Kurt Moraht

Kurt Moraht

Sonderborg, Sønderborg Kommune, Syddanmark, Denmark
Death 24 Dec 1918 (aged 32)
Fort McPherson, Fulton County, Georgia, USA
Burial Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, USA
Plot Section 8
Memorial ID 76370420 · View Source
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From Andy:

On 10 August 1914, the new Cormoran (or Cormoran II) left Tsingtao harbor and sailed through the South Pacific region. After Japan declared war on the German Empire, her
warships discovered and pursued the Cormoran, forcing her to seek refuge in Apra Harbor, in the U.S. Territory of Guam, on 14 December. Having expended most of her fuel raiding commerce, her crew burned much of her woodwork in the boilers in order to make port. With only 50 t (55 short tons) of coal remaining in her bunkers, her captain requested provisions and 1,500 t (1,700 short tons) of coal in order to reach German ports in East Africa.

Due to strained diplomatic relations between the United States and Germany, plus the limited amount of coal stored at Guam, Governor William John Maxwell refused to supply Cormoran with more than a token amount of coal. He ordered the ship to leave within 24 hours or submit to detention. This created a standoff between the German crew and the Americans that lasted nearly two years, until Governor Maxwell was involuntarily placed on the sick list and replaced by his subordinate, William P. Cronan, who decided the German crew should be treated as guests of the United States. The Cormoran was not allowed to leave the harbor, but the crew were treated as friends, achieving a minor celebrity status on the island.

When the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany on 7 April 1917, Captain Adalbert Zuckschwerdt scuttled his ship rather than surrender her. This resulted in the "first shot" of the war between the U.S. and Imperial Germany. Sailors at Guam saw the German crew preparing to scuttle the ship and fired a shot across their bow in an effort to stop them. However, the German sailors continued to scuttle the vessel, and nine crew members perished (probably in the explosion that sank her). They were buried with full military honors in the naval cemetery at Agana. After the American sailors rescued and made prisoners the surviving Germans, Governor Cronan congratulated Captain Zuckschwerdt for the bravery of his men. The U.S. Navy later conducted a limited salvage operation and the ship's bell was recovered. It is exhibited at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum at Annapolis, Maryland. Other artifacts have been removed by divers over the years.

The German crew was initially imprisoned in Fort Douglas, Utah. In April 1918, all remaining prisoners of war from Cormoran and SMS Geier were transferred from Fort Douglas to Fort McPherson, Georgia. All returned home on 7 October 1919, almost a year after the war's end.

The wreck of the SMS Cormoran II rests 110 ft (34 m) below the surface on her port side. A Japanese cargo ship, the Tokai Maru, sunk by the submarine USS Snapper, leans against her screw. The wreck is one of the few places where divers can explore a World War I shipwreck next to a ship from World War II.

In 1975, the wreck was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. She was listed because of her association with World War I.

On 11 September 2011 a headstone was found in Westview cemetery in Atlanta Georgia bearing the name Kurt Moraht. The headstone, written completely in German, identifies the
resting place of Oberleutnant Kurt Moraht of the SMS Cormoran. It lists his birth as 28 April 1886 and death 24 December 1918, and identifies the place of death as Fort
MacPherson, Georgia. Research has yet to reveal if Kurt Moraht was among the crew that scuttled the ship or if he was a prisoner who died at Ft. MacPherson.

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  • Created by: rhondajo
  • Added: 11 Sep 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 76370420
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Kurt Moraht (28 Apr 1886–24 Dec 1918), Find A Grave Memorial no. 76370420, citing Westview Cemetery, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, USA ; Maintained by rhondajo (contributor 47044794) .