Laboe with the Naval Memorial and the U-boat U-995 is located at the Firth of Kiel. I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to see the insides of a submarine, so we drove over.
It is a 20-minute drive to Laboe from Kiel, a bit longer or shorter depending on how heavy the traffic is. The car park for the Naval Memorial is very well signposted, the price for the car park is reasonable. It is just a short walk from the car park to the entrance of the Memorial. Tickets for the U-boat are available at the entrance.
Laboe Naval Memorial
The Naval Memorial sits on a little hill. It is the first look one gets of the unusual building from the street that is interesting. The tower is 85 meters high and luckily I didn’t have to climb up the 341 stairs to the top with my fractured foot, there are 2 elevators that take guests to the viewing platform at the top.
The idea to erect a memorial in Laboe for the fallen imperial Marines of the First World War came up in 1925. The costs for construction were almost entirely covered by donations. The area was inaugurated in 1936. In 1954 the premises became property of the German Naval Alliance (Deutscher Marinebund) and the monument was extended by a memorial for those lost at sea and for peaceful seafaring.
The memorial area is really large. There is a big open area next to the tower as well as the Historic Hall where we marvelled at the miniature models of different ships. The available information is vast and it takes quite some time to read through it all but it is really worth it to invest that time!
A stairway leads down into the Memorial Hall from the Historic Hall. The circular room is quite dark and a dim light in the middle is the only light source. There are flowers and wreaths all over the room to honour the deceased. People only whisper down here out of respect for the dead.
Next, we took the lift to the viewing platform on top of the Naval Memorial in Laboe (the second floor can be reached on foot). The wind was blowing through our hair and clothes, the sun was out and we couldn’t get enough of the fabulous view of the Firth of Kiel. Super, amazing, wonderful… what other adjectives are there? In the end, it was only due to the heavy wind that we made our way down from the platform.
Across the street, on the banks of the firth, is the U-boat. The U-995 was used by Marines in the Second World War. It started operating in 1943 and was used in multiple battle actions and combat patrols. After the war, the Norwegian Navy used it as a training ship and for different tests. It was returned to Germany in 1965 and became a museum in 1972.
I left my crutches at the entrance of the U-boat. “Do you really want to go, it is very narrow in there” I was asked by the person at the entrance. It was indeed narrow and the thought that a 45 people crew was operating this boat was almost unimaginable. There were one toilet and another emergency toilet in the galley (that was also the pantry) and no washing facilities. The heat and smell that were trapped in there must have been incredible. There were only about ten other people with us in the U-boat when we visited and still I felt like I had not enough space. People were pushing from the back and it was impossible to take a minute to absorb all of the details. How hard must it have bee when submerged and under enormous stress…
For my part, I was glad that my stay in the submarine was only a brief visit. It was very interesting but a dive in a submarine is certainly not something I’d like to do!
1.November – 28.February: 10.00 – 16.00
1.March – 31.March: 09.30 – 17.00
1.April – 31.May: 09.00 – 18.00
1.June – 30.September: 09.00 – 19.00
1.October – 31.October: 09.30 – 17.00
24.December – 31.December: 10.00 – 14.00