Otto Ciliax bigraphy, stories - German admiral

Otto Ciliax : biography

30 October 1891 - 12 December 1964

Otto Ciliax (30 October 1891 – 12 December 1964) was an admiral in the German Navy. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.


  • Iron Cross (1914)
    • 2nd Class (13 June 1916)Dörr 1995, p. 129.
    • 1st Class (6 November 1916)
  • U-boat War Badge (1918)
  • Clasp to the Iron Cross (1939)
    • 2nd Class (January 1940)
    • 1st Class (April 1940)Dörr 1995, p. 130.
  • Order of the Crown of Italy
  • Spanish Cross in Gold with Swords (6 June 1939)
  • Spanish Medalla de la Campaña de España
  • German Cross in Gold on 20 November 1941 as Vizeadmiral and commander of the battleshipsPatzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 73.
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 21 March 1942 as Vizeadmiral and commander of the battleshipsFellgiebel 2000, p. 154.
  • Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht on 13 February 1942

Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Friday, 13 February 1942 Am 12. Februar kam es im Zuge von Operationen deutscher Seestreitkräfte im Kanal sowie in der westlichen Nordsee zu Gefechtsberührungen mit englischen Streitkräften. Durch den unter Führung des Vizeadmirals Ciliax stehenden Verband, der aus den Schlachtschiffen "Scharnhorst", "Gneisenau" und dem Kreuzer "Prinz Eugen" bestand, wurde nach der bisherigen Meldungen ein englischer Zerstörer versenkt und ein weiterer in Brand geschossen.Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 2, p. 33. Combat between German sea forces and British forces occurred on 12 February during operations in the Channel as well as in the western North Sea. According to current information, the task force under the command of Vice Admiral Ciliax consisting of the battleships "Scharnhorst", "Gneisenau" and the cruiser "Prinz Eugen" sank a British destroyer and damaged another.


Otto Ciliax joined the military service of the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) on 1 April 1910 as a Seekadett. He completed a basic training course on board of SMS Victoria Louise before transferring to the Naval Academy Mürwik. Afterwards, starting on 1 October 1912 he served on the battleship SMS Hannover and was promoted to Leutnant zur See (second lieutenant) on 27 September 1913.

As the Watch-Officer of SM U-52 in World War I he sank the cruiser HMS Nottingham. He was a former captain of Scharnhorst. In February 1942, he commanded Operation Cerberus, better known as "the Channel Dash", when Germany's two battleships, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and a number of other smaller vessels were transferred from Brest to their respective home bases in Germany for planned deployment to Norwegian waters. Ciliax flew his flag on Scharnhorst. Although the success of the operation was seen as an embarrassment to the British because the ships were able to pass through the English Channel almost undetected (though both Scharnhorst and Gneisenau struck a minefield en route), the transfer from Brest to Germany eliminated the threat they had posed to Allied shipping in the Atlantic, that dissipated until Scharnhorst's chase for Convoy JW 55B, which eventually culminated in the Battle of North Cape and her demise at the hands of .

Further distinction eluded him for the remainder of World War II.

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