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Reading Book Guide

Steel Boat, Iron Hearts: A U-boat Crewman's Life Aboard U-505, by Hans Goebeler with John Vanzo

Steel Boat, Iron Hearts is a memoir of a sailor who made every patrol aboard one of the most famous U-boats of World War II, U-505. Goebeler provides a no-holds-barred account of his life aboard this frontline combat U-boat. We hope these thought-provoking questions lead to some lively book discussions.

  1. Hans Goebeler and his family supported Hitler as Fuhrer. Was this reasonable, or should they have know about the evil and danger Hitler represented?
  2. Why was Hans so eager to join the German military? Would an American be as eager in similar situations?
  3. How did Hans' experiences under his first skipper, Capt. Loewe, change his ideas about what constitutes effective leadership?
  4. Did the actions of the U-505 under the leadership of Axel Loewe change your opinion regarding the conduct of German U-boats during WWII?
  5. Was Capt. Peter Zschech an effective skipper of the U-505? Why or why not?
  6. Why did Peter Zschech commit suicide?
  7. Did Hans Goebeler exhibit heartlessness in his reaction to Zschech's suicide?
  8. Did Hans' conduct ashore diminish your opinion of him?
  9. Was the treatment of the U-505 crewmen as prisoners in any way illegal or immoral?
  10. Does the book's examination of young men fighting in a losing war give you any insight into America's current war in Iraq?