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tv   World War I German Submarine Deutschland  CSPAN  November 13, 2016 9:00am-9:52am EST

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>> at the outbreak of world war i, england implemented a naval blockade to prevent its enemies from having trade access. in 1916 the german submarine deutschland bypassed the british blockade to trade with the u.s., at the time a neutral country. naval historians gary weir and nicholas lambert talk about the deutschland's voyage to maryland, the german naval expansion and british army blockade in the war. the maryland historical society hosted this 50 minute event. >> our two speakers are distinguished naval historians. gary weir is the chief historian of the geospatial intelligence agency. before that, dr weir served 19 years as a department of the navy's history and heritage command. one of the leading experts on undersea warfare, intelligence,
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tradecraft, and related technologies. his books include "building the kaiser's navy," "forged in war: the naval industrial complex and american submarine construction," "rising tide: the untold stories of the western submarines that fought the cold war --russian submarines that fought the cold war." and the winner of the richard leopold prize. also the former editor of the national journal of naval history. dr. weir is here to comment on the technological development of the submarine, and the role and plans of the german navy as world war i developed. this is his first appearance at the maryland historical society.
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[applause] our other speaker is professor nicholas lambert. currently the class of 1957 distinguished chair of naval american heritage at the u.s. naval academy. after receiving his doctorate from oxford in 1992, he has held fellowships at yale, wolfson college, oxford, and southampton university of england, and was an associate fellow at the royal united services institute in london. his first book is a revisions account of british naval policy before world war i, and it won the distinguished book award for military science history. the second book "planning armageddon" received the world war i historical association's 2013 norman b tomlinson junior
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prize. it may be also appropriate for you and the audience to know that nick's grandfather commanded 3 submarines for the royal navy in world war ii. and miraculously survived the war. professor lambert will comment about the british navy's blockade of germany, and some comments about cargo summer -- submarines like the u-boat deutschland. this is also his first appearance at the maryland historical society. each will talk, we will take questions from the audience, and those that wish to meet them privately or have books signed if you are so inclined. let us give them a welcome. [applause] mr. weir: being in traffic for 2.5 hours leads you into
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thinking of places you would rather be. [laughter] one of my places on the planet -- i'm sorry. any better? there you go, we did it. one of my favorite places on the planet is in massachusetts near cape cod, where i do a lot of research. and in doing so, i have linked oceanography and ocean sciences to the art and science of undersea warfare. which led me to my development tonight. there will be a great many comments this evening, both in the exhibit and from this table regarding the significance of the deutschland and commercial u-boats. often it is considered an episodic significance. i would suggest it is not. but in order for us to understand that it is not episodic, that it is lasting, we have to go back a little bit.
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remember, in the second world war, the most successful warfare community of any of combatants was the american submarine force. the japanese could no longer provide them with targets. they were all gone. they even had to invade the inland sea and torpedo merchant ships because they would not come out. how do we get to that point? put yourself in this situation. suppose it is november 1941. you are on board the ss 182, a uss salmon. you just begin a patrol off the philippine islands. a few days into your peaceful control, it suddenly becomes your first war patrol because congress declares war. you encounter two destroyers,
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they try to peel away from the torpedo lines. then you escape into a rain squall. that is the way your world starts on that control. the salmon is important to the deutschland. if you look at the salmon's design, the type of ship she was, and compare or combine her with models afterwards -- the design of the two gave the navy the prototype for the mass-produced summer in class -- submarine class which would fought in a sort -- in most of world war i. how did we decide that would be the best way to go? what does the envelope look like? the salmon is a diesel electric
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boat. i won't bore you about it. this is about 1400-1500 tons. length about 1900 meters. -- 93 meters. range around 1100 thousand -- 11,000 nautical miles. it can do that at about 10 knots. double hull construction. the kind of boat that america chose to go to war with. the data class is extremely successful, far more successful than the salmon was in this scenario i just described. how did we get there? it was a rough road. once again, the deutschland plays able in this. so let us cast our gaze back further and find out how. if you take a look at world war i and the american submarine construction effort, we mass-produced a class of boats called the s class.
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that is exactly what you don't do to build a submarine. vibrating their scopes. engines were torn apart. habitability was a real problem because the designers put the head next to the mess area. we did not know how to do it at the time. we were building bad vessels. this is very well documented. the american's mea culpa, those were the facts. looking at the inspection and survey records at the national archives, it is one catastrophe after the next. so many s-class boats being towed across the pacific until some american submarine officers got sick and tired of it. they were disgusted that the bureaus were not paying attention to models they had in
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hand, not looking at closely enough. in 1922, senior captain james stirling was the commandant of the philadelphia naval shipyard. he writes a letter to the secretary of the navy. talk about putting your boss in an awkward position. he said, these baots are garbage. they will not contribute anything to the navy at all unless we do something now to make a difference. lo and behold, they actually listened to him. did i hear a drumroll in the back? [laughter] thank god they did. they knew what they were talking about. we had six german u-boats at the time. they start looking much more closely at those boats, particularly one, the u-140.
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which is a u cruiser, which was a class that germany built almost as i follow-on, to guess what? the commercial boats. what do we have in the envelope? what makes the u-140 so interesting? guess what? diesel electric -- heard this before? roughly 1500 tons, length 90.5 meters, range, a little over 12,000 nautical miles. it sounds an awful lot like salmon, don't you think? in turn, how did the german arrive at their formula? because what they produced in the u-boats large and small were quickly produced, excellently engineered, both easy to handle, and dependable out of the ocean.
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all of the things our s-class was not. stirling said, go pay attention and take a closer look. and we did. we discovered that when the u-commerical boats were produced, paper produced under the codename u-200. that was not actually a boat, just a codename for the commercial boats. they were not the idea from the imperial naval office. does anybody know? it was an independent wholesale merchant from raymond. he had an interest in bringing goods over and through the royal navy's standoff blockade. the major motive was economic for him. bypass the blockade, open
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up dormant trading possibilities. and bring in key natural resources. nickel, chromium, tin, rubber, things of that sort. and doing it right under the british blockade. being the good businessman he was, he decided he had to find backing. he goes to the deutsche bank. deutsche bank decides to back him. that is how they manage to find the german ocean shipping company "limited" described earlier. he gets 2 million reich marks as capital to start the project and starts with the naval marines to build the ships. it is sort of interesting how the ships get built. remember, keep the lineage constant. we started with an american boat called the salmon.
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then we tracked it back to the u-140, which have roughly the same appointments. and the u.s. was beginning to learn from the process. now going back to both like deutschland. the way they are built and the way that happens is interested as wel. loman figures the shipyard in his own town would be the best. he put in a build for them. someone says, i can do this for free no problem. they offered to build the boats for nothing. looking at the small print in the contract, my cargo priorities take priority. in other words, you should what i need to have -- you ship what i need to have ships.
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this company owns the largest private shipyard in germany. and of course the rice marine -- the reich marine says, we cannot do this for free. very often when you look at sources regarding the deutschland, the shipyard is named under a different name. they were full of boats and other ships. did not have room to do the basic construction. they formed out the whole -- the entire hull. when that bulk was finished, they would bring it to crook -- to krupp outfitter yard and
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do all of the internal. you her scopes, torpedo tubes, propulsion systems, even the habitability and personal areas. the designer -- what sort of envelope did he design? is it the lineage valid? guess what? diesel electric drive. we can talk in the q&a whether that is a good choice. 9.5 knots. but again it is not a warship, it is a vessel. -- you don't have to fit two torpedoes and a stern.
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more important is the experiment of the ship itself. most of the german submarines of the era ranged in displacement capacity between 800 t00 capacity between 800 to 1000 tons. this boat was a lot bigger and had weight of a different sort. not just people and weapons. the first outbound crews that the deutschland undertook, they had concentrated dyes on board to the tune of about $1.7 million. you had to learn how to handle this boat on the surface and submerge. you had to make sure that your cargo is stable. you had to understand how this boat operated. you need good seat keeping qualities. you were not going to be towed anywhere.
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this is the first. the deutschland makes two trips in 1916. the first comes to baltimore. the u.s. is not in the war yet, and we don't want to be. they are good representatives of the kaiser's government. they bring back rubber, tin, chromium, nickel. it goes into steel to make nickel steel armor plate for battleships. in november, the boat comes back to go to new london. at the same time, the much smaller boat, a 350 ton boats
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makes it across the atlantic and sinks a few american steamers. it is an interesting story in itself. the second of the seven commercial u-boats is lost at sea. we have no idea why it was lost. all hands went down. we don't know why that boat met that fate. but we did know that the deutschland worked, and it was handled well. and it behaved well as a ship. that is what begins so impressive to the germans themselves. if they were going to convert them into warships, and the commercial return was not the best -- when they convert them, they take a look at the possible advantages and duplicating it on a larger scale.
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making sure that weapons are intact and usable to the point really have an additional advantage. they understand what it takes to build a boat of this sort. and handle it on the ocean, both on the surface and submerged. what i would suggest is that the real legacy of the deutschland is important cultural, but for my point of view as a submarine historian, the true point of the deutschland is that you have the range that you need, the seakeeping you need, the reliability that you need. endurance surfaced and submerged, protected time on station, being able to stay put. to a warrior, that means
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something. to someone in congress, that means something of a different sort. the ability to stay put and return on one fuel. reliable propulsion. the deutschland's configuration of boat contributed to the 140. those what the american bureaus wanted to look at. that is why the salmon was in place just before pearl harbor. the deutschland is a significant root in the evolution of modern submarines. the most survivable components of the american triad is probably the naval submarine components.
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because it is silence, it is constantly moving, deeply submerged, and can touch you regardless of where you are in the world. there is no way to combat that. that does not exist without boats like the deutschland and salmon. there is a lasting legacy of technology and naval heritage, and a lasting contribution to the evolution of a significant weapons system. thank you. [applause] mr. lambert: you are right on time. mr. weir: there you go. mr. lambert: good evening ladies and gentlemen. first let me say how delighted ia m to be here this evening. i had an opportunity to look around the exhibit. i had a private viewing.
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it really is quite extraordinary. i don't know where the model of the deutschland comes from. i am very impressed by that. in any case, i would like to thank fred in the maryland historical society for inviting me to talk to you tonight. i should warn you from the beginning, this is my third lecture to date. there is a danger that i might run out of steam a little bit. luckily this is a slightly different audience than one i am used to addressing. the most noticeable is that your eyes are open. [laughter] and that you are leaning forward, attentive, alert, and perhaps interested, which isn't the case today unfortunately. this is the sixth week of exams for the midshipmen, which means they probably get three or four hours of sleep each night.
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they are more concerned about passing their capitalist and demonstrate exams -- their chemistry and calculus exams than naval heritage. i had to learna certain trick like standing up all of the maps. i didn't have to do that today. in fact, i don't have any illustrations at all. it was suggested that i should put up some visuals. i thought that sounded rather pointless, futile even. because there is a rather good exhibition outside. [laughter] i couldn't possibly compete with that. i am going to talk to you for about 15 to 20 minutes, as was said in the beginning, about the deutschland in the context of the british blockade in the first world war. i'm going to start a little bit, then surprise you with one or two things at the end perhaps.
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i will try and keep the economics to a minimum. as i noticed you didn't put the book "on economic warfare" which weighs half a ton. it also has the word "economics" on it. when my publisher said it had to be cemented to harvard university press, the question was, "it has the word economics in it. is that really necessary?" and the second question was "how much economics is really in it?" someone was swayed into publishing. but nonetheless i will keep the economics to a minimum. the british blockade comes a little bit later. the original british plan for warfare against germany in 1914, the corner store british grand strategy and culmination of
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prewar planning was to wage ruthless economic warfare against german society. before the first world war, as is generally known. throughout europe it was widely expected that any war between deliver apowers would massive shock to the global system. in the 20th century, there were three great economic crashes that we know about. would anybody care to speculate what they are? there was one quite recently, 2008. the one everybody always remembers, which is 1929 or 1931. does anybody remember the economic crash of the 21st century? it is 1914. every stock market in the world, including wall street, shut. the entire world financial system crushed to a halt. in any case, the british and many other countries anticipated
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this. the british had disproportionate control of the economic system had a plan to channel these economic forces away from themselves towards germany, with a corporate desk with a deliberate attempt -- with a deliberate attempt to collapse the german economy. quickly disrupting economic output, creating unemployment on a scale that would precipitate a socioeconomic crisis so great that the kaiser would have to call off the war. the plan to bring the war to an end quickly. well, the plan was put into effect. and the strategy worked, sort of, for a couple of weeks. the problem was it worked a little bit too well. it generated, to use the modern term, rather considerable collateral damage.
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british businessman start shrieking really leslie that -- really loudly that their business was being hurt. particularly woodrow wilson was interested because of the devastation that it did to the u.s., industry. the price of cotton opened that 13.25, and the price dropped below 9, stockbrokers went bankrupt. and president woodrow wilson is a democrat, and rather needs the south. it's just safe accommodation of interest groups in britain and other countries brought enormous pressure on the british exchange to call off the economic warfare plan.
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they did. they have revised to a more recognizable personal strategy, a blockade. in general terms, the interdiction of all foreign trade between germany and much of the foreign trade in close by neutrals. so, deutschland. the spring of 1915, the notion of this short war evaporated. this has serious economic implications for all parties, particularly war economies. even the regular economy, too. this was the case in germany especially. the blockade constructed the flow of strategic commodities necessary to sustain modern history, and wage modern
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industrial warfare. these commodities, gary weir mentioned a number of them -- chromium, nickel, tin, other agents -- could not be found inside germany. certainly not in the quantities required. they were not available from other central powers as well. around this time the spring of 1915, a number of those in germany hit upon the idea of going around, or brother under the blockade -- or rather under it through a submersible. this gained attention of the german government, who authorized a number of prototypes. one of those was the deutschland. precisely who funded them -- there are so many shell corporations.
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dwight had gone quite some way in his book to identify some of those shell corporations. they were navy controlled and navy operated. naval officers were ceremoniously and quickly retired from the navy, finding themselves released from fleet duties, and assigned to man these extraordinary submersible merchants. very briefly, in june 1916, the deutschland party disappeared from view. her intention was go to the united states. they actually did try to track her and to intercept.
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once she is underwater, there is not much chance. the things that benefited her, they didn't realize she could possibly be so slow. they started to look for to look much further ahead than she was. in july, she popped up outside baltimore. the people of baltimore give her a raucous welcome. many there were already of german descent. she discharges her tons of chemical dyes and pharmaceuticals and zip bags of correspondence to the german embassy, after disagreement with the american authorities. anyway, the dyes were sold a fabulous profits.
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there is a wonderful exhibit. they made out like bandits by all accounts. accounts. the captain goes on a publicity tour, and loads of his submarine with 350 tons of nickel, rubber, other rare minerals used to make steel alloys, and returned to germany. this cargo is the most interesting of the lot. and the main commodities are rubber. rubber is for tires and gas masks. nickel is a key element in nickel steel, but also in pressure elements to make u-boats.
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we go back to this improvised british blockade system. when we talk of the blockade, i am sure it conjures and everybody's minds images of these grand british cruisers patrolling the cool waters of the atlantic, trying to track down these merchantmen carrying cargoes of contraband across the atlantic. and sometimes they would intercept a neutral ship, too often american unfortunately. if they found something naughty on board, they would correct them to a british court and explain it to local authorities. it is very accurate for the age itself, but it isn't the character of a world war i blockade at all. in reality, the work done by the blockade is performed by committees of experts in london, acted by a huge army of file
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clerks and ask librarians who -- and ex- librarians who had at their disposal an equitable amount of information on how the world economy worked. in particular, who treated with -- who traded with who on each side of the atlantic. they are drilling down to the company level. the amount of data we are talking about -- this is before computers. the only way to collect information was with index cards. the indexes alone were one million. and there were four of them. that gives you an idea of the quantity of information they had to process. they gather all the information. the information on each ship coming across the atlantic. what happened was the british intelligence had obtained copies of manifests, with every single
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merchant clearing a part. these manifest or scrutinize other data that is been acquired along other nefarious means, such as the vendor, who would purchase the cargo. and they looked for anomalies. if they saw someone trying to sell bananas to a company in holland, they would be a little bit suspicious. this isn't their natural business -- what is going on here? whenever an anomaly was detected in this paper, which is quite often, they notified the admiralty, which signified a cruiser to intercept a ship. and they would escort the ship into a british port where the cargo would be torn apart. this is only part of the story. one, it is a paper information
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control question. the other key aspects of the british locate policy -- british blockade policy was to control the license of key strategic commodities produced within the british empire. they didn't want to deal with more paperwork than they had to. they figured if they couldn't control it within the british empire, that was coming down on paperwork. they refused shipments of these products to any country, including the usa, unless they would be resold to germany. it is the kind of end user certificate system. in 1916, a funny number, the auto industry was turning out
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one million vehicles per year already. they were consuming 40, 50% of the total rubber production in the world. the u.s. had actually agreed to the british collecting the copies of all these manifest, clearing american ports. both sides basically agreed they must cooperate because it was too much. it was too expensive for both sides not to be trading for each other. any guesses for which two commodities are on top of the british controlled list? one of them is rubber, of which not much is made in the united states.
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and nickel, mainly came from canada. when the british discover through their usual manifests, the first thing they see is -- wait a minute. this is a cargo of rubber, a cargo of nickel from canada -- what is going on? there was a suggestion that the system had slightly broken down on the american end. they discovered german supervisors in the u.s. state department had colluded with deutschland by administering a health certificate. it causes considerable renovations in the state department. the success of the deutschland is rather awkward and
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embarrassing all around for everybody. i will make a few concluding remarks. the idea of a submersible merchant is a clever idea. and it was quite remarkable. it was also an extremely useful instrument in the propaganda. coming after the sinking of the lusitania, in the american mind, everyone thinks about u-boats in the sinking of the lusitania. killing women and children, it was a useful counterbalance to the propaganda of the negative propaganda associated with u-boats. all of these things aside, these u-cruisers were never going to break the british blockade. the quantities carried on the
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submarines was too small. given that they had built submersible merchants, which would have driven away from construction of u-boats, there was no way that the u.k. or u.s. was going to allow them to take back the quantities to take that germany. it wasn't in the interest of the british of the united states to precipitate another trade war between britain and the united states. on that note, thank you very much for listening. [applause] >> we will take a few questions before we go to the oktoberfest celebration. >> speculating where the
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deutschland was, when it was going to leave baltimore, i would still think it would have been a coup for the british to have captured the deutschland. and yet there was any -- there was never any moment of danger on part of being captured. any thoughts there? so much media broadcast a lot of speculation of warships lying off the international boundary, just waiting to go after the deutschland. why do you think that didn't occur? mr. lambert: they certainly tried. it is often not realized that major american ports throughout the world war, cruiser patrols often thought in the way of the u.s. navy. when they wanted exercises, they would have to contact the british admiral and say, can you
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move a little bit to the left or right? anyway, i did have a british squadron out there. but once the submarine is underwater, how do you find it? it's gone. >> once you get off the continental shelf and go deep, probably about 150 feet or so, the british did not have the technology to find them. you don't-kind of sonar that you will find in later wars. >> yes, sir? >> i am with the baltimore steam built company. you mentioned about s-boats. were these the ones developed by john holland originally? did simon lake have anything to do with the development of the
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german u-boat over the s-boats? mr. weir: no and no. excuse me, do you want that one? the s-boats were actually a navy product. the problem was not so much the configuration as the internals. we cannot manufacture the kind of reliability that germans managed. >> was this john holland originally? and patents went over to germany and they used simon lake's. mr. weir: simon lake wanted to build u-boats on this site of the atlantic, and that contract never came to fruition. he was actually pushed out of his own company after a number of years. his company became electric
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boat, which was independent before it was gobbled up by general dynamics after the second world war. easily the sophisticated submarine factory in the world. a couple of assumptions. i will be more brief. a lake boat and holland boat are different because the fundamental concept is different. even though the technology is limited to a certain extent, the holland is forward-looking in that it is using a submerged state as its natural habitat. it can't yet completely because it can't breathe long enough to make that happen. if you look at the holland 6 and submarine after the second world war like albacore, which introduced the teardrop hull formation. holland's design is submerged.
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simon lake's is not. his ships are surface ships. it is a different point of view in that regard. holland's didn't last in his own company for too long, so it took different directions. the s-class was an effort to do a solo american effort. we hadn't learned from what had been done to that point in time. you are welcome. >> anyone else? >> you said they were bringing over dyes. were they for prints, industry? mr. lambert: the milling industry, yes. >> did the deutschland have any armaments to defend itself?
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mr. lambert: no. not until it was taken over by the german navy and turned into a warship. >> so if it had been caught and it didn't surrender, it would have been destroyed? mr. lambert: that is difficult to be certain of, but yes, quite likely. a u-boat on the surface is fair game for any destroyer. mr. weir: it would have made an amazing prize though. >> are you able to put the amount which had been transported by the deutschland into perspective? you entered that this was totally insignificant when you
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look at the 350-odd tons of rubber or nickel. when you compare this to the daily intake of the german economy in 1910, where we had a full-fledged arms race going on with britain, could one such -- set this into perspective? if you look at load of the deutschland, bringing a maximum of 600 or 700 tons into the imperial german machine, what is that compared to the yearly demand in 1910 at that time? mr. lambert: it was significant. it might have been. i did in fact try looking at this. the deeper i looked, the more complicated it became. the problem is that imperial german statistic trade was not that reliable.
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the way they compiled exports, they never got around to reforming the import figures until about 1924. there was reallocation of resources. germany starts off with significant quantities of nickel inside germany, which they stockpiled with the intention of building large warships. of course they suspended the construction of warships. that stockpile was available for other purposes. there was not just one variable. yeah, i tried to look into and find total imports of nickel into germany. as you probably know better than me, a flood of imports coming into holland. let's say the british were trying to figure out how much grain was going into holland
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versus germany. with the available statistics, it was impossible. the point i was making in my lecture, this was a one-shot cargo. in that sense, it was insignificant. delighted to receive it, and it enabled them to adventure number -- to advance a number of projects. they might have gotten away with it a second time, but no more. >> one more question. i hear music. yes sir? >> how long did the deutschland stay submerged to get away from the british? and how long could it stay submerged? mr. lambert: six, seven hours isn't it? weir: not nearly as much as
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a world war ii vessel. probably six or seven hours, before they came back up again. they had no snorkel, so they had to go to their complete service -- surface to do a recharge. because the deutschland so was so large and deep, they actually developed a trolley system along the entire length of the vote -- the boat that could not only move the cargo, but ship and unship the batteries. that was a terrible dirty thing to do, and the trolley allowed them to do that more simply. >> that will conclude our speakers tonight. if anybody wants to get one of the books from the bookstore, both of these gentlemen will stay for oktoberfest. you are welcome to approach them then. thank you very much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its
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caption content and accuracy. visit] >> interested in american history tv? visit our website, to see our schedule or watch a recent program. lectures in history and more. at year, c-span is touring cities across the country exploring american history. next, a look at our recent visit to tucson, arizona. americanatching history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. hey! hi, are you ready to take a ride around tucson? >> i'm ready. all right.


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