Naval Officer (Germany)

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German and Swedish naval officers at the Peenemünde Army Research Institute (1940)

Naval officers are all officers in naval uniform, including reserve officers .

Before 1945

Imperial Fleet

Adalbert von Prussia issued General Naval Order No. 1 on November 22, 1852 in Berlin.

" I have cause to urgently draw the officers of the navy to the attention of the fact that true military obedience demands the most decisive will to execute orders punctually, without reservation, subtle cleverness, and the banishment of any lukewarmness, and on the other hand demands their duty as officers : to familiarize oneself with the spirit of the orders and instructions given to them, so that they may give them a point of reference for cases not provided for in them. The endeavor to reject only responsibilities from oneself, whether the general and naval interests also suffer, is absolutely unworthy of an officer, does not permit any decisive action, cannot make a navy great, is incompatible with the officer's true discipline .
The navy's discipline is that of its officers . "

- Ober-Commando der Navy, signed W. Adalbert, Prince of Prussia

Imperial Navy

Franz von Hipper and his staff (1916)

Officers of the Imperial Navy felt called to their service or even born. In the age of imperialism , Wilhelm II , Alfred von Tirpitz and Ernst Levy von Halle had made the deep-sea fleet the second strongest sea ​​power in the world. The maritime officer corps was therefore awarded the first status in the German Empire . It was mainly recruited from the upper and middle classes of the bourgeoisie. The nobility was traditionally oriented towards the army and did not play a dominant role in any part of the navy.

Character went above performance. The naval academy and school and the Mürwik naval school only needed to "re-grind"; imparting specialist knowledge was of secondary importance. The social differentiation hit the rather petty-bourgeois ship engineers through. The Prussian self-image proved itself in the Battle of the Skagerrak . But in the further course of the war, the experienced naval officers were withdrawn from the schools and capital ships in order to meet the constantly growing demand for submarines and torpedo boats. The young officers therefore lacked direct role models. The experience-based and reasonable handling of soldiers could therefore not be brought closer to you. In addition, the young naval officers lost their open-minded attitude, as they rarely left their naval bases in the North or Baltic Seas. Since they could only rely on their elitist self-image in their demeanor, they either ignored the needs and needs of the simple crews and NCOs or did not even recognize them. The inexperienced superiors were hopelessly overwhelmed with the increasingly difficult task of leading people on board the capital ships. The resulting resentment of the ship's crews on the capital ships and the fleet order of October 24, 1918 led to the Kiel sailors' uprising . This led to the November Revolution .

Imperial Navy

Launch of the cruiser "Köln" with Hans Zenker , Wilhelm Groener , Konrad Adenauer and Gustav Noske (1928)

The turmoil of the revolutionary era and the helplessness of the naval leadership shook the former unity of the naval officer corps . Renowned for the self-sinking of the Imperial High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow , “the Navy” came under fire from the Kapp Putsch and the Ehrhardt Navy Brigade . Monarchism , worries about the future and simple fear for jobs also existed among officers. The new naval command had to bring the torn remnants of the naval forces together and integrate them into society. In return, it put the corps of naval officers and engineers on a social level. The establishment of the Naval Officer Memorial in the Naval School Mürwik (1923), the Marine Memorial Laboe (1927/1936) and the U-Boot Memorial Möltenort (1930) also contributed to the unification of the officer corps in the chaos of the Weimar Republic . With the Marine Officer Aid (1918) and the Marine Officer Association (1922), solidarity and interest groups were created in which Friedrich Ruge , Siegfried Sorge and other officers were involved. Sorge took up the suggestions and demands of the young generation in 1936. With new knowledge and lessons of the Prussian-German soldier tradition, he wanted to convey them as planned in training. National Socialist ideas were also included in the later editions of his book .

"The naval officer must first be able to handle people, then ships and ultimately weapons."

- Friedrich Ruge (1932)

Break after World War II

Federal Navy

After the total war , war crimes and the Holocaust , the role of the navy in West Germany was controversial. The so-called Grand Admiral Question occupied many former members of the navy and thus a group of potential soldiers for the Bundeswehr until 1956 . The Nuremberg Trials were not only about assessing the guilt of the Grand Admirals Erich Raeder and Karl Dönitz , but also about defending the entire Navy for some of those involved and observers. In the opinion of many veterans and former opponents, this would not have been guilty of anything, but would have fought like a knight. Opposite these so-called “front fighters” were the so-called “oath breakers” who were of the opinion that resistance should have been put up against National Socialism . Some of the critics called for a break with the naval tradition of earlier German armed forces. For example, a standard uniform for the army , air force and navy was discussed .

For the Federal Republic of Germany as an ally of NATO , the Federal Navy had the partial task of protecting the three Baltic exits from the Baltic Fleet and protecting the North Sea (and the North Atlantic ) from the Northern Fleet . The German Navy did not want to see itself as the successor to the earlier navies. In the Cold War that worked Nuclear deterrence . Operational skills have been expanded and routines established. Everyday life in the navy was determined by continuity and predictable.

With the economic upswing and the emphasis on freedom and rights of the individual, general prosperity and comfort settled down over the years, and society became increasingly alienated from the Bundeswehr. At the same time, prosperity also gripped the armed forces . The troops' willingness to perform was undermined and the officer compared with the manager . That is why some soldiers no longer saw themselves as leaders and educators. When they reached their final rank, they concentrated on spending their free time. The introduction of studies at a university of the German Armed Forces favored these tendencies. Private added value took precedence over the interests of the service. The naval leadership recognized that the naval officer's self-image had to be more than the central service regulation of the Innereführung. Therefore, the naval office tried to specify the citizen in uniform .

Training ship commander, Captain of the Sea from Stackelberg (1976)

German Navy

German and Senegalese naval officers on the Emden in Dakar (1994)


Web links

Commons : German naval officers  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Marine Glossary of the German Maritime Institute , accessed on 12 December 2017th
  2. ^ Wilhelm Deist: Navy and Marine Policy in Imperial Germany 1871-1914. Droste publishing house. 1996.
  3. Military History Research Office (ed.), Gotthard Breit: The image of the state and society of German generals in both world wars as reflected in their memoirs. Harald Boldt Verlag, Boppard am Rhein 1973, ISBN 3-7646-1576-1 , p. 7.
  4. Command of the Navy (Fü MI 1): Contribution of the Navy to the self-image of the Navy member. Federal Ministry of Defense (2011).
  5. a b Holger Herwig: The emperor's elite corps. Hamburg 1977, ISBN 978-3-7672-0514-7 , pp. 61-76.
  6. ^ Siegfried Sorge: From the Empire to the Federal Republic. P. 98.
  7. a b c d e Hans-Christian Stockfisch: The self-image of the naval officer in the course of the 20th century. Lecture. Historical-Tactical Conference of the Fleet 2014, printed in Marineforum 4-2014, Nachrichten, pp. 27–32.
  8. Erich Raeder : Education issues in the Reichsmarine . Reichswehr Ministry, Berlin 1929.
  9. Werner Rahn: The training to become a naval officer at the Naval School Mürwik 1910 to 1980 , in: The German Navy: Historical Self- Understanding and Location Determination (1983), pp. 143-170.
  10. ^ Siegfried Sorge: The naval officer as a guide and educator . Navy High Command 1941
  11. Dieter Stockfisch: Leadership in the Navy today , in: The German Navy - Historical Self-Understanding and Location Determination . ES Mittler & Sohn, 1983, 217-232.
  12. Social Science Institute of the Bundeswehr: The professional biography of naval officers . Strausberg 2009.