The _KRIEGSMARINE_ (German pronunciation: , _War Navy_) was the navy of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It superseded the Imperial German Navy of the German Empire and the inter-war _ Reichsmarine _. The _Kriegsmarine_ was one of three official branches —along with the _Heer (Army)_ and the _ Luftwaffe (Air Force) _—of the Wehrmacht , the armed forces of Nazi Germany.
The _Kriegsmarine_ grew rapidly during German naval rearmament in the 1930s (the Treaty of Versailles had limited the size of the German navy previously, and prohibited building of submarines ). _Kriegsmarine_ ships were deployed to the waters around Spain during the Spanish Civil War , under the guise of enforcing non-intervention, but in reality supporting the Franco side of the war.
In January 1939 Plan Z was ordered, calling for naval parity with the Royal Navy by 1944. However, when World War II broke out in September 1939, Plan Z was shelved in favour of building submarines ( U-boats ) and prioritizing land and air forces.
The Commander-in-Chief of the _Kriegsmarine_ (as for all branches of armed forces during the period of absolute Nazi power) was Adolf Hitler , who exercised his authority through the _Oberkommando der Marine _.
The _Kriegsmarine_'s most famous ships were the U-boats, most of which were constructed after Plan Z was abandoned at the beginning of World War II. Wolfpacks were rapidly assembled groups of submarines which attacked British convoys during the first half of the Battle of the Atlantic but this tactic was largely abandoned in the second half of the war. Along with the U-boats, surface commerce raiders (including auxiliary cruisers) were used to disrupt Allied shipping in the early years of the war, the most famous of these being the heavy cruisers _ Admiral Graf Spee _ and _ Admiral Scheer _ and the battleship _Bismarck _. However, the adoption of convoy escorts, especially in the Atlantic, greatly reduced the effectiveness of commerce raiders against convoys.
After the Second World War, the _Kriegsmarine'_s remaining ships were divided up amongst the Allied powers and were used for various purposes including minesweeping .
* 1 Command structure
* 2 History
* 3 Major wartime operations
* 4 Ships
* 4.1 Surface ships
* 4.1.1 Aircraft carriers * 4.1.2 Battleships * 4.1.3 Pocket battleships (_Panzerschiffe_) * 4.1.4 Pre-dreadnought battleships * 4.1.5 Battlecruisers * 4.1.6 Heavy cruisers * 4.1.7 Light cruisers * 4.1.8 Auxiliary cruisers * 4.1.9 Destroyers * 4.1.10 Torpedo boats * 4.1.11 E-boats (_Schnellboote_) * 4.1.12 Troop ships * 4.1.13 Miscellaneous
* 4.2 Submarines (U-boat)
* 5 Captured ships * 6 Major enemy warships sunk or destroyed
* 7 Air and land units
* 7.1 Air units * 7.2 Coastal artillery, flak and radar units * 7.3 Marines
* 8 Personnel
* 8.1 Strength
* 8.2 Comparative ranks (during World War II)
* 8.2.1 Officers * 8.2.2 Officer candidate ranks * 8.2.3 Seamen and Petty Officers
* 8.3 Uniforms
* 9 See also * 10 Notes * 11 External links
Main article: Organization of the Kriegsmarine
Adolf Hitler was the Commander-in-Chief of all German armed forces, including the _Kriegsmarine_. His authority was exercised through the _ Oberkommando der Marine _, or OKM, with a Commander-in-Chief (_Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine_), a Chief of Naval General Staff (_Chef des Stabes der Seekriegsleitung_) and a Chief of Naval Operations (_Chef der Operationsabteilung_). The first Commander-in-Chief of the OKM was Erich Raeder who was the Commander-in-Chief of the _Reichsmarine_ when it was renamed and reorganized in 1935. Raeder held the post until falling out with Hitler after the German failure in the Battle of the Barents Sea . He was replaced by Karl Dönitz on 30 January 1943 who held the command until he was appointed President of Germany upon Hitler's suicide in April 1945. Hans-Georg von Friedeburg was then Commander-in-Chief of the OKM for the short period of time until Germany surrendered in May 1945.
Subordinate to these were regional, squadron and temporary flotilla commands. Regional commands covered significant naval regions and were themselves sub-divided, as necessary. They were commanded by a _ Generaladmiral _ or an Admiral . There was a _Marineoberkommando_ for the Baltic Fleet , Nord, Nordsee, Norwegen, Ost/Ostsee (formerly Baltic), Süd and West. The _Kriegsmarine_ used a form of encoding called _ Gradnetzmeldeverfahren _ to denote regions on a map.
Each squadron (organized by type of ship) also had a command structure with its own Flag Officer . The commands were Battleships, Cruisers, Destroyers, Submarines (_ Führer der Unterseeboote _), Torpedo Boats, Minesweepers, Reconnaissance Forces, Naval Security Forces, Big Guns and Hand Guns, and Midget Weapons.
Major naval operations were commanded by a _Flottenchef_. The _Flottenchef_ controlled a flotilla and organized its actions during the operation. The commands were, by their nature, temporary.
The _Kriegsmarine'_s ship design bureau, known as the _Marineamt_, was administered by officers with experience in sea duty but not in ship design, while the naval architects who did the actual design work had only a theoretical understanding of design requirements. As a result the German surface fleet was plagued by design flaws throughout the war.
POST–WORLD WAR I ORIGINS
Under the terms of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles , Germany was only allowed a minimal navy of 15,000 personnel, six capital ships of no more than 10,000 tons, six cruisers , twelve destroyers , twelve torpedo boats and no submarines or aircraft carriers . Military aircraft were also banned, so Germany could have no naval aviation . Under the treaty Germany could only build new ships to replace old ones. All the ships allowed and personnel were taken over from the _Kaiserliche Marine_, renamed _ Reichsmarine _.
From the outset, Germany worked to circumvent the military restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles. Through German-owned front companies, the Germans continued to develop U-boats through a submarine design office in the Netherlands (NV Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepsbouw ) and a torpedo research program in Sweden where the G7e torpedo was developed.
Before the Nazi seizure of power on 30 January 1933 the German government decided on 15 November 1932 to launch a naval re-armament program that included U-boats, airplanes and an aircraft carrier which were not allowed under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
The launching of the first pocket battleship , _Deutschland_ in 1931 (as a replacement for the old pre-dreadnought battleship _Preussen _) was a step in the formation of a modern German fleet. The building of the _Deutschland_ caused consternation among the French and the British as they had expected that the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles would limit the replacement of the pre-dreadnought battleships to coastal defence ships , suitable only for defensive warfare. By using innovative construction techniques, the Germans had built a heavy ship suitable for offensive warfare on the high seas while still abiding by the letter of the treaty. Modern destroyers and light cruisers were also built. All of these new ships were built in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles that allowed replacements of the old ships taken over from the German World War I fleet.
THE GERMAN NAVY AFTER THE NAZIS TOOK POWER
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Adolf Hitler soon began to more brazenly ignore many of the Treaty restrictions and accelerated German naval rearmament . The Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 18 June 1935 allowed Germany to build a navy equivalent to 35% of the British surface ship tonnage and 45% of British submarine tonnage; battleships were to be limited to no more than 35,000 tons. That same year the _Reichsmarine_ was renamed as the _Kriegsmarine_. In April 1939, as tensions escalated between the United Kingdom and Germany over Poland, Hitler unilaterally rescinded the restrictions of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement.
The building-up of the German fleet in the time period of 1935–1939 was slowed by problems with marshaling enough manpower and material for ship building. This was because of the simultaneous and rapid build-up of the German army and air force which demanded substantial effort and resources. Some projects, like the D-class cruisers and the P-class cruisers , had to be cancelled.
SPANISH CIVIL WAR
See also: German involvement in the Spanish Civil War § Maritime operations
The first military action of the _Kriegsmarine_ came during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). Following the outbreak of hostilities in July 1936 several large warships of the German fleet were sent to the region. The heavy cruisers _Deutschland_ and _ Admiral Scheer_ , and the light cruiser _Köln_ were the first to be sent in July 1936. These large ships were accompanied by the 2nd Torpedo-boat Flotilla. The German presence was used to covertly support Franco\'s Nationalists although the immediate involvement of the _Deutschland_ was humanitarian relief operations and evacuating 9,300 refugees, including 4,550 German citizens. Following the brokering of the International Non-Intervention Patrol to enforce an international arms embargo the _Kriegsmarine_ was allotted the patrol area between Cabo de Gata (Almeria) and Cabo de Oropesa . Numerous vessels served as part of these duties including _ Admiral Graf Spee_ . On 29 May 1937 the _Deutschland_ was attacked off Ibiza by two bombers from the Republican Air Force . Total casualties from the Republican attack were 31 dead and 110 wounded, 71 seriously, mostly burn victims. In retaliation the _ Admiral Scheer_ shelled Almeria on 31 May killing 19-20 civilians, wounding 50 and destroying 35 buildings. Following further attacks by Republican submarines against the _Leipzig_ off the port of Oran between 15–18 June 1937 Germany withdrew from the Non-Intervention Patrol.
U-Boats also participated in covert action against Republican shipping as part of Operation _Ursula_ . At least eight U-Boats engaged a small number of targets in the area throughout the conflict. (By comparison the Italian _ Regia Marina _ operated 58 submarines in the area as part of the _Sottomarini Legionari _.)
Main article: Plan Z
The _Kriegsmarine_ saw as her main tasks the controlling of the Baltic Sea and winning a war against France in connection with the German army, because France was seen as the most likely enemy in the event of war. But in 1938 Hitler wanted to have the possibility of winning a war against Great Britain at sea in the coming years. Therefore he ordered plans for such a fleet from the _Kriegsmarine_. From the three proposed plans (X, Y and Z) he approved Plan Z in January 1939. This blueprint for the new German naval construction program envisaged building a navy of approximately 800 ships during the period 1939–1947. Hitler demanded that the program was to be completed by 1945. The main force of Plan Z were six H-class battleships . In the version of Plan Z drawn up in August 1939 the German fleet was planned to consist of the following ships by 1945:
* 4 aircraft carriers * 10 battleships * 12 battlecruisers * 3 armored ships (_ Panzerschiffe _) * 5 heavy cruisers * 44 light cruisers * 158 destroyers and torpedo boats * 249 submarines * Numerous smaller craft
Personnel strength was planned to rise to over 200,000.
The planned naval program was not very far advanced by the time World War II began. In 1939 two M-class cruisers and two H-class battleships were laid down and parts for two further H-class battleships and three O-class battlecruisers were in production. The strength of the German fleet at the beginning of the war was not even 20% of Plan Z. On 1 September 1939, the navy still had a total personnel strength of only 78,000, and it was not at all ready for a major role in the war. Because of the long time it would take to get the Plan Z fleet ready for action and shortage in workers and material in wartime, Plan Z was essentially shelved in September 1939 and the resources allocated for its realization were largely redirected to the construction of U-boats , which would be ready for war against the United Kingdom quicker.
WORLD WAR II
The _Kriegsmarine_ was involved in World War II from its outset and participated in the Battle of Westerplatte and the Battle of the Danzig Bay during the Invasion of Poland . In 1939, major events for the _Kriegsmarine_ were the sinking of the British aircraft carrier HMS _Courageous_ and the British battleship HMS _Royal Oak_ and the loss of the _ Admiral Graf Spee_ at the Battle of the River Plate . Submarine attacks on Britain's vital maritime supply routes (Battle of the Atlantic ) started immediately at the outbreak of war, although they were hampered by the lack of well placed ports from which to operate. Throughout the war the _Kriegsmarine_ was responsible for coastal artillery protecting major ports and important coastal areas. It also operated anti-aircraft batteries protecting major ports.
In April 1940, the German Navy was heavily involved in the invasion of Norway , where it suffered significant losses, which included the heavy cruiser _Blücher_ sunk by artillery and torpedoes from Norwegian shore batteries at the Oscarsborg Fortress in Oslofjord . Ten destroyers were lost in the Battles of Narvik (half of German destroyer strength at the time), and two light cruisers, the Königsberg which was bombed and sunk by Royal Navy aircraft in Bergen, and the Karlsruhe which was sunk off the coast of Kristiansand by a British submarine. The _Kriegsmarine_ did in return sink some British warships during this campaign, including the aircraft carrier HMS _Glorious_ .
The losses in the Norwegian Campaign left only a handful of undamaged heavy ships available for the planned, but never executed, invasion of the United Kingdom (Operation _Sea Lion_ ) in the summer of 1940. There were serious doubts that the invasion sea routes could have been protected against British naval interference. The Fall of France and the conquest of Norway gave German submarines greatly improved access to British shipping routes in the Atlantic . At first, British convoys lacked escorts that were adequate either in numbers or equipment and, as a result, the submarines had much success for few losses (this period was dubbed the First Happy Time by the Germans).
Italy entered the war in June 1940, and the Battle of the Mediterranean began: from September 1941 to May 1944 some 62 German submarines were transferred there, sneaking past the British naval base at Gibraltar . The Mediterranean submarines sank 24 major Allied warships (including 12 destroyers, 4 cruisers, 2 aircraft carriers and 1 battleship) and 94 merchant ships (449,206 tons of shipping). None of the Mediterranean submarines made it back to their home bases, as they were all either sunk in battle or scuttled by their crews at the end of the war The crew of a minesweeper, France, 1941
In 1941 one of the four modern German battleships, _Bismarck_ sank HMS _Hood_ while breaking out into the Atlantic for commerce raiding. _Bismarck_ was in turn hunted down by much superior British forces after being crippled by an airborne torpedo. She was subsequently scuttled after being rendered a burning wreck by two British battleships.
During 1941, the _Kriegsmarine_ and the United States Navy became de facto belligerents , although war was not formally declared, leading to the sinking of the USS _Reuben James_ . This hostility was the result of the American decision to support Britain with its Lend-Lease program and the subsequent decision to escort Lend-Lease convoys with American war ships through the western part of the Atlantic.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent German declaration of war against the United States in December 1941 led to another phase of the Battle of the Atlantic. In Operation _Drumbeat_ and subsequent operations until August 1942, a large number of Allied merchant ships were sunk by submarines off the American coast as the Americans had not prepared for submarine warfare, despite clear warnings (this was the so-called Second happy time for the German navy). The situation became so serious that military leaders feared for the whole Allied strategy. The vast American ship building capabilities and naval forces were however now brought into the war and soon more than offset any losses inflicted by the German submariners. In 1942, the submarine warfare continued on all fronts, and when German forces in the Soviet Union reached the Black Sea , a few submarines were eventually transferred there.
Hitler, fearing a British invasion of Norway, forced the leadership of the _Kriegsmarine_ to transfer her big ships based in the French Atlantic port of Brest to Norway. Thus, in February 1942, the two battleships _Scharnhorst_ and _Gneisenau_ and the heavy cruiser _Prinz Eugen_ passed through the English Channel ( Channel Dash ) on their way to Norway despite British efforts to stop them. Not since the Spanish Armada in 1588 had any warships in wartime done this. It was a tactical victory for the _Kriegsmarine_ and a blow to British morale, but the German fleet lost the possibility to attack allied convoys with heavy surface ships in the Atlantic (which was its wish) because of Hitler's decision.
With the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941 Britain started to send Arctic convoys with military goods around Norway to support their new ally. In 1942 German forces began heavily attacking these convoys, mostly with bombers and U-boats. The big ships of the _Kriegsmarine_ in Norway were seldom involved in these attacks, because of the inferiority of German radar technology, and because Hitler and the leadership of the _Kriegsmarine_ feared losses of these precious ships. The most effective of these attacks was the near destruction of Convoy PQ 17 in July 1942. Later in the war German attacks on these convoys were mostly reduced to U-boat activities and the mass of the allied freighters reached their destination in Soviet ports.
The Battle of the Barents Sea in December 1942 was an attempt by a German naval force to attack an Allied Arctic convoy . However, the advantage was not pressed home and they returned to base. There were serious implications: this failure infuriated Hitler, who nearly enforced a decision to scrap the surface fleet. Instead, resources were diverted to new U-boats, and the surface fleet became a lesser threat to the Allies. _ Battleship Tirpitz_ in Norway, 1944
After December 1943 when _Scharnhorst_ had been sunk in an attack on an Arctic convoy in the Battle of North Cape by HMS _Duke of York_ , most German surface ships in bases at the Atlantic were blockaded in, or close to, their ports as a _fleet in being _, for fear of losing them in action and to tie up British naval forces. The largest of these ships, the battleship _Tirpitz_ , was stationed in Norway as a threat to Allied shipping and also as a defence against a potential Allied invasion. When she was sunk, after several attempts, by British bombers in November 1944 (Operation _Catechism_ ), several British capital ships could be moved to the Far East.
From late 1944 until the end of the war, the surviving surface fleet of the _Kriegsmarine_ (heavy cruisers: _ Admiral Scheer_ , _Lützow_ , _ Admiral Hipper_ , _Prinz Eugen_ , light cruisers: _Nürnberg_ , _Köln_ , _Emden_ ) was heavily engaged in providing artillery support to the retreating German land forces along the Baltic coast and in ferrying civilian refugees to the western Baltic Sea parts of Germany ( Mecklenburg , Schleswig-Holstein ) in large rescue operations. Large parts of the population of eastern Germany fled the approaching Red Army out of fear for Soviet retaliation (mass rapes, killings and looting by Soviet troops did occur). The _Kriegsmarine_ evacuated two million civilians and troops in the evacuation of East Prussia and Danzig from January to May 1945. It was during this activity that the catastrophic sinking of several large passenger ships occurred: _Wilhelm Gustloff_ and _Goya_ were sunk by Soviet submarines, while _Cap Arcona_ was sunk by British bombers, each sinking claiming thousands of civilian lives. The _Kriegsmarine_ also provided important assistance in the evacuation of the fleeing German civilians of Pomerania and Stettin in March and April 1945.
A desperate measure of the _Kriegsmarine_ to fight the superior strength of the Western Allies from 1944 was the formation of the _Kleinkampfverbände _ (Small Battle Units). These were special naval units with frogmen , manned torpedoes, motorboats laden with explosives and so on. The more effective of these weapons and units were the development and deployment of midget submarines like the _ Molch _ and _ Seehund _. In the last stage of the war, the _Kriegsmarine_ also organized a number of divisions of infantry from its personnel.
Between 1943 and 1945, a group of U-boats known as the _Monsun_ Boats (_Monsun Gruppe_) operated in the Indian Ocean from Japanese bases in the occupied Dutch East Indies and Malaya . Allied convoys had not yet been organized in those waters, so initially many ships were sunk. However, this situation was soon remedied. During the later war years, the "Monsun Boats" were also used as a means of exchanging vital war supplies with Japan.
During 1943 and 1944, due to Allied anti-submarine tactics and better equipment the U-boat fleet started to suffer heavy losses. The turning point of the Battle of the Atlantic was during Black May in 1943, when the U-boat fleet started suffering heavy losses and the number of Allied ships sunk started to decrease. Radar , longer range air cover, Sonar , improved tactics and new weapons all contributed. German technical developments, such as the _Schnorchel_ , attempted to counter these. Near the end of the war a small number of the new _ Elektroboot _ U-boats (XXI and XXIII ) became operational, the first submarines designed to operate submerged at all times. The _Elektroboote_ had the potential to negate the Allied technological and tactical advantage, although they were deployed too late to see combat in the war.
Anti-Jewish measures ordered by the German naval commander in Liepāja, 5 July 1941
After the German conquest on 29 June 1941, the naval base at Liepāja, Latvia came under the command of the _Kriegsmarine_. On 1 July 1941, town commandant _ Korvettenkapitän _ Stein ordered that ten hostages be shot for every act of sabotage, and further put civilians in the zone of targeting by declaring that Red Army soldiers were hiding among them in civilian attire.
On 5 July 1941 _Korvettenkapitän_ Brückner, who had taken over for Stein, issued a set of anti-Jewish regulations in the local newspaper, _ Kurzemes Vārds _. Summarized these were as follows:
* All Jews must wear the yellow star on the front and back of their clothing; * Shopping hours for Jews were restricted to 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Jews were only allowed out of their residences for these hours and from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.; * Jews were barred from public events and transportation and were not to walk on the beach; * Jews were required to leave the pavement if they encountered a German in uniform; * Jewish shops were required to display the sign "A Jewish-owned business" in the window; * Jews were to surrender all radios, typewriters, uniforms, arms and means of transportation
On 16 July 1941, _ Fregattenkapitän _ Dr. Hans Kawelmacher was appointed the German naval commandant in Liepāja. On 22 July, Kawelmacher sent a telegram to the German Navy's Baltic Command in Kiel , which stated that he wanted 100 SS and fifty _Schutzpolizei _ ("protective police") men sent to Liepāja for "quick implementation Jewish problem". Kawelmacher hoped to accelerate killings complaining: "Here about 8,000 Jews... with present SS-personnel, this would take one year, which is untenable for pacification of Liepāja." Kawelmacher on 27 July 1941: "Jewish problem Libau largely solved by execution of about 1,100 male Jews by Riga SS commando on 24 and 25.7."
In 1945 U-boat Commander Heinz-Wilhelm Eck of _U-852_ was executed with two of his crewmen for shooting at survivors; likewise _U-247_ was also involved in shooting at sunken ship survivors-although they were not tried as they were lost at sea.
After the war, the German surface ships that remained afloat (only the cruisers _Prinz Eugen_ and _Nürnberg_ , and a dozen destroyers were operational) were divided among the victors. The officer in charge of the _Kriegsmarine_ division and appropriation, was Lt. Gerald Ivers of the US Navy, who used mathematical analysis to assign the remaining ships to their respective nations. The US used the heavy cruiser _Prinz Eugen_ in nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll in 1946 as target ship. Some (like the unfinished aircraft carrier _Graf Zeppelin_ ) were used for target practice with conventional weapons, while others (mostly destroyers and torpedo boats) were put into the service of Allied navies that lacked surface ships after the war. The training barque SSS _Horst Wessel_ was recommissioned USCGC _Eagle_ and remains in active service, assigned to the United States Coast Guard Academy . The British, French and Soviet navies received the destroyers, and some torpedo boats went to the Danish and Norwegian navies. For the purpose of mine clearing, the Royal Navy employed German crews and minesweepers from June 1945 to January 1948, organized in the German Mine Sweeping Administration , the GMSA, which consisted of 27,000 members of the former _Kriegsmarine_ and 300 vessels.
The destroyers and the Soviet share light cruiser _Nürnberg_ were all retired by the end of the 1950s, but five escort destroyers were returned from the French to the new West German navy in the 1950s and three 1945 scuttled type XXI and XXIII U-boats were raised by West Germany and integrated into their new navy. In 1956, with West Germany's accession to NATO , a new navy was established and was referred to as the _ Bundesmarine _ (Federal Navy). Some _Kriegsmarine_ commanders like Erich Topp and Otto Kretschmer went on to serve in the _Bundesmarine_. In East Germany the _ Volksmarine _ (People's Navy) was established in 1956. With the reunification of Germany in 1990, it was decided to simply use the name _Deutsche Marine_ (German Navy ).
MAJOR WARTIME OPERATIONS
* _Wikinger_ ("Viking") (1940) – foray by destroyers into the North Sea * _Weserübung_ ("Exercise Weser ") (1940) – invasion of Denmark and Norway * _Juno_ (1940) – operation to disrupt Allied supplies to Norway * _Nordseetour_ (1940) – first Atlantic operation of _Admiral Hipper_ * _Berlin_ (1941) – Atlantic cruise of _Scharnhorst_ and _Gneisenau_ * _ Rheinübung _ ("Exercise Rhine ") (1941) – breakout by _Bismarck_ and _Prinz Eugen_ * _Doppelschlag_ ("Double blow") (1942) – anti-shipping operation off Novaya Zemlya by _ Admiral Scheer_ and _ Admiral Hipper_ * _Sportpalast_ (1942) – aborted operation (including _Tirpitz_) to attack Arctic convoys * _Rösselsprung_ ("Knights Move") (1942) – operation (including _Tirpitz_) to attack Arctic convoy PQ 17 * _Wunderland_ (1942) – anti-shipping operation in Kara Sea by _ Admiral Scheer_ * _Paukenschlag_ ("Drumbeat" ("Beat of the Kettle Drum"); "Second Happy Time") (1942) – U-boat campaign off the United States east coast * _Neuland_ ("New Land") (1942) – U-boat campaign in the Caribbean Sea; launched in conjunction with Operation Drumbeat * _Regenbogen_ ("Rainbow") (1942) – failed attack on Arctic convoy JW-51B, by _ Admiral Hipper_ and _Lützow_ * _Cerberus_ (1942) – movement of capital ships from Brest to home ports in Germany ( Channel Dash ) * _Ostfront_ ("East front") (1943) – final operation of _Scharnhorst_, to intercept convoy JW 55B * _Domino_ (1943) – second aborted Arctic sortie by _Scharnhorst_, _Prinz Eugen_ and destroyers * _Zitronella_ ("Lemon extract") (1943) – raid upon Allied-occupied Spitzbergen (Svalbard) * _Hannibal_ (1945) – evacuation proceedings from Courland , Danzig-West Prussia and East Prussia * _Deadlight_ (1945) – the British Royal Navy 's postwar scuttling of _Kriegsmarine_ U-boats
See also: List of Kriegsmarine ships R boats operating near the coast of occupied France, 1941
By the start of World War II, much of the _Kriegsmarine_ were modern ships: fast, well-armed and well-armoured. This had been achieved by concealment but also by deliberately flouting World War I peace terms and those of various naval treaties. However, the war started with the German Navy still at a distinct disadvantage in terms of sheer size with what were expected to be its primary adversaries – the navies of France and Great Britain. Although a major re-armament of the navy ( Plan Z ) was planned, and initially begun, the start of the war in 1939 meant that the vast amounts of material required for the project were diverted to other areas. The sheer disparity in size when compared to the other European powers navies prompted German naval commander in chief Grand Admiral Erich Raeder to write of his own navy once the war began "The surface forces can do no more than show that they know how to die gallantly." A number of captured ships from occupied countries were added to the German fleet as the war progressed. Though six major units of the _Kriegsmarine_ were sunk during the war (both _Bismarck_-class battleships and both _Scharnhorst_-class battleships, as well as two heavy cruisers), there were still many ships afloat (including four heavy cruisers and four light cruisers) as late as March 1945.
Some ship types do not fit clearly into the commonly used ship classifications. Where there is argument, this has been noted.
Construction of the _Graf Zeppelin_ was started in 1936 and construction of an unnamed sister ship was started two years later in 1938, but neither ship was completed. In 1942 conversion of three German passenger ships (_Europa_ , _Potsdam_, _Gneisenau_ ) and two unfinished cruisers—the captured French light cruiser _De Grasse_ and the German heavy cruiser _Seydlitz_ — to auxiliary carriers was begun. In November 1942 the conversion of the passenger ships was stopped because these ships were now seen as too slow for operations with the fleet. But conversion of one of these ships, the _Potsdam_, to a training carrier was begun instead. In February 1943 all the work on carriers was halted because of the German failure during the Battle of the Barents Sea which convinced Hitler that big warships were useless.
All engineering of the aircraft carriers like catapults, arresting gears and so on were tested and developed at the _Erprobungsstelle See_ Travemünde (Experimental Place Sea in Travemünde) including the airplanes for the aircraft carriers, the Fieseler Fi 167 ship-borne biplane torpedo and reconnaissance bomber and the navalized versions of two key early war _Luftwaffe_ aircraft: the Messerschmitt Bf 109 T fighter and Junkers Ju 87 C _Stuka_ dive bomber.
The _Kriegsmarine_ completed four battleships during its existence. The first pair were the 11-inch gun _Scharnhorst_ class , consisting of the _Scharnhorst_ and _Gneisenau_ , which participated in the invasion of Norway ( Operation Weserübung ) in 1940, and then in commerce raiding until the _Gneisenau_ was heavily damaged by a British air raid in 1942 and the _Scharnhorst_ was sunk in the Battle of the North Cape in late 1943. The second pair were the 15-inch gun _Bismarck_ class , consisting of the _Bismarck_ and _Tirpitz_ . The _Bismarck_ was sunk on her first sortie into the Atlantic in 1941 (Operation _Rheinübung_ ) although she did sink the battlecruiser _Hood_ and severely damage the battleship _Prince of Wales_, while the _Tirpitz_ was based in Norwegian ports during most of the war as a fleet in being , tying up Allied naval forces, and subject to a number of attacks by British aircraft and submarines. More battleships were planned (the H-class ), but construction was abandoned in September 1939.
Pocket Battleships (_Panzerschiffe_)
The "Pocket battleships " were the _Deutschland_ (renamed _Lützow_), _ Admiral Scheer_ , and _ Admiral Graf Spee_ . Modern commentators favour classifying these as "heavy cruisers" and the _Kriegsmarine_ itself reclassified these ships as such (_Schwere Kreuzer_) in 1940. In German language usage these three ships were designed and built as "armoured ships" (Panzerschiffe) – "pocket battleship" is an English label.
The _Graf Spee_ was scuttled by her own crew in the Battle of the River Plate , in the Rio de la Plata estuary in December 1939. _ Admiral Scheer_ was bombed on 9 April 1945 in port at Kiel and badly damaged, essentially beyond repair, and rolled over at her moorings. After the war that part of the harbor was filled in with rubble and the hulk buried. _Lützow_ (ex-_Deutschland_) was bombed 16 April 1945 in the Baltic off Schwinemünde just west of Stettin, and settled on the shallow bottom. With the Soviet Army advancing across the Oder, the ship was destroyed in place to prevent the Soviets capturing anything useful. The wreck was dismantled and scrapped in 1948–1949.
The World War I era Pre-dreadnought battleships _Schlesien_ and _Schleswig-Holstein_ were used mainly as training ships, although they also participated in several military operations, with the latter bearing the distinction of firing the opening shots of WWII. _Zähringen_ and _Hessen_ were converted into radio-guided target ships in 1928 and 1930 respectively. _Hannover_ was decommissioned in 1931 and struck from the naval register in 1936. Plans to convert her into a radio-controlled target ship for aircraft was canceled because of the outbreak of war in 1939.
Three O-class battlecruisers were ordered in 1939, but with the start of the war the same year there were not enough resources to build the ships.
_ Admiral Hipper_ , _Blücher_ , and _Prinz Eugen_
Never completed: _Seydlitz_ , _Lützow_
The term "light cruiser " is a shortening of the phrase "light armoured cruiser ." Light cruisers were defined under the Washington Naval Treaty by gun caliber. Light cruiser describes a small ship that was armoured in the same way as an armoured cruiser. In other words, like standard cruisers, light cruisers possessed a protective belt and a protective deck. Prior to this, smaller cruisers tended to be of the protected cruiser model and possessed only an armoured deck. The Kriegsmarine light cruisers were as follows:
* _Emden_ * _Königsberg_ * _Karlsruhe_ * _Köln_ * _Leipzig_ * _Nürnberg_
Never completed: three M-class cruisers
Never Completed: KH-1 and KH-2 (Kreuzer (cruiser) Holland 1 and 2). Captured in the Netherlands 1940. Both being on the stocks and building continued for the _Kriegsmarine_.
In addition, the former _Kaiserliche Marine_ light cruiser _Niobe_ was captured by Germans on 11 September 1943 after the capitulation of Italy. She was pressed into _Kriegsmarine_ service for a brief time before being destroyed by British MTBs.
During the war, some merchant ships were converted into "auxiliary cruisers " and nine were used as commerce raiders sailing under false flags to avoid detection, and operated in all oceans with considerable effect. The German designation for the ships was 'Handelstörkreuzer' thus the HSK serial assigned. Each had as well an administrative label more commonly used, e.g. Schiff 16 = Atlantis, Schiff 41 = Kormoran, etc. The auxiliary cruisers were:
* _Orion_ (HSK-1, Schiff 36) * _Atlantis_ (HSK-2, Schiff 16) * _Widder_ (HSK-3, Schiff 21) * _Thor_ (HSK-4, Schiff 10) * _Pinguin_ (HSK-5, Schiff 33) * _Stier_ (HSK-6, Schiff 23) * _Komet_ (HSK-7, Schiff 45) * _Kormoran_ (HSK-8, Schiff 41) * _Michel_ (HSK-9, Schiff 28) * _Coronel_ (HSK number not assigned, Schiff 14, never active in raider operations.) * _Hansa_ (HSK not assigned, Schiff 5, never active in raider operations, used as a training ship)
_ Destroyer Z1 Leberecht Maass_ . Main article: German World War II destroyers
Although the German World War II destroyer (_Zerstörer_) fleet was modern and the ships were larger than conventional destroyers of other navies, they had problems. Early classes were unstable, wet in heavy weather, suffered from engine problems and had short range. Some problems were solved with the evolution of later designs, but further developments were curtailed by the war and, ultimately, by Germany's defeat. In the first year of World War II, they were used mainly to sow offensive minefields in shipping lanes close to the British coast.
_ Raubtier_ -class torpedo boats Main article: German torpedoboats of World War II
These vessels evolved through the 1930s from small vessels, relying almost entirely on torpedoes, to what were effectively small destroyers with mines, torpedoes and guns. Two classes of fleet torpedo boats were planned, but not built, in the 1940s.
Main article: E-boat
The E-boats were fast attack craft with torpedo tubes . Over 200 boats of this type were built for the _Kriegsmarine_.
_Cap Arcona_ , _Goya_ , _General von Steuben_ , _Monte Rosa_ , _Wilhelm Gustloff_ .
Thousands of smaller warships and auxiliaries served in the Kriegsmarine, including minelayers , minesweepers , mine transports, netlayers, floating AA and torpedo batteries, command ships, decoy ships (small merchantmen with hidden weaponry), gunboats , monitors, escorts, patrol boats, sub-chasers, landing craft, landing support ships, training ships, test ships, torpedo recovery boats, dispatch boats, aviso, fishery protection ships, survey ships, harbor defense boats, target ships and their radio control vessels, motor explosive boats, weather ships, tankers, colliers, tenders, supply ships, tugs, barges, icebreakers, hospital and accommodation ships, floating cranes and docks, and many others. The Kriegsmarine employed hundreds of auxiliary _Vorpostenboote _ during the war, mostly civilian ships that were drafted and fitted with military equipment, for use in coastal operations.
At the outbreak of war, the _Kriegsmarine_ had a relatively small fleet of 57 submarines ( U-boats ). This was increased steadily until mid-1943, when losses from Allied counter-measures matched the new vessels launched.
The principal types were the Type IX , a long range type used in the western and southern Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans; and the Type VII , the most numerous type, used principally in the north Atlantic. Type X was a small class of minelayers and Type XIV was a specialized type used to support distant U-boat operations – the "_Milchkuh_" (Milkcow).
Types XXI and XXIII , the "_ Elektroboot _", would have negated much of the Allied anti-submarine tactics and technology, but only a few of this new type of U-boat became ready for combat at the end of the war. Post-war, they became the prototypes for modern submarines, in particular, the Soviet Whiskey class .
During World War II, about 60% of all U-boats commissioned were lost in action; 28,000 of the 40,000 U-boat crewmen were killed during the war and 8,000 were captured. The remaining U-boats were either surrendered to the Allies or scuttled by their own crews at the end of the war.
225,712 tons (43 ships) Wolfgang Lüth
193,684 tons (34 ships) Erich Topp
186,064 tons (29 ships) Karl-Friedrich Merten
171,164 tons (34 ships) Victor Schütze
171,122 tons (26 ships) Herbert Schultze
167,601 tons (28 ships) Georg Lassen
166,596 tons (22 ships) Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock
162,333 tons (30 ships) Heinrich Liebe
The military campaigns in Europe yielded a large number of captured vessels, many of which were under construction. Nations represented included Austria (riverine craft), Czechoslovakia (riverine craft), Poland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Yugoslavia, Greece, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, United States (several landing craft) and Italy (after the armistice). Few of the incomplete ships of destroyer size or above were completed, but many smaller warships and auxiliaries were completed and commissioned into Kriegsmarine during the war. Additionally many captured or confisticated foreign civilian ships (merchantmen, fishing boats, tugboats etc.) were converted into auxiliary warships or support ships.
MAJOR ENEMY WARSHIPS SUNK OR DESTROYED
The first warship sunk in World War II was the destroyer ORP _Wicher_ of the Polish Navy by Junkers Ju 87 dive bombers of the carrier air group of aircraft carrier _Graf Zeppelin_ on 3 September 1939. This carrier air group (Trägergeschwader 186) was part of the Luftwaffe but at that time under command of the Kriegsmarine.
SHIP TYPE DATE ACTION
HMS _Courageous_ (Royal Navy ) Fleet aircraft carrier 17 September 1939 Torpedoed by submarine _U-29_
HMS _Royal Oak_ (Royal Navy ) Battleship 14 October 1939 Torpedoed at anchor by submarine _U-47_
_Jaguar_ (French Navy ) Large destroyer 23 May 1940 Torpedoed by torpedo boats (E-boats) _S21_ and _S23_
HMS _Glorious_ (Royal Navy ) Fleet aircraft carrier 8 June 1940 Sunk by battleships _Gneisenau_ and _Scharnhorst_
HMS _Hood_ (Royal Navy ) Battlecruiser 24 May 1941 Sunk by the battleship _Bismarck_
HMS _Ark Royal_ (Royal Navy ) Fleet aircraft carrier 14 November 1941 Torpedoed by submarine _U-81_ on 13 November, sank while under tow to Gibraltar
HMAS _Sydney_ (Royal Australian Navy ) Light cruiser 19 November 1941 Sunk by _Kormoran_ . The _Kormoran_ was also sunk in the battle .
HMS _Dunedin_ (Royal Navy ) Light cruiser 24 November 1941 Torpedoed by submarine _U-124_
HMS _Barham_ (Royal Navy ) Battleship 25 November 1941 Torpedoed by submarine _U-331_ . While the attack on the ship was recorded, the Kriegsmarine were unaware that it had been sunk until 27 January 1942 when the British Admiralty admitted Barham's loss.
HMS _Galatea_ (Royal Navy ) Light Cruiser 14 December 1941 Torpedoed by submarine _U-557_
HMS _Audacity_ (Royal Navy ) Escort Carrier 21 December 1941 Torpedoed by submarine _U-751_
HMS _Naiad_ (Royal Navy ) Light Cruiser 11 March 1942 Torpedoed by submarine _U-565_
HMS _Edinburgh_ (Royal Navy ) Light Cruiser 2 May 1942 Torpedoed by _U-456_ and destroyers _Z7 Hermann Schoemann_ , _Z24_ and _Z25_ , abandoned and scuttled
HMS _Hermione_ (Royal Navy ) Light Cruiser 16 June 1942 Torpedoed by submarine _U-205_
HMS _Eagle_ (Royal Navy ) Aircraft Carrier 11 August 1942 Torpedoed by submarine _U-73_
HMS _Avenger_ (Royal Navy ) Escort Carrier 15 November 1942 Torpedoed by submarine _U-155_
HMS _Welshman_ (Royal Navy ) Minelaying cruiser 1 February 1943 Torpedoed by _U-617_
HMS _Abdiel_ (Royal Navy ) Minelaying cruiser 10 September 1943 Sunk by mines in Taranto harbor while operating as a transport. The mines laid by torpedo boats (E-boats) _S54_ and _S61_
HMS _Charybdis_ (Royal Navy ) Light cruiser 23 October 1943 Torpedoed by torpedo boats _T23_ and _T27_
HMS _Penelope_ (Royal Navy ) Light cruiser 18 February 1944 Torpedoed by submarine _U-410_
USS _Block Island_ (U.S. Navy ) Escort Carrier 29 May 1944 Torpedoed by submarine _U-549_
HMS _Scylla_ (Royal Navy ) Light cruiser 23 June 1944 Mine hit, declared a constructive total loss
HMS _Nabob_ (Royal Navy ) Escort carrier 22 August 1944 Torpedoed by _U-354_ , judged not worth repairing, beached and abandoned
HMS _Thane_ (Royal Navy ) Escort carrier 15 January 1945 Torpedoed by _U-1172_ , declared a constructive total loss
AIR AND LAND UNITS
The Luftwaffe had a near-complete monopoly on all German military aviation, including naval aviation, a major source of ongoing interservice rivalry with the _Kriegsmarine_. Catapult-launched spotter planes like Arado Ar 196 twin-float seaplanes were manned by the so-called _Bordfliegergruppen_ ("shipboard flying group"). In addition, _Trägergeschwader 186_ (Carrier Air Wing 186) operated two _Gruppen_ (_Trägergruppe I/186_ and _Trägergruppe II/186_) equipped with navalized Messerschmitt Bf 109 T and Junkers Ju 87C Stuka ; these units were intended to serve aboard the aircraft carrier _Graf Zeppelin_ which was never completed, yet provided the Kriegsmarine with some air-power from bases on land. Furthermore, five coastal groups (_Küstenfliegergruppen_) with reconnaissance aircraft , torpedo bombers , _Minensuch_ aerial minesweepers and air-sea rescue seaplanes supported the _Kriegsmarine_, although with lesser resources as the war progressed.
COASTAL ARTILLERY, FLAK AND RADAR UNITS
The coastal batteries of the _Kriegsmarine_ were stationed on the German coasts. With the conquering and occupation of other countries coastal artillery was stationed along the coasts of these countries, especially in France and Norway as part of the Atlantic Wall . Naval bases were protected by Flak-batteries of the _Kriegsmarine_ against enemy air raids. The _Kriegsmarine_ also manned the Seetakt sea radars on the coasts.
At the beginning of World War II, on 1 September 1939, the _Marine Stoßtrupp Kompanie_ (Marine Attack Troop Company) landed in Danzig from the old battleship _Schleswig-Holstein_ for conquering a Polish bastion. A reinforced platoon of the _Marine Stoßtrupp Kompanie_ landed with soldiers of the German Army from destroyers on 9 April 1940 in Narvik . In June 1940 the _Marine Stoßtrupp Abteilung_ (Marine Attack Troop Battalion) was flown in from France to the Channel Islands to occupy this British territory.
With the Invasion of Normandy in June 1944 and the Soviet advance from the summer of 1944 the Kriegsmarine started to form regiments and divisions for the battles on land with superfluous personnel. With the loss of naval bases because of the Allied advance more and more navy personnel were available for the ground troops of the _Kriegsmarine_. About 40 regiments were raised and from January 1945 on six divisions. Half of the regiments were absorbed by the divisions.
Personnel strength of the Kriegsmarine 1943 CATEGORY STRENGTH
Commissioned officers 22,000
Officials (_Wehrmachtbeamte_) 14,000
Petty officers and seamen 613,000
COMPARATIVE RANKS (DURING WORLD WAR II)
_KRIEGSMARINE_ US NAVY/ROYAL NAVY
Kommodore (Commodore) Commodore / Commodore, Second Class
Officer Candidate Ranks
Officer candidates (with PO-ranks) where as follows:
_KRIEGSMARINE_ US NAVY/ROYAL NAVY
Seamen And Petty Officers
* _Matrose_ ( Apprentice seaman ) * _Matrosengefreiter_ ( Seaman ) 2nd Class * _Matrosenobergefreiter_ ( Seaman ) 1st Class * _Matrosenhauptgefreiter_ ( Seaman 1st Class with 4 ½ years time-in-service) * _Matrosenstabsgefreiter_ ( Seaman 1st Class with 6 years time-in-service) * _Matrosenoberstabsgefreiter_ ( Seaman 1st Class with 8 years time-in-service) * _Bootsmannsmaat_ ( Petty Officer 3rd Class) * _Oberbootsmannsmaat_ ( Petty Officer 2nd Class) * _Bootsmann/Feldwebel_ ( Petty Officer 1st Class) * _Stabsbootsmann/Stabsfeldwebel_ ( Petty Officer 1st Class with 12 years time-in-service) * _Oberbootsmann/Oberfeldwebel_ (Chief Petty Officer ) * _Stabsoberbootsmann/Stabsoberfeldwebel_ (Chief Petty Officer with 10 years time-in-service including 3 years time-in-grade)
Many different types of uniforms were worn by the Kriegsmarine; here is a list of the main ones:
* _Dienstanzug_ "Service Suit" * _kleiner Dienstanzug_ lesser service uniform * _Ausgehanzug_ "Suit for Walking Out" * _Sportanzug_ sportswear * _Tropen-und Sommeranzug_ "Tropical and Summer Suit" - uniforms for hot climates * _große Uniform_ Parade uniform * _kleiner Gesellschaftsanzug_ "Small Party Suit" * _großer Gesellschaftsanzug_ full dress uniform
* Glossary of German military terms * Alwin-Broder Albrecht * Karl Dönitz * Erich Raeder * Horst Wessel * List of Kriegsmarine ships * List of Knight\'s Cross of the Iron Cross recipients of the Kriegsmarine * List of ships of the German navies * List of World War II torpedoes of Germany
* ^ http://ww2-weapons.com/wehrmacht/ * ^ http://net.lib.byu.edu/~rdh7/wwi/versa/versa4.html Act 159+, Act 181 * ^ Pipes, Jason (1996–2006). "Organization of the Kriegsmarine". _Feldgrau.com_. Retrieved 2007-08-31. * ^ Lienau, Peter (22 October 1999). "The Working Environment for German Warship design in WWI and WWII". Naval Weapons of the World. Retrieved 23 December 2012. * ^ Wolves Without Teeth: The German Torpedo Crisis in World War Two p. 24 * ^ Thomas, Hugh. _The Spanish Civil War._ Penguin Books. London. 2006. p.665 * ^ Siegfried Breyer: _Der Z-PLAN._ Podzun-Pallas-Verlag. Wölfersheim-Berstadt 1996. ISBN 3-7909-0535-6 * ^ _A_ _B_ Feldgrau :: Organization of the Kriegsmarine in the West 1940–1945 * ^ Uboat.net, U-boats in the Mediterranean – Overview * ^ Sieche, Erwin (4 May 2007). "German Naval Radar to 1945". Naval Weapons of the World. Retrieved 23 December 2012. * ^ Uboat.net, U-boat Operations – The Monsun U-boats * ^ Submarines: an illustrated history of their impact Paul E. Fontenoy p.39 * ^ _A_ _B_ (in Latvian) _Kurzemes Vārds_, 5 July 1941, page 1, at website of National Library of Latvia. * ^ Ezergailis, _The Holocaust in Latvia_, at page 209 * ^ Ezergailis, _The Holocaust in Latvia_, at page 233, n.26 and page 287 * ^ Dribins, Leo, Gūtmanis, Armands, and Vestermanis, Marģers, Latvia's Jewish Community: History, Tragedy, Revival (2001) at page 224 * ^ _A_ _B_ Anders and Dubrovskis, _Who Died in the Holocaust_, at pages 126 and 127 * ^ * ^ German Mine Sweeping Administration (GMSA) Archived 20 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine . (in German), accessed: 9 June 2008 * ^ Google book review: _German Seaman 1939–45_ Page: 41, author: Gordon Williamson, John White, publisher: Osprey Publishing, accessed: 9 July 2008 * ^ * ^ Deutschland History * ^ E. Gröner, Die Schiffe der deutschen Kriegsmarine. 2nd Edition, Lehmanns, München, 1976. C. Bekker, Verdammte See, Ein Kriegstagebuch der deutschen Marine. Köln, Neumann / Göbel, no date.1976, * ^ E. Gröner, Die Schiffe der deutschen Kriegsmarine. 2nd Edition. 1976, München, Lehmanns Verlag. * ^ Ireland, Bernard (2003). _Battle of the Atlantic_. Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword Books. p. 32. ISBN 1-84415-001-1 . * ^ Ireland, Bernard (2003). _Battle of the Atlantic_. Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword Books. p. 225. ISBN 1-84415-001-1 . * ^ Battleships sunk by the Kriegsmarine * ^ Carriers sunk by the Kriegsmarine * ^ Bordfliegergruppe 196 * ^ Trägergruppe 186 * ^ Luftwaffe naval-air units * ^ _A_ _B_ J. P. Mallmann-Showell: _Das Buch der deutschen Kriegsmarine 1935–1945_. Publisher Motorbuch. Stuttgart 1995 ISBN 3-87943-880-3 p. 75-91 * ^ Jörg Benz: _Deutsche Marineinfanterie 1938–1945_. Publisher Husum Druck. Husum 1996. ISBN 3880427992 * ^ Gesamtstärke der Kriegsmarine am 1. Mai 1943 2012-09-27.
* "German U-Boats and Battle of the Atlantic". uboataces.com. Retrieved 2007-01-20. * " Kriegsmarine History". german-navy.de. Retrieved