Charleston Daily Mail     Fri., Feb. 21, 1969

Ex-U-Boat Skipper Charleston Visitor

 

GUESTS FROM GERMANY - Architect Henry Elden of Charleston points out a city land-mark to Artur Bonacker, center, and his son, Burchard, of Bremen, West Germany.  The Bonackers are in the United States on business, and they have been guests of the Eldens. Bonacker, first officer on a U-boat during World War II, now designs and manufactures photographic slide cabinets.

Artur Bonacker, 54, is now a well-groomed West German entrepreneur, who designs and manufactures photographic slide cabinets used for storing and instant viewing of numerous transparencies.

But, during World War II, Bonacker was the First Officer on a German U-boat that, at times, came close to hitting the United States where it would really hurt - in the nation's shipyards.

Bonacker and his son. Burchard, 24, of Bremen have been in the United States on business, and, before leaving for New York this morning, they were guests of architect Henry Elden and his wife in Charleston.

Bonacker served as a U-boat officer from 1941 to 1943, and one of his crew's missions that he recalled during an interview today was to cruise into Delaware Bay and up the river to the Philadelphia Naval Yards.

The mission was to have been conducted in 1943, as he recalls, but the engineer on his U-boat were assigned to German infantry units. During the days that remained, 18 of the 20 officers were killed in action.

After the war, the Germans were destitute, Bonacker recalls, but gradually, he and his fellow countrymen prospered. In 1952, he set up his company, which exports the steel, wood and plastic slide cabinets across the same seas his U-boat prowled more than 20 years ago

On the more aggressive aspects of wartime activity, when asked what the intent of that mission was, he said, "What do you think?".

Another incident he recalls is his boat taking up a post in the Atlantic, just off Norfolk. The U-boat was there for about a week, he said, and at times they would surface and observe. -what appeared to be "a forest" of masts in the ship yards. No attack occurred, he added.

While he was on the U-boat he saw service in the North Sea, the North Atlantic and the South Atlantic, and he estimates …and during one convoy tracking, three of the five U-boats assigned to the four-week mission were sunk by destroyers. His boat was one of the two to survive.

Near the end of the war, when the "die was cast," he and 19 other German naval officers were summoned to Berlin. They were told that they would become the personal guards of Hitler and accompany. him when he fled to the Alps by plane.

On the day of the flight, however, the plane could not take off because of the overwhelming number of Allied aircraft in the area, and the mission was aborted.

The 20 naval officers were; told that Hitler would remain in Berlin, and they subsequently ...