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U-505 Captain Axel Lowe and Major Lenox Lohr of the Museum of Science and Industry

By Tyler Robinson

Though I never had the privilege of meeting my great-grandfather, I grew up with stories of Major Lenox R. Lohr’s exploits as a soldier in the First World War and a manager of the Chicago World’s Fair, but most especially as the President of the Museum of Science and Industry. It was in this latter capacity that he achieved perhaps his most enduring legacy, recovering the famous U-505 submarine from the Portsmouth Navy Yard, where it was intended to be used for target practice until it sank.

Amidst those luminaries that sent letters of condolence in the wake of the Major’s passing, I found the most memorable correspondence came from a Kriegsmarine Captain who retained a strong attachment to his former vessel, which the US Navy had absconded with 23 and a half years earlier. I’ve included a transcription of Captain Axel Lowe’s letters below, edited for clarity as his English could be difficult to decipher at times.

First captain of “U 505” Hamburg, 1.10.68.

Dear Major Lohr!

It has been a long time since we heard from one another, but I have not forgotten you and your charming wife. I hope you and your family are well.

I should like to see you again, but the distance between us is very large and the voyage very expensive. I remember gladly my visit to Chicago in 1957. I told many of my old crew of that, and many wanted to get your booklet The Story of the U-505, copyright 1955 of Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Illinois. I had some copies of this booklet, but I had already given them to several fellows of our old U-boats.

Therefore I would like to inquire if you are you able to send me about 20 copies of these booklets? It might be a good press opportunity for your museum, and I would be very thankful. Several of our friends visited Chicago and saw the “U 505” and so I am very interested in anything new that has come out about the old shark.

Yours sincerely,
Axel Loewe

11 October 1968

Dear Kapitan Loewe:

I must tell you the very sad news that Major Lohr died on May 28 at the age of 76. He had suffered a number of heart attacks over the past five years.

He spoke of you often and of your visit here and regarded you with great affection.

Under separate cover I am sending to you the copies of the U-505 booklet which you requested. If at any time in the future you want additional copies, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Whenever any of your friends are coming to Chicago, I hope you will be sure to tell me, so that I may make special arrangements for them here. I would like to meet them and entertain them while they are in our City.

I hope it will be possible for you to visit Chicago again sometime in the future and I look forward toward renewing our friendship at that time.

Yours very truly,

D. M. Mac Master

Hamburg, 6.12.68

Dear President Macmaster,

Yesterday I received your parcel with the booklets of “U505”. Many thanks for that and also for your nice letter of 11 Oktober 1968.

I’m very sad to hear of the death of Major Lohr, for I esteemed him very much. I was in his home in 1957 and both Major Lohr and his wife were charming hosts. Please give her my greatest sympathy. I shall write to her personally in a short time.

I am also very thankful for your nice invitation to let you know if any of my friends are coming to Chicago, and your willingness to make special arrangements for them.

Perhaps it will be possible for me to visit Chicago again in the future, and I would be very glad to see you again. 

With Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Good New Year,

Yours Very Truly,

Axel Loewe

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