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Werner Hartenstein's Naval Career


Ritterkreuz - The Knight's Cross

Werner Hartenstein was born on 27th February 1908 in Plauen, Saxony near the German border with the present-day Czech Republic.  He began his naval career in April 1928. He served a few years on the light cruiser Karlsruhe and on several torpedo boats, on which he completed 65 patrols in the first years of the war. In March 1941 he transferred to the U-boat force.

On 4th September 1941 he was given command of U-156. On her second patrol the boat attacked the refinery on Aruba in the Caribbean with gunfire. On U-156's fourth patrol Hartenstein was instrumental in organising the rescue of the Laconia survivors, for which he received Germany's highest military honour, the Knights Cross.  On 8th March 1943 U-156 was sunk on her fifth patrol with all hands by a US Navy aircraft east of Barbados.

Shipping Tally
Sank 19 ships for a total of 92,133 tons
4 ships damaged for a total of 20,001 tons


January 1930

Fähnrich zur See

Midshipman, cadet

1 April 1932

Oberfähnrich zur See


1 October 1932

Leutnant zur See


1 September 1934

Oberleutnant zur See


1 June 1937


Lieutenant Commander

1 June 1942



Military Decorations

6 June 1939

Spanish Cross

16 November 1939

Iron Cross 2nd Class

27 April 1940

Iron Cross 1st Class

2 February 1942

German Cross

17 March 1942


17 September 1942

Knights Cross


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