The World War II German Operation Which became An Internet Meme- Operation Wikinger

Due to miscommunication between the German Navy and Air force, friendly fire occurred, killing 560 sailors and sinking two destroyers.

Karthick Nambi
Aug 13, 2020 · 4 min read
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A Meme .Source-9Gag

It is a dark foggy night in the North sea as German ships of the Kriegsmarine, German Navy, silently sneaked in between sea mines.

The ships hear a faint noise of an aircraft. The aircraft flew above the German ships and didn’t establish radio contact with the warships. The flight came under attack by the German vessels, and it bombed the ships.

After the fight had reached a climax, one crew member noticed that the aircraft is a German Air Force, or Luftwaffe, plane. The incident cast doubts upon the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe’s supposed technological superiority and had become a meme content on the internet.

Organization Structure:

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Herman Göring.Source-Wikipedia

At the advent of World War II Luftwaffe took control over the skies of Europe. The German Wehrmacht, army, bought down one country after another in Europe.

Britain and Russia were the only two countries that eluded Hitler. Russia signed the Tripartite act and officially became an ally of Germany. Britain got a new Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill who was unwilling to open a negotiation with Hitler.

The German armed force structure was heavily influenced by the Nazi party, especially Luftwaffe, by senior party member Herman Göring, Hitler’s second in comand. Göring was a World War I veteran who joined Hitler political at a very early stage and rose to the rank of Reichmarshall or head of the Luftwaffe.

Herman Göring wanted full control over the skies so much that the Kriegsmarine didn’t even have a single aircraft under their control. All aircraft were under the direct supervision of the Luftwaffe, and it was a problem in many cases.

Operation Wikinger:

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Dogger bank.Source-Wikipedia

In February 1940, the Kriegsmarine received sightings of British fishing boats very close to the Dogger bank.

The German navy decided to investigate the matter as it thought it might be a sabotage operation of Britain as reports came of British submarine activities in the area. The event was named Operation Wikinger.

The German navy asked the Luftwaffe to provide air cover for the operation. As the line of command was lengthy, the request took some time to reach Luftwaffe headquarters.

The German navy ships Friedrich Eckoldt (flotilla leader), Richard Beitzen, Erich Koellner, Theodor Riedel, Max Schultz, and Leberecht Maas set sail on a mine infested zone with no air cover.

Meanwhile, the Luftwaffe bomber squadron prepared for an attack on allied convoy ship. They were not aware of the German navy operations that night.

On that night, a German fighter flew above the German ships. The plane didn’t identify itself. The German naval commanders were in a confusion of whether its a hostile flight. The fighter turned back, took another look of the ships, and left.

Friendly Fire:

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Leberecht Maass.Source-Wikipedia

In a few minutes, the fighter came back with Heinkel bombers and did two bomb runs. The German crews sensed the danger and started to fire at the German planes.

After a few minutes, a member of the German ship informed that the aircraft that attacked them as German after he saw the Luftwaffe symbol on the tail of the plane. During the chaos, the Leberecht Maass was hit three times and started to sink.

In the desperate attempt to rescue the survivors of the Leberecht Maass, the Max Schultz hit a mine. Still, some claim it was a British submarine attack.

In total, the German navy lost 560 men in the friendly fire and lost two destroyers. The German navy called off the operation. The Luftwaffe, which caused the destruction, was unaware that it attacked a German navy ship.

The Meme:

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Memes from the Internet

The official investigation concluded that poor communication between Luftwaffe and Kreigsmarine was the reason behind the incident.

No officers faced charges for the carnage. The event was kept in the dark for a long time and had recently become an internet meme sensation. The funny part is in Wikipedia, where the British side was not present for the battle.

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Karthick Nambi

Written by

A human with interest in history and technology

Lessons from History

Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share ideas and inspirational stories from world history. The objective is to promote history on Medium and demonstrate the value of historical writing.

Karthick Nambi

Written by

A human with interest in history and technology

Lessons from History

Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share ideas and inspirational stories from world history. The objective is to promote history on Medium and demonstrate the value of historical writing.

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