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The Royal Navy and the German Threat, 1901-1914Admiralty Plans to Protect British Trade in a War Against Germany$
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Matthew S. Seligmann

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199574032

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574032.001.0001

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Handelskrieg gegen England

Handelskrieg gegen England

German Plans to Attack British Commerce in an Anglo-German War

(p.7) 1 Handelskrieg gegen England
The Royal Navy and the German Threat, 1901-1914

Matthew S. Seligmann

Oxford University Press

It is generally assumed that, because Admiral Tirpitz oversaw the building of a fleet of battleships rather than cruisers, the German navy was so permeated by the dogma of decisive battle that, in its pre-war planning, it paid little thought to prospects of waging commerce warfare (guerre de course) against Britain. In fact, the German Admiralty Staff was very much alive to Britain's vulnerability to the interdiction of its trade. Having few overseas cruisers to use to attack British commerce, the Admiralty Staff looked for an alternative. It decided that civilian merchant vessels, if armed on the high seas and converted into auxiliary cruisers, would be most suitable. As is shown in this chapter, beginning in 1902 and developing progressively thereafter, the Admiralty Staff formulated ever more detailed plans for carrying out such an assault, using ever greater numbers of fast steamers.

Keywords:   German navy, Admiral Tirpitz, German Admiralty Staff, guerre de course, auxiliary cruisers

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