Was Wilhelm II's/Tirpitz's naval expansion actually a bad idea from their perspective?

Should Imperial Germany have built up its navy?


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Deleted member 97083

It seems to be a near consensus here that Imperial Germany building up its navy was detrimental, because it antagonized the British and the Germans were never going to have a fleet large enough to match the Royal Navy. However, without a navy at all, wouldn't the German Empire have become vulnerable to blockade or naval invasion? Was expanding the navy really that bad of an idea?
 
If Germany had built two thirds of the fleet she did they would have been able to face off against France and Russia and would have seemed as if they were a much smaller threat to the Brits.

Historically Germany built enough ships that Britain would have had to strip secondary theaters to maintain a blockade. This mean Britain felt they needed allied with fleet to cover their back
 
As it turns out, they could have achieved ~ neutrality by concentrating on U-boats.

No force projection, though, and eventually you'll face Napoleon's dilemma w/regards to an island power. But if their goals were all continental, given the benefit of hindsight, U-boat navy + opp cost on land forces might work better. It's worth noting that the Brits had to expend on the race too, though.
 
Germany clearly intended itself to become the most dominant power in Europe, insuring that Great Britain would ally with its rivals. Navies are luxuries for continental land powers, but are essential for island nations. Germany certainly could have developed a navy large enough to protect its legitimate interests. It would just need to work it out with Britain so that London finds the build up acceptable (which means a combination of a smaller navy and better diplomacy).

The time, if any, to challenge Britain as the paramount power of Europe would be after it has clearly defeated/outclassed its continental rivals and could devote the resources needed to overpower/cow the British. This wasn't in the time of Kaiser Bill (1890-1920). It might have been the generation afterwards (1920-1950).
 
Actually you got it wrong: the real translation is:

Wenn ist das nun Stück gitt und Schlottermeyer? - Ja: Bayer-Hund. Das, oder die Flipper-Wald Gespütt!

Beware: open spoiler ONLY if you DON'T speak German.

No Germans were harmed during the production of this post.
 
Surprising: German poster in early with the joke.

Less surprising: pretty quickly thereafter comes a correction about the linguistic precision.

Unless it's one of those Ironic Examples of Pedantic Concern in Humourous Anecdotes...or, as roughly translated from the German term for that: Ironicexamplesofpedanticconcerninhumourousanecdotes.
 

Deleted member 97083

Actually you got it wrong: the real translation is:

Wenn ist das nun Stück gitt und Schlottermeyer? - Ja: Bayer-Hund. Das, oder die Flipper-Wald Gespütt!

Beware: open spoiler ONLY if you DON'T speak German.

No Germans were harmed during the production of this post.
I know that joke doesn't actually mean anything, but what's the direct translation?
 
It seems to be a near consensus here that Imperial Germany building up its navy was detrimental, because it antagonized the British and the Germans were never going to have a fleet large enough to match the Royal Navy. However, without a navy at all, wouldn't the German Empire have become vulnerable to blockade or naval invasion? Was expanding the navy really that bad of an idea?
Germany's enemies were France and Russia the priority should be defeating them so the part about being capable of threatening their fleets was useful but anything above was wasted.

Or to put it another way if Germany's armies triumphs then it is over, Britain can annoy them and prevent them from expanding overseas while Germany finishes stabilizing things but no true damage and it will only keep growing faster than Britain possibly can. If it beats the combined British, French and Russian navy it still needs to beat all armies in the continent to achieve actual victory.
 
Navies are luxuries for continental land powers, but are essential for island nations. Germany certainly could have developed a navy large enough to protect its legitimate interests. It would just need to work it out with Britain so that London finds the build up acceptable (which means a combination of a smaller navy and better diplomacy).
Consider the volume of German trade during the time and ask yourself: Can you call this fleet a luxury when your get threatened? The answer is no. You might argue that the German fleet was not built to protect the merchant marine, but on the other hand...a far reaching fleet would make the same effect on the British Empire as would have been a OTL buildup. So it doesnt really matter how the fleet looks. Britain will still use is as a reason to expand their own fleet.
 
I don´t understand why one would think building the navy was a bad idea, a Germany during WW1 without a blockade is a Germany that wins the war easily.
 
Britain will still use is as a reason to expand their own fleet.

And thus the Admiralty will be happy. Now force them to concentrate in one spot...and not the sunny spot with the great party towns and then the British are not happy...

Seriously the British were inspired by the Navy to build ships to match countless potential rivals including the USA but for an awful lot of them it was considered so just in case they did not even draw up serious preliminary war orders. Germany could have worked its way into the "builds interesting ships but not a serious threat" category with a little effort and lot less expense than the OTL Policy of "Let's add one more enemy to long list".
 
I guess you could answer the question directly if you already know. :oops:

The issue is that by creating a fleet that the British had to focus on all the time, the British become focused on the Germans all the time. Seeing Germany as an existential threat and realising they could not defeat the German fleet and defend the Empire at the same the British made friends with those who might actually be able to threaten the Empire. Thus the Alliance with Japan and thus the Entente with France and by extension Russia. By a simple act of building a Risk Fleet designed to cow Britain the Germans found themselves in a situation where they faced a blockade by a Navy which they could not defeat on the open sea, this forced the Army to go for broke with a quick victory and when that failed the Navy needed to deliver quick results but the only result the HSF could deliver fast was defeat and everything else took time.

To make matters worse it turned out Germany could beat France rather easily in a war of attrition, which was not much of a surprise to anyone, however it also turned out and perhaps this was more of a surprise that a France with a large British army on the continent had an ally who could cover it while it was down. Tirpitz by his master plan had perhaps delivered to the German Empire the worst of all possible worlds.

Now of course without crystal balls and facing the probably that with their ability to blockade pretty much anybody the British could tend to behave like the school playground bully. This is not an unusual threat situation to be in, most of the world's navies knew they could not screw with smaller fleets than the British so what did they do? They built a fleet that could, at least in theory, make the cost of blockading them too high to actually be paid for anything other than a serious grievance. The Germans had the option of building a cruiser fleet that could station out of colonial ports much like the French. True it would expect to be about as successful at beating the British in the long run as the French Navy of the Napoleonic Wars but for a defensive navy that is not the point. Winning is not required, being too expensive to beat to make the effort worth it is what is required.

The other advantage is the Britain is not so directly threatened, this removes the 'win' option but it does also remove the British obsession syndrome. They can defend their Empire and their island at the same time...without allies. Now this means the British are only likely to get involved in a land war in Europe if it seriously threatens their long term prospects but Germany now has options. It can outlast France and together with its allies contain Russia. It is a much easier position to be in.
 

Riain

Banned
As I see it the real problem was that Russia lost a bunch of capital ships in 1904-5 which made Germany look more menacing simply by following long established plans.

I think the myth that Germany antagonised Britain is total bullshit. Britain established with legislation a highly proactive (aggressive?) naval construction plan in 1889, 11 years before the Germans had their first naval law. Between 1898 to 1915 France laid down 24 BB, Russia 21 BB and Germany 36 BB, France laid down 17 ACR, Russia 5 ACR and 4 BC and Germany 8 ACR and 10 BC in that period, about the same as France but more modern types. So from that perspective Germany's naval programme looks plenty reasonable enough given France and Russia had been in formal military alliance since 1893, 5 years before the first German naval law.

Another massive problem with the German navy was its terrible command structure from 1899 which meant that the forces it did posses were horribly ineffective during WW1. A better command structure, if nothing else changed at all, would have made all the difference and we wouldn't be talking about how the German Navy was a waste, we'd be talking about how it achieved X and Y results.
 
In hindsight, a bit less in exchange for more U-boats.

Grmany in 1914 had 15 dreads plus 5 building, to France/Russia's 4+15 (i.e. including being-built they only just had parity, but already-built they were way more ahead than needed). Change the balance to 10 German dreadnoughts available plus 10 building, and Britain might not be able to scare itself witless about them.

After all, the Kiel Canal means that Germany has a decent chance even when France+Russia equals the German fleet, it doesn't need a big superiority.
 
There is an element of consequentialism in assigning blame to the idea of threatening Britain merely by challenging her ability to dominate 2/3 of the planet. Supposing the initial offensive breaks through...and it almost did...the exact same reasoning would now be voiced in support of the obvious wisdom of not accepting British naval exclusivity just because Britain decided it should be thus. And, honestly, you can argue that the world in general, Europe in particular and even Britain/France themselves would have been better off if that had happened.

The only state that ultimately profited from Joffre's counter-attack was the U.S. And the cost in incalculable.
 
As I see it the real problem was that Russia lost a bunch of capital ships in 1904-5 which made Germany look more menacing simply by following long established plans.

I think the myth that Germany antagonised Britain is total bullshit.(1) Britain established with legislation a highly proactive (aggressive?) naval construction plan in 1889, 11 years before the Germans had their first naval law. Between 1898 to 1915 France laid down 24 BB, Russia 21 BB and Germany 36 BB, France laid down 17 ACR, Russia 5 ACR and 4 BC and Germany 8 ACR and 10 BC(2)in that period, about the same as France but more modern types. So from that perspective Germany's naval programme looks plenty reasonable enough given France and Russia had been in formal military alliance since 1893, 5 years before the first German naval law.

Another massive problem with the German navy was its terrible command structure from 1899 which meant that the forces it did posses were horribly ineffective during WW1. A better command structure, if nothing else changed at all, would have made all the difference and we wouldn't be talking about how the German Navy was a waste, we'd be talking about how it achieved X and Y results.(3)

Is (1) a serious claim or is the 'I think' in there as an escape hatch? As we can chart growing British paranoia in their planning and memoranda and there was a thread that did exactly that on this site, so while searching for it might take a few hours the details will be found.

(2) Armoured Cruisers were not comparable to Battlecruisers in any meaningful way. As the Battle of the Falklands demonstrated if you line up more armoured cruisers you just give the battlecruisers more targets. These vessels were not simply an incremental improvement but made all existing armoured cruisers obsolete and of course could easily smash any unfortunate light cruisers they came across. Equally of course Dreadnought battleships were about three times as effective hull for hull, possibly more, as pre-dreadnoughts and thus again a large fleet of dreadnoughts is much more real a threat than one of pre-dreadnoughts that the British outnumber two to one.

(3) I think this is your real point, you want to see the Royal Navy humiliated and forced to sail into Kiel.
 
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