The Reichsflotte (Imperial Fleet) was the first all-German Navy, founded on 14 June 1848.
The German Confederation, founded in 1815, was initially not in need of a navy, as it could rely on three members who commanded large fleets: The Grand Duke of Luxembourg as commander of the Royal Dutch Navy, the Duke of Holstein as the commander of the Danish Navy, and last but not least, the King of Hanover as commander of the British Royal Navy.
This had changed by the late 1830s, though, as the Kings of the Netherlands and Great Britain ceased to be members of the German Confederation, and Denmark turned against Germany in the First Schleswig War that started in early 1848. Soon, the Danish Navy stopped all German trade in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
Josef Carl PÃ¼ttner Seegefecht bei Helgoland 1864
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Frankfurt; May 1848: Karl Rudolf Brommy (1804 – 1860) becomes KonteradmiralIn and oversees the Battle of Heligoland (1849) against the Royal Danish Navy, who were blockading German naval trade in North and Baltic seas since early 1848.
Germany had to build a fleet from scratch, buying ships abroad and converting them, then hiring British and Belgian officers to train and lead veteran German merchant mariners.
The outcome was inconclusive, there were no casualties, and the blockade persisted. It was the first and the last excursion of the small fleet under the black-red-gold Flag of Germany. +
RMS Britannia had been an ocean liner of the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, (later Cunard Steamship Company) launched in February of 1840 in Greenock, Scotland.
207 feet (63 m) long and 34 feet (10.3 m) across the beam, with three masts; her usual speed was about 8.5 knots (16 km/h) was capable of carrying 115 passengers with a crew of 82.
In March of 1849 she was sold by Cunard to the German Confederation Navy and renamed SMS Barbarossa. +
Kaiserliche Marine: The Imperial German Navy
Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded the Navy and enlarged its mission., triggering a naval arms race with Britain as the navy grew to become one of the greatest maritime forces in the world, second only to the Brits.
After the German defeat in WWI, the bulk of the remaining fleet was destroyed at Scapa Flow by its own officers.
Hamburg harbor in 1883
Germany in Photography in the 19th Century
AG Vulcan Stettin
Aktien-Gesellschaft Vulcan Stettin was a German shipbuilding and locomotive building company founded in 1851. In 1907, an additional yard was built in Hamburg. AGV constructed some of history’s most famous German civilian ships and played a significant role in both World Wars.
The Stettin shipyard went bankrupt and was closed in 1928, sold its Hamburg shipyard in 1930. Opened again in 1939, (staffed with slave workers in its own prison camp) with part of the prison population engaged in anti-Nazi resistance, successfully sabotaging several constructed ships. After the war, AGV was taken over by the Polish government, becoming Szczecin Shipyard.
postcard: Vulcan-Werft Shipyard, Stettin
see also: Stettin, Schiffswerft Vulkan
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just click the thumbnail image, then click “Run”, it’s fine.
is a German shipbuilding and engineering works, founded in April, 1877 by Hermann Blohm and Ernst Voss. The company has continued to build ships and other large machines for 125 years and is currently a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.
Built on the island of Kuhwerder, near the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, with 250 m of water frontage and three building berths; two suitable for ships of up to 100 metres length.
By 1933, B+V, which up till that time had specialized in shipbuilding and design, opened an aviation division, producing aircraft for both the German state airline and the Luftwaffe.
The aeronautical division was especially noteworthy for the large flying boats they produced, including the largest aircraft designed, built and flown by any of the Axis forces, the BV 238.
From July 1944 to April 1945 Blohm & Voss used inmates of its own concentration subcamp at its shipyard in Hamburg. The company continues to pay an undisclosed amount to the Fund for Compensation of Forced Laborers.
Despite being almost completely demolished by the end of World War II, it now builds oil drilling equipment, warships both for the German Navy and for export, and ships for numerous commercial customers.
AKA Germaniawerft, located in the harbour at Kiel, founded 1867 to construct war and merchant ships, was also one of the largest and most important builders of U-boats for both World Wars.
After changing hands several times, and suffering at the hands of an especially violent storm off Virginia, the yacht became a floating restaurant and dance hall off Miami, Florida, eventually sinking near Key Biscayne in 1930. See: Interior A – Interior B
The company had a very good reputation concerning the construction of torpedo boats. It also built a number of battleships for the Kaiserliche Marine, including the SMS Posen, SMS Prinzregent Luitpold, SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm and SMS Sachsen.
During the First World War, the company turned to building U-boats. A total of 84 were delivered to the Kaiserliche Marine.
Afterward, it returned to its original vocation, including the building of the steel-hulled barque Sedov (originally the Magdalene Vinnen II; Acquired in 1945 by the Soviet Union as a war reparation), the largest traditional sailing ship still afloat.
Ein Teil der Germaniawerft in Kiel im Jahr 1902
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On April 26, 1945, the last U-boat built in the Germaniawerft was launched, the U-4714. The war ended before it could enter into service.
The most famous U-boats built at the Germaniawerft are probably U-47, which was commanded by GÃ¼nther Prien (left) during his sinking of the HMS Royal Oak in 1940, and U-96, which formed the basis of Lothar-GÃ¼nther Buchheim’s novel Das Boot.
SM U-7 participant in the First Battle of the Atlantic, (August 1914 – October 1918) On 21 January 1915, U-7 was torpedoed and sunk by SM U-22, which had mistaken her for an enemy submarine. Twenty-four crew were killed, and only one survived.
U-Boat Yard; Kiel
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Kaiserliche Werft Danzig was a German shipbuilding company founded in 1852, closed after the German defeat in WWi, then re-opened when Danziger Werft was founded on their site in 1919.
Narrowness of the river Weichsel (and restrictions placed by the Danzig municipality) limited the quantity and dimensions of ships that could be built there. The delivered tonnage of the KWD was only about 60% of that of imperial Kiel-shipyard and only 40% of that of the imperial Wilhelmshaven-shipyard. For this reason, the KWD concentrated on the construction of auxiliary ships and submarines, in addition to maintenance and repair of warships.
Beginning with U-2 in 1906-1908, altogether 62 boats were built. Only 44 between 1914 and 1918 which was about 12% of total German submarine production, few compared to non-imperial German shipyards of the time.
Summary of Kaiserliche Werft Danzig’s U-boats
Ferdinand Schichau (1814 – 1896) was a German mechanical engineer and businessman. In 1837 he started his own company, the Schichau-Werke in Elbing, a large industrial complex which employed about 4,000 labourers.
Initially making hydraulic presses, industrial machines and steam engines, then transitioning to shipbuilding by 1896, at his large shipyard in nearby Danzig. The Borussia, constructed by him, was the first screw-vessel in Germany.
When Elbing and Danzig were transferred to Poland after World War II, Schichau’s memory all but disappeared. After the Soviet takeover, Schichau’s heirs moved the company to Bremerhaven in March of 1945, where they continued production until 1996.
was a German shipbuilding company in Wilhelmshaven (a North Sea coastal town) founded in 1871.
In the early years, the naval base was only used as arsenal, depot and repair facility for the developing Prussian fleet. Building up of necessary harbours, slipways, dockyards, workshops, etc. followed some years later.
The shipyard was officially opened 1869 by the Prussian King Wilhelm I. With the proclamation of the German Empire in 1871 it got the final name of Kaiserliche Werft Wilhelmshaven. It soon became the greatest and most important of the three German imperial shipyards, beginning with about 3000 workers in 1880, and ultimately about 21,000 by the end. Together they built the largest and strongest warships of that time.
At the end of World War I, the big three imperial shipyards at Danzig, Kiel, and Wilhelmshaven, were closed.
Shipbuilding companies of Germany
German frigate SMS Niobe (launched 1849) painted by Christopher Rave
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SMS Niobe (1849) 28-gun sixth-rate sailing frigate built in Devonport dockyard for the Royal Navy in the 1840s. She was never commissioned because by that time, the Royal Navy was converting to steam, so she was sold to Prussia in 1862.
With a maximum speed of 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) she was considered to be a very good sea boat and very maneuverable, although she did suffer from severe pitching. Her crew numbered 34 officers and 316 enlisted men.
Among her cadets were seven future admirals, including Alfred von Tirpitz.
She served as a training ship until stricken and hulked at Kiel in 1890, broken up 1919. The ship’s figurehead survives and is located at the Naval Academy at MÃ¼rwik.
Armored frigate laid down in 1865 at the Thames Ironworks shipyard in London, originally under the name Fatikh for the Ottoman Empire. Purchased by Prussia in February 1867 after the Turks canceled their contract, launched in April 1868, and commissioned into the Prussian Navy in February 1869.
Flagship during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870–1871, though engine troubles prevented the ship from seeing action.
SMS KÃ¶nig Wilhelm
S.M.S. KÃ¶nig Wilhelm (1869)
SMS Grosser Kurfurst sank in eight minutes on her maiden voyage
out of a crew of 500 men, 269 died in the accident
During training manouvers in 1878, KÃ¶nig Wilhelm accidentally rammed and sank the ironclad SMS Grosser KurfÃ¼rst (1875), with great loss of life.
Laid down in the Samuda Brothers shipyard in London in 1872. She was the last capital ship built for the German Navy by a foreign ship-builder; all subsequent ships were built in Germany.
She was also equipped with a full ship rig, with a standard complement consisted of 32 officers and 568 enlisted men.
Rebuilt in the early 1890s as an armored cruiser, though she was too slow to perform satisfactorily in this role.
A Bismarck-class corvette built for the German Imperial Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) in the late 1870s. The ship was named after the Prussian Field Marshal August von Gneisenau. She served as a training ship for officer candidates and undertook numerous voyages abroad.
On 16 December 1900, the ship sank in a storm near the harbor of MÃ¡laga, Spain, after a grounding in the harbor and failure of the propulsion machinery. Forty crew members perished, including the captain and first officer. +
For the main catalog page of this archive, visit
WWI German Navy Postcard Collection
Sailors of the Kaiserliche Marine
set of 8 images
SMS Kaiser (1874) ordered shortly after the end of the Franco-Prussian War, laid down in the Samuda Brothers shipyard in London in 1871, wrought iron and backed with teak. Launched in March 1874 and commissioned into the German fleet in February 1875. Standard complement consisted of 32 officers and 568 enlisted men.
Regular participant in the annual fleet training maneuvers and participated in several cruises in the Baltic and Mediterranean, often escorting Kaiser Wilhelm II on official state visits. The 1883 cruise was the first year the German navy completely abandoned the use of sails on its large ironclads.
In May 1888, Kaiser represented Germany at the Barcelona World’s Fair Naval Review. Kaiser participated in the ceremonial transfer of the island of Helgoland from British to German control in the summer of 1890.
Between 1891 and 1895, Kaiser was rebuilt in the Imperial Dockyard in Wilhelmshaven.The ship was converted into an armored cruiser; her heavy guns were removed and replaced with lighter weapons, and all rigging equipment was removed and replaced with two heavy military masts.
Reduced to a harbor ship on 3 May 1904 and renamed Uranus on 12 October 1905, broken up in 1920. +
S.M. Hafenschiff Uranus
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SMS Moltke (1877)
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Built for the German Imperial Navy in the late 1870s; served as training vessel for cadets and midshipmen. Reclassified and converted to serve as used as a barracks ship for and hulk tender for U-boat crews at the Kiel naval base, broken up in 1920.
SMS Sachsen 1877built in the AG Vulcan shipyard in Stettin; laid down April 1875, launched 21 July 1877, and commissioned on 21 October 1878. She was the first large, armored warship built for the German navy that relied entirely on engines for propulsion.
Standard complement consisted of 32 officers and 285 enlisted men, tasked primarily with coastal defense against France and Russia and up through 1894, were always centered on defensive actions in the North and Baltic seas.
On 4 September 1901, Sachsen collided with the light cruiser Wacht while on extensive training maneuvers with the rest of the fleet. Wacht was sunk, but the crew was safely evacuated and neither ship suffered casualties.
Following the German defeat in World War I in 1918, the vessel was sold to Hattinger Co., which broke the ship up for scrap in Wilhelmshaven in 1919. +
In 1891, the German navy stopped the practice of deactivating the fleet in the winter months and instead kept the front-line units on permanent active duty. +
S.M. Linienschiff WÃ¼rttemberg
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SMS WÃ¼rttemberg (1878) one of four Sachsen class armored frigates; sister ships were Sachsen, Bayern, and Baden. Built AG Vulcan shipyard in Stettin from 1876 to 1881; commissioned in August 1881 and immediately placed in reserve, due to the poor performance of her sister Sachsen in the fleet maneuvers of 1880.
Among the problems associated with the class was a tendency to roll dangerously due to their flat bottoms, which greatly reduced the accuracy of their guns. The ships were also poorly armored, compared to their contemporaries. In addition, they were slow and suffered from poor maneuverability. WÃ¼rttemberg’s engines also proved troublesome.
Escorted Kaiser Wilhelm II on state visits to Great Britain and to various cities in the Baltic Sea in the late 1880s and early 1890s.
After the conclusion of the 1897 maneuvers, WÃ¼rttemberg was taken into drydock at the Imperial Dockyard in Kiel for reconstruction. The ship’s old wrought iron and teak armor was replaced with new Krupp nickel-steel armor, the four original funnels were trunked into a single large funnel, and new engines were installed.
She remained with the fleet until 1906, the new dreadnought battleship Rheinland ordered to replace her. WÃ¼rttemberg was then used as a torpedo training and test ship until February 1919, stricken from the naval register on 20 October 1920 and sold for scrap. +
SMS Kaiserin Augusta was a unique protected cruiser, she was the first ship in the German Navy to feature a three-shaft propeller arrangement. This was a relatively novel development at the time of Kaiserin Augusta’s construction, only a handful of French and American ships had experimented with the arrangement, and had not yet been to sea for a thorough evaluation of the design. It also made her one of the one of the fastest cruisers in the world at the time.
Owing to budgetary restrictions, Kaiserin Augusta was designed to fill both fleet scout and colonial cruiser roles. She served abroad between 1897 and 1902, primarily in East Asia, where assisted in the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.
Kaiserin Augusta’s crew consisted of 13 officers and 417 enlisted men. She carried several smaller boats, including two picket boats, one launch, one pinnace, two cutters, two yawls, and two dinghies. The ship suffered from severe pitch and roll, though these effects were reduced in heavy winds and a beam sea.
21 June 1895, the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal (Kiel Canal) was opened, connecting the North and Baltic Seas. Kaiserin Augusta led a group of twenty-one unarmored ships, in company with the four Brandenburg-class battleships, the four Sachsen-class ironclads, and four of the Siegfried-class coastal defense ships in the opening ceremonies.
Later that year, the ship took part in an expedition to Morocco along with the coastal defense ship Hagen and the frigates Marie and Stosch to secure an indemnity demanded in the aftermath of the murder of two Germans. The operation was heavily criticized, especially in Britain, where anti-German sentiment was beginning to rise.
By 1914, Augusta had been re-designated as a gunnery training ship and served in this role throughout WWI.
Ultimately sold for scrap in October 1919 and broken up the following year. +
see also: S.M. Grosser kreuzer Kaiserin Augusta â€Ž(7,872 Ã— 5,192 pixels)
GERMAN SAIL-STEAM WARSHIPS
The German ironclad SMS Oldenburg
(launched 1884) painted by Christopher Rave
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SMS Oldenburg (1884) was laid down at the AG Vulcan shipyard in Stettin in 1883, launched in December 1884 and commissioned into the Navy in April 1886. She was the first German capital ship constructed entirely from German-made steel.
She participated in fleet training maneuvers in the late-1880s and early 1890s, but spent the majority of the 1890s in reserve. Her only major deployment came in 1897–1898 when she joined an international naval demonstration to protest the Greek annexation of Crete.
In 1900, she was withdrawn from active duty and used as a harbor defense ship. From 1912 to 1919, she was used by the High Seas Fleet as a target ship; sold for scrapping 1919 and broken up later that year. +
S.M. Linienschiff KurfÃ¼rst Friedrich Wilhelm
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SMS KurfÃ¼rst Friedrich Wilhelm was one of the first ocean-going battleships of the German Imperial Navy. A Brandenburg class pre-dreadnought; laid down in 1890 in the Imperial Dockyard in Wilhelmshaven, launched in 1891, and completed in 1893.
KurfÃ¼rst Friedrich Wilhelm saw limited active duty during her service career with the German fleet. She, along with her three sisters, saw one major overseas deployment, to China in 1900–01, during the Boxer Rebellion.
In 1910, KurfÃ¼rst Friedrich Wilhelm was sold to the Ottoman Empire and renamed Barbaros Hayreddin, where she saw heavy service during the Balkan Wars, 1912 and 1913.
Laid down 1890 May 01 at AG Vulcan Stettin – launched 1891 Dec 14
sold to Turkey, re-named Torgud Reis +
SM Uebungsgeschwader Victoria Louise, KurfÃ¼rst Friedrich Wilhelm & Weissenburg
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S.M. Linienschiff WÃ¶rth
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Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel – Launched: 6 August 1892
represented Germany during the Fleet Review for Queen Victoria in 1897
scrapped in the port of Danzig 1919
Maximum range of 4,300 nautical miles (8,000 km; 4,900 mi) at a cruising speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph. The senior watch officer aboard the ship in 1894 was Franz von Hipper, who went on to command the German battlecruiser squadron during World War I and later the entire High Seas Fleet. Sold to the Ottoman Empire in 1910.
At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, she served as a barracks ship stationed in Danzig. +
The Krupp Family, a prominent 400-year-old German industrial dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their steel production and for their manufacture of ammunition and armaments.
see also: photo Krupp Factory WWI
Essen-Ruhr; Krupp’sche Kanonen Werkstatten
tram tracks in old Essen, Germany
“‘For over 130 years, this family has been the focus, the symbol and the beneficiary of the most sinister forces engaged in menacing the peace of Europe. Four generations of the Krupp family have owned and operated the great armament and munitions plants which have been the chief source of Germany’s war supplies.”
Krupp: A History of the Legendary German Firm by Harold James
London Review of Books
Famously loyal to its highly paid workers, it rejected an exclusive focus on profit, but the company also played a central role in the armament of Nazi Germany and the firm’s head was convicted as a war criminal at Nuremberg.
Yet after the war Krupp managed to rebuild itself and become a symbol of Germany once again–this time open, economically successful, and socially responsible. +
Antique Print of Krupp Guns, Meppen
Diagrams: HOWITZER 1879 ENGINEERING TRUNNION-PIVOTTED NAVAL
page from The Engineer dated 1879
The Krupp name also evokes some of the darkest chapters in German history. Even in the nineteenth century, success always depended in large measure on arms sales. Krupp produced some of the most notorious (if not always effective) weapons used in the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian war and in both World Wars.
The Krupp firm’s conduct during the Weimar Republic and the Nazi “Thousand Year Reich” exemplifies the tortured history of German industry in that period. Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, who headed the firm during the 1920s, harbored serious reservations about the Nazis.
His son did not share those reservations; Alfried joined the SS in 1931, and after the 1933 Nazi takeover the firm reversed its earlier policy of holding the Nazis at arm’s length.
Krupp became a central player in the war economy, producing a wide range of weapons and other war materiel. To do so the firm employed slave labor on a considerable scale…
Heavy Industry, Burdened Past
on The Wall Street Journal
The Krupp family
Krupp Steel Works, Essen, Germany
on the Lessing Photo Archive
captain being piped aboard the SMS Kaiser Wilhelm
(1606×1004) – Marine feldpost MSP30 from aboard the SMS Rheinland
Skat is an early 19th century 3-player trick-taking card game devised in Germany.
Rules and history on wikipedia