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Asmus-Jepsen-Weg, 24944 Flensburg

In the final months of World War II – and even after the war had ended – numerous persons, including deserters, were killed on the orders of summary court-martials. For the latter, Admiral Dönitz had announced that “desertion means death”. And as a result, the 44-year-old lieutenant Asmus Jepsen also died.

Jepsen, born on 18 October 1901 in Fruerlund, was called up at the start of the war. He was a naval instructor and from 1941 commander of the special train of Admiral Karl Dönitz, whom he knew well. As the war neared its end at the start of May 1945, Jepsen, risking attacks from low-flying planes, attempted to move the train to the Mürwik naval base, filled with weapons, money and documents for the Nazi leaders. After Hitler had committed suicide, Dönitz became the commander-in-chief of the German armed forces and wanted to take up quarters there. Jepsen, who understood the futility of the plan, allowed his soldiers to surrender to the Allied forces or return to their home villages. Most decided to return home. Jepsen gave them clothing and food from Dönitz’s train. He himself stayed with the remaining soldiers and destroyed secret material and radio equipment in the train. In Sörup, he handed over the train and weapons to the railway station officer and left it, taking coffee and tobacco. It is not known whether Jepsen heard the partial surrender on 4 May. At 08:00 hours on 5 May 1945, the official ceasefire began in Holland, North Germany, Denmark and Norway. On the morning of 5 May, Jepsen joined his family in Neukirchen in Angeln. He duly reported to the police to allay the suspicion of desertion, which proved a fatal mistake. Jepsen was arrested and taken to Flensburg, where he was sentenced to death on 6 May 1945 by a summary naval court-martial on the grounds of alleged “desertion … together with breaches of duty and plundering”. He was executed on Twedter Field on the same day after his wife and father had failed to persuade Dönitz to overturn the decision.