Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy

Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy

Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy

Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy

Synopsis

Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz (1849-1930) was the principal force behind the rise of the German Imperial Navy prior to World War I, challenging Great Britain's command of the seas. As State Secretary of the Imperial Naval Office from 1897 to 1916, Tirpitz wielded great power and influence over the national agenda during that crucial period. By the time he had risen to high office, Tirpitz was well equipped to use his position as a platform from which to dominate German defense policy. Though he was cool to the potential of the U-boat, he enthusiastically supported a torpedo boat branch of the navy and began an ambitious building program for battleships and battle cruisers. Based on exhaustive archival research, including new material from family papers, Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy is the first extended study in English of this germinal figure in the growth of the modern navy.

Excerpt

On 3 August 1914 gray-clad German troopers crossed the Belgian and Luxemburg frontiers to begin, in that theater, the greatest conflagration Europe had ever seen. Nestled in the fenlands of the North Sea coast, the small, drab German city of Wilhelmshaven overnight became a household word. in its harbor and in the nearby Jade, a lagoon-like body of water, sheltered from the stormy North Sea by a great sand bar, there gathered the most powerful fleet ever assembled in continental Europe, the mighty German High Seas Fleet. Fifteen of the most modern (Dreadnought-type) battleships, soon joined by two more in trials, and four speedy battlecruisers lay poised for an expected Armageddon with the even mightier British Grand Fleet, which then had twenty-two Dreadnoughts and ten powerful battlecruisers.

A few dozen leagues to the north, on the small island of Helgoland, lookouts scanned the horizon in wary anticipation of the British Armada. Smaller warships, based in Helgoland, formed a picket line to the north and west, ready to wireless the alarm.

To the south, the presence in an Austrian Adriatic base of the German battlecr>Halfway around the world, in the German colony of Tsingtau on the Chinese Shantung Peninsula, a small squadron of older German cruisers excited the same fears for British forces in the Pacific. This impressive array of German naval might was, in large measure, the life’s work of Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz.

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