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Harro Schacht

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Harro Schacht

Harro Schacht
Born (1907-09-15)15 September 1907
Died 14 January 1943(1943-01-14) (aged 35)
north-west of Natal in the South Atlantic
Buried at

(01°38′S 39°52′W / 1.633°S 39.867°W / -1.633; -39.867 (place of death of Harro Schacht))

Allegiance Weimar Republic Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Reichsmarine
Years of service 1926 – 1943
Rank Fregattenkapitän
Unit Emden
Commands held U-507
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Harro Schacht (15 December 1907 in Cuxhaven – 14 January 1943 in the South Atlantic) was a German U-boat commander in World War II and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He is credited with the sinking of 19 ships for a total of 77,143 gross register tons (GRT), including the SS Alcoa Puritan and one ship damaged of 6,561 GRT.


Schacht began his naval career in April 1926 as an Offiziersanwärter (Officer Cadet), receiving promotion to Fähnrich in April 1928 and Oberfähnrich in June 1930. On 1 October 1930 he was commissioned as a Leutnant zur See, serving on the light cruisers Emden and Nürnberg, and receiving promotion to Oberleutnant zur See on 1 August 1932.[1]

Promoted to Kapitänleutnant on 1 April 1936, he served in the staff of the Oberkommando der Marine (OKM) from 1937. Promoted to Korvettenkapitän on 1 October 1940, he joined the U-boat force in June 1941, sailing under Erich Topp in U-552 as a commander-in-training.[1]

Following this, in October 1941 he was appointed commander of the newly built Type IXC U-507 submarine. On his second patrol, Schacht took U-507 to the Gulf of Mexico in May 1942, sinking 9 ships, including 4 tankers.[2]

On his next patrol, he took U-507 to operate off the coast of Brazil. From 16 to 19 August 1942, U-507 sank six neutral Brazilian ships and a Swedish tanker. As a result of this (and previous attacks) Brazil declared war on Germany on 22 August 1942.[1][3] On the way home from this patrol, U-507, together with U-156, U-506 and the Italian submarine Comandante Cappellini took part in the rescue operations during the Laconia incident, rescuing survivors, including many Italian Prisoners of War after the Laconia was sunk on 12 September 1942.[1][4]

Schacht and the entire crew of U-507 were killed in the South Atlantic on 13 January 1943 when a U.S. PBY Catalina aircraft sank the U-boat with depth charges. Schacht received posthumous promotion to Fregattenkapitän on 1 January 1944. Under his command U-507 sank 19 merchant ships totalling 77,143 tons and damaged another of 6,561 tons.[1]


Wehrmachtbericht reference

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Monday, 18 May 1942 Bei den Erfolgen deutscher Unterseeboote vor Amerika hat sich das Boot des Kapitänleutnants Schacht besonders ausgezeichnet.[8] The boat of Captain Lientenant Schacht has particularly distinguished itself in the success of German submarines in front of America.


  • Blair, Clay (2000a). Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters 1939–1942. London: Cassell. ISBN 0-304-35260-8.
  • Blair, Clay (2000b). Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted 1942–1945. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 0-679-64033-9.
  • Busch, Rainer & Röll, Hans-Joachim (2003). Der U-Boot-Krieg 1939-1945 - Die Ritterkreuzträger der U-Boot-Waffe von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 (in German). Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn Germany: Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn. ISBN 3-8132-0515-0.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945 (in German). Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.

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