Alfred Von Tirpitz

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tirpitz, Alfred Von


Born Mar. 19, 1849, in Küstrin; died Mar. 6, 1930, in Ebenhausen, near Munich. German naval commander and political figure. Grand admiral (1911).

Tirpitz came from a bourgeois family but was elevated to the nobility in 1900. He joined the navy in 1865 and because of his exceptional abilities rose rapidly in the service. In 1890 he became chief of staff of the Baltic Fleet and from 1892 to 1895 served as chief of staff of the Navy High Command. While commanding a cruiser squadron in East Asia in 1896–97, Tirpitz was the prime mover behind the seizure of the Chinese port of Tsingtao and the creation there of a German naval base. From 1897 to 1916 he served as secretary of state for the Imperial Navy Department.

Tirpitz played a major role in shaping the aggressive political course taken by Germany. Expressing the interests of the German imperialists, he was a strong proponent of the naval arms race; he worked to create a strong navy capable of challenging the British Navy and of serving as a tool of German imperialism in the struggle to repartition the world. Tirpitz regarded Great Britain as Germany’s chief enemy and called for an alliance with Japan and the neutralization of Russia.

During World War I, Tirpitz was a supporter of unlimited submarine warfare and merciless air bombings of the industrial centers and military targets of Great Britain. Disagreements with the chancellor, T. von Bethmann-Hollweg, regarding the submarine war led to Tirpitz’ retirement on Mar. 15, 1916. Together with W. Kapp, Tirpitz founded the ultrareactionary German Fatherland Party in September 1917. He maintained a revanchist position after the war. In 1919, Tirpitz published his Memoirs (Russian translation, Moscow, 1957), in which he blamed Germany’s defeat on the failure of the political leadership to make sufficient use of the German Navy. From 1924 to 1928, Tirpitz was a deputy to the Reichstag, representing the German National People’s Party.


Alafuzov, V. A. Doktriny germanskogo flota. Moscow, 1956.
Trotha, A. von. Grossadmiral von Tirpitz. Breslau [1932].
Marine und Marinepolitik im kaiserlichen Deutschland. Düsseldorf, 1972.
Hubatsch, W. Die Ära Tirpitz. Góttingen [1955].
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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With which branch of the German armed forces was Alfred von Tirpitz associated?
(14) Captain Alfred von Tirpitz (1849-1930), then chief of staff of the naval high command, seems to have taken the initiative to formulate the famous Dienstschrift (Service Memorandum) No.
In that same month Konteradmiral Paul Behncke, deputy chief of the German naval staff, proposed bombing Britain and was supported by Grossadmiral Alfred von Tirpitz, who wrote, "The measure of success will lie not only in the injury which will be caused to the enemy but also by the significant effect it will have in diminishing the enemy's determination to prosecute the war." Kaiser Wilhelm II finally approved of the plan on January 7, 1915, and on the 19th naval Zeppelins L.3 and L.4 dropped the first bombs on English soil.
In 1898 Germany's leading constitutional authority, Paul Laband (1838-1918), at the request of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz (1849-1930), state secretary of the Navy Office, attempted to summarize that process.
His review of the German navy reminds readers that many of the men responsible for its modern existence and rapid expansion--Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz and Kaiser Wilhelm II--were still in authority.
But as Winston Churchill, first Lord of the Admiralty, prepared to build yet more battleships, Admiral Alfred Von Tirpitz announced that the German Navy was putting 14 new warships to sea in the first months of 1914.
Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy is the first English-language in-depth study of Grand Admiral Alfred Von Tirpitz (1849-1930), the driving force behind the German Imperial Navy before World War I.
An associate professor of modern European history at Colby College and holder of a PhD from Brandeis University, Scheck has authored the books Alfred von Tirpitz and German Right Wing Politics, 1914-1930 and Mothers of the Nation: Right-Wing Women in Weimar Germany, along with several articles on German right-wing politics.
These ideas were to exert an enormous influence on public opinion, especially when championed by the Kaiser himself and his Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz. Both were convinced that Germany desperately needed a Flotte, but between the Emperor and his naval chief there was initially a crucial difference about what that meant.
He told fellow planner Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz: "In New York there would be massive panic at even the hint of bombardment." The Kaiser's wild transatlantic ambitions were revealed by Germany's Die Zeit newspaper on the day Britain's Public Record Office released previously secret MI5 files.
In the early 1900s, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz of Germany based his naval strategy on deterrence.
The British ambassador in Berlin reported, "The Emperor said that he did not wish to make a fuss, but that he wished his words repeated quietly and privately in the proper quarter." (23) Meanwhile, Germany's navy secretary, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, went even farther, trying to play on British fears that Anglo-German relations would deteriorate, rather than improve, if Churchill persisted in pursuing his scheme.