Farewell, Mr. Kiefer!

by on Jan.20, 2016, under Allgemein

Sad news arrived us in January. German veteran Karl-Heinz Kiefer, one of the last remaining WW2 frogmen, died on 23 December 2015 at the age of 90. We send our condolences to his family.

Mr. Kiefer’s personal story as a frogmen was featured in chapter III of our 2011 book “History1” with information he provided us during several meetings and interviews until 2011. Mr. Kiefer received a Ref. 3646 / Type D with brass dial after he was successfully instructed to become a “Kampfschwimmer” in the last weeks of the Second World War. Karl-Heinz Kiefer was taken prisoner of war by the British at the island of Sylt, which was the final headquarter of the German frogmen units (codename “Weisskoppel”) before the end of the Second World War. Mr. Kiefer’s Panerai watch is one of the very few watches in our records which can be tracked from present day back to its use in early 1945.

Karl-Heinz Kiefer started his navy career in the Kriegsmarine in October 1943. He completed his recruit training in Stralsund (Baltic Sea) as member of the “Crew 10/43”. After his recruit training he went on board the destroyer Z 25 in Gotenhafen in January 1944, where he completed his second part of his officer training, the so-called “on-board recruit period” until July 1944.

From this part of his career, Karl-Heinz Kiefer found a photo of himself in 2012 at his home, which he provided us for adding in our history records. As it was too late to feature it in the already published book “History1”, we want to share this photo to remember him. The backside of the photo bears a date stamp (18 March 1944) and the photographer’s stamp, based in Danzig (Baltic Sea).

After his officer training he posted to the special marine unit (“Kampfschwimmer”) in December 1944, as he was an excellent swimmer who participated several swimming competitions, such as the German youth championships in 1942. Released from the POW camp after only eight weeks, he left the island of Sylt in June 1945. Mr. Kiefer became a school teacher in 1946 until his retirement as principal.

Related to his Ref. 3646 / Type D Panerai watch, we remember his many detailed memories during the 2011 interview at the age of 85: “Whoever had his own diving watch, and no longer needed to return it to the store after exercises along with the other pieces of equipment, was a fully-trained combat swimmer, ready for action. Whoever wore the Panerai on his arm really belonged.” 

We are glad, that we had the chance to meet Mr. Kiefer in person, listened to his very personal experiences of his time when he became a frogmen. We asked him questions, on which we received helpful, interesting but also moving answers. Questions, which sadly one day non of those veterans will be able to answer anymore…

“Auf Wiedersehen!” – farewell, Mr. Kiefer – rest in peace!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann] 

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