Raeder failed strategy

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Raeder failed strategy

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue May 23, 2006 5:27 pm

After studying about the early stages of WWII I found a rather interesting concept: Admiral Raeder was,in great measure, responsible not only for the loss of Bismarck but for the final defeat of Nazi Germany.
A couple of months ago I stated my idea that , in the early months of WWII, if the Kriegmarine would have had in service some 100 plus U-Boats in the North Atlantic (product of not building the Bismarck, Schanhorst and Hipper Class "capital" warships and instead diverting those material resources to a masive U-Boat Fleet) then the victory chances over the British would be almost sure. This is not much my idea but the assertion that Admiral Doenitz would had like this very much, not so Raeder. I believe that Raeder´s idea was to "avenge" the honour of the German Navy and Officer Corps as a result of the fate they had when the High Seas Fleet was surrendered to the allies in 1918 (and then scuttled in Scapa Flow). So Raeder´s path to victory goes thru a "revenge" that required surface units, meanwhile Doenitz idea was to win whatever means available: the U-Boat warfare. And there is no doubt that the tiny but highly effective U-Boat arm accomplished a lot more than the surface units. 100 more Type VII U-Boats roaming the North Atlantic in 1940 would had mean a collapse of the British Isles. Raeder went emotional when Doenitz was rational. So, by building the capital ships and not more U-Boats the Germans did make sure not to win the Atlantic Campaign early in 1940.
And that goes to Rheinbung too. After you read the chronology it´s clear that it was Raeder, not Lütjens nor anybody else, the one who pushed to put at sea Bismarck and Prinz Eugen without the Schanhorst and Gnesinau (or Tirpitz!). Lütjens told Raeder on more than one ocassion that the whole operation must be postponed. Raeder insisted in order to not give the British a rest (with more U-Boats that would have been a reality). Then he doomed the only two operational surface units of the KM and the lives of a couple of thousands German sailors with his insistence and, in the process, accomplishing nothing because those units didn´t sunk a single transport convoy.
The blame doesnt go to Doenitz or Lütjens but to Raeder.

User avatar
Gary
Senior Member
Posts: 706
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:37 pm
Location: Northumberland

Post by Gary » Tue May 23, 2006 5:45 pm

Hi Karl

Also when Hitler visited Bismarck around May 5th, wasnt Raeder conspicious by his absence?
He was avoiding the Fuhrer.

The U-boat was the best way to wage war on England, Germany no longer had the worlds 2nd largest fleet (The high sea's fleet) - she could never stand toe to toe with England again.
Up until Black May of 1943, the U-boat was a successful weapon.
If Germany had had more at her disposal in the early stages of the war.............who knows what may have happened.
God created the world in 6 days.........and on the 7th day he built the Scharnhorst

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue May 23, 2006 6:31 pm

In March 2nd I state the following:
Having into account only nominal displacement (and not considering financing, design, industrial effort, scientific development, man-hours, dry dock, docks, crews, fuel, special amunnition, logistics in general, sea trials, etc. etc. etc) the Bismarck and Tirpitz added 83,400 tons between the two; the Schanhorst and Gnesineau added 68,000 to a total of 151,400 gross displacement built by 1940. Now, a Type VII U-Boat displacement was about 650 tons, and a medium battle tank was about 50 tons. So, considering only displacement from this four surface vessels the Germans could had, easily, 232 combat operational U-Boats in 1940 or 3,028 tanks for Barbarosa. Let´s have those numbers cut in half: 130 U-Boats or 1,500 tanks. Can you imagine the British trying to cope in 1940 with at least 75 U-Boat plus the already existing ones in the North Atlantic? Can you imagine the Wehrmacht at November 1941 with 1,500 additional tanks fielded outside Moscow?
It was Doenitz´ U-Boat arm or Guderian´s panzer force the ones called to give a victory to Germany, not Raeder´s surface fleet.
That´s my whole idea when referring this.

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Post by Bgile » Tue May 23, 2006 6:45 pm

I agree with Karl's statement, although U-boat crews are harder to provide than battleship crews. The standard of training and psycological makeup is more demanding.

I would also have built S & G as battlecruisers, with less armor and more speed, with more freeboard.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Wed May 24, 2006 5:15 pm

Gary wrote:
Also when Hitler visited Bismarck around May 5th, wasnt Raeder conspicious by his absence?
He was avoiding the Fuhrer.
You´re right. And remember something quite important: Raeder never told Hitler about Rheinubung or any operation involving Bismarck for May. And Hitler being on board the Bismarck just before the operation. Why?
Lütjens didn´t told Hitler neither but, probably, he had orders from Raeder not to do so.

User avatar
tommy303
Senior Member
Posts: 1528
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 4:19 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Post by tommy303 » Wed May 24, 2006 5:44 pm

Raeder avoided the Fuehrer's visit to Bismarck because he knew Hitler would ask when she was to be committed to action, and he knew Hitler would get nervous as the time approached and possible order the operation cancelled for no particular military reason. Raeder of course had been presented by the Naval War Directorate with the draft outlining the projected orders and details of the mission and had approved them, so he knew the scheduling. Luetjens, however was still in the dark and had not been issued his orders by the SKL. If asked, he could truthfully say that he did not know when the ship would be deployed operationally.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood and Earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned these defended;
And saved the sum of things for pay.

ufo
Supporter
Posts: 84
Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 8:00 pm
Location: Rhu, Scotland

Post by ufo » Thu May 25, 2006 6:00 pm

A – well – interesting thought. :think:
Could it be that it is far into fantasy and well disconnected from reality?

On Raeder’s strategy I do very much recommend reading:
“Raeder versus Wegener: conflict in German naval strategy” in War College Review; Autumn 2oo5 by Kenneth P. Hansen.
(Google - I think it is available for free)

On the use of surface units in trade warfare and the necessities of uninterrupted pressure I would recommend:
“Einsatz der schweren Kriegsmarineeinheiten im ozeanischen Zufuhrkrieg” by Gerhard Bidlingmaier.

And if you dive a bit deeper into the interwar years with for example:
“Weimar, Hitler und die Marine” by Jost Dülffer, you will find that there was no way between heaven and earth Germany could have amassed the military potential in tanks or U-Boats you suggest.


The old idea how victorious the whole thing would have been if only enough U-Boats had been there at the beginning fails to take into account a whole bag of issues:

- Building U-Boats was for a very long time prohibited by the treaty of Versailles.

- For the tasks the Kriegsmarine was set out to accomplish there was no need for those boats. Germany needed a balanced fleet until it’s change in likely enemies about 1938.
(Bgile mentioned the Sisters. Good example! Now they were build to counter the Duinkques. There main calibre was determined for not to upset the Brits! This is one of the relatively few occasions where Hitler directly intervened in ship design. And while the Fuehrer now just tries to avoid angering the Brits his chief of Navy tells him in passing that he has under construction 1oo U-Boats; U-Boats of no value against the French, the Poles or the Russians but solely against Britain. Do you thing the Fuehrer would have even let it come to that point? Germany wanted Britain as an ally or a favourable neutral.)

- Finally building large amounts of U-Boats would have given rise to British countermeasures. The steel that went into Vanguard and probably that of Anson and Hove as well would have ended up in Convoy escorts.
If you look at the numbers of losses the German U-Boat arm had in the years 1939 to 41 they were considerable. Royal Navy just lacked escorts and training to make much impact. More escorts and better training in anticipation of the German strategy would have yielded far more losses.


Alternate History is a fine art. It leads you nowhere when you just replace things on only one side of the balance.

Photon torpedoes and antimatter-launchers would have done much good as well for the Germans and they are as likely as the 1oo unopposed U-Boats in Autumn 1939.


Sorry about that - just my two Pence
Ciao,
Ufo

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri May 26, 2006 3:29 pm

UFO wrote:
Finally building large amounts of U-Boats would have given rise to British countermeasures. The steel that went into Vanguard and probably that of Anson and Hove as well would have ended up in Convoy escorts.
If you look at the numbers of losses the German U-Boat arm had in the years 1939 to 41 they were considerable. Royal Navy just lacked escorts and training to make much impact. More escorts and better training in anticipation of the German strategy would have yielded far more losses.
What about the build up of the Werhmarch´s panzer divisions, of the Luftwaffe (that in 1940 put London afire), and of Bismarck and Tirpitz? I don´t believe the British thought it was a cool idea from Hitler to develop and build all those offensive weapons. Also, Hitler never cared about treaties (as any other dictator has done anyway), he used them when he need them and violated them as soon as the oportunity arises. The build up of the KM, not being the Reich´s strategic priority, could have been a lot different if Doenitz, not Raeder, was the KM´s C in C in the late 30ies.
About the ammount of tanks and U-Boats that could have been built I used it as an example, not as a real proposal (for that is the Hypothetical Scenario Forum), of the resources used in surface units that, at the end, didn´t meet their nation´s requirements: Bismarck sunk without accomplishing the sinking of a single transport ship; Tirpitz (even under the idea of fleet in being) sunk in Norway after a lifetime of inactivity; Schanhorst, Gnesinau, PE and Hipper never hit the sinking tonnage record of the U-Boats. The more cheap auxiliary cruisers did a lot better. Doenitz has foreseen this from the very beggining: that´s why he supported the U-Boat warfare since the war´s start.
About the photon torpedoes I believe they are outdated: Enterprise E uses more sophisticated quantum torpedoes.

ufo
Supporter
Posts: 84
Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 8:00 pm
Location: Rhu, Scotland

Post by ufo » Fri May 26, 2006 5:01 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote: ...
About the photon torpedoes I believe they are outdated: Enterprise E uses more sophisticated quantum torpedoes.
Enterprise! The Big E! I did not think of this … its always the Americans who come along with their bigger gear and spoil the broth! First they had their superheavies for the 16’ and now this! :stubborn:


I think Doenitz simply seems so much of a ‘modern’ chief of navy because he entered the stage at a time when the Germans were forced to settle for a modern navy they in principle have to this day: high end state of the art U-Boats together with relatively small fighting units and good all-round suppliers.

Had he had the helm in let say 1934 there would have been not much he could have changed. He would have been expected to provide big gunners against France. With the arms race spiralling from the Panzerschiffe to the Duinkerques to the Sisters to the Fighting Cardinal and on to Bismarck and as flights of fantasy further on to Alsace and the H-Class there was a game in place that he would have had huge difficulties breaking.

I fully agree with you that every ounce of metal that would not have ended up in the Sisters, Bismarck or Tirpitz (let alone the Hippers!!!) would have been a benefit to the German war effort.
I just don’t see the Reichsmarine (later Kriegsmarine) breaking out of their line of thoughts.

I do not see a single person high within the German navy of let say the 30s who did really value the intelligent multi purpose vessel they had developed with the Panzerschiff. They all seemed to see it as a step on the leader to ‘real’ ships for a ‘real’ navy; free of Versailles.
I do not see Doenitz as the exception here.

And I do think that every change early on (may be 1932) would have been countered by a British and/or French countermove as for example more U-Boats with more escorts. The Panzer and the Luftwaffe in the end failed to knock out London though it must have hurt.

But especially for the tank divisions – yes, they were impressive. Yet three out of the ten armoured divisions that secured the German victory in the West rolled on Czech gear the Germans had pinched in 1938.
Germany was not really geared up for war and improvising started very (!) early.


Ciao,
Ufo

Monitor
Member
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2005 12:46 am
Location: US

Post by Monitor » Fri May 26, 2006 11:48 pm

I don't believe it was all Raeder's fault. IIRC, Hitler told him that there would be no war with England at least until 1945 and Raeder thought there was time to build a surface fleet. The Z-Plan was cancelled as soon as the UK and France declared war on Germany and further construction was focused on u-boats. If Reader had known beforehand war was going to start in 1939 I'm sure u-boat construction would have been increased in the 30s and plans for Bismarck and Tirpitz abandoned.

my two cents.

User avatar
miro777
Member
Posts: 222
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2006 2:13 pm
Location: Hamburg, Germany

Post by miro777 » Wed May 31, 2006 6:11 pm

hey...
i agree that it wasn't entirely Rader's fault.
the fault for Germany's loss in WW 2 shouldn't be put on the navy.
it was alone Hitler's decisons...
the downfall for Nazi germany was Operation Babarossa.
For a successful attack of Britain, the Luftwaffe must have won the Battle of Brtain as well...
otherwise i agree with monitor.
anyone would have done it like rader, except maybe doenitz....
adios
miro
Die See ruft....

Post Reply