Raeder, Admiral Erich, 1876-1960

Raeder was Commander in Chief of German Naval Forces until 1943 and was the architect of the German Navy of World War II. He had the ‘pocket’ battleships built and paid the foundations for the German U-Boat fleet. In October 1939 he put forward a plan to rival British naval supremacy in the North Sea using bases in Norway and shortly afterwards was planning the naval aspects of the Norwegian campaign of April 1940. The next operation he was given to plan was the invasion of England, which Raeder thought was far too ambitious a project for the German Navy. For the next two years HITLER and Raeder were involved in a constant argument over how the German Navy should be used. Hitler did not wish to spend any money building more battleships and would not risk the forces he had, except in operations off the Norwegian coast. When even the Arctic convoys of the Allies were getting through without trouble, Hitler put pressure on Raeder to step up a harassing campaign. After the failure of the Battle of Barents Sea Hitler dismissed Raeder and replaced him by DOENITZ in January 1943. Raeder was found guilty of war crimes at Nuremberg and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment.

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