The Grey Wolves: Echoes from WWII

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War Documentary hosted by Michael Leighton, published by Edgehill Publications in 2007 - English narration

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This is the tragic story of the U-boats at war. Brave men fighting a losing battle against odds they could never hope to overcome. Out-numbered, out-gunned and out-thought, the U-boats were justifiably known to their crews as 'iron coffins'. Somehow the U-boat fleet rose to the challenge and even managed a brief flicker of success before their inevitable fate enveloped them. The U-boat war encompassed a campaign that began on the first day of the European war and lasted for six years, involved thousands of ships and stretched over thousands of square miles of ocean, in more than 100 convoy battles and perhaps 1,000 single-ship encounters. In the 68 months of World War II, 2,775 Allied merchant ships were sunk for the loss of 781 U-boats. This is the story of that massive encounter from the German perspective. Grey Wolves captures life on board a U-boat, first hand accounts in text, letters, diaries, journals, memoirs, relaying tales of the mundane and the routine, dramatic and heroic; the fear and resilience of every crew member, from Kapitainleutnant to Mechaniker. It is a vivid, brutally realistic portrait of the men who fought and died beneath the surface of the Atlantic in what was, perhaps, the most critical battle of the war. Written by Michael Leighton; Produced and Directed by Paul Dunn; Edgehill/Storm Bird Production

[edit] The Killing Begins

Kaiser Wilhelm the 2nd of Germany had long desired to rule an empire. He thought that Germany needed a powerful Navy to protect it - especially against Britain. The German Navy was set to the ultimate test - war against Great Britain, putting their mighty fleet to good use. They began a naval blockade of Germany during the first days of the war and deployed their naval units. At the outset of World War I, German U-boats, though numbering only 38, achieved notable successes against British warships. By the end of the war Germany had built 334 U-boats and had 226 under construction. The Armistice terms of 1918 required Germany to surrender all its U-boats, and the Treaty of Versailles forbade it to possess them in the future.
In 1935, however, rising from the ashes of defeat in WWI, by the eve of the Second World War the German Navy, "The Kriegsmarine", had once again grown into a global sea power thanks to the terrifying weapon -The U-Boat! The success of German submarines during the First World War in almost cutting off Britain's vital imports had not been forgotten by Adolf Hitler and when, in March 1935, he repudiated the Treaty of Versailles, Britain signed up to an Anglo-German Naval Agreement. This allowed the Germans to build their submarine strength up to one third of the British Royal Navy's tonnage.
In the early years of the Second World War, the elite force of German submariners known as the Ubootwaffe came perilously close to perfecting the underwater tactics of the First World War and successfully cutting Britain's transatlantic lifeline. In 1940, the U-boats started to take a real toll against merchant shipping, credited with sinking 2,606,000 tons of shipping.

[edit] Nowhere to Hide

Hitler was the proof that Germans did not understand the sea. Fortunately for him, his submariners did, and he had good reason to hand out awards to his U-Boat commanders. They had been preparing for war against England following the anglo german naval agreement of 1935. When war broke out, only 57 U-Boats were available. He persuaded engineers that more boats were urgently required. Even so, the small, outgunned German fleet managed to strike painful blows to Great Britain by aiming directly for its soft underbelly. The Germans almost succeeded in cutting off Great Britain's shipping lanes, and thus its supply of fuel and raw materials.
The German U-boat onslaught against British merchant ships during the autumn of 1940 was highly successful because the attacks were made on the surface at night and from such close range that a single torpedo would sink a ship. Soon, though, Allied technology was able to detect U-boats at night, and new convoy techniques, combined with powerfully-armed, fast modern aircraft searching the seas, meant that by 1941 it was clear that Germany was losing the war at sea. Something had to be done. The new generation of attack U-boats that had been introduced since Hitler came to power needed urgent improvement. This is the story of the Types II, VII and IX that had already become the 'workhorse' of the Kriegsmarine's submarine fleet and continued to put out to sea to attack Allied shipping right up to the end of the war.

[edit] The End of the Dream

Winston Churchill anxiously followed the victories and defeats of the U-Boats in the Atlantic. After the war had ended, he admitted that the U-Boat threat had been the one thing that truly scared him during the entire War.
The pendulum miraculously swung with improved tactics and technology. In May 1943 out of a force of over 50 U-boats that challenged Convoy ONS5, eight were sunk and 18 were damaged, some seriously. Such losses were unsustainable and, with allied yards turning out ships at ever increasing rates, Donitz withdrew his wolf packs from the North Atlantic. Despite the terrible losses inflicted on the U-boat flotillas, young boys were still attracted to the submarines.
As the U-boat memorial near Kiel records, by the end of the war, of the 39,000 men who went to sea in the U-boats, 27,491 died in action and a further 5,000 were made prisoners of war. Of the 863 U-boats that sailed on operational patrols, 754 were lost.

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[edit] Technical Specs

Video Codec: x264 CABAC High@L4
Video Bitrate: 1 686 Kbps
Video Resolution: 704x540
Display Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Frames Per Second: 29.970 fps
Audio Codec: AC3
Audio Bitrate: 192 kb/s CBR 48000 Hz
Audio Streams: 2
Audio Languages: english
RunTime Per Part: 58 min
Number Of Parts: 3
Part Size: 780 MB
Source: DVD
Encoded by: DocFreak08

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