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Erich Raeder
Großadmiral Erich Raeder
Birth name Erich Johann Albert Raeder
Born 24 April 1876 (1876-04-24)
Died 6 November 1960 (1960-11-07) (aged 84)
Place of birth Wandsbek
Place of death Kiel
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Kaiserliche Marine
 Reichsmarine
 Kriegsmarine
Years of service 1894–1943
Rank Großadmiral
Commands held SMS Cöln
Battles/wars

World War I

World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Erich Johann Albert Raeder (24 April 1876 – 6 November 1960) was a naval leader in Germany before and during World War II. Raeder attained the highest possible naval rank—that of Großadmiral (Grand Admiral) — in 1939, becoming the first person to hold that rank since Alfred von Tirpitz. Raeder led the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) for the first half of the war; he resigned in 1943 and was replaced by Karl Dönitz. He was sentenced to life in prison at the Nuremberg Trials, but was released early due to failing health.

Early years[edit | edit source]

Raeder was born into a middle-class Protestant family in Wandsbek in the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein in the German Empire. His father was a headmaster. Raeder idolised his father Hans Raeder, who as a teacher and a father was noted for his marked authoritarian views, and who impressed upon his son the values of hard work, thrift, religion and obedience-all values that Raeder was to preach throughout his life.[1] Hans Raeder also taught his children to support the existing government of alleged "non-political" experts led by Bismarck who were said to stand "above politics" and were alleged to only do what was best for Germany.[1] In the same way, Hans Raeder warned his children that if Germany were to become a democracy, that would be a disaster as it mean government by men "playing politics"-doing what was only best for their petty sectarian interests instead of the nation.[1] Like many other middle-class Germans of his time, Hans Raeder had a strong dislike for the Social Democrats, who he charged were playing "party politics" in the Reichstag by promoting working class interests instead of thinking about the national good, a stance that his son also adopted.[2] Throughout his entire life, Raeder claimed that he was Staatspolitische (someone was "above politics", i.e. someone who only thought about the good of the nation instead of his party), and as an "apolitical" officer, Raeder thus maintained that his support for sea power was based upon objective consideration of the national good.[2]

From building the Weltmachtflotte to the High Seas Fleet Mutiny[edit | edit source]

Tirpitz's Navy: The Seemachtidelogie, Building the Riskflotte and the Anglo-German Naval Race[edit | edit source]

He joined the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) in 1894 and rapidly rose in rank, becoming Chief of Staff for Franz von Hipper in 1912. In 1901 to 1903 Raeder served on the staff of Prince Heinrich of Prussia, and gained a powerful patron in the process.[3] Raeder's rise up the ranks was due mostly to his intelligence and hard work. Raeder often impressed people who knew him as "aloof, uncomfortable in professional relationships, religious, authoritarian, puritanical, intolerant of individual initiative ... and extremely sensitive to criticism".[4] Owing to his cold and distant personality, Raeder was a man whom even his friends often admitted to knowing very little about.[4] The Navy that Raeder joined was dominated by ideology of Seemachtideologie (Sea power ideology) which through concepts defined in Social Darwinist terms such as Seemacht (sea power), Seeherrschaft (sea prestige) and Seeletung (sea control) were closely related to the concept of Weltmachthorizonte (World Power Horizon), namely that whatever power controlled the sea was always the world's greatest power.[5] The dominating figure of the Navy was Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the autocratic State Secretary of the Navy who using the theories of the American naval historian Alfred Thayer Mahan had devised a distinctive Seemachtideologie, a Social Darwinist view of international relations where only the strongest states survived, and which in turn required a policy of imperialism to ensure that the German state was the strongest.[6] Using Mahan's seminal 1890 book The Influence of Sea Power Upon History and its sequels as his guide, Tirpitz argued that whatever state ruled the sea also ruled the globe, and that if Germany were to become the world's leading power, then by necessity the Reich needed first to become the world's leading sea power.[6] Besides Mahan, Tirptiz borrowed heavily from the geopolitik theories of Friedrich Ratzel and Curt von Maltzahn to construct the Seemachtideologie.[7] Through Tirpitz's preferred means of obtaining "world power status" was through his Risikotheorie (Risk theory) where Germany would build a Riskflotte (Risk Fleet) that would make it too dangerous for Britain to risk a war with Germany, and thereby alter the international balance of power decisively in the Reich's favor, war was never excluded as an option. In order to achieve this, Tirpitz transformed the Navy from the small coastal defense force of 1897 that existed in the shadow of the Army into the mighty High Seas Fleet of 1914 that was almost the equal of the Army. The Tirpitz Plan was a key part of the policy of Weltpolitik ("World Politics") announced in 1897 whereas the German government stated it was not longer content with being an European power, but instead announced its claim to be a world power. Raeder was to be a faithful follower of the Seemachtideologie for his entire life.[8]

Raeder was married in 1903 and had three children by his first wife.[9] In 1904, Raeder who spoke fluent Russian was sent to the Far East as an observer of the Russo-Japanese War.[9] Starting in 1905 Raeder worked in the public relations section of the Navy, where he first met Tirpitz and began his introduction to politics by briefing journalists to run articles promoting the Seemachtideologie and meeting politicians who held seats in the Reichstag in order to convert them to the Seemachtideologie.[10] Working closely with Tirptiz, Raeder was heavily involved in the lobbying the Reichstag to pass the Third Navy Law of 1906 which committed Germany to building "all big gun battleships" to compete with the new British Dreadnought class in the Anglo-German naval race that had began early in the 20th century.[11] Because warships were very expensive to build and took several years to complete, Tirpitz impressed upon Raeder that the first prerequiste of sea power was the need to have the leaders of the state totally committed to navalism in order to have necessary expenditure to sustain a navy, a view that Raeder was to fully embrace as his own.[11]

Raeder was the captain of Kaiser Wilhelm II's private yacht in the years leading up to World War I. As captain of the yacht SMY Hohenzollern, Raeder earned commendations from the Kaiser and formed a friendship with Franz von Hipper, both of which were to greatly help his career in the Imperial Navy.[12] Raeder was later to claim he did not want "court duty", but he was aware that officers who served as captain of the Hohenzollern were known to enjoy imperial favor, and that captains of the imperial yacht were always promoted to high duties afterwards.[13] Raeder was always very close to Wilhelm II, whose views on sea power Raeder called "soundly reasoned", and maintained a correspondence with Wilhelm right up to his death in 1941.[13] Raeder was later to argue that Wilhelm had made many mistakes during his reign, but stated that Wilhelm's navalism and his commitment to making Germany a global power were not one of them.[13]

World War I: The Navy under fire[edit | edit source]

Raeder served as Hipper's Chief of Staff during World War I as well as in combat posts, taking part in the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915 and the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Raeder was later to describe Hipper as an admiral who "hated paperwork", and as such, Hipper delegated considerable power to Raeder, who thus enjoyed more power than what his position as chief of staff would suggest.[14] As the Anglo-German naval race escalated in the year prior to 1914, Raeder and other naval officers looked forward to Der Tag (The Day) when the High Seas Fleet would meet the British Grand Fleet in battle. When the First World War began in 1914, much to the intense mortification of the Navy's leaders, Wilhelm II ordered that the High Seas Fleet was to stay in port and not risk combat ostensibly under the grounds that the war would be over soon, and he wanted to keep the fleet intact as a bargaining chip for the peace talks. In reality, the greater size of the Grand Fleet made it likely that the British fleet would annihilate the High Seas Fleet in a sustained engagement, and Wilhelm could not bear the thought of seeing his beloved High Seas Fleet being destroyed. As the High Seas Fleet stayed in port while the Army continued to do most of the fighting, many in Germany came to see the High Seas Fleet as a white elephant. Moreover, Army leaders who long before 1914 had deeply resented Tirpitz for the way he had grabbed increasing larger and larger shares of the defense budget, had after the failure of the Schlieffen Plan made the Navy the scapegoat, arguing that if only the millions of marks spent on the Navy had instead being spent on the Army, Germany would had won the war in 1914. As such, many naval leaders feeling the Navy was under fire were very anxious for the High Seas Fleet to do something to justify the huge sums of money that had been spent building it. In order to have the High Seas Fleet being seen to do something, Hipper and Raeder planned and executed the Yarmouth raid in the fall of 1914, an operation that Raeder considered only a marginal success as Hipper's battlecruisers of the I Scouting Group missed a smaller British battlecruiser force that had been sent out to intercept them, and which Raeder believed the Germans could have destroyed.[15] Another raid by the Scouting Group planned by Raeder led to the Battle of Dogger Bank, which marked the first time Raeder saw combat.[16] Raeder expressed much "amazement" that the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron had been able to intercept the Scouting Group on the open sea at Dogger Bank, but did not suspect that the British were reading the German codes.[16]

During and after World War I, the German Navy had been divided into two factions. One faction led by Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz were avid followers of the teachings of the American historian Alfred Thayer Mahan and believed in building a "balanced fleet" centred around the battleship that would, if war came, seek out and win a decisive battle of annihilation (Entscheidungsschlacht) against the Royal Navy.[17] Another faction led by Commander Wolfgang Wegener argued that because of superior British shipbuilding capacity that Germany could never hope to build a "balanced fleet" capable of winning the Entscheidungsschlacht, and that as such, the best use of German naval strength was to build a fleet of cruisers and submarines that would wage a guerre de course ("war of the chase", a strategy of seeking to destroy the British Merchant Marine instead of the Navy).[18] The debate had started in February 1915 when Commander Wegener started to circulate staff papers attacking Tirpitz's leadership as having trapped the High Seas Fleet in a "dead angle in a dead sea", and suggested an alternative strategy for victory.[19] After reading all three of Wegener's papers setting out his ideas, Admiral Hipper decided to submit them to the Admiralty in Berlin, but changed his mind after reading a paper by Raeder attacking the "Wegener thesis" as flawed.[20] This marked the beginning of a long feud between Raeder and Wegener with Wegener claiming that his former friend Raeder was jealous of what Wegener insisted were his superior ideas.[21] The dispute between the advocates of Kreuzerkrieg (cruiser war) who favored using U-boats in a guerre-de course vs those like Raeder who believed in having battleships win a battle of annihilation grew quite heated during the war.[22]

In May 1916, Raeder played a major role planning a raid by Hipper's battlecruisers that was intended to lure out the British battlecruiser force which would then being destroyed by the main High Seas Fleet.[23] This raid became the Battle of Jutland. As Chief of Staff to Hipper, Raeder played a prominent role at Jutland, and was forced mid-way in the battle to transfer from SMS Lützow to the SMS Moltke as a result of damage to Hipper's flagship, which led Hipper to praise his Chief of Staff for the way he kept his cool and went back to work despite all of the stresses of combat and the transfer.[24] Other officers were more critical of Raeder at Jutland, arguing that his repeated advice to Hipper that the battlecruisers should keep "charging" the Grand Fleet and that the battle should not be broken off was not rational as to continue the battle against the numerically superior Grand Fleet would result in the destruction of the High Seas Fleet.[25] The Skagerrakschlacht as Jutland is known in the German-speaking world was considered a victory in Germany, and Hipper praised Raeder in his report after the battle for "un-resting activity and clear sightedness" at Jutland.[26]

As Chief of Staff to Admiral Hipper, he was closely involved in Hipper's plans for a German battlecruiser squadron to sail across the Atlantic and sweep through the waters off Canada down to the West Indies and on to South America to sink the British cruisers operating in those waters, and thereby force the British to redeploy a substantial part of the Home Fleet to the New World.[27] In turn, such a redeployment would weaken the numerical superiority of the British Home Fleet over the German High Seas Fleet in the North Sea. To get around the problems posed by the limited range of German warships, Hipper and Raeder suggested establishing a line of German colliers across the North Atlantic from Norway to Canada that the battlecruisers would meet at predetermined points to refuel.[27] Through Hipper's plans were rejected as far too risky, not least because of the problems posed by transferring coal from ship to ship on the open sea, it was a major influence on Raeder's later thinking.[28] Another major influence on Raeder was his close friend Admiral Adolf von Trotha who had commanded the "Detached Division" of the Navy before 1914 and often taken the "Detached Division" on long voyages into the Atlantic.[29] Together with the war-time plans of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz to start building capital ships with diesel engines in order to expand the range of German warships, Trotha influenced Raeder into thinking about deep operations into the Atlantic as a way of forcing the British to break up their fleet.[30] Trotha told Raeder that one German raider on the open seas would force the British to deploy 10-15 warships to hunt it down.[31] Like Hipper, Raeder was critical of those officers who believed that submarines could win the war at sea, arguing in several staff papers that at best submarines were an adjunct to the battle fleet, and that the capital ship remained the key weapon.[32]

Despite his lifelong claims to be "above politics", Raeder approved of Tirpitz's ultra-nationalist, extreme right-wing Fatherland Party, which was founded in September 1917 to advance his "total war" ideas in politics.[33] Tirpitz argued in favor of frankly imperialist war aims to make Germany's the world's greatest power.[33] Tirpitz maintained that since the British, French, Russian and American governments could scarcely be expected to willingly agree to a peace that would reduce them to second-rate powers existing in the shadow of a greater Germany, a negotiated peace was impossible, and Germany could only achieve its war aims by winning a total victory.[33] To achieve the total victory required a policy of total war, which in turn required a new totalitarian regime in Germany preferably led by himself that would mobilise the entire society while ruthlessly crushing all dissent.[33] As part of his harsh critique of Wilhelm II as a war leader, Tirpitz claimed that the High Seas Fleet had been "held back" in 1914, a claim that serve to disguise the "unavowed sense of failure" held by the naval officer corps as the High Seas Fleet sat in port while the Army was engaged on two fronts.[33] The British historian Richard J. Evans wrote that in many ways the Fatherland Party was the prototype of the Nazi Party, and indeed the Nazi Party was founded in January 1919 in Munich by men who had previously been active in the Fatherland Party.[34] After the war, Raeder together with most other officers came to believe that if only Tirpitz had been able to practice his "total war" policies of 1917-18 before 1914 then Germany would had won the war.[33] Reflecting his authoritarian tendencies, after the High Seas Fleet mutiny of August 1917, Raeder called for harsher discipline in the Navy to prevent another mutiny.[35]

On October 14, 1918, Raeder received a major promotion when he was appointed deputy to Admiral Paul Behncke, the Naval State Secretary.[36] Despite his doubts about submarines, Raeder spent the last weeks of the war working to achieve the Scheer Programme of building 450 U-boats that Admiral Reinhard Scheer claimed would allow Germany to win the war at sea.[37] In the last week of October 1918, Raeder was deeply involved in Hipper's plans for a "death cruise" that see the High Seas Fleet engage in a battle of annihilation against the Anglo-American Grand Fleet, a battle which given the disparity of numbers between the two sides was most likely to result in the High Seas Fleet being annihilated.[38] Critics of the plan called the planned action a "death ride" for the High Seas Fleet and the "Admirals' rebellion" that was designed to sabotage the talks for an armistice that started earlier in October 1918.[39] Hipper himself admitted that planned battle in the North Sea would almost certainly result in the destruction of the German fleet, but argued that "an honorable fleet engagement, even if should become a death battle, would be the foundation for a new German fleet, a fleet that would be out of the question in the event of a dishonorable peace".[39] Raeder also agreed that the plan would probably result in the destruction of the High Seas Fleet, but argued that the Navy's "honor and existence" were at stake, and the Navy would die of "shock of shame" if the battle was not fought.[39] Raeder further claimed that any surviving German ships would be the Kernflotte (core fleet) of a new Weltmachtflotte (World Power Fleet) that would not exist if the war ended with the High Seas Fleet still sitting in port.[39] The purpose of the planned "death ride" was to win the Navy enough glory in the war to ensure that the Army did not take the lion's share of defense budget after the war.

The sailors of the High Seas Fleet, who had been mistreated by their officers for the duration of the war saw no reason why they should be expected to die in a battle of no military value and when the government had already admitted that the war was lost, and on 28 October 1918 the fleet mutinied.[40] Raeder played a major role in attempting to crush the mutiny. Fearing that the phone lines had been tapped, Scheer sent Raeder to Wilhelmshaven to inform Hipper that "dependable" Army units were being rounded up that would crush the mutiny.[40] Upon arriving in Wilhelmshaven, a deeply shocked Raeder was forced to inform Berlin that the situation was far worse than feared, and that even sending in the Army might not be enough.[40] Only with the greatest difficulty did Raeder make his way back to Berlin, only to find that the revolution had spread there.[40] For Raeder, the High Seas Mutiny came as a tremendous shock and was described as being a "deep trauma" for him.[40] Raeder felt so deeply humiliated by the mutiny that he was later to claim that there had been no mutiny, but rather "criminal elements" had disguised themselves in sailors' uniforms as part of a devious Socialist/Communist plot to discredit the Navy.[41] Raeder could not accept that German sailors would willingly mutiny against their officers, a conclusion which led him to claim that the mutiny had been the result of a huge conspiracy involving the Independent Social Democrats and the Communists who had undermined morale to stab the Fatherland in the back.[41]

Under the Weimar Republic[edit | edit source]

From the High Seas Fleet Mutiny to the Kapp putsch[edit | edit source]

In the First World War, Raeder's two younger brothers were both killed in action, and in 1919 his first marriage, which had been under heavy strain due to war-related stresses ended in divorce.[42] For the puritanical Raeder, the divorce was a huge personal disgrace, and as a result for the rest of his life, he always denied his first marriage.[42] Coming as the same time as the defeat in the First World War, and the High Seas Fleet mutiny of 1918 which toppled the German monarchy, both of which were very traumatic events for Raeder, the years 1918-1919 were some of the most troubled in his life.[42] For Raeder, the idea that all of the suffering and sacrifice of the Great War, which had affected him personally was all in vain was unthinkable, and he become obsessed with making certain that Germany would one day obtain the "world power status" that the Reich's leaders had sought, but failed to achieve in the Great War.[42] For Raeder as for other naval officers, the defeat of 1918 was especially humiliating because under the charismatic leadership of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the Naval State Secretary from 1897 to 1917, the Navy had been promoted as the service which would give Germany the "world power status" that her leaders craved, and to that end, vast sums of money had been spent in the Anglo-German naval race before 1914. Because the Navy had failed to achieve what Tirpitz had promised, there was a very strong anti-navalist mood in Germany after 1918.

In the winter of 1918-19, Raeder was closely involved in the efforts of the naval officer corps, strongly backed by the Defense Minister Gustav Noske-a Majority Social Democrat with firm law and order views-to disband the sailors' councils established after the mutiny.[43] During this period, Raeder served as the liaison between the naval officer corps and Noske, and it was Raeder who suggested to Noske on 11 January 1919 that Adolf von Trotha be appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Navy.[44] Tirpitz's attacks on the Emperor's leadership during the war had caused a split in the officer corps between the followers of "the Master" and the Kaiser, and Raeder wanted Trotha as the only officer acceptable to both fractions.[44] Noske in turn asked the Navy for volunteers for the Freikorps to crush uprisings from the Communists.[45] The Navy contributed two bridges to the Freikorps.[46] The price of the Navy supporting the Freikorps was the continuation of the Navy's "state-within-the state" status and the end of attempts to democracise the military. Under the Weimar republic, the military considered itself überparteiliche (above party), which did not mean political neutrality as implied.[47] The military argued that there were two types of "politics", parteipolitisch (party politics) which was the responsibility of the politicians and staatspolitisch (state politics) which was the responsibility of the military.[47] Staatspolitisch concerned Germany "eternal" interests and the "historic mission" of winning world-power, which was to be pursued regardless of what the politicians or the people wanted.[47]

Raeder saw the Weimar republic as a mere transition, and argued that naval officers like himself were the "trustees of Germany", being the only ones who truly understood the "national interest", and it was the duty of officers to keep alive the concept of a Weltmachtflotte until Germany was cured of the "sickness" as Raeder labeled democracy.[48] After the war, in 1920, Raeder was involved in the failed Kapp Putsch where together with almost the entire naval officer corps he declared himself openly for the "government" of Wolfgang Kapp against the leaders of the Weimar Republic, which Raeder loathed.[3] As the Chief of Staff to Admiral Adolf von Trotha, the Navy's commander, Raeder played a prominent role in rallying support for the putsch.[49] Raeder claimed to be ignorant of the plans for a putsch, but in the days preceding the putsch, Trotha and Raeder had been in close contact with General Walther von Lüttwitz (the real leader of the Kapp putsch) and the Freikorps leader Captain Hermann Ehrhardt.[50] As soon as they learned that Berlin had been occupied by Marinebrigade Ehrhardt on the morning of 13 March 1920, Trotha and Raeder issued a proclamation declaring that the Weimar Republic had ended, declared their loyalty to Kapp "government", and ordered the Navy to seize Wilhelmshaven and Kiel for the putsch.[50] On 18 March 1920 when Raeder's close friend, Admiral Magnus von Levetzow who had seized Kiel proposed a march on Berlin with the aim of deposing the government after the failure of the putsch in Berlin, Raeder declared his intention of joining Levetzow, only to change his mind a few hours later, and hastily called the Defence Minister Gustav Noske to tell him he had been "misunderstood" about joining Levetzow on his proposed march.[51] Had it not been for a general amnesty for those involved in the Kapp putsch passed by the Reichstag on 8 August 1920, it is quite likely that Raeder's career would have ended in 1920 with a dishonourable discharge for high treason.[52] Raeder's friends Trotha and Levetzow were not so lucky, both resigning rather than suffering the humiliation of a dishonourable discharge. In participating in the Kapp putsch, Raeder had violated the Reichswehreid, the oath of allegiance that committed officers to upholding and defending the Republic, through he was later to claim that oaths were sacred to him and the Hitler oath made it impossible for him to rebel against Hitler.[53] Finally, in the summer of 1920 Raeder married his second wife, by who he was to have one son.

From the Kapp putsch to the Inspector of Training[edit | edit source]

After the failure of the Kapp putsch he was marginalized in the Navy, being transferred to the Naval Archives, where for two years he played a leading role in the writing of the Official History of the Navy in World War I.[54] Raeder also was the author of a number of studies about naval warfare, something that resulted in his being awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree honoris causa by the University of Kiel.[55] After this, Raeder continued to rise steadily in the navy hierarchy, becoming a Konteradmiral (Rear Admiral) in 1922 and a Vizeadmiral (Vice Admiral) in 1925. During his time as Inspector of Training, Raeder who was obsessed with avoiding a repeat of the High Seas Mutiny of 1918-the greatest humiliation in German naval history in his view-put a great deal of emphasis on discipline, especially on training officers to maintain firm control of their ships.[56] During Raeder's tenure as Inspector of Training, technical training of officers was sidelined in favor of promoting the "moral character" amongst the officer candidates that would prevent another mutiny.[56] Raeder saw the culture of modern Germany as manifested in various phenomena such as the popularity of jazz music, modern dance, sexual permissiveness, democracy and pacifism as deeply depraved, and sought as much as possible to isolate officer candidates from Weimar culture, instead preaching the virtues of the 19th century in which he had grown up.[56]

Debates and recriminations[edit | edit source]

In the 1920s, a major debate occurred within the Reichsmarine as to what were the correct lessons of World War I for the future, which tended to pit followers of Tirpitz against the followers of the "Wegener thesis". As a close protégé of Tirpitz, Raeder followed his lead in arguing for a battleship-centric "balanced fleet" meant to win the Entscheidungsschlacht in the North Sea.[57] In the 1920s, Raeder as one of the authors of the official history of the German Navy in World War I; he sided with Tirpitz against the Jeune École-inspired theories of Wegener, arguing that everything done by "the Master", as his mentor Tirpitz was known, was correct, and dismissed the strategy of guerre de course as a "dangerous delusion".[58] When writing the official history, Raeder was in close contact with Tirpitz, always mailing his work to Tirpitz for him to review before submitting it to publication.[59] Raeder also declared his loyalty in the official history to Tirptiz while trying to stay loyal to the Kaiser by excoriating the Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg for "holding back" the High Seas Fleet in 1914, instead of "unleashing" it as Tirpitz had wanted.[60] Raeder maintained that the Kaiser would have followed Tirpitz's advice to "unleash" the High Seas Fleet in 1914, but was forced by Bethmann-Hollweg, who had conveniently died in 1921 and thus could not contradict Raeder's account to "hold back" the fleet.[60] Tirpitz was greatly pleased by Raeder’s defence of his leadership and theories.[58] And Tirpitz, who was still very influential in the Navy despite having retired in 1916, started to speak of Raeder as an ideal man to head the Navy. Raeder and Wegener were once friends, having began their careers as ensigns in 1894 abroad the cruiser Deutschland, but their differing concepts of future strategy turned them into the most bitter of enemies, and the two officers were to spend much of the 1920s waging a war in print over what the Navy should or should not had done in the First World War and what were the correct lessons of the recent conflict for the future.[61] After Raeder become Navy commander in 1928, officers were ordered to write journal articles attacking the "Wegener thesis".[62] A notable exception to the flood of attacks on the "Wegener thesis" was Raeder's silence about Wegener's claim that Germany should have occupied Norway in 1914. When Wegener died in 1956, Raeder refused to deliver the eulogy as his position as the senior most surviving member of the "enlistment crew" of 1894 would normally have obliged him to do.[21]

Wolfgang Wegener around 1925. Wegener had once been Raeder's friend, but their friendship ended as the two became involved in a debate in the 1920s about why Germany lost in 1918.

These debates were not purely academic. Because of the extravagant promises made by Tirpitz before 1914 that sea power equalled world power, and because of the equally extravagant sums that were spent on the Navy during the Anglo-German naval race (by 1913–14, the Anglo-German naval race was costing so much money as the Reich government continued to pour vast sums of money into the Navy that concerns started to be expressed about Germany's creditworthiness.[63]), many Germans wanted to know what had gone wrong with the Navy in the war. Tirpitz had sought to provide the answer in 1919 when he published his memoirs, where he blamed everybody but himself for the defeat. Tirpitz lashed out in venomous, vituperative prose against the former Kaiser and most of the other senior admirals, whom Tirpitz accused of being incompetent and/or cowardly.[64] Tirpitz's memoirs were seen as a literary declaration of war by other admirals, and what followed were a series of duelling memoirs in the 1920s where various admirals attacked each other in a no-holds-barred style that damaged the image of the Navy.[64] The end result of admirals' calling each other stupid and incompetent in books and newspaper articles was to make everybody look stupid and incompetent.[65] Many Germans reached the conclusion that the navalist policies of the Second Reich had been a blunder, given the people running the Navy at the time all appeared to be fools.[66] In 1927, Prince Heinrich of Prussia complained that because the Navy was "washing its dirty linen" in public that Navy's image was becoming damaged beyond repair, and publicly appealed to officers both active-duty and retired, especially Tirpitz, to stop attacking each other in public.[67] Raeder came to fear that this debate was starting to sully the image of the Navy to such an extent that he would never convince anyone in power to fund the Navy again, and so took extraordinary steps in the late 1920s to end the debate by trying to silence all critics of Tirpitz.[66] For Raeder, the first step towards persuading decision-makers to adopt navalist policies again was to end the damaging debates about what went wrong in the First World War, and instead project a positive image of the Navy's history that was meant to sway decision-makers into navalism.[66] An important sign of the anti-navalist mood of the country was the Reichstag elections of 1928, when one of the main issues was the "pocket battleship" programme, and the Social Democrats won the largest number of votes on a platform of killing the plan to build "pocket battleships", and using the money on social programs instead.[68] In private, Raeder often fumed against the Social Democrats for playing "party politics" with the naval budget, as he deemed their opposition to navalism, and which was incensed that the S.P.D were against even building up the Navy to the levels allowed by the Treaty of Versailles.[69] Besides the Social Democrats, Raeder also charged that the other parties of the Weimar Coalition, the DDP and the Catholic Zentrum, had "pacifistic tendencies" that had blinded them to the importance of sea power.[70] This in turn further increased Raeder's opposition to democracy because in a dictatorship the state could pursue navalist policies regardless of what the voters wanted.[69] Raeder's repeated insistence that he was "above politics" meant in practice that he was loyal to the Reich, not the republic.[69]

The Fall of Zenker and the Rise of Raeder[edit | edit source]

In 1927, the Phoebus film studio went bankrupt.[71] Subsequently, bankruptcy proceedings established that the studio was a front company created by Captain Walter Lohmann of the Reichsmarine to obtain nitrate and that the navy had poured millions of Reichmarks to subsidize the financially struggling studio over the last few years.[71][72] The public outrage centered less around the fact that Navy had established a front company to help violate Versailles, but rather that the Navy had run the Phoebus studio in such an inept manner as to require millions of Reichmarks in secret subsides to keep it afloat, and even then, the Phoebus studio had still gone bankrupt.[72] These disclosures of his knowledge of this matter and his initial claims of ignorance of Captain Lohmann's activities forced the Defence Minister Otto Gessler to resign in disgrace in January 1928.[71] The commander in chief of the Navy, Admiral Hans Zenker insisted that he knew nothing of the secret subsides to Phoebus, but his denials grew increasingly unconvincing as 1928 went on, and finally he was told by the President, Field Marshal Hindenburg in September 1928 that he would have to resign for the good of the service.[73] In October 1928, Raeder was promoted to Admiral and made Commander-in-Chief of the Reichsmarine, the Weimar Republic Navy (Oberbefehlshaber der Reichsmarine). Raeder was appointed C-in-C largely because it was felt by the rest of the admirals' that he was the best man to deal with politicians, and win them over to the Seemachtidelogie.[74] The Defense Minister General Wilhelm Groener disliked Raeder and might had vetoed his nomination, but he wanted Zenker's successor to be someone who was not connected in any way with the Phoebus affair which had become a major embarrassment to the Defense Ministry, which led him to support Raeder as the best man available. Upon taking command, Raeder promptly caused a political storm when during a dinner with leading officers to honor him as the new naval chief, he proposed a toast to the deposed Wilhelm II.[75]

From when he assumed leadership of the Reichsmarine in 1928, Raeder’s leadership was extremely authoritarian with no tolerance extended to those whose views differed from his.[58] In 1929, Raeder successfully pressured the Berlin publishing house of E.S. Mitter from publishing a book by Wegener critical of Tirpitz’s leadership.[58] Despite Raeder's best efforts to suppress it, another publishing house printed Wegener's book The Naval Strategy of the World War later in 1929. Other officers complained about the way in which Raeder sought to re-write history in the Official History in a way that gloried Tirpitz with no regard to what actually happened with Admiral Assemann of the Historical Branch complaining to Raeder: "I am convinced that it makes no difference to you Herr Admiral, what we write ... We must only write in such a way that you have peace with the old admirals".[76] In 1937, Raeder banned a study of the Navy in World War I critical of Tirpitz because "it is unconditionally necessary to hold back all publications contra Tirpitz".[76] In private, Raeder was prepared to admit that Tirpitz had made mistakes, but to do so publicly was anathema to him as would mean damaging the mystique of the "Tirpitz cult" that Raeder believed essential to maintain the prestige of the Navy.[76][77] Raeder's strong authoritarian tendencies came to the fore as soon he assumed command of the Reichsmarine in 1928 when he sent out a circular making clear that dissent would not be allowed while at the same time carrying out the "great seal hunt" of 1928-29 when Raeder forced most of the senior admirals into early retirement in order to promote men who were loyal to him.[78]

Political role[edit | edit source]

In October 1928, Raeder was cross-examined by a Reichstag committee investigating secret rearmament and violations of the Treaty of Versailles.[79] Raeder testified that he had frequently violated the Versailles treaty, but denied any intention of aggressive war.[75] With considerable help from the President Paul von Hindenburg and the Defence Minister General Wilhelm Groener and Kurt von Schleicher, Raeder succeeded in pressuring the S.P.D. government of Hermann Müller into approving spending for the "pocket battleships" despite the fact that the SPD had elected in the May 1928 Reichstag elections on a platform of stopping the "pocket battleship" project.[80] Hindenburg, Groener, and Schleicher as former or current Army officers did not care much for Raeder's navalist plans, but feared that allowing the SDP to stop the Panzerschiffe would create a dangerous example that might one day wreck the Army's budget plans. Raeder's testimony had been intended to help clear the consciences of Müller and other S.P.D ministers who were planning to perform a policy U-turn on the "pocket battleships" by stressing that he was supposedly not returning to the policy of Tirpitz and aggressive navalism.[75] The approval of the "pocket battleship" programme by the government in November 1928 was largely due to pressure from the Reichswehr, which formed a "state within the state", and was a major blow to German democracy in that the military successfully pressured the government into approving something that it had been elected in order to stop; in effect the military claimed the right on matters of national defence to overrule the elected politicians.[81] Right from the beginning when he assumed command of the Reichsmarine in 1928, Raeder waged a skilful public relations battle highly reminiscent of and closely modelled after the campaigns of Tirpitz in the early 20th century to convince both the politicians and the German public of the importance of sea power to Germany's future greatness.[82] Raeder's efforts were welcomed, but not many officers complained in private that Raeder's lacked Tirpitz's flair and understanding of the public.[83]

Raeder always saw his role as much political as naval.[84] Raeder was keenly aware that the Army was the senior service and that many in Germany took the view that because the great High Seas Fleet that Tirpitz had built had done almost nothing in World War I that it would be a waste of money and time to attempt to rebuilt Tirpitz's fleet.[85] Because of the High Seas Fleet mutiny of 1918, the right distrusted the navy as a hotbed of revolution, treason and mutiny while because of the Kapp putsch of 1920 the left distrusted the navy as a hotbed of counter-revolution, treason and putsche; accordingly in the 1920s neither right-wing or left-wing parties were favourable for improving the Navy's budget.[86] For Raeder, convinced as he was that sea power was the key to national greatness to merely sit back and wait for the politicians to come understand the importance of sea power was never an option, and hence his non-stop lobbying for a bigger naval budget. Raeder did not care for the "pocket battleships" programme that had been launched in 1928, in private calling the Panzerschiffe an unfortunate design forced by Versailles and much preferred to build large capital ships.[31] Raeder only supported the "pocket battleships" as a way of keeping German shipyards busy and as the only way of improving the naval budget until such time as Germany would overthrow the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, and start building the capital ships that Versailles had outlawed.[31] For Raeder, the Panzerschiffe had only two roles to play:

  • Raeder feared that because of Versailles that German shipbuilding skills were starting to become enfeebled, and that unless German shipbuilders received major contracts German naval technology would fall behind.
  • Ever since the Washington conference of 1921-22 which had led to the naval arms limitation treaty of 1922, the world’s leading naval powers had systemically classified warships into various specific types in order to control naval spending. By designing deliberately the "pocket battleship" that had combined elements of a battleship and a cruiser, Germany was disrupting the Washington system, which Raeder hoped that would lead the other powers to allow Germany to have capital ships in exchange for abandoning the Panzerschiffe.[87]
  • Raeder hoped that the revolutionary design for the Panzerschiffe combinding elements of a battleship and cruiser would lead to a surge of national pride in the Reichsmarine, which would create navalist feelings amongst the German public, which in turn would force the politicians to increase the naval budget.[88]

As a sign of his thinking for the future, all of the war plans that Raeder drew up from 1929 onwards for war in the future assumed that the Navy would go to war with regular capital ships instead of the "pocket battleships".[89] For the present, the first war plan that Raeder drew up in January 1929 stated that there was nothing that the Reichsmarine could do to stop a French fleet from entering the Baltic.[31] Raeder used that assessment to argue for more spending on the Navy. In war plans that Raeder drew up in 1931-32 stated that the Reichsmarine would start a war with an surprise attack on the Polish naval base of Gdynia that was intended to destroy the Polish Navy and would then attack French ships in the North Sea before they could enter the Baltic.[31] In a report in November 1932, Raeder stated he needed umbau (rebuilding) programme of one aircraft carrier, six cruisers, six destroyer flotillas, sixteen U-boats and six battleships to allow Germany to control both the Baltic and North Seas.[89]

Naval "family": Raeder's values[edit | edit source]

Raeder was described as an ultra-conservative by the American historian Charles Thomas, who wrote that Raeder's core values were authoritarian, traditionalist and devoutly Lutheran.[90] Raeder took the view that the Navy should be a "family" with himself as the stern, but loving father figure, and the sailors as his "children", from whom he expected unconditional obedience.[91] Raeder's traditionalism meant that honouring tradition and history played a huge role in the Navy under his leadership, with both officers and men encouraged to think of themselves at all times as part of an elite with a glorious history.[92] Raeder's traditionalism, which in practice meant honoring the traditions of the Imperial Navy together with his close association with the Kaiser and his younger brother Prince Heinrich of Prussia and that he always respectfully described Wilhelm II as the "originator of German sea power" led many to conclude that he was a monarchist, but Raeder in fact had abandoned his monarchism after 1918.[70] Wilhelm II was regarded as such a poor war leader that Raeder argued that even if it were possible, restoring the monarchy would still be undesirable. Raeder never accepted democracy, but his views towards the Weimar Republic changed after the election of Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg as President in 1925 with Raeder arguing that the "change of leadership" was for the best.[70] In 1927, when Hindenburg visited Kiel, Raeder-who always prided himself on controlling his emotions-almost broke down with tears of joy when he met Hindenburg.[70] As a devout Lutheran who as captain of the Cöln in World War I personally conducted services on the deck of his cruiser, Raeder sought to make Christianity as much part of the lives of his men as possible.[92] Raeder made it clear to his officers that he wanted them to be model Christian gentlemen, and that an officer who did not attend church on a regular basis would have little chance of promotion under his leadership.[91] As part of his role as the self-appointed "father" of the Navy, Raeder was obsessed with the sex lives of his men, giving a dishonourable discharge to any officer or sailor who was found to have engaged in premarital or extramarital sex. In this way, Raeder made a future powerful enemy when in 1931, he discharged a young Reinhard Heydrich after he got his girlfriend pregnant and then married another woman.[93] Heydrich later became chief of the SD, and he sought revenge for his disgrace by engaging in petty harassment of Raeder.[94]

Rebuilding the German Navy[edit | edit source]

From Weimar to the Third Reich[edit | edit source]

From 1929 to 1933, Raeder was obsessed with the belief that the was seeking to organize a mutiny in the Navy.[95] In 1929, there was an incident on the cruiser Emden, which while in port in a visit to Colombia, a group of sailors had a party during which they wrapped red headbands around their heads and sang the Internationale while being very rude to their officers after they complained about the amount of noise.[95] This incident received much sensationalized and exaggerated press coverage in Germany where it was claimed that an attempted mutiny had occurred on the Emden, and which Raeder apparently took more seriously than he did the reports from his own officers. The German Communist newspaper Rote Fahne had published an article about the Emden incident and at the same time praised the High Seas mutinies of 1917 and 1918, and stated that it would be wonderful if something along those lines happened again.[95] From these, Raeder believed that Communists were seeking a mutiny, and he spent the next years on a "witch-hunt" for Communists in the Navy, giving a dishonourable discharge to any sailor who had any association with the KPD.[96] Further fanning Raeder's anti-Communist paranoia were the discovery of several secret KPD cells in the navy in 1931 and 1932.[97] Given his fears of the Communists, Raeder welcomed the rise of the NSDAP in the early 1930s as a counter-weight to the KPD.[96] Raeder used his old college Admiral Magnus von Levetzow, who worked as Adolf Hitler's naval adviser in the late 1920s and early 1930s to leak Reichsmarine material to the Nazis out of hope that this might win the Nazis over to navalism.[98] At the same time, it was becoming evident that much of the naval officers corps, especially the younger officers were falling under National Socialist influence, to which Raeder reacted cautiously.[99] In 1932, when the Navy's chief chaplain, Pastor Friedrich Ronneberger urged in his sermons that everyone pray for Hitler's victory in the presidential election that spring, Raeder sent him a letter politely reminding him that the Navy was supposed to be neutral on political issues, and asking him to keep his political opinions out of his sermons.[100]

In April 1932, when the Defence Minister General Wilhelm Groener decided to ban the SA as a threat to public order, Raeder strenuously objected to the ban, arguing that it was the Reichsbanner and the rest of the left-wing paramilitary groups that should be banned instead, and claimed right-wing paramilitary groups like the SA were essential to save Germany from Communism.[101] The American historian Keith Bird wrote that nothing illustrated Raeder's right-wing, authoritarian outlook and his basic antipathy to the Weimar Republic better than his desire to ban the Reichsbanner, which existed for the defence of Weimar and his opposition to banning the SA, which existed for the destruction of Weimar.[101] After the government of Heinrich Brüning banned the SA, General Kurt von Schleicher who was even more vehemently opposed to the ban than was Raeder, started a successful campaign to remove Groener.[100] Raeder refused Schleicher's attempts to involve him in his intrigues against Groener, stating that attempts to involve the Navy overtly in politics like the Kapp putsch had been disastrous for naval expenditures in the 1920s, and that he would not risk future naval budgets by becoming involved in plots against the Defence Minister.[100] Raeder made it clear that the Navy would support whatever government that was in power.[100] When Schleicher brought down Groener in May 1932, Groener made a point in his resignation speech of praising Raeder for his "correct" behaviour as opposed to Army officers like former protégé Schleicher who had undermined his leadership and plotted against him.[100] On 16 June 1932, the new government of Franz von Papen, much to the satisfaction of the service chiefs lifted the ban on the SA and the SS.[102]

In the early 1930s, Raeder fought hard for increased naval budgets, lobbying politicians incessantly to argue that a strong navy was the prerequisite for Germany to become a world power.[103] Such was the degree of Raeder's lobbying for bigger naval budgets that in early 1932, General von Schleicher, who viewed Raeder as a threat to the Army budget attempted to discredit Raeder by leaking a story in the press that Raeder was plotting to oust Groener to be defence minister, with the additional twist that Raeder was alleged to think that Groener was too conservative, and wanted to become Defense Minister to move the armed forces to the left.[104] There was at least some truth to Schleicher's claim about Raeder's interest in becoming Defense Minister, through not the claim Raeder was on the left. In a letter to Levetzow on 5 May 1932 Raeder criticised Groener as indifferent to sea power and for banning the SA, and stated he was willing to resign as Navy C-in-C to become Defense Minister, writing that: "If a strong Reich cabinet appears possible, I am potentially ready to participate".[105] Raeder wrote that he would only join a government with the National Socialists in the Cabinet, that was committed to the Seemachtideologie, and give him control over both services.[106] Raeder's relations with General von Schleicher which had been on decline since 1929 were especially strained by the World Disarmament Conference in Geneva.[107] The German delegation asked for gleichberechtigung ("equality of status", i.e. doing away with Part V of Versailles which had disarmed Germany) as soon as the conference opened in February 1932.[107] Through the other powers did not concede Germany gleichberechtigung "in principle" until December 1932, they were willing to negotiate the end of Parts V and VI of Versailles and German rearmament, through just how far German rearmament could go was left unclear. It was clear from early 1932 that it was a question of when Germany was going to rearm, not if, and Raeder was determinated to make the most of the opening. In a June 1932 letter to Levetzow, Raeder expressed his "enthusiasm" for the "national government" of Papen that was demanding gleichberechtigung, and urged the Nazis join the Papen government.[107] At the same time, Raeder complained of Schleicher's influence, which led him to promote the interests of the Army at the World Disarmament Conference at the expense of the Navy with Raeder charging that Schleicher was only too willing to place limits on German naval strength in order to get Anglo-American support for gleichberechtigung for the Army.[108] Realising that the politically powerful General von Schleicher-who was now the Defense Minister in the Papen government-could not be outmaneuvered, Raeder in the fall of 1932 chose to compromise by agreeing to scale back the Navy's more extreme demands on the budget while getting Schleicher to agree to support the Navy's plans to expand beyond Versailles.[109] Many naval officers felt that Raeder's "modest plan" of November 1932 gave too much of the budget to the Army, but Raeder argued that it was best that could be done.[109] The power of General von Schleicher was demonstrated in December 1932 when his intrigues brought down the Papen government-the third time since 1930 his plotting had destroyed a government-and he become Chancellor.

Raeder was deeply hostile to the Weimar Republic, which he viewed as the work of the "internal enemy" responsible for the November Revolution of 1918 and defeat in World War I.[69] Raeder believed that the necessary prerequisite for Germany to become a world power was the end of democracy.[110] Raeder wanted to see the replacement of democracy with an authoritarian, militaristic regime that in Raeder's analogy ensure that Germany would become "one family" united behind the same goals of world power, or as Raeder put it in 1932 Germany needed a "unified Volk" led by one strong leader to win the next war.[111] The American historian Keith Bird wrote about Raeder's thinking about the role of the military, state and society:

"For Raeder, the military and the navy in particular could not have a firm foundation unless they were grounded in the people: "A military must stand in close relationship with the people whom they serve and cannot lead its own existence". A unified Germany represented the absolute precondition for the re-establishment of sea power, which of course assumed overcoming the conditions of the Versailles treaty. Raeder's efforts to create a naval "family" reflected a social, if not socialistic orientation. These elements, along with the Navy's long-term Anglophobia and antidemocratic posture and its belief that Germany's and the navy's defeat in World War I had been the result of a "stab in the back" formed its revisionist outlook from 1918 to 1933."[110]

In November 1932, much to Raeder's delight, the Chancellor Franz von Papen approved of his plans to expand the Navy beyond the limits imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, submitting an Umbau (rebuilding) programme to the Reichstag based on what Raeder had requested.[112] From 1928 onwards, Raeder used his close friend, the retired Admiral Magnus von Levetzow who had become a Nazi as his contact with Adolf Hitler.[113] Through Raeder approved of Hitler as a man who believed that it was necessary for Germany to achieve "world power status", he disapproved of Hitler's proposed means of attaining it. Raeder was greatly dismayed by Hitler's criticism of Tirpitz and of the pre-1914 Anglo-German naval race, and of his statements that if he came to power, he would a reach an understanding with Britain, whereby Germany would "renounce" naval and colonial ambitions in exchange for British support of German ambitions in Eastern Europe.[114] In 1932, Raeder often used Levetzow, who was a Nazi Reichstag deputy to convoy messages to Hitler that he and the rest of the Navy were disappointed that Hitler did not see the necessity of sea power as a prerequisite for world power, and had even worse ordered the Nazi Reichstag delegation to vote against the Papen government's umbau (rebuilding) programme for the Navy in November 1932.[115] In an interview with the Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter, Hitler stated that Germany's enemies were Poland and the Soviet Union and that Britain should be treated as a potential ally.[116] As such, Hitler argued what was needed was a strong Army to support expansion into Eastern Europe, and building a strong Navy was a waste of money.[116] In a letter to Levetzow, Raeder declared:

"Hitler's contentions concerning rearmament and capital ships are among the silliest that he has come up with yet. How can the man disrupt foreign policy in so criminal a manner and jeopardize all the plans we have made, only to attack Papen? ... What Hitler say about the Baltic and North Sea is really nonsense. If we were to follow him we would build a coastal defense force and would never be able to act against the French. Very soon our mission will once again be in the North Sea. One cannot remodel a navy overnight. He ought to leave negotiations with England to us and not act like a bull in the china shop. Aboard the Cöln he spoke quite differently".[116]

Through Raeder was angry with the Nazis for voting against the Papen government's umbau which Raeder called "criminal", in a letter to Levetzow on 8 December 1932 Raeder expressed hope that the recent defection of Gregor Strasser would not cause the collapse of the NSDAP which Raeder called the best defense against Communism.[117] Raeder argued that the best thing that could happen was for the National Socialists to join the Schleicher government in order to "tame" Hitler while enabling the "positive" elements of the NSDAP to support "national feeling".[117]

In 1933, Raeder welcomed the coming to power of Hitler, believing that this was the beginning of the militarized Volksgemeinschaft that would let Germany become the world's greatest power.[118] Through Raeder had doubts about Hitler's commitment to navalism, the banning of the SPD and KPD together with the militarist and ultra-nationalist tone of the new regime were appealing to him.[119] Raeder first met Hitler on 2 February 1933 when Hitler delivered a birthday speech for the Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath.[120] During the speech, Hitler declared that his foreign policy was to "overthrow" Versailles as the prelude to the "conquest of Lebensraum in the East and its ruthless Germanization".[121] Raeder was later at Nurmberg to claim that he was not paying attention when Hitler declared his ultimate foreign policy goals.[120] On 21 March 1933, Raeder attended the "Day of Potsdam", an elaborate ceremony at the tomb of Frederick the Great where Hindenburg formally declared Hitler the heir to Prussian traditions, which left the conservative Raeder greatly impressed with Hitler's respect for Prussian traditions.[119] On 28 March 1933, Raeder met with the Defence Minister General Werner von Blomberg to press for increased naval spending, but through Blomberg was sympathetic, Raeder complained that Blomberg was too much a Prussian Army officer with only a continental understanding of war, leading Raeder to believe that his only hope was to convert Hitler to the Seemachtideologie.[122] At a speech on 1 April 1933 at the launching of the Admiral Scheer, Raeder expressed his support for "the government of the National Revolution" which he hoped would "lead a unified people, thoroughly imbued with the spirit of the great chancellor [Bismarck] to new heights".[119] Shortly afterwards, Raeder had his first private meeting with Hitler, and came away impressed, believing that if Hitler was no navalist, then he could be made into one just like his mentor Tirpitz had converted Wilhelm II to navalism.[123] As part of his efforts to model himself after "the Master", the Immediatstellung (informal meeting) in the hallways which had been such an important part in the relationship between Tirpitz and Wilhelm II was be an equally important part of the Raeder-Hitler relationship.[123] Raeder believed that if he could "educate" Hitler about the importance of sea power, then he would assure the creation of the greatest fleet ever in German history.[124] Raeder was to spent the rest of the 1930s lobbying Hitler for bigger and bigger naval budgets while trying to win Hitler over to the Seemachtideologie.[125] Raeder, who had a high opinion of himself started in this period to call himself the "second Tirpitz" who would exceed even "the Master" by achieving what Tirpitz had failed to achieve, the coveted "world power status" for Germany.[126]

"Navy Style"[edit | edit source]

Raeder’s paternalist, authoritarian style meant that as the Navy expanded in the 1930s, he tried to keep as firm control as possible over the lives of his men.[127] Raeder was at all times concerned with promoting the "Navy style", namely an ethos of conduct that he expected his men in the naval "family" to live by, and which led him to treat his men almost as children in need of his paternalist guidance.[127] In June 1935, Raeder followed up a suggestion of the War Minister von Blomberg that officers tried to refrain from carrying briefcases to and from work to avoid the impression that Wehrmacht was becoming bureaucratised by ordering that Blomberg's briefcase order be repeated every spring and fall so that new officers would know how to create the right impression with the public.[127] In the same way, Raeder ordered that naval officers were not to wear monocles or wear a raincoat except on days when it was likely to rain because he wanted his officers to always look their best on every day, and he felt that wearing a raincoat and/or monocle did not look seemingly.[127] In 1935, Raeder was so enraged when he saw one of his officers smoking a pipe when he was driving that he issued an order that this "deplorable state of affairs" cease at once, and officers were never to smoke while driving.[127] In February 1939, Raeder banned anyone in the Kriegsmarine from performing a popular new dance called the "Lambeth Walk", which Raeder claimed was inappropriate for the Navy.[127]

"Self-Gleichschaltung": The Navy's Place in the Nazi state[edit | edit source]

Raeder generally resisted attempts by the NSDAP to establish influence within the Navy, through he much preferred compromise rather than confrontation whenever possible.[128] On 28 August 1933, Raeder ordered that the Reichsmarine returned the greeting "Heil Hitler" when offered and 6 September 1933 ordered that the "German greeting" as the Nazi salute was officially known be used by the Navy under certain conditions.[129] The status of chaplains within the Navy was one of the few areas where Raeder did resist the attempts of the NSDAP in an aggressive manner, making clear his absolute opposition to introducing Nazi neo-paganism into the Navy, and that he would never tolerate neo-pagan rituals in the Navy.[130] Raeder was especially opposed to giving chaplain status to the neo-pagan "German Faith Movement" because his arch-enemy Reinhard Heydrich was sponsoring it, and he believed that allowing neo-pagan chaplains was a "Trojan Horse" intended to allow Heydrich's people into the Kriegsmarine.[131] A more dramatic instance occurred in 1934 when Raeder together with Army leadership made it clear to Hitler that they were opposed to the plans of Ernst Röhm to absorb the military into the SA, and that they would block Hitler's plans to assume the powers of the presidency if the ambitions of Röhm went unopposed.[132] Raeder was aware in advance at least in a general sense of the plans for the Night of the Long Knives that saw Röhm and the most of the SA leadership executed.[132]

At the same time as Raeder resisted inclusions by the NSDAP and its related organisations into the Navy, Raeder worked to promote Nazi ideology as opposed to the NSDAP in the Navy, ordering in September 1936 that all officers read a tract by Kriegsmarine Commander Siegfried Sorge called Der Marineoffizier about what it took to be a good officer.[133] Sorge had claimed that one could not be a good naval officer without believing in National Socialist values.[134] Sorge praised Hitler for the Night of the Long Knives, and claimed that if Hitler had been leader in 1918, then the High Seas Fleet mutiny would have been crushed just like Hitler had crushed the alleged SA mutiny of 1934.[135] Sorge used the examples of Julius Caesar and Ferdinand Magellan using brutal methods to crush mutinies to argue that great leaders throughout history had always used extreme violence to maintain discipline, and through he emphasized that a good officer should never have to be confronted with the threat of mutiny, but if such a threat did emerge, the best thing that could be done was to follow Hitler’s example in 1934, and have all the mutineers summarily executed.[135] Der Marineoffizier ended with the claim that combating "Jewish materialism" was one of a good officer's principal duties, and this was best done by making "... Germans energetic and thankful followers of the Führer", and help them "... understand that the Führer also had to use a heavy hand ... in order to accomplish his fantastic aim".[135] Through Raeder never joined the N.S.D.A.P, maintaining throughout his life that he was "above politics", in 1937, Hitler awarded Raeder the Golden Party Badge to honour him for his work in promoting National Socialism in the Kriegsmarine.[136] In his memoirs, Raeder claimed that he kept the Navy "strictly aloof" from National Socialism, having maintained "disinterested service to the State" and "independence" from the Nazism.[137] The American historian Keith Bird wrote that if Raeder's claims after 1945 that he resisted efforts to introduce National Socialism in the Navy were true, then it would have been very unlikely that Hitler would have awarded Raeder the Golden Party Badge, which was not a military award, but rather a political award given to those that had done the most for National Socialism.[136] Starting in the mid-1930s, both the Army and the Navy, as part of an effort to preserve their traditional "state within the state" status, began to more and more Nazify itself in a paradoxical effort to persuade Hitler that it was not necessary to end the traditional "state within the state", to prevent Gleichschaltung being imposed by engaging in what can be called a process of "self-Gleichschaltung".[138] For Raeder, efforts to promote Nazi ideology within the Kriegsmarine had the effect of preserving the autonomy of the Navy, and thus his own power from the N.S.D.A.P by showing Hitler that the Navy did not need to brought under the control of the N.S.D.A.P. As part of his efforts to prove the loyalty of the Navy to the Nazi regime, Raeder together with the rest of the Navy took the Hitler oath in August 1934.[139]

Reinhard Heydrich, the chief of the SD who had not forgiven Raeder for dishonorably discharging him in 1931, emerged as Raeder's greatest enemy in the Third Reich.[93] Heydrich often engaged in petty harassment of Raeder such as having his telephone tapped and spreading rumors that Raeder was a secret anti-Nazi who refused to discharge Jews from the Navy.[139] In his memoirs, Raeder called Heydrich the man who gave him the "greatest trouble" and complained that he had to spent a disproportionate amount of his time going to Heinrich Himmler to lodge complaints against Heydrich.[140] In 1934, Heydrich attempted to win control over the Abwehr, as the intelligence service of the Defence Ministry was known, which was headed by naval Captain Conrad Patzig, as a way of discrediting Raeder.[93] In October 1934, when Heydrich revealed to Blomberg that the Abwehr had carried out aerial photography of the Maginot Line despite Blomberg's orders to the contrary, Blomberg fired Patzig.[93] Through Raeder personally disliked Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, stating "I cannot work with that man!", he nominated Canaris to be Patzig's successor as the only way of keeping the Abwehr headed by a naval officer and out of Heydrich's control.[141] By early 1935, tensions between the military and the SS were such that rumors of another Night of the Long Knives were starting to swirl, leading Hitler himself to intervene with a speech on 3 January 1935 praising the military that defused the crisis.[142]

Raeder was not a radical anti-Semite along Nazi lines, but he shared the widespread anti-Semitic prejudices of most German conservatives of the time, viewing Jews as an alien element who were corrupting the otherwise pure German Volk.[143] In 1934, when a veteran of the Imperial Navy who was working as a Prussian civil servant, whose job was threatened because his "non-Aryan" status wrote to Raeder for his help, Raeder replied that he could not intervene in a civilian matter.[144] At the same time, Raeder received a letter from an engineer named Dekow who complained that he had been sacked from his job at Deutsche Werke shipyard in Kiel in 1929 because of his membership in the N.S.D.A.P, Raeder replied that he would do everything in his power to help Dekow provided that Dekow provided proof that he was an especially distinguished "Old Fighter"; Dekow provided the evidence and duly received back his job.[145] In February 1934 the Defence Minister Werner von Blomberg, on his own initiative, had all of the Jews serving in the Reichswehr and Reichsmarine given an automatic and immediate dishonourable discharge.[146] Like the Army, the Navy had an unofficial policy long before 1933 of refusing to accept Jews as officers, indeed of refusing to accept Jews in any capacity as much as possible so the numbers affected by Blomberg's order were very small.[147] Most of the men who were discharged did not practice Judaism as a religion, but since Blomberg defined Jews as a "race", the discharged were mostly either Jewish converts to Christianity or sons of converts to Christianity.[148] As a result, 74 Jewish soldiers and sailors lost their jobs for no other reason than they were considered Jewish.[146] To create a "Jew-free" Navy, Raeder dishonourably discharged three officers, four officer candidates, three NCOs and four sailors.[149] The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service had excluded those Jews who were World War I veterans, so Blomberg's discharge order was going beyond what was asked of him in promoting anti-Semitism.[150] Raeder made no protest against Blomberg's order, and instead worked with dispatch to carry it out.[149] Raeder accepted without complaint orders from von Blomberg on 21 May 1935 that those who were of "non-Aryan descent" would not be permitted to join the Wehrmacht and all members of the Wehrmacht could only marry women of pure "Aryan descent" and another order from Blomberg in July 1935 saying no member of the Wehrmacht could buy from a store owned by "non-Aryans" under any conditions.[151] At the same time, Raeder fought Blomberg's attempts to have officers who were Mischling or were married to Mischling dishonourably discharged.[152] Raeder's biographer, Keith Bird, wrote about Raeder's anti-Semitism:

"Raeder's adoption of Nazi racial epithets, reflective of the assimilation of the tenets of National Socialism in the Wehrmacht, indicate his ongoing readiness to interpret and moderate Hitler's policies and ideology and assimilate them into his own Pan-German conservative world-view. By intermingling them with the ideology of the late nineteenth century Bismarckian century, he could more easily accept them. At his Nuremberg trial, reflecting the traditional anti-Semitic bias of the German middle class and naval officers of his generation, he argued that after the experience of 1917 and 1918, "International Jewry" had "gained an excessively large and oppressive influence in German affairs", and "one could not be surprised that the National Socialist government tried to loosen and, as far as possible remove this large and oppressive influence." Although Raeder was not anti-Semitic in the virulent National Socialist sense, he tolerated statements from his senior officers such as Admiral Schuster (appointed by Raeder as the inspector of education and training) who told new recruits in 1937 that they must be "racially and morally sound.".[143]

In a speech given on Heroes' Day on 12 March 1939, Raeder praised Hitler:

"... for the clear and unmerciful declaration of war against Bolshevism and International Jewry [Raeder is referring to the Kristallnacht pogrom here], whose drive for destruction of peoples we have felt quite enough in our racial body".[153]

In January 1933, Raeder told the future Luftwaffe general Ulrich Kessler that he should never be "indifferent" to Jews, but had to "hate" them.[154] In contrast to his indifference to what was happening to the Jews, the conscience of the pious Lutheran Raeder was often troubled by the anti-Christian tendencies of the Nazi regime.[155] Raeder believed that the attacks on Christianity were the work of a few radicals in the N.S.D.A.P. and that Hitler himself was a good Christian.[156] Raeder severed his once close friendship with Pastor Martin Niemöller after Niemöller rejected his advice to stay clear of "politics" and accept the application of the Aryan paragraph to the Lutheran church.[156]

Vision of the future navy[edit | edit source]

A close protégé of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, Raeder focused all of his efforts on rebuilding the High Seas Fleet that had scuttled itself at Scapa Flow in 1919.[157] The Canadian historian Holger Herwig wrote that for Raeder: "The ideal weapon with which to attain sea power remained the symmetrical battle fleet centred around the battleship".[57] Raeder was a firm battleship man who was very hostile towards submarines and aircraft carriers.[57][157] The American historians Williamson Murray and Alan Millet called Raeder the "ultimate battleship admiral".[158] For Raeder, the bigger the battleship the better, and throughout his tenure as a Commander-in-Chief, Raeder was forever pressuring naval architects to design bigger and bigger battleships; by 1937, Raeder was planning on building 100,000-ton battleships.[57] Raeder dismissed carriers as "gasoline tankers", argued that aviation had a small role to play in naval warfare and had little use for submarines, ordering that battleship construction should have first priority over submarines in German ship-yards.[157] Largely because of Raeder's building priorities, Germany went to war in 1939 with 26 ocean-going U-boats.[157] In a 1934 memo, Raeder stated spelled out why he considered sea power so important to Germany:

"The scale of a nation's world power status is identical with its scale of sea power".[57]

Following the Riskflotte (Risk Fleet) theories of Tirpitz, Raeder argued to Hitler that the Navy had two political purposes to play, which made the Navy indispensable to his foreign policy, namely its "risk" value and "alliance" value.[57] Raeder contended to Hitler that on one hand an extremely powerful German fleet would deter Britain from intervening if Germany should commit aggression against another European country while on the other hand, a strong German battle fleet could tip the scales in the event of an Anglo-American war, and as such, Britain would ally herself with Germany against the rising power of the United States (like many Germans of his time, Raeder believed there was a strong possibility of an Anglo-American war).[57] Because of the long period in which it took to build a battle fleet, Raeder was, despite his Anglophobia, hostile towards an anti-British foreign policy (at least until the High Seas Fleet was resurrected) and until 1937, Raeder saw his principal enemies as France, Poland and the Soviet Union.[57] Raeder's authoritarian style led him in 1937 to refuse to create the office of chief of the admiralty staff.[58] When Admiral Wilhelm Marschall asked for such a post to be created, Raeder's reply was "But I will direct the war at sea".[58] On 20 April 1936, just a few days before Raeder's 60th birthday, Hitler promoted him to Generaladmiral (General Admiral). In his quest to rebuild the German Navy, Raeder faced constant challenges from Hermann Göring′s ongoing quest to build up the Luftwaffe.

Hossbach Conference and the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair[edit | edit source]

Erich Raeder with Göring

In November 1937, Raeder attended the conference recorded in the Hossbach Memorandum.[159] The meeting had been called following complaints from Raeder that the Navy could not meet its current construction targets as both the Army and Air Force were gobbling up the raw materials needed to build warships.[159] Together with Göring, Raeder were the only ones present who did not object to Hitler's plans for aggression in Eastern Europe.[159] Raeder later claimed when on trial for his life at Nuremberg that the Hossbach conference was a flight of fancy on Hitler's part that nobody took seriously, and he did not object because there was nothing to object to.[160] The American historian Charles Thomas maintains that it was more likely that Raeder's silence during the Hossbach conference was a gambit on his part to increase the Navy's budget by being seen to be supportive of Hitler's foreign policy when the Army leaders were expressing some doubts about the timing.[161] As part of the reorganization of the military command structure following the Blomberg–Fritsch Affair in early 1938, it was declared that the service chiefs, namely OKW chief Wilhelm Keitel, Army commander Walter von Brauchitsch, Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring and Raeder were to have the same status as Cabinet ministers and as such, they all started to receive publicly the same pay as a Cabinet member and privately payments from Konto 5 slush fund.[162] Konto 5 was a slush fund run by the chief of the Reich Chancellery, Hans Lammers that served to pay bribes to all of the generals, admirals and civil servants to reward them for supporting the Nazi regime.[163] The basis of the corruption system regular monthly tax-free payments deposited in their bank accounts of 4,000 Reichmarks for field marshals and grand admirals and 2,000 Reichmarks for all other senior officers, which came from the Konto 5 slush fund.[163] All this money came as an addition to the official salary of 26,000 Reichmarks a year for field marshals and grand admirals and 24,000 Reichmarks a year for colonel generals and general admirals.[164] In addition, senior officers were given a life-time exemption from paying income tax, which was in effect a huge pay raise given Germany's high income tax rates (by 1939, there was a 65% tax rate for income over 2, 400 R.M) and they were also provided with spending allowances for food, medical care, clothing, and housing.[164]

During the Blomberg-Fritsch affair, the sexually puritanical Raeder was enraged when he learned that the War Minister Werner von Blomberg had married a woman who had posed for pornographic photos, and demanded that Blomberg resign at once for his "disgrace".[165] Not content with Blomberg's resignation, Raeder dispatched an aide, a Captain von Wangenheim, to follow the Blombergs around their honeymoon in Italy; on behalf of Raeder he persistently tried to pressure Blomberg into committing suicide to atone for his marriage.[165][166] Despite the passionate appeals of Captain von Wangenheim to his honour and his offer to supply a gun to shoot himself, Blomberg declined to end his life for marrying the woman he loved. In the same way, the sexually conservative Raeder who had a very strong dislike of homosexuality was one of the loudest who called for the resignation of the Army commander Werner von Fritsch when he learned that he had been accused of homosexuality, through Raeder qualified this that Fritsch should be reappointed Army commander if the charges were proven to be false.[165] In early 1938, Raeder sat on the Court of Honour that tried and acquitted Fritsch for homosexuality.[167] Though Raeder had promised to join the campaign to reinstate Fritsch as Army Commander if he was acquitted, after Fritsch’s trial ended, he reneged on his promise, and instead argued that the Fritsch case was an Army matter that did not concern him, through that had not stopped Raeder from demanding that Fritsch resign when he first learned of the allegations of homosexuality.[168]

Z Plan[edit | edit source]

In the late 1930s, when it become clear that Britain was neither going to ally with Germany nor permit Germany a free hand to dominate Europe, Hitler's foreign policy became markedly anti-British. Raeder's traditional Anglophobia, which always led him to view Britain as the main enemy and together the chance for increased naval building represented by the anti-British turn made Raeder into one of the strongest supporters of the anti-British foreign policy.[169] In late 1938, Hitler ordered Raeder to accelerate warship construction.[170] On 4 January 1939 Raeder advised Hitler that given the Kriegsmarine's status as third in regards to allocation of resources and spending behind the Army and the Air Force, the construction targets could not be met within the deadlines given.[171] Raeder reported that in the future the Kriegsmarine would have to take precedence over the other branches of the Wehrmacht to meet the construction targets within Hitler's deadlines.[171] Raeder stated that unless this was done, there would be a delay in warship construction which would ensure that the time when the Kriegsmarine "would be sufficiently strong and ready to act against the big sea powers" would not happen in the near future.[171] Even if the current naval construction programme was completed on time, Raeder warned that the resulting German fleet would still be too weak to win command of the sea, and what was needed was a vast new battlefleet, even larger than Tirpitz's High Seas Fleet to defeat Britain. Finally, Raeder's endless championship of the Seemachtideologie and of the need for the Navy to have primacy in the defence budget bore fruit, and Hitler was won over to the cause of navalism. On 27 January 1939 Hitler approved the Plan Z presented to him by Raeder, and ordered that henceforth the Kriesgmarine would be first in regards to allocation of money and raw materials, marking the first time during Raeder's tenure that the Navy had enjoyed such a position, indeed the first time since 1912 that the Navy had been given the first call on the defence budget.[171]

The Z Plan called for a fleet of 10 battleships, 4 aircraft carriers, 15 Panzerschiffe, 5 heavy cruisers, 44 light cruisers, 68 destroyers and 249 U-boats by 1948.[171] Reflecting Raeder's obsession with big battleships, the Z Plan called for a new class of gigantic H-class battleships to be the core of the proposed fleet, which would have been the largest battleships ever built. With this force, Raeder promised Hitler that he could destroy the Royal Navy.[171] After the Z Plan was completed in the mid-1940s, Raeder's plans called for a "double pole strategy", in which U-boats, Panzerschiffe and cruisers operating alone or in tandem would attack British commerce all over the globe, forcing the Royal Navy to divert ships all over the world to deal with these threats while at the same time two task forces of carriers, battleships, cruisers and destroyers would engage in frequent sorties into the North Sea, preferably from bases in Norway to destroy what remained of the British Home Fleet in a series of battles that would give Germany command of the sea.[172] The Canadian naval historian, Commander Kenneth Hansen wrote that Raeder in devising the idea of a task force of different types of ships was a more forward-looking and innovative officer than he was usually credited with being.[173] In a revisionist picture of Raeder, Hansen charged that the conventional view of Raeder as a blind follower of Mahan and Tirpitz was mistaken, and instead claimed that Raeder was really a follower of the theories promoted by Franz von Hipper of Germany and Raoul Castex of France about using guerre-de-course to force the numerically superior Royal Navy to divert its strength all the world in order to allow a numerically inferior force to engage in battle with the remainder of the British fleet on more or less equal terms.[174] To support the planned global war on the high seas against Britain, Raeder planned to get around the problems posed by the lack of bases outside of Germany by instructing naval architects to increase the range and endurance of German warships and build supply ships to re-supply German raiders on the high seas.[175]

In 1936, Raeder ordered a new class of support ships, the Dithmarschen-class ships which served as a combined oil tanker/supply ship/hospital ship/repair shop and could carry 9,000 tons of fuel oil and 4,000 tons of lubricating oil plus ammunition, water, spare parts and food.[176] The captains of the Dithmarschen-class ships and Kriegsmarine warships and submarines were trained in Underway replenishment as the practice of transferring goods and fuel from the Dithmarschen ships to the warships/submarines at open sea was known, a most difficult operation that required considerable practice.[176] Through the Dithmarschen ships, Raeder planned to greatly extend the length of time that Kriegsmarine raiders could spent on the high seas before being required to return to Germany. Five Dithmarschen ships were built between 1937 and 1940 and two, the Altmark and the Westerwald were at sea at the start of the war.[176] Hansen wrote that the Dithmarschen ships were Raeder's most enduring legacy as they provided the basis for the modern support ship; after the war, the United States Navy took over the Dithmarschen and renamed it the USS Conecuh.[176] Despite his strong dislike of Wegener, Raeder agreed that it had been a huge mistake on the part of Germany not to have occupied Norway, the "Gate to the Atlantic" in 1914 as control of Norway would allowed Germany to escape the North Sea by breaking the British distant blockade.[177] As early as 1915, Wegener had pointed out that the blockade was based upon patrolling the waters between Scotland and Norway, and argued that if Germany had control of Norway, then not only would the blockade be broken, but the German Navy could then force the British Navy to engage in a decisive battle of annihilation.[178] The second part of the "Wegener thesis" about breaking the British distant blockade, namely seizing the Shetland Islands, Wegener's other "Gate to the Altantic", Raeder rejected as early as the 1920s as utterly impractical.[179]

The German historian Jost Dülffer wrote that Raeder would have been better off in preparing the Z Plan by following the advice of Commander Hellmuth Heye, who had advocated in a 1938 paper a guerre-de-course strategy of Kreuzerkrieg (cruiser war) in which groups of Panzerschiffe and submarines would attack British convoys, or Karl Dönitz, who also advocated a guerre-de-course strategy of using "wolf-packs" of submarines to attack British commerence.[180] Dülffer contended that either option were both less expensive, would take less time and more achievable given German resources than the Z Plan which Raeder chose.[181] The Canadian historian Holger Herwig wrote that the Z Plan was Raeder's fantasy given that the Z Plan fleet would take 8 million tons of oil whereas in 1939 Germany imported a total of only six million tons of oil.[182] Naval planners informed Raeder that the Z Plan fleet would require ten million cubic metres of storage to be built in order to supply enough oil to last a year.[182] Raeder never addressed the question of where the oil that was supposed to power the Z Plan fleet was going to come from, or where the oil would be stored once it had been imported.

Starting World War II[edit | edit source]

The fleet envisioned in the Z Plan was totally incompatible with the Anglo-German Naval Agreement (A.G.N.A) of 1935, which limited the Kriegsmarine to 35% of the total tonnage of the Royal Navy, which meant that A.G.N.A. would have to be renounced.[183] Raeder's main worry in the first half of 1939 was that the British might grasp "a new opportunity ... to show themselves generous and breathe new life into the treaty".[183] As such, Raeder very much approved of Hitler's denunciation of the A.G.N.A. on 28 April 1939 as opening the way for the implantation of the Z Plan.[183] Raeder later claimed during his testimony at Nuremberg and in his memoirs to have been opposed to the denunciation of the A.G.N.A., which he claimed to have been kept in the dark about, but contemporary evidence from 1939, not the least Raeder's own role as the author of the Z Plan, suggests otherwise.[184]

The only problem Raeder faced was Hitler's determination to attack Poland.[185] Raeder supported the idea of aggression against Poland, but on 31 March 1939 the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had announced the "guarantee" of Poland, by which Britain would go to war against any nation that attempted to end Polish independence. Through Raeder expressed some worry in the first half of 1939 over the prospect of a war with Britain when the Plan Z had barely began, he accepted and believed in the assurances of Hitler and Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop that neither Britain nor France would go to war if the Reich attacked Poland.[185] In July 1939, Raeder told Karl Dönitz that his fears of a general war were groundless, and told him he take the entire summer off for a vacation.[185] Despite his belief that the attack on Poland would cause only a local war, on 15 August 1939 Raeder took the precaution of ordering two Panzerschife (the Admiral Graf Spee and the Deutschland), a number of U-boats, and the Dithmarschen-class ships Altmark and German tanker Westerwald (2) to the Atlantic in case Britain should go to war.[185] In late August 1939, Raeder told other senior officers that the danger of a war with Britain and France was extremely remote, and at most Germany had to fear only sanctions if the invasion of Poland went ahead.[186] When Admiral Hermann Boehem sent Raeder a memo in late August saying that the disposition of the German fleet could only made sense if there was no general war, one of Raeder's most senior aides, Captain Kurt Fricke, replied with the comment on the margin: "That is precisely the point! It is highly unlikely".[186]

World War II[edit | edit source]

Beginning of the war: Raeder's political-naval plan[edit | edit source]

Erich Raeder offers a National Socialist salute in 1939 (Berlin).

When Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, Raeder was shocked and shattered by the outbreak of a general war that for the Kriegsmarine was at least five years too early.[187] Raeder wrote in the Seekriegsleitung war diary on 3 September 1939:

"Today the war against England and France, which the Führer had previously assured us we would not have to confront until 1944 and which he believed he could avoid up until the very last minute, began ...

As far as the Kriegsmarine is concerned, it is obvious that it is not remotely ready for the titanic struggle against England. To be sure, the brief period of time that has elapsed since the Agreement of 1935 has witnessed the creation of a well-trained and well-conceived force of U-boats, of which approximately twenty-six are currently ready for Atlantic operations, but these boats are still far too few to exert a decisive influence upon the war. The surface forces, moreover, are so weak and so few in numbers vis-à-vis the British fleet that the only course open to them-presupposing their active employment-is to show that they know how to die gallantly and thereby to create the basis for an eventual rebirth in the future".[187]

Owing to the fact that the great fleet envisioned in Plan Z existed only in blue-prints or had just began to be built, Raeder like Tirpitz before him in 1914 was forced to abandon his pre-war plans for a great naval battle in the North Sea, and instead embrace the guerre de course strategy that he had previously been opposed to.[188] The disparity in size between the Royal Navy and the Kriegsmarine meant the great Entscheidungsschlacht in the Mahan-Tirpitz mold that Raeder planned before the war could only end in the destruction of the German force. Raeder's strategy which was a modified version of the "double pole strategy" he had devised before the war called for the Panzerschiffe, auxiliary cruisers and submarines to attack British merchantmen all over the world to force the Royal Navy to divert its strength while at the same time the main surface ships would make frequent raids into the North Sea to gradually reduce the Royal Navy's strength.[188] Raeder had great hopes for the auxiliary cruisers which he sent to the Pacific, Indian and South Atlantic oceans to tie down British warships all over the globe.[189] To get around the problem of the lack of bases outside of Germany and the shortage of Dithmarschen-class ships, Raeder had the Foreign Office in late 1939 negotiate secret agreements with Japan, Spain and the Soviet Union allowing German ships and submarines to use the ports of those nations to resupply, refuel and rearm.[190] Owing to the shortage of surface vessels, Raeder's strategy was very much a guerre de course strategy that he reluctantly followed because the U-boats were the only offensive weapons at his disposal.[188] Raeder's strategy was much as political as naval.[188] Having spent the last six years championing to Hitler sea power as the only way in which Germany could become a world power, Raeder was anxious that the Kriegsmarine be seen as doing more than its share of the fighting to ensure that Hitler would reward the Navy by not cutting its budget after the war.[188] Raeder was obsessed with the fear that "the war would end before the heavy units had been engaged" and that the sailors would "fail" in their duty to the fatherland "due to inactivity", the last a veiled reference to the mutiny of 1918.[191] In a message sent to all officers in June 1940, Raeder exclaimed:

"The great aim of the Führer has set forth for the German nation requires the utmost exertion in all places ... A navy which undertakes daring actions against the enemy and suffers losses through this will be reborn on an even larger scale. If it has not fought this action, then its existence will be threatened after the war".[188]

As part of the "double pole strategy", mines were laid off the coast of Britain while submarines and merchant raiders were sent out to the Atlantic.[192] In the first days of the war, submarines were ordered not to practice unrestricted submarine warfare as Hitler had hopes that Britain and France might make peace after the conquest of Poland, and feared that too many "incidents" at sea involving neutral shipping might bring the United States into the war as unrestricted submarine warfare had in 1917.[192] In support of Hitler's diplomatic strategy, Raeder ordered the skipper of the submarine that sank the Athenia to falsify the log-book in order to support the German claim that the sinking of the Athenia on 3 September 1939 was a British provocation intended to fool the United States into declaring war on Germany.[192] A major factor that assisted the Kriegsmarine's war against British commerence was that the B-Dienst as the German naval intelligence was known had broken many of the British codes before the war.[193] In September 1939 to further concentrate power in his hands, Raeder created two Naval Group Commands, namely Naval Command West and Naval Command East that operated between the fleet commands and the naval headquarters in Berlin.[194] The Canadian historian Holger Herwig argued that Raeder wanted a splinted command structure in order to increase his power, and that adding an extra layer of bureaucracy was unhelpful to efficiency.[194] In the same way, Raeder always refused to appoint an flag officer with command experience to act as the liaison with the OKW out of the fear that such an officer might be a threat to his power.[58] As much as possible, Raeder tried to avoid co-operation with the Army and the Air Force, and as such Germany never had a joint chiefs of staff or anything like it during the war to prepare a coordinated strategy.[58]

Like Hitler, Raeder viewed Britain rather than France as the main opponent, and accordingly favored focusing on defeating the United Kingdom first.[195] A major problem for the Kriegsmarine was like in World War I, it was difficult to attack the shipping in the Western Approaches to the British Isles from the North Sea, which was likewise difficult to break out from because of the British blockade.[176] Raeder at first favored an offensive to defeat France in order to use the ports on the French Atlantic coast to attack shipping in the Western Approaches, only to be informed by General Franz Halder of the Army General Staff that the Army's current plans for a western offensive called for the Army to seize northern France and the Low Countries, which would be used as a basis for a final offensive to defeat France sometime in 1942; in the interim the areas seized would be used as the basis for launching air attacks on Britain.[176] The Manstein Plan for a swift victory over France was not adopted until February 1940. Learning of the Army's western offensive plans in September 1939 led Raeder to turn his thoughts towards Norway. On a meeting on 10 October 1939, Raeder pressed Hitler for an invasion of Norway, unrestricted submarine warfare and to declare war on the United States if too many "incidents" involving the sinking of neutral ships led to American support of the Allies.[196] The American historian Gerhard Weinberg wrote that Raeder was repeating "... the German navy leadership's argument of 1916 unaffected by the experience of 1917-18".[196] Hitler gave his approval for unrestricted submarine warfare, but also stressed to Raeder that he did not want the United States in the war at this junction in time.[196]

Reflecting his concern with the political aspects of his plan, namely to gain enough glory at sea to win post-war budget battles, Raeder was furious with the outcome of the Battle of the River Plate.[197] The captain of the Admiral Graf Spee, Hans Langsdorff, believing that his damaged ship was faced with a superior British force, chose to scuttle his ship to spare the lives of his men.[197] Both Hitler and Raeder believed that Langsdorff should have fought the British and gone down fighting, even if it meant the deaths of most or all of the crew of Admiral Graf Spee.[197] Raeder, knowing that Hitler was very displeased with the Navy as a result of the River Plate, issued orders that henceforth naval commanders were not to concern themselves with the lives of their crews, and were to go down fighting.[197] Raeder's order that was intended to avoid a repeat of the scuttling of the Admiral Graf Spee on 22 December 1939 read:

"The German warship and her crew are to fight with their strength to the last shell, until they win or they go down with their flag flying. Once engaged, the battle is to be fought to the finish."[197]

After the Battle of the River Plate, the Flottenchef Admiral Hermann Boehm was made the scapegoat for the scuttling of the Admiral Graf Spee and was sacked by Raeder.[193]

Raeder's deputy, Admiral Rolf Carls wrote with pride in his diary in October 1941 that "all our forces have been deployed so often and so recklessly that never can the charge of tepidity be levelled against us".[198] Admiral Wilhelm Marschall after the war was to call Raeder's strategy as "wishful and prestige thinking, fateful overestimation of Germany's political and military possibilities, unfounded underestimation of the enemy England, and nonsensical insistence upon operational thoughts tied to the Z Plan", a naval strategy based upon "phantasy, prestige-seeking and playing vabanque".[198]

Operation Weserübung: the invasion of Scandinavia[edit | edit source]

Raeder was promoted to Großadmiral (Grand Admiral) in 1939, the first to hold that rank since Alfred von Tirpitz. In September 1939, Admiral Rolf Carls start sending Raeder memos about the need to seize Norway as the best way of breaking the British blockade.[199] On 3 October 1939, Raeder at a meeting of the Naval War Staff decided to ask the Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop if it would possible to gain "bases in Norway under the combined pressure of Russia and Germany".[200] In October 1939, Raeder started to strongly push for an invasion of Norway.[176] Raeder was primarily interested in using Norway as a base to allow the Kriegsmarine to attack the North Atlantic sea-lanes to Britain.[176] Raeder first raised the subject of invading Norway during a meeting with Hitler on 10 October 1939, during which he argued that naval bases in Norway would allow the Kriegsmarine to avoid the North Sea, and thus strangle Britain better.[176] The desire to use Norway as a base for naval attacks on Britain was the primary reason that motivated Raeder to advocate attacking Norway, and only in early 1940 did Raeder first mention protecting the sea lanes that allowed Swedish iron ore to reach Germany as a secondary reason for occupying Norway.[201] During the same meeting on 10 October 1939, Raeder stated his belief that the more ruthless the war at sea, the sooner victory would come.[176] The American historian Gerhard Weinberg wrote about Raeder's role in invading Norway that:

"Inside the German government during the war, Raeder always called attention to his own role in pushing the invasion of Norway; after the war, he invariably blamed it on the British."[202]

Impressed by Raeder's arguments, Hitler ordered the naval general staff to start planning for an invasion of Norway in October 1939.[201] During the planning stages in the winter of 1939-40, Raeder stressed that he did not want to see a temporary war-time occupation of Norway, but rather wanted to see Norway annexed to Germany.[201] The two men who pushed most strongly for an invasion of Scandinavia in 1939-40 were Alfred Rosenberg, the N.S.D.A.P's "official philosopher" and Raeder, both of whom had difficulty at first in convincing Hitler of the value of such a move.[203] The British historian Sir John Wheeler-Bennett wrote Weserübung was an "adventure that did not originate with Hitler. It was the brain-child of the joint genius of Grand-Admiral Raeder and Alfred Rosenberg" while William L. Shirer called Weserübung the work of "an ambitious admiral and a muddled Nazi party hack".[203][204] In December 1939, Raeder befriended Vidkun Quisling, whose claims that most Norwegians were National Socialists and would welcome a German invasion he used to support the planned attack.[201] Raeder had been introduced to Quisling by Rosenberg. On 11 December 1939, Raeder reported to Hitler that Quisling had told him during a meeting earlier that day:

"... a British landing is planned in the vicinity of Stavanger and Christiansand is proposed as a possible British base. The present Norwegian government as well as the Parliament and the whole foreign policy are controlled by the well-known Jew, Hambro [ Carl Hambro, the leader of the Norwegian Conservatives and president of the Stortling], a great friend of Hore-Belisha ... The dangers to Germany arising from a British occupation were depicted in great detail ..."[205]

Quisling wanted to stage a coup d'état to establish a fascist regime in Norway headed by himself, and despite his claims that most Norwegians supported his Nasjonal Samling Party, claimed that his own people could not carry out the coup themselves without German military support.[206] On 12 December 1939, Raeder told Hitler, Wilhelm Keitel and Alfred Jodl of the OKW that Quisling had made "a reliable impression" on him, and repeated Quisling's arguments of the previous day to explain why Norway needed to be invaded.[205] At the same time in early 1940 as plans for invading Norway were being discussed, Hitler had finally decided upon a plan for the invasion of France; the prospect of seizing bases in France, which were regarded as offering better access to the North Atlantic than Norway, caused many Naval Staff officers to abandon their support for Weserübung.[207] On 13 January 1940, the Operations Division of the Kriegsmarine told Raeder that they did not believe that Britain was planning on seizing Norway, and any German move into Norway would be "... a dangerous undertaking" best avoided if possible.[208] The American historians Williamson Murray and Alan Millet wrote about Raeder's thinking about Norway:

"... since fall 1939, Admiral Raeder had advocated an aggressive policy toward Scandinavia to protect ore shipments and to establish naval bases in the area. However, Raeder was, as usual, not taking the long view. The western campaign, if successful, would provide Germany with the ore fields of north-eastern France, as well as a more favorable geographic position, without putting Germany's surface fleet at risk. Moreover, Raeder failed to take into account the possibility that in the long run Norway's occupation might represent a burden to Germany out of all proportion to its strategic advantages"[209]

For a short period of time in early January 1940, the German Naval Staff managed to convince Raeder that the "'best' solution was preservation of the status quo.[210] In late January 1940, Hitler ordered planning to be resumed for an invasion of Norway.[210] The Chief of the Army General Staff, General Franz Halder took the view that Weserübung was far too risky an operation, and excluded the Army from the planning of the operation.[203] Halder believed that Weserübung would fail, and he did not want to associate himself with failure, prefering that Raeder take the entire blame when his "lunatic" plans to invade Scandinavia failed as Halder expected them to fail.[203] Furthermore, Halder argued that Raeder had exaggerated the threat by posed by the Allies mining the Norwegian Leads, arguing that the ice on the Baltic would melt at the end of April, and that because of the Non-Aggression Pact of 1939 that Germany could always import iron from the Soviet Union to make up for any shortfall in Swedish iron imports. As an result of Halder's opposition to Weserübung, the operation was planned by the OKM and the OKW without no input from the OKH.[203] On 1 March 1940, Hitler approved Operation Weserübung, the plan for the invasion of Norway and Denmark.[211] Only on 2 March 1940 did Hermann Göring first learn of Weserübung, and expressed considerable fury about being excluded from the planning by Raeder, and that the Luffwaffe units assigned to the operation were to serve under the command of Army General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst.[212] Because of Göring's objections to Weserübung, Hitler had to call a conference on 5 March 1940 to sort out the jurisdictional dispute, which ended with essentially reaffirming the operation with some minor concessions for Göring's bruised ego.[212]

Norway was vital to Germany as a transport route for iron ore from Sweden, a supply that Britain was determined to stop. One adopted British plan was to go through Norway and occupy cities in Sweden.[210] An Allied invasion was ordered on 12 March, and the Germans intercepted radio traffic setting 14 March as the deadline for preparation.[210] Peace in Finland interrupted the Allied plans, but Hitler became convinced that the Allies would try again, and became more convinced of the value of Weserübung.[210] On 13 March 1940 Jodl wrote in his diary that Hitler was "still looking for some justification" for Weserübung after it become clear that the Allies were not going to move into Scandinavia.[213] At a meeting with Hitler on 26 March 1940, Raeder stated he still believed in Weserübung, and wished it to be started as soon as possible.[207] Weinberg wrote that in late March-early April 1940 that "Raeder been especially insistent that the Germans invade Norway after it became certain that the British were not going to do so".[214] At a conference on 2 April 1940 attended by Hitler, Raeder, Göring and Falkenhorst it was decided that Weserübung should begin at 5: 15 A.M on 9 April 1940.[215] The new Allied plans were Wilfred and Plan R 4 for mining the Norwegian Leads to stop Swedish iron shipments from Narvik to Germany. The mines were laid on 8 April, by which time the German ships were advancing up the Norwegian coast.[210]

The British historian Sir John Wheeler-Bennett wrote "Lunatic in conception, the Scandinavian expedition may have been from a rigidly military professional point of view, but it did not fail. It succeeded beyond even the hopes of its progenitors".[203] Weserübung, though successful, proved to be a costly operation for the Kriegsmarine with almost the entire German surface fleet either sunk or badly damaged.[216] At the end of Weserübung, the Kriegsmarine had only one heavy cruiser, two light cruisers and four destroyers available for operations.[217] Since the victory over France provided the Kriegsmarine with the better placed French ports on the Atlantic and the iron fields of Lorraine, Weserübung proved to be unnecessary.[217] Hitler told Raeder that he was impressed with how the Kriegsmarine had fought in Norway, and Raeder called it "the operation which will remain the feat of arms by the Kriegsmarine in this war".[218] Raeder admitted in the Seekriegsleitung war diary that "The operation really breaks all the rules of naval warfare theory", which the Canadian historian Holger Herwig wrote strongly suggests that Raeder's real reason for Weserübung was his desire to win the Kriegsmarine glory in the war as part of an effort to compete with the army and air force for funding.[219] In his report to Hitler about Weserübung, Raeder claimed that the success of the operation was "undoubtedly largely" the work of the capital ships, and argued that the campaign in Norway had "amply confirmed the soundness" (emphasis in the original) of the construction policies of the 1930s that favoured capital ships over U-boats and carriers.[220] Admiral Wilhelm Marschall reported Raeder as saying during the campaign in Norway:

"It doesn't matter if a battleship is lost. It is necessary that the battleship fight, even if it should be destroyed ... If there is no battle, it will be said that the battleships are useless and superfluous".[221]

The destruction of much of the Kriegsmarine surface forces in the Norwegian campaign forced Raeder to rely even more on the U-boats to wage a guerre de course against British shipping. In late May 1940, Raeder ordered the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau into action off Norway's North Cape.[209] Weinberg wrote about the North Cape raid:

"There were, furthermore, increased by the extraordinary reaction of the German naval command to the signs of victory in the West as well as in Norway. The evidence suggests that Raeder completely lost his head over what he, like so many Germans, saw as the prospect of imminent victory in the whole war. Forgetting his and the navy's own prior emphasis on the French ports as the best base for Atlantic operations, and fearful that the war might end before he could demonstrate to Hitler's satisfaction the great value of a battleship navy, he ordered the two available battleships into operations off the Norwegian coasts in late May and June 1940. Both the Scharnhorst (only recently repaired from earlier damage in the Norwegian operation) and Gneisenau were torpedoed by British submarines in these prestige manoeuvres; they would not be ready for operations in the Atlantic again until the end of December. And in the process another German admiral was canned by Raeder, while his successor was covered with reproaches".[222]

An even harsher assessment of Raeder's decision to send the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off the North Cape came from Murray and Millet, who wrote:

"The Seekriegsleitung... had lost none of its ability to confuse strategy with bureaucratic interest. In late May, worried that German successes in France and Norway might bring the war to an end before his battle cruisers saw action, Raeder committed the battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau to a raid off Norway's North Cape. The naval staff hoped to gain a success to influence postwar budget debates ... Since Raeder had already discussed with Hitler on 20 May the possibility of invading Britain, such a waste of German naval strength off the North Cape counts as one of the most egregious naval misjudgements of the war."[223]

Before sending Admiral Wilhelm Marschall out in Operation Juno, Raeder told him: "We must engage the enemy in battle, even if this should cost us one of the battleships. If they are not deployed, we will receive no more in the future".[191] Marschall was enraged that Raeder sent him out on the North Cape raid without air cover or a screening force of U-boats, without informing him of what were the orders given to U-boats operating in the area, and with no plans for resupply.[191] The period from April to June 1940 was one of the most stressful periods of the war for Raeder with operations involving the entire fleet in Norway, the French campaign and Raeder's obsessive fear that the Army and Air Force might win the war without the Navy, and which led to act in an manner that has been described as "irrational".[224] Admiral Conrad Patzig commented about Raeder in early 1940:

"Raeder is strongly influenced by his surroundings and exceptional circumstances and under stress is impulsive and unpredictable if his pride and vanity are involved".[224]

Raeder's great fear was that after France was defeated, then Britain might sue for peace, in which case the Army and the Luffwaffe would had won the war without the Navy. During the North Cape raid, the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau sank the British carrier HMS Glorious and two destroyers, but the damage that put those ships out of action for six months when they were needed for a possible invasion of Britain easily outweighed the loss of the Glorious.[223] After the North Cape raid, Raeder blamed Marschall for the damage that Scharnorst and Gneisenau had endured, claimed that Marschall had failed to understand his orders for Operation Juno properly, and sacked him.[221] That Juno ended Marschall's career as Flottenchef suggests that Juno was seen as a failure in private, despite claims in public that it was victory.[221]

"World Power Status": Raeder's dreams of empire[edit | edit source]

On 20 June 1940 Raeder sent a memo to Hitler calling for Germany to take over the entire French fleet and the French bases on the Atlantic coast and in Dakar.[225] Hitler overruled him, arguing that such harsh terms were bound to be rejected by the French and that the French fleet would sail over to Britain to continue the struggle if confronted by such a demand; as a result of the armistice of 21 June 1940, the Kriegsmarine was only allowed to take over the French Navy's bases on the Atlantic coast.[225] The use of the French Atlantic ports, especially Lorient, gave U-boats direct access to the Western approaches to the British Isles, and were a great advantage to the U-boats.[226] Raeder was later to claim after the war the armistice as a great "lost opportunity" for the Kriegsmarine.[225] Because it took several years to build warships, taking over the French fleet was Raeder's only hope of making good the Kriegsmarines heavy losses off Norway in 1940.

On 11 July 1940, Raeder met with Hitler where it was agreed that the work on the H-class "super-battleships" envisioned in Plan Z of January 1939 that had been stopped at the outbreak of war in September 1939 should resume at once.[227] Since in early July 1940 it was believed by both Hitler and Raeder that Britain would soon surrender, the decision to resume the Z Plan, which meant spending hundreds of millions of Reichsmarks building warships that would take at least five years to finish, reflected plans for an ultimate war with the United States.[228] Along the same lines, Raeder wanted major new bases for the Kriegsmarine at Trondheim, Saint-Nazaire, and Lorient and for bases at undetermined locations in the Canary Islands and in Morocco.[229] The construction of the base at Trondheim was started and continued until March 1943.[226] Hitler and Raeder planned not only to build a huge base at Trondheim called Nordstern which was intended to be the future home of the fleet envisioned in the Z Plan, but also to turn Trondheim into a German city of a quarter of a million people, which would be connected to Germany by a four-lane highway and gigantic bridges linking Scandinavia to the European mainland.[226] In a series of reports Raeder submitted to Hitler written by himself and other senior officers starting in June 1940 called for Germany to turn France and South Africa into protectorates and to annex Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and all of the British, French and Belgian colonies in sub-Saharan Africa in order that Germany would become the dominant naval power in both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.[230][231] The Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was to be the model for the French and South African protectorates.[231] In addition, Raeder and other senior officers submitted memos calling for Germany to annex the Shetlands, Iceland, the Channel Islands, the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, the Azores, the Canary Islands, São Tomé and Príncipe, the Cape Verde Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension Island, Iran, Fernando Po, the Cocos Islands, Aden, Socotra, the Comoros, Madagascar, the Mauritius, the Seychelles, North Borneo, Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), Kuwait, the British mandates in the Near East, the Trucial States and, if at all possible, Egypt and the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia).[231][232] However, Raeder and other admirals such as Rolf Carls and Otto Schniewind conceded the Dutch East Indies would probably have to go to Japan and Egypt to Italy in the interests of Axis solidarity.[233] Iran, the British Persian Gulf protectorates and North Borneo were considered important as they were rich in oil, which was to power the Weltmachtflotte (World Power Fleet) envisioned in the Z Plan. Reflecting his belief that Germany would soon attain the long-desired "world power status", Raeder ordered the Naval General Staff in mid-1940 to start preparing for a war with Japan in the Far East.[225] Raeder believed that once Britain was defeated, Germany would have to take on and destroy Japan to properly achieve its "world power status" because as a great sea power, Japan was bound to become an enemy of the Reich sooner or later.[225]

Raeder's major fear in mid-1940 was that Hitler might not cripple Britain enough when the expected British surrender came, and instead make a "compromise peace" that would allow Britain to keep its "great sea power".[234] Raeder believed that if Hitler should make such a mistake that a vengeful Britain would ally itself with the United States, who Raeder saw as a rival for "world mastery", then the English-speaking powers "will become the that opponent with whom we will have to reckon with in the near-future".[225] At the same time, Raeder submitted a memo to Hitler complaining that Plan Z fleet was not large enough, and instead called for an expanded Plan Z fleet of 80 battleships, 15-20 carriers, 100 heavy cruisers, 115 light cruisers, 500 U-boats, and 250 destroyers.[198] General Franz Halder after reading some of Raeder's memos wrote in his diary of "navalism run amuck" and commented about Raeder and other admirals that: "These people dream in continents".[235] The German historian Michael Salewski called these world power plans of the naval leadership in 1940: "the colourful dreams of a prisoner in solitary confinement".[198]

Raeder's insistence that Germany either needed bases in or needed to annex the Canary Islands cost Germany the chance of bringing Spain into the war. In June 1940, the Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco decided to take advantage of the defeat of France and the widely expected defeat of Britain by entering the war on the Axis side.[236] The Germans made it clear that if Spain entered the war, Franco would have to promise at a minimum, extraterritorial naval bases in Morocco and the Canary Islands to the Reich in exchange for which the Germans would reward Spain with various British and French colonies in Africa;[237] Franco rejected the German preconditions which he saw as interfering with Spanish sovereignty, and stayed neutral.[238] The importance of naval bases in the Canaries and Morocco to Germany is shown by the fact that the Germans passed up their best chance of bringing Spain into the war rather than give up their demands for bases in and off north-west Africa, which were intended to support the Kriegsmarine in a future war with the United States.[238]

Raeder's self-proclaimed status as the "father" of Operation Weserübung meant he took a special interest in Norway.[239] Raeder had wanted Hitler to appoint Admiral Hermann Boehm to rule Norway, and was disappointed when Hitler instead chose Josef Terboven to be the Reichkommissar for Norway in April 1940.[240] Despite that setback, Raeder backed Boehm's efforts to give the Kriegsmarine as great as role in running Norway as possible.[240] Raeder, Boehm and Terboven all shared the same goal as incorporating Norway into Germany, but Boehm backed by Raeder often clashed with Terboven over the correct way of ruling Norway.[241] Raeder and Boehm believed that Terboven was too brutal, callous and tactless and that if only a more gentle policy towards the Norwegians was followed, then the Norwegians could be won over to be willingly incorporated into a greater German Reich.[241] Raeder did not share Quisling's goal of a fascist Norway ruled by himself as a German ally who was to be the equal of the Reich, but chose to back Quisling in his battles against Terboven as the best way of winning the Norwegians over to the "New Order".[242] Raeder called his friend Quisling "a very upright, trustworthy man, typical of the somewhat dour Norwegian, but intelligent", whose only flaw was his substandard German.[242] Raeder believed that for the duration of the war giving Quisling as much power as possible was the best way to persuade Norwegians to accept the "New Order", which in time would lead them to accept that their fate was to become part of Germany.[243] Raeder was to find that Terboven had utterly no interest in sharing power with Quisling or anyone else.[243]

Sea Lion and the "Mediterranean plan"[edit | edit source]

Raeder argued strongly against Operation Sea Lion, the planned German invasion of Great Britain, as Weserübung had almost destroyed the German surface fleet.[244] He felt that the war at sea could be conducted far more successfully via an indirect strategic approach, by increasing the numbers of U-boats and small surface vessels in service to wage a Handelskrieg as guerre-de'-course is known in Germany against British shipping, which would had the additional benefit from Raeder's viewpoint of boostering his case for making the Kriegsmarine into the first service at the expense of the Army and Luftwaffe.[239] By mid-1940, Raeder had come to appreciate that submarines were both cheaper and faster to build than warships. He also had doubts about Germany's ability to gain air superiority over the English Channel and the lack of regional German naval superiority. Air supremacy was a prerequisite to successfully preventing destruction of the German invasion fleet by the Royal Navy. The invasion of Britain was postponed indefinitely in September 1940 due to the Luftwaffe′s failure to obtain air superiority during the Battle of Britain, and the significantly greater power of the Royal Navy over the German naval forces. On 21 July 1940, Raeder first learned that Hitler was contemplating invading the Soviet Union.[245] At the time, Raeder had no objections to the proposed invasion other than to complain that it was likely to strengthen the budgets of the Army and Air Force at the expense of the Navy.[246] The idea of a "peripheral strategy" for defeating Britain was first suggested in a memo to Raeder by Admiral Gerhard Wagner on 29 August 1940 when it was stated that Germany could not defeat Britain in the air nor sea, and instead just seek victory in the Mediterranean as a weak spot of the British Empire.[247]

In September 1940, Raeder first presented his "Mediterranean plan" to Hitler.[248] Raeder favoured a strategic focus on the Mediterranean theatre, including a strong German presence in North Africa, plus an invasion of Malta and the Middle East by German, Italian, Spanish and, if necessary, Vichy French forces.[239] Raeder believed that capturing Gibraltar, and the Suez Canal would be a great blow to Britain.[239] Afterwards, Axis forces would use the Canary Islands, the Azores and the Cape Verde islands to launch naval and air attacks that would destroy British commerce and knock Britain out of the war.[239] On 6 September 1940 and again on 26 September, Raeder met with Hitler to advise the acceptance of his "Mediterranean plan".[249] According to Raeder:

"The British have always considered the Mediterranean the pivot of their world empire ... Germany, however, must wage war against Great Britain with all the means at her disposal and without delay before the United States is able to intervene effectively.

Gibraltar must be taken. The Canary Islands must be secured by the Air Force.

The Suez Canal must be taken.

An advance from Suez through Palestine and Syria as far as Turkey is necessary. If we reach that point, Turkey will be in our power. The Russian problem will then appear in a different light ... It is doubtful whether an advance against Russia from the north will be necessary".[249]

On 30 May 1941 Raeder told Hitler that a major offensive against Egypt to take the Suez Canal gave Germany a chance to strike a blow that "would be more deadly to the British Empire than the capture of London!".[249] On several occasions, he suggested that Hitler send the vaunted tank commander Erwin Rommel to Egypt. Hitler agreed with Raeder's idea of sending German forces to North Africa at their meeting of 26 September 1940, but noted that he would need Italian permission to do so, and as it was not until Benito Mussolini requested German help in early 1941 that the necessary Italian permission was obtained.[249] Murray and Millet wrote that Raeder's "Mediterranean strategy" had "... more to do with inter-service rivalry than with any strategic conception".[244]

When Raeder first raised the "Mediterranean plan" on 6 September 1940, Hitler mentioned that he was also considering an attack on the Soviet Union, to which Raeder did not object, and only at the second meeting of 26 September 1940 did Raeder first argue for giving primacy to the "Mediterranean plan" over an invasion of Soviet Russia.[250] Raeder's change of mind about what operation to give primacy to was mostly due to signs of increased American support for Britain such as the "destroyers-for-bases" deal of 2 September 1940, the Anglo-Free French attack on Dakar and the defection of several French colonies in Africa from Vichy to the Gaullists.[251] Raeder argued that it was quite possible that the United States might intervene in the near future, which led him to argue that Britain must be defeated in the winter of 1940/41 before America could enter the war, while the signs that Vichy was losing its control over the French colonial empire meant the Allied cause was growing stronger in resource-rich Africa.[250] Raeder argued that it was now time to sign a peace treaty that would make Vichy France into a full ally, claiming that Vichy French forces could take the important British naval base at Freetown and that, by ceasing to treat France as a conquered country, Germany would be allowed to gain all of the resources of the French empire and fleet.[252]

A major historiographical debate concerns the question of whether Hitler tried to implement the "Mediterranean strategy" in late 1940.[253] Globalist historians (who believe Hitler had a master plan for conquering the world) such as Andreas Hillgruber, Klaus Hildebrand and Gerhard Weinberg have argued that Hitler was never seriously interested in the "Mediterranean plan", that his main priority was always the invasion of the Soviet Union, for which he ordered planning to start in July 1940, and that Hitler's interest in the "Mediterranean strategy" in late 1940 was only half-hearted at best.[253] Other historians, such as the German historian Wolfgang Michalka, the Anglo-German historian H.W Koch and the Israeli historian Martin van Creveld, have contended that Hitler's efforts to form an anti-British Eurasian "continental bloc" that was to include the Soviet Union in late 1940 as a diplomatic prelude to the "Mediterranean plan" were sincere, that until December 1940 Hitler's first priority was in defeating Britain, and that it was only when Hitler gave his approval to Operation Barbarossa that he finally lost interest in the "Mediterranean strategy".[253] The Greek historian Aristotle Kallis wrote that the best evidence suggests that in late 1940 Hitler was serious about carrying out Raeder's "Mediterranean plan", but only within certain strict limits and conditions, and that he saw the "Mediterranean plan" as part of the preparations for Barbarossa by defeating Britain first.[254] Kallis argued that diplomatic issues prevented Hitler from executing the "Mediterranean plan" in late 1940 as he wanted to. In June 1940, an agreement had assigned the Mediterranean as Italy's sphere of influence, and until Mussolini requested German help in January 1941, it was not possible to send German troops to North Africa.[255] Operation Felix, the plan for taking Gibraltar, became stillborn as Spain remained neutral, a situation in large part caused by the German demand that Spain provide Germany with naval bases in Canary Islands as the price for Gibraltar.[256] As proof that Hitler was serious about Raeder's "Mediterranean plan" in late 1940, Kallis noted that Hitler made a major push to bring Spain into the war between September–December 1940, and on 12 November 1940 ordered the Army General Staff to treat planning for Operation Felix as their first priority.[256] Through Franco was keen to enter the war, the Spanish wanted major infusions of food aid to counter the anticipated effects of a British blockade, a German commitment to help modernize the Spanish military, and no German bases on their soil-conditions that Hitler refused to meet.[256] After it became clear that Spain would not enter the war, on 18 December 1940 Hitler approved Operation Barbarossa, declaring that henceforth the Wehrmacht's number one priority would be the defeat of the Soviet Union "even before the conclusion of the war against England".[256] The German historian Gerhard Schreiber wrote that Raeder's "Mediterranean plan" was a chimera because to carry out it would have required German diplomacy to make compromises with Vichy France, Spain and Italy that Hitler had no interest in making, and without the necessary diplomatic prelude the plan had no hope of ever being carried out.[235] Along the same lines, the British historian Ian Kershaw wrote that Raeder's "Mediterranean plan" was impossible for two reasons. The first was that Hitler did not wish to treat Vichy France as an ally as Raeder had advised and that the only way in which he could had the French fleet deployed against Britain was to stop treating Alsace-Lorraine like it had been annexed to Germany, a sacrifice that he was not prepared to make.[257] Beyond that, Vichy France did not wish to give up its empire while Spain and Italy both desired to annex the same British and French possessions.[257] Finally, many of the British and French possessions the Italians and Spanish both wanted were coveted by the Germans.[257] The rival imperialist agendas of Vichy, Madrid, Rome and Berlin would have required a diplomatic "grandiose fraud" that Kershaw stated was beyond even Hitler.[257] Finally, by the time that Mussolini finally requested German help after he had been driven out of Egypt and lost much of Libya in January 1941 Hitler had already decided upon Barbarossa, and the German forces sent to North Africa had the mission of only rescuing the Italians, not taking Egypt as Raeder had wanted.[258]

Instead of the "Mediterranean strategy", the German war machine was diverted to Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, which he vigorously opposed. Raeder thought Hitler was so fixated on wiping out the Soviet regime that he did not realise that a larger, global strategy could easily have tipped the balance in Germany's favour.[249] Raeder always saw Britain as the main enemy, and argued that by destroying the British Empire would create the basis for a Weltreich (World Reich) that would take on the United States sometime later in the 1940s.[259] Raeder shared Hitler's anti-communism through not to the same virulent degree, but saw the Soviet Union as an ally, albeit a difficult one that was and would continue to be of great assistance to the anti-British struggle; once Britain and the United States were defeated, then Germany should turn east against the Soviet Union.[259] Kershaw wrote that there were two stands of German imperialism.[259] One strand associated with Tirpitz, Raeder and others was focused on navalism, colonialism overseas and was very anti-British while another stand associated with the NSDAP and the Army was very anti-Slavic and focused on obtaining lebensaum in Eastern Europe.[259] The two stands of maritime and Continental imperialism were not necessarily antagonistic, and could co-exist.[259] Kershaw wrote that Hitler and Raeder had the same goals, but just differed about how best to achieve them.[260] Hitler, in ordering Barbarossa, was not rejecting Raeder's "Mediterranean strategy", and was instead just postponing it. Hitler expected, and was told by all of his generals, that the Red Army was hopelessly inferior to the Wehrmacht, and that it would take the German Army at most six months, and more probably two to three months to destroy the Soviet Union.[261][262] Once Barbarossa was completed with the destruction of the Soviet Union later in 1941, Raeder's "Mediterranean plan" would be executed in 1942 while German industry would focus on building the fleet envisioned in the Z Plan, that would, when complete, carry out Raeder's programme of trans-oceanic expansionism.[263] Hitler was so confident of the success of Barbarossa that on 20 June 1941, two days before Barbarossa was to begin, he ordered that from 1 January 1942 the army was to go from first to third in regards to spending and allocation of raw materials to build up the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe.[263] The American historian Keith Bird summed up the strategic differences between Hitler and Raeder:

"Raeder's continual pressure for an intensified war with Britain and his willingness to risk war with the United States, however, conflicted with Hitler's short-term continental goals. Raeder persistently tried to influence Hitler's every decision in favour of preparing the foundations for the next step of the Navy's ambitions. Above all, he wanted to ensure that the Navy would have a pre-eminent role in Hitler's Weltreich and armament priorities far beyond what it could hope to achieve in this war"[264]

Hitler saw the conquest of the Soviet Union, which was intended to give Germany lebensraum and with it control of enough of Eurasia, to provide sufficient Autarky to challenge the sea powers and carry out Raeder's plans for trans-oceanic expansionism.[265] Raeder by contrast preferred to focus on defeating Britain before turning east.[266] Though Raeder often disagreed with Hitler on strategy, he was the beneficiary of huge bribes. In April 1941, Raeder accepted a 250,000-Reichsmark bribe from Hitler as a reward for loyalty to the Nazi regime.[267] Another bribe Raeder accepted was a gift of a painting worth 38,000 Reichmarks.[268] In general, officers who were in some way critical of Hitler's military, if not necessarily political leadership, such as Field Marshal Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt and Admiral Raeder, received (and accepted) larger bribes than officers who were well known to be convinced National Socialists, such as General Walter Model, Admiral Karl Dönitz and Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner.[267] The success of Hitler's bribery system backfired in that some officers, who had proven themselves especially greedy, such as Guderian and Raeder, came to be regarded by Hitler as a serious annoyance because of their endless demands for more money and more free land for their estates.[4] Raeder's demand in 1942 that on top of his lifetime exemption from paying income taxes Hitler also cancel out taxes on the interest he earned from his 4,000-Reichsmarks-a-month payment from Konto 5 was viewed as outrageous greed.[4]

1941: Going to war with America[edit | edit source]

In January 1941, Raeder launched the successful Operation Berlin, where the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst were sent out on a raid into the North Atlantic that lasted until March 1941.[269] On 4 February 1941, Raeder sent Hitler a memo suggesting that the continual neutrality of the United States was not the in the best interests of the Reich, and suggested that having the United States as an enemy might even be "advantageous for the German war effort" if that would bring in Japan into the war against Britain and the United States.[270] Hitler rejected that advice, saying that it was better at present to keep the U.S. neutral, since as long as the Americans were neutral, they were limited in how far they could support the British.[270] On 18 March 1941, Raeder asked Hitler to end the rules that U-boats could not fire on American warships unless fired upon first, and instead demanded a policy that would allow the Kriegsmarine to sink all American warships on sight.[270] Raeder also warned Hitler that Germany needed to take over the French colonies in West Africa, and warned that it would "most dangerous" if the United States should gain influence in French Africa.[270] Hitler said he needed more time to think about what Raeder had suggested.[270] During the same meeting on 18 March 1941, Raeder said he wanted Japan to enter the war as soon as possible, stating that a Japanese attack on the British base at Singapore would force the Royal Navy to deploy most of its strength to the Far East, and thereby allow the Kriegsmarine to win the Battle of the Atlantic.[271] Raeder further added that now was the best time for Japan to enter the war because with "the whole English fleet contained, the unpreparedness of the USA for war with Japan and the inferiority of the U.S. fleet compared to the Japanese".[271] Raeder added that the fall of Singapore would "solve all the other Asiatic questions regarding the USA and England".[271] The only problem with bringing about this scenario Raeder mentioned was that the Japanese had informed him that they would attack Singapore only "if Germany proceeds to land in England".[271] The British historian Ian Kershaw described Raeder as having "trigger-happy" attitude to the United States in 1941, always pressing Hitler to take the most extreme measures with the Americans, whom Raeder hated almost as much as he detested the British.[272] On 22 May 1941, Hitler asked if it was possible if the Kriegsmarine could take the Azores, which Hitler wanted to use as a base for launching long-distance bombers that would destroy the cities of the eastern United States.[273] Raeder was forced to report with regret that Kriegsmarine "must reject the idea of occupying the Azores" under the account of the heavy losses endured in Westeruebung the previous year meant that the ships needed to undertake that operation were not there.[273]

In April 1941, Raeder planned to follow up the success of Operation Berlin with Operation Rheinübung, where the Gneisenau, the Bismarck, the Admiral Hipper and the Prinz Eugen would be sent out on an extended raid into the North Atlantic under the command of Admiral Günther Lütjens.[274] On the night of 10/11 April 1941 the Gneisenau was badly damaged by a British bombing attack that put her out of commission for months.[274] At that point, Admiral Lütjens advised cancelling the operation as having one battleship with only one heavy cruiser in support operating alone in the Atlantic was too risky, but was overruled by Raeder, who insisted on going ahead.[274] Raeder's principal reason for going ahead with Rheinübung was his knowledge of the upcoming Operation Barbarossa, where the Kriegsmarine could only play a very small part, and his desire to score a major success before Barbarossa that might impress upon Hitler the need not to cut the budget for capital ships.[274] Lütjens wanted Rheinübung put off until the Scharnhorst was finished refitting in July 1941, but since Barbarossa was due to start on 22 June 1941, Raeder insisted that the operation go ahead in May 1941. Though Rheinübung saw the Bismarck sink the battlecruiser HMS Hood, it ended with the sinking of the Bismarck.[275] The loss of a modern battleship more than outweighed the loss of an old battlecruiser, and that debacle almost put an end to Raeder's strategy of using capital ships to destroy the British Merchant Marine.[275] Murray and Millet wrote that after the loss of the Bismarck that "Raeder's strategy of surface raiders had largely failed".[275] After the Bismarck was disabled by a British torpedo hit on the rudder on 26 May 1941, Raeder sent a series of radio messages to Lütjens reminding him of his "fight to the last round" order of December 1939, a order that Lütjens faithfully obeyed.[276] The German historian Werner Rahn argued in Germany and the Second World War, the official history of the Wehrmacht that Raeder's orders to "fight to the finish" doomed most of the crew of the Bismarck to a watery grave; had Lütjens being given the option of scuttling or surrendering the Bismarck rather engaging in a hopeless battle, the lives of 2,200 German officers and sailors could have been saved instead of the 110 who were saved.[276] Raeder himself was personally pleased by the sinking of the Bismarck, feeling this had won the Kriegsmarine some much needed glory on the high seas and was consistent with his goal of "full engagement" where the Kriegsmarine capital ships were to sent into action until they all were sunk to win his service glory, but Hitler was more than annoyed at the loss of the Bismarck.[277] The deaths of most of the crew of the Bismarck did not trouble Hitler, but he complained to Raeder that building the Bismarck had cost millions of Reichmarks, and it seemed like a poor investment given that the ship was lost on its first voyage. Moreover, Hitler told Raeder that he believed that once the Soviet Union was defeated later in the summer of 1941, that it was quite possible that Britain would simply "collapse" as a result of that German triumph, and he wanted the German fleet to be ready to take advantage of the expected "collapse", not at the bottom of the Atlantic.[278] After the loss of the Bismarck, Hitler started to curtail Raeder's freedom to plan and launch operations on the high seas involving capital ships.[279] Raeder's last attempt at using a capital ship as a raider occurred in June 1941, when he ordered the pocket battleship German cruiser Lützow into the North Atlantic; she was badly damaged by an attack from British torpedo planes on 13 June 1941 that put her out of commission for six months.[280]

At this time, some naval officers expressed the concern that the British were reading at least some of the naval codes as the Royal Navy seemed to have a suspicious ability to know where German ships were, but Raeder dismissed these concerns.[281] This was especially the case because in early 1941, the Royal Navy used intelligence from Ultra to sink all of the Dithmarschen ships and other supply ships that the Kriegsmarine used to supply U-boats and surface raiders on the high seas.[282] The British had intended to leave two supply ships at sea to disguise the fact that they had broken the naval codes, but the remaining two supply ships were captured after chance encounters in the Atlantic.[282] In response to protests from other senior officers that something was amiss as proven by the loss of the entire supply ship network in early 1941, in the middle of 1941 and again in the middle of 1942, Raeder ordered investigations into the security of German codes, but in both cases, it was concluded that the British were not reading German codes because the Enigma machine was considered to be unbreakable.[282]

Despite Rheinübung and the damaging attack on the Lützow, in July 1941 Raeder began planning for what he called "the battle of the Atlantic", a plan to send every single warship in the Kriegsmarine into the Atlantic to take on the Royal Navy in one colossal battle that almost certainly result in the destruction of the German force, but would hopefully make the British victory a Pyrrhic one.[235] The planning for this operation only stopped in late 1941 when Hitler heard of it, and vetoed the operation under the grounds that even a British Pyrrhic victory was not worth losing every single German warship.[235]

On 20 June 1941, Raeder used an incident where an U-boat had almost fired on an American battleship the USS Texas the day before to argue that the Kriegsmarine should be given the right to fire on sight whenever American warships were encountered.[283] Raeder told Hitler that "where the United States is concerned firm measures are always more effective than apparent yielding".[272] Hitler gave Raeder strict orders for no "incidents" with the United States until the war with the Soviet Union was over.[283] In July 1941, when the U.S Marines took over the occupation of Iceland, Raeder advised Hitler that Germany should declare war on the United States as a reply.[284] On 9 July 1941, during a meeting with Hitler, Raeder said he had enough of the Americans, and after this latest act of American "aggression" as he called the occupation of Iceland, demanded that Germany declare war on the United States.[285] Though Hitler rejected Raeder's advice, Raeder spent the entire second half of 1941 persistently pressing for Germany to go to war with the United States.[284] Hitler was sympathic to Raeder's anti-American fulminations, but said that the war with the Soviet Union would have to finished before taking on the United States.[285] In September 1941, Raeder and the U-boat commander Karl Dönitz presented Hitler with plans for all-out U-boat offensive intended to destroy both the United States Navy and Merchant Marine.[284] Raeder took the view that because of the increasing number of naval "incidents" in the second half of 1941 between U-boats and US ships guarding convoys to Britain, that the best thing to do was to declare war on America in order to end all of the restrictions on fighting the U.S. Navy.[284] Murray and Millet wrote that Raeder's views on the desirability of starting a war with the United States were "astonishing" because neither he nor anybody else in the Seekriegsleitung saw fit during the period July–December 1941 to commission studies on what would be the strategic consequences of war with the United States.[284] On 17 September 1941, Raeder told Hitler that he believed that it was only American support that allowed Britain to continue the war and that the Kriegsmarine could defeat the United States Navy if only Hitler would just give the necessary shoot-on-sight orders.[286] Once the Kriegsmarine had control over the Atlantic then Britain would collapse.[286] Hitler replied that he wanted no "incidents" with the Americans, but he expected the war with the Soviet Union would be over by the end of September, and at the middle of October he would decide whatever to give permission to the Kriegsmarine to sink American warships-a step equivalent to declaring war on the United States.[287]

Until the war with the Soviet Union was finished, Hitler was reluctant to have a war with the United States, and insisted upon avoiding "incidents" with the U.S. Navy as much as possible, whereas Raeder was all for a war with the United States.[288] Hitler had cancelled the Z Plan again in late 1940, only to order it restarted in the middle of 1941 when it seemed that the war against the Soviet Union would soon be over and again cancelled the Z Plan in late 1941.[289] When Hitler cancelled the Z Plan for the final time, Raeder forgot to cancel a contact he had placed with engineering firms for the engines of the first four of the planned H-class super battleships.[289] As a result of that oversight, in June 1944 the Kriegsmarine had to accept and pay for four gigantic engines that were meant to power battleships that did not exist.[289] From Hitler's viewpoint, it was better to wait until the Z Plan was complete before going to war with the United States.[289] Raeder by contrast thought only of the "immediate operational advantages" that would accrue to Germany if the Reich went to war with the United States.[284] On 11 December 1941, Germany declared war on the United States, which was at least in part due to the pressure of Raeder, who was very pleased with going to war with America.[290] Even before the declaration of war on 11 December, Hitler had given orders to Raeder on 8 December 1941 that the Kriegsmarine could now sink on sight American warships and warships of all the Latin American republics except Argentina as well.[291] Raeder gave orders that Kriegsmarine was now to begin Operation Drumbeat, the plan to defeat the United States by sending "wolf-packs" of submarines off the Atlantic coast of the United States to destroy all American shipping.[292] On 12 December 1941, Raeder told Hitler that prospects for victory over the United States were good and that "The situation in the Atlantic will be eased by Japan's successful intervention".[293] Continuing his analysis of the naval situation, Raeder told Hitler:

"Reports have already been received of the transfer of some [American] battleships from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is certain that light forces, especially destroyers will be required in increased numbers in the Pacific. The need for transport ships will be very great, so that a withdrawal of American merchant ships from the Atlantic can be expected. The strain on British merchant shipping will increase ... The U.S will have to concentrate all her strength in the Pacific during the next few months. Britain will not to run any risks after her severe losses of big ships [Raeder is referring to sinkings of the HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse]. It is hardly likely that transport tonnage is available for such occupation tasks or bringing up supplies ... It is improbable that the enemy will give up East Asia even temporarily; by so doing Britain will endanger India very seriously, and the U.S. cannot withdraw her fleet from the Pacific as long as the Japanese fleet has the upper hand".[293]

Much to Raeder's annoyance, Hitler followed up declaring war on the U.S. by sending 23 U-boats to the Mediterranean to attack British shipping and another 16 to Norway to guard against a phantom British invasion instead of focusing the U-boat fleet off the eastern United States.[292] Because the United States Navy under the leadership of Admiral Ernest King was not ready for anti-submarine warfare, U-boat operations off the east coast of America in the first half of 1942 were very successful, and only the diversion of the U-boat fleet to the Mediterranean and Norway kept them from being more successful.[294] The entry of the United States into the war meant the ultimate defeat of the Kriegsmarine as the tremendous productive capacity of American industry meant that the Allies could replace every ship sunk by the U-boats, and then build some more.[295] In 1943, American shipyards turned out enough ships to almost equal the number of all the ships sunk by U-boats between 1939 and 1942.[296] Murray and Millet accused Raeder and the rest of the Seekriegsleitung of wanting war with America because the United States was an "easy target" and of "taking the easiest tactical and operational path without the slightest thought to the strategic or long-range consequences".[297]

1942: "The Great Plan"[edit | edit source]

In early 1942, Raeder become involved in a scandal when it was discovered that he had been a part of group of high-ranking officials abused their positions to buy more groceries than the rationing permitted, but Hitler ordered the matter to be covered up.[298] The Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels wanted Raeder and the other high officials of the "grocery ring" like Wilhelm Keitel, Hermann Göring and Hans Lammers who used their positions to ignore rationing when grocery shopping to be punished in order to let the German people know that the elite were suffering like everyone else, but Hitler claimed if the German people learned of the luxurious lifestyles of the elite in the middle of a war that the effect would be fatal to morale.[298] The men of the "grocery ring" were only warned to be more discreet in the future when buying their groceries. Also in January 1942 that Raeder long-running battle with Terboven over whatever Quisling should be allowed to form a government in Norway ended with Raeder seemingly gaining the upper hand. Largely due to pressure from Quisling's friends Raeder, Boehm and Rosenberg that Hitler overruled Terboven and in January 1942 allowed Quisling to form a government in Olso.[299] Despite this apparent triumph, in practice Quisling had little power, and moreover proved himself manifestly out of his depth in attempting to run a government. Terboven continued to rule Norway while lashing out at the Navy's efforts to back Quisling.[300]

In late 1941, Hitler ordered all of the capital ships of the Kriegsmarine to Norway because of his fears of a British invasion, and because after the sinking of the Bismarck, it was judged too risky to send out capital ships as raiders.[280] Accordingly, Raeder planned the Channel Dash of February 1942 that saw the Scharnhorst, the Gneisenau and the Prinz Eugen make the run from Brest to Wilhelmshaven, and on to Norway.[280] The concentration of the German fleet in Norway served three purposes; namely as a threat to Anglo-American convoys carrying supplies around the North Cape to the Soviet Union, to deter an Allied invasion of Norway and as a fleet in being that tied down British warships at Scapa Flow that might otherwise be deployed in the Battle of the Atlantic.[301] The role of a fleet in being contradicted the role of using the fleet in Norway against convoys making the Murmansk run.[302] Attacking Arctic convoys meant the risk that the ships of the fleet might be sunk or damaged in the ensuring engagements, while the role of a fleet in being required the continual existence of these ships.[302] Neither Raeder or Hitler could quite make up their minds about what was the primary purpose of the German fleet in Norway, which led to much command confusion, and in turn led ultimately to the defeat in the Battle of the Barents Sea.[302]

In February 1942, Raeder presented Hitler with the "Great Plan", a grand strategic design for winning the war by a series of combined operations with Japan and Italy.[303] Through essentially a rehash of the "Mediterranean plan" of 1940 with the main German blows to be focused against the British in the Middle East, the "Great Plan" of 1942 was worked out in considerably more detail, and called for a series of mutually supporting attacks between Germany in the Middle East and Japan in the Indian subcontinent that were intended to knock Britain out of the war.[303] On the German side of things, Raeder called for Axis forces to take Malta and drive on across the North African desert to the Suez Canal.[304] Once that had occurred, it would be possible for the German and Italian forces in the Mediterranean to link up with Japanese forces in the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea-a situation that Raeder claimed would not only cause the collapse of the British Empire, but create the preconditions for the defeat of the United States.[304] Raeder called Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps in effect "an organ of the Seekriegsleitung" because it would had the function of taking Egypt.[304] Finally for Raeder's "Great Plan" required the Kriegsmarine to take over the French fleet at Toulon in order to create the necessary battlefleet that would allow the German Navy to be equal partner of the Japanese and the Italians.[304] Operation Drumbeat, the "Second Happy Time" of the U-boats had inflicted heavy losses on shipping off the Atlantic coast of the United States in early 1942, and which had followed up by another U-boat offensive in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean starting in May 1942 and another one in Canadian waters in the summer of 1942.[305] In May 1942, the Kriegsmarine sunk more tonnage in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean than had been done during any of the months of the "First Happy Time" of 1940.[306] Between January–August 1942 the U-boats had sunk 485 ships totalling 2, 600, 000 tons in the waters from Canada to the Caribbean, inflicting what the American historian Gerhard Weinberg called "... the most disastrous defeat ever suffered by American naval power".[307] In addition, April 1942 saw the introduction of "milch cow" submarines that served to supply other U-boats, thus extending the cruise time of boats in the New World, and which had been ordered by Raeder in 1941 to make up for the destruction of the supply ship network by the Royal Navy in the spring of 1941.[308] Operation Drumbeat seemed to confirm Raeder's repeated statements in 1941 that the United States was a paper tiger that the Kriegsmarine could easily defeat, and as a result Raeder's prestige with Hitler in early 1942 was quite high. Because the Kriegsmarine's operations in the New World were so successful, Hitler had some interest in Raeder's "Great Plan", but objections from General Franz Halder of the Army General Staff who accused Raeder of having no understanding of logistics together with the fact that the Army was fully engaged on the Eastern Front meant in the end Raeder's "Great Plan" was ignored.[309]

As the U-boats continued to be the arm of the Kriegsmarine that was doing most of the fighting, by 1942 Raeder was becoming increasingly overshadowed by Admiral Karl Dönitz, who made little secret of his contempt for the "battleship admiral" Raeder, and started to act more and more independently, for instance, dealing directly with Albert Speer in settling construction targets for the U-boats.[310] Dönitz had little respect for "old navy" admirals like Raeder, whom he accused of being more interested in a building a great fleet after the war than in actually winning the war.[311] By early 1942, Raeder and Dönitz were openly feuding with each other, with Dönitz mocking Raeder's obsession with "dinosaurs", as Dönitz called battleships, and Raeder complaining of Dönitz's massive ego and his tendency to run the U-boat arm as it were his own private navy.[310] Dönitz harboured enormous resentment against Raeder for starving the U-boat arm of funds before the war in order to concentrate on building battleships. Raeder and Dönitz constantly fought over what was the proper use of the U-boats, namely to win the "tonnage war" by sinking as much as tonnage as possible, as Dönitz wanted, or win the "commerce war" by denying the Allies use of certain waterways like the North Cape route to the Soviet Union as Raeder favoured.[311] The dispute about the "tonnage war" versus the "commerce war" reflected the differing concepts of the guerre de course versus the teachings of Mahan. Dönitz, as a follower of the guerre de course theories of Théophile Aube, was interested in doing as much damage to the enemy merchant fleets as possible whereas Raeder, as a follower of Mahan. was concerned about seizing and maintaining control of key waterways.

In late 1942, in an attempt to limit Dönitz's power and cut down his "vanity", Raeder took away responsibility for training U-boat crews from Dönitz, only to see Dönitz ignore his orders.[312] Dönitz informed Raeder that he was disregarding that order and he would continue to train crews for "my" U-boats as Dönitz rather possessively described the U-boat fleet.[312] The authoritarian Raeder, who was not used to having his orders disobeyed, never forgave Dönitz. Raeder longed to sack Dönitz, but was unwilling to do so as he felt that was nobody to replace the aggressive and fanatically National Socialist Dönitz, who knew more about submarine warfare than any other admiral in the Kriegsmarine and seemed to be on the verge of winning the Battle of the Atlantic.[312] Despite his strong dislike of Dönitz, Raeder recognized the success of the U-boats, and lobbied Hitler for more funding of submarine construction.[311] Raeder appreciated that by 1942, the U-boats were the Navy's only means of playing a "decisive" role in the war, and of defeating the nation that Raeder saw as the real enemy, Britain.[311] By 1942, Dönitz had emerged as Hitler's favourite admiral (whom Hitler liked so much that he eventually named him as his successor), and that to sack Dönitz would probably lead Hitler to sack him in turn. Recognizing Hitler's fondness for Dönitz, Raeder always took Dönitz with him (despite their mutual dislike) when he went to lobby Hitler for more naval funding, guessing correctly that Hitler was more likely to say yes to a request for more money for U-boat construction from Dönitz than he was from himself.[311] Hitler was won over, and ordered German industry to make manufacturing submarines the second-highest priority, being only exceeded in importance by the need to manufacture weapons for the troops on the Eastern Front.[308] On September 28, 1942, at a conference attended by Hitler, Raeder, Dönitz and Admiral Werner Fuchs (the man in charge of naval construction) the advantages of a new type of submarine, known as the Walter boat which go 20 knots underwater (three times than what current U-boats could manage) were reviewed.[313] It was decided to build a small number of Walter boat submarines, but Dönitz successfully argued that it was better to increase production of the existing U-boat types rather switch over to using Walter boats.[313] Only in 1943 did Dönitz change his mind about the Walter boat.

In December 1942, Raeder enforced the Commando Order by having captured British Royal Marines shot after the Operation Frankton raid on a German naval base in Bordeaux.[312] In the Seekriegsleitung war diary, Raeder wrote that the executions of the Royal Marines were "an innovation in international law since the soldiers were wearing uniforms".[312][314] The American historian Keith Bird wrote that Raeder seemed "uncomfortable" with the Commando Order, but nonetheless enforced it.[312] The American historian Charles Thomas wrote that Raeder's remarks about the executions in the Seekriegsleitung war diary could have been meant as some sort of ironic comment in protest against the executions, which might had reflected a guilty conscience on the part of Raeder in enforcing a policy that he knew well to be illegal, and one that might lead him to being prosecuted for war crimes if Germany should lose the war.[315]

Building a National Socialist navy: terror and propaganda[edit | edit source]

A harsh disciplinarian, Raeder was obsessed with the fear that the Navy might "disgrace" itself like in the last war with High Seas mutiny of 1918, and to prevent another mutiny, Raeder imposed a "ruthless discipline" designed to terrorize his sailors into obedience.[316] Under the leadership of Raeder and even more so under his successor Karl Dönitz, it was official policy for naval courts-martial to impose the death penalty as often as possible, no matter how slight the offence, so that the sailors would fear their officers more than the enemy.[317] Historians have described Raeder as someone who "supported the Nazi regime unflinchingly and proved merciless against malingerers, deserters and those who questioned the authority of the Führer".[318]

As a counterpart to his policy of terror, Raeder placed great emphasis on "spiritual leadership" as a war-winning factor in the Kriegsmarine, which in practice meant an intense program of National Socialist propaganda.[319] Obsessed as always with the fear of another mutiny like that of 1918, Raeder believed that the correct "spiritual leadership" on the part of the officers would prevent such an occurrence.[319] Officers were ordered to conduct indoctrination sessions with their sailors to remind them that they were fighting not just for Germany, but for National Socialism and Hitler as well.[320] A large role was allocated to the so-called Sonderführer, reporters from the Propaganda Ministry who were commissioned into the Kriegsmarine as lieutenants or NCOs, and whose duties included not only reporting for the public, but also promoting National Socialist propaganda.[321] Even more important were the Wehrbetreuungsoffizer that from 1940 on served in every vessel and with land units from the company level on up and whose job was to prevent a repeat of the High Seas Fleet mutiny of 1918 by morale-boosting and promoting National Socialist thinking.[322] In November 1941, Raeder was to complain that the Kriegsmarine would fight better if only the sailors were more indoctrinated into National Socialism, and ordered his officers to do more to indoctrinate their men into National Socialism.[323] In a speech in early January 1943, Raeder called World War II an ideological war, praised National Socialism for its "moral strength", and claimed that only through National Socialist indoctrination could the war be won.[323] Raeder went on to call for indifference to National Socialism in the Kriegsmarine to be destroyed "root and branch" and stated: "We cannot win the war against a fanatical enemy with the old principle of 'live and let live'".[323] Raeder finally ended his speech with the statement:

"Do not think only of the present day or the present war; think instead of the millennia in which the German nation has already struggled and of the centuries that lie before us and require a wise use of all our resources from this day on ... Remember, therefore, the most important axiom in the thoughts of our Führer and Supreme Commander; it is not the individual, the family or the clan that count, but the Volk and Volk alone. That which serves it is good; that which harms it is bad. The Volk incorporates our highest goals. Its thousand-year tasks and struggles extend onto the heights from which divine providence directs all life."[324]

Given Raeder's religious feelings, in no other branch of the Wehrmacht did chaplains play such a prominent role as the Kriegsmarine. The Navy's chief chaplain was the Lutheran Pastor Friedrich Ronneberger, an ardent N.S.D.A.P member and a leading member of the "German Christian" movement.[325] It was official policy of the Wehrmacht to favor the recruitment of German Christian pastors, and those pastors belonging to the Confessing Church were banned from becoming Wehrmacht chaplains.[326] German Christian pastors serving as Wehrmacht chaplains preached a "manly Christianity" to Wehrmacht members that unabashedly glorified war as the only fit and proper activity for "real men".[327]

One result of Raeder's efforts to indoctrinate the Kriegsmarine was to make a great many of his officers and men into Nazi fanatics.[324] Royal Navy reports of captured Kriegsmarine officers and sailors often commented as one report from October 1940 noted the POWs "were all fanatical Nazis and hated the British intensely, which had not been so evident in previous cases".[324] The Royal Navy went on to note that based on its interrogations of Kriegsmarine POWs that Raeder's indoctrination policy had borne fruit in that the morale of the Kriegsmarine was extremely high, with the majority of officers and sailors very proud to fight for Führer and fatherland.[328]

Resignation and retirement[edit | edit source]

A series of failed operations after that point, particularly the Battle of the Barents Sea—combined with the outstanding success of the U-boat fleet under the command of Karl Dönitz—led to his eventual demotion to the rank of Admiral Inspector of the Kriegsmarine in January 1943. The office of Admiral Inspector was only a ceremonial position with no power.[329] After the Battle of the Barents Sea on 31 December 1942, Raeder, who had received confusing, misleading and incomplete reports from Admiral Oskar Kummetz, had at first reported to Hitler a great victory had been won above the Arctic Circle.[330] Kummetz mentioned in his report that the sky was red – a reference to the Aurora Borealis – and Raeder misunderstood this as meaning that the sky was red because the British ships were all on fire. Later on the evening of 31 December 1942, Raeder called Admiral Theodor Krancke at the Wolf's Lair to explain the misunderstanding, but there was a New Year's party going on, and Krancke decided not to ruin the party by reporting the misunderstanding.[331] Hitler during his New Year's Address delivered on the radio later that night mentioned the victory that the Kriegsmarine had won on the last day of 1942 with an entire British convoy said to had been destroyed.[331]

Only in the late afternoon on 1 January 1943 did Hitler learn that the Kriegsmarine had in fact been defeated in the Barents Sea, which put Hitler into a huge rage against the Navy in general and Raeder in particular.[332] As a result, Raeder was ordered to leave Berlin for the Wolf's Lair to explain to Hitler personally just why he reported the defeat in the Barents Sea as a victory – a trip that Raeder was not keen to make as he waited until 6 January 1943 before reporting at the Wolf's Lair.[332] At a meeting on 6 January 1943 Hitler savaged Raeder, complaining that he had spent millions of Reichsmarks in the 1930s building a fleet that proved useless when war came, instead of spending the money on building U-boats, which had proven far more useful in the war. Hitler went on to castigate the Navy, saying that Navy had done nothing in the wars of unification, that the High Seas Fleet "played no important role in the World War" and lacked "... men of action who were determined to fight with or without the Kaiser", that the Navy were a nest of traitors whose only contribution to World War I was the High Seas Fleet mutiny of 1918, and that given this history, it was no surprise that the Navy's record in World War II with the notable exception of the U-boats was one of failure after failure.[333] Raeder, who had always taken great pride in the history of the Navy, was very hurt by Hitler's account of German naval history, which was almost certainly Hitler's intention.[333] Hitler offered up the recent Battle of the Barents Sea as just one more example of how the Navy except for the U-boats failed him time after time.[333] Hitler went on to accuse naval officers of being cowards not fully committed to victory, and offered a contrast with the Army, which Hitler claimed was run by brave men unafraid of death in their quest for total victory.[334] Finally, Hitler announced that since Germany's capital ships had proven so useless, he was planning to scrap all of the capital ships and use their guns for coastal defence.[335] The gun crews would be assigned to coastal defence, while the rest of their crews would be redeployed to the U-boats and the E-boats or re-trained and sent to the Eastern Front as infantry.[302][335] Raeder left the meeting of 6 January very depressed, especially over the prospect of seeing his beloved capital ships scrapped and of Hitler's criticism of his leadership.[335] Raeder told Hitler on 14 January 1943 that he could not preside over the scrapping of the capital ships, and informed the Führer of his wish to resign as of 30 January 1943 rather than carry out a policy that he did not believe in.[333]

Raeder offered his resignation rather than accept the scrapping of the capital ships and formally resigned from the Kriegsmarine in May 1943. Dönitz succeeded him in the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Navy on 30 January 1943. By this point, Raeder completely detested Dönitz, and as such Raeder advised Hitler against appointing Dönitz as his successor, claiming that Dönitz was not qualified to run the Navy and advised that his deputy Admiral Rolf Carls be his successor.[336] Dönitz talked Hitler out of the plan to scrap the capital ships after taking over as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, arguing successfully to Hitler that a fleet-in-being in Norway tied down British warships which could be used in the Battle of the Atlantic or against Japan.[337]

Raeder's last speech occurred as Commander-in-Chief occurred on 30 January 1943 before the Reichstag, where he asserted that he had brought the Navy "smoothly and completely" into the service of the Führer in 1933.[338] Raeder argued that:

"This was possible only because, despite all outside efforts to influence it, the training of the Navy [under the Weimar Republic] derived from an inner attitude that was itself truly National Socialist. For this reason, we did not have to change, but could become followers of the Führer with open hearts. I find it particularly satisfying that the Führer has always attributed this to me, and I would like to ask all of you to see to it that the Navy remains a strong and reliable support of the Führer in this regard".[338]

Though Hitler had cordial relations with Raeder, the two had never been close, and there was nothing like the mutual admiration that Hitler and Dönitz shared.[339]

After the 20 July plot, Raeder's first reaction was to go immediately to Rastenburg to personally assure Hitler of his loyalty.[340] Raeder took a great deal of pleasure in criticising Hitler's SS security because he had taken a loaded handgun with him during his lunch with Hitler, but was not searched; after the lunch, Raeder produced the handgun, and then subjected Hitler's SS bodyguards to a lengthy lecture about their incompetence.[340] Hitler was pleased to see Raeder.[341] After Raeder had left, Hitler called him a man of "great stature" and "unwavering loyalty" who had so mercilessly stamped out "treason" in the Navy that "not a single one of these criminals [the men involved in July 20 putsch] belongs to the Navy. Today it has no Reichpietsch in it" [ Max Reichpietsch was one of the co-leaders of the 1917 High Seas Fleet mutiny].[341]

Raeder claimed in his 1957 memoirs Mein Leben that he had first learned that the regime in which he served so long was a criminal regime in March 1945 when he visited his old colleague, the former Defence Minister Otto Gessler in a hospital when he was recovering from the torture he received in a concentration camp.[340] Shocked at Gessler's appearance, Raeder decided to protest against the Nazi regime by not wearing the Nazi Golden Party Badge that he had worn until then.[340] The British historian Sir John Wheeler-Bennett mocked Raeder for taking until March 1945 to discover that the Nazi regime was a criminal regime, and called his protest via not wearing his Golden Party Badge pathetic.[340]

When Raeder learned that Hitler planned to stay in Berlin rather than flee the Red Army, Raeder sent Hitler a message saying that he too would stay in Berlin to inspire Germans to resist to the bitter end.[342] Hitler never acknowledged the message, but Raeder remained in Berlin and survived the ensuing Battle of Berlin.[342] In May 1945, Raeder was arrested by the Soviet forces and taken to Moscow.[342] Raeder was treated more as a guest than as a prisoner during his time in Moscow, receiving good food, lodgings and medical treatment.[342] Raeder offered his services to the Soviet government as a naval adviser, believing that his "lessons learned" from World War II would be invaluable to the Soviet Union in the post-war world, and wrote several historical tracts for the Soviet benefit about the naval aspects of World War II.[342] Raeder was later to be deeply embarrassed when his writings in Moscow praising German-Soviet friendship and his offer to teach the Red Navy how to fight the British and Americans were made public by the Soviet government, which led several former Kriegsmarine officers led by his arch-rival Dönitz to accuse him of "collaboration" with the Russians.[343] Raeder was very unpleasantly surprised in October 1945 when he learned that he had been indicted as a war criminal, instead of staying in Moscow as more or less a guest of the Soviet regime.[342] The Soviet delegation at the International Military Tribunal voted against indicting Raeder, but at the insistence of the American and French delegations, Raeder was indicted.[342]

After the war[edit | edit source]

Raeder at Nuremberg trial (back row)

Raeder with his wife Erika at his 1955 release from Spandau. Erika Raeder led a successful campaign in the 1950s to free her husband.

Nuremberg trial[edit | edit source]

After the war, Raeder was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Nuremberg Trials, for waging a war of aggression, a charge arising from his planning of the German invasion of Norway and Denmark, for conspiracy against the peace for his role in preparing Germany for war before 1939, and for war crimes by enforcing the Commando Order.

Raeder's lawyer called three witnesses. The first was Carl Severing, the former SDP Prussian Interior Minister who testified that every government in the Weimar Republic had violated the disarmament clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, and the politicians of Weimar were well aware that officers like Raeder were violating Versailles.[344] The second was the diplomat Baron Ernst von Weizsäcker, who testified that Raeder had not been involved in the propaganda effort to blame the sinking of the Athenia on the British.[344] The third was Raeder's aide Vice Admiral Erich Schulte-Mönting who supported Raeder's claim to have been an apolitical officer just doing his job, and that Raeder had not been a Nazi.[344] The German defence in the Nuremberg trials in 1946 argued that Germany was "compelled to attack Norway by the need to forestall an Allied invasion and that her action was therefore preemptive", like the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran.[345] The German defence was referring to Plan R 4 and its predecessors. The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg determined that no Allied invasion had been imminent, and therefore rejected the German argument that Germany was entitled to attack Norway.[346][347] In response to Raeder's defence of pre-emptive war against Norway, the British prosecutor David Maxwell Fyfe read out the minutes of a meeting between Raeder and Hitler on 26 March 1940, which read:

"British landing in Norway is not considered imminent-Raeder suggests action by us at the next new moon-to which Hitler agrees."[348]

When confronted with the minutes of the 26 March 1940 meeting by Maxwell Fyfe, Raeder had no response.[348] Weinberg wrote that "especially eloquent lies" about the invasion of Norway were told by Raeder and his supporters.[176] When Maxwell Fyfe charged that Raeder was guilty of violating both the Treaty of Versailles and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement and commented: "For 20 years, from 1918 to 1938, you and the German Navy had been involved in a course of complete, cold and deliberate deception of your treaty obligations ... Do you deny this was so?".[348] Raeder's response was that this was true, but "It was not a cold blooded affair".[348] Raeder claimed that he was not involved in a conspiracy to commit aggression because Hitler's statements in the Hossbach Memorandum of 1937 and again to senior officers including Raeder for plans for a war with Poland in May and August 1939 together with Raeder's own statements to Hitler about seizing Norway in October–November 1939 were all just mere talk that was not to be taken seriously.[348] The American historian Norman Goda wrote that Maxwell Fyfe and the American prosecutor Telford Taylor tore Raeder to pieces on the stand for his statements.[348] Raeder testified that he was an apolitical professional who was just doing his duty, and to the extent he thought about politics, he disliked the Nazi regime. Raeder testified that he was deeply horrified by the nature of the Nazi regime when he saw how badly Gessler had been tortured in March 1945, stated he had stopped wearing his Golden Party Badge to protest the Nazi regime after he had seen what had been done to Gessler, and he had frequently made "serious protests" against the Nazi regime during private meetings with Hitler, so it was unfair to blame him for the crimes of the Third Reich.[349] This in turn led him to be questioned by Maxwell Fyfe about his speech on Heroes' Day on 12 March 1939 praising Hitler "... for the clear and unmerciful declaration of war against Bolshevism and International Jewry, whose drive for destruction of peoples we have felt quite enough in our racial body".[348] Raeder testified in response to Maxwell Fyfe's question about his Heroes' Day speech to his belief that starting in 1917 "International Jewry had destroyed the resistance of the German people ... and had gained an excessively large and oppressive influence in German affairs" and all of the anti-Semitic measures of the Nazi regime which presumably included genocide were merely just acts of German self-defence.[348] Goda wrote that Raeder by his own testimony disproved his own claims to have been an apolitical professional who was against the Nazi regime, and instead established that he was an anti-Semite who willingly served the Nazi regime because of his hatred for Jews.[348] Taylor commented about Raeder's claim to have been just an apolitical professional doing his job was meaningless because:

"It is an innocent and respectable business to be a locksmith, but it is nonetheless a crime if the locksmith turns his talents into picking the locks of his neighbours and looting their homes."[348]

Raeder's claims to have been an apolitical officer who objected to the Nazis involved him in many testy exchanges with Maxwell Fyfe. Maxwell Fyfe charged that Raeder had been part of the effort to cover up that it was an U-boat that sank the Athenia and to falsely accuse the British of sinking the Athenia.[349] Raeder claimed that he had been "very indignant" about his government's claim that Britain had sunk the Athenia, which led Maxwell Fyfe to remark that he had done nothing to express that "indignation", just as he claimed to have been angry about the false charges of homosexuality against Werner von Fritsch, where he had also done nothing after Fritsch had been cleared.[349] One of the more serious charges facing Raeder was that he ordered unrestricted submarine warfare in 1939. Maxwell Fyfe brought up Raeder's order of 15 October 1939, which read:

"Measures which are considered necessary from a military point of view will have to be carried out, even if they are not covered by existing international law ... Every protest from neutral powers will have to be turned down ... The more ruthlessly economic warfare is waged ... the sooner the war will come to an end".[350]

When questioned about his order on 15 October 1939 for unrestricted submarine warfare including orders to fire on neutral ships, which Raeder had admitted even as he issued his order violated international law, Raeder stated in his defence: "Neutrals are acting for their own egotistical reasons and they must pay the bills if they die".[350]

Under cross-examination, Raeder admitted to passing on the Commando Order on 18 October 1942 to the Kriegsmarine and for enforcing the Commando Order by ordering the summary execution of captured British Royal Marines at Bordeaux in December 1942.[350] Raeder testified in his defence that he believed that the Commando Order was a "justified" order, and that the execution of the Royal Marines was no war crime in his own opinion.[350] Raeder charged that British Commandos had committed atrocities against German forces during the Dieppe raid, and the Commando Order was only a reasonable German response to what he called the British "deviation" from the laws of war.[349] When asked by his entry in the war diary that seemed to criticise the shootings at Bordeaux, Raeder stated that he was not protesting against the executions per se, but was instead protesting that the shootings had been done by the Kriegsmarine, arguing that the local naval commanders should have handed over the British POWs to the SD to be shot.[349] When questioned by Maxwell Fyfe about the Libau massacres, Raeder claimed that he no idea about what had happened, and maintained that he would have stopped the massacres had he known.[349]

The Nuremberg trial also a further escalation of Raeder's ongoing feud with Dönitz when an affidavit of Raeder's was introduced as evidence against Dönitz.[351] Raeder described his relations with Dönitz as very poor, saying that Dönitz's "somewhat conceited and not always tactful nature did not appeal to me".[351] Raeder claimed that Dönitz had made all sorts of blunders and mistakes "resulting from his personal viewpoint, which were known to the officer corps, soon became apparent, to the detriment of the Navy".[351] Raeder accused Dönitz and Speer of failing the Navy by mismanaging U-boat production, and said that Dönitz's National Socialism had blinded him to reality, writing: "His [Dönitz's] speech to the Hitler Youth, which was ridiculed in all circles, earned him the title of "Hitler-boy" Dönitz".[351] Finally, Raeder claimed that Dönitz was unqualified to become Commander-in-Chief of the Navy in 1943, and that Dönitz was only appointed to that position because Hitler preferred an unqualified "Hitler-boy" like Dönitz to qualified officers like himself.[351] On the night after the affidavit was introduced, the American psychologist Gustave Gilbert who interviewed Dönitz described him as being in state of rage against Raeder, accusing Raeder of being a bitter old man driven by jealousy that Dönitz was the superior officer.[351]

Spandau years[edit | edit source]

On 1 October 1946, Raeder was found guilty of conspiracy against the peace, conspiracy to commit aggression, and war crimes.[352] Raeder expected a death sentence, and was deeply shocked when he received life imprisonment, which he regarded as a worse punishment than execution, complaining that as an old man spending the rest of his life in prison would be unbearable.[352] Raeder formally asked the International Military Tribunal to be executed by firing squad instead, only to be informed that the Tribunal did not have the powers to change its sentence.[352] At Spandau Prison, Raeder spent his days working in the prison library.[353] When not working in the library, Raeder spent his time debating with the prison chaplain, the French Pastor Georges Casalis who believed that Raeder's soul might be saved if he confessed his guilt, and tried hard to save Raeder.[354] Raeder for his part did not believe he was guilty of anything, and he rejected Casalis's attempts to save his soul.[355] When not debating questions of guilt with Casalis, Raeder spent his free time continuing his war-time feud with Karl Dönitz.[356] Dönitz was savage in his relentless attacks against Raeder for his "policy of bloated surface vessels" and for not spending enough money on building U-boats in the 1930s, a policy that Dönitz claimed had cost him victory in the Battle of the Atlantic.[356] Dönitz told the former Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath that "It had been Raeder's fault that until the middle of 1940 only two U-boats slid down the ways" per month, and that if only he had been Navy Commander-in-Chief in 1940 then he would have won the war.[357] In 1951, Dönitz learned that a British historian had written if only Germany had a larger U-boat fleet in 1939, then Dönitz might have won the Atlantic campaign, leading Dönitz to announce that once he was free, he would repeat that judgement "in the full light of publicity" to ruin Raeder's reputation once and for all.[358] When not blaming each other for losing the Battle of the Atlantic, the two admirals fought over status. The authoritarian Raeder still continued to behave as if he was Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, and expected Dönitz to behave like a subordinate who only existed to take orders, a position that Dönitz utterly rejected.[359] Dönitz was also a Grand Admiral, making him Raeder's equal, and he fiercely resented Raeder's patronising, condescending attitude.[359] Because Hitler had appointed Dönitz his successor in his last will and testament, well into the 1950s the Nationalist Socialist fanatic Dönitz continued to insist that he was still President of Germany, and that the NSDAP should still be the only legal party in Germany.[360] Since in his own mind, he was still Germany's leader, Dönitz saw himself as Raeder's superior, and expected Raeder to be his subordinate.

From the moment Raeder was convicted, a campaign to have him released was started by his wife, Erika who routinely made very exaggerated claims to the press about how harsh life was in Spandau prison for her husband.[361] In a 1950 interview, Erika Raeder claimed that her septuagenarian husband was forced to do brutal "hard labour" in Spandau when Raeder's job in Spandau was to work in the prison library.[361] In another interview in 1951, Erika Raeder claimed that:

"The treatment we Germans had to endure is worse than anything that happened to the Jews".[362]

Erika Raeder was on the whole portrayed favourably in the West German press, where she was depicted as a victim of Allied injustice while as a reporter put it "where does Raeder's guilt lie?"[362] Erika Raeder's campaign to free her husband was joined by German veterans, who bombarded the American, British and French governments with demands that Raeder, who they claimed was an innocent man wrongly convicted at Nuremberg, be freed.[361] Admiral Gottfried Hanson, head of the Verband deutscher Soldaten veterans' group in a letter in support of Raeder sent to the three western high commissioners' for Germany declared:

"As a friend of many years' standing, and certain that all ex-members of the Navy will agree with me, I venture to say that no military leader could have educated and influenced his subordinates from a higher moral and Christian level than did Raeder ... both as a man and a Christian ... How can genuine peace and real understanding among the nations of the occident be brought about ... if true right and justice is not applied to the Germans that are still be kept prisoners?"[361]

In an interview in November 1950, Admiral Hanson claimed that American and other United Nations commanders fighting in the Korean War would have been convicted of aggression if the same standards that were applied to Raeder applied to them.[362] The French High Commissioner in Germany André François-Poncet replied that the admiral seemed ill-informed about history and the law, stating that North Korea had attacked South Korea, and that UN forces in Korea were fighting in response to South Korean appeals for help and under the authority of the UN Security Council, which did not correspond at all to the situation with Norway in 1940.[363] In Britain, the campaign to free Raeder was headed by the historian Captain Basil Liddell Hart and Lord Hankey, both of whom repeatedly charged that the attack on Norway was a "preventive war" forced on Germany, and as such, not only was Raeder innocent, but that Winston Churchill should have been convicted of conspiracy to commit aggression against Norway in place of Raeder.[362] Hankey used his seat in the House of Lords to express his support for Raeder while Liddell Hart in a series of widely publicised interviews claimed that Raeder was an innocent man.[362] A good part of Hankey's 1950 book Politics, Trials, and Errors, in which Hankey argued for the innocence of all the German and Japanese war criminals convicted by Allied courts and strenuously attacked the legitimacy of war crimes trials was taken up with a defence of Raeder. Hankley claimed that even in 1940 it was clear that invasion of Norway had been a defensive move forced on Raeder by Britain.[364] More recently, the American journalist Patrick Buchanan in his 2008 book Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War defended Raeder, arguing that the real aggressor against Norway was Churchill, and Raeder should never been convicted at Nuremberg.[365] The American historian Norman Goda wrote that Raeder's champions usually spoke if aggression against Norway was the only thing that Raeder had been convicted of, and that campaign to free Raeder rested upon "... a quasi-legal argument mixed with moral equivalency and wilful ignorance".[361] Goda charged that Erika Raeder and her friends had grossly quoted out of context certain passages from Churchill's 1948 book The Gathering Storm to support their claim that the invasion of Norway was a "preventive war" forced on the Third Reich while ignoring the evidence that had convicted Raeder at Nuremberg.[362] Starting in 1950, the government of Konrad Adenauer started a quiet diplomatic offensive aimed at freeing Raeder and the rest of the men in Spandau.[366] An American diplomat Richard Lynch reported back to Washington in 1954 that public opinion in West Germany was all for freeing Raeder and the rest of the men convicted in Nuremberg, and until the admirals in Spandau were freed, "the feelings does exist and ... until some way can be found to overcome it, a future German Navy will not have the support of its former officers".[367] The retired Admiral Gerhard Wagner had told Lynch that many Kriegsmarine officers would liked to join the new Bundesmarine in order to fight the Soviets should World War Three break out, but refused to do so as long as Raeder and Dönitz were still prisoners.[368] It was the position of the United States government in the 1950s that Raeder should be freed, ostensibly for reasons of health, but in fact because of the demands of the Cold War and the need to integrate West Germany into NATO.[367]

Last years[edit | edit source]

The sentence was later reduced and, due to ill health, he was released at 11:35 on 26 September 1955. After his release he settled down at the Uhlandstrasse in Lippstadt, Westphalia. He later wrote an autobiography, Mein Leben (My Life), in 1957. Mein Leben was ghost-written by a committee of former Kriegsmarine officers headed by Admiral Erich Förste with Raeder's role limited to reviewing the chapters and either giving his approval or sending it back to the committee.[369] Mein Leben was intended to be a sort of "official history" that would rebut the "Nuremberg version" of history, and hence the book devoted a disproportionate amount of space to attacking point by point the verdict of Nuremberg.[370] One of the major changes that the committee imposed on Raeder was to suppress his feud with Dönitz, and instead presented relations between the two admirals as one of friendship, respect and mutual harmony.[371] This was done largely to avoid repeating the situation of the 1920s where dueling memoirs by various Great War admirals blaming each other for the defeat had done considerable damage to the image of the Navy; instead there was to be an "united front" on the history of the Navy.[372] In addition, there was a tendency in the 1950s to present Wehrmacht leaders as noble and high-minded and thus morally superior to the Allied commanders who had defeated them with the implication that the wrong side had won.[372] Allowing Raeder to pursue his feud with Dönitz in print as he wanted to would had made him look petty, jealous and vindictive, and thus damaged the image of the Wehrmacht leaders as noble and tragic figures.[372] Leaders of veterans' groups made it clear to both Raeder and Dönitz that they wanted a "united front" on history, and neither of them would be welcome at veterans' gatherings if they made their feud public.[372]

In Mein Leben, it was argued that "the deadly effect of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles" justified rearmament in the 1930s, and used the "sacrifice" of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935 to prove Germany was not pursuing aggressive policies.[373] In Mein Leben, it was stated the Treaty of Versailles was "completey unrealistic" had it had "shackled" the German people by enforced "... subjugation, including confiscation of national territory, occupation and military control, disregard for a people's sovereignty and corresponding humiliation ...", and as such it was the Versailles treaty and the Versailles treaty alone that was responsible for the Third Reich.[374] It was claimed that Raeder as "apolitical" officer who had just been doing his duty to the Fatherland borne no legal or moral guilt for anything that had happened under the Third Reich, and that the real responsibility for Nazi crimes rested with the governments of the United Kingdom, France and the United States who had imposed the Treaty of Versailles on Germany.[375] It was claimed that the Allies had "good reason" to forbid using resistance against Versailles as a defense at Nuremberg because Nazi Germany was a "direct consequence of the situation created by the victorious enemy powers in 1918".[375] Along the same lines, it was charged that the Nuremberg trial of 1945-46 was meant by the Allies to cover up the "decisive part" played by the Versailles treaty in causing Nazi Germany and the war crimes committed by the Allies "... by damning the whole German nation as an international outlaw" and it was "... the German people as a whole who were to be indicted as the sole criminals, guilty of waging a malevolent war of aggression".[376] As such, the Nuremberg trials were presented as having nothing to do with justice, but instead were a political show trial.[376] The Commando Order, the cash payments from the Konto 5 slush fund and Raeder's calls for war with the United States were not mentioned in Mein Leben.[373] Instead it was claimed Raeder was opposed to war with the United States and had always worked to protect neutral shipping during the war with the committee having Raeder say: "We had to consider neutrals to avoid any possible unfortunate incidents" at sea.[377] The invasion of Norway was presented as a measure to protect Norway's neutrality from Britain, and Raeder claimed to have been a "political prisoner" at Spandau.[378] Finally, Raeder was presented as a victim of Hitler with the committee having Raeder say "It was the tragedy of my life that our future took a completely different path".[377] Dönitz also headed the call for the "united front". Besides for the Z Plan, which Dönitz called a huge mistake, Dönitz's memoirs presented Raeder in a favorable light, leading the British historian Peter Padfield to remark "It is an open question which of the two Grand Admirals produced the more deliberately dishonest volume".[379]

Raeder greatly enjoyed attending and speaking at gatherings of Kriegsmarine veterans, which were one of the chief joys of the last five years of his life.[380] Through Raeder generally preferred to keep a low-profile, his frequent appearances at veterans' rallies ensured that from time to time his name made news.[380] In early 1956, the City of Kiel decided to publicly give back to Raeder the Ehrenbürger ("free citizen") status which the Nazis had awarded him and which been taken away by the British in 1945; after attracting much negative media attention all over the world, Raeder was secretly asked by the city government to decline the award.[381] The governments of Norway and Denmark both submitted notes of protest, complaining it was outrageous for the Kiel government to honour a man who been convicted of aggression against their nations.[382] Editors of all Danish newspapers sent a joint public letter to Theodor Heuss that called the planned award an "unfriendly act" that showed contempt for the feelings of the people of Denmark, and asked him to give back his Ehrenbürger of Kiel status if Raeder was given back his.[382] Raeder formally declined the honour to save embarrassing the Kiel government, but the entire episode embittered him, and he complained that he felt like an outcast.[381]

Another debate that brought Raeder's name into the news had started in January 1956 when Captain Karl-Adolf Zenker of the Bundesmarine gave a speech before a group of cadets, which he had mentioned he had shown to Raeder in advance for his approval, during which Zenker argued not only for the innocence of Raeder and Dönitz whom Zenker called officers just doing their duty in "... a war thrust upon them", but also called Raeder and Dönitz great heroes who should be role models when the cadets became officers.[383] Zenker's speech was so controversial that a special session of the Bundestag was called in March 1956 to debate the issue of whatever Raeder and Dönitz were sort of examples that Bundesmarine officers should be following. The leading defender of Zenker's speech was the CDU politician Commander Hellmuth Heye, who once been an officer in the Kriegsmarine. Heye who argued that all of the anti-Semitic statements made by Raeder and Dönitz were historically unimportant because neither had been convicted of crimes against humanity, suggesting these statements were forced on them by the Nazi regime and claimed that Raeder was opposed to anti-Semitism because of his efforts to protect officers who were Mischlinge.[384] Heye argued that as officers both Raeder and Dönitz had no choice, but to follow orders to fight for their country; claimed that officers bear "no political responsibility" for following orders, and their convictions were due to a "post-war psychosis".[384] Heye ended his speech that both Raeder and Dönitz were heroic men and excellent officers who had kept up morale in the Kriegsmarine to the very end despite heavy casualties, and he hoped that every German would see them as role models.[384] The Social Democratic politician Carlo Schmid read out in the Bundestag the anti-Semitic lines from Raeder's Heroes' Day Speech of 1939; noted that Raeder had not only refused to apologise for that speech, but testified at Nuremberg in 1946 that he believed that Germany was threatened by "International Jewry"; and argued that for Germans to have a better future meant Raeder could not be a role model or seen as a hero as Zenker and Heye wanted.[385] The Free Democrat Erich Mende in a speech before the Bundestag noted that Raeder had accepted bribes from Hitler, and that alone should have disqualified Raeder from being presented as a hero to the next generation of Germans.[386] Raeder spent his last years complaining endlessly of how he had been wrongly convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg, maintaining that the Kriegsmarine had fought a "clean war" and that the service had been an apolitical force that had nothing to do with National Socialism.[387]

In his 2002 book Die Wehrmacht, the German historian Wolfram Wette wrote that claims made by Raeder and other admirals that the Kriegsmarine had nothing to do with the Holocaust was false, and several Kriegsmarine units had massacred Jews during the war.[388] Wette stated that the Kriegsmarine had been just as much a part of the genocidal machinery of the National Socialist state as the SS and the Army were.[388] In 1994, the American historian Gerhard Weinberg wrote that most successful Kriegsmarine operation by far of the entire war was Operation Hannibal, and that :"In these tasks, the remnant German Navy was surprisingly successful. Ironically, it proved to be best in those missions which the founders and leaders of the Imperial and Nazi Navy had pushed aside to pursue world-wide ambitions and offensives; those few who once argued for a navy attuned to coastal and defensive needs were proved right after all".[389] The American historian Charles Thomas in his 1990 book The German Navy in the Nazi Era wrote that in October–November 1918 when confronted with a pointless battle in a war that was already lost that was likely to sent them all to a watery grave, the sailors of the High Seas Fleet mutinied in order to live.[390] Thomas wrote that the great achievement of Raeder and Dönitz was to avoid a repeat of the High Seas Fleet mutiny, and instead ensured that thousands of Germans time after time willingly went to their deaths at sea without protest for the greater glory of Adolf Hitler and despite that fact that it was increasingly becoming clear as time went by that the war was lost, making their deaths utterly senseless.[390]

Erich Raeder died in Kiel on 6 November 1960. He is buried in the Nordfriedhof (North Cemetery), Kiel.[391]

Dates of rank[edit | edit source]

Awards and decorations[edit | edit source]

(8 February 1943)

Notes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Bird Erich Raeder pp. 1-2.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 2.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Thomas p. 51.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Bird Erich Raeder p. xxvi. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ReferenceB" defined multiple times with different content
  5. Bird Erich Raeder pp. xviii-xix.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 9.
  7. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 12-13.
  8. Bird Erich Raeder p. xix.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 13.
  10. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 13-14.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Bird Erich Raeder pp. 14-15.
  12. Wheeler-Bennett p. 190.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Bird Erich Raeder p. 17.
  14. Bird Erich Raeder p. 18.
  15. Bird Erich Raeder p. 20.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 21.
  17. Herwig p. 73.
  18. Herwig pp. 83-85.
  19. Hansen pp. 85-86.
  20. Hansen p. 89.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Hansen p. 81.
  22. Bird Erich Raeder p. 25.
  23. Bird Erich Raeder p. 23.
  24. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 23-24.
  25. Fraser, David "Raeder at Jutland" pp. 104-114 from Proceedings of the Institute for the Study of Naval History, Volume XIX, April 1961.
  26. Bird Erich Raeder p. 24.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 89.
  28. Hansen p. 93.
  29. Mulligan p. 1018.
  30. Mulligan pp. 1018-1019.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 31.4 Mulligan p. 1019.
  32. Bird Erich Raeder p. 29.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 33.5 Bird Erich Raeder p. 27.
  34. Evans, Richard J. The Coming of the Third Reich pp. 68-69 & 170.
  35. Bird Erich Raeder p. 26.
  36. Bird Erich Raeder p. 31.
  37. Bird Erich Raeder p. 32.
  38. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 32-33.
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 Bird Erich Raeder p. 33.
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 40.4 Bird Erich Raeder p. 34.
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  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 42.3 Bird Erich Raeder p. 49.
  43. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 35-36.
  44. 44.0 44.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 37.
  45. Bird Weimar pp. 45-46.
  46. Bird Weimar pp. 46-52.
  47. 47.0 47.1 47.2 Bird Weimar p. 140.
  48. Bird Erich Raeder p. 38.
  49. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 44-45.
  50. 50.0 50.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 43.
  51. Bird Erich Raeder p. 45.
  52. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 45-46.
  53. Bird Erich Raeder pp. xxi-xxii.
  54. Thomas pp. 57-58.
  55. Fischer pp. 185–186.
  56. 56.0 56.1 56.2 Bird Erich Raeder p. 59.
  57. 57.0 57.1 57.2 57.3 57.4 57.5 57.6 57.7 Herwig p. 86.
  58. 58.0 58.1 58.2 58.3 58.4 58.5 58.6 58.7 Herwig p. 87. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ReferenceA" defined multiple times with different content
  59. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 51-52.
  60. 60.0 60.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 52.
  61. Hansen pp. 81–85 and 89–90.
  62. Hansen p. 85.
  63. Herwig p. 80.
  64. 64.0 64.1 Thomas p. 40.
  65. Bird Weimar pp. 23–24.
  66. 66.0 66.1 66.2 Hanson p. 94.
  67. Bird Weimar p. 25.
  68. Wheeler-Bennett p. 189.
  69. 69.0 69.1 69.2 69.3 Bird Erich Raeder pp. 82-83.
  70. 70.0 70.1 70.2 70.3 Bird Erich Raeder p. 83.
  71. 71.0 71.1 71.2 Wheeler-Bennett p. 188.
  72. 72.0 72.1 Bird Weimar pp. 180-189.
  73. Bird Weimar pp. 187-189.
  74. Thomas p. 261.
  75. 75.0 75.1 75.2 Wheeler-Bennett p. 191.
  76. 76.0 76.1 76.2 Thomas p. 57.
  77. Bird Weimar pp. 26-27.
  78. Thomas p. 54.
  79. Wheeler-Bennett pp. 190-191.
  80. Wheeler-Bennett pp. 192-194.
  81. Wheeler-Bennet pp. 190-192.
  82. Thomas pp. 55-56.
  83. Bird Weimar pp. 260-261.
  84. Bird Weimar p. 260.
  85. Thomas p. 53.
  86. Thomas pp. 36-39.
  87. Bird Erich Raeder p.81.
  88. Bird Weimar pp. 218-219.
  89. 89.0 89.1 Mulligan pp. 1019-1020.
  90. Thomas pp. 54-56.
  91. 91.0 91.1 Thomas p. 55.
  92. 92.0 92.1 Thomas pp. 54-55.
  93. 93.0 93.1 93.2 93.3 Thomas p. 92.
  94. Thomas pp. 92-93.
  95. 95.0 95.1 95.2 Thomas p. 59.
  96. 96.0 96.1 Thomas pp. 59-64.
  97. Thomas pp. 59-63.
  98. Thomas p. 66.
  99. Thomas pp. 66-68.
  100. 100.0 100.1 100.2 100.3 100.4 Thomas p. 68.
  101. 101.0 101.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 86.
  102. Wheeler-Bennett p. 251.
  103. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 85-90.
  104. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 87-88.
  105. Bird Weimar p. 274.
  106. Bird Weimar pp. 274-275.
  107. 107.0 107.1 107.2 Bird Weimar p. 276.
  108. Bird Weimar pp. 276-277.
  109. 109.0 109.1 Bird Weimar p. 277.
  110. 110.0 110.1 Bird Erich Raeder pp. 83-84.
  111. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 83-84 & 94.
  112. Bird Erich Raeder p. 90.
  113. Bird Erich Raeder p. 91.
  114. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 91-92.
  115. Bird Erich Raeder p. 93.
  116. 116.0 116.1 116.2 Thomas p. 71.
  117. 117.0 117.1 Bird Weimar p. 282.
  118. Bird Erich Raeder p. 95.
  119. 119.0 119.1 119.2 Thomas p. 80.
  120. 120.0 120.1 Thomas p. 78.
  121. Weinberg Foreign Policy pp. 26–27.
  122. Thomas p. 79.
  123. 123.0 123.1 Thomas p. 81.
  124. Bird Erich Raeder p. 97-98.
  125. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 98-99.
  126. Bird Erich Raeder p. xxiii.
  127. 127.0 127.1 127.2 127.3 127.4 127.5 Thomas p. 154.
  128. Thomas pp. 155–156.
  129. Thomas p. 83.
  130. Thomas pp. 156–157.
  131. Thomas p. 157.
  132. 132.0 132.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 102.
  133. Thomas p. 153.
  134. Thomas pp. 150–154.
  135. 135.0 135.1 135.2 Thomas p. 152.
  136. 136.0 136.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 220.
  137. Raeder pp. 244–246 and 253.
  138. Bartov, Omer "Soldiers, Nazis and War in the Third Reich" pp. 129-150 from The Third Reich edited by Christian Leitz, Blackwell: London 1999 p. 143.
  139. 139.0 139.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 103.
  140. Raeder pp. 245-246.
  141. Thomas p. 93.
  142. Thomas p. 94.
  143. 143.0 143.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 104.
  144. Thomas p. 85.
  145. Thomas p. 86.
  146. 146.0 146.1 Förster, Jürgen "Complicity or Entanglement? The Wehrmacht, the War and the Holocaust" pp. 266-283 from The Holocaust and History: The Known, the Unknown, the Disputed and the Re-examiend edited by Michael Berenbaum and Abraham Peck, Bloomington: Indian University Press, 1998 p. 268.
  147. Wette pp. 67–68 & 70-72.
  148. Wette pp. 71–72.
  149. 149.0 149.1 Wette p. 72.
  150. Wette p. 70.
  151. Thomas p. 159.
  152. Thomas p. 160.
  153. Goda Tales from Spandau.
  154. Wette p. 134.
  155. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 105.
  156. 156.0 156.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 105.
  157. 157.0 157.1 157.2 157.3 Murray and Millet p. 37.
  158. Murray and Millet p. 235.
  159. 159.0 159.1 159.2 Thomas pp. 171-173.
  160. Thomas pp. 54-173.
  161. Thomas p. 173.
  162. Goda "Black Marks" p. 130.
  163. 163.0 163.1 Goda "Black Marks" p. 102.
  164. 164.0 164.1 Goda "Black Marks" p. 108.
  165. 165.0 165.1 165.2 Bird Erich Raeder pp. 105-106.
  166. Wheeler-Bennett p. 368.
  167. Wheeler-Bennett pp. 377-378.
  168. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 107-108.
  169. Bird Erich Raeder p. 122.
  170. Thomas p. 177.
  171. 171.0 171.1 171.2 171.3 171.4 171.5 Thomas p. 179.
  172. Hansen pp. 96-97.
  173. Hansen p. 97.
  174. Hansen pp. 93-94.
  175. Hansen pp. 95-96 & 99-101.
  176. 176.00 176.01 176.02 176.03 176.04 176.05 176.06 176.07 176.08 176.09 176.10 Hansen p. 100. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ReferenceC" defined multiple times with different content
  177. Hansen pp. 86-87 & 92.
  178. Hansen pp. 86-87.
  179. Hansen p. 90.
  180. Herwig pp. 92-94.
  181. Herwig p. 94.
  182. 182.0 182.1 Herwig p. 88.
  183. 183.0 183.1 183.2 Thomas p. 180.
  184. Bird Erich Raeder p. 135.
  185. 185.0 185.1 185.2 185.3 Thomas p. 181.
  186. 186.0 186.1 Thomas pp. 181-182.
  187. 187.0 187.1 Thomas p. 187.
  188. 188.0 188.1 188.2 188.3 188.4 188.5 Thomas p. 188.
  189. Weinberg A World at Arms p. 369.
  190. Bird Erich Raeder p. 141.
  191. 191.0 191.1 191.2 Herwig p. 98.
  192. 192.0 192.1 192.2 Weinberg A World at Arms p. 70.
  193. 193.0 193.1 Weinberg A World at Arms p. 71.
  194. 194.0 194.1 Herwig p. 96.
  195. Weinberg A World at Arms p. 110.
  196. 196.0 196.1 196.2 Weinberg A World at Arms p. 86.
  197. 197.0 197.1 197.2 197.3 197.4 Bird Erich Raeder p. 143.
  198. 198.0 198.1 198.2 198.3 Herwig p. 100.
  199. Shirer pp. 673-674.
  200. Shirer p. 674.
  201. 201.0 201.1 201.2 201.3 Weinberg A World at Arms p. 114.
  202. Weinberg A World at Arms p. 965.
  203. 203.0 203.1 203.2 203.3 203.4 203.5 Wheeler-Bennett p. 494.
  204. Shirer p. 673.
  205. 205.0 205.1 Shirer p. 677.
  206. Thomas p. 190.
  207. 207.0 207.1 Weinberg A World at Arms p. 115.
  208. Shirer p. 679.
  209. 209.0 209.1 Murray and Millet p. 57.
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  212. 212.0 212.1 Shirer p. 682.
  213. Shirer p. 683.
  214. Weinberg A World at Arms p. 966.
  215. Shirer p. 696.
  216. Murray and Millet pp. 65-66.
  217. 217.0 217.1 Murray and Millet p. 66.
  218. Thomas p. 191.
  219. Herwig p. 97.
  220. Bird Erich Raeder p. 149.
  221. 221.0 221.1 221.2 Bird Erich Raeder p. 151.
  222. Weinberg A World at Arms p. 118.
  223. 223.0 223.1 Murray and Millet p. 65.
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  225. 225.0 225.1 225.2 225.3 225.4 225.5 Bird Erich Raeder p. 154.
  226. 226.0 226.1 226.2 Weinberg A World at Arms p. 176.
  227. Weinberg A World at Arms p. 175.
  228. Weinberg A World at Arms pp. 175-176.
  229. Weinberg A World at Arms pp. 176-177.
  230. Thomas pp. 192-193.
  231. 231.0 231.1 231.2 Kershaw p. 73.
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  233. Thomas p. 194.
  234. Bird Erich Raeder pp. 153-154.
  235. 235.0 235.1 235.2 235.3 Herwig p. 101.
  236. Weinberg A World at Arms p. 177.
  237. Weinberg A World at Arms pp. 177-178.
  238. 238.0 238.1 Weinberg A World at Arms p. 178.
  239. 239.0 239.1 239.2 239.3 239.4 Thomas p. 196.
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  241. 241.0 241.1 Thomas pp. 197-198.
  242. 242.0 242.1 Thomas p. 199.
  243. 243.0 243.1 Thomas pp. 199-200.
  244. 244.0 244.1 Murray and Millet p. 84.
  245. Kershaw p. 75.
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  248. Thomas pp. 195-196.
  249. 249.0 249.1 249.2 249.3 249.4 Shirer p. 813. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "RiseFall" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "RiseFall" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "RiseFall" defined multiple times with different content
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  251. Kershaw pp. 78-79.
  252. Kershaw pp. 79-80.
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  258. Bird Erich Raeder p. 164.
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  260. Kershaw pp. 71-72.
  261. Murray and Millet pp. 117-120.
  262. Weinberg A World at Arms pp. 187-189, 193-194 & 204-205.
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  267. 267.0 267.1 Goda "Black Marks" p. 112.
  268. Wette p. 155.
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  271. 271.0 271.1 271.2 271.3 Shirer p. 873.
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  304. 304.0 304.1 304.2 304.3 Bird Erich Raeder p. 171.
  305. Murray and Millet pp. 251-252.
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  310. 310.0 310.1 Bird Erich Raeder pp. 200-201.
  311. 311.0 311.1 311.2 311.3 311.4 Bird Erich Raeder p. 200.
  312. 312.0 312.1 312.2 312.3 312.4 312.5 Bird Erich Raeder p. 201.
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  361. 361.0 361.1 361.2 361.3 361.4 Goda Tales from Spandau p. 146.
  362. 362.0 362.1 362.2 362.3 362.4 362.5 Goda Tales from Spandau p. 147.
  363. Goda Tales from Spandau pp. 147-148.
  364. Hankey pp. 72-74.
  365. Buchanan p. 386.
  366. Goda Tales from Spandau p. 149.
  367. 367.0 367.1 Goda Tales from Spandau p. 156.
  368. Goda Tales from Spandau pp. 155-156.
  369. Bird Erich Raeder pp. xv-xvi.
  370. Bird Erich Raeder p. xvi.
  371. Bird Erich Raeder p. 189.
  372. 372.0 372.1 372.2 372.3 Bird Erich Raeder p. xvii.
  373. 373.0 373.1 Goda Tales from Spandau pp. 172-173.
  374. Raeder pp. 183-184.
  375. 375.0 375.1 Raeder p. 184.
  376. 376.0 376.1 Raeder p. 388.
  377. 377.0 377.1 Goda Tales from Spandau p. 173.
  378. Goda Tales from Spandau pp. 173-174.
  379. Padfield p. 482.
  380. 380.0 380.1 Bird Erich Raeder p. 224.
  381. 381.0 381.1 Bird Erich Raeder pp. 224-225.
  382. 382.0 382.1 Goda Tales from Spandau p. 160.
  383. Goda Tales from Spandau pp. 160-161.
  384. 384.0 384.1 384.2 Goda Tales from Spandau p. 164.
  385. Goda Tales from Spandau p. 162.
  386. Goda Tales from Spandau p. 165.
  387. Thomas pp. 260-261.
  388. 388.0 388.1 Wette p. 133.
  389. Weinberg A World at Arms p. 782.
  390. 390.0 390.1 Thomas pp. 261-262.
  391. "Find a Grave Memorial# 13726635, Erich Johann Raeder (with photographs of portrait and grave)". http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=13726635. 
  392. 392.0 392.1 392.2 392.3 392.4 392.5 392.6 392.7 392.8 Dörr 1996, p. 142.
  393. Fellgiebel p. 348.
  394. Scherzer p. 611.

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External links[edit | edit source]

Military offices
Preceded by
Admiral Hans Zenker
Commander in Chief of the Reichsmarine
1928-1935
Succeeded by
himself as Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Preceded by
himself as Commander in Chief of the Reichsmarine
Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
1935-1943
Succeeded by
Karl Dönitz
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Sir Stafford Cripps
Cover of Time Magazine
20 April 1942
Succeeded by
Pierre Laval





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