Otto Giese, 1914-2001.
Otto Giese, 1914-2001.

Guide to the Otto Giese Papers, 1938-1979

MS 346

A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
Nimitz Library

Naval Academy Seal

United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029

Prepared by: Ruth Hennessy

May 2003

Descriptive Summary

The Otto Giese Papers were donated to the Special Collections & Archives Department by Otto Giese and CAPT James E. Wise, USN (Ret). Accession Nos. 01-28; 03-15.
4 linear feet.
Access to the Otto Giese Papers is unrestricted.
The Otto Giese Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information
Preferred Citation:
Otto Giese Papers, MS 346
Special Collections & Archives Department
Nimitz Library
United States Naval Academy

Biographical Sketch

Otto Giese was born November 8, 1914 in Bremen, Germany. Starting in 1933, he served aboard square-riggers and numerous oceangoing freighters, after which he attended the German Nautical Academy for his mate’s license, which he received in 1938. He was a junior officer aboard the ocean liner S.S. Columbus when war was declared in September of 1939. The ship was scuttled and he was taken to Ellis Island by the U.S.S. Tuscaloosa. The crewmen who were of military age were then sent to Angel Island off San Francisco. With several other fit officers, he eluded immigration officials to escape to the Japanese. He was involved with blockade running, returning to Germany and training for U-boat service.

Giese’s U-Bootwaffe service was in the Far East, North Atlantic, and Indian Ocean. Even after Germany’s surrender he was interned by the British in the infamous Changi jail in Malaya and was not repatriated until 1947. After World War II, he obtained a master’s license and started his own shipping line, which operated in the North Sea, the Baltic, the Caribbean and the Far East. In 1964, he moved to Florida, and became a US citizen in 1968. He was pier superintendent and manager of Fillette Green Steamship Agency in Pensacola, Florida until he retired in 1981. He died September 29, 2001.

Scope and Content Note

The Otto Giese Papers contain correspondence, speeches, audiotapes, artwork sketches, photographs, writings, scrapbooks, clippings, memorabilia and other material documenting the private and public life of this mariner. The collection spans the dates 1938 to 1979, with the bulk of the material dating from 1938 to 1947. The collection records Giese’s extraordinary career, and includes materials relevant to the politics and attitudes of a seafaring German in World War II.

The strengths of the collection lie in the extensive documentation in a variety of media of Giese’s career, from charming sketches of life at sea to a superb collection of photographs and audiotapes of interviews. He records the social, political and personal aspects of the period by combining news clippings, photographs and his personal assessment of key events. This unique historical overview includes his justification for the invasion of Poland, and he offers an unwavering assessment of the dictates of duty. Although hardship and loss are part of his life, his anecdotes are positive and relay the camaraderie of U-boat sailors at war.

The material is arranged chronologically, unless otherwise noted, and includes items in German, Japanese, Spanish, and English.

Container List

Box Folder  
1 1 Clippings - Giese Biography, Obituary and Miniature Church Display, 2001-2003
2 Clippings - Via Pensacola, 1977-1981 and undated

Includes photographs used in featured articles.

3 Diaries - Nr. 1 and Nr. 2: S.S. Columbus Tragodie, September-December 1939 and December 1939-January 1940
S.S. Columbus Tragedy, in the German language.
4-7 Diaries - Nr. 3 (Clippings), 1940

Ellis Island, Angel Island, and escape via Hawaii to Japan, in the German Language.

8 Diaries - Nr. 4 and Nr. 5: Blockadebrecher Anneliese Essberger nebst Tarnugen, January-July and July-September 1941

In the German language.

Box Folder
2 1 Diaries - Nr. 6: Blockadefahrt, U-405, U-Boots WO Kurse, U-181, POW Changi Jail, Malaya und England, September 1941-September 1947

Operations with U-405; U-boat watch officer courses; Operations with U-181; POW Changi Jail, Malaya and England, in the German language.

2 Diary, 1949-1963

German, Spanish and some English language clippings, letters, photographs.

3 Diary, 1952-1953

German language, clippings and letters included.

Box Folder
3 1 Diary, 1953-1956

German language, contains some photographs.

2 Diary, 1959-1960

German, Spanish and some English language. Contains involvement in Havana shipping.

3 Diary, April-August 1960

Primarily German language. Contains information on political climate for shipping in Latin America.

Box Folder
4 1 Diary, September-December 1960

Primarily German language. Contains information on political climate for shipping in Latin America.

2 Diary, January-May 1961

Mostly English language, some German. Emphasis on Cuban, Mexican and Dominican Republic politics.

3 Diary, June-November 1961

Mostly English language, some German. Emphasis on Cuban, Mexican and Dominican Republic politics.

Box Folder
5 1 Diary, December 1961-May 1962

Mostly English language, some German. Emphasis on Cuban, Mexican and Dominican Republic politics.

2 Diary, May-December 1962

English and German language.

Box Folder
6 1 Diary, October 1962-April 1963

English and German language.

2 Diary, May-September 1963

English and German language.

7 Photographs and Negatives, undated

102 Photographs, 13 sleeves of negatives and 2 CD-ROMs used in preparing the manuscript for, with annotations to corresponding pages in Shooting the War: The Memoir and Photographs of a U-boat Officer in World War II by Otto Giese and James E. Wise, Jr. (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, c1994)

8 Photograph Albums, 1935-1940

Albums numbered one through five.

9 Photograph Albums, 1940-1946

Albums numbered six and seven.

10 Family and Ship Photographs (6), undated
Box Item
11 1 Audio Cassettes - Anneliese Essberger Blockade Run: Dairen (June 21, 1941) and Bordeaux (September 9, 1941) Master’s Report, undated
2 Audio Cassettes - Anneliese Essberger Supplying Raider Komet in Pacific (July 1941), undated
3 Audio Cassettes - Otto Giese: My Memories of World War II (1939-1945), undated
4 Audio Cassettes - Otto Giese: My Memories of World War II (1939-1945), undated
5 Audio Cassettes - Translation of a Report by H. Hochner of U-425 Sinking, January 15-16, 1992
6 Audio Cassettes - U-405 (May 10-August 16, 1942), undated
7 Audio Cassettes - U-405 (August 16-September 13, 1942), undated
8 Audio Cassettes - U-405 KTB (August 16-September 16, 1942), undated
9 Audio Cassettes - U-405 KTB: Report by Hopman-AOM Polar Sea (November-December 1942), undated