Photo of von Luckner sent by Joel Belsky
Hi. I was reading up on Count Von Luckner and thought you may want to see my photo of him that I recently framed with his biography. My dad was in the 104th in Halle in 1945 and was at his battalion hq's when the MP's marched him to the Hq's of the 414th Infantry Regiment, 3rd BN for interrogation.
Please disregard the bottom, I sent the picture to the German-American embassy in New York to do some research on it for me. I also purchased a book ("Sea Devil, Adventures From My Life") about the Count published in 1921 in German; seems to be a autobiography. If you want anymore info on it please let me know.....
Sgt. Joel Belsky Phila. PA
COUNT FELIX GRAF VON LUCKNER
Swashbuckling, flamboyant German hero of WW1 known as the "Sea Devil." As captain of a marauding schooner named "Seeadler," (Sea Eagle) he sank fourteen ships with a loss to the Allies of over twenty five million dollars, though he made certain that no lives were lost. Captured in December, 1917 in New Zealand, he spent the remainder of the war in various prison camps until he was repatriated to Germany in 1919. During WW11, Von Luckner, a long time resident of Halle, was considered a self-styled Nazi hater. In April 1945, with the American's ready to capture and possibly destroy the City of Halle, Germany, Count Von Luckner, acting as an emissary, attempted to negotiate the surrender of the German garrison led by the City of Halle military commanders, Major General Fritz De Witt and Lt. General Radtke of the German 12th Army to Major General Terry Allen's U.S. 104th Infantry Division. (Timberwolf Division) The great industrial city, which was full of Allied and Axis wounded in many hospitals, was not destroyed.
In 1945, Halle was the tenth largest city in Germany, and the birth place of the famous composer George Frideric Handel. (1685-1759) When Hitler came to power in 1933, Halle became a center of Nazi organization. Even after the 500th bombing mission the city was mostly undamaged by allied bombing. Because of Count Von Luckner's intervention, the German Army withdrew to the southern portion of the city and surrendered a few days later after a few battle skirmishes, there-by saving many lives and important German monuments and buildings. After the war, with the Russian's in control of Halle, General Lt. Radtke became a Russian POW and was never heard from again.
According to Lt. Colonel Leon J.D. Rouge, Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion , 414th Infantry Regiment, Timberwolf Division, General De Witt , whose activities were constantly being monitored by Hitler's dreaded SS, was afraid to surrender because of threats against his family. In 1999, German author Matthias Maurer published a book titled "Our Way To Halle," about Count Von Luckner and the occupation of the Timberwolves in Halle in April 1945, interviewed Colonel Rouge about his memories. Colonel Rouge replied: "The town of Halle owes a great dept of gratitude to Count Von Luckner for having been instrumental in saving it from being bombed and shattered with artillery and losing a lot of civilians." Count Von Luckner died at Malmo in Sweden on the 14th of April, 1966, and from most accounts, was buried there.
Signed: Felix Graf Luckner (Count)
The photograph, under glass within its original gilt frame, was purchased by an American tourist in Germany along with a book titled "Seeteufel: Ubenteuer Aus Meinem Leben," ("Sea Devil: Adventures From My Life") published in Germany in 1921 by R.J. Koehler, Leipzip, which is his autobiography. Count Von Luckner, a veteran of many a lecture tour and was also considered by many to be quick on the draw, often would carry a photograph of himself to autograph with people he liked with cute little sayings like the one above. In 1950, with war-torn Germany rebuilding and the Russian's in control, the inscription, written in a northern dialect called Plattdeutsch, most likely meant to look into the future and try to be optimistic with your life and not the past. The rear of the frame is stamped: "Aloys Hollmann, Kunsthandlung. Ankum, Bez. Osnabruck," the name of the framing studio in Germany.
My thanks for sending the document on the Count, we will add it to your photograph of him on our web site.
I am always quite amazed at the interest that he generates at this distance in time from when he sailed the world's oceans as the Sea Devil. Of all the subjects I have written about, he is the one that excites the imagination of so many people out there in the wider community of the internet.
Again our thanks for your interest and your time.
Best regards from Terry and myself.
Thanks for putting my document and picture on your website. Its gotten really big in the last few months. I have one question. I can not find a definite date of birth for the Count. Its either 1880, 1882, 1888, or 1893.
I have his autobiography, but its in German and dated 1920. Do you know the answer? Let me know when you can, please. Thanks, and stay well....Joel
The Count was born in 9 June 1891, and died in 1966. He is buried in Hamburg in the Ohlsdorfer Cemetery.
Hope that helps you, and have a great 2004.
(7 February 2004)
Matthias Mauer, from Halle, Germany, who published a book about the
Thanks for copying me about Matthias and his planned Memorial to the Count, I do not know how I could help, but am interested in the concept. I will get in touch with Matthias.
All the best,