(Navy Records Society Publications) Matthew S. Seligmann (ed.), Frank Nägler (ed.), Michael Epkenhans (ed.)-The Naval Route t..

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The Anglo-German Naval Race 1895–1914
was established
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The naval route to the abyss : the Anglo-German naval race 1895–1914 / edited by
Matthew S. Seligmann, Frank Nägler and Michael Epkenhans.

ver : alk. paper) – ISBN 978–1–4724–4094–5
, Naval – 20th century. 2. Germany – History, Naval – 20th
century. 3. Naval strategy – History – 20th century. 4. Great Britain. Royal Navy –
History – 20th century. 5. Germany. Kriegsmarine – History – 20th century. 6. Military
planning – Great Britain – History – 20th century. 7. Military planning – Germany –
History – 20th century.
w S., 1967– II. Nägler, Frank, 1953– III. Epkenhans, Michael. IV.
Title: Anglo-German naval race 1895–1914.
A89.N35 2014

ISBN 9781472440938 (hbk)
F.B.A., F.S.A., F.R.Hist.S.
Professor P.
Litt.D., F.S.A., F.R.Hist.S.
, M.A., D.Phil., F.R.Hist.S.
Rear Admiral J.
, R.A.N., A.O.,
, M.A., D.Phil., P.G.C.A.P.,
, M.A., Ph.D., F.R.Hist.S.
This volume is dedicated to Roderick Suddaby (1946–2013),
Keeper of the Department of Documents at the Imperial War Museum,
a great help to all historians and a long-time friend of the Navy Records
Tirpitz’s Ascendency: The Design and Initial Execution
of a Naval Challenge 1895–1904/5
Recognising the German Challenge: The Royal Navy
Obstacles, Success, and Risks: The German Navy,
This page has been left blank intentionally
The editors would like to thank all the various librarians and archivists who
have assisted them in the compilation of this volume. As for the German
Zentrum für
Militärgeschichte und Sozialwissenschaften der Bundeswehr
Centre of Military History and Social Sciences). Drawing on the services
of the
(Federal Office of Languages), it provided for
the translation of the documents while its media design branch facilitated
their transcription. It also contributed a grant for the production of the
accompanying ‘cd’. Documents held by the Bundesarchiv are reproduced
by its kind permission. Crown Copyright material in the National Archives
and elsewhere is reproduced under the Open Government Licence.
This page has been left blank intentionally
The German documents in this publication are – with very few exceptions
– presented in their original form, omitting later corrections and marginal
notes. In many instances the English translation is only for an extract
whereas the German text – again with very few exceptions – is reproduced
at full length. Emphasis within the text is printed in italics. Smaller type
sizes have been used in order to adapt the information provided to tabular
size or to follow the pattern of the original or to indicate headings that are
positioned in the margin in the original.
Titles and Ranks Cited in German as well as in English
Titles of government office holders:
Kontreadmiral (Konteradmiral)
Engineering Department [Technisches Departement], from 1905
onwards designated as Yard Department [Werft-Departement],
Administrations Department [Verwaltungs-Departement],
K   Drawing Division [Konstruktionsabteilung], from 1905 onwards
Drawing Department [Konstruktions-Departement],
News Bureau [Nachrichtenbüro],
Weapons Division [Waffenabteilung], from 1906 onwards
Weapons Department [Waffen-Departement].
The biographical information concerning German naval officers usually
draws on Hans H. Hildebrand and Ernest Henriot (eds),
Admirale 1849–1945
, 3 vols (Osnabrück, 1988–90).
This page has been left blank intentionally
Rationale for the Volume
The Anglo-German naval race, as its name implies, had two participants,
both of whom were equally important to the events that unfolded. Despite
this, many of the accounts of this, probably the most totemic of all modern
understandable and justifiable. Nevertheless, this is an approach that this
volume intends to abjure. The naval race that will be illuminated through
documentary evidence here will be both a British one and a German one.
Placed side by side with each other in chronologically organised chapters
will be a selection of primary sources from both participants that allow a
In the pre-First World War era the Admiralty was divided for adminis
trative purposes into different divisions, departments and branches, each
of which was responsible for the management of its own records in its
own registries. Many of these branches (which, rather unhelpfully,
changed their names from time to time in the various reorganisations so
beloved of ministers and civil servants) dealt with matters that did not
directly bear upon the naval race. Not much of the business of the
Victualling Branch or the Medical Director General’s Department, for
the original files, numerous documents of considerable importance were
destroyed by this weeding process. The Record Office digest, in which
gaps within the main primary source base. Numerous politicians and naval
war-time accident was a major factor in bequeathing to us the records we
have today.
The Imperial Navy certainly lost the arms race (and the subsequent war,
defeat in which eventually initiated the overthrow of the existing order),
but it did not lose its files. As early as 1912, facing political bankruptcy
of his plan, Tirpitz had started collecting documents for his own
autobiography. In 1916, the Imperial Navy Office decided to write its
history of the naval war at sea. Following this decision, officers began
collecting all documents relating to the navy’s policy during the war as
well as naval operations. However, the volume dealing with the pre-war
era was never written, for it seemed more urgent to defend the navy’s
actions during the war and thus make clear that it had at least tried to
contribute successfully to Germany’s war effort. Instead, it was Tirpitz
himself who, for many years, influenced the debate on Germany’s naval
policy before 1914. In the autumn of 1919 he published his
both German and English versions. These
, which were presented
to the public in Germany and in Britain on the very same day, not only
contained his ‘story’ of past events, but also included many important
documents on his policy, which had never before been made public. In
, Tirpitz continued publishing more important
documents in 1923/24, first in an article in the
a mixture of autobiographical and documentary work (
Dokumente: Der Aufbau der deutschen Weltmacht
at defending his policy against his own critics within the navy as well as
against members of the Foreign Office. In the early 1920s the latter had
begun to publish a 40-volume compendium of documents on German
foreign policy in the years 1871–1914 entitled
Die Grosse Politik der
most loyal defenders, now even wanted to write the history of the pre-
1914 Imperial German Navy himself. Nothing came of this project as,
instead, Raeder was tried at Nuremberg as a war criminal and spent ten
years in the Allied prison at Spandau. However, for naval historians,
Raeder’s intentions proved a stroke of luck for it meant that the majority
of naval files were transferred from Berlin to Tambach near Coburg to
enable naval historians to write the history of their own service. Safe in
the Bavarian countryside, they escaped the Allied bombing of Potsdam
that destroyed nearly all of the German army’s records. No less
serendipitously, the military personnel guarding these files ignored the
order to burn them should capture prove imminent, using the wood and
German Navy deliberately challenged the Royal Navy. Tirpitz certainly
did not want a war before the navy was ready, which he hoped it would
be in the 1920s. Even then, he would probably have preferred a strategy
of political blackmail which would in the end have forced Britain to make
concessions to grant Germany its ‘place in the sun’. Definite answers
regarding his final aims are, however, impossible. Even one of his close
Before this was done, a large number were microfilmed for the British and American
associates in the build-up of the Imperial German Navy had to admit in
the early 1920s that Tirpitz never disclosed them to him despite their good
The complexities of handling the sources go some way to explaining
the diversity of opinions that exist about the naval history of the period.
In the case both of British and of German naval policy there are complex
historiographies marked by, among other things, extremely divergent
opinions about how best to explain the unfolding pattern of events. These
The first scholarly investigations into British naval policy, while filling
hostile intent. The result was a decade-long Anglo-German ‘Cold War’,
the dominant motif of which was the frenzied construction of ever greater
This analytical framework quickly became a very familiar one. Its
influence was further extended by a considerable body of additional
research undertaken by Marder himself, all of which strongly reinforced
his original ideas.
Other historians then built on the edifice that Marder
had created. Particularly influential was the work of Paul Kennedy, whose
was invented by the Foreign Office to justify appeasing France and Russia,
the two powers that Britain actually had reason to fear. As surrendering
in public to traditional rivals was an unpalatable prospect, but reaching
an accommodation with them to fight a new and dangerous foe was
eminently saleable, the German menace was forged, in both senses of the
word, as the ‘public relations’ cover for this policy.
Revisionist naval historians – the most prominent of whom are Jon
Sumida and Nicholas Lambert – have also attacked the familiar narrative,
offering an alternative explanation that is equally dismissive of the idea
that Germany was a major influence on British policy.
The key to their
cruisers normally assigned to trade protection duties. They were, thus,
tailor made for attacking shipping on the high seas and their existence
made cutting off Britain from global commerce and starving her into
submission a realistic plan for any power possessing sufficient armoured
The belief that Britain could easily be rendered invulnerable to invasion
but was extremely susceptible to economic warfare yielded particular
results when used as a basis for evaluating the country’s naval needs. First,
it suggested that Britain had little reason to fear Germany. The latter’s
navy had very few armoured cruisers; therefore the prospect of being
starved into submission did not apply to war with Germany. As for its
battleships, these would have to traverse the confined waters of the North
Sea to pose any threat to Britain and this could easily be prevented by
However, if Germany appeared unthreatening, France and Russia did
not. Given their many armoured cruisers, easy access to the world’s oceans,
and numerous bases from which to launch raids, both possessed the
capability to harry Britain’s lines of supply. Although they were currently
friends of Britain, they had recently been her enemies and it was not hard
to conceive of them becoming so again. Accordingly, Fisher’s strategic
priority was to prepare for this very dangerous and not implausible
eventuality. And this, it is said, is exactly what Fisher did. He devised a
system for hunting down foreign armoured cruisers based upon a new and
revolutionary type of warship, the
-type large armoured cruiser,
later known as the battle cruiser. Powered by steam turbines – a new
technology that Fisher readily embraced – these vessels could outrun any
existing armoured cruiser. Equipped with the latest wireless telegraphy
installations – another new technology – they could be remotely vectored
revealed some striking conclusions. First of all, while it is certainly true
when it came to the menace to British floating trade posed by French and
Russian armoured cruisers. This, too, they believed could easily be
contained. The reason for this conviction was that an obvious counter
measure existed. An enemy armoured cruiser could always be hunted
down by one or more British ones and, as the Royal Navy consistently
having the strongest possible force in the main theatre. To this end, he
was willing to make concessions in secondary theatres. Hence, he was
quite willing to withdraw armoured warships from the Mediterranean and
to rely instead on destroyers and submarines to protect British interests
there. However, it did not follow from this that he was willing to accept
the same idea in British waters. On the contrary, in this, the primary
theatre in any Anglo-German conflict, Churchill insisted on the strongest
possible force of battleships that he could muster. Nothing could have
been further from his mind than placing any reliance on flotilla craft,
without the support of a greatly superior force of armoured warships, for
Implicit in the analysis above is that battleships continued to be the
foundation of British home defence. This not only undermines the theory
behind flotilla defence, it also has implications for the revisionist position
on battle cruisers. In the revisionist argument, battle cruisers were multi-
purpose vessels needed in the first instance in the trade defence role for
hunting down French and Russian armoured cruisers and ultimately to
But even if there had been such a need, by the time the first battle cruisers
were actually laid down – February, March and April 1906 – there was
no longer a Franco-Russian armoured cruiser threat to counter. Many of
Russia’s principal warships, armoured cruisers included, had been lost in
the Russo-Japanese War and France, hardly a threat on its own in any
case, was leaning closer to Britain diplomatically to the point where it
was in effect, if not in name, an ally. In such circumstances, what could
have been the driver for these vessels? Rather than a Franco-Russian
intimately associated with the need to hunt and destroy German armed
liners. As has already been stated, this was a pressing threat for which, at
least when it was first contemplated, no countermeasures existed. This
concept of flotilla defence as well as on the revisionist perspective on
New research on pre-war British gunnery and fire-control development
further challenges major portions of the revisionist viewpoint. According
to a once influential but now largely superseded analysis by Jon Sumida,
Fisher’s emphasis on the battle cruiser was underpinned by developments
in fire control that mistakenly led him to assume that it would be possible
auswärtige Politik 20 Jahre lang, hält ihre Versprechungen im Kriege nicht
und entfacht nun den Umsturz!’
As it happened, all of these charges from
November 1918, although in this instance confided to a personal diary,
Enzyklopädie Erster Weltkrieg
(Paderborn, München, Wien, Zürich, 2nd imprint 2004), pp. 664–5.
Quoted in Werner Rahn, ‘Kriegführung, Politik und Krisen – Die Marine des Deutschen
Die deutsche Flotte im
Spannungsfeld der Politik 1848–1985: Vorträge und Diskussionen der 25. Historisch-
taktischen Tagung der Flotte 1985
(Herford, 1985), pp. 79–104, at p. 79. The quote translates
as: ‘The [Imperial] Navy! It sprung forth from the hubris of world power, and for 20 years
it has been ruining our foreign relations. It never kept its promises in wartime. Now it sparks
the revolution!’
were replicated in the public discourse which evolved in the aftermath of
the First World War and which remained in vogue even beyond the Reich’s
catastrophic demise in 1945 which enabled a new examination to focus
on the German part of the naval arms race. For this reason, Weizsäcker’s
comments can serve as the springboard for a deeper analysis and merit
exemplified by the manner in which Britain managed to isolate Germany
in the pre-war decade through the establishment of ententes, that the Reich
increasing isolation entirely on the doorsteps of the very unfortunate
Atlantic or to challenge British command of the seas by securing a
favourable base on French or Norwegian soil, the indispensable
prerequisite for acquiring a credible German naval capability versus the
build-up neither induced Britain to side with the Dual Alliance nor was
to blame for her decision to declare war on Germany. Far from it,
Hubatsch subscribed to the supposedly beneficial effects of the ‘Risk
tried to achieve offensive ends. The aim was to alter the world power
system radically by stripping Britain of her naval supremacy, thus toppling
the guarantor of the continental balance of power and making way for a
German world power. The purpose of Tirpitz’s naval expansion was not
to defend a position Germany already occupied but to provide for one that
effected the British alignment with the Dual Alliance and framed the
the social basis whence, according to Berghahn, the project of a naval
challenge to Britain providing for a secondary integration originated.
Even more importantly, while introducing the aspect of the maritime
balance of power as represented in contemporary international maritime
law, which considered neutrals and belligerents alike, he cast serious
doubts over the strategic rationale allegedly governing a menacing
German naval expansion.
Berghahn had seemingly solved the problem of how an inferior German
Law (
), substituted an ill-defined yardstick, gained this time from
the ideological parts of Mahan’s writings, for this shared or collective
maritime security, thus feeding the illusion of an independent security. To
those of Britain, these papers in part concluded that German naval
thinking became progressively disconnected from the emerging strategic
environment of naval warfare.
With the doubts already cast over the
military or strategic substance of the Anglo-German naval race, which as
far as the German challenger is concerned might be traced back to the
criticism voiced by Karl Galster or Edward Wegener, it proved to be only
a small step for historians propagating the new ‘cultural’ approach to
chapter, covering the years 1905 till 1907, deals with the crisis caused by
This page has been left blank intentionally
programme the Tirpitz Plan had to take into account and integrate
political, economic, fiscal, strategic, tactical, and technical matters and
consider their interdependency. International politics and strategic or
operational naval concepts to be applied against the designated opponent
suggested the creation of a specific naval capability which could only be
created by observing given tactical and technical needs and potentials.
Likewise the required naval capability had to be provided for under the
twofold constraints of the industrial capacity available, and the willingness
of parliament to appropriate the funds requested. This, in turn, called for
parliamentary tactics and affected domestic politics – the more so since
there was a desire to establish the navy on a stable financial base removed
These rather general observations did not apply exclusively to the
Tirpitz Plan. As its elements taken individually were not necessarily
unique to Tirpitz’s programme, the substance of the new departure
ascribed to it may best be illustrated by a comparison of the first three
documents presented here. Having been drafted during the years
and political foundations it was to be based on. As such, it contented itself
battleships, large and small cruisers was to be assigned. As Tirpitz later
claimed, this provision restricted the opportunities available to the
Reichstag to interfere with the naval construction programme since the
organisation of the armed forces came under the prerogative of the crown.
) submitted a proposal the arguments of which clearly
revealed the course of action to be taken [6]. The looming gap was to be
averted by a combination of a deferring of replacement dates, which the
which would facilitate a continuation of the three-ship construction rate
well into the next decade, thus coming considerably closer to a permanent
construction rate without having to resort to new revenues.
The preparations for such a far-reaching Amendment, which included
keeping the Emperor and the Chancellor informed as well as consulting
and sounding out the relevant positions within the Federal Governments
and the Reichstag, were well underway, when Wilhelm II, on 18 October
1899, somewhat prematurely called publicly for a substantial increase of
cruisers was considered the best possible course of action to be taken
under the prevailing circumstances.
Nevertheless, the 1903 memorandum
concerning Germany’s position than an improvement. At the same time
marked with ‘Cessat’ and placed on file pending further use, it allows for
a closer inspection of the calculation inherent in the German build-up.
Again there was no reference to any third-party intervention. After having
denied that commerce raiding would offer any reasonable chance of
success, the paper stated that the British Isles themselves could be
vigorously defend his allocation of scarce funds, which allotted priority
High Command of the Navy, Report to the Emperor [concerning
the future development of the navy]
[BArch, Tirpitz papers, N 253/3, ff. 83–100]
28 November 1895
High Command of the Navy.
of our naval forces in East Asian waters,
and 14 unprotected first – third-class cruisers, some of them heavily armed,
have not been counted.
Two old and hardly serviceable coast defence battleships are not included in these
The older designs built as battleships.
Likely Ratio of Strength in Spring 1901.
naval forces. By then, each of our opponents will possess twice the
number of modern ocean-going armoured ships, which will comprise
first- and second-class cruisers
that we possess to secure Germany’s
vigorous and effective defence in a narrower sense when they face our
calculating the personnel requirements. Unfortunately, the level of this
Otherwise, the principles for calculating our personnel requirements
laid down in the above-mentioned memorandum would have to remain
unchanged. According to this document, it would be furthermore
opinion is that only a construction schedule that is limited in its aims and
focuses on what is absolutely necessary, but that is pursued with extreme
vigour, can stop our military strength at sea being weakened still further.
It seems to me to be necessary for the entire navy to consciously work
towards the same aim. A long-term plan is essential for this. The
foundations for this plan can only be our navy’s tasks in times of war and
peace, our opponents’ strengths and the operations plans drawn up to
overcome them.
I do not deny the difficulties that have to be overcome in order to obtain
the French chamber in 1895, 1 billion 71 million francs = 867 million
marks, an average of 86.7 million marks a year, are to be spent on new
which were approved one after another and which constituted a
of the separation each of the two highest naval authorities can only oversee
part of the whole and that important organisational or technical matters
must be approved by both authorities.
However, Your Majesty’s decision on which new ships and replacements
Annex II to the Report to the Sovereign, November 28th, 1895
1 armoured cruiser, 9 protected cruisers, 7 station ships and including
the foreign service reserve: 2 armoured cruisers, 12 protected cruisers, 9
in margin
: Total requirement for cruisers.]
In total, 8 armoured cruisers and 30 protected cruisers are needed, with
two years, a rational supplementation or renewal of our torpedo boats
would be ensured.
VI. Summary of the Projected Funds Required.
If the 4 cruisers approved in the spring of 1895 and the amount that has
to be approved from this point in time onwards for the
Ersatz Preussen
are included, the following funds would have to be made available for
programme of the High Command for the ships deployed abroad, albeit
for somewhat different reasons.
2.) With regard to the cruiser division, 1 armoured cruiser and 3 third-
class cruisers have been taken as a basis in the programme of the High
Command. This number seems to me to be slightly too small, given the
in margin
There is even less appreciation, even among the educated classes of our
nation, of the fact that only maritime power can provide a sound basis for
the maritime interests of our empire in a world where things clash
violently. Otherwise, there is no courage to invest in the future and
whatever may have been created will collapse after the first major
The Asian question, the occasional snubs from America, the steady
preparation of a British Empire Customs Union and the efforts being made
to establish an English Greater Africa especially appear to be powerful
wake-up calls for us now.
We have to convince the German people not living on the coast that
today’s spending for the navy is a poor investment and that a certain
exert the pressure needed for the Reichstag’s approval. The central
authorities would be responsible for a comprehensively and permanently
expanding this movement, which already exists to some extent, in
This would include:
Expanding navy-supported press campaigns. Admittedly, this is a
delicate task and must, in order to achieve the right effect, also be able to
very distressed about it. It was my burning desire to go out there, and it
would also have been good for my nerves to have got away from this
exhausting mental strain for a time, and to be right away from Madrid. I
must now wait and see what fate has in store for me.
With regard to the Transvaal question, I take the opposite view to the
public and our political leaders, and consider that we have committed
German text published in Berghahn and Deist (eds),
published in English in Tirpitz,
My Memoirs
, vol. I. pp. 63–5. Translation given here differs
folly. England puts up with the snub by America because it implicates a
later concern and above all because the latter is an unpleasant opponent,
and Germany pays the bill because at the moment she has no sea power
of any weight. Currently our politics only consider the army as an actual
A great deal more could be said on this point. But I just wanted to show
that I did not arrive at my conclusions about the Transvaal question of the
moment without some reflection. As a matter of fact, I conceived this
opinion the moment I had read the telegram to President Krüger in the
This telegram was not even skilfully worded, for since England
possesses the right of sanctioning this State’s conventions with foreign
countries – a fact which we do not deny – we were not in the position to
offer the Transvaal
This incident may, however, have its good side, and I would think that a
somewhat bigger humiliation would have been actually useful to us, in the
sense that it would have opened the eyes of our errant parliament; firstly,
to put a definite end to the Anglomania of certain circles, and secondly
to the terms of political neutrality. By making use of a few Lloyd steamers
remaining on the strategic defensive our prospects are restricted to us
buying time and to hope for allies; and this only on the condition that we
even in this case England will emerge victorious, however, a rather
unpleasant complication would arise from the little war against Germany.
Concerning the offensive action I have outlined, Your Excellency will
necessary funds, and in accordance with our proven organisation, which
has been reviewed in recent years, we cannot establish more than two full
First published in English and German in Steinberg,
Yesterday’s Deterrent
, pp. 208–23;
this translation differs; German text omitting the annexed table also in Berghahn and Deist
, pp. 122–7. For the date of the memorandum see marginal note on the cover
of the document (f. 8), and Berghahn,
Der Tirpitz-Plan
squadrons of eight battleships each for the time being, that is until around
1905. In order to be able to count on these squadrons being at full strength
in the event of mobilisation, reserve materiel is indispensable. The
11. We need to take into account that the reconnaissance forces are
encountering an opponent of superior strength. We labour under a
misapprehension if we hope to counter such an eventuality by an
17. Wherever we want to have the weight of actual naval force at our
disposal abroad, we will have to fall back on ships with battleship
3 large cruisers and
to compare
1) Establishment
as envisaged.
8 large cruisers
30 medium
to be procured by
12 large cruisers
to be procured by
– until 1905 –
already increased
2 battleships
(reserve materiel)
4 armoured
cruisers, in
addition 5 years
available to
further expansion
2) Displacement
side armour (in
to compare
3) Displacement
side armour (in
4) Percentage of
excluding armour
5) Total cost of
shipbuilding (in
million marks)
after replacement
of all existing
Uniform rates
10,000 ton
6) According to
the draft Bill it is
expected to spend
on shipbuilding
including artillery
and torpedo
The difference
with the line
above is due to
the ships, which
will not have
replacement age
7) Increase in the
: (not
estimated at
1910: 150 mill.
: 86 mill.
9) Annual rate of
expenditure on
On average to
estimates as
Verhandlungen des Reichstages
, vol. 176, pp. 3402–3]
10 April 1898
We, William, by the Grace of God German Emperor, King of Prussia,
Bundesrat and the Reichstag, as follows:
1. The number of ships of the German Navy – excluding torpedo boats,
training vessels, special service vessels and gun boats – will be established

as a reserve:

3 large cruisers,

2. Of the vessels available and under construction as of the 1st April
1898, the following will be counted against the numbers proposed:
as large cruisers
3. The provision of means for the new constructions necessary to
achieve the proposed number of ships (No. 1) shall be borne upon the
Commonly referred to as the (First) Navy Law. A verbatim translation would read ‘Act
annual estimates of the German Empire with the proviso that the statutory
Article 4.
and the incoming revenue of the German Empire is not sufficient to cover
covered by raising or increasing indirect imperial taxes which charge mass
In the form of an instrument executed in his own hand and with the
Given in Homburg vor der Höhe, on the 10 April 1898.
(L.S). Wilhelm

smooth and steady development of public and private shipyards, and also
places significantly greater demands on the navy than a systematic and
continuous further development.
Translated into numbers, the situation is as follows: Under the Navy
Law, 9 large vessels will be laid down in the first 3 years (1898, 1899,
Kaiser Karl der Große,
B, C, D, E, F, G and the
large cruisers A and B.
For the last 3 years of the term of the Navy Law, 5 large vessels are
as well as the large
Due to the rise in wages and material prices and a number of changes
American War, the vessels are becoming more expensive and several
replacement vessels will have to be postponed to remain within the limits.
Accordingly, only 2–3 large ships instead of 9 can be laid down during
During the first three years following the
the following vessels
have to be replaced under article 2 of the Navy Law:
1) all the vessels that due to the limitation were postponed during the
last half of the term of the Navy Law.
Thus, 8 large vessels will be built in the years 1901–1906, or 1.3 vessels
implemented according to plan, only the years 1904–1911 would qualify
since the 1912–1917 period already carries the burden of 3½ large vessels
a year having to be replaced.
In addition, the number of the large cruisers for service overseas will
probably also have to be increased significantly by 1911. The exact
extraordinary amount of 85 million and the other annual extraordinary
expenditure from 9 million marks to 12 million; the
increase of 8 million a year would only have to be fully used for the
increase in ordinary expenditure during the first years if the navy were
expanded gradually. As soon as the 3rd squadron has been procured, and
since the 4th squadron is only a replacement for the
class, a
significantly lower increase will be sufficient.
share of the increase in extraordinary expenditure would be covered by a
However, such a gradual expansion is not only a financial and technical
issue and one that is important for the navy’s internal development, but it
is also of great significance for the maritime capability of the German
If we stick to the limits of the Navy Law and lay down a total of only
The German original has been published several times. See for example Berghahn and
, pp. 159–62. An extract is available in English in Tirpitz,
My Memoirs
Vol. I. pp. 124–5; the translation given here differs from this printing.
The Rominten Hunting Lodge, located in East Prussia, was regularly used by Wilhelm
8 large cruisers
96 large torpedo boats
9) As soon as the objective has been achieved, Your Majesty will have
an effective power of 45 battleships and all supporting forces. The power
will be so enormous that only England will be superior. However, even
versus England the odds are undoubtedly in our favour in view of the
given geographical circumstances, military service system, mobilisation,
torpedo boats, tactical training, organisational structure reflecting the
scheme’s purpose, and unified command under the monarch.
us, England, for general political reasons and from a down-to-earth
businesslike point of view, will have lost any inclination to attack
Germany so that Your Majesty will be conceded such a degree of naval
] as to allow Your Majesty to pursue a grand overseas
10) Provided Your Majesty gives his consent and orders me to take
action to achieve this objective, I promise Your Majesty that I will commit
myself entirely [to this endeavour].
Success will come about only if all measures taken by the navy are
adapted and subordinated to this overarching objective. Even if such an
sea power, it is vital for Germany, as a world power and a great cultural
nation, to make up lost ground. Both to establish and maintain sea power
Draft of an Amendment to the Act Concerning the German Navy of
10 April 1898, including Justification and Annex II
Verhandlungen des Reichstages
, vol. 176,
We, William, by the Grace of God German Emperor, King of Prussia,
Bundesrat and the Reichstag, as follows:
1. The establishment of ships fixed by the Law of 10 April, 1898,
concerning the German Navy, shall be
increased by
ready for service
Approved act commonly known as Second Navy Law. Text of the draft published as:
1 large cruiser
2 divisions each of 4 coast-defence ships.

battleships until they are replaced.
Excluding the loss of ships, the substitution is to be provided for:
II. Ships in Commission

Article 2.
confined to the blockade of the coasts and the capture of merchant vessels
on the high seas, would cost little to the enemy; on the contrary, the cost
of a third and fourth squadron must be provided for. Out of these 4
in margin
: Increase of vessels on foreign stations.]
imperatively demand that the sea power in home waters should be
in margin
expiration of the Sexennat.]
With the Estimates for 1900 the
of the Navy provided for by
17 large vessels (7 of the
Fürst Bismarck
Taking into consideration the vessels required to be built as substitutes
for old vessels, it would therefore be appropriate to carry out the requisite
increase of the Navy during the years from 1902 to 1913. But even then
the annual activity in shipbuilding would still be so very unequal, that it
appears suitable to distribute the total requirement of 46 large ships
equally over 16 years, and, as a rule, to lay down 3 large vessels every
year. Judging from the experience of the last few years (during which,
likewise, 3 large vessels were laid down annually), there is no reason to
doubt that this rate of shipbuilding can be kept up.
As regards small cruisers it would be expedient to adopt a similar rate
of building. Within the next 16 years 29 ships will require to be replaced,
while the increase should be 16 ships. Consequently, a building
programme calculated for 16 years would involve laying down, as a rule,
3 vessels each year.
divisions, gunboats, and special service vessels.
As regards the term of endurance of the new large torpedo boats we
that this would necessitate a postponement of the replacing of the
class by new vessels until after the additional constructions for
III. Fixing the Increase by Legislative Act.
in margin
arise as regards the carrying through of the great project, both from
the point of view of personnel and the materiel.
It is only if a positive guarantee is afforded for the carrying through
of the programme that the participation of any considerable number
applicability, which in the former transactions of the Reichstag was

Annex I
average of
and special service vessels, for reconstruction,
Making a total annual average of
Annex II.4.
Overview of the annual expenses of naval constructions and armaments.
The expenses for the construction and armament of battleships, cruisers
and torpedo-boat divisions from 1901 to 1916 amount to an annual average
of 87.6 million marks. Amounts exceeding this average of the first years
are a consequence of the remaining instalments payable from the previous
period, which amount to 34 million marks more than the remaining
instalments of the period after 1916. These higher remaining instalments
– excluding a 4 million mark cost overrun for the reconstruction of
class ships and 5 million marks for supplementing ammunition reserves
– can be explained with the low initial instalments allocated before 1901.
The shorter construction period, which is a consequence of the
increased productivity of the shipyards, requires higher initial instalments
To be constructed:
The expenses amount to:
Large cruisers
vessels from outstanding
money up to and including
outstanding money for the
To cover the overrun of the
continued overleaf
To be constructed:
The expenses amount to:
Large cruisers
continued overleaf
To be constructed:
The expenses amount to:
Large cruisers
continued overleaf
To be constructed:
The expenses amount to:
Large cruisers
Average annual requirement
in home waters and with it the protection of the homeland, and we are
secured against an attack by England.
The figures in Table 1
Battleships and
Coast-Defence Ships.
Large Cruisers.
Torpedo boats.
Torpedo boats.
A. In home waters.
Battleships and
Large Cruisers.
Torpedo boats.
Torpedo boats.

Germany. (After implementation of the Amendment.)
Battleships and
Large Cruisers.
Torpedo boats.
Torpedo boats.
A. In home waters.
In addition to these 3 main options, combinations thereof are also
1 large cruiser

1 large cruiser

for the reserve materiel.
In all, 19 battleships, 6 large cruisers, and 14 small cruisers.
Request III is outlined in
draft III
. This would bring about an
1 large cruiser

1 large cruiser

for the reserve materiel.
In all, 22 battleships, 6 large cruisers, and 22 [
2) With regard to the second issue, that of
the form of the new bill
comparatively small scope – the draft has little appeal as an election
Advantages of Draft II
1. This would bring about a great permanent increase in our military
2. The bill is straightforward and unambiguous. Its adoption will be
eased by the fact that the
, i.e. minor sums and amounts which
are only slightly larger than or equal to the present ones, will become the
3. The true size of the requirement does not immediately stand out and
Thus, which of the 3 drafts is selected does not depend on greater or
approval will be given to draft III, whereas
a width of 23.2 m. Considering the locks in Wilhelmshaven, he had
however, there was no way at the moment of telling
what the conditions in the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal would be like for the
more recent projects. All the experts advised against putting out the
fenders. If the ship listed, it would be impossible for it to pass through
For all these reasons, he would have to give preference to the smaller
admits that, in consideration of all the aspects
mentioned, the idea of building the 15,000 t ship would have to be
dropped. The 12 × 21 cm battleship was after all quite a useful design.
accepted. We would then have to exceed the buffer fund for changes of
designs and be rightly accused of having got our sums wrong.
Vice Admiral v.
holds the view that 4 torpedo-boat divisions
would compensate for the loss in fighting power, and he agrees with the
Privy Councillor
said that, since the 15,000 t ship would be
too unfavourable in lines if its width were 23.2 m, he could not
recommend a design that was modified for reasons of width. He said that
the 14,000 t ship was fitted with very heavy ordnance. At 16,600 t, the
ships’ 12 × 21 cm. The weight of the armament of the proposed design
amounted to 13%, so that the ship was considered to be rather
Earlier, Captain
Captain von Heeringen
defends his above-mentioned viewpoint on the basis of the fundamental
idea that a large cruiser should be capable of standing in for a battleship
that has been put out of action. He states that we are compelled to take
this course by the fact that our line is always outnumbered.
His Excellency von Tirpitz
wants to avoid this on principle.
A large cruiser is too vulnerable for the line and has enough other tasks,
such as providing cover for the bulk of small cruisers and torpedo boats.
Lieutenant Commander Schrader
votes in favour of 17 cm and does not think much of providing large
cruisers with battleship qualities. With the same weight, 10 × 17 cm could
Drawing Division
: (Captain Scheibel and Privy Councillor Rudloff) votes
in favour of 21 cm.
Weapons Division
friendly relations to date. The main thing, however, remains the fact that
an alliance with Russia will not yield a real, i.e. a military, benefit for us.
On the other hand, there can be no doubt that an alliance with Russia will
result in our facing the growing risk of an armed conflict with England.
establish a clear-cut defensive alliance against England; however there is
no hope that the course of action under consideration will achieve this at
Following this train of thought, which only outlines the main aspects,
I would like to express my view more precisely and say that, while we do
all we can to maintain our friendly relations with Russia, in particular the
us and renders it impossible for us to vote directly for the abolition of the
It is obvious that there are important reasons for not arguing in public
against the efforts being made to limit the damage caused by a naval war.
Undoubtedly, it would have to be feared that such action would be
ROYAL NAVY 1898–1904
warned about the French ability to strike Britain at its most vulnerable
point, namely its maritime commerce. Britain imported a large proportion
Britain’s position in all its dimensions.
In this light, the analysis that downplays the place of Germany in
British naval thinking seems far less convincing and several historians
have argued that the matter needs to be looked at again. The process of
re-examination has thrown up several new points.
First, the perception that there was a German naval threat did not have
to emerge in one go with everyone recognising this fact simultaneously.
As Iain Hamilton has recently reminded us, the British Admiralty was
anything but a monolith.
Its different leading lights often had different
considered by the NID to be potent commerce raiders: fast enough both
to run down any British merchant vessel they encountered on the high
seas and to evade any British cruiser sent against them. The fear was that,
courtesy of these vessels, Germany possessed an ability to strike at British
commerce in a way that no other nation could.
When this fact was
earliest strategic appraisals of war with Germany [28, 32]. Signs of war
planning also become increasingly evident. Custance’s successor as DNI,
Prince Louis of Battenberg, produced a long memorandum on the use of
torpedo craft in home waters [42]. The first half echoed traditional
concerns about France, but in a sign of the times, the other half, as
reproduced here, was a thorough study of war with Germany. This
document would be an important template for later planning.
The chapter closes with the arrival of Fisher. Selborne’s instructions to
Fisher prior to his arrival, including the need to prepare for war against
Germany singly or in combination are reproduced [41]. So, too, are a
couple of documents about the 1904 redistribution [43, 44]. Reader’s of
Mackay’s fine biography of Fisher will have seen them before and noted
that he uses them to make the case for a French priority in the 1904
reorganisation. It is not entirely clear that they support this proposition.
Certainly the second document [44] suggests that French warships, due
to their heavier ordnance, were deemed more powerful than German ones
and so should face the most modern British battleships. However, that
does not negate the first document [43] which stresses that the main
purpose of the distribution scheme as a whole is to cover Germany’s
growing naval power.
Finally, there is a minute by Selborne [45] in which he argues that the
worst case scenario for Britain would be for ‘Germany to throw her weight
Minute by Sir Lewis Beaumont
on a ‘Despatch enclosing a
recently has been in the British section of the Great General Staff. Several
articles which of late have appeared in the
Militär Wochenblatt
to Great Britain have been from his pen. One treated of ‘Invasion of
England’, another of ‘The Influence of Sea power’, and the tendency of
both is strongly anti-British. They are designed to show that an invasion
Minute by Goschen

The attitude of Germany is peculiar, but while there is every desire on the
Malta must be its first point of concentration, and Gibraltar that of the
and France over England would be of supreme danger to Germany, and
It would be equally true to say that France in certain cases would have
to trust to the forbearance of Italy. Italy like Germany has the greatest
interest in France and Russia not becoming monopolists of power in the
on ‘Germany’s New Naval Programme’
[TNA: ADM 1/7425]
15 November 1899
Minute by Goschen

20 November 1899
Interesting but Utopian. What will be the state of Europe be in 1911? and
in 1917? The battle of Armageddon will probably have been fought before
Dispatch by Captain Douglas Gamble,
‘Views of the German
Emperor on Naval Tactics’
[TNA: ADM 1/7465B]
21 November 1900
I have the honour to report that in the course of conversation with Herr
Chief Constructor of the Schichau Works,
and a friend of the
Memorandum by Custance
   19 December 1900   In compliance with directions, the attached statement relative to the
number of ships required to be built has been prepared.
The time taken to build a first-class battleship may be taken to be in –
Great Britain
United States
If only seven additional ships are built, the numbers will be equal and
the margin in our favour will be small. It will consist in the individual
superiority of the ships composing Group II. It is strongly held that this
is not sufficient. The advent of the submarine boat, and the increased
range of the Whitehead torpedo add to the probabilities of ships being
lost, and must now be allowed for in addition to the dangers arising from
collision and grounding. The dependence of this country on keeping the
command of the sea and the magnitude of the interests at stake renders
it of vital importance that a larger margin should be provided. The
necessity for this is also supported by the increasing naval power of
Germany and America.
In 1906 Germany will be equal in line of battleships to Russia. After
that date, unless Russia increases her navy, Germany will be the third
Four battleships should therefore be laid down in 1901 to give the
minimum numerical superiority in 1904, which is considered absolutely
If four battleships are laid down annually, commencing in 1901, we
shall be laying down each year the same number as France and Germany
combined, as each of these Powers will lay down two ships annually in
1901, 1902, and 1903, after which the former must arrange a new
programme, while the latter, under the existing law, will continue to lay
down two ships.
Minute by Lord Selborne

[The DNI’s minute] is fairly open to the criticism of leading us off the
true scent. Our naval policy is definite, to be strong enough to beat France
and Russia for certain: if we are forced to fight them. When this subject
givers us no further occasion for reflexion it will be time enough to
consider a new point of departure. Meanwhile, I would point out that I
consider a combination of France and Russia and Germany against us as

It was accepted last year that the smallest numerical superiority in
Battleships, which was admissible under the conditions then existing, is
four. In fixing this number allowance was made for the margin given to
us by the individual superiority of several of our existing ships. As
foreigners are now building quite as efficient Battleships as ourselves this
advantage will gradually disappear, and a larger numerical superiority
will be required before long. At present it is thought that a margin of four
will suffice. The number of Battleships asked for last year was four, but
unfortunately only three were granted. From statement B it will be seen
officers who have seen much of the German navy lately are all agreed that
… The naval position at the end of 1907 will probably be as follows:–
the Baltic, Mediterranean, or Pacific.
– Thirty-five battleships massed in European waters and
I believe I am right in saying that had we chosen to pay subsidies
for less than those paid by the German Navy, we should have secured the
same speed on some of our big liners. We have not secured it, and as far
as I can see there is nothing to prevent a big ship such as the
starting with 10,000 tons of coal on board her, armed with 16
6-inch guns, manned by a Naval crew, and keeping the sea just as long as
she pleases. Humanly speaking she will be able to destroy everything
weaker than herself, i.e., the whole of the British Mercantile Marine, and
a not inconsiderable portion of the British Navy; or, to prevent her
escaping any armed ship which we have afloat. There is no vessel carrying
the White, Blue, or Red Ensign which can come near her.
This, I submit, is a most dangerous state of things. The remedy appears
to lie in coming to some immediate arrangement as to the better
expenditure of the money granted us in subsidies, with the view of
restoring to our liners the supremacy in speed they so long held. …
[TNA: ADM 1/7594D]
109. Reviewing the whole situation, it appears to us that … allowing
for the proportion of ships likely to be absent on Foreign Stations, there
will still remain a serious deficiency of accommodation for long
Our requirements at home would seem to be:–
Is the naval development of Germany intended by the German
Gov[nmen]t or people to be directed against England?
In case of England being engaged in a war with France and Russia
what would be the attitude of
A the German Gov[ernmen]t
towards England? And what use if any would be made of the naval
strength of Germany?
What is the policy of Germany towards Holland and the development
of the Dutch Navy?
[FO800/129, ff.91–6]
25 April 1902
It is by no means easy to answer Selborne’s ‘Conundrums’ which you
have made use of the animosity against England to obtain the necessary
votes in the Reichstag, but although they may wish to become equals of
England on the sea, I do not think they would wish to annihilate her, even
in combination with other Powers.
3. If England were at war with France and Russia I believe that
Germany would hold entirely aloof. She would no doubt hope that all
these Powers would be weakened to such an extent that she might come
in and play the part of the honest broker and make an excellent bargain
for herself, but it could not be to her interest to strengthen either of her
neighbours. Much of course would depend on the course and object of
the war, but the geographical position of Germany is such as to make an
increase of strength to France and Russia a danger to herself. It is therefore
not likely that Germany would take part in such a war against us, although
she would no doubt try to drive a good bargain for herself.
4. This is a very difficult question to answer. There is a party in
Germany who are anxious that Holland and her colonies should place
themselves under the protection of Germany, but I believe that this idea
does not find favour in Holland. Of course if Germany with her immense
military power could become possessed of the maritime resources of
Holland, she would be a most formidable Power, but I believe that the
domination of Germany, and would fight for their independence as
intrepidly as the Boers have done in South Africa. I do not think that the
Germans will be able to exert much influence on the development of the
which, if we had been weakened by the war we might not be able to resist.
Custance to Bridge
   11 May 1902… There is no doubt, I am afraid, that the majority of our people do not
risk and leave port. It will be found that the risks of capture are less than
had been supposed. Insurance premiums will fall and ships will leave port
freely. The provision of cruisers required to protect trade, sanctioned or
for them to organise, once coaled they could go a long time and cover
an immense distance without re-coaling. No experience of the past can
give a guide to the impression on the public mind and the effect on
British trade if it were known that we possessed absolutely no ship
which could by any possibility except fluke catch these German ships.
cost in either case must be additional to any programme of construction
have had much, if any, real superiority.
The outcome of this would be the Cunard Agreement (1903), whereby the British
Government offered the Cunard Company both a loan and a subsidy for building and
operating the fast liners
The British were decidedly superior in armoured ships, the relative
strengths being about 7–5. But the Allies had some advantage in speed;
the 13 British ships of 15 knots and over were only a little superior to the
15 Allies of similar speed. The British advantage lay mainly in their slow
ships, and was not, therefore, as real as it appeared.
In Cruisers, the British superiority was overwhelming being about 4 to
1. The British did not use their Torpedo Boats, and the Allies kept theirs
in the Baltic where they did nothing. In other respects the torpedo flotillas
On both sides there were a number of ships which might have been
mobilised if a little more time had been available. … In these ships also
the British held an advantage, so that the conditions would not have been
The British Channel Fleet was stronger than either of the Allies’ Fleets,
During the afternoon of May 2nd, whilst the Scotch coast was being
raided, the Channel Squadron were proceeding towards Pentland Firth.
defended ports on the East Coast of Great Britain was at once brought to
notice, and, indeed, the general lack of knowledge of the waters bordering
our eastern shores and the coasts of Denmark and Norway was most
apparent. None of the officers engaged knew these waters well and most
had never been there at all.
Armoured Cruisers are required. In the presence of these latter, the old-
fashioned protected Cruiser is worth little or nothing, but numerous
vessels of some kind are needed, and it is very difficult to say how much
should be sacrificed for speed.
H. O. Arnold-Forster, ‘Notes on a Visit to Kiel and Wilhelmshaven,
August 1902, and General Remarks on the German Navy and Naval
[TNA: CAB 37/62/133 and BL: Add Mss 50287]
Germany as a Possible Enemy.
An examination of the German dockyards, ships, and ship-building
establishments gives rise to some very serious reflections, and suggests
questions of the first importance. That the naval power of Germany is
There are two different versions of the same single document. The one in BL is probably
a proof; the one in TNA is the final print.
motive for war.]
It is well known that the idea of obtaining control over the Dutch
perfectly natural that it should do so. It is not likely that the Dutch colonies
will be acquired by war with Holland, but rather by some political
agreement which will give Germany control not only of the Colonies of
Holland, but of the great European ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
The sudden entrance of Germany into this new and formidable position,
if it did not make war certain, would undoubtedly tend in that direction.
3. Germany is increasing her navy very largely and very rapidly. As
against the two principal continental nations her fleet is of comparatively
little importance. The issue of war with France and Russia, or with either
Power, must be decided by the army, and the army is admirably organised
for the fulfilment of that duty. But the German army (unsupported by the
navy) is powerless against England. Against England alone is such a
weapon as the modern German navy necessary; against England, unless
all available evidence and all probability combine to mislead, that weapon
Are we Prepared as against Germany?
It being admitted, therefore, that Germany must be counted among our
possible enemies, if not among our probable enemies, the question
over Dutch ports.
Germany has practically only one seaboard, stretching from Memel on
the world, or to interfere with the main lines of British commerce, German

Pass through the Straits of Dover, or

Pass round the north of Scotland.
The Straits of Dover are only 20 miles wide, and for a distance of 200
miles the breadth does not exceed 60 miles.
In other words, for 200 miles all German ships adopting this route in
time of war must pass within 60 miles of our coasts.
The route round the north of Scotland is long, and is moreover
throughout the whole of its length a divergence from the desired course,
which may be assumed to be directed towards the Atlantic south of the
line Queenstown to New York.
The distance from Wilhelmshaven to a point 20 miles west of Cape
From Wilhelmshaven to the same point passing round the northern
extremity of the Orkneys is 1,110 miles.
1,130 miles respectively.
It is obvious, therefore, that if the Straits of Dover could be closed to
the Germans, all German ships would be compelled to adopt the
northern route, and under the most favourable of circumstances could
only hope to reach a point at which injury could be inflicted upon British
commerce or upon British Colonies after consuming a large quantity of
Fürst Bismarck
I.H.P., 10,650 tons), steaming from Wilhelmshaven to the Scilly Isles
round the Orkneys, at 12 knots, would be about 400 tons. The nearest
German station where coaling would be possible is the Cameroons.
Clearly, therefore, ships of war which had made the passage could only
carry on warlike operations if they were enabled to coal at sea from
colliers or captures, both difficult and uncertain processes.
It is probable that some such consideration as this has led the Germans
to place a supply of oil fuel upon all their new ships.
The question of coal, however, would not affect in the same degree the
enough to enable them to keep the sea for very long periods, and to
traverse great distances.
Have we utilised our Advantage?
Such being the natural advantages of our position in the event of war
formidable in numbers, and not at all formidable if regarded from the
point of view of the quality of its component parts.
It may be said that, in the event of war with Germany, we shall not have
The danger from Germany is not immediate, and can be guarded
against if we act now, and do not wait till it is too late.
Selborne, ‘Navy Estimates, 1903–1904’
[TNA: CAB 37/63/142]
us; but he is equally convinced that in deciding on a naval policy we
manifest design of the German navy.
These considerations strengthen and enhance my conviction that we
must establish a margin of strength in battleships over those of the next
two naval Powers.
I have also to put forward proposals for acquiring land for the purpose
of mooring and berthing our ships and providing the nucleus of a naval
establishment to relieve the congested dockyards where the limits of
increased accommodation have, except at a prohibitive cost, been nearly
If no whisper of the proposal is allowed to go abroad, the land
in question can now be bought at its agricultural value on the Firth of
Forth. …
The proposal has also a strategic value, on which I lay much stress. The
position is already fortified, and the establishment of a naval base there
of all classes in home waters. As I understand, it was with the object of
making arrangements for the reorganisation of that force that the Home
3. Page 8
European waters the Navy is being designed. The question needs to be
studied in connection with the recent French policy. It is clear that France,
you have to do. [Yes. PW] Certainly some of your comments do not
convince me, e.g.,
You ask ‘Is it certain that there are thousands of men intimate with
the North Sea (I did not say our North Sea Coasts) who are available for
the German Navy?’
I think there can be no doubt at all about this, as the whole maritime
population of Germany is liable to Naval Conscription, and Germany has
no seaboard except in the Baltic and on the North Sea.
You say ‘Ships should have heavy bow and stern fire, but they should
also have heavy broadside fire, &c.’
Most true, but it is equally true that the heavy bow fire of the German
ships does not in the slightest degree weaken their broadside fire. On the
considered the German one to be a great improvement upon both the
10.    I own up to all errors of draughtsmanship, but I do not own up to
having misunderstood the general tendency of Herr Schütte’s remarks, or
the conclusions which he arrived at.
I have read your remarks with great interest.
With this I confess I hardly find myself in agreement. [I refer to the
possibility of Germany landing a force at some future date.]
In addition to the regular cruisers, there are also a number of merchant
steamers which are more or less suitable for use in war time as armed
Naval Intelligence Department, ‘Germany, Naval Manoeuvres,
[15 August–12 September] 1903’
[TNA: ADM 231/40]
Elbe; the manoeuvres of this year with an attack on Kiel Harbour.
may be as near as possible invisible from the sea, a feature which is
greatly aided by the use of smokeless powder, but for manoeuvre purposes
old black powder is generally employed which prevents a proper test even
of invisibility of works.
Again, the probable effect of fire can only be arrived at by a mechanical
calculation of probable hits and their results on the attacking ships, a
calculation in which so many unknown factors have to be dealt with that
it has but little value in the end; while any estimate of the probable result
of the ships’ fire upon the forts rests upon an equally unreliable basis.
of France and Germany, instead of those of France and Russia. How little
that result would affect the standard, the figures I shall presently give will
show. The fact is that the German navy has, in point of numbers, been
steadily overhauling the Russian, till at the outbreak of the present war it
was practically equal, while in point of quality it is greatly superior to the
It may, however, be suggested that there is no need for this country to
Selborne, ‘Memorandum respecting additional Problems to be
dealt with and Questions to be taken up’, Sent to Sir John Fisher
Fisher Papers
4. The N.I.D. must work out plans of campaigns in every possible naval
war – against France, against Russia, against France and Russia, against
Germany singly or in any combination, against the United States, &c.
‘The Organisation for War of Torpedo Craft in Home
[TNA: ADM 116/3093, pp. 508–20]
The disposition of our destroyer flotillas in a war with Germany is less
easy to provide for than in the case of war with France.
This arises from the fact that the distance of the enemy’s ports renders
operations from a Home base more difficult, and, as regards Kiel at least,
almost prohibits it. If suitable advanced bases were available this would
not matter so much, but although the North Sea coasts of Germany are
studded with outlying islands, a careful scrutiny of the chart reveals the
fact that not one of these, except Heligoland, would answer that purpose,
as they are all within artillery range either from the mainland or from other
islands, and all separated from the coast by such shallow water that a re-
being able to prevent it unless we had shallow draft boats available also.
In some cases there are even fords which can be waded. Moreover, the
channels leading up to the anchorages round the islands are very intricate,
and would be dangerous if the aids to navigation were removed.
The one exception is Heligoland, but although that would sooner or
later fall into our hands, its early capture is improbable, as it is strongly
We must, therefore, be content to work without advanced bases, to
begin with at any rate. In keeping a destroyer watch on the mouth of the
Elbe, and on Wilhelmshaven, this disadvantage would not be too serious,
Admiral Sir John Arbuthnot Fisher (1841–1920): Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth,
Prince Louis of Battenberg, later Louis Mounbatten, 1st Marquis of Milford Haven
(1854–1921): Director of Naval Intelligence, 1902–05; Second Sea Lord, 1911–12; First
to any French ports, is not prohibitive, and destroyers could rest their
crews and economise coal by anchoring in the offing well clear of any
risks during the day, as the water is comparatively shoal for many miles
out. This would not be possible, of course, during the prevalence of bad
weather, but at such times the risk of hostile torpedo craft breaking out
would be lessened.
The difficulties of a watch on Kiel, however, are much greater. This
applies chiefly to a watch on the Baltic exit from the harbour. The other
exit by the Canal presents no greater problem than the watch on
Wilhelshaven, and could in fact be conducted if necessary by the same
flotilla. But to closely watch the harbour on the Baltic side would only be
possible by pushing the flotilla so employed right through the Belts, which
This consideration then, gives us a good foundation for our general
strategical policy. If we block the Elbe entrance while the body of the
enemy is at Kiel, he must if he means to fight do so under a disadvantage.
distance from immediate sources of supply. For the flotillas with the main
At Portsmouth

5 – 30-knot divisions

5 – 26-knot divisions
30 in all.
In war with France all would go to Portland.
In war with Germany the 30-knot divisions would join the Channel
[TNA: ADM 1/7736]
21 November 1904
The worst case which can befall us under present conditions is for
Germany to throw her weight against us in the middle of a still undecided
The following 17 documents cover the period from 1905 to 1907 which
witnessed some fundamental changes in the schedule of the German naval
build-up. In the end, the construction rate was quite surprisingly
accelerated to a temporary four-ship tempo [62]. To some extent, the
document drafted by Tirpitz in November 1905 can claim a central
position in this development. In this he presented a comprehensive survey
of his naval policy which was to inform the Chancellor [49], and to
reaffirm the guiding principles of his naval programme. The paramount
objective was to secure a guaranteed construction rate of three large ships
already reached staggering levels. In 1890, it amounted to 1,117.9 million
marks. By 1895 it had risen to 2,081.2 million marks and by 1900 to
2,298.5 million marks. At the time of Tirpitz’s 1905 memorandum, it was
thorough reform of the German tax regime failed to gain approval due to
the irreconcilable interests of the parties from which the Imperial
Government tried to draw support.
The rising naval estimates played their
had been drawn up and submitted to the Reichstag
March 1906, the Amendment passed the second reading in the Reichstag
This seemed to vindicate Tirpitz’s staunch defence of the moderate
approach he had mounted in his memorandum addressed to the Chancellor
1906 down to 1925 (at which date the replacement cycle would start
again). Since under the revised 1906 law the construction rate of two
battleships and one large cruiser would only extend to 1910 – though the
three-ship building rate, irrespective of its composition, would continue
into 1912 – the memorandum required the next Amendment to be tabled
by 1910. The obvious drawback of the draft became apparent when the
Germany should try to secure superiority in types. Possibly this meant
that the officers of ‘A’ were quite prepared to take for granted a similar
approach by the Royal Navy with regard to the role of the
last years of the High Command a war against Britain was for the first
time considered in earnest, consultations with the Great General Staff
tentatively explored the feasibility of invading the British Isles. Soon the
impracticability became apparent and that notion was discarded. A
melee-like situations while placing restrictions on the habitability and
elections, would also have difficulty, albeit for opposite reasons, in
understanding why the terms of the proposed Amendment would not be
Imperial Navy Office, Drawing Division [K], Minutes on the
construction of the next batch of battleships and large cruisers
scheduled to be requested with the 1906 estimates
[BArch, RM 3/3703, ff. 77–80]
To K.I.
Width = 21.6 m as before.
15 cm quick-firing guns
in casemate, 2 firing
Waterline 180, tapering to 120 mm
Width may be reduced slightly (while displacement is increased).
Provided the engine is the same as in project 1, a speed of 23 knots would
His Excellency refers to this project as extremely favourable.
Further information on topics of interest will be provided orally.

signed v. Eickstedt. 21/II.
To K.I.
Armour reinforced, as in the case of the large project (E.2[)] speed was
to be as high as achievable within the price limit stated.
Large cruisers
* Deck layout only with two different possible solutions.
Admiral von Tirpitz, to Captain Scheer
(Imperial Navy Office)
[BArch, Tirpitz papers, N 253/22, f. 200]

Copy]Dear Scheer,
however, I do not share your view that we are going
to have difficulties in parliament with the 16,000 ton ships when it comes
to the question of whether they will get even larger in the future. The less
Der Tirpitz-Plan
The battleship issue came to the fore in winter 1903/04 and led to rather different designs.
See Griessmer,
According to regulations, the green ink was reserved for the Head of a particular agency.
negotiate with
according to this line of thought and to

v. Trotha

v. Posadowsky-Wehner
Consideration is given to the project designated ‘F’ by K concerning a
about taking a step backwards from the present calibre.
v. Heeringen
v. Ahlefeld
considers it wrong to make a step backwards
v. Eickstedt
performance in firing shells. With regard to the total energy of the
ordnance, W still thinks the earlier project involving 4 × 28 cm and 12 ×
21 cm is worth considering.
emphasises the savings in space, weight and money
be difficult to manage with the money and weight available. At any rate,
4.) Demand for comfort. Must be rejected in favour of other demands.
5.) Special admiral’s bridge for flagships. Can be built by making a
small change in design next to the main bridge.
6.) Larger coal capacity.
A advocates the installation of 10 × 15 cm, because otherwise certain
draft had been submitted, the Imperial Government – unless it was prepared
to suffer a major political defeat – could not accept a rejection of the draft
by the Reichstag and would be forced to react by dissolving the latter.
Considering the importance of the establishment of the navy by law
and the difficulties involved in the permanent entitlement to funds for ship
construction [
] from a parliamentary point of view in
particular, the scope of the draft as to the materiel had to be kept within
reasonable bounds. No one will be able to claim that the law of 1898 did
not achieve the maximum possible for the navy at this point in time. The
same definitely goes for the draft Amendment submitted in 1899, which
that for a truly rational development of our navy we have adopted the
fastest rate which still makes sense in the construction of 3 large ships
and everything attached to them. Any acceleration beyond that would
necessarily have led to an unsustainable development.
The principle which I now consider appropriate for the further
development of the navy is based on the systematic improvement of the
present Navy Law and on first establishing the permanent entitlement to
Äternisierung] to secure the present ship construction rate in
continuity. The current draft has been drawn up with this fundamental
concept in mind. As it seems highly probable that a reduction of the
without too much resistance, once the question arises, the above-
mentioned objective will have been largely achieved as soon as the present
draft is approved. Only after several years have passed will it be possible
When we take a clear look at the difficulties arising from our rate of
development up to now, it is quite obvious that [the] rate scheduled for
the next 5 years cannot be increased, or at least not significantly, if it is
In order to make use of the insistence of public opinion on a major navy
commonly understandable
programme is needed, an objective
As the slogan of doubling the navy was used for the current Navy Law,
the new proposal would also have to be suitable for summarising in a few
catchwords which would serve to make an impression on public opinion
As the replacement of the
class has already been brought
forward in time by approximately 5 years and that of the
some 2½ years, any programme cannot be regarded as satisfactory which
should be advanced by another 2 to 3 years.
An acceptable minimum programme under present circumstances
would be to
lay down
the second double squadron within the next 4 years.
classes, we would have a state-of-the-art double

4 large cruisers
with attached new small cruisers and
torpedo-boat divisions,
this would be a highly desirable political and military objective.
Every new naval draft will have to be integrated into the framework of
the Navy Law. Otherwise, the Navy Law will be relinquished from the
outset and by this, as I explained earlier, the development of the navy will
Against an Amendment draft of this sort, there are
the first in the area of
Foreign Policy
To anyone looking at the construction schedule the idea that this gap
should and must be filled by the construction of
immediately occur. Nobody will consider it plausible that we will only
lay down
battleships in 8 years after having laid down
to an annual construction rate of 4 large ships while demanding a reduction
of the serviceability of battleships from 25 to 20 years at the same time, this
would give us the advantages of a higher rate for 4 to 5 years without the
dangers inherent in the creation of a large gap in ship construction.

] to the
construction rate is unlikely to be achieved then. And that is the most
favourable case. – The most unfavourable, but probable, case is that the
Reichstag refuses to pass the draft and the Navy Law is shaken in its
When looking at all these questions, we need to be aware of the fact
that the egotistical interests of the Navy League and all parties without
Naval officers,
Engineer officers,
Medical officers,
Non-commissioned officers and ratings.
The recurrent expenses generated by the increase of the fleet are estimated
Chief of the Admiralty Staff, Memorandum concerning Warfare
against England
[BArch, RM 5/1604, ff. 149–68]
V. A. w. A. 3222 IV.
Measures for the harassment of enemy trade and the enemy coast
(1. merchant warfare, 2. mine warfare, 3. cable warfare).
Germany Forced to Wage War on its Own Coast
The Objectives of England
The Approach of England
a. In a Reckless Offensive
A. Germany Forced to Wage War on its Own Coast.
1. Annex A indicates the superiority in numbers and [capabilities of the
6. Therefore, if England acts according to military criteria only, we
need to be prepared for its endeavouring to eliminate our fleet in a reckless
7. In this, it must expect to sustain heavy losses.
14. Taking into consideration its greater proximity and the fact that
there is a higher probability of catching us unawares while under way in
the open North Sea, the most sensible thing would be for the English to
make an attempt to block off the western entrance of the Canal as a first
21. No explanation is needed for the fact that this decision will be made
in favour of a blockade of the North Sea coast.
22. The only argument in favour of a blockade of the Baltic coast is
that there the English would be able to make use of the valuable support
23. For that reason, it may be regarded as highly probable that the
24. If the English decide to take this approach, their secondary
operations for the establishment and maintenance of the blockade gain in
25. These include an attempt to occupy Helgoland and those Frisian
be expected to put a first and fairly cheap obstacle in the way of any
German forces leaving their ports. Under certain circumstances, infesting
the Helgoland Bight with them may even become an option.
take up a central position to the northwest of Helgoland, with only light
forces being deployed to advance positions in the Helgoland Bight and
towards the Kattegat to observe the exit from the Baltic Sea.
32. While this approach has a major advantage in the fact that the main
blockading force would be well protected against torpedo attacks, it also
possesses some great disadvantages:
a. Neither the military nor the commercial blockade would be really
. Without an Attack by the Enemy.
46. If England refrains from such an attack, the following considerations
need to be taken into account:
In a war with England alone the decision will be reached on the water.
An undisputed English command of the sea off our coasts must sooner
or later bring about a decision in favour of England. Considering the
some of the pressure off friendly powers which is exerted by an English
d. Warfare in the Baltic Sea.
55. In the Baltic, it is quite probable that we will have to restrict ourselves
E. Operations of the Army.
61. Army planning calls for a deployment both to the west and to the east,
and considers this to require all forces. However, the removal of the
mobile IX and at need even the X Army Corps can still be prevented, if
the military situation on the coast makes the continued presence of troops
of the new draft, as the current construction rate of two battleships and
one large cruiser per year would be subjected to a change from 1911
onwards according to the regulations now in effect.
1. The 20-year Replacement Period for Battleships.
The following could be stated as justification for the 20-year replacement
The present 25-year replacement period is calculated from the approval
of the first instalment of the ship to be replaced to the approval of the first
instalment of the replacement ship. Actually, however, the date of birth
of a ship is not the time when its first instalment is approved but the much
squadron’ is to be formed according to the quadruple system. The
personnel establishment of the two ships of this squadron already in
commission should be increased to a level where they are able to provide
sufficient personnel for the remaining 6 ships to form the required 6
nucleus crews.
from the
Date of
29 years
4 years
7 months
Year of
Construction Schedule
Navy Law of 1900/06 (25-year
Construction Schedule
Classification According to
Construction Schedule
Additional Battleships – Even
Distribution –
3-ship Construction Rate.



















Consequently, for the period of 1911–1917 first under consideration,
the Amendment demands
a reduction
of 1 large cruiser compared to the Navy Law of 1906. To this a further
gain of 3 large ships is added due to the shortening of the time required
for construction as discussed in para 5. In the period from 1913 to 1922
(10 years), the Amendment will provide for
large armoured vessels
more than the current Navy Law, namely: 11 battleships, 2 armoured
Finally, the Amendment – as will be shown later – takes the calculation
because it may be assumed that the development phase of the submarine
420 men
Subtotal = 3,480 men
Total amount = 3,654 men
calculation of 1906 by approximately 400 men. This amounts to a further
increase of the recurrent expenses by 1.3 million marks as against the
calculation of 1906 and results in a total of 36.4 million marks of recurrent
expenses for the 7 years from 1911 to 1917 in excess of what they would
It will be advisable to calculate not with the awkward number of 1.3
million as an increase but rather with an overall annual increase of the
recurrent expenses of 10 million marks in the years from 1911 to 1917.
This would result in a total of 34 million marks of recurrent expenses for
the 7 years from 1911 to 1917 in excess of what they would be according
b) Naval Constructions and Armaments
From 1911 to 1917, the following will be added:

6 × 42 (new constructions

brought forward owing to

period and the regrouping

of battleships and large

Large cruisers
Torpedo-boat divisions.

What will be dropped is 1 large cruiser which will be put off until
Total of Naval Constructions and Armaments
c) Buffer Fund

e) Other Non-recurrent Expenses.

Adding up a–e shows the overall cost of the Amendment, namely
3 (11)
2 (11)

2 (12)
3 (12)
1 (12)

3 (13)
By shortening the construction periods, we therefore gain another 3 large
ships in addition to the previous 5; this is to say that the Amendment will
result in an overall gain of 8 large ships in the 1911–1917 period.
Imperial Navy Office, General Navy Department, Memorandum
concerning the Development of our Battleship and Large Cruiser Types
[BArch, RM 3/3693, ff. 6–16]
30 August 1906
Further reports say that England is thinking of mounting 34.3-cm guns
instead of 30.5-cm guns from 1907 on. This will not be possible without
has already laid down 2 vessels (
, after having finally decided to lay down only one
new battleship this financial year, also intend to surpass the
with this vessel. This would equally require a displacement of approx.
, for now, seems to keep to 18,000 tons displacement.
With regards to
, the latest reports say the technical committee
has declared itself in favour of building vessels of approx. 19,000 tons.
However, the construction is still a long way off, so that Russia does not
need to be taken into account for the time being.
in margin
Ersatz Sachsen
5. How is our 18,000-tons
Ersatz Sachsen
With regards to armament, A considers the
Ersatz Sachsen
because it takes into account
With regards to
is substandard. Her light artillery consists of 27 quick-firing guns of 7.6
cm with 20-mm (?) protecting shields. Reportedly, the guns are intended
have to be used. Anyway, in daylight battles, during which operating the
unprotected light artillery is almost certainly out of the question, the ship
faces a bad situation when being attacked by torpedo boats, while the
Ersatz Sachsen
is able to successfully employ her protected 15-cm battery.
Ersatz Sachsen
armour protection
of both ships is more or less the same as far as
protection of the
Ersatz Sachsen
is superior (
battery is
unarmoured). Further comparisons cannot be drawn for lack of sufficient
from the desire for increased armour-piercing or explosive efficiency, we
ought by no means to ignore this development. Otherwise, we might be
obliged to take an unusually large step at a later time.
in margin
Large cruisers – Invincible
8. England has taken an immense step forward with the construction
large cruisers. So far, we only know that these
ships will have a displacement of 17,250 tons (= 17,527 [German tons])
and a main armament consisting of 8 quick-firing guns of 30.5-cm calibre
class partly on the grounds that it does not possess any
Forward conning tower: at least 300 mm
Aft conning tower: at least 200 mm
Apart from that, the armour protection can be reduced by up to 10% at
the waterline and by 15 to 20% at the remaining sites compared to the
General Navy Department.
Admiral von Tirpitz, Planning Order concerning the Large
[BArch, RM 3/3693, f. 17]
Light armament as for the large cruiser E,
The displacement is not to exceed that of the battleship
Ersatz Bayern
Ersatz Bayern
Its speed should be similar to that of the large cruiser E,
Compared to the large cruiser E, its armour should be reinforced as
far as the available means will allow,
It should have turbines, if possible.
Assumed a redesign should be needed, laying down a new vessel would
inevitably suffer a delay of ½–¾ years.
argument regarding the need for enlargement. For this reason he considers
Rear Admiral Capelle
considers immediate action necessary for
His Excellency v. Ahlefeld
addition draws attention to the consideration that:
the recurrent expenses. I expect this to cause an increase
b) provide the ship types with the desired capabilities (battleships
30.5 cm – torpedo boats – possibly also the armoured cruiser). The
Those who think that the Amendment is too small and meagre will
in the years 1916 and
Admiral von Tirpitz, Memorandum concerning the Significance of
the Right of Capture
[BArch, RM 2/1760, ff. 26–32]

Berlin, 20 April 1907
On the significance of the right of capture
The different opinions of the Imperial Office of the Interior and the
on the one hand and the Imperial German Navy
mind primarily based on the different views on the significance and the
is sufficient to bring us to our knees in the long run. (In this context I point
to the comments of the Imperial Navy Office on the blockade.
If the right of capture was to be abolished the blockade would not be
impeded and we would still have the carrier trade – at least nominally –
The War Minister already pointed out in his vote of 15 March 1907 that
probability for us to win the war?’,
the navy itself must be able to best assess the forces coming into question
The balance of forces and the resulting general wartime situation can
be outlined as follows:
At present England might be able to maintain a blockade in the North
Sea in the old sense as referred to in the Declaration of Paris [1856], but
no longer in the Baltic Sea. It would probably try to block the Baltic Sea
in the Skagerrak. However, it must not be thought that this blockade could
relations with England would be guaranteed. If we do not want to step down
from the world stage, and that is what we are talking about, this guarantee
will only be provided by our own strength and the potential to hit England
Senior [Naval] Construction Councillor
I. Prior to discussing the decision on battleship and large cruiser types
confidence of the Reichstag and the people, and even any military
advantages that may seem attainable now must recede into the background.
In his opinion, a 22,000 t displacement is still within the limits of which
the actions of the Imperial Navy Office are considered to be reasonable.
Admiral von Tirpitz, Notes for a report to the Chancellor.
Norderney, undated [presented there on 21 September 1907]
[BArch, Tirpitz papers, N 253/9, ff. 183–4]
because some aspects have changed.
2. Mood has intensified more than expected. Creation of a slogan.
Acceleration. General political conditions. Navy League. Fact-finding
3. Parties. Opinions voiced in papers.
4. Foreign situation. Not dangerous at present. Acceleration.
10. Treasury. Loebell.
11. Awkward preliminary negotiations with Wiemer.
approve it. To my objection that the negotiations with the members of
parliament up to now only applied to the draft planned in the spring
not the current one, His Majesty replied that this made no difference at
all! His Majesty refused to acknowledge the importance of the financial
difficulties. He said that England would not be able to protest as lots of
dreadnoughts were suddenly being built all over the world. His Majesty
remarked that it was well that I, too, had finally come to the conclusion
that the service life of the battleships needed to be shortened. His Majesty
did not seem to recognise or value the significance of the permanent
Äternat] obtained by this for the 3-ship rate. Having
pursued this one objective incessantly for 10 years now, I was on the
Draft of an Amendment to the Act Concerning the German Navy
of 14 June 1900
Verhandlungen des Reichstages
, vol. 243,
20 November 1907
On behalf of His Majesty the Emperor, the Undersigned has the honour
to present the enclosed Draft of a Bill amending Article 2 of the Act
Concerning the German Navy of 14 June 1900 (
Sole article.
Article 2 of the Act Concerning the German Navy of 14 June 1900
The present 25-year replacement period is reckoned, within the
meaning of the law
, from the time when the first instalment for the ship
that is to be replaced was authorised until the authorisation of the first
instalment for the replacement vessel. From a
military and technological
, however, a much longer period of time may be considered the
first instalment is authorised but the moment where the final military and
technological requirements are laid down as the basis for construction.
Moreover, a ship is not decommissioned when the first instalment for the
but only after the replacement ship
the battleships must be reduced if they ought to be employed in battles
Outstanding experts of foreign navies are of the opinion that the life
span of a battleship should not exceed 15 to 20 years. The request of the
Federal Governments to stipulate a life span for battleships of 20 years
Year of replacement
Large cruisers
Such a construction plan is inefficient. Thus, in the new Annex B, the 11
This page has been left blank intentionally
also the case that, once the tensions over Morocco had died down, there
was no restoration of the status quo ante: a residual and lasting sense was
left in the public and the broader official mind of an Anglo-German naval
rivalry. In that sense, the First Moroccan Crisis was a critical moment in
the development of British naval policy.
However, the dispute over Morocco, dramatic and high profile though
it was, was not the only international crisis acting as a driver of Admiralty
thinking in this period. Another major diplomatic development that was
crucial for the Royal Navy’s consideration of how to frame a response to
German maritime expansion was the separation of Norway and Sweden.
These two countries had been unified in dynastic, if not governmental,
terms in 1814. While this arrangement had functioned relatively
British force in these waters could cut off Germany from its vital
Scandinavian commerce; equally, it allowed serious amphibious operations
against Germany to at least be threatened. None of this was lost on German
strategic planners, who, therefore, found themselves at one with Russia
in wanting to close off British access to the Baltic. While various avenues
might have been followed for achieving this, the diplomatic negotiations
surrounding the separation of Sweden and Norway provided a perfect
The British Admiralty, thus, found itself with two reasons in 1905 to
give serious attention to the Baltic. First, the growth of the German navy
made this a possible area of future conflict. Plans would need to be
devised for operating there. Second, the German effort to use the
Scandinavian crisis to close the entrances to the Baltic focused attention
back on this issue and crystallised the British desire to prevent this.
If the year 1905 began with a strong emphasis on Moroccan and Baltic
affairs, these were not the only issues that would dominate the period.
Some matters of longstanding continued to be of importance. Thus, the
resurfaced again in 1905 and 1906. Some other questions that had been
discussed, but had not previously been top priorities also began to be
reconsidered in the light of the new environment. Thus, the question of
the establishment of a North Sea naval base, a point which had been raised
once Germany was more clearly seen as the opponent. Correspondence
on this point accordingly began to mount.
However, the Admiralty records from 1905 to 1907 also show some
interesting signs of the future direction of travel. One issue of note is the
prominence that economic warfare plays in plans for a war against
Victory through the strangulation of German trade emerges in
this period as a key war strategy. Equally, with Germany as the most likely
opponent, greater emphasis than was formerly the case on keeping a close
watch on German shipbuilding becomes the order of the day. The fear
that Germany might use British economies to steal a march on the Royal
Navy – a supposition that will become extremely important in 1909, when
the naval scare of that year broke out in force – can be seen prefigured in
There have been a number of recent books on this topic. The most balanced is Stephen
Preparing for Blockade 1885–1914: Naval Contingency for Economic Warfare
This chapter includes documents covering all of these issues. The
impact of the Moroccan Crisis is evident from the very first paper [63],
in which Ottley, the new Director of Naval Intelligence, speculates as to
Germany’s motive in precipitating the crisis. That the crisis was a serious
one and might lead to war is evident in succeeding documents [64, 66].
is hardly surprising. This was a job generally charged to the British naval
attaché. His reports concerning the state of German shipbuilding were
Charles Ottley
is to oppose tooth and nail any such stations being acquired by her.
extremity in resisting any such demands.
It may probably be taken as certain that France would not tolerate the
idea of a German Station inside the Straits of Gibraltar.
As regards points on the coast of Africa outside the Mediterranean and
recent utterances. That this is so is indeed notorious, and,
from the point of view of our German relationships, those irresponsible
utterances have therefore, it would seem, a painful and untoward aspect.
But viewed from the standpoint of our growing friendship with France,
German susceptibilities unnecessarily. The proper course for Great Britain
to pursue at the present juncture is plain. She should give her whole moral
support to France, but she should abstain from any unnecessary action
calculated to arouse German antipathy while, on the other hand, she
Sir Arthur Wilson to the Admiralty
… No action by the Navy can do France any good.
It would amount to little more than the capture of a few colonies from
Germany which are of no use to her, and the stoppage of direct over-sea
trade from her own ports; but as she would probably have free access to
shipping interests, would not greatly affect her general trade. …
As the main object would be to draw off troops from the French
frontier, simultaneous attacks would have to be made at as many different
If Denmark were on our side, a very effective diversion might be made
by assisting her to recover Schleswig and Holstein,
including the port of
until these places were captured, Germany would be able to employ her
cruisers (acting from them) to harass our commerce in a manner which
under present circumstances is wholly impractical for her. …
Unsigned memorandum [Ottley] on ‘British Intervention in the
Event of France being suddenly attacked by Germany’
[TNA: ADM 116/1043B]
   The changes in the political balance of power in Europe occasioned by
the Russian losses in the present war have rendered it imperative to
consider the probable consequences of a second overthrow of France by
Germany. Briefly it may be said that such an event would end in the
aggrandisement of Germany to an extent which would be prejudicial to
the whole of Europe, and it might therefore be necessary for Great Britain
in her own interests to lend France her active support should war of this
Such a war would find the Anglo-French alliance in overwhelming
superiority as regards naval forces. The first effect of this superiority would
be the total disappearance of the German mercantile marine, a loss which
to a country becoming increasingly dependent upon industrial prosperity
would in itself be a serious blow. It is true that a proportion of German
oversea trade might be carried on through neutral ports, but such an
Germany via a Dutch port would run the risk of capture, and if to evade this
they were addressed to a Dutch consignee a third party would be introduced
into the business transacted as either Commissioning Agent or Middleman
whose share in the transaction might be expected to prove decidedly
end considerable loss on Germany and if we were not acting in
conjunction with France it would perhaps be our best plan to carry out
operations on these lines alone. But the effect would take time to produce,
and if we were desirous of supporting France more rapid action might be
necessary. Under such circumstances it would become obligatory upon
us to decide how we could best furnish the support required, and here it
may be said at once that the overwhelming extent of our maritime
supremacy would permit us to undertake operations of a nature which in
ordinary maritime warfare would be unjustifiable, such as close
approaches to hostile ports and attacks on defended positions. It would
Sir Richard Poore
to Sir Arthur Wilson
[TNA: FO 64/1630]
Generally speaking the attitude of the German Naval Officer towards
Islands, near the Seychelles. It is the only one with a good anchorage, and
should not attach any importance to the German visit had it been made
openly, but seeing that the Captain did not mention his intention to the
Governor of the Seychelles (which I imagine he only left the day before),
and as, although I saw him here, he said nothing, I am inclined to think
that spending two days at such an out of the way place may have been
the result. A cruiser like the
would ‘mop’ up such vessels one
after the other with the greatest ease, and therefore, if necessary, more
must be built for that purpose. …
: Prior to becoming First Sea Lord in October 1904, Fisher compiled a
selection of his memoranda and correspondence and transformed it into a manifesto on behalf
of his reform proposals. He modestly entitled it
and, after having it printed
and bound, distributed copies of it to key decision-makers. Subsequently, in 1905 and 1906,
two further volumes, justifying and defending his reforms, were likewise compiled, printed
and distributed. These later volumes were numbered (
is known as
‘Mercantile Cruisers’, paper C in Naval Necessities IV
   [10 January 1906]   We have considered the question of the employment of Mercantile
Cruisers, armed and unarmed, in the light of recent improvements in ship
The question appears to have altered considerably since the older
contracts (now expired) were entered into.
The only possible uses of such vessels are three:–
As unarmoured cruisers for the protection or destruction of
Captain Reginald Allenby,
NA Germany 1/06
[TNA: FO 371/76]
I have the honour to submit to your notice the following remarks on my
recent visit to Copenhagen, via Kiel. This route was taken in order to see
what progress was being made with the outer fortifications of Kiel
Sans Pareil
would form a force that
class, they will, I believe,
bring up this fact as showing that they have taken some step towards
experiment, but also partly a
mishap to one of their building slips. At all events if Germany claims
credit at The Hague for her ‘disarmament’ we shall know what to think.
Charles Ottley to Vincent Baddeley
[TNA: ADM 1/8947]
16 November 1906
I think the reply to Sir Edward Grey’s
conundrum is a perfectly
obvious one. We should endeavour, by every means in our power, to prove
Neither I suppose do any of us question that the ultimate destiny of
Denmark is to be incorporated (precisely as a boa-constrictor incorporates
food for the Teutonic boa-constrictor) but a mongoose; a quadruped small
indeed but which we are told even constrictors are wary of!
The delay, of a few days, that Denmark might diplomatically or
Unsigned minute,
numbered M.0171/07, attached to a printed
copy of Philip Dumas, Germany Naval Attaché Report No.3/07, 29
January 1907
[TNA: ADM 116/1043B2]
   In this report Commander Dumas deals with a vast problem and one in
It is plain however that what the Germans may or may not do in such
a contingency must remain a matter of surmise and that the fundamental
experience in tactics.
But even admitting that the German Manoeuvres may be taken as a
correct guide to the strategical ideas and intentions of the German
General Staff, Captain Dumas’ deductions … are much open to dispute
– e.g. as regards:–
The Constitutional difficulties and fundamental considerations of
international comity which must always prevent a British Government
ordering a sudden attack without warning upon any opponent are probably
as accurately appreciated by the German General Staff as they are in
Whitehall, though doubtless the younger German officers, like the
German yellow press, may affect to believe in such a possibility.
Page 9.
The belief that it is possible to carry out a strict and effective
The steam tonnage of Germany and neutrals respectively in 1904 was
as follows.
Germany (roughly)
Norway, Sweden
The ocean shipping of the United States is small, a large proportion of
the tonnage being employed on the Great Lakes.
It will at once be seen that the above-mentioned six neutral nations are
absolutely unable to carry for Germany without starving their own
national needs, indeed it seems doubtful if under any circumstances they
It follows that a shortage of carrying power must ensue. This shortage
The capture and destruction of merchant vessels.
The large demands on mercantile tonnage made by British and
The fact that the German Mercantile Marine would be almost entirely
looked up in neutral or national ports.
If the war was protracted it is possible that ships would be built for the
purpose of running to Germany; but in such an event Britain would profit,
her building yards being the cheapest and most rapid in the world.
No doubt neutral and British vessels may be attracted by the large
freights they would be offered to run goods to German ports or to
adjoining neutral ports, but in the latter case, the fact that their destination
is neutral will be no safeguard against action on our part, that is, if we
would be very high.
In view of the above, and postulating as we must, a very large fighting
Submarines in Home Waters, both during the period of strained relations
and on the outbreak of war, except torpedo boats and submarines at
present at the disposal of the Commanders-in-Chief of the Home Ports
Lord Charles Beresford to Admiralty
[TNA: ADM 1/8030]
1 August 1907

Torpedo Base)
The Forth (Forth bridge)
This shows that Cromarty is too far removed to the North. The
Humber is the best situated strategically, but has many disadvantages. The
Forth is the best on the whole; I am proposing to use this as the main base
approved, and ships do anchor above the bridge, I consider that some
arrangements should be prepared to prevent any traitorous action against
the spans of the Forth Bridge. I am of opinion that, from the great
structural strength of the Bridge, this would require a considerable
At the time this Committee reported, Rosyth was considered to be
outside the range of torpedo attack and in consequence the 4 × 12pdr guns
on Inchgarvie and the Coast Guard batteries were dismantled.
In the light of recent decisions by the Board as to the extent of sea-
lying off Rosyth is no longer remote and it is submitted that in any
revision of the defences some anti-torpedo-boat armament should be
Ersatz Bayern
Laid down first week August 1907. Probably
Ersatz Saschen
Laid down first week August 1907. Probably
launched August 1908. (Official: many people
who have seen her have told me.)
Ersatz Baden
Laid down June 1907. Probably launched July
Ersatz Württemberg
Laid down June 1907. Probably launched July
I am of opinion that these last four, all
trade is, I am afraid, often forgotten. The primary cause of war is trade,
and war is kept going by trade, for, without it, our credit is impaired and
our funds disappear.
Since no trade can exist in this country except oversea, it follows that
the main reason for our naval forces is the protection of trade. If we
withdraw our forces from the Baltic, our trade there will cease, but if we
maintain ourselves in that sea, we thereby prevent our enemies from
attacking the trade, since they cannot attend to the operations against our
‘Memorandum by the Sea Lords
for the Information of the First
   3 December 1907   The publication in the last few days of the official programme of
German shipbuilding makes it clear that we have got to face largely
increased Naval Estimates in order to preserve our Naval supremacy, and
it seems an imperative necessity that we should adhere to what really may
be characterised as a very modest shipbuilding programme for next year
1 Armoured Cruiser
16 Destroyers
to a programme of 5 Battleships a year in 1910, and perhaps in 1909 – this
will depend on the rapidity of their shipbuilding.
Anyhow, it would be
on all grounds quite inadmissible to omit the one Battleship in next year’s
programme, and indeed severe criticism must be expected at our not
commencing two Battleships. …
As before mentioned, comparing the relative strength of the Battleships
of France and Germany, or present position is a sound one, but in 1909
we may be forced to a programme of 5 Battleships a year, and in view of
The four Sea Lords were (in order): John Arbuthnot Fisher, William Henry May, Henry
Bradwardine Jackson and Alfred Leigh Winsloe.
A class of scout cruisers (3,800 tons). Only two – HMS
were built.
the likelihood it is inadmissible to have a less programme than that
carefully discussed and decided upon by the Board of Admiralty, and the
Estimates as a whole do not admit of any further reduction consistent with
wish of Germany to keep them closed if possible. At the same time it must
be remembered that Great Britain cannot acquiesce in any arrangement
which will debar her from having free access to the Baltic at all times.
This may entail active interference in Denmark at an early period of the
be very great, and would in all probability justify the risk.
Lord Tweedmouth
to Sir Edward Grey
[TNA: ADM 116/940B]
There is the question of the proposed agreement between Germany and
Sweden. I will not go into the large questions of general policy which are
involved but I must call your attention to the serious Naval Strategical
Considerations which we here are bound to give close consideration to.
This page has been left blank intentionally
In June 1912, the Reichstag passed the third Amendment to the Navy Law
) within six years. Eventually, at least it seemed, Tirpitz
increasingly constrained. Moreover, its military superiority on the
the turn of the century, the build-up of the navy increasingly became a
great financial burden. In particular, the change from pre-dreadnought to
dreadnought-type capital ships had had almost disastrous consequences
Baudissin, Bülow had tried to open a debate about the foundations of
Tirpitz’s policy, though without any success. For Tirpitz, these ideas were
pure heresy and by rallying the Emperor behind him, he proved able to
Developments in foreign and domestic politics, finance and renewed
criticism of his policy were, of course, not the only aspects Tirpitz had to
cruisers also had a deep impact upon naval strategy in the case of war.
Building ships now that were too big for the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal, the
Imperial Navy had lost one of its advantages in the case of war with
Britain. For many years to come, it was virtually impossible to move
Germany so that Your Majesty will be conceded such a degree of naval
] as to allow Your Majesty to pursue a grand overseas
policy’ [7].
‘For a State’, he later claimed, ‘which is conscious that the welfare of
its citizens does not consist in extenuation, but in power and prestige,
there is only one means of restoring its reputation if it wants to avoid war:
that is, to show that it is not afraid, and at the same time to strengthen its
protection against a defeat when serious trouble seems imminent.’
Moreover, an Amendment to the Navy Law would strengthen the position
of the government, for it would help to rally the conservative as well as
the bourgeois parties behind it and thus ‘take the wind out of the social-
For the first time in his long and successful career, however, Tirpitz met
achieved. … In case the purpose is not achieved, Your Majesty’s policy
will always have to show consideration for England. All sacrifices for
naval forces would have been in vain. History [will] condemn us.
In Tirpitz’s eyes, the only means to avoid this fiasco was to conclude an
participate in a Franco-German war’,
the diverging priorities in naval politics as well as fears that this bill would
Chancellor was able to mobilise the army against the navy. The army,
which had been satisfied with its minor role in the past, now began to
demand more money for an increase of its strength as well as of its
Tirpitz was surprised by this turn of events. In his struggle with the
Chancellor he kept on arguing that sea power was the foundation of world
power. To no avail, however, for, as in 1909, he as well as the Chief of the
Admiralty Staff had to admit ‘that our chances in a war against England
are not good under the present conditions’.
For the first time in his long
career, he began to feel desperate. In his eyes, his life’s work seemed to
consist of modern vessels only. As one of his officers soon was to put it
in a memo which he prepared for Tirpitz’s use in the Reichstag: ‘If the
English cannot build us to death because it would be too expensive for
them and cannot beat us to death because that would be too expensive for
them after the approval of the
’, then they would probably change
their policy towards Germany, ‘and from the present armed encounter a
really friendly relationship of Germany and England would develop’.
At last, on 7 February 1912 during the opening ceremony of the newly
elected Reichstag, the Emperor announced a new navy bill as well as an
army bill in a Speech from the Throne. Tirpitz’s hope, however, that he
had been successful once again, soon proved wrong. On 8 February 1912,
For Tirpitz this sudden turn of events created a difficult situation. As
he later wrote: ‘If we … invited the English to Berlin we had to be
however, he decided to stick to his plan. Nevertheless, he still had a long
Chief of the Admiralty Staff, Report to the Sovereign on the
Imperial Order [AKO] to be issued to the Chief of the High Seas Forces
for the War against England 1908, including the Draft of the Imperial
[BArch, RM 5/1607, ff. 6–10r]
vigorous and offensive manner the targets of which are no longer limited
In such a way, our entire warfare is given a more offensive character.
Our light forces would no longer be doomed to wait for a favourable
occasion to occur allowing them to fight their way through the enemy
authority of the individual agencies directly subordinate to Your Majesty
]. The new draft more precisely delineates the
being. Instead, a balance of strength shall be brought about by offensively
as long as we continue in a state of recognised inferiority to England, may
possibly never be used, never inflict injury on the enemy, and so fail to
help in bringing about a favourable issue in the war. I am far from
claiming an opinion on the technicalities of the subject. I merely offer a
suggestion, as it strikes an unprofessional mind, which has often come
Whilst our primal interest in having our coasts in a thorough state of
defence may appear to emphasise the importance of the defensive
measures described above, I hold, on the other hand, that political
feeling towards us in England, which you yourself describe as hostile,
we can only repeat type
It will not be until designing type J (10) that the conclusions drawn from
the 09 battleships in terms of protection can be included without delaying
the construction process. These deserve to be taken into account if we want
to continue with the current line of development for our large cruiser.
class, ever since the development
of the 07 cruiser,
there have been increasing efforts to create a vessel
with the capabilities of a fast
sacrifices in combat power or a displacement that is superior to that of the
von der Tann.
The latter is, for various reasons, not a practicable solution. Thus, if we
want to consistently pursue this path we have embarked on, we have no
choice but to
build a large cruiser of nearly the same size as the same-
aged battleships so as to provide her with a combat power matching that
of the battleships to the greatest possible extent
However, it is not possible to increase the calibre
any restrictions
to the number of guns while improving protection
improved protection takes precedence in the development of the cruiser
, the only possible options to choose from would be:
Large cruisers G
Large cruiser J
Heavy artillery
270 mm upwards
to approx. 1.6 m
above LWL
approx. 310 mm
upwards to
approx. 2 m above
LWL untapered
340 mm upwards
to approx. 2 m
above LWL
Belt in front of
Belt behind
Front control
200 mm
170 mm
170 mm
150 mm
150 mm
170 mm
Admiralty Staff, Draft of an Imperial Order to be issued to the
Commander-in-Chief of the High Seas Forces (for 1909)
[BArch, RM 5/1607, f. 38]
March [1 April] 1909
remained unchanged
autumn, not to introduce an Amendment to the Navy Law in 1912,
would be dropped.
This can be accomplished otherwise according
to Tirpitz’s proposal. As a result your Highness should ask Tirpitz
to develop a formula in which no figures and classes of ships appear
for the time being; this formula should outline along rough lines our
proposals that we would like to make if the English government
once again offers us the –
official and binding
– opportunity to speak
out on this issue. Of course, the English government itself must
us the cancellation of its excess building
the British government would very likely reject negotiations about Tirpitz’s proposals.
Moreover, he argued, withdrawing the promise to introduce no new Amendment to the Navy
could not be accommodated unless the length of the ship is increased.
This means: more costs, more displacement. The question that arises is:
First, the Chancellor developed his views about the difficulties of our
situation towards England. A deep resentment towards us existed in England
which had been caused by worries about our threatening her historical naval
supremacy. In his opinion, economic envy was of minor importance.
naval scare had reached a level at which new constructions considered to
be necessary were financed by using the funds of the principally peaceful
English middle class (be it by increasing the taxes or by the collapse of
Consols due to new bonds) who consequently was likely to sympathise with
the political party promising to eliminate the inconvenient rival for naval
supremacy by pursuing a resolute policy. However, a Conservative
government in England constituted a serious threat of war to Germany. The
Conservative government was not unlikely to issue an ultimatum asking us
Finally, the Chancellor pointed out that 40 years ago it had been
possible for Germany to risk a war against England, just as Bismarck had
done in 1864 when Palmerstone had issued a kind of ultimatum. Now this
was no longer the case, considering our trade, our colonies and the
After General von Plessen had stated his opinion that the English could
not expect Germany to make concessions regarding its Navy Laws and
that the English would have to come to terms with this I expressed my
opinion as follows: There was indeed a naval scare in England. This scare
had been caused by the building of dreadnought-class battleships and the
related alleged devaluation of all preceding ships. This assertion of the
devaluation was, of course, foolish, however, many Englishmen believed
in it anyway and so they felt quite uncomfortable at the thought of us
having 11 dreadnoughts in the spring of 1912 as opposed to 16 on the
English side, if the English were now to approve only 4 ships of this class.
I was sure, however, that the 4 provisional dreadnoughts would be built.
Then, the ratio would attain 11:20 in the spring of 1912 and England
would be likely to calm down again, just as it had done in naval scares in
former times. One had to consider, however, that if England were to take
the decision to start a war as easily as the Chancellor was afraid of,
consequences of such a war. This memorandum will be available by the
25 April at the latest. –
Above I described the situation as it appears here. The duty of your
Excellency to draw up an agreement formula is extremely difficult and
responsible. It would not surprise me if the agreement formula contained
on our part of a supplementary naval programme and for failing to demand
atonement for Sir Charles Hardinge’s unconstitutional action at Cronberg.
of His Majesty abroad was to report the truth and to describe circumstances
as they actually were. He, the Chancellor, would always support an
Triple Alliance. The Kruger telegram and the attitude of German public
opinion during the Boer War had undoubtedly disturbed it. But it had not
become deeply blackened until our naval construction and the agitation
in its favour convinced the British in an ever increasing measure that our
Navy meant a serious menace to England, and that absolute security and
superiority were now a matter of life and death. It was not Germany’s
over in England, and he could only
question. He was astounded to hear now that in the preceding autumn the
Admiral von Tirpitz said yes to this
question. There was no necessity to
alter the Naval Law. Slowing down
from 4 to 3 could be effected in the
Admiral von Tirpitz said there was no
necessity to alter the Naval Law for such
a slowing down of the rate of building.
Slowing down from 4 to 3 could be
effected in the ordinary course.
The Chancellor stated that it was possible then to slow down without
it leading to debates in the Reichstag or even becoming very publicly
Admiral von Müller said that it ought to be made quite clear that an
understanding with England on the basis of slowing down could only
come into being on condition England offered reciprocity of the same
kind, i.e., by slowing down her own construction.
All those present were agreed that reciprocity was an absolute condition
for an understanding with England. The Chancellor insisted strongly that
England must not only give full reciprocity on the technical military side,
but a political assurance also.
Admiral von Tirpitz was certain that
the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal was widened
and Heligoland fortified, the menace
from England would be at an end. It
would be less even in two years’ time.
Admiral von Tirpitz said that in his
relations with England would have
when the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal was
widened and Heligoland fortified. It
would be less even in two years’ time.
The Chancellor: ‘That is all very well; but the question is still – how
Admiral von Tirpitz thought it could be surmounted by an understanding
about new construction in the ratio of 3:4.
Emperor’s leave to work out a formula for an understanding. He pointed
out, however, that no diplomacy in the world could induce England to
accept a formula which looked like a threat to her existence.
Admiral von Tirpitz declared his
readiness in principle to work out a
formula. But he must first have
judge what shape a formula was to
take. The Admiral repeated his earlier
British Government’s attitude in the
spring, the initiative ought not to come
The Chancellor begged finally that the subject of this discussion should
His Majesty has also declared that he expects for certain that we will
succeed in transferring the heavy ships (
which are tied to Kiel over the winter for their trials, via Skagen to the
North Sea before the outbreak of hostilities. Only in case of dire
necessity is His Majesty prepared to renounce the contribution of the
heavy vessels mentioned in the North Sea during the forthcoming winter
Hereby, I most humbly inform Your Excellency of this. …
have to be fought at ranges of 10,000 m and more, and thus that the
By contrast, Rear Admiral
once more argues in favour of the
need for a larger calibre onboard large cruisers which he believes will
have to engage battleships, too.
Ersatz Odin
It is of particular importance to him to minimise the
strain on the construction department, in order to promote the design work
for the 1911 large cruiser with oil engines. …
Notes for a Report to the Sovereign, concerning the naval relation
by Admiral von Tirpitz on 24 October 1910
[BArch, Tirpitz papers, N 253/24b, ff. 89–91r]
1. Agreement on negotiations brings up a question which is currently
rather unimportant, but
2. The backbone of Your Majesty’s naval policy is that the German
[One may argue which ratio is sufficient to achieve our aim, but it must
be simple and represent a catchword. 1:2 directly contradicts the goal; 3:4
is impossible to achieve. So what remains is 2:3]
8. I want to believe that our present Navy Law, i.e. when about 60
capital ships of approximately 25,000 tons have been commissioned and
are combat ready, will allow for the 2 to 3 ratio. This will make 90 capital
in home waters
. For the time being,
both navies are still far away from this standpoint. And financially, both
navies will probably never be able to afford more. From that point of view
9. What remains essential is the
aspect of the issue. When
England makes the official ‘two keels to one’ demand, our counter move
10. This is necessary
for our naval policy not to look pointless and hopeless, and
to maintain our political position in the world.
and in which
it may become necessary for us to
officially demand a 2 to 3 ratio, cannot be said at the moment.
12. For the time being, it is important to make this situation as clear as
possible, to accept it and in any negotiations with England over naval
matters not to do or say anything that is contradictory to the above-
described programme. [In other words, refrain from giving any figures.]
Grand Admiral von Tirpitz, Notes for the Report to the Sovereign,
on the question of future naval policy
[BArch, Tirpitz papers, N 253/25a,
ff. 106, 108, 110–11]
naval policy. In 1900, this definition of the ratio towards the most powerful
16. Will Your Majesty kindly convey these thoughts to the Chancellor.
Majesty said that the Chancellor had told him that Heeringen und
had dissuaded him from introducing an Amendment to the
Navy Law, i.e. an increase in the number of ships, and that they had
described the situation thus created as a challenge to peace. His Majesty
had formally protested. Admiral von Holtzendorff had presented His
Majesty with the same ideas that we [
] had to fill the gaps first. His
Majesty had answered that he could not say anything about this. I then
pointed out the incorrectness of such a statement by Admiral von
Holtzendorff. Admiral von Müller vehemently advocated the rational
aspect of Admiral von Holtzendorff’s approach and succeeded in drawing
His Majesty’s attention to the incorrectness in the behaviour of the
Chancellor. His Majesty strongly felt that we needed a fait accompli
against England. He really liked the proposal very much.
At another opportunity, His Majesty ‘boasted’ about what had been
achieved against Fr[ance]. Whereas the French had behaved well, the
English had been despicable; but he had shown them how they had to be
treated and now they knew. (Entering port in 1889 with a squadron after
having personally been treated badly during the Queen’s jubilee in 1887
Irrespective of all explanations, there is a risk of confusing strength ratio
Admiralty Staff, Draft of an Imperial Order [Operations
Directives] to be issued to the Commander-in-Chief of the High Seas
In non-crisis situations, the North Sea inclusive of the Skagerrak shall
be the preliminary operating area for initiating offensive operations.
If non-offensive warfare is preferred, a special directive shall be given
by His Majesty.
I have the privilege to provide this information in confidence to Your

and feeling in England, its impact on that country and the two-to-one
Our fleet is currently in a particularly unfavourable situation for war
against England. The ratio of powerful battleships is a considerable
weakness for us, and the unfinished condition of the Canal
emphasizes it even more.
We will always face a period of risk when we begin the required
With regard to the required protection from disruption by enemy forces,
a concentration can only be achieved in our own waters
, which the enemy
will not invade prior to the outbreak of war, and where he cannot stay for
any extended period of time after the outbreak of war because of our
Even if, therefore, the Skagerrak is considered to be the appropriate
staging area for our offensive, I think that every effort should be made to
effect the concentration in the German Bight as long as the I. Squadron
is stationed there
Your Excellency already consented in spring this year that
the extension of the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal it is correct to effect the
The proposed deployment of the large
ships to the North Sea should provide for this opportunity even during the
ongoing extension of the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal
operations proper have begun at all. Part of the coal has been spent. These
circumstances may already have great importance for the later performance
It is impossible to stay in the Skagerrak. The weather must be taken
just as it is. It is difficult to make full use of our torpedo boats. Perhaps
we will have to do without them in the battle and, thus, be deprived of the
to take the role of the Russians at Port Arthur.
Even the prevailing local
conditions are much too different.
that may still turn out to be important. The submarines, in particular, may
be destined to play a major role towards the end of the battle. This will
hardly occur off Skagen, since we cannot predict the direction in which
the forces are likely to withdraw after the battle. A submarine flotilla
1. The High Seas Fleet shall inflict as soon as possible as much damage
as possible on our enemy by using all armed forces available, if need be.
2. In non-crisis situations, the North Sea inclusive of the Skagerrak
shall be the preliminary operating area for initiating offensive operations.
3. If non-offensive warfare is preferred, a special directive shall be
given by His Majesty.
In the past, the directives for operations have been adapted to the ever
proceeding development of our maritime forces in terms of materiel and
tactics. Thus, not only the Baltic Sea, but soon the North Sea and finally
the estuaries up to the Helgoland Bight were covered by these directives
aiming at an
have to cope with the blockade inflicted on us by our opponent –
impairing overseas trade but also cornering our entire naval forces in the
narrow German Bight.
In such a situation well-known from several exercises we would be
entirely unprotected against the English attacking with light forces. The
that employment of our submarines – 11 at the most – is severely
passageway at its western side is already threatened by the opponent.
From this, arose the idea to deploy the large vessels to the North Sea
Primarily at issue here are Your Majesty’s large cruisers
der Tann
mid-March due to an engine failure and torpedo registration firing at some
is with the specialised service of the Naval Artillery
School and thus indispensable from the Baltic Sea. The cruiser
is thus the only available vessel. Disruption of the reconnaissance
unit, however, would seriously interfere with the training status and
schedule of this crucial and complex service. After conclusion of the
training period for each ship the branch would certainly be unable to attain
conditions of service and life to the amenities offered by a foreign
assignment since Wilhelmshaven lacks the corresponding enticements
and benefits in every respect.
Our duty routine in winter time is intensely focused on compensating
for the decline of combat readiness and fighting efficiency as soon as
possible. Despite adverse weather conditions, our people make use of all
resources available and work dedicatedly to technically maintain our
ships in every particular by day and night and to impressively demonstrate
the dexterity and cleverness of the staff with regard to weapon handling.
Apart from maintaining good discipline, leaders and superior officers are
mainly concerned about keeping their service personnel not only
3. Expedited construction of the submarine harbour is a necessity not
difficulties as well. Still, reasons of this kind definitely need to take second
place to military and strategic considerations.
I believe it behoves me to add another general aspect to the afore
mentioned which has political repercussions among its consequences. A
battle off Skagen will only be fought with our operationally-ready High
Seas Forces and take place deliberately at maximum distance from our
prevailing. I do not think it right to place ourselves under constraint in this
way through a concentration off Skagen, as situations may occur in which
Your Majesty may not consider it advisable to employ our ready forces
immediately from general and political or strategic aspects which only Your
Majesty can fully grasp. Through a planned concentration of our fleet in the
North Sea via the Canal, Your Majesty will therefore maintain full freedom

12 large cruisers,
as scouting vessels;

amendments fixed in the Acts of the 5 June 1906, 6 April 1908 and this
In the form of an instrument executed in his own hand and with the
Given in
Article 4.
III. Personnel.
Article 4.
99 with full active crews
As reserve materiel:
45 without crews
The above is not affected by the Amendment.
Article 4 of the Navy Law of 1900 provided: 72 full crews and 72
nucleus crews, adding up to a total of 116 full crews (cf. footnote referring
Only 99 crews are required, thus, the Navy Law stipulates 17 full crews
in excess of the required number.
Section 3 of the Amendment aligns the number of crews fixed by the
law with the actual requirements, thus,
decreasing the number of torpedo
personnel stipulated by the Navy Law by 17 boat crews
2. It is envisaged to request 6 submarines each year. This adds up to 72
submarines given a life span of 12 years. For 54 of these boats active
crews are envisaged, 18 boats constitute the reserve materiel without crew.

Annex 2
Construction Scheme.
Large cruisers
Total large vessels
Large cruisers
Total large vessels
Including 1 additional vessel iaw the Amendment.
The year of the new construction of 1 battleship and 2 small cruisers remains to be
This figure includes 1 additional vessel still to be constructed iaw the Navy Law.
This page has been left blank intentionally
ROYAL NAVY 1908–1911
The year 1908 would usher in a momentous and extremely tense period
in Anglo-German relations. As far as the public was concerned, the key
issue was the naval scare that broke out suddenly and with great intensity
‘contractor’s gossip’ in an interesting light if, as seems to be the case,
such gossip as there was did not originate from British sources, but was,
in fact, supplied by a German firm that made this information available
because of the bitterness and intensity of its rivalry with, not to say
downright hostility towards, another German company, Krupp. It would
be too much to say that the great acceleration scare was ignited by
German-sourced leaks, but such leaks were clearly a factor.
Whatever the basis, it is clear that the information about acceleration
and 4, serious thought was being given to the best means of securing
victory in a war with Germany. One option, hallowed by the precedent of
British operations in past wars, was to apply economic pressure through
the interdiction of the enemy’s trade.
To this end, the year 1908 saw a
concerted effort on the part of the Naval Intelligence Department to
conservative colleagues.
Recent scholarship has conclusively demonstrated
that such conclusions are wrong and that these plans genuinely expressed
Fisher’s strategic thinking as well as that of the Admiralty more broadly.
This becomes evident not through an examination of these specific plans
themselves, but through putting them into the broader context of naval
war-planning more generally. By doing so, it becomes evident that the 1907
plans not only reflect the priorities of earlier planning documents, but, even
more significantly, their basic precepts would be continued in later ones.
Sections of these subsequent documents, which show the essential lines of
continuity in Admiralty war-planning for a confrontation with Germany,
are reproduced in this chapter.
The first of these is a section of Plan W1 from June 1908 [107a]. The
plan envisaged that, in a war with Germany, the Royal Navy would
establish an observational blockade of the German North Sea littoral.
Destroyers patrolling off the main German harbours and river mouths
other to the south of the Texel. The role of the destroyers would be twofold.
To keep German light craft from gaining access to the North Sea – the light
cruisers could assist in suppressing such a German move – and to warn the
that the growing range and power of the torpedo had made large armoured
warships dangerously vulnerable to attack from submarines and destroyers,
especially in narrow waters where they could not easily decline action or
manoeuvre to avoid being struck. As a result, Germany’s numerous flotilla
craft would be able to render the North Sea inaccessible to British
armoured warships; while the Royal Navy could not contest this, it could
Minute by Slade, M0604/08, NID445
[TNA: ADM 116/3304]
The vulnerability of Germany through her overseas supplies being
nowadays an accepted fact, it is considered desirable to obtain answers
to the enclosed questions in order to gauge her actual dependence on these
overseas supplies. The answers to these questions may indicate in a useful
manner how far Germany does depend on overseas supplies, and to what
extent these overseas supplies can be deviated from their normal to new
channels in time of war …
Admiralty, RS NID Berlin 19/08
[TNA: FO 244/699]
1. Assuming Germany’s import and export trade by her national ports to
be at a standstill in time of war, how far could she draw supplies:–
(a) of food-stuffs
(b) of raw material
from neighbouring countries and from oversea through neutral ports by
means of rail and inland water communication? Also to what extent she
sic] export goods oversea through neutral ports?
2. Assuming Germany could draw in sufficient raw material to give
employment to her manufacturing centres in war time by such means as
mentioned above, would the additional transport charges increase the cost
5. Assuming that in war time the German North sea ports are closed to
trade except Emden, is there sufficient rolling stock and lighters to serve
German needs through the Ems and Rhine, supposing that the trade could
6. Does any large amount of German foreign trade pass through neutral
7. Assuming the Baltic to be closed to a great extent to the British trade,
how far would Germany benefit by taking over the trade which Great
Britain would lose?
Dumas, NARS Germany 64/08
[TNA: FO 244/699]
Submitted in reply to N.I.D. Berlin 19/08 that I would first of all beg
Westphalia, Bremen, Hamburg, Berlin, Silesia, Breslau, Weimar & Saxony
in general, and I have also been informed on very good authority that even
now it is calculated that the railway system of the German Empire requires
at least 120,000 more railway trucks, it would not seem possible to maintain
the trade in these districts in time of war.
The following tables will give some idea of the quantity by value of
imports to Hamburg, Bremen, Lübeck and Emden in 1906 which would
thus require accommodation elsewhere.
Raw materials
Textile manufactures
Nickel ore
I would further point out that this does not include the large quantities
Consuls at Warsaw and Danzig.
4. As already stated in the answer to no.1 I have reason to believe that
the accommodation would prove in every way inadequate.
5. As regards rolling stock certainly not. It is just possible that sufficient
lighterage might be transferred from the Elbe & Weser to deal partially
sic] with the consequent enormous increase of traffic.
6. From my own observations a certain small amount comes in via
Esjberg, Copenhagen & Amsterdam but it would be almost inappreciable
in the whole volume.
7. So far as my own observations go very little at all as the local trade
is done in German bottoms which would remain available while the
foreign trade, as for instance iron ore from Sweden, would not benefit
Germany at all for it must then be carried in alien ships.
War Plan. Germany W.1.
[TNA: ADM 116/1043B]
The views of the Admiralty are as follows:–
destroyers in company; they become unwieldy, and, as destroyer actions
if the other enemy divisions do not support, an equal amount of damage
If supported, however, the new arrivals will have difficulty in
distinguishing friend from foe, and, although we may relinquish any hope
of escape for our own craft, we may be fairly certain that the enemy will
do a goodly amount of damage to each other.
The second case, viz., that in which the enemy spread singly or in pairs,
is an alternative not likely to be adopted by an intelligent and especially
weaker enemy, for by doing so he exposes his craft to the danger of
If the force of the small volume of water which passes over the shallow
est parts of the reef could be broken, we would secure comparatively calm
water on the north-east side. This could be effected by sinking twelve
tramps … thus forming a breakwater behind which two depot ships and
a collier could anchor, and if each of these ships had two destroyers
alongside her, the breakwater would give shelter to a whole division. …
Minute by Reginald Bacon
[TNA: ADM 116/3340]
I had a visit yesterday from the manager of the Coventry Ordnance
who has received information from Germany relative to the very
real increase in plant which is taking place at Messrs Krupp. He sent over
to verify the statements and assured me that the extension in Gun
mounting machinery is perfectly extraordinary – Large vertical turning
large firms consider
to be sufficient (costing £8,000 apiece) the firm
– the output of gun mountings possible with this
[TNA: ADM 116/3340]
It was reported in 1905 that £3,000,000 was being expended on the
extension of Krupp’s works at Essen in order to considerably increase
their output, very powerful lathes were reported to be in the course of
the largest guns and thereby saving one-third of the time of manufacture.
Five machines, each costing £5,300, for turning up roller paths and
turntables had been ordered. In September 1906 the Naval Attaché was
conducted over the works by Herr Eccius
constant increase of the establishment and reconstruction of shops was
due to the normal development of the business; however, the Naval
Attaché reported that signs of new construction and re-building were
everywhere visible, which points to a more than normal expansion of the
The works were again visited by the Naval Attaché in August 1907
found the remainder of the money out of their own resources.
The information obtained by the D.N.O. confirms the reports we have
been receiving from time to time, and it points to the preparation of such
facilities as will enable Germany to fully employ all her shipbuilding
yards in building the largest type of ship if an emergency should arise.
The only limitation on her power of doing this has been the difficulty of
Otto Eccius: Director of Krupp’s in charge of war material sales until caught up in the
Dumas’s report, NA 43/07 of 7 Aug 1907, is reproduced in full in Seligmann,
The total number of slips possessed by Germany sufficiently long to
Slade, ‘Great Britain, France and Russia – versus – The Triple
[TNA: ADM 116/1043B]

This, on our part, would be chiefly negative, i.e. –
(1) To prevent Germany from overrunning France, and Austria from

It is probable that the Balkan States would be involved in the war
contemplated, even if they are not the ostensible cause.
(2) To preserve the neutrality of Belgium and to prevent Germany from
occupying Holland and the mouths of the Rhine.

So far as regards the military action of France and Great Britain, this
will probably be mainly defensive. Russia might assume the offensive.

1. The spheres of action of each Navy should be clearly defined.
2. Combined action should be restricted to strategic movements and
combined tactics – as a general rule – avoided.
3. The armed vessels of one nation only can move in narrow waters

The general spheres of Naval action are indicated by the Geographical
situation, viz. Great Britain in the North Sea and Channel – France in the

many reasons should not evacuate the Mediterranean; France by herself
has not a great superiority over the combined forces of Italy and Austria,
and our position in Egypt and the necessity of keeping the Suez Canal
open and of preventing any action by Austria in the Archipelago will
with 12
guns – against 24 German of which 13 are armed with 11
. Nine of these latter vessels are of inferior quality
and are not as good fighting ships as many of our vessels in the Special

reduce by 500 miles, but as this is not the case the total amount is

French action should therefore be confined to a line west of
Plymouth and they could be usefully employed at the
and preventing the exit of German commerce destroyers. The
principal line would be at Dover Straits and the French line is an
extra safeguard.

Some French cruisers might possibly be employed at the
Northern exit of the North Sea, working – via the West Coast –
from Lerwick to Scapa Flow.

Few French Destroyers will be available and the torpedo-boats
are of no use for working off German ports; if the mouths of the
Rhine have to be blockaded, then French boats working from
Dunkirk would be useful.
Action against Italy and Austria

France’s action would seem to be confined to a blockade of the
Adriatic and Italian coasts; great damage would be inflicted on
Italy by stopping all trade to Genoa. An effective blockade of the
watching Genoa.

An important question in the general conduct of the naval part
of the war is the question of attack and protection of Trade.

From either aspect this question is most acute in the early stages
of a war and it is therefore imperative that any combined action

The chief danger to British commerce lies in the armed
mercantile cruisers that Germany intends to equip, and if these
either evade our ships in the North Sea or, as is probable, are
The same influence has been exerted in Holland and in other countries.
past few months Erhardt has received more work for his own Government
than during the previous ten years!
Respecting the firm of Krupp it must be realized that it is by far the
largest Manufacturing concern in the world; it employs (including the rail
and cement works) 65,000 work-people.
The next largest is reputed to be Pittsburg, United States of America,
Its engineering business (without the rail and cement works) is larger
than Woolwich Arsenal, Armstrong’s, Vickers, and the Coventry Ordnance
Krupp makes ship plates and structural iron work, also armour plate
just before X-mas a clique in that august assembly declared themselves
against building more than four dreadnoughts and threatened resignation
if their wishes were not attended to. They consist of Winston C[hurchill],
Lloyd George,
and 2 others. Six in all. The First
I cannot say what will be the end of it, but after the protestations of the
At other works
1902 Krupp employed

As regards (b), the connection of the German Emperor with Krupp, Mr
Muliner told me that his deductions had been made chiefly from
information that he had received from Erhardts. He also stated that the
Emperor had a personal interest in the firm owing to his grandfather
having invested a large sum of money (£500,000) in it.
The firm of Krupp is a joint stock company and is managed by a board
of directors. These directors have not the power that is usually in the hands
of a similar body in this country. Although trade with Krupp is apparently
Mr Mulliner further stated, in support of his contention that the
Emperor controls the finances of Krupp, that whereas Herr Krupp when
alive lived extravagantly and expended large sums, his daughter and
guns and more especially for their mountings. He found that the firms
with which he dealt in Germany had all recently received large orders for
similar machinery and he was able to trace these orders to Krupp. He
consequently came to the conclusion that Krupp was collecting a much
larger amount of machinery of the special type required for the services
mentioned above than they could conceivably require for arming ships
Mr Mulliner emphasised this statement by the assertion that Krupp’s
maximum output of heavy guns and their mountings was double that of
Elswick, Vickers Maxim and the Royal Arsenal combined, and that the
system of gun construction that they adopted as well as the superior type
of machinery that they possessed for constructing gun mountings gave
them a great advantage over us and enabled them to turn out a gun in
He finally stated that in his opinion the German heavy guns were
superior to our own being both more durable and more easily handled.
Note by Sir Charles Ottley
[TNA: ADM 116/3340]
Mr Mulliner came to see me again today. He wished to add to the
conversation that we had on the 24th February a few notes that he
possessed with regard to the powers possessed by the Germans of building
He stated that one of his employees who was recently in Germany and
each of the following 7 shipbuilding yards was capable of building 2
Blohm & Foss [
sic]3, Vulcan old yard,
Vulcan new yard
and the 2 Royal Dockyards at Bremen [
] and Kiel.
Germaniawerft: German shipyard located near Kiel. Since 1896 it was a subsidiary of
Blohm & Voss: German shipbuilding company based in Hamburg. In terms of its naval
Schichau-Werke: German shipbuilding company based in Elbing and Danzig.
War Plan G.U. War Orders for the Commander-in-Chief of the
Under these arrangements, 83 Destroyers are assigned to the Commander-
the Baltic, in addition to Sections VII and II of Submarines, distributed
as follows:–
1 Parent Ship

– Mouths of Elbe, Jade and Weser.
25 T.B.D’s
1 Parent Ship

25 T.B.D’s
5th Division

12 T.B.D’s
6th Division

16 T.B.D’s
If, however, these vessels have periodically to return to England to rest
as to avoid the loss of time and the wear and tear of continual passing to
Submarines for any offensive operations on the German Coasts.
It cannot be relied upon that attempts to seize and hold any German
neighbourhood, and taking advantage of the lee formed by the shoals,
a sufficiently sheltered spot can be found in all but the most severe
Similarly a sheltered spot exists in the Southern area off Texel, but the
shelter afforded here is no [
] so good, and if Westerly gales prevail this
could not be maintained. This is not so important, as the position is
comparatively close to the English Coasts.
These two advanced bases should be established by the Commander-
in-Chief as early as he considers practicable after the opening of
‘Germany’ in Reports on Foreign Naval Affairs, 1908–9 (NID
871, April 1909)
The German Navy is making excellent progress in her new construction.
class which have been launched,
namely, the
commence their construction at the beginning of the financial year. It is
a similar type, namely, 17,760 tons, with 12 to 14 1l-in. guns and
reciprocating engines, while the 1908–9 ships will he larger, namely,
class, laid down Oct 1908.
Commissioned Aug 1911.
: German battleship, lead ship of her class, laid down Nov 1908.
Commissioned Aug 1911.
class, laid down Nov 1908.
Von der Tann
the first of the
has a start of three months, can be looked on as such.
In the building of small cruisers and torpedo craft, in contrast to the larger
ships, an exemplary caution has been displayed; the type of cruiser steadily
progresses from year to year, increasing in size, speed and power with a
regular progression. Turbine engines of the Parsons’ type were tested in a
trial ship before adoption. Other types of turbine are also being fitted.
The same may be said with regard to the torpedo craft. A very steady
rise in the size and cost is noticeable; the turbine was not adopted fully
until the 1908–9 series, Nos. 162–173, after full experiments had been
carried out in G. 137 and V. 16l. The boats of the last series, Nos. 162–173,
practice, as far as possible, to execute all work for Germany in separate
movements of German War Ships in the Kiel Canal.
but it seems to me that the problem is a very difficult one, and almost
impossible of thoroughly satisfactory solution.
At Hamburg I took the opportunity of discussing the matter with Sir
William Ward, the British Consul General, and he was kind enough to go
into the matter fully, though even he, with all his experience, does not see
The Germans are very thorough in everything they do, and at their
Arsenals and other important places they will not, I understand, allow an
Englishman to hold the Office of British Consul, and it seems to me
equally impossible to employ an Englishman as Lloyd’s Agent at either
The Germans are spending an enormous amount of money in widening
they are constructing two more locks at each end of the Canal, making
four in all at each end, so as to have locks large enough for their
Dreadnoughts and to facilitate rapid ingress and egress.
These works will not be completed for a few years, but I have travelled
all through the Canal on a small steamer, and everywhere saw the work
in progress, and there was strong evidence that the scheme for widening
At Kiel and at Brunsbuttel doubtless, an Englishman would be under
close observation, and when any important Naval movement was in
contemplation means would no doubt be taken for preventing his access
to the telegraph wires and the Post Office, and doubtless also they would
find means to prevent him leaving the place.
Apparently the place where an Englishman would be least suspected
there he would have opportunities of seeing what was going on in the
I cannot hear of any English business Firms in Rendsburg, and I do not
Germans will prevent the approach of all Merchant Vessels as soon as
they have any misunderstanding with this country. It will then remain to
block the Channels on the Weser with submarine Mines.
Turning to another subject, it may be of interest to know that, while in
Hamburg, I had the opportunity of visiting and going all over the new
slips and the adjoining works which have recently been placed there by
the Vulcan Company. The two slips are enormous, and appear equipped
with everything necessary for the rapid construction of gigantic
battleships, and the adjoining ground to the slips is covered with what
appear to be carefully planned and thoroughly well equipped workshops.
If I can be of any use to the Admiralty at any time I shall of course be
only too pleased, but I think I have told you all that is in my mind at
present, except that perhaps I may add that my visit to Germany has
still further developed. It is likely therefore that a range exceeding that of
theory and also point to a future gradual accession of military strength
Heligoland is already fortified and money has been voted in the current
Naval Estimates for the improvement of the torpedo boat harbour at that
Frequent statements have appeared in the German Press during the last
few years to the effect that a torpedo boat base is to be established at Sylt.
The landing experiments which were carried out with some secrecy earlier
this year on the island would appear to lend colour to this report. It may
no doubt be assumed that these operations were not conducted without
some desire to test the strategical and tactical value of the island, and may
at all events be taken as indicating that the question of constructing a
fortified harbour at Sylt is still under consideration.
The report of the building of barracks at Heide (Schleswig-Holstein)
would appear to point to a future military accession of strength at that
At Borkum some 4 or even 5 forts are in existence (according to a press
2nd FOOT Artillery Regiment were transferred from Danzig in April this
year to garrison the island. It was given out at the time that these three
batteries were to be accommodated at Borkum until the 1 April 1911, by
which date the new barracks at Emden would be ready to receive them.
One battery however, it was said, would always be quartered at Borkum,
being periodically relieved from Borkum. With only one battery at
Borkum, however, the guard duties, already heavy and no doubt still more
so now, since certain regrettable incidents of recent date, would not admit
of time for the proper training of troops. The barracks moreover at
Borkum are large enough to accommodate 700 men and those at Emden
at least 1,000. It appears, therefore, more probable that a whole regiment
are in the process of construction on the island of Wangeroog. These
works will in time require troops to occupy them.
in this portion of the German coast is inevitable. I think it may also be
inferred from the indications given above that Borkum, Heligoland and
This will enable the destroyers and inshore ships to gain experience
of the local conditions off the enemy’s ports at the earliest possible date,
which will be very useful in arranging for their most economical
distribution afterwards.
When the Straits of Dover are strongly held, all the mobilised ships
have taken their stations, and the Army has been mobilised, so close a
watch of the Heligoland Bight will not be essential, and it may even be
advisable to remove the inshore watch at times to tempt the enemy out.
Opportunities can then be taken to coal and oil the ships as a whole.
Failing such opportunities, the vessels must be sent back to their base
ports to replenish and rest their crews, arrangements being made by the
Commodore T so that the duties of the Flotillas may be interfered with as
The armoured cruisers and attendant vessels of the flotillas should
form the inshore watching squadron during the daytime, and the
destroyers should perfom the same duty at night.
to the Commander-in-Chief in order to enable him to bring it into action.
The Commodore T is also to endeavour to capture or destroy any
of the enemy’s destroyers, and to report, if not captured or destroyed, their
probable destination, or the direction in which they were proceeding when
Measures should also be taken to prevent the passage into the North
Sea of the enemy’s cruisers, armed merchant steamers, or transports, and
to capture the merchant shipping of the enemy, and neutral vessels carrying
contraband of any nature and liable to capture under international law.
With these objects in view, the attendant vessels will form a
cordon during daylight on a line from Horn Reef Light Vessel* to the
Borkum Light Vessel* and will approach the German coast up to two
northward of a line drawn from Horn Reef Light Vessel through the
Borkum Light Vessel to Spurn Point, and are not to come to the southward
In case of fog during the day or night, cruisers and destroyers
should steer a pre-arranged course away from the Heligoland Bight.
In carrying out this watch, it is important to mass as many
destroyers as possible on the German coast at the commencement of
operations, even if this entails the withdrawal of the whole of them when
their fuel is exhausted. It is possible that at the end of this time, the 3rd
Flotilla will be available to relieve the 1st and 2nd Flotillas.
The Commodore T is continually to bear in mind the importance
to the Commander-in-Chief of immediate, full, and accurate information
of all that occurs in the North Sea. Reliable information should be
obtained from passing vessels whenever possible.
The force under the command of the Commodore T will be
the seaward of the flotillas. …
Ottley to Churchill
[CAC: CHAR 24/3]
In reply to your enquiry regarding the cession of Heligoland, I write at
once to disclaim any knowledge of the reasons of high policy which in
all probability underlay the action taken by Great Britain in 1890.
was no permanent Defence Committee in those days, no records are
available here, and the unhappy student of today can merely gasp for
breath in a vacuum of knowledge as to the causes of that unlucky event.
But as a naval officer I can speak with more authority on the purely naval
aspects of the question. If you will refer to the debates (p. 746 Vol. 347
Hansard) you will notice that Mr Fergusson,
German ports in the Napoleonic wars; it will be equally, nay, far more
valuable for similar purposes today!
What do you suppose is the meaning of all our massing of naval
strength in the North Sea[?] It has no other purpose than the squeezing of
the life-blood out of Germany by the closing of her ports. And to permit
of an efficacious blockade of the mouth of the Elbe, an advanced base
(e.g. Borkum, or Sylt, or best of all Heligoland) is very very necessary.
The island of Heligoland is 46 miles (2 hours destroyer steaming) N.W.
of the mouth of the Elbe. Had we but kept it, we need not
fortified it: we might have left it with fishermen, 1 dog and the British
flag to provision it. There would not then be, as there is today, a German
Destroyer Harbour and at least half a dozen tremendous howitzer batteries
denying the anchorage to our destroyers, which must have a coaling base
close up to the mouth of the Elbe. Think what a British wireless station
would mean at Heligoland today, and then read, as I hope you will, this
quotation from a German newspaper at the date of our cession of
Heligoland to Germany.
39 and 41, Naval Prize Manual, and Articles 2, 3, and 4 of the Declaration

The present War Plans provide for a blockade of the Heligoland
Bight by the 1st and 2nd Destroyer Flotillas, supported by the 1st, 2nd,
preventing raiding expeditions leaving German ports in the earlier

A clear understanding as to what vessels are comprised in the
term ‘blockading force’ seems necessary.

Are vessels employed in the straits of Dover and on patrolling
duties in the neighbourhood of the places mentioned in Remarks II(2) part

last (No. 5S) raising certain points respecting a blockade of the North Sea
Coast of Germany, on which further information was desired, I am
commanded by My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to reply to
them in order, as follows.–
There is very little doubt that the Military blockade will be also
effective as a Commercial blockade.
and the Straits of Dover but neutral vessels which are shown by their
they keep approximately to the direct course for the port to which they
Vessels found at a considerable distance from their proper course and
nearer the German coast, and any vessels to the south east of a line drawn
A vessel which has broken the blockade
captured by any vessel of the blockading force provided there is clear
proof that she has broken the blockade and has not since passed outside
The blockading force for this purpose must be held to include all the
vessels acting under the orders of the Commander-in-Chief in the North
Sea, as well as any other vessels in Home Waters which may be ordered
to assist in intercepting an escaping vessel, provided the pursuit is
Prizes should be sent to the most convenient port.
neutrals are to be taken to the most convenient port by prize crews or
This page has been left blank intentionally
In June 1912, Tirpitz had appeared triumphant again, as so often before
in his struggle to build up a powerful navy. This time though, his triumph
was rather fragile. The ink of the law had not even dried, when Capelle,
Tirpitz’s most loyal collaborator, warned that the financial constraints of
this Navy Law would make further requests for naval increases
impossible. In short, any technical innovation regarding either speed or
gun-calibres would be difficult to follow for lack of money.
Tirpitz was well aware of these difficulties and until the outbreak of war,
he continued to be haunted by the fear that his life’s work might prove a
failure in spite of the success he had just achieved. Disappointments,
For Tirpitz, the development of Anglo-German relations in general as
well as the progress of the Royal Navy in particular remained a matter of
great concern. Of course, Britain had eventually accepted the Amendment
to the Navy Law and not regarded it as an excuse to ‘Copenhagen’ the
he had built up before. Similarly, he felt relieved when he was informed
that the First Lord of the Admiralty would not come. Instead, he
before the substitution clause would cover the future construction of large
ships entirely, highlighted the threat such an amalgamation would pose to
blockade at the outbreak of war and thus offering a decisive battle in the
he was also excluded from the conduct of operations at sea. The fact that
the former High Command had been abolished at his request in 1899
now proved a serious disadvantage, for in war the Chief of the Admiralty
because of the filled boilers alone and would prefer to see an
What significance does deck [torpedo] armament have if a small
cruiser attacks with a number of torpedo-boat flotillas. The
in margin
An amalgamation in any case must not occur before the
transition to the phase of
three-ship rate
in margin
Last year’s large army request continues to have an aggravating effect
on the overall situation; it would not have become necessary if a vast
increase had been enforced in 1911, and it would also have had a political
impact at the time. The current law takes even the most remote wishes of
the Army Command into consideration. At any rate, it was a mistake to
arrange the funding of the submission in the form in which it was done.
This procedure has made the indirect tax approach extremely difficult in
the future, indeed almost impossible; and the navy will also suffer from
The enhancement of ship classes and the increase in wages have caused
the cost estimates for the implementation of the Navy Law to be exceeded.
The Navy Law is a
lex imperfecta
annually by parliament. If there is no money left, the Reichstag will not
Grand Admiral von Tirpitz, Notes to the Report to the Sovereign
[BArch, Tirpitz papers, N 253/29, ff. 68–9]
The English navy is developing so strongly that the risk principle
and thus the basis of our naval policy are in danger.
Conversely, battle-cruiser units are a direct increase in
Therefore, objective and programme: the establishment of two
Finally, definitely
Imperial Navy Office, Drawing Department, Memorandum to the
Report to the Sovereign concerning the large cruiser 1914
[BArch, RM 3/2728, ff. 79–83]
In the report to the Sovereign of 22 November 1913, Your Excellency
design 58
with 8 35 cm guns (31,000 t displacement), and His Majesty
agreed that the final decision on the type of ship to be selected should be
After the essential concerns in disfavour of the 35-cm draft (large
displacement, intermediate calibre) were balanced against the advantage
The Chief of Admiralty Staff, Admiral von Pohl, to the
Commander-in-Chief of the High Seas Forces, Admiral von Ingenohl,
Operations Order as to the North Sea Theatre
[BArch, RM 47/1, f. 5
THE ROYAL NAVY 1912–1914
of the First World War in capturing not just one, but three different
German code books – a lucky strike that enabled the Admiralty to obtain,
for almost the whole duration of the conflict, advance warning of German
alternative be? This question became one of the first major war-planning
issues of the Churchill era. A compromise proposal, tested in the 1912
manoeuvres, was to institute what some historians, echoing Churchill,
have termed an ‘intermediate blockade’. This involved removing from the
German coast the patrolling cruisers and destroyers, whose job it was to
locate the enemy, and placing them instead in the mid-North Sea area,
where they would be beyond the immediate and easy reach of German
forces. The hope was that any German ships that left port and approached
raid or invasion would be a counterstroke once the Germans were in situ
and their operations had begun. This counterstroke would, it was calmly
Royal Navy, namely how to devise a strategy that would encourage the
Germans, the weaker force, to give battle. Assessments of the German
merchant vessels were operating [152]. This vulnerability was hardly
Another familiar issue that remained on the Admiralty’s agenda was
the strategic importance of Scandinavia and the Baltic. Fears over the
future of Denmark were longstanding, but these were now powerfully
supplemented by concern over Norway [134]. The long Norwegian
coastline, if available to the Germany navy, would give enormous
additional flexibility and help counter the constraints imposed by
geography on German maritime power, a fact that would be amply proven
during the Second World War. This was, however, already obvious. That
Germany might attempt to seize such a vantage point was evidently a
either those of friendly powers, like France, or were relatively weak. In
such circumstances a few older warships could maintain Britain’s standing
at low cost. However, a squadron of brand new Austrian dreadnoughts
was another matter entirely. There would be no point in keeping a British
earmarked for service in the observational blockade of the German coast.
However, with the adoption of distant blockade, this was less of an issue.
What became an issue in its place was the question of which mission
Standing Sub-Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence,
‘Enquiry regarding Trading with the Enemy’,
Minutes of the Fourth
and Belgium and other neutral ports similarly situated, for the delivery of
use of the goods in the country in which the port is situated or some other
neutral country, the said bond to be certified by the British Consul or other
authority provided by law. If the form of the bond were properly drawn
German sugar, which we required. What would probably happen in
practice would be that British wool would reach Germany and German
sugar would reach England by roundabout routes. He further pointed out
that Germany was to a great extent in our debt, but the solvency of the
German debtor depended upon the continuance of trade, and to a
considerable extent on trade with the British Empire; by prohibiting
British trade with Germany we should be depriving that country of the
means of paying her debts to this country. Although by prohibiting exports
to Germany we might inflict a blow on particular German trades, the
reaction of this policy would adversely affect our own financial stability.
ADMIRAL TROUBRIDGE reiterated his previous remark on the great
importance of raw materials to Germany. If we could, by the prohibition
of trade with the enemy, stop the supply of raw materials to Germany to
any considerable extent, we should thereby be contributing directly to the
Standing Sub-Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence,
‘Enquiry regarding Trading with the Enemy’, Minutes of the Fifth
of the information before the Committee was to show that, if naval
measures and the stagnation of German railways did not alone effect a
stoppage of German sugar exports, these would either reach this country
by devious routes or supply other countries, which would themselves
German sugar or on the exportation of Australian and other wool to
Germany might handicap the Government by arousing popular resentment
ADMIRAL TROUBRIDGE agreed with Sir Robert Chalmers that the
driving of the enemy’s merchant vessels from the high seas, and the
substitution of our own mercantile marine to take their share of the
carrying trade of the world, and the exercise of the blockade were our
principal weapons of offence, and he would deprecate any action which
tended to weaken the Government in applying these weapons effectually.
The mere fact of closing a port such as Hamburg, in which an immense
trade converged from sea and land, would cause a tremendous dislocation
of the trade of Germany, and it would take a long time before such a huge
volume of trade could be diverted to neutral ports. No doubt, however,
attempts would be made so to divert it, which would prove more and more
successful as time went on, and then it might be important to supplement
the naval blockade by prohibiting that considerable proportion of the trade
which was carried on with this country. Any increase in the suffering
inflicted by naval means would produce a moral effect, and tend to excite
inconvenience on our people, but if we are forced into a great war this is
inevitable. Without desiring to prejudice the question, he felt that in all
probability our people would have to consent to forego the luxury of cheap
sugar during a war with Germany, and that the import of that commodity
from Germany should be prohibited. …
said it was necessary to bear in mind the fundamental
a very considerable extent. It was clear, however, that the recommendations
of the Sub-Committee might be modified according to the group of Powers
assumed to be engaged in the war. For example, if England, France and
Russia were opposed to the Triple Alliance, the enemy would be almost
with the enemy. If England and France on the one hand were engaged
against Germany, it was clear that Germany’s facilities for trade through
neutral countries would be increased and commercial pressure would be
less effective; even in such a case, however, he was disposed to think that
Standing Sub-Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence,
‘Enquiry regarding Trading with the Enemy’, Minutes of the Sixth
15. CAPTAIN BALLARD demurred to the assumption that it was
necessarily to our interests to keep Holland neutral during an Anglo-
German war. From a purely a naval point of view the assumption was
incorrect. Many of the principal naval difficulties in the conduct of an
Anglo-German war would disappear if Holland could be treated either as
an ally or a belligerent. For example, bases could be found for ships
engaged in a blockade of the enemy coast; and the economic pressure,
due to the closing of the Dutch ports to German trade, would be increased.
said that the General Staff hold to the
view that Germany may find it necessary to the success of her military
operations to infringe the neutrality of Holland, by crossing Limburg, as
well as that of Belgium. By so doing Germany could bring larger forces
into the theatre of war. In this connection the time factor was of great
importance. Germany’s object would be to crush France as early as
possible, and, if she could effect [
Holland, she would hardly hesitate to do so.
35. SIR R. CHALMERS said that he was impressed by the importance
of the time factor, alluded to by Colonel Macdonogh. If the war were
brought to a rapid conclusion by the success of the German armies over
France, it would not be worth while for us to exercise the weapon of
economic pressure, which must necessarily require time to produce effect.
36. MR HURST pointed out that, even though the actual military
campaign was short, the war might drag on, in which case the exercise of
37. LORD ESHER said that Germany might fail to crush France. It was
vital, therefore, that from the very outset of the war we should endeavour
to bring the strongest possible economic pressure to bear.
issued, reciting all the effects of the law, i.e., that all trade with the enemy
is illegal except under license, and authorising, until further notice, any
form of trading except as provided.’ …
Captain Aubrey Smith,
NA Report Sweden No. 4
[TNA: FO 371/1476]
I have the honour to report that an unusual amount of attention is being
paid to the question of armaments in Norway and Sweden at the present
From a conversation which I recently had in Christiania,
I gathered
that the increasing strength of the Germany Navy is viewed by the
Norwegians with a considerable amount of apprehension, and there is a
general feeling that should that Power once obtain the command of the
sea, the independence of Norway would be gone forever. For this reason,
if no other, the sympathies of the Norwegians are inclined to be with the
defend their neutrality, at all events until assistance would be forthcoming,
but even this would be a difficult task with the means which they have at
How the base would be provided with supplies is a difficult question.
One idea, favoured by some of the Norwegians, is that simultaneously
with the outbreak of war, coal and other stores would be dispatched to the
base by sea, and that in spite of the risks which this would entail, by
timing their departure carefully it would be possible to reach their
destination without being intercepted. Another suggestion is that with the
cooperation of Sweden supplies could come overland, and that any
resistance offered by the Norwegians would be overcome by the Swedish
army. However, with the frequent protestations on the part of the Swedes
that they merely desire to preserve their neutrality, the latter alternative
would appear unlikely. It seems, on the whole, probable that the present
Radical Government in Sweden is less inclined than its predecessor to a
court, in the army and navy, among the teaching classes and in high
finance, that the personal predilections of the Government may be
type of armoured
ship is worthy of consideration.
The proposed ship is admittedly too big
to be handled conveniently in the Skargard; the designed draught (6.3
the origin of this proposal to Germany. Be that as it may, I am told that
the idea is not popular, and it will be opposed by those in authority on the
ground that such an understanding would result in the old difficulties
before the ship arrived.
The Swedish fear of invasion by the Russians continues unabated. In
fact, at the present time it is more acute than ever on account of Dr Sven
German Capital Ships have a very heavy and well protected secondary
T[orpedo] B[oat] guns – 14 to 20). This secondary armament is to all
appearances installed for the express purpose of demolishing the
unprotected anti-T[orpedo] B[oat] batteries of existing British Capital
Ships, so as to leave them defenceless against the Torpedo Craft attack.
That they intend to push into such moderate ranges as will enable their
secondary batteries to be effectively used as above is indicated by the
large number of torpedo tubes (6) in their Capital Ships.
On the subject of Naval Increases the Danish Naval officers spoke of
the speeches of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and showed decided
pleasure at the tenor of them. One Admiral remarked to me ‘provided the
policy of the speeches foreshadowed is carried out, I do not believe
One senior officer remarked to me apropos of the recent German Naval
with the rise of Russian Naval Power in the Baltic, and the Naval interest
Russia has recently shown towards Denmark.
These factors should help to lessen the fear of Germany in Denmark.
From my conversations with Danish Naval officers it appeared that this
is what they have in view.
At the point where it delivers its attack.
of a close watch on the German coast, in which mines would be rather a
source of danger to ourselves than otherwise. The large and increasing
stock of mines in store (more than 9,000) … would suffice to run a line
which, when necessary, could be undertaken by the lightest cruisers or by
any small vessel fitted with wireless apparatus, supplemented in the future
by aircraft. Armoured cruiser squadrons are fighting units of high value,
required in formations which do not destroy their integrity or diminish
their immediate fighting strength. In no circumstances should their power
be dissipated on long lines of observation, or diminished through constant
attrition by coaling necessities. They should be guided to their objective
upon good information acquired by smaller vessels; they should never
lose the power of concerted squadron action, and when they have to coal
or go into harbour, they should do so by squadrons and not by individual
chance and of risk that important hostile movements will not be reported
other than a close blockade. The question of a close blockade did not form
a part of the tactical points which it was desired to test by these
manoeuvres, and it is now necessary, bearing the failure of the cordon in
mind, to turn to the work of the patrol flotillas which were also under trial.
The Patrol Flotillas
. – The general weakness inseparable from long
and a system of land observation by outposts, aircraft, signal stations, all
can be transmitted to the points where effective force is massed.
The dispositions of the Admiral of Patrols cannot be disconnected from
those of the British Commander-in-Chief while the latter is in Home
waters; both must be concerted. The patrol flotillas must be disposed so
developed. The strategic front has in recent years shifted to the eastern
coasts of England and Scotland, and British naval arrangements have not
their transport flag, steamed out again, and became the protecting battle
squadrons, leaving nothing but water where the transports were supposed
to be busily engaged in landing troops. The absence of real transports off
the coast prevented the 3 Blue submarines in the neighbourhood from
realising that any landing was in progress, and was the undoubted cause
of their not attacking. Secondly, the approach of 15 transports under
enemy putting to sea would run great risk of being intercepted; but the
elements of
Captain Hugh Watson, NA Report Germany No. 78,
‘Consideration of German Naval Manoeuvre Strategy and Tactics’
[NHB: Backhouse Papers]
I submit some consideration of German Naval Strategy and Tactics which
present themselves to me after living in Germany for some time, and
having had some experience of the Country before residing there.
I submit these remarks as suggestive, summed up from a personal
knowledge of the German Personnel and Materiel and their progress and
1912 Naval manoeuvres apparently had a purely Naval Strategical
aspect; and to have more closely attempted to reproduce the strategical
conditions of a purely Naval War against England in the North Sea.
German Naval Manoeuvres and of such indications of Naval Strategy as
may be here occasionally. Sylt fortified would seem likely to fulfil a
What the probable Strategy of Germany is to be in a war with England
divides itself into two headings:–
(A) In a war with England only.
(B) In a war with England, who has a strong Naval Ally.
cutting the Railway and Telegraph at Drammen, destroyers and cruisers
Which flotilla of Destroyers and Cruisers have this work in war actually
[Study of the positions of the 2nd Battle Squadron at Danish
possibly throw light on the probable movements of German Battle
Squadrons prior to the outbreak of war.]
Admiral von Holtzendorff remained as Commander-in-Chief, his Chief
of the Staff (Rear-Admiral Schüz) had only been a year in his appointment.
It appears to me, knowing the conditions, doubtful if much change would
in the often thick atmosphere of the North Sea. In urging this they would
seem to have been also influenced by the almost traditional intention to
been influenced by the claims made for its good qualities, and by the
expense of an alteration to a heavier gun. I have been informed that the
German 12-inch has an extraordinarily rapid rate of fire, and with regard
to its qualities the following remarks made by one of the leading officials
This official stated to an Englishman that ‘they consider their 12-inch
be at Kiel, Hamburg, Wilhelmshaven, and Emden. While one report,
looking into the future, suggests a floating Airship Hall behind Sylt, when
the work of joining that Island to the Mainland by a large Dam or Wall is
will be left to the capital ships, of which we have a preponderance and
with which we will prevail.
No doubt a subsidiary role for these craft is to destroy enemy’s
armoured ships, but only if a favourable opportunity should present itself:
A fleet may properly be accompanied by destroyers, but even then their
It is essential therefore that our war-plan should preclude the
possibility of success, should he attempt either of the above schemes.
There are only two doors out of the North Sea and both are in our
hands. There are only two entrances into the North Sea for the German

As a general principle, the flotillas and cruisers are never near each

Cruisers always steam away from the enemy’s entrances during
the night, while the destroyers do the same during the day.

daylight to flotillas if they need it and at the same time to be a lookout

Flotillas and submarines are also disposed so as to be available for
attacking the enemy’s transports and escorts near our coasts, should they
Admiralty Memorandum, ‘Standards of Strength’
[TNA: ADM 116/1677]
   The present approved standards of naval strength to which we are
working are, I understand, as follows:–
Sixty per cent above Germany in new construction of Dreadnought
Fifty per cent above Germany to be maintained in Home waters.
Equality with Austria in Dreadnoughts in the Mediterranean.
All ships provided by the Colonies to be additional.
Minute by Ballard on ‘Infringement of the Neutrality of Norway’
[TNA: ADM 116/3412]
If war was considered inevitable, and the German force discovered in
Norwegian waters was of such dimension that its loss would appreciably
affect the enemy’s subsequent hostilities … the answer to the question
from a strategic standpoint would be undoubtedly in the affirmative. That
could be brought to the spot. But from a political standpoint this would
be impossible, because we have pledged ourselves by Convention III of
the Second Peace Conference never to commence hostilities without a
public declaration of war.
The only option open to us, therefore, before a formal declaration of
war has been made, is to watch any German forces discovered in
Norwegian waters. …
As a point of general policy, it is considered that if a large German force
was discovered in Norwegian waters after war had been declared, which
could be attacked with prospects of success, the attack should be delivered
hardly find much fault with Great Britain for taking action which,
although it might violate strictly neutral rights, would be unlikely to cause
appreciable loss to neutral life or property unless in the very improbable
event of the attack being delivered in a large commercial harbour. …
Winston Churchill to Prince Louis of Battenberg
[TNA: ADM 116/3412]
War Plans: It is impossible by a passive defence to guard against all the
dangers we may be threatened by an enterprising enemy. When one
menace has been provided against another appears. Along the whole line
at sea is not taking the offensive. To bombard the defences of Wilhelmshaven,
one can appear off the Elbe, but one cannot blockade it. That is where the
difficult, from the point of view of the weapons of the enemy, for 10 days,
as it is for a prolonged period. For this reason: that within 10 days the
The grand drive he suggests is the apotheosis of weakness: a long line
of destroyers and cruisers, weak everywhere, strong nowhere, can do
nothing. A well handled concentrated line can cut into it anywhere and
capsize all your plans. As to driving everything before it in a jumble, it
would do nothing of the sort, unless the enemy were ignorant of war. The
North of the entrance to the Thames (the Nore), the harbours clearly
the greatest success at sea, the following up of such success must be
hazardous in the extreme. It is quite otherwise with us. All our vulnerable
spots are quite uncovered on the East Coast, and Cromarty will be useless
Unless war is declared through diplomatic channels it makes a vast
amount of difference from a naval point of view which nation declares
which are under consideration; both types are however suited for offensive
Operations directed against commerce, which is another form of
offensive open to us, are also omitted for the same reason.
5. Before leaving the question of
blockade tactics
, it seems advisable to
oversea probably require to make the coast occasionally whilst on their
stations. During the manoeuvres the meridians of longitude 0° 30 West and
stationed on the coast, which, though of little account in themselves,
would all help to overwhelm the enemy in a fleet action and harass him
8. The question of Raid, from the Naval point of view, must now be
Harwich, the Tyne, the Forth, and Cromarty, are so poorly defended as
would be far more difficult in war than in manoeuvres – given that the
relative forces were much as they were during the manoeuvres – but the
immense value of shipping and other material to be found at all times in
our large mercantile ports will prove a strong temptation, and I consider
10. The case of Raid on the largest scale, i.e., Invasion, remains to be
If invasion were to be attempted it is reasonable to assume that the
transport of the invading army would be covered by the whole strength
definitely be prepared for, viz.:- that, at her selected time, she would come
the enemy’s troops; it could hardly be otherwise, in view of the nature of
the most important exercise of the year in two successive years.
Such an idea, if allowed to grow, cannot but be most prejudicial to that
spirit of initiative which is so essential. …
Minute by Churchill
[Admiralty Library: First Lord’s Minutes,
Since my first paper on German Naval Strength in 1914–15 was circulated
to the Cabinet, information has been received by the Intelligence Department
near future. We cannot continue on a vague basis which, under the name
of a 60 per cent standard over Germany plus the special requirements due
to German and Austrian building in the Mediterranean, would carry us to
an individual strength superior to the whole Triple Alliance. Such a
Minute by Churchill to the First Sea Lord
[Admiralty Library: First Lord’s Minutes, Third Series]
In August 1911 (Agadir) Sir Arthur Wilson thought it sufficient to keep
sixty-four destroyers in full commission against forty-four German
destroyers in ‘Manoeuvre and Reserve Flotillas.’ The German numbers
have not increased, nor have they gained in comparative quality of vessels.
Since then the international situation has greatly improved.
I do not therefore see any reason for keeping more destroyers in full
commission than was then thought necessary. No case for this will arise
until the new German School Flotilla becomes a Manoeuvre Flotilla, and
even then it is a very arguable point.
Generally I am convinced that the ‘destroyer service’ is maintained on
a scale and at an expense which is out of all proportion to its value in our
fighting strength and out of the relation to the requirements of our war
I shall be very glad to discuss this with you, but I do not feel justified
in the present year in asking for funds to maintain more than sixty-four
Richard Webb,
‘Memorandum on Possible Losses to British
Commerce in an Anglo-German War’
[TNA: ADM 137/2831]
In April 1911 there were 17,547 steam vessels registered in the United
These include steam-vessels of all kinds, including 13,121 of under
Taking Foreign-going vessels belonging to the British Islands at sea
and in port on this date the total is 3,688, made up as follows:–
Richard Webb (1870–1950): Director of the Trade Division of the Admiralty War Staff,
Within Home Trade Limits

West Coast of Africa Route

East Coast of South America Route


Western Ocean Route
Port Said to the Far East

Other Places


(for the 17,547 vessels) of 13,533,498. The remainder include all British
fishing craft and coasters, as well as all vessels registered in British
Possessions, and may, for the purposes of this calculation, be disregarded.
In the following calculations, therefore, only the 3,688 foreign-going
British owned vessels will be considered.
Assuming an average of 4 German cruisers and 12 German Armed
Liners are able to maintain themselves in the Atlantic, and that 50% are
continuously on the Trade Routes: assuming further that those 50%, i.e.
2 cruisers and 6 Armed Liners, each effect an average of one capture daily,
this would mean that in the Atlantic alone 8 ships would be captured every
day or 56 during the week. This 56 per week represents 1.5% of the
Foreign-going vessels belonging to the British Isles, or 3% of those in
Home and Atlantic ports and waters.
To this must be added German Commerce Raiders on other Trade
Routes. In China Seas where British and German Naval Forces are fairly
balanced, and where the arrangements for Arming British Liners for
Commerce Protection are still under consideration, it may reasonably be
expected that out of the 90 to 100 German ships usually to be found in
these waters, several would arm no matter how lightly, and attack British
up to 77 or approximately 2.1% of the Foreign-going British vessels.
first five weeks of the war, assuming the German vessels were not hunted
down before that time.
In a recent Exercise on Atlantic Commerce Protection at the R.N. War
College, 7 British Cruiser Squadrons and vessels already on the Stations
firing from 24 × 15

2. We could match every German Dreadnought battleship in line – 20 in
all – by a British ship equal only as to the first three German ships, superior
in all others, without employing any British ship older than the
-gun ships firing 904 lb projectiles,
would have to face 11 British 15
-gun ships firing approximately 1,900 lb
projectiles; and two German 12.1
-gun ships and 4 German 11
-gun ships
firing 904 lb, and 670 lb projectiles respectively, would have to face six
-gun ships firing 1,400 lb projectiles. The aggregate weights
of broadside from primary guns would be 299,040 lbs to 177,872 lbs. We
should then have a surplus of 18 Dreadnought battleships (including 2
) firing from 60 × 13.5
161,700 lbs on broadside, against which there are no German Dreadnought
battleships. The British surplus is approximately equal in strength to the
3. The British and German Dreadnought battleships in the line compare
as follows:–
38 ships firing from 326 primary guns a

20 ships firing from 178 primary guns a

The above facts should be considered in relation to the British pre-
Dreadnought preponderance; and in particular to the fact that 8
which are the next most powerful ships, have no counterparts in
Jellicoe to Churchill, with marginal comments by Churchill
[TNA: ADM 116/3091]
I offer the following comments on your Minute on the relative strength
King George V
class laid down Feb
Lord Nelson
class: a group of two battleships (16,090 tons) – HMS
Lord Nelson
– laid down in May 1905. Although commissioned after HMS
, they were built to an earlier design and were, arguably therefore, pre-
dreadnoughts. However, they were often included in the dreadnought total on account of
their size and power, which exceeded that of all other British pre-dreadnought battleships.
I should like first to point out that it is somewhat misleading to take
Germany will possess 8 battle cruisers and this country only 9, including
New Zealand
In order to give a proper superiority in fast armoured ships
in many cases it has not been necessary to have heavier guns hitherto. I do
not agree with them because I attach so much importance to weight of
bursting charge, but others may agree. One of our cleverest Gunnery
Officers, for instance, has argued, and with some force, that ten 13.5
is a far superior armament to eight 15
Besides having a considerably thicker armour over their main belt and
to the ends of the ships to a far greater extent than we do and their armour
The force of the foregoing remarks is seen at once by a glance at the
diagrams of British and German vessels which I attach. Compare for
point in the design of our ships. Further, the Germans have far more
be right and I may be wrong. In any case the Germans by using a director
every respect except that of armour protection.

Displacements are equal. The Germans have more
protection and more submerged torpedo tubes. The British
show a heavier weight of broadside.

German ships have much more protection and two more
torpedo tubes. The British weight of broadside is superior.

displacement. The
Germans have much more protection and two more
torpedo tubes. The British ships have superior weight of
Germans have far more protection. Three more torpedo
tubes. Armament about equal.

Displacement about equal. The British have a slight
advantage in armament and speed. The Germans in
protection and have three more torpedo tubes. [
: The
are well known to be failures and thoroughly
of projectiles fired on
to far greater extent than we do our large type boilers. On the other hand
this should mean that the life of the German boiler tubes would be very
This page has been left blank intentionally
Admiralty Library
First Lord’s Minutes
, Volume IV.
Bodleian Library
H. H. Asquith Papers
Earl of Selborne Papers
Tirpitz Papers
Numerical List of Documents in This Volume
Chapter 1: Tirpitz’s Ascendancy: The Design and Initial Execution of a
Naval Challenge 1895–1904/05
High Command of the Navy
28 Nov 1895
BArch, Tirpitz papers,
N253/3, ff. 83–100
BArch, Tirpitz papers
N253/3, ff. 102–111
Tirpitz to Stosch
BArch, Tirpitz papers,
N253/320, ff. 54–7
BArch, Tirpitz papers
N253/4, ff. 8–19
10 April 1898
Verhandlungen des
, vol. 176,
Imperial Navy Office,
20 Nov 1899
TNA: ADM 1/7425
21 Nov 1900
TNA: ADM 1/7465B
21 Nov 1900
TNA: ADM 1/7465B
9 Nov 1901
TNA: ADM 1/7528A
16 Nov 1901
TNA: CAB 37/59/118
BL: Arnold-Forster
Papers, Add Mss 50280
TNA: ADM 1/7594D
Landsdowne to Lascelles
22 April 1902
TNA: FO 800/11
Selborne’s ‘conundrums’
TNA: FO 800/11
Lascelles to Lansdowne
25 April 1902
TNA: FO 800/129, ff.
TNA: CAB 37/62/126
25 Aug 1902
TNA: ADM 231/37
TNA: CAB 37/62/133
and BL: Add Mss
TNA: CAB 37/63/142
5 Nov 1902
BL: Add Mss 50287, ff.
5 Nov 1902
BL: Add MSS 50287
Arnold-Forster to Watts,
with annotations by Watts,
25 Nov 1902
TNA: CAB 17/3
Naval Intelligence
Naval Manoeuvres, 1903
TNA: ADM 231/40
TNA: CAB 37/69/32
Fisher Papers
TNA: ADM 116/3093,
7 Nov 1904
Battenberg to Fisher
14 Nov 1904
TNA: ADM 1/7736
21 Nov 1904
TNA: ADM 1/7736
Chapter 3: Obstacles, Success and Risks: The German Navy 1905–1907
Imperial Navy Office
BArch, RM 3/3703, ff.
Tirpitz to Scheer
BArch, Tirpitz papers,
Imperial Navy Office
BArch, RM 3/3704, ff.
Tirpitz to the Chancellor
18 Nov 1905
BArch, Tirpitz papers,
N253/6, ff. 60–71
Draft of an Amendment to
the Act Concerning the
German Navy of 14 June
27 Nov 1905
Verhandlungen des
, vol. 220,
Chief of the Admiralty Staff
BArch, RM 5/1604, ff.
Imperial Navy Office,
TNA: ADM 116/1043B
Admiralty to Wilson
TNA: ADM 116/3108
Wilson to the Admiralty
BL: Balfour Papers,
TNA: ADM 116/1043B
Poore to Wilson
TNA: FO 64/1630
Durnford to Fisher (extract)
13 Nov 1905,
Office, 5
TNA: FO 64/1630
Paper B in
Jan 1906]Admiralty Library: Paper C in
TNA: FO 371/76
of the British Navy’
TNA: ADM 116/866B
Wilson to Fisher
CAC: FISR 1/5/195
Ottley to Hardinge
TNA: FO 372/23
Ottley to Baddeley
16 Nov 1906
TNA: ADM 1/8947
1907?]TNA: ADM
Admiralty to C.ommander-
Bülow to Tirpitz
by E.T.S. Dugdale,
Volume. III: The
Growing Antagonism,
Imperial Navy Office,
General Navy Department
BArch, RM 3/3693, ff.
Admiral Staff to the
Commander-in-Chief of the
High Seas Forces (for 1909)
Mar [1 April]
BArch, RM 5/1607, f.
Wilhelm II to the Chancellor
3 April 1909
BArch, Tirpitz papers,
N253/54, ff. 113–14r
Imperial Navy Office
BArch, RM 3/14, ff.
Tirpitz to the Sovereign
BArch, RM 2/1766, ff.
Draft of an Amendment to
the Acts Concerning the
German Navy of 14 June
15 April 1912
Verhandlungen des
, vol. 299,
Chapter 6: Surpassing the German Challenge: The Royal Navy 1908–1911
1908]TNA: ADM 116/3304
1908]TNA: FO 244/699
TNA: FO 244/699
War Plan. Germany W.1.
June 1908]TNA: ADM 116/1043B
Appendix to War Plan.
Germany W.2.
June 1908]TNA: ADM 116/1043B
TNA: ADM 116/3340
TNA: ADM 116/3340
Digest entry for the (now
‘Hamburger Nachrichten
quoted in the Parliamentary
Debates vol. 347 p. 815.’
23 Aug 1911
TNA: CAB 38/19/49
Feb 1913]TNA: ADM 116/1677
TNA: ADM 116/3412
Churchill to Battenberg
TNA: ADM 116/3412
Richmond]Undated [late Feb or early Mar 1913]TNA: ADM 116/3412
War Staff
TNA: ADM 116/1307
28 Aug 1913
TNA: ADM 116/3130
Lord’s Minutes, Third
the Intelligence Division
Lord’s Minutes, Third
Lord’s Minutes, Third
TNA: ADM 137/2831
TNA: ADM 116/3091
marginal comments by
TNA: ADM 116/3091
Note: There are no index entires for those terms – such as Germany, Great Britain, Royal
Callaghan, Sir George 390, 415, 417–18,
Capelle, Eduard von 86, 159, 161, 171,
Caprivi, Leo Graf von xlvii, 4
Cherbourg, as considered by German
Churchill, Winston Spencer xv, xxxi–
Warfare, German view on 5–6,
Continuous Voyage 247
Contraband of War 224, 247, 260, 307,
Cronberg 277, 299–300, 308
Cunard Steam Navigation Company
Hassell, Ulrich von xxxvii
Heeringen, August von 14, 93, 95–6, 173,
Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty 388
Hollmann, Friedrich von 3, 5
Holstein, Friedrich von 98, 122
Holtzendorff, Henning von 323, 324, 326,
Hopman, Albert 398, 402, 414
Hubatsch, Walther xli, xlii
Ingenohl, Friedrich von 397, 402, 414
Inglefield, Edward 379
Invasion (of Britain) xxiii, xxv–xxvi,
Kehr, Eckart xl, xli, xliii
Moltke, Helmuth von 312, 314
Vulcan 363, 374
Skagerrak, German view on as
deployment area 326–31, 333–4,
Slade, Sir Edmond John Warre 240, 269,
Smith, Aubrey 432
Stosch, Albrecht von 4, 5, 37
German fear of British developments
Submarines (British) xxv, xxx, xxxi–xxxii,
Sumida, Jon T. xxv, xxxiii–xxxiv, xlvii,
Surtees, H. Conyers 368
Thames, as on objective of German naval
‘Tirpitz Plan’ as Historiographical
in Terms of a Secondary Integration xv,
in Terms of the Ideology of Sea Power
Trade Protection (British) xxv–xxvi,
Transvaal Crisis 3, 5, 37, 39, 404
Trotha, Adolf von 167
Troubridge, Sir Ernest 425–6, 428, 430,
Tweedmouth, Lord 275, 372
Two-Power Standard, German view on
Tyne 471–2
United States, United States Navy 101,
Valentini, Rudolf von 303–4
War Plans and Orders xlvii (Schlieffen-
War Plans and Orders (British) xxxi, xlv,
War Plans and Orders, German discussion
War-preparedness, (or Readiness for War),
German naval 13–14, 20–22, 188,
Warships (American)
Warships (British)
Iron Duke
King Edward VII
King George V
Lord Nelson
New Zealand
New Zealand
Papers relating to the Blockade of Brest, 1803–1805,
Vol. I. Ed.
J. Leyland.
Views of the Battles of the Third Dutch War
A Catalogue of the Naval Mss. in the Pepysian Library
, Vol. IV.
Ed. J.R. Tanner.
The Private Papers of George, 2nd Earl Spencer, 1794–1801
, Vol.
III. Ed. Rear Admiral H.W. Richmond.
The Private Papers of George, 2nd Earl Spencer, 1794–1801
, Vol.
IV. Ed. Rear Admiral H.W. Richmond.
Samuel Pepys’s Naval Minutes
. Ed. Dr. J.R. Tanner. (£15.00)
Captain Boteler’s Recollections, 1808–1830
. Ed. D. Bonner-
The Russian War, 1854. Baltic and Black Sea
. Eds. D. Bonner-
Smith & Capt. A.C. Dewar R.N.
The Russian War, 1855. Baltic
. Ed. D. Bonner-Smith.
The Russian War, 1855. Black Sea
. Ed. Capt. A.C. Dewar.
Journals and Narratives of the Third Dutch War
. Ed. R.C.
The Naval Brigades of the Indian Mutiny, 1857–1858
. Ed. Cdr.
W.B. Rowbotham.
Patee Byng’s Journal
. Ed. J.L. Cranmer-Byng.
The Sergison Papers, 1688–1702
. Ed. Cdr. R.D. Merriman
The Keith Papers
, Vol. II. Ed. C. Lloyd.
Five Naval Journals, 1789–1817
. Ed. Rear Admiral H.G.
, Vol. IV. Ed. C. Lloyd.
Sir William Dillon’s Narrative of Professional Adventures,
, Vol. I
Ed. Professor M. Lewis.
The Walker Expedition to Quebec, 1711
The Second China War, 1856–1860
. Eds. D. Bonner-Smith &
E.W.R. Lumby.
The Keith Papers
, Vol. III. Ed. C.C. Lloyd. (£15.00)
Sir William Dillon’s Narrative of Professional Adventures,
, Vol. II, (1802–1839). Ed. Professor M. Lewis.
The Private Correspondence of Admiral Lord Collingwood
The Vernon Papers, 1739–1745
. Ed. Professor C.C. Lloyd. (£15.00)
The Jellicoe Papers
, Vol. I, 1893–1916. Ed. A Temple Patterson.
Documents relating to Anson’s Voyage Round the World, 1740–
Ed. Dr. G. Williams.
The Saumarez Papers: The Baltic 1808–1812
. Ed. A.N. Ryan.
The Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II, 1916–1935.
Ed. A Temple Patterson.
. Eds. Professor J.B.
Hattendorf, Dr. R.J.B. Knight, A.W.H. Pearsall, Dr. N.A.M.
Rodger, & Professor G. Till, (£25.00)
The Beatty Papers
, Vol. II.
Samuel Pepys and the Second Dutch War
The Somerville Papers
. Ed. M. Simpson with assistance from J.
The Royal Navy in the River Plate, 1806–1807
. Ed. J.D. Grainger.
The Collective Naval Defence of the Empire, 1900–1940
Professor N. Tracy. (£25.00)
The Defeat of the Enemy Attack on Shipping, 1939–1945
. Ed. Dr.
E.J. Grove. (£25.00)
* Shipboard Life and Organisation, 1731–1815
. Ed. B. Lavery
The Battle of the Atlantic and Signals Intelligence: U-boat
Situations and Trends, 1941–1945
The Rodney Papers, Vol. II, 1763–1780.

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