SMS Leipzig (1905)

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青岛 湾 中 的 德国 军舰 .png
Ship data
flag German EmpireGerman Empire (Reichskriegsflagge) German Empire
Ship type Small cruiser
class Bremen class
Shipyard AG Weser , Bremen
Build number 143
building-costs 5,043,000 marks
Launch March 21, 1905
Commissioning April 20, 1906
Whereabouts Sunk on December 8, 1914
Ship dimensions and crew
111.1 m ( Lüa )
110.6 m ( KWL )
width 13.3 m
Draft Max. 5.6 m
displacement Construction: 3,278 t
Maximum: 3,816 t
crew 288 to 301 men
Machine system
machine 10 marine boilers,
2 3-cylinder compound machines
11,116 hp (8,176 kW)
22.1 kn (41 km / h)
propeller 2 four-leaf ⌀ 3.9 m
  • 10 × Sk 10.5 cm L / 40 (1,500 shots)
  • 10 × Sk 5,3 cm L / 55
  • 2 × torpedo tube ⌀ 45.0 cm (5 shots)
  • Deck: 20-80 mm
  • Coam: 100 mm
  • Command tower: 20–100 mm
  • Shields: 50 mm

The SMS Leipzig was a small cruiser of the German Imperial Navy .

The launch took place on March 31, 1905 at the Werft AG Weser in Bremen . It was put into service with the Imperial Navy on April 20, 1906.

CV and whereabouts

On April 20, 1906, the Leipzig was put into service for the acceptance voyages under the later fleet chief, frigate captain Franz Hipper . In mid-June, the new cruiser was assigned as an escort ship for the emperor's summer voyage , which he carried out this year on the chartered HAPAG steamer Hamburg .

With the cruiser squadron in East Asia

From August 19, 1906, the ship was equipped for a mission in East Asia, where the Leipzig was to replace the great cruiser Hansa , which had already started the return voyage in July and arrived home in October. The Leipzig left Wilhelmshaven on September 8 and reached the station area of ​​the East Asian cruiser squadron on November 19 . Already on the way out, the cruiser traveled to some ports in the Dutch East Indies and reached its main area of ​​operation in Hong Kong on January 6, 1907 . From March 25th to March 10th, the Leipzig served as a watch ship in Tsingtau . The squadron's flagship was the armored cruiser Fürst Bismarck , who traveled to Indonesia , the light cruiser Niobe and four gunboats, three river gunboats and two torpedo boats. In June 1907, the new squadron chief, Rear Admiral Carl von Coerper, took a trip up the Yangtze on the Leipzig and partly on the gunboat Tiger to find out about German economic interests there. The S 90 torpedo boat was the third ship to take part in the voyage . In June it then ran through the northern station area for the first time in part in the squadron formation. In 1908 a similar voyage followed in spring, in August a tour of the ports on the Yellow Sea and in autumn a visit to Shanghai and another voyage on the Yangtze. On November 17th, Leipzig was the representative of the German Empire on a Japanese naval parade in front of Kobe .

The Leipzig had been in Hong Kong for repair work since January 1909 when she received the order to run to the German Samoa islands, as unrest had broken out there. In Manila she took the squadron commander on board on February 26th and reached Apia on March 19th . In the next few days the small cruiser Arcona , the gunboat Jaguar and the auxiliary ship Titania with 100 local police soldiers from Matupi also arrived. The admiral and the governor Wilhelm Solf managed to negotiate an agreement with the rebels . A chief and some of his followers were exiled to Saipan by the jaguar on April 19 . The Leipzig ran to Suva from May 14th to 17th . The squadron chief, who had been on board until then, started his journey home from there, while the cruiser returned to Apia, which Arcona and Titania had already left on May 6th. She waited there for the Condor to arrive, first to Pago Pago on May 22 , then to Apia again and finally to Tsingtau via Ponape and Manila, where she arrived on June 29. In 1909, a trip with the new flagship Scharnhorst followed in July and August through the northern station area and in September to the ports on the Yellow Sea. At Christmas she met the flagship in Hong Kong and then ran in January 1910 with this and partly the gunboat Luchs to the southern station area, where Bangkok , Sumatra, North Borneo and Manila were visited, before the two cruisers on March 22nd returned to Tsingtau. From April 18th to May 31st there was a joint tour of Japan. In July the Leipzig went up the Yangtze for a long time to Hankau , as riots had broken out there.

In early 1911, the Leipzig was to accompany the German Crown Prince Wilhelm on a trip to East Asia on the Gneisenau from Calcutta . When she arrived there on January 31, the trip had been canceled by the emperor due to plague in some of the ports to be visited. On February 17, both cruisers began their onward journey to East Asia and arrived in Tsingtau via Singapore, Hong Kong and Amoy on March 14. During the Morocco crisis , the squadron was in the Vladimir Bay north of Vladivostok and had only received a mutilated radio message from Berlin, which indicated an operation in the Indian Ocean. The Leipzig was sent by the Russians in the telegraph traffic to Vladivostok, despite the unclear situation and the obvious disabilities and was there from August 15 to 18 receive sufficient information from Berlin, which clarified the situation. The squadron ran south again, visiting ports on the Yellow Sea and arriving in Tsingtau on September 15.

SMS Leipzig in
Dili in the spring of 1914

After the outbreak of the Chinese Civil War in October 1911, the Leipzig was again ordered to Hankau on the Yangtze to support the gunboats Vaterland and Tiger stationed there . The situation for foreigners was very tense. International troops were deployed on land, the German portion of which was commanded by the Leipzig First Officer , Kapitänleutnant Rebensburg. During the operation, women and children were evacuated to Shanghai as a precaution. The German squadron chief, Rear Admiral Günther von Krosigk , arrived on the polecat . The torpedo boat S 90 was also used for support. Since a Japanese admiral was in charge of the measures on site, von Krosigk drove back to Shanghai on the Leipzig in November because of the falling water level , where they met with the Gneisenau . Until August 1912, Leipzig commuted several times between Tsingtau and the trouble spots on the Yangtze before normal visiting trips could be resumed. She was involved in the funeral services for the late Japanese Emperor Mutsuhito and in July and August 1913 witnessed heavy fighting between the imperial and republican troops in the Nanking area . In September and October, the cruiser, which has been in service in East Asia for six years, underwent major repairs in Tsingtau.

After a tour of the southern station area in early 1914, the Leipzig received the order in May 1914 to relieve the small cruiser Nürnberg on the west coast of Mexico, where German residents were to be protected during the revolution. It reached Mazatlán via Honolulu on July 7, 1914 and replaced Nürnberg .

War effort

The 1914 cruiser war in the Pacific - on the right the route of the Leipzig
The California

According to its mobilization plan , the Leipzig should meet the other ships of the East Asia Squadron in the event of war. On August 2, 1914, she left the port and delivered 40 refugees to the American armored cruiser California . The Leipzig went to the remote Magdalenen Bay on the west coast of Baja California , where news of the outbreak of war could also be received with Great Britain. The commander searched unsuccessfully for British ships and called on August 17th San Francisco for supplies. However, due to the very strict interpretation of the neutrality regulations, he received only 500 t of coal and therefore decided to go back to the Mexican coast. On September 10th in Guaymas a satisfactory supply and a. with 930 tons of coal, which secured a march south. In front of the Galapagos Islands she met German ships ( Amasis and Abessinia ) who secured supplies. On October 14th, she met the cruiser squadron commanded by Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee off Easter Island . With her the Anubis , Amasis and Karnak of DDG Kosmos joined the squadron.

On November 1, the ship took part in the successful sea ​​battle at Coronel for the Imperial Navy . The Leipzig fired at the Glasgow , which was hit once at the stern and fore ship and by a dud. However, the hits from the German 10.5 cm guns left only insignificant damage. When the Dresden and the Gneisenau also took the Glasgow under fire, John Luce, the Glasgow's captain, turned to preserve his ship. To make matters worse for him was the fact that the darkness hardly allowed a fight, as the Germans used his kills to aim. The Glasgow hadn't scored a hit on the small cruisers.

The last course of SMS Leipzig

After the battle, the German ships took care of each other in Valparaíso for 24 hours . Scharnhorst , Gneisenau and Nuremberg ran on 3rd / 4th. November the Chilean port, the Leipzig then still on November 13th together with the Dresden , to refute rumors about their sinking. The squadron chief tried to collect as much supplies as possible in the favorable supply situation off Chile. This delayed the march into the Atlantic. In addition, Graf Spee decided to attack the British base at Port Stanley on the Falkland Islands . Like his colleagues from Gneisenau and Dresden , the commander of the Leipzig was one of the opponents of this attack. He would have liked to wage cruiser war on his own.

During the attack on December 8, 1914, there was a naval battle in the Falkland Islands with the far superior unit of Admiral Frederik Doveton Sturdee, which had arrived the day before, with two battle cruisers, three armored cruisers and two light cruisers, in the course of which almost the entire East Asia squadron was destroyed. The small cruiser Leipzig sank at 9.23 p.m. after heavy attacks by the far superior armed British cruiser Cornwall and the Glasgow , Coronel's opponent. Only 18 crew members survived the battle, 315 died, including the commander, Frigate Captain Haun . Of the German cruisers, only the Dresden escaped destruction.

An eyewitness of the sinking reported in 1917: »“ Leipzig ”is shot to pieces after turning off“ Glasgow ”and“ Cornwall ”, first aft and then front deck under fire. 7 o'clock in the evening no more rounds of ammunition. From 320 bes. On orders, only 100 came together for the Kaiserhochschule and the national anthem - singing. Many jumped overboard, froze to death, drowned. At 9 o'clock the ship goes down with the captain. "

The wreck lies on coordinates 53 ° 55 '30 "  S , 55 ° 55' 0"  W coordinates: 53 ° 55 '30 "  S , 55 ° 55' 0"  W .


April 1906 to August 1906 Frigate Captain Franz Hipper
August 1906 to August 1907 Corvette Captain Jaroslaw von Rothkirch and Panthen
August 3, 1907 to November 23, 1908 Corvette Captain / Frigate Captain Richard Engel
November 1908 to February 1910 Corvette Captain / Frigate Captain Karl Heuser
February 1910 to May 1911 Frigate captain / sea ​​captain Hermann Schröder
May 1911 to March 1913 Frigate captain / sea captain Friedrich Behncke
March 1913 to December 8, 1914 Frigate Captain Johannes Haun

Cultural meaning

In addition to a series of postcards with the Leipzig as their motif, there was also the painting by Hans Bohrdt , which has been lost since 1916 and entitled The Last Man , which is said to have the sinking of this ship as its theme. It shows a seaman kneeling on the keel of the sinking cruiser, which barely protrudes from the water, while holding up the war flag of the Imperial Navy . The motif is - like the legend that the portrayed sailor is frigate captain Haun himself - as a heroic transfiguration typical of the time. However, there are reports to support the matter as such.


  • Gröner, Erich / Dieter Jung / Martin Maass: Armored ships, ships of the line, battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers, gunboats. Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Munich 1982. ( The German warships 1815–1945 , Vol. 1) ISBN 3-7637-4800-8
  • Herbert, Carl: War voyages of German merchant ships. Broschek & Co, Hamburg 1934.
  • Hildebrand, Hans H./Albert Röhr / Hans-Otto Steinmetz: Ship biographies from Kaiser to Lütjens. Mundus Verlag, Ratingen o. J. ( The German warships. Biographies - a mirror of naval history from 1815 to the present , vol. 5)
  • Koop, Gerhard / Klaus-Peter Schmolke: Small cruisers 1903-1918 (Bremen to Cöln class). Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Bonn 2004. (Ship classes and ship types of the German Navy, Vol. 12) ISBN 3-7637-6252-3
  • Pochhammer, Hans: Graf Spee's last trip - memories of the cruiser squadron. Publishing house of the daily Rundschau, Berlin 1918.

Web links


  1. after Dau, p. 72: 10./11. November
  2. Painting The Last Man