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Economic Warfare and the SeaGrand Strategies for Maritime Powers, c. 1600-1945$
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David Morgan-Owen and Louis Halewood

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621594

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621594.001.0001

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Britain and Economic Warfare in German Naval Thinking in the Era of the Great War

Britain and Economic Warfare in German Naval Thinking in the Era of the Great War

(p.193) Chapter Ten Britain and Economic Warfare in German Naval Thinking in the Era of the Great War
Economic Warfare and the Sea

Matthew S. Seligmann

Liverpool University Press

Under the leadership of Alfred von Tirpitz, the German navy concentrated on building a battle fleet based in the North Sea rather than cruisers designed for operations in distant waters. This has led many historians to assume that commerce warfare (Handelskrieg) played no real part in German preparations for war against Britain before 1914. This chapter disputes this analysis. It shows that Germany’s naval planners in the Admiralstab believed that by converting merchant ships into auxiliary cruisers and using them to attack British commerce on the high seas the German navy would be able to cause considerable damage to British shipping and so force the Royal Navy to divert forces from the main theatre of war to distant oceans. It goes on to examine the reality of this plan during the First World War.

Keywords:   Handelskrieg, Auxiliary cruisers, First World War, Alfred von Tirpitz, Admiralstab, Royal Navy

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