"Thus do we now and forever entrust this our ship with the memory of our great
Reich. Let it be preserved in perpetuity, as a monument to the sacrifice and bravery of the sailors of the
Kaiserliche Marine. Let the spirit of the birth of our great nation be enshrined here, for the generations to come to witness and be inspired by.""With Iron and Blood have we forged Germany; and there is nothing that expresses this more than our fleet. Let us never forget; and if we do, let this proud ship forever remind us.
-Excerpt from the speech of Reichskanzler Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg, for the opening of the Deutsches Marinemuseum, Wilhelmshaven
November 1918: And Italy approaches the Admiralität
with a proposal for sale of their rather respectable 13-inch rifles.
actually considers it. The fact is that the Zähringens
have proven to be an effective design and, with AON armour designs allowing for considerable weight savings in armour, it is conceivable that the new generation of super-Zähringens
might be armed with 13-inchers for that extra
heavy shotgun approach. And, if the Italian designs were just a bit
better-performing, the Germans would have bit the bullet and gone for the deal. The problem is, however, that the deal, as proposed, would drain the Admiralität
budgetary reserves by half, in a period where the Admiralität
was running a 3-million-Reichsmark
made the deal just a little
too expensive for Tirpitz and Galster.
And, of course, German R & D is never idle. Shortly after the Neujahr
, new ways to calculate weight distribution and bracing are introduced in German shipyards; and, following that, the new Mk. IV depth charges are issued to the Piepers
. Like I said, it's precious
seeing the Russians and the Japanese think they can effectively utilise submarines against the people who bloody invented
Oh. Oh, Nicky. Oh, you shouldn't
cannot pass by. Work on the Bismarck
is frozen for a month, just to economise the funds necessary. After all, German Zerstörer
are stuck using 4-inch guns, because of the inferior 5-inch designs Germany has to deal with. This upgrade will massively
improve German light forces, not to mention the dramatic increase in effectiveness for capital ship secondary batteries.
It also underlines...interesting developments in Russia. Von Mecklenburg is concerned. The British mutiny / revolution is somehow...echoing
in Russia; there is considerable unrest amongst the population. Socialist troublemakers are on the rise and the state's coffers are empty. Russia has to sell gun designs
to keep her fleet maintained...
Oh-ho-ho-ho. Who needs 13-inch guns, when 12-inchers can now rip through 15 inches of belt armor at 8k yards?
Forget the overland route via Balkans and Austria-Hungary. Germany now owns Gibraltar
are now a valid option for transporting oil from the Rhodes fields to the harbours of the Baltic; and Germany industry explodes
Ahahahaha. 1919 and the Italians don't even have directors. No, Spaghettis.
After all, you don't need a navy anymore. Germany is here to maintain Ordnung
in the Mare Germanicum
. Go have some Pizza or Pasta or something.
FFFFFFfffffffffyyyyyesssss. Dat inclined armour, in particular. Oh mein Gott, das ist wunderbar.
Germany does not want war at this point. What she wants - what Mecklenburg
wants, is to consolidate. By now, he is a tired, worn-out man, exhausted by almost twenty years of the Great Game. He wishes to impose peace, make sure that Germany can dig in, fortify herself and her new holdings; move her economy from a war- to a peace-footing. Deal with the internal socialist threat, even.
But the assassination of the Austrian Ambassador to Serajevo knocks all that out the window.
Emperor Franz Ferdinand is, understandably, livid, but he urges caution. There is potential Russian influence here, he thinks; and it is better to play safe than to rush into a potential war pell-mell. But it is important that Austria-Hungary demonstrates her willingness to pursue justice and to protect her citizens. Demands must
Is Germany - the
Power in Europe - willing to stand behind Austria in this matter?
Mecklenburg, sadly, confirms that they are.
Wait, what the ****?
OK, the Russians get prissy, but that's expected. It happens every time someone messes with 'their' Balkans. And the Italians...OK, Mecklenburg had no intelligence reports that might have implied that the Italians may have been involved, but they're, arguably, Balkan neighbours as well; it's understandable that they may wish to capitalise on the situation.
But what has put a bee in the bonnet of the F...?
Could the assassination have been a French-mandated operation?!
goes to high alert.
If so, this could not have been a more fortuitous timing. Welcome to the fleet, Wettin!
And all of this is, of course, very welcome...
, high-grade optics.
Yes, you bet your ass
we want you on the Bismarck
In all honesty, the Admiralität
are not surprised. The Hansas
were a testbed for oil-fired boilers, after all; and it's not unreasonable to experience some teething problems. And 31 knots for a heavy cruiser of their caliber is not bad at all. Welcome to the fleet!
Krupp want to sell guns to the Austrians - primarily 4-, 5- and 6-inch field artillery conversions of the German naval guns. It would be folly to hinder them; Germany now lives and profits off her industry and Mecklenburg has always been a firm supporter of German industrialisation. Plus, Austria-Hungary is a close ally, with a less-than-optimal industrial base of her own. She must be kept supplied, to maintain her grip on the Serbian Beast.
Tensions climb, after the deal is struck; and Mecklenburg confirms that the French are being much
too vocal for someone who has no stakes on the Balkans. There are rumours that they are currently working together with the Anglophile Greek Prime Minister, Venizelos, to undermine the position of the German-friendly King Constantine I; this is way
too much involvement on the Balkans for Mecklenburg to feel comfortable. His Majesty, the Kaiser, is slowly gearing up his famous anger and gall; Mecklenburg is tearing out what little hair he has left.
But, for a brief few days in September 1919, all this is placed on the back burner. For Tirpitz and Galster, shortly before the former's formal retirement, decide to decommission and scrap the three surviving Victoria Louises: SMS Hertha, SMS Vineta
and SMS Victoria Louise
It is an emotional and sad moment for the Admiralität
. These were old
and obsolete ships, true; but they had served faithfully for almost twenty years; and they had safeguarded Germany in her darkest hours. Galster is devastated by the imminent scrapping of his old darling, Hertha
; in an impulsive moment, he semi-jokingly proposes a public subscription, to preserve the Old Lady.
The response is staggering
, and surpasses all expectations. Every officer, every rating, every engineer and dockhand, contribute something
to the cause.
But it is an unexpected benefactor who comes to Hertha's
aid. His Majesty, the Kaiser, finds out about the scrapping plans. He immediately
jumps to action, in a very characteristic, impulsive manner. This time, however, his actions earn him the loyalty of the Kaiserliche Marine
On the 15th of Semptember, His Majesty storms the Admiralität
"By God," he cries, his ire truly something to behold, "by God, you
shall not kill my Valkyrie when the Russians, the Italians and the bloody British failed to! "
What follows is a direct order: Hertha
is to be spared the breakers. She will be kept in permanent mooring in Wilhelmshaven, maintained by public subscription and funding from the Palace, and she will, eventually, be made into the centrepiece of a new Marinemuseum
, to celebrate Germany's sovereignty of the seas.
Let's be honest, the Old Lady is worth it. Her war record is more than impressive; and she is a symbol
of the very finest in German naval history.
The decommissioning never takes place. Hertha
is kept in active status; the opening of the new Marinemuseum
officially takes place on the fourth of October. Let it never be said that Germans cannot move quickly, if the need arises!
...And then, back to the Balkans' hell-pit. Serbia is making angry noises towards both Austria, to the north, and
Greece, to the south. Russia, France and Italy all support the Serbs, to varying degrees.
In response, Germany lays down her new superdreadnought.
(whoooooo, if that ain't taking the piss at the French, I don't know what is) is a major improvement over everything the Bismarcks
are. At 50.5k tons, she is as well armored as her predecessors, with a 17-inch belt and turrets, a 3-inch deck and an 18-inch conning tower; but her armor is inclined
, for extra protection (German turtleback FTW!) She bears the same secondary battery as the Bismarcks
(German engineers are not as familiar with the Russian 5-inchers as they would like, yet), but her main armament consists of 12 38cm SK L/45 rifles (this being the first time the German 15-inchers are fitted to a ship). The guns can elevate to 35 degrees; they are controlled by the new Improved German Directors; and the secondary battery is built to utilise a secondary director, for increased accuracy.
burn oil and can comfortably reach the standard 25-knots of the German battleline. All-in-all, they're beasts
, and the final (?) crystallisation of the Bismarck
doctrine of 'moving to close range and blowing your ****ing face off, Frenchy'. Two ships are laid down: Elsass
herself, and her sister-ship, Schwaben
, the name selected to honour the old pre-dread veteran of the Russian and Italian wars.
What the ****
do the French care about the Germans putting down a revolution in Tanganyika? Look at the Italians - they don't give a **** (which immediately marks them to Mecklenburg as honestly concerned for the Balkan situation and not
as plotting to backstab Germany). But the French, and the Russians (wtf?) and the British
Britain. What the hell?
Mecklenburg begins to draft his first round of responses. He plans to bully Britain into submission (it has been only a year and a half since peace was signed), impose sanctions on Russia and test the waters with France, in order to avoid a war. But he never has the chance to.
On the 14th of December, 1919, his weakened constitution finally fails him. On the way to his office, he suffers a stroke and collapses on the stairs of the Reichstag. He is rushed to a hospital, but predictions are grim.
He still lingers on, until the 16th of February, phasing in and out of consciousness, and ranging from completely lucid to insensate. He is visited by Kaiser Wilhelm on his deathbed; it is never revealed what the two men talk about, but the Kaiser leaves near tears and secludes himself for several months, in mourning for whom he claims to have been "Our only true friend and the best and most loyal German of our time."
In the afternoon of the 16th of February 1920, von Mecklenburg dies of a stroke-induced heart attack, in his Schloss
Wiligrad, in Lübstorf. He is only 62 years old.
In his eighteen years of service, von Mecklenburg has taken a promising, rising land power, and developed it into a colonial empire and sea Power to rival and surpass the British. In the best traditions of Bismarck, he has wielded German steel and blood like weapons of peace and war; and he has left his mark on German history.
The funeral procession for the 'Chancellor of the Seas' (Meereskanzler)
, as von Mecklenburg came to be known, took place on the 18th of February. His body was laid in state; and then, moved to the Doberan monastery, in Mecklenburg, where it was laid to rest with his first wife. His funerary monument is still visible and visitable today; many thousands of Germans pay their respects every year.
...**** you, Americans, we're mourning!