Exit Tirpitz 1916: "Tirpitz (the father of the lie) and the submarines."[1]

Grand Admiral Tirpitz and his Navy press bureau systematically falsified the numbers of available submarines to the public:

"[...] people think we have 60-200 submarines; in fact we have 15 ocean-going [...] for the Atlantic [...]"[2]

The German Government knew that he was systematically lying to the Army and the Government. In a hearing of the Upper Chamber of the Parliament (Bundesrat) in March 1916 Tirpitz saw himself pressed to present an exact number of submarines available: specifically 203.

"Tirpitz [...] calculates boats which are momentarily under construction, even if it will take

years to finish them. 203. But says nothing about the time of their completion."[3]

This virtual submarine fleet of 203 boats consisted in February 1916[4] of:

        27 submarines ordered, but not yet laid

        108 submarines on yard, to be finished within the next 12 months

        ††26 submarines in the Submarine School:

- 15 outdated or unfit boats

- 11 new boats in commissioning for active fleet service

        ††42 submarines in active fleet service:

- 22 coastal submarines (750 - 2.000 sm range) and

- 20 ocean-going submarines (7.000 - 11.000 sm range):

- 15 stationed in North Sea bases, and

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† -†† 5 stationed in Mediterranean Bases

There were 8 to 10 new U-boats expected to come from the yards each month from that time onwards, but even 12 months later, in February 1917, when finally the 3rd unrestricted submarine warfare had started, there were no more than 105 ocean-going submarines available, and a maximum of 124 ocean-going boats available was only reached in August of 1917.

15 submarines ready for the Atlantic instead of some 203 sometime in the future! Another typical German Navy manipulation of numbers. But one lie too many: This incident before the Bundesrat was taken as a pretext to force Grand Admiral Tirpitz, who had already fallen in eternal disgrace at the Kaiser, to resign a week later on 15 March 1916. Admiral von Capelle became his successor.

The last submarine of Tirpitzís virtual submarine fleet from February 1916 to see service was U-92, which started its first patrol on 1 January 1918, 21 months after Tirpitzís enforced resignation.


[1] Riezler, Tagebuch, page 211, entry from 1 Oct. 1914. Translation by the Editor. Kurt Riezler was the right hand of the German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg.

[2] Riezler, Tagebuch, page 335, entry from 19 Feb. 1916. Translation by the Editor.

[3] Riezler, Tagebuch, page 339, entry from 10 March 1916. Translation by the Editor.

[4] Numbers based on: NA, HW 7/3; and on: Groener, Deutsche Kriegsschiffe.