THE GERMAN NAVY IN WORLD WAR II by Edward P. Von der Porten


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Remember the Graf Spee. . . the Gneisenau. . . the Bismarck? Their exploits are here recalled in a book which moves from theater to theater, logging sea struggles against a background discussion of grand strategy and General Staff conflicts. The author attributes the German navy's ultimate failure to several causes: shortage of ships; Hitler's inability to grasp the function of sea power; a ""no unnecessary risks"" policy which made scuttling an ""honorable tradition rather than a last resort."" The weakness in this interpretation is that it treats German naval operations as if they existed in a military and political vacuum. The role of the United States, whose entry into the war in full force coincided with Germany's Atlantic decline, is considerably underplayed. The writer oddly assumes that if Hitler had better exploited his victories in France and Norway, he could have negotiated a settlement with Britain. If weak on analysis, the book is strong on description, technically sound, well-researched, and frequently exciting in its rendering of some of the war's great sea battles. The unemotional tone, as befits a tale told from the viewpoint of the Kriegsmarine High Command, is quite korrekt. For those who thrill to Victories at Sea.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1969
Publisher: Crowell