Alfred von Tirpitz (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Tirpitz, one of the ablest naval administrators in modern history, was the architect of the German High Seas Fleet that fought in World War I.
Alfred von Tirpitz was born March 19, 1849, of middle-class background. His father was a jurist and later county court judge in Brandenburg; his mother was the daughter of a physician. He joined the navy in 1865 when it was hardly a popular Prussian institution (the Prussian Navy in fact became a career for many ambitious young men of middle-class background who were barred from advancement in the army) and was commissioned four years later. Tirpitz rose rapidly in the navy. His leadership abilities were amply demonstrated when, in the 1880’s, he headed the torpedo section of the German navy. Torpedoes were then coming into their own at sea, and Tirpitz worked to ensure their reliability. He was appointed captain in 1888 and gained practical experience at sea. From 1892 to 1896, he was chief of staff of the Naval High Command and was given responsibility for developing and codifying fleet tactics. He was promoted to rear admiral in 1895. His last assignment at sea was in 1896 to 1897, when he was chief of the cruiser squadron in East Asia. He was not a great success, as one of his vessels, the Iltis, sunk on a misson near Kiaochow, generating unfavorable publicity. Ironically, Tirpitz never commanded a modern battleship, much less a...
(The entire section is 2680 words.)
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Alfred von Tirpitz (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Tirpitz was primarily responsible for the huge expansion of the German High Seas Fleet under William II, making the German fleet the world’s second largest by the outbreak of World War I.
In June, 1897, Alfred von Tirpitz was appointed secretary of state of the Imperial Naval Office. Tirpitz, vigorously supported by Kaiser William II, successfully piloted the Naval Laws of 1898 and 1900 through the Reichstag, ensuring long-term financial support for the naval expansion program. He was promoted to admiral in 1903 and grand admiral in 1911. Tirpitz subscribed to the beliefs of the American naval theorist, Alfred Thayer Mahan, who argued that naval power depended on a high seas fleet and that victory would result from a dramatic battle fought with powerful battleships.
Tirpitz’s policies had fateful consequences for German naval strategy. His expansion program alarmed England and encouraged it to outbuild the German fleet. When war broke out in 1914, Tirpitz’s expansion program was still incomplete, and his prewar emphasis upon the need for battleships caused him to ignore the potential value of submarines. However, Tirpitz was finally converted to employing submarines during World War I, and he resigned from office in March, 1916, over the reluctance of the government to adopt a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. After the war, he served in the Reichstag from 1924 to 1928 as...
(The entire section is 305 words.)