Ludwig von Reuter

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Hans Hermann Ludwig von Reuter (born February 9, 1869 in Guben ; † December 18, 1943 in Potsdam ) was a German naval officer , most recently an admiral . He became known as the commander of the deep-sea fleet interned in Scapa Flow through his order to submerge it on June 21, 1919.


Von Reuter came from an old family of officers and commanded the large cruiser SMS Derfflinger at the beginning of the First World War . He also led this ship in the battle on the Dogger Bank . In September 1915 he became commodore and at the same time commander of the IV. Reconnaissance Group, which consisted of the five small cruisers SMS Stuttgart , SMS Hamburg , SMS Munich , SMS Stettin and SMS Frauenlob . With this association he took part in the Battle of the Skagerrak . In September 1916, von Reuter took over command of the II reconnaissance group. On November 25th he was promoted to Rear Admiral. On November 17, 1917, the cruisers of the Second Reconnaissance Group and the two large-line ships SMS Kaiser and SMS Kaiserin encountered British units. It came to the second naval battle near Heligoland . In January 1918 von Reuter became deputy commander of the I. Reconnaissance Group and in August 1918 he replaced Admiral Franz von Hipper as commander of this unit.

After the armistice in November 1918, Reuter received orders for the units of the imperial ocean-going fleet, which, according to Section 23 of the armistice agreement, were to be interned in a neutral port until a peace agreement was concluded . In fact, they were immediately ordered by the British into British territory, first in the Firth of Forth, then in the naval port of Scapa Flow. Admiral Hipper, Commander of the High Seas Fleet , had refused to exercise this command. Von Reuter initially led the association from the battleship SMS Friedrich der Große . On March 25, 1919, he moved his command post to the small cruiser SMS Emden due to increasing unrest among the crews .

On June 21, 1919, the last day of the deadline set by the German government for the signing of the Versailles Peace Treaty , Reuter sent a flag signal to the 74 ships of the Scapa Flow anchored fleet with the order “Paragraph Elf. Confirm. ”, A code word previously agreed by the officers in accordance with Section 11 “ It will be drunk! ” Of the beer comment of the student associations, in order to prevent the fleet from being confiscated by the victorious powers. The preparations for the scuttling had already been made without the British guards noticing. On Reuter's orders, ten large ships, five large cruisers, five small cruisers and 32 torpedo boats sank within a few hours . Only the large-line ship SMS Baden , the three small cruisers Emden , SMS Nürnberg and SMS Frankfurt , the mine cruiser SMS Bremse and fourteen torpedo boats were prevented from sinking by the intervention of British seafarers and towed into shallow water. Only four torpedo boats remained buoyant.

Nine German sailors lost their lives; they either fell in a scuffle with British marines (such as the commander of the SMS Markgraf , Corvette Captain Walter Schumann, who was shot on his ship) or were shot in their lifeboats. They were the last German war dead in the First World War.

Von Reuter and the remaining 1773 officers and men in the rump crews were interned as prisoners of war in England. In Germany, Reuter celebrated the hero who had saved the honor of the German fleet. He retired and no longer took part in public life.


On August 27, 1939, the so-called Tannenberg Day , Reuter was given the character of an admiral.

Admiral von Reuter was buried in the Bornstedter Friedhof in Potsdam .



  • Scapa Flow - The grave of the German fleet. Koehler, Leipzig 1921


  • Hans H. Hildebrand: Germany's Admirals 1849-1945. Volume 3: P – Z (Packroß to Zuckschwerdt). Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück 1990, ISBN 3-7648-2482-4 .
  • Andreas Krause: Scapa Flow. The sinking of the Wilhelmine fleet. Ullstein, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-550-06979-0

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Entry in the church book of the monastery church Uetersen from June 14, 1898 on the occasion of his marriage to Henriette von Rumohr (* 1875)
  2. a b c d e f g h i Ranking list of the Imperial German Navy for 1918. Ed .: Marine-Kabinett , Mittler & Sohn Verlag , Berlin 1918, p. 7.