Pen & Sword Books – From Imperial Splendour to Internment

The German Navy in the First World War

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By Nicolas Wolz

ISBN: 9781848323353

Published: 7th May 2015

Copyright © 2013 Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG

 Seaforth Publishing

268 pages

MSRP – £24.00 / $38.00 US


From Imperial Splendour to Internment

The German Navy in the First World War

After gaining his doctorate for writing a thesis on German and British naval officers during the Great War, German banker Nicolas Wolz wrote From Imperial Splendour to Internment – The German Navy in the First World War. This eleven chapter, 268 page hard cover book is author’s comprehensive look into the Imperial German Navy leading up to and throughout the First World War. Through archival research and weighing heavily on the writing of both German and British sailors and offices from the time period, Nicolas Wolf paints a picture of life in and around the German Navy as it prepared for war with the most powerful navy afloat at the moment; the British Royal Navy.




  • Forward
  • Maps
  • Prologue
  • 1 – ‘We desperately need a strong fleet’: The German Dream of Naval Power
  • 2 – ‘And if they don’t come, then we shall fetch them’: The War Begins
  • 3 – ‘But the flag still flew’: Fighting and Dying in the Name of Honour
  • 4 – ‘I feel guilty that our people are having it so good’: Life on Board and Ashore
  • 5 – ‘I wish I were a soldier’: Self-doubt and Mental Crisis
  • 6 – ‘The day has come! The enemy is in sight’: The Battle of Jutland
  • 7 – ‘And as if the world was full of the devil’: The U-boat War
  • 8 – ‘These people should simply be put up against a wall and shot’: Unrest in the Fleet, 1917
  • 9 – ‘Better to go down with honour’: The Plan for the Last Foray
  • 10 – ‘We are destroyed for all time’: Armistice and Internment
  • 11 – ‘A painful and grandiose piece of theatre’: The Scuttling of the Fleet at Scapa Flow
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

There are sixteen pages of photographic plates within this book between pages 44-45

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In this book, author articulately allows us to witness the buildup of the Imperial German Navy following the War of 1870 between Germany and France. High ranking officers within the German Navy convinced Emperor Wilhelm II that Germany was best served with an incredible fleet of ship that match that of the long-powerful Grand Fleet of the United Kingdom. To no avail, this massive Navy would find itself at a somewhat stalemate with Britain from the outset of WWI and other than the great successes of the U-boat campaigns and a few smaller skirmishes would see only one major battle which would render the Imperial Navy all but useless.

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Throughout the book, the author quotes the writings of many of the German admiralty, officers and sailors showing us what these men we thinking and feeling during that time. From the jubilation from the German people over the overwhelmingly decisive victory at the Battle of Coronel through the Battle of Dogger Bank followed by the British blockade of the North Sea regulating the High Seas Fleet to the monotonous burden of sedentary confinement in port waiting for some great naval battle of honor; which never really came with the exception of Jutland where tactfully the Imperial Navy trumped the Grand Fleet. To no avail though, the blockade withstood in the wake of the British defeat.

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The author writes in great detail about the Battle of Jutland and gives us a glimpse into the mindset of both the German and British admiralty, officers and rank through the sharing of excerpts of letters from these men. In most cases these letters are written to loved ones and express the true feeling of the men. These expressions are continued on into the subsequent chapters when the author takes us through the time of armistice which resulted in the surrendering of the entire U-boat fleet as well as the High Seas Fleet. This was a terrible blow to the moral of not just the military and political factions of Germany but the civilian population as well. Turning over an entire fleet that technically up until this point had been victorious in their eyes.



From Imperial Splendour to Internment – The German Navy in the First World War, by Nicolas, Wolz is well written and very informative examination of the Imperial German Navy from it birthrights after the War of 1879 until its demise culminating with the entire High Seas fleet of seventy-four ships lying at the bottom of Scapa Flow during the internment following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. This book allows us a fascinating insight into the hearts and minds of German and British sailors that lived through the experience of being at sea during the First World War. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Imperial German High Seas Fleet or Naval subject of WWI.


Modelers Social Club an MSC Review Connect would like to thank Pen and Sword Books for providing a copy of From Imperial Splendour to Internment for review.

Pen & Sword




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