A Tribute to Volkmar Koenig

Author and Volkmar Koenig for web.jpg

I wrote this blog in 2008, but I am republishing it now because the anniversary of Herr Koenig’s death is coming up. I still miss him.

A National Treasure has Passed from Germany

Volkmar Koenig, a German U-boat officer who was also a prisoner of war, died on August 22, 2008. He was 87 years old and his remains have become part of the sea, a fitting end for a man who spoke to me about his love of the ocean.

The photo at left is of myself and Herr Koenig in June 2007 when my husband and I visited him and his lovely wife, Dorothee, in Kiel, Germany. It was during the Kiel Week festivities and we are sitting on the top deck of a boat in Kiel Harbor to view the races.

Because of the novel I am writing about a German U-boat radio operator who is captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Arizona, Herr Koenig was kind enough to spend many hours with me. His memories of those days while he was a member of the U-boat arm of the German Navy and a Canadian prisoner of war have proved invaluable to my research.

He took my husband and I to Moltenort to see the striking U-boat Memorial and to Laboe, to see U-995. Of course, because of his service on U-99 with the famous U-boat captain Otto Kretschmer, we were welcomed on board with a smile. There was no need to pay entrance fees because we were the guests of Herr Koenig. He did not pretend to be an expert on the workings of a U-boat, but as we walked through U-995, there were people on board, mostly German, who came to realize he was a former U-boat officer and gathered about him like a rock star as he told his stories. I watched him as he spoke to them. He was poised, gracious, a man with bearing and distinction who had a great sense of humor. Here was someone who had served on a U-boat, a war machine that struck fear even in the heart of England’s Winston Churchill. Herr Koenig was indeed a national treasure, a man willing to share his experiences and reflections.

Many times after I returned home Herr Koenig would call me to ask if I had any questions, but we kept in touch mainly because we had become friends. I last spoke to him on July 12 and he told me of his illness. It is with a sense of deep sorrow that I write of this man who showed me such regard and openness.

I wish to send my regards at this time of mourning to his wife, Dorothee Koenig, his three children and their spouses, his grandchildren, and his many friends.

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

What is 12 + 3 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)