Lot 302 View Catalog
Tunic of Kriegsmarine Vizeadmiral ERNST SCHIRLITZ, navy blue wool with bullion chest eagle, single star on each sleeve, and appropriate vice admiral's sleeve stripes and seven buttons (two under lapels), all original to the garment. Vent closed at rear. Iron Cross ribbon hand-sewn at top buttonhole. The tunic is fully-lined in black satin and bears two interior pockets, sleeves are lined in a striped cotton fabric. Maker's label "Wilh. Sartorius Helmarshausen" sewn at neckline. Left inside pocket bears the admiral's identification label with ink ID and date of manufacture: "Vzadm. E. Schirlitz Nr. 33 29.4.43". A small superficial stain between shoulders on back of tunic, else very good to fine condition. ERNST SCHIRLITZ (1893-1978) had a distinguished history in the Kriegsmarine. After serving aboard heavy cruisers and airships during World War I, Schirlitz served aboard liners between the wars. When war broke out again, he first served as a training officer before being placed in charge of sea fortifications in Brittany. In March, 1943 he was named commanding admiral of the Atlantic Coast and in August, 1944 he was given the additional duty of Commandant - Fortress La Rochelle with explicit instructions by Hitler to destroy the submarine pens, fortifications, and the city itself before surrendering. Yet only a month later, Schirlitz began secret negotiations with French naval commander Hubert Meyer to spare the city. They concluded a pact preventing the city and the submarine base from being blown up and allowing the Allies to supply La Rochelle's civilian residents with food and medicine. Schirlitz kept his word that his men would not benefit. He finally surrendered the "fortress" on the day Berlin fell and was unjustly jailed and tried for war crimes. Meyer rushed to his defense and saw that Schirlitz was acquitted. Regardless, the admiral fell on hard times, taking menial jobs for the rest of his life. The two died within two months of each other.