ADMIRAL ERICH RAEDER TO ECONOMICS MINISTER WALTHER FUNK, 6 MAY 1940
Building on the lessons of the First World War, Admiral Erich Raeder (commander in chief of the German navy) ruled out building a fleet capable of challenging the Royal Navy, preferring a smaller fleet composed of "pocket battleships," cruisers, aircraft carriers, and submarines.
Erich Raeder's memoirs are broadly accurate but unreliable in their particulars: Mein Leben: Von 1935 bisSpandau (Tubingen-Neckar, Fed.
Erich Raeder and Wolfgang Wegener both joined the navy in 1894, and both eventually attained flag rank.
Erich Raeder, who was to be head of the German navy for an extraordinary fourteen years and four months, would later be described by Vice Admiral Helmuth Heye (who, as a commander in 1938, served as First Operations Officer on the German naval staff and during 1943-44 would be chief of staff for Naval Command North) as a leader who set an example that his staff officers found both admirable and practical.
One of the German naval officers who could not support Wegener's ideas was his crewmate Erich Raeder. When Wegener was First Staff Officer in the First Battle Squadron, Raeder was serving in the same capacity under Vice Admiral Franz von Hipper, Commander of the Scouting Forces.
The naval policy that resulted reflected the pragmatic convictions of Erich Raeder. Decades later, General Admiral Herman Boehm, who was to be Commander in Chief Norway in 1943, outlined post-First World War German naval policy prior to the rise to power of Adolf Hitler.
Navy would bring the "Fleet Train" to maturity in the Pacific theater, using oilers and supply vessels to achieve extraordinary reach and endurance, but part of the credit properly belongs to the German navy and to Erich Raeder.