In the movie Das Boot, the crew address the captain with a word I don't understand.

I think it may be "Kaleun", which I assume is short for "Kapitan Leutnant".

Am I right? Is that a real word?

  • I remember Kaleun clearly from the director's cut version of the movie
    – user9273
    Aug 21, 2014 at 20:48

2 Answers 2


"Kaleun" is a real abbreviation, I'm not sure if this makes it a real word ;)

And yes, it means "Kapitänleutnant".


In the current day Bundeswehr, the shortened word is "Kaleu". The term "Kaleun" was previously used in the Wehrmacht.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kapit%C3%A4nleutnant

wherein it says:

The official manner, in line to ZDv 10/8, of formal addressing of military people with the rank Kapitänleutnant (OF-2) is “Herr/Frau Kapitänleutnant“. However, as to German traditions and in line to seamen´s language the abbreviation of the title to "Herr/Frau Kaleu" (contemporary usage) is used in verbal communication. The commander (line officer) of the Type VIIC U-boat U96 in the film Das Boot was of this rank, and called "Herr Kaleun" (historical usage) by his crew.

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