Otto von Diederichs

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Otto von Diederichs

Otto von Diederichs (born September 7, 1843 in Minden , † March 8, 1918 in Baden-Baden ) was a German admiral .



Otto was the eldest son of the Prussian senior government councilor Friedrich von Diederichs (1805-1888) and his wife Henriette, née Molinari († 1880). The family had been raised to the hereditary Prussian nobility in 1816 .


Diederichs left high school with a secondary education and then joined on 1 January 1862 as Avantgardeur in the East Prussian Fusilier Regiment. 33 of the Prussian army one. As early as June 30, 1862, he resigned from military service and went to sea on various merchant ships. On September 6, 1865, he joined the Prussian Navy as an officer aspirant and sailor 2nd class. First he served on the sailing frigates SMS Niobe and SMS Gefion , before he graduated from the naval school from November 2, 1866 to June 25, 1867. For a short time he then worked on the royal yacht “Grille”.

In 1867 Diederichs was promoted to lieutenant at sea and commanded as an instructor on the sailing training ship SMS Musquito . In 1869 he was promoted to lieutenant at sea . In the war against France in 1870/71 he commanded the gunboat Natter . From 1871 he then took part in a postgraduate training course at the Naval Academy in Kiel . Victor Valois , Felix Bendemann and Gustav von Senden-Bibran attended this course together with him until 1874. During this time, Diederichs was deployed on the corvette SMS Luise and then in service with the torpedo forces until 1878 . This was followed by several larger missions abroad from October 1878 for two years at East Oriental stations with the SMS Freya and in the waters around Hong Kong . In the meantime promoted to corvette captain and captain , he taught at the naval academy in Kiel in the areas of shooter and torpedo training from 1880 to 1890. In 1884 he completed his postgraduate diploma at the naval academy.

As Oberwerftdirektor in Kiel Diederichs was promoted to rear admiral in 1892 . He then went on a business trip to the USA from 1893 to find out about the state of shipbuilding technology at the various American shipyards and to take part in courses at the Neval War College in Newpol and Rhode. In 1895 he became Chief of Staff at the High Command of the Navy under the command of Admiral Eduard von Knorr (1840-1920). During the mandatory autumn maneuver, he had an argument with his superior Knorr, which resulted in a 6-month leave of absence. As a result of this incident, Diederich's considerations extended to the final liquidation of his service in the Navy.

But a historical coincidence suddenly changed his personal situation unexpectedly. In the period from 1895 onwards, Germany had made many efforts to gain colonial property. Now the situation in the Chinese sphere of influence had once again developed "hopefully". The imperial fleet had been lying in wait off the Chinese coast since 1896 in order to be able to use a suitable occasion to intervene immediately. Alfred von Tirpitz (1849–1930), who was active on site , was called to Berlin at short notice and his place had to be filled again. When Diederichs was still on his way to the region, he was appointed head of the cruiser division on April 1, 1897 . It included the tank frigate SMS Kaiser and the small cruisers SMS Prinzess Wilhelm , SMS Arcona and SMS Cormoran . In October 1897 he received a dispatch which, in his opinion, could be very suitable for creating an "expiation". A German steamboat, naturally flagged, had been pelted with objects and abused by a group of Chinese. “Insulting the German flag”, as he interpreted this triviality, could be the reason for the military action under scrutiny. But it was still called back because there was still no approval from the Russian side. But when a new report arrived on November 5, 1897 that a German missionary had been killed in South Shandong and the second was missing, he received the imperial order for the entire squadron in the bay in front of Kiautschou on November 8 at 12.30 p.m. "Fill suitable points, take measures to expiate". Diederichs carried out this order from Kaiser Wilhelm II on November 14, 1897, landed in the Bay of Kiautschou and occupied the stretch of coast. He was then promoted to Vice Admiral. He then took part in the negotiations on Germany's special requirements in the Kiautschou area. These were supposed to prevent the outward growth of the soil and assure the community a fair share of the success of their work, but they were nothing more than the official camouflage for the creation of a German colony in Tsingtau. As it turned out in the following months. In December, further German ships arrived in the bay to “stabilize the situation”. And right at the beginning of 1898 the ship of the Norddeutsche Lloyd (NDL) Darmstadt moored in the harbor, on board were 1,200 marines of the III. Sea battalions . On March 6, 1898, Germany leased the bay from China for 99 years. Diederichs was appointed imperial governor. At the end of 1899 he handed over his offices in Kiautschou to Prince Heinrich of Prussia .

Upon his return from Southeast Asia, he was assigned to the Admiralty Staff. When Diederichs arrived there, the authority was still in a state of upheaval, disagreements and disputes over competencies were the order of the day. Between 1900 and 1902 he held the post of Chief of the Admiralty's Staff of the Imperial Navy. He replaced his predecessor Felix Bendemann (1848–1915), who only held the office from March 14 to December 13, 1899. His office was in Berlin Leipziger Platz 13. In 1900/01 the news office was created in the Admiral's staff as a result of his special efforts. It was designated as Dept. "N" and developed into a naval intelligence service in the following years . There was also the “Ch” cipher office, which was responsible for developing, issuing and controlling the cipher documents for the camouflaged communication between the naval units and their ships at sea. In January 1902 Diederich was promoted to admiral. In his office, however, the person coming from outside only had a small network, found neither personal access to Tirpitz nor to Kaiser Wilhelm II, and very often had to find out that his own practical experience, which he gained abroad and in command of ships had collected, hardly had any value in the eyes of the Admiral Staff. On August 9, 1902, he himself applied for the return of his office in order to forestall Tirpitz's request. On August 19, 1902 he became the disposition while à la suite made of Seeoffizierkorps. His successor as head of the admiralty's staff was Wilhelm Büchsel (1848–1920), who took office in Berlin on August 20, 1902.

He spent his twilight years in Baden-Baden, where he was buried in a mausoleum after his death.


Diederichs had married Henriette Klopp (1853-1917) on November 14, 1871 in Leer . The sons Friedrich (* 1872) and Hermann (* 1877) emerged from the marriage, both of whom embarked on a career in the Imperial Navy and made it to the rank of corvette captain.

Awards, honors

On November 21, 1898 consecrated Prince Henry of Prussia on the occasion of the previous year made military occupation of Jiaozhou Bay on the same named after Diederichs "Diederich mountain" in Tsingtao , the monument Diederich stone one.


  • Gothaisches Genealogisches Taschenbuch der Briefadeligen houses. 1917. Eleventh year, Justus Perthes, Gotha 1916, p. 53.
  • Dermot Bradley (eds.), Hans H. Hildebrand, Ernest Henriot: Germany's Admirals 1849-1945. The military careers of naval, engineering, medical, weapons and administrative officers with admiral rank. Volume 1: A-G. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück 1988, ISBN 3-7648-1499-3 , pp. 242-244.
  • Joachim Schultz-Naumann: Under the emperor's flag: Germany's protected areas in the Pacific and in China then and now. Universitas-Verlag, Munich 1985, ISBN 380041094X .
  • Terrel D. Gottschall: By Order of the Kaiser. Otto Von Diederichs and the Rise of the Imperial German Navy. 1865-1902. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis 2003, ISBN 1557503095 .
  • German Colonial Lexicon . (1920), Volume I, p. 457. Can be viewed online
  • Otto von Diederichs, Report on the occupation of Tsingtau on November 14, 1897, BA, RM 3/11938,

Web links

Commons : Otto von Diederichs  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Otto von Diederich's report on the occupation of Tsingtau from November 14, 1897, BA, RM 3/11938, p. 17.
  2. ^ Torsten Warner: German architecture in China. Ernst & Sohn, 1994, ISBN 978-3-433-02429-4 , p. 98.