Virtual Roundtable "Evaluating the Legacy of 'Das Boot', 40+years on"


Almost five decades after its publication, Lothar-Günter Buchheim’s controversial novel that formed the basis of the production of "Das Boot" provides rich detail how World War II at sea could have been. The famous 1981 film later turned into a 6-part TV miniseries, continues to be one of the greatest anti-war movies in the history of cinematography. Since 2018, another miniseries that continues exploring “Das Boot” for a large European streaming company, has given the U-boat story renewed public and professional attention. Wolfgang Petersen's recent passing - sadly joining Jan Fedder (+2019) and Klaus Wennemann (+2000) - is yet another incentive to discuss the movie and its legacy.

Bridging the worlds of naval history and current needs and opportunities in maritime security studies, the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University’s Center for Maritime Strategy & Security (ISPK|CMSS) conducts a virtual expert roundtable that aims to explore some of the continuous lessons and themes from “Das Boot".

Our event will be two-fold:

Section A: Contemporary naval history perspectives on “Das Boot”

How realistic is the movie? Where do the film and the novel differ? Why? How was the U-boat war reflected in the movie? How did Lothar-Günther Buchheim feel about it?


  • Keith Bird, PhD
  • Sarandis "Randy" Papadopoulos, PhD

Section B: “Das Boot” today and in the future

What does the movie teach us about naval history? How - if at all - is it relevant for today? How has it shaped our understanding of submarine warfare? How could it be utilized in teaching?


  • Michael Setzer, Captain (German Navy, ret.)
  • Johannes Peters

The sessions and the Q&A will be moderated by Sebastian Bruns, PhD. The event will be conducted in English and is on the record (will be recorded).

Speakers and panelists

Keith W. Bird
Keith W. Bird Independent German Naval Historian
Dr. Sebastian Bruns
Dr. Sebastian Bruns Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University
Dr. Sarandis "Randy" Papadopoulos
Dr. Sarandis "Randy" Papadopoulos US Department of Defense
Johannes Peters
Johannes Peters Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University
Captain (ret.) Michael Setzer
Captain (ret.) Michael Setzer German Submariners’ Association