Admiral Reinhard Scheer (1863-1928) was a Vice-admiral in the German navy. As chief of the High Seas Fleet on May 30, 1916, he was in command at Skagerrakschlacht or the Battle of Jutland, the only major naval battle of World War One and one of the largest naval battles in history. He successfully saved his fleet from destruction by the numerically superior Royal Navy under Admiral John Jellicoe and inflicted heavy losses upon the British. The British, who lost 14 ships and over 6,000 lives to the Germans’ 9 ships and 2,500 men, still claim it as a “strategic” victory, although it rattled them to the core. Scheer was promoted to full admiral afterward and awarded the Pour le Merite Order as well as the Oakleaves. He advocated a strong U-boat campaign and also devised the highly effective “Auxiliary Cruisers.”

He retired to Weimar after the war where, on one bleak day, his wife and servant were murdered and his daughter shot by a deranged intruder hiding in their cellar. This was in 1920, the year that he published his memoirs, ‘Germany’s High Seas Fleet in the World War,’ in English.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 – The Outbreak of War

THE visit of an English squadron for the Kiel Week in June, 1914, seemed to indicate a desire to give visible expression to the fact that the political situation had eased. Although we could not suppress a certain feeling of doubt as to the sincerity of their intentions, everyone on our side displayed the greatest readiness to receive the foreign guests with hospitality and comradeship.

The opportunity of seeing great English fighting-ships and their ships’ companies at close quarters had become so rare an event that on this account alone the visit was anticipated with the liveliest interest. All measures were taken to facilitate the entrance of the English into Kiel Harbour and make it easy for them to take up their station and communicate with the shore, and it goes without saying that they were allotted the best places in the line, close to the Imperial yacht. Accustomed as we were from early times to regard the English ships as models, the external appearance of which alone produced the impression of perfection, it was with a feeling of pardonable pride that we now had an opportunity of making comparisons which were not in our disfavour. The English ships comprised a division of four battleships under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir George Warrender, who was flying his flag in the battleship King George V., which was accompanied by Audacious, Ajax, and Centurion, and a squadron of light cruisers, Southampton, Birmingham, and Nottingham, under Commodore Goodenough.

While the time of the senior naval officers was fully taken up with official visits and ceremonies, the juniors largely made use of the facilities afforded them to visit Hamburg and Berlin by rail. Friendly relations were soon established between the men, after the way of seafaring folk, and these were further promoted by games and festivities to their taste.

The feeling of camaraderie which, as my experience went, had marked intercourse between German and English naval officers, as men of similar ways of thought and capacity, up to the year l895, had now disappeared as a result of the attitude of hostility towards our progress which had been displayed by English statesmen, especially in recent years. Every attempt to sham a relationship to which our inmost feelings did not correspond would have compromised our dignity and lowered us in the eyes of the English.

Excerpt from the conclusion:

The credit of inventing this expedient belongs to England, and the surrender of our Fleet appears as the great triumph which her sea power has won. History will not find much that is worthy of praise in the way England waged the war at sea; it may laud her ultimate success, but not the means by which it was achieved.

It was England’s privilege to extend the war to the economic sphere in an unheard-of manner. The fight for sea commerce was to lead to the strangling of the whole German people. For that purpose violence had to be done to the rights of the neutrals, whose power, compared with that of the ring of our enemies, was of no avail. England’s policy of alliance placed her in a position to carry out her plan of starvation, without any fear of a protest from civilised society. She cleverly diverted attention from the enormity of her proceedings by simultaneously opening a campaign of lies about Germany’s atrocities and Hun-like behaviour. Widespread financial operations, moreover, united American with English interests.

The enormity and baseness of the methods with which our downfall had been planned, inflamed the sense of antagonism in our people to a degree which it could not otherwise have attained. (End)