Naval race to WWI

From the birth of the Dreadnought to the period immediately after the end of World War I.
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Karl Heidenreich
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Naval race to WWI

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Sep 03, 2007 10:31 pm

Hi,

It´s interesting to find out new things after some investigation. These last weeks I been reading a lot about a new interest of mine: the great ocean liners and their gloden age. As a matter of fact there is a quite interesting site on internet:

http://www.greatoceanliners.net/

The issue here is another, as a matter of fact, related to this.
The "official" history tells us that before WWI the Germans engaged themselves in an armed naval race between them and the British. This race was a by-product of German agressive policy of expansionism (which was, more or less, to achieve what the British had already done) but fueled by Kaiser Willy´s psychological problems and Prussian military compulsion to dominate Europe. This "race" was one of many elements that helped to ignite WWI after the murder of Franz Jospeh of Austria-Hungary.
Well, it seems now that the Kaiser´s intention to build the High Seas Fleet or to engage in an armed naval race against the British was something a little bit more than just to satisfy his psychological problems, or just an agressive "klingonian" desire of the Prussian elite.
Why?
Because I found out that the Germans, not the British, were the dominating sea comerce power prior WWI. And the British, in order to had again their supremacy needed to impose a blokade that only a World War would gave them the opportunity. That´s why Great Britain declared war on Germany in 1914, not because their alliance with France or because poor Belgium was overun by the German armies, but because the Germans were dominating the North Atlantic sea routes.
This can be tracked to the following information:
By 1914 the two main ocean liner companies that hold the market for inmigrant transport from Europe to the US and Canada were German companies, not British. Everybody tend to believe that White Star Line or Cunard were the leaders during this period of time, but they were not. The Hamburg Amerika Line had registered 194 vessels with 1,307,411 tons of ships being in No. 1 slot, while Norddeutsher Lloyd of Bremen had 135 vessels with 907,996 tons. White Star Line was a far third place, almost half of the German second place, with 33 ships and 472,877 tons and Cunard only had 29 vessels at 344,251 tons.
The Germans had, overall, 329 ships @ 2,215,407 tons against 62 British ships @ 817,128 tons. The German main force was 271% stronger than the British. And the German ships were a lot better. At the turn of the century the state of the art ocean liners that won and hold the Blue Riband were the German Liners Wilhelm der Grosse and Deutshland.
But better still were the three sisterships that were built to prevail over WSL´s famous trio: Titanic, Olimpic and Britannic. These ships were the Imperator, the Vaterland and (hear this, please) the Bismarck!! Each of these vessels were bigger than the WSL ones or Cunard´s Mauretania, Lusitania or Aquitania. The Bismarck had a tonnage of 56,000 tons! Unique to their age.
And the Germans were penetrating comercial routes that were held by the British and Americans, which was not very good seen by the Admiralty. For instance the Germans were the first ones to send across the Panama Canal ships over 20,000 tons as the Tirpitz and William O´Swald.
Of course there was a rivalry between these sea powers, but not fueled, only, by a Kaiser´s infantile desire of power but from a geo political reality: the Germans were beating the British at the sea and only a World War could prevent that from happening. I´m not saying that was the only reason, but it was sure a very important one.

Best regards...
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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marcelo_malara
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Post by marcelo_malara » Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:07 pm

Ok Karl, but what about the merchant ships? The Germans were winning here too?

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:11 pm

Marcelo,

Yesterday I tried to research that but I´m 100 miles from my books and will be until weekend. I try it via Internet and it´s no easy task.
Anyway I expect to find that the Germans had a big piece of the cake in what refers to cargo ships too.
The fact is that the Germans were, in the 1900ies, being more powerful at sea than what might be expected and the only way to counter this was to put the Grand Fleet in action in the Atlantic. Which by the way make me wonder why the Kaiser didn´t built a bigger battle fleet?

Best regards...
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Post by RF » Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:41 pm

Karl,

Franz Jozef, Kaiser of Austria-Hungary, was not murdered as you claim.

He died from old age in November 1916.

You were thinking of Archduke Franz Ferdinand were you not??????
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Naval race to WWI

Post by RF » Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:55 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
Because I found out that the Germans, not the British, were the dominating sea comerce power prior WWI. And the British, in order to had again their supremacy needed to impose a blokade that only a World War would gave them the opportunity. That´s why Great Britain declared war on Germany in 1914, not because their alliance with France or because poor Belgium was overun by the German armies, but because the Germans were dominating the North Atlantic sea routes.

Of course there was a rivalry between these sea powers, but not fueled, only, by a Kaiser´s infantile desire of power but from a geo political reality: the Germans were beating the British at the sea and only a World War could prevent that from happening. I´m not saying that was the only reason, but it was sure a very important one.

Best regards...
This really is a complete load of tripe.

Germany did not control the seaways prior to WW1 or come anywhere near it.

The commercial rivalry from the German shipping lines is grossly overstated and the size of the British merchant navy is grossly understated.

You also ignore the fact that Britain's largest trading partner from the 1890's up to 1914 was Germany - and by 1914 Germany exported more to the UK than did the whole of the British colonial empire!

It is clear that it was the violation of Belguim that triggered the British declaration of war on Germany, not commercial shipping rivalry. Britain practised free trade and German ships freely used British and Empire ports, indeed they had to in order to sail on most of the main shipping routes of the world.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu Sep 06, 2007 2:27 pm

RF:
Franz Jozef, Kaiser of Austria-Hungary, was not murdered as you claim.
He died from old age in November 1916.
You were thinking of Archduke Franz Ferdinand were you not??????
I stand corrected :oops: , it was Franz Ferdinand. With the Habsburgs one tends to be confused: a lot of them died tragically.
This really is a complete load of tripe.

Germany did not control the seaways prior to WW1 or come anywhere near it.

The commercial rivalry from the German shipping lines is grossly overstated and the size of the British merchant navy is grossly understated.

You also ignore the fact that Britain's largest trading partner from the 1890's up to 1914 was Germany - and by 1914 Germany exported more to the UK than did the whole of the British colonial empire!

It is clear that it was the violation of Belguim that triggered the British declaration of war on Germany, not commercial shipping rivalry. Britain practised free trade and German ships freely used British and Empire ports, indeed they had to in order to sail on most of the main shipping routes of the world.
The invasion of Belgium was intolerable to Great Britain not because a tiny country was being invaded but because by doing so the Germans took control of Antwerp. It was a naval question, after all.
But the issue goes far than the facial value the allies had been giving for 93 years now. It´s like the Battle of the Marne or Verdun: those events realities are light years from what the allies claim them to be.
Germany´s overseas power was increasing at a rate intolerable to Britain. If not, how can we explain the gross tonnage of the German commercial companies in comparison with the British ones? The Germans were exploiting a good portion (if not the bigger one) of the trade not only with Great Britain but with the US and overseas colonies of many other countries.
This story is like the one when Great Britain imposed the "Made in Germany" brand to products so people could knew them from the British and, they hoped, buyed British... only to discover that "Made in Germany" became the brand of highest quality and precision.
The WWI naval blokade to Germany was the only way to disrupt forever the German overseas trade and rescue the British superiority.
In WWI the issue about who was the agressor is still material for debate.

Best regards.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Ulrich Rudofsky
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Post by Ulrich Rudofsky » Thu Sep 06, 2007 3:58 pm

There is a very good book about the economics and politics surrounding Krupp, Kaiser Willi, and Admiral Tirpitz by Prof. Gary Weir http://www.alibris.com/search/search.cf ... =2&qsort=r

PS: Remember that the tax on sparkling wine is still in effect in Germany. Originally used to raise extra funds for the ship building frenzy, no one knows where the money goes now......... :lol:
Ulrich

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Post by iankw » Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:02 pm

I'm just waiting for the revelation that the Titanic was torpedoed by Germany because they couldn't stand the competition. After all the German Admiralty would be as much in the pockets of the shiiping lines as the British Admiralty was.

regards

Ian

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:15 am

Ian,

Sorry to dissapoint you but the Titanic sinking was due to a plot of the military-industrial complex of San Marino. I believe Oliver Stone made a movie about it...
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Post by RF » Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:40 pm

Karl,

You seem obsessed with the idea of Britain being in fear of German commercial power and rivalry, just as you seem to think that the US Army won WW1.

Yes there was commercial rivalry with Germany, but not as great as the commercial shipping rivalry with the USA.
The British issue with the Germans prior to WW1 was over the size of the German Navy, not its merchant fleet - most of that anyway was insured through Lloyds of London underwriters.

Neither was Antwerp of any great significance - in WW1 it was bottled up and indeed the Flandern flotilla was based on Zeebrugge. Germany had Hamburg, Bremen and Emden as its main North Sea ports, it didn't need the likes of Antwerp or Rotterdam. The Kiel Canal was of far greater importance to the Germans than the ports of the low countries.

It is a matter of documented fact that Britain was very reluctant to go to war with Germany in 1914. Both Prime Minister Asquith and Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey regarded the British declaration of war as a tragedy that was forced on them, due to outright violation of the 1839 guarantee of Belgian independence.

Finally with regards to German overseas commercial power - this was not of any strength in military or strategic terms. Germany's colonies were underdeveloped even by European colonial standards, they were largely undefended in 1914 and quickly overun. In particular the Germans never maintained a substantial naval presence there, just Spee and a couple of other light cruisers. As colonial powers the French were seen as a far greater threat than the Germans - which is why the British used the 1904 Entente Cordiale to neutralise French ambition. Note Karl that the British didn't go to war to with France to solve the problem (not even in 1870), they used good old fashioned diplomacy

Karl, I do know my country and its history. Britain was not spoiling for a fight in 1914, far from it.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Post by iankw » Fri Sep 07, 2007 9:49 pm

Britain was not spoiling for a fight in 1914, far from it.
Which is why the military talks were carried out informally between the relevant army officers. IIRC the cabinet didn't asherly learn of them until the very last minute.

Nice reply Karl :lol:

Ian

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Post by RF » Mon Sep 10, 2007 12:25 pm

iankw wrote:I'm just waiting for the revelation that the Titanic was torpedoed by Germany because they couldn't stand the competition. After all the German Admiralty would be as much in the pockets of the shiiping lines as the British Admiralty was.

regards

Ian
Wasn't it sunk by a secret prototype hilfskreuzer disguised as an iceberg??????
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Post by iankw » Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:11 am

:clap:

Nice one RF. Any more interesting suggestions out there?

Ian

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:26 am

Again I´m far from my books (during the week I´m at a construction project far from my house). As soon as I can I will post the number of German ships confiscated by the allies that become "icons" of the post war transatlantic adventures of White Star Line and Cunard. Some fine vessels as the Bismarck, Vaterland, etc. etc. were the mighty liners "made in Germany" of the British lines (war reparations was the terminology used to piss the Germans in order to put them in the path of a new World War)...
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Post by RF » Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:46 pm

Karl,

You seem to have a fascination for the White Star Line.

That company was in some financial trouble even before the Titanic disaster and it is perhaps not so well known that the Titanic almost pulled the company down with it in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Possibly the fact that the company chairman survived the disaster when it was ''women and children'' in the lifeboats didn't help with public perception in the aftermath, but many people shunned this company and it was taken over by P & O.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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