258,627 Pages

Theodor Anton Gunther Detmers
File:Theodor Detmers.jpg
Born 22 August 1902
Died 4 November 1976(1976-11-04) (age 44)
Place of birth Witten in the Ruhr
Place of death Rahlstedt, Hamburg
Allegiance Flag of Germany (3-2 aspect ratio).svg Weimar Republic
Flag of German Reich (1935–1945).svg Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag of Weimar Republic (jack).svg Reichsmarine
War Ensign of Germany (1938–1945).svg Kriegsmarine
Years of service 1921–1945
Rank Kapitän zur See
Unit Kriegsmarine
Commands held Hermann Schoemann

World War II

Awards Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
Other work Author[1]

Theodor Detmers (22 August 1902 – 4 November 1976) was the commanding officer of the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran.[2] He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross which was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.


Detmers joined the German Navy in 1921 and served on the battleship SMS Hannover and SMS Elsass. He was educated on the Segelschiff Niobe and also served on the SMS Berlin. Detmers became a sublieutenant on the Emden. From 1926–28, he served on the Albatross. In 1927, he was promoted to lieutenant. From 1930–32, he served as staff officer and was then stationed on the cruiser Köln, on which he visited Australia in 1933.[3]

In 1934, he served on torpedo boats and destroyers of the German Navy. In October 1938, he was in command of the destroyer Hermann Schoemann and participated in Operation Weserübung in April to June 1940.

HSK KormoranEdit

In July 1940, Detmers became captain of the commerce raider Kormoran, and captured or destroyed 11 enemy merchant ships. On 19 November 1941 Kormoran was intercepted by HMAS Sydney. Detmers tried to pose as a Dutch merchant ship. He allegedly lacked the necessary naval codes, however, and was finally forced to engage Sydney.[4] He sank the Australian cruiser in battle off Western Australia. His own ship was severely damaged and had to be scuttled, after which Detmers was captured and became a prisoner of war (POW). Detmers and the battle between Sydney and Kormoran was mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht on Wednesday, 3 December 1941.[5]

In December 1941, Detmers was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and in 1943, was promoted to the rank of Kapitän zur See. He had earlier received the first class Iron Cross.

Prisoner of warEdit

File:Detmers POW service form.jpg

From 1941 to January 1947, Detmers was held as a POW at HM Prison Dhurringile. While a prisoner, he wrote a coded account of the battle between HMAS Sydney and German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran that survived the war.[6] Detmers tried to escape Australian captivity with other members of his crew, through a tunnel and then hoped to capture a sailboat to get to Indonesia; however, the attempt was unsuccessful. Later during his imprisonment, he suffered a stroke.[7]


Detmers returned to Germany in 1947 and was released from British captivity in Munster. Due to his stroke, he was incapacitated for service in the post-war German navy. In the early 1950s he married Ursula Reinhardt, daughter of an evangelical pastor. They had no children and he died in Rahlstedt, Hamburg in 1976. Detmers wrote a book about his Kormoran experiences,[1] which has been translated into English.[8]

Awards and decorationsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Detmers T, Brennecke J. (1959). "Kormoran", der Hilfskreuzer, der die "Sydney" versenkte. ISBN 3-7822-0110-8. 
  2. "HMAS Sydney II and the Kormoran". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 30 March 2008. 
  3. "Hilfskreuzer Kormoran". Retrieved 30 March 2008. 
  4. Captain Detmers' book revisited (pdf) pp.7-8 The Australian Association of Maritime History.
    Although Detmers always denied knowledge of Allied codes, Admiral Karl Dönitz in 1959 confirmed that Allied codes had at that time been broken and that German raiders were in possession of the procedures for challenge and reply. Detmers is known to have possessed the Straat Malakka's secret callsign. This could explain why Sydney was so close.
  5. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 738.
  6. "HMAS SYDNEY and KORMORAN DOCUMENTS". Sea Power (Royal Australian Navy Archive). 1941. Archived from the original on 2009-03-07. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  7. HMAS Sydney II - Captain Theodor Anton Detmers
  8. Detmers Theodore (1959). The Raider Kormoran. London: William Kimber. [dead link]
  9. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 135.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945 (in German). Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Range, Clemens (1974). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Kriegsmarine [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Navy]. Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-87943-355-1. 
  • (in German) Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 1, 1 September 1939 to 31 December 1941]. München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 

External linksEdit

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.