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In Das Boot the crew tries to dive through the sea near Gibraltar, although they know that's very risky.

Why do they do that?

What they try to achieve in the Mediterranean Sea?

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According to Wikipedia it is just an order by the head of the submarine command for them to go to La Spezia in Italy (which makes crossing Gibraltar neccessary, since they're in the atlantic ocean). But why they have to go there I don't know and I'm not sure it is given in the movie or the book (they sure didn't get told about the background of every order). But it's a long time since I have seen the movie and haven't read the book, so maybe somebody knows more. – Napoleon Wilson Dec 9 '11 at 14:19
up vote 14 down vote accepted

The Medditeranian sea was very much a region under control of the allies from 1941 onwards with the Italian Navy suffering big losses and the allies controlling Gibraltar as the 'gate'. The Germans sent 62 U-Boats into the Mediterranean despite the risks in order to limit the overwhelming control that the allies had there.

However it was a very risky arena for the U-Boats, calmer water, allied air-cover with radar, and they had to get past Gibraltar. No U-Boats ever made it back from the Mediterranean.

It was not a universally popular policy in the German military, Donitz (Commander of the submarine fleet before being elevated to Grand Admiral) considered it wasteful of resources as each U-Boat sent into the Med was no longer ever available in the Atlantic.

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So, that is based in the reality of normal military madness. Thanks for the answer and the history-lesson. – Mnementh Dec 9 '11 at 18:51

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