karl Donitz after the Allies reneged on an international maritime law by bombing and strafing distressed passengers and their rescuers.


The order states explicitly: “All efforts to save survivors of sunken ships, such as the fishing out of swimming men and putting them on board lifeboats, the righting of upturned lifeboats, of the handing over of food and water, must stop. Rescue contradicts the most basic demands of war, the destruction of hostile ships and their crews.

The orders concerning the rescue of captains and chief engineers stay in effect. Survivors are to be saved only if their statements are important to the (German) ship. Be harsh; remember that the enemy has no respect for women and children when bombing German centres of population.”

U Boat nice image

The latter statement relates to Allied convoys carrying aircraft and munitions that if landed would bring devastation to German civilians. The victors’ propagandists are vague as to the reason why the Laconia Order was made and there is a good reason for their being tight-lipped.

There were 185,000 men and women serving in the wartime British Merchant Navy of whom 36,749 were lost at sea; there were a total of 47,176 wounded or taken prisoner casualties.

U Boat victory 1

The truth is that many of the 36,749 British seamen could have been saved but were lost after the Allies blatantly disregarded Maritime and Admiralty Laws to which they were signatories. The victims’ martyrdom also had an anti-German propaganda value so tens of thousands of Allied sailors gave their lives not for freedom but for Allied propagandists.

On September 12, 1942, the British troopship Laconia was sunk off the West African coast by German U-boat U-156.  Under the command of Werner Hartenstein, the submarine’s crew immediately set about rescuing survivors of the sinking British troopship.

You and the sea


As the U-boat carried out its charitable tasks its commander relayed a rescue signal on an open radio channel. This signal requested ships of all nations in the vicinity to assist with the saving of men in the sea. The crew of the U-156 was soon joined by another German U-boat and ships of the French Vichy Navy.

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Picking up the distress signals, aircrews of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) were ordered to attack the rescuing vessels and their crews, who were strafed and bombed. The USAAF aircrews afterwards received awards for gallantry.

As a consequence of the American Air Force attacks on the rescuers and their vessels, a total of 1,792 men and women of the British troopship’s passengers lost their lives; many of whom were Italian prisoners-of-war.

As a consequence, Grand Admiral Karl Donitz, not Hitler, issued the Laconia Order. This order was inspired by the need to put the safety of German crews and vessels before those of distressed Allied seamen.

As a consequence of the Laconia Act tens of thousands of Allied servicemen and women; British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, American and other Allied servicemen lost their lives. All were victims not of German wickedness but of Allied wartime policy, and of course the duplicity of wretches who write for palace publishers.

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