Otto Ciliax
Otto Ciliax was an admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

 in the German Navy
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a grade of the 1939 version of the 1813 created Iron Cross . The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II...

. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.


Otto Ciliax joined the military service of the Kaiserliche Marine
Kaiserliche Marine
The Imperial German Navy was the German Navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy and Norddeutsche Bundesmarine, which primarily had the mission of coastal defense. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded...

 (Imperial Navy) on 1 April 1910 as a Seekadett. He completed a basic training course on board of SMS Victoria Louise
SMS Victoria Louise
Seiner Majestät Schiff Victoria Louise was the lead ship of her class of protected cruisers, built for the Kaiserliche Marine before the turn of the 20th Century....

 before transferring to the Naval Academy Mürwik
Naval Academy Mürwik
The Naval Academy at Mürwik is the main training establishment for all German Navy officers.It is located at Mürwik which is a part of Germany's most northern city, Flensburg. Built on a small hill directly by the coast, it overlooks the Flensburg Fjord...

. Afterwards, starting on 1 October 1912 he served on the battleship SMS Hannover
SMS Hannover
SMS Hannover was the second of five Deutschland-class pre-dreadnoughts of the German Imperial Navy . Hannover and the three subsequently constructed ships differed slightly in both design and construction from the lead ship in their propulsion systems and slightly thicker armor...

 and was promoted to Leutnant zur See (second lieutenant) on 27 September 1913.

As the Watch-Officer of SM U-52
SM U-52
|SM U-52 was one of the 329 submarines serving in the Imperial German Navy in World War I.U-52 was engaged in the naval warfare and took part in the First Battle of the Atlantic....

 in World War I he sank the cruiser HMS Nottingham
HMS Nottingham (1913)
The fifth HMS Nottingham was launched in 1913 and commissioned in 1914. A light Town class light cruiser of , in length and a complement of 401 men, she had thick armour plating and was armed with nine guns, one 13-pounder anti-aircraft gun and two torpedo tubes...

. He was a former captain of Scharnhorst. In February 1942, he commanded Operation Cerberus
Operation Cerberus
The Channel Dash, , was a major naval engagement during World War II in which a German Kriegsmarine squadron consisting of both Scharnhorst class battleships, and heavy cruiser along with escorts, ran a British blockade and successfully sailed from Brest in Brittany to their home bases in Germany...

, better known as "the Channel Dash", when Germany's two battleships, Scharnhorst
German battleship Scharnhorst
Scharnhorst was a German capital ship, alternatively described as a battleship and battlecruiser, of the German Kriegsmarine. She was the lead ship of her class, which included one other ship, Gneisenau. The ship was built at the Kriegsmarinewerft dockyard in Wilhelmshaven; she was laid down on 15...

 and Gneisenau
German battleship Gneisenau
Gneisenau was a German capital ship, alternatively described as a battleship and battlecruiser, of the German Kriegsmarine. She was the second vessel of her class, which included one other ship, Scharnhorst. The ship was built at the Deutsche Werke dockyard in Kiel; she was laid down on 6 May 1935...

 and the heavy cruiser
Heavy cruiser
The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range, high speed and an armament of naval guns roughly 203mm calibre . The heavy cruiser can be seen as a lineage of ship design from 1915 until 1945, although the term 'heavy cruiser' only came into formal use in 1930...

 Prinz Eugen
German cruiser Prinz Eugen
Prinz Eugen was an Admiral Hipper-class heavy cruiser, the third member of the class of five vessels. She served with the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. The ship was laid down in April 1936 and launched August 1938; Prinz Eugen entered service after the outbreak of war, in August 1940...

 and a number of other smaller vessels were transferred from Brest
Brest, France
Brest is a city in the Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the Breton peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon...

 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
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 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 Scharnhorsts chase for Convoy JW 55B
Convoy JW 55B
Convoy JW 55B was an Arctic convoy sent from Great Britain by the Western Allies to aid the Soviet Union during World War II. It sailed in late December 1943, reaching the Soviet northern ports at the end of the month...

, which eventually culminated in the Battle of North Cape
Battle of North Cape
The Battle of the North Cape was a Second World War naval battle which occurred on 26 December 1943, as part of the Arctic Campaign. The German battlecruiser , on an operation to attack Arctic Convoys of war materiel from the Western Allies to the USSR, was brought to battle and sunk by superior...

 and her demise at the hands of .

Further distinction eluded him for the remainder of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...



  • Iron Cross
    Iron Cross
    The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

    • 2nd Class (13 June 1916)
    • 1st Class (3 November 1916)
  • U-boat War Badge
    U-boat War Badge
    The U-Boat War Badge was a German war badge that was awarded to U-boat crew members during World War I and World War II.-History:The U-boat War Badge was originally instituted during the First World War on February 1, 1918. It was awarded to recognize U-boat crews who had completed three war patrols...

  • Order of the Crown of Italy
    Order of the Crown of Italy
    The Order of the Crown of Italy was founded as a national order in 1868 by King Vittorio Emanuele II, to commemorate the unification of Italy in 1861...

  • Spanish Cross
    Spanish Cross
    The Spanish Cross was an award of Germany given to Germans who participated in the Spanish Civil War, fighting for Franco.- History :With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Germany sent the Condor Legion to give military aid to Francisco Franco's nationalist forces.On April 14, 1939, Germany...

     in Gold with Swords (6 June 1939)
  • Spanish Medalla de la Campaña
    Medalla de la Campaña
    The Medal for the Campaign of 1936−1939 was a Spanish military decoration. The medal was awarded during the Spanish Civil War.-External links:*...

     de España
  • German Cross
    German Cross
    The German Cross was instituted by Adolf Hitler on 17 November 1941 as an award ranking higher than the Iron Cross First Class but below the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross respectively ranking higher than the War Merit Cross First Class with Swords but below the Knight's Cross of the War Merit...

     in Gold (20 November 1941)
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
    Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
    The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a grade of the 1939 version of the 1813 created Iron Cross . The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II...

     on 21 March 1942 as Vizeadmiral and commander of the battleships
  • Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht
    The Wehrmachtbericht was a daily radio report on the Großdeutscher Rundfunk of Nazi Germany, published by the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht regarding the military situation on all fronts of World War II....

     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. 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.

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