- Erich Raeder
Infobox Military Person
name=Dr. phil. h.c. Erich Raeder
lived=birth date|1876|4|24|df=y — death date and age|1960|11|6|1876|4|24|df=y
caption=Großadmiral Erich Raeder
German Empire(to 1918)
Weimar Republic(to 1933)
Kaiserliche Marine Reichsmarine Kriegsmarine
World War I
*Battle of Dogger Bank
Battle of Jutland World War II
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Erich Johann Albert Raeder (
April 24, 1876– November 6, 1960) was a naval leader in Germanybefore and during World War II. Raeder attained the highest possible naval rank—that of "Großadmiral" (Grand Admiral)—in 1939, becoming the first person to hold that rank since Alfred von Tirpitz. Raeder led the " Kriegsmarine" (German Navy) for the first half of World War II, but resigned in 1943 and was replaced by Karl Dönitz. He was sentenced to life in prison at the Nuremberg Trials, but was later released and wrote his autobiography.
Raeder was born into a middle-class family in Wandsbek in the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein in the
German Empire. His father was a headmaster. He joined the " Kaiserliche Marine" (Imperial Navy) in 1894 and rapidly rose in rank, becoming Chief of Staff for Franz von Hipperin 1912. He served in this position during World War Ias well as in combat posts, taking part in the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915 and the Battle of Jutlandin 1916. After the war Raeder continued to rise steadily in the navy hierarchy, becoming a "Konteradmiral" (Rear Admiral) in 1922 and a "Vizeadmiral" (Vice Admiral) in 1925. In October 1928 Raeder was promoted to " Admiral" and made Commander-in-Chief of the " Reichsmarine", the Weimar RepublicNavy (" Oberbefehlshaber der Reichsmarine").
Rebuilding the German Navy
Although he generally disliked the
Nazi Party, he strongly supported Adolf Hitler's attempt to rebuild the Kriegsmarine, while apparently disagreeing equally strongly on most other matters. On 20 April 1936, just a few days before Raeder's sixtieth birthday, Hitlerpresented him with the rank of "Generaladmiral" (General Admiral). In his quest to rebuild the German Navy, Raeder faced constant challenges from Hermann Göring's ongoing quest to build up the Luftwaffe.
World War II
Nevertheless he was promoted to "Großadmiral" (Grand Admiral) in 1939, and later that year suggested Operation "Weserübung", the invasions of
Denmarkand Norwayin order to secure sheltered docks out of reach of the Royal Air Force, as well as provide direct exits into the North Sea. These operations were eventually successfully carried out, although with relatively heavy losses.
Raeder was not a strong supporter of
Operation Sealion, the planned German invasion of the United Kingdom. He felt that the war at sea could be conducted far more successfully via an indirect strategic approach, by increasing the numbers of U-boatsand small surface vessels in service. This, in addition to a strategic focus on the Mediterranean theater including a strong German presence in North Africa, plus an invasion of Maltaand the Middle East.
He argued strongly against Operation Sealion because of his doubts about a decisive German air superiority over the
English Channeland the lack of regional German naval superiority. Air superiority was a prerequisite to successfully preventing destruction of the German invasion fleet by the Royal Navy.
Since such requirements were not met, the invasion was postponed indefinitely due to the
Luftwaffe's failure to obtain air superiority during the Battle of Britain. Instead the German war machine was diverted to Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, which he vigorously opposed.
Resignation and retirement
A series of failed operations after that point, particularly the
Battle of the Barents Sea, combined with the outstanding success of the U-boatfleet under the command of Karl Dönitz, led to his eventual demotion to the rank of Admiral Inspectorof the Kriegsmarinein January 1943. Raeder offered his resignation as an apology and formally resigned from Kriegsmarine in May 1943. Karl Dönitz succeeded him in the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Navy on 30 January1943.
After the war
After the war Raeder was sentenced to life imprisonment at the
Nuremberg Trials, for waging a war of aggression, a charge arising from his planning of the German invasion of Norway. Britain and France had already prepared for their own occupation of the Narvik area (troops and materiel had been loaded on ships), but they were forestalled by the German actions. This much criticized sentence was later reduced and, due to ill health, he was released on 26 September 1955. He later wrote an autobiography, "Mein Leben", in 1957. Erich Raeder died in Kiel, on 6 November 1960.
* Alexander, Bevin (2000). "How Hitler Could Have Won World War II", New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-609-80844-3
* Gilbey, Joseph (2006). "Kriegsmarine: Admiral Raeder's Navy - a broken dream "
* Huß, Jürgen & Viohl, Armin (2003). "Die Ritterkreuzträger des Eisernen Kreuzes der preußischen Provinz Schleswig-Holstein und der Freien und Hansestadt Lübeck 1939-1945". Zweibrücken, Germany: VDM Heinz Nickel. ISBN 3-925 480-79-X.
* [http://www.feldgrau.com/articles.php?ID=51 "The Reichsmarine 1919-1935" by Jason Pipes]
* [http://www.feldgrau.com/main1.php?ID=4 Kriegsmarine "The Navy 1935-1945" by Jason Pipes]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20000417041658/www.odu.edu/~hanley/history1/Harris.htm "Admiral Erich Raeder: True to his Profession" by Michael Harris]
* [http://www.geocities.com/~orion47/WEHRMACHT/KRIEGSMARINE/Grossadmirals/RAEDER_ERICH.html Biography of Großadmiral Raeder by Michael Miller]
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