Clues in New Orleans about the commander of a U-boat that sank off Louisiana’s coast in 1942

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) -- New Orleans is a town with plenty of history and even mystery.  For decades, a big mystery remained unsolved regarding the fate of a German submarine, the U-166.

In 1942, U-166 was one of a dozen U-boats sent to sink American ships in the Gulf of Mexico.  The sub's last victim was the passenger vessel Robert E. Lee.  Historians knew that U-166 was destroyed by depth charges after the attack on the passenger ship, but there was some debate about where and when.  For more on that, click here.

"It is declared a resting place, a burial site, sacred ground, because 52 men did go down in U-166 in addition to the 25 souls who were lost in the Robert E. Lee," says Kim Guise, the Assistant Director for Curatory Services for the National WWII Museum about the sub and ship's final resting spots.

kuhlmannAmong the men who died aboard U-166 was its captain, Hans-Gunther Kuhlmann.  But the National WWII Museum has a collection of Kuhlmann's personal belongings, gifted to the museum by his family.

The photos show the commander training with fellow German troops, his wedding announcement and photos, and Kuhlmann's picture of Adolph Hitler.

While the museum has all kinds of fantastic pieces of history on display, workers say Kuhlmann's belongings are not suitable for case display.  But they are in the process of digitizing and posting as much material as possible on the museum's website.

Guise says many people are shocked to find out about the submarine battles that happened off the coast of Louisiana during WWII.  She says the museum is planning to educate more people about the battles in our backyard.

"We are actually working on an exhibit on Louisiana in World War Two for next year.  So it will be a temporary display here at the museum but will then travel the states."