100 Years Ago Germany’s ‘Battleship Fleet’ Committed Suicide. This Is Why. – Yahoo News

Fact: One hundred years ago, the German High Seas Fleet committed suicide.

On June 21, 1919, the crews of seventy-four German warships attempted to scuttle their vessels in order to prevent the Allies from taking them. Over the course of a few hours, fifty-two modern warships sank. In the modern history of naval combat, there has never been an event as devastating as the self-destruction of the German fleet at Scapa Flow. The scuttling immediately became legendary, closing one chapter of German naval history and opening another.

Context

Shortly after the armistice that ended World War I, the Germans surrendered their fleet to the Allies. The British in particular very strongly believed that Germany should be deprived of her fleet at the earliest opportunity, in no small part because of the role of that fleet in Britains war calculations. In addition to concerns about militarist revanchism, the Allies also had to worry about communist revolution. The High Seas Fleet had experienced a mutiny in the last two weeks of the war that had spread across Germany and helped precipitate the fall of Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Allies had no interest whatsoever in watching the fleet fall into the hands of German revolutionaries so soon after the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia.

The terms of the armistice required the fleet to depart from Kiel for Scapa Flow. The Grand Fleet met the Germans near Kiel on November 21, 1918, and escorted them north to Scapa. For much of the journey, the Allied escort included American and French warships. The mere existence of the fleet posed a political problem. While many of the German ships were approaching obsolescence (less because of German workmanship than because of the rapid pace of technological change) some of the units were still worthy of front line service. France, Italy, and Japan all coveted the most modern German vessels, which included the super-dreadnoughts Baden and Bayern, as well as several modern battlecruisers.

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100 Years Ago Germany's 'Battleship Fleet' Committed Suicide. This Is Why. - Yahoo News

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