Book Review-‘Germany’s High Seas Fleet in the First World War’ by Admiral Reinhard Scheer

By Lawrence Sondhaus, published November 2020


At least on the German side of the naval war of 1914–18, no figure was better positioned to write a definitive account of the action than Admiral Reinhard Scheer. Already a vice-admiral and battleship squadron commander when the war began, Scheer became commander of the High Seas Fleet in January 1916 and maintained operational oversight of the fleet after being named chief of the new Naval High Command (Seekriegsleitung) in August 1918. As noted in the excellent introduction by Markus Faulkner and Andrew Lambert, few also had more motivation than Scheer to publish a war memoir and so quickly as soon as the fighting ended. Having served as wartime leader of a force whose strategic worth was doubted by many during (and even before) the war, Scheer felt compelled ‘to defend the navy’s conduct during the conflict, manage its reputation during the transition to peace and preserve its legacy for the future’ (p. viii). Because he remained in an active role right up to the Armistice, his war memoir appeared, in English as well as German, in 1920, one year after the account of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, architect of the High Sea Fleet, who had resigned his post in 1916. Nevertheless, as Faulkner and Lambert note, Scheer’s book ‘was the first German account of the war by a frontline officer with actual wartime experience’ (p. ix)…

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Filed under: Atlantic | WW1
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Strategy & Diplomacy

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