This was an early post on theleansubmariner (2011) that has been updated with new content and pictures. 100 years ago, the Germans experimented with the first commercial submarine Deutschland commanded by Captain Paul Koenig. König was a captain in the German merchant navy. In 1916 during World War I, he became a reserve Kapitänleutnant in the Imperial German Navy.
Later in 1916, König became commanding officer of the merchant submarine Deutschland. He took it on two patrols to the United States for commercial purposes. He arrived at Baltimore on July 10, 1916, with a cargo of dyestuffs. While in the United States he was interviewed by newspapermen, was even the recipient of vaudeville offers, was welcomed by mayor of Baltimore and officials. On August 2 he sailed on the return voyage, later making a second voyage and putting in at New London, Connecticut.
He received the Iron Cross 1st class the same year. Following his return after the second journey, König wrote a book called Voyage of the Deutschland, which was heavily publicized, as it was intended to be used as propaganda.
König then became commanding officer of a Sperrbrechergruppe (group of blockade runners; 1917), and later was an executive at Norddeutscher Lloyd (1919–1931). He died at Gnadau, on September 9, 1933, where he is buried.
The Birth of the First Civilian Submarine
While we were on our last trip, I stopped by a used book store and found a book that had been a part of my life growing up. In my Grandfather’s library was a collection of books called “Source Records of the Great War”. These books were collected documents about the events that were part of World War 1 from the viewpoint of the actual participants.
Unfortunately, out of all of the books, only the year 1916 was in the store. While I was reading it last night, I uncovered a piece of submarine history that I was not aware of despite years of reading and presenting submarine talks. An even happened in 1916 that had the potential to change the way submarines could be used in the future.
On July 9, 1916 the captain of the German submarine Deutschland, Paul Koenig…
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