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Title: Tirpitz, Treaties and Transgressions: The Evolution of German Naval Strategy 1918-1939
Authors: Donaldson, Cameron S.T.
Royal Military College of Canada
Gullachsen, Arthur
Keywords: Germany
German Navy
Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz
Kaiserliche Marine
Versailles Treaty
Washington Naval Treaty 1922
Admiral Erich Raeder
Anglo-Naval Agreement 1935nt 19
Issue Date: 11-Apr-2024
Abstract: The interwar period from 1918-1939 was a significant era for German naval strategic development, where over the course of 20 years the level of resources available to Germany would dramatically change how it hoped to achieve its naval objectives. A series of treaties and international accords during this peroid would place restrictions on the size of Germany’s navy and affect how its adversaries would develop their own navies, which in turn would force Germany to modify its thinking on how it would hope to counter them. With the majority of its fleet sunk at Scapa Flow in 1919, Germany could have rebuilt its navy around new strategic concepts that could have produced greater results than it achieved during the First World War, but it would be severely restricted in what it was allowed to build and for which purposes. For the German navy, an internal debate regarding the relevancy between large battlefleets and smaller squadrons of cruisers paired with submarines would dominate most of the strategic conversations of the 1920s and 30s. This debate would eventually be won by the promotion of Admiral Erich Raeder to the position of commander of the navy, who would go on to pursue a strategic policy that mirrored that of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz during the turn of the 20th century. The combination of restrictions that were placed upon the German navy by the Western Allies and Raeder’s commitment to a strategy that he did not have the resources for would be the most significant factors that would affect how Germany would develop its navy in the leadup to the Second World War.
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