Kriegsmarine

Kriegsmarine

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Den Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy from 1935 to 1945, covering most of the period of Nazi rule. It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the armed forces of Nazi Germany. The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly during German naval rearmament in the 1930s (the Treaty of Versailles had limited the size of the German navy previously). In January 1939 Plan Z was ordered, calling for the construction of many naval vessels. The ships of the Kriegsmarine fought during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. The Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine (as for all branches of armed forces during the period of absolute Nazi power) was Adolf Hitler, who exercised his authority through the Oberkommando der Marine. The Kriegsmarine’s most famous ships were the U-boats, most of which were constructed after Plan Z was abandoned at the beginning of World War II. Wolfpacks were rapidly assembled groups of submarines which attacked British convoys during the first half of the Battle of the Atlantic but this tactic was largely abandoned in the second half of the war. Along with the U-boats, surface commerce raiders (including auxiliary cruisers) were used to disrupt Allied shipping in the early years of the war, the most famous of these being the heavy cruisers Graf Spee and Admiral Scheer and the battleship Bismarck. However, the adoption of convoy escorts, especially in the Atlantic) greatly reduced the effectiveness of commerce raiders against convoys. After the end of the Second World War, the Kriegsmarine’s remaining ships were divided up amongst the Allied powers and were used for various purposes including minesweeping.

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