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S-557 Center for Military History Collection

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Title: Center for Military History Collection
Description: Photo album of 24 pages, containing 74 photographs related to a German sailor's service photo album serving aboard battleship Scharnhorst, of Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine, 1939-1940. It is unknown if the sailor who kept the album took the photos or wrote the captions, but the images seem to be personal and specific to somebody who was very familiar with life aboard the Scharnhorst, as one of the main pages translates into “my first command”.  The captions and tone are not unlike any young American sailor embarking on his first ship. The cover of the album is titled “Meine Kriegserinnerungen auf Schlachtschiff Scharnhorst” (translation: my war memories on battleship Scharnorst). Several images have been itemized into the NH photo series, NH 101558-NH 101571, NH 101577, NH 102525-NH 102548 and are available on the website.
Catalog #: S-557
Donor: Center for Military History
Copyright Owner: Naval History & Heritage Command
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The images seem to follow the early sailing of the ship and begin with the winter of 1939. Many of the photographs depict what appears to be Operation Weserübung (the invasion of Denmark and Norway) which took Scharnhorst into the Baltic Sea for gunnery training. Heavy ice in the Baltic kept the ship there until February 1940 when she could return to Wilhelmshaven, arriving on 5 February.


Below are some translated captions for the images:

Page 2: my first command
Page 3: views of the North Sea, Kieler-Hafen, and Kiel Harbor, Gneiseau (her sister ship).  
Page 4: dressing in winter clothes, starboard and rear aft views, and moving through ice.
Page 5: back to Kiel Harbor, leaving Kiel, an overnight freeze, and “sugar land/fairy tale land”
Page 6: minus 20 Celsius, a hard freeze on the harbor, and cold ears, encounter with an outpost boat
Page 7: harbor iced over, on land by foot, threateningly cold
Page 8: the ship Zielschiff Hessen being used as an ice breaker, port side during calm seas, view of the aft deck, and land in sight
Page 9: “Schmating” in a good mood, normal Saturday at work/duty
Page 10: birds following the ship, before the snow storm, and sunset at sea
Page 11: navigating through the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal, five bridges span the Kaiser Wilhelm canal, going under the Rensburger High Bridge
Page 12: visiting Rensburg and a colonial school in Rensburg
Page 13: Christmas 1939 in Wilhelm Harbor
Page 14: mooring to buoy
Page 15: looking to port, firing salvo, aft signal tower
Page 16: return trip to home port, Kiel Harbor
Page 17: destroyer in Kiel, ice breaker to open the way to the sea for the u-boat
Page 18: everyone is on his post despite the icy cold
Page 19: boatswain of the watch, the commander speaks
Page 20: at the pier at Wilhelmshaven, destroyers
Page 21: battleship Scharnhorst
Page 22: graves of English aviators in Wilhelmshaven

  • People-Places-Things--German
  • Boats-Ships--Battleship
Document Type
  • Photograph
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
  • PDF (Portable Document Format)
  • Image (gif, jpg, tiff)
Location of Archival Materials