Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Dead Soldiers

with 7 comments



It’s Remembrance Day. Another day, another blog, another dead soldier. I assume everyone has dead soldiers in their family tree? If one goes back far enough, certainly. I’ve often wondered if I had any relatives at the Battle of Towton, the bloodiest battle ever fought in England. Over 20,000 men died that cold winter day in 1461. Being mostly Saxon and all, I must have had some ancestors there. I wonder what side they were fighting on? Probably both sides, civil wars are ugly that way. The Wars of the Roses, thank God that mess is over.

No need to wonder about the handsome gentleman above though. Pretty good bet through family tales and stunning family resemblance that Siegfried shares DNA with me. Some of my DNA is laying at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, always a sobering thought. Yes, he’s a dead soldier. Or a dead sailor as the case may be. There might even be people still alive who remember him, but he passed before my time. He died in World War Two, along with millions of other people. World wars are a bad thing. Many people seem to relate modern times to World War Two, this is my connection.

Siegfried was not only a soldier, he was a war hero. He served bravely, and didn’t lose a man under his command until the day he died. That day he lost them all, war is hell. He was captain of a submarine serving in the Atlantic Ocean. The submarine he commanded sank a number of ships, including two warships. And he wasn’t only a war hero, he has a footnote in world history too. He was the first person to navigate a submarine under oceanic pack ice. They didn’t show that in Das Boot.

And that’s about all I know about the man. What do I think? Well, it’s an interesting question. Lieutenant Commander Siegfried Strelow was fighting on the “wrong” side. He fought bravely and true, but he was fighting for Hitler’s Germany. Does that make him a Nazi? Some would say so. He died before the holocaust got into full swing, and the Kriegsmarine was not exactly a big perpetrator of war crimes in any event. Most soldiers are fighting for their country, not their leaders. It’s not the same, though most leaders and many of their followers would dispute that.

In any event blaming soldiers for a war is like blaming firemen for the fire. That’s not a perfect analogy, but it works for me. Maybe someday the human race will give up wars as a means of settling disputes, until then I blame wars and war crimes on the politicians that start wars and actual war criminals. Everyone else, civilians and soldiers, are the victims. This post, hell, this blog is dedicated to the memory of every good soldier that ever laid down their life for their country.

God rest your soul uncle Siegfried.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. I’m also pretty sure it’s public domain.)

Written by unitedcats

November 11, 2007 at 9:41 am

Posted in History, Peace, Philosophy, War

7 Responses

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  1. “War is young men killing other young men they do not know on the orders of old men who know one another too well.”

    Let us remember that all dead soldiers are victims. It makes no difference as to whos ‘side’ they were on.


    November 11, 2007 at 10:03 am

  2. You’ll also find some DNA in BeLgium, courtesy your great uncle PFC Wilfred Stych, Arras, France, August 27, 1918. Not the big 1917 Battle of Arras…just a little skirmish…long forgotten. Only 297 dead Canadians and they advanced eight kilometres! Imagine that!

    He’s still there, with his buddies.


    November 11, 2007 at 11:27 am

  3. I’d love to know how Siegfried isyour uncle or great uncle. He is my siblings’ uncle and they don’t have many cousins and there are not many offspring from their generation. No Candadian immigrants that I know of…..although Siegfried’s child disappeared out of the family with Siegfried’s widow after he died. That doesn’t explain the DNA of a nephew though…


    May 9, 2009 at 11:35 am

    • If memory serves me right, Commander Strelow’s widow (Maria) was alive & kicking in the 1950s together with two children, Karin and Colin.
      I would be interested to hear further news.

      Hugh Dungey

      September 20, 2009 at 12:07 pm

      • Hugh Dungey…Uncommon name we have. Please contact me to discuss connection. (my grandfather was Hubert Dungey, born in Cranbrook, Kent in late 1800’s.)

        Hugh Cameron Dungey

        May 9, 2016 at 9:39 am

  4. Very interesting. Can you explain something about the connection you have to Siegfried Strelow? Is it Stych somehow related?
    Also @brie, I just became interested in this whole topic and would be happy, if you could share how your siblings know that Siegfried is their uncle? If he died in 1943 with 32 years, then that’s a lot of time that went by since then that makes tracing difficult.
    I myself share the same family name with Siegfried and still live in Germany. But until now that’s all the connection I have to him. However, I am really looking for some more info on that subject.


    March 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    • Wow, I’d forgotten about this post. My connection to Siegfried was largely based on a comment my grandfather made during the war, and it now appears he may have been mistaken. I’ll write a follow up post soon, or drop you an email with more information. — Doug


      March 8, 2011 at 5:38 pm

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