Branch: Kaiserliche Marine / Reichsmarine / Kriegsmarine
Born: 24 April 1876 in Wandsbek, Hamburg, Germany.
Died: 6 November 1960 in Kiel, Germany.
Großadmiral 1 April 1939
Generaladmiral 20 April 1936
Admiral 1 October 1928
Vizeadmiral 10 September 1925
Konteradmiral 1 August 1922
Kapitän zur See 29 November 1919
Fregattenkapitän 26 April 1917
Korvettenkapitän 15 April 1911
Kapitänleutnant 21 March 1905
Oberleutnant Zur See 9 April 1900
Leutnant zur See 1 January 1899
Unterleutnant zur See 25 October 1897
Seekadett 13 May 1895
Iron Cross 1914
1st Class 19 November 1914
2nd Class 18 February 1915
Order of the Red Eagle 4th Class 22 June 1907
Honor Knight's Cross 2nd Class with silver Crown of the House and Merit Order of Peter Frederick Louis 17 September 1907
Kings Crown to the Order of the Red Eagle 4th Class 5 September 1911
Commander's Cross of the Order of Franz Joseph 16 September 1911
Greek Commander's Cross of the Order of the Redeemer 14 May 1912
Cross of Honor 9 October 1934
Golden Party Badge 30 January 1937
Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus Grand Cross 20 September 1937
Order of the Rising Sun 9 November 1937
Clasp to the Iron Cross 1939
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 30 September 1939
Romanian Order of Michael the Brave
1st, 2nd and 3rd Class 14 October 1941
Finnish Grand Cross of the Order of the Cross of Liberty 25 March 1942
Takes command on 17 January 1918
Ends command on 9 October 1918
Erich Johann Albert Raeder was born on 24 April 1876 and became a Großadmiral (Grand Admiral) the highest naval rank possible and the first since Großadmiral (Grand Admiral) Alfred von Tirpitz. Erich Raeder led the Kriegsmarine for the first part of the Second World War, but resigned in 1943 and Karl Dönitz took over his position as head of the Kriegsmarine (German Navy).
Erich Raeder was born into a middle class family in Wandsbek, Hamburg, Germany. Erich Raeder father was a schoolmaster. Erich Raeder entered the Kaiserliche Marine in 1894 and quickly rose in rank, becoming Chief of Staff for Franz von Hipper in 1912. Erich Raeder served in this position during the First World War in addition to several combat posts, participating in the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915 and the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Subsequently after the First World War, in 1920, Erich Raeder participated in the failed Kapp Putsch, and after its curtailment Erich Raeder was marginalised in the Navy, being posted to the Naval Archives. Erich Raeder also was the writer of a number of naval studies, which led to him being awarded a Dr. of Philosophy degree by the University of Kiel in Germany.
Erich Raeder carried on to rise steadily in the German Navy, becoming a Konteradmiral in 1922 and a Vizeadmiral in 1925. In October 1928, Erich Raeder was promoted to Admiral and made Oberbefehlshaber der Reichsmarine (Commander-in-Chief of the Reichsmarine), of the Weimar Republic Navy.
Whilst Erich Raeder in general disliked the national socialist Party, Erich Raeder strongly backed Adolf Hitler's endeavour to reconstruct the Kriegsmarine, whilst evidently taking issue on most other matters. On 20 April 1936, just a couple of days before Erich Raeder's sixtieth birthday, Adolf Hitler promoted him to Generaladmiral. In his pursuit to reconstruct the German Navy, Erich Raeder faced up to ceaseless challenges from Hermann Göring's ongoing pursuit to develop the Luftwaffe.
Erich Raeder was promoted to Großadmiral in 1939, becoming the first to hold that rank since Alfred von Tirpitz. In the latter part of 1939, Erich Raeder recommended invading the Kingdom of Norway in order to guarantee protected ports out of reach of the RAF, also to allow for direct exits into the North Sea, but was strongly opposed by the German Naval Staff and finally, Erich Raeder agreed that the safest solution was to keep things as they were.
The Kingdom of Norway was critical to Third Reich as a transport route for iron ore from the Kingdom of Sweden, a supply that Great Britain was bent on stopping. The British already had several plans in place one of which, was to go through the Kingdom of Norway and occupy cities in the Kingdom of Sweden. An Allied invasion was ordered on 12 March, and the Germans intercepted radio communications setting 14 March as deadline for the preparation. Peace in Finland disrupted the Allied plans, but Adolf Hitler became, justifiably, certain that the Allies would try again, and ordered operation Weseruebung. The second British plan was to stimulate a German response by laying mines in Norwegian waters, and once Germany showed signs of taking action Great Britains military personnel would occupy Narvik, Trondheim and Bergen and launch a raid on Stavanger to destroy Sola airfield. Nevertheless the mines were not laid till the morning of 8 April, by which time the German fleet was nearing the Norwegian coast.
Erich Raeder reasoned against Operation Sea Lion, the planned German invasion of Great Britain. Erich Raeder felt that the war could be dealt far more successfully, by increasing the numbers of U-boats and small surface ships. Erich Raeder also had concerns about the Luftwaffe's ability to acquire air superiority over the south of England and the Channel and the insufficient German naval assets available for such an operation. Air supremacy was a requirement needed to stop the destruction of the German naval invasion fleet by the Royal Navy. Alternatively, Erich Raeder preferred a strategical focus on the Mediterranean theatre including a German presence in North Africa, also an invasion of Malta and the Middle East. Erich Raeder thought that capturing Gibraltar, and the Canary Islands and the Suez Canal would knock the Great Britain out of the war. For example, Erich Raeder at one time told Adolf Hitler that a major offensive against Egypt and the Suez gave Germany a chance to strike a blow that would be more deadly to the British Empire than the capture of London. On several occasions, Erich Raeder recommended that Adolf Hitler send Erwin Rommel to Egypt. Adolf Hitler ultimately yielded in 1941.
Seelöwe (Operation Sea Lion) was cancelled due to Hermann Göring's, Luftwaffe unsuccessful attempt to gain air superiority during the Battle of Britain, and just as important was the numeral superiority of the Royal Navy over the German Naval forces. So Adolf Hitler focused his attentions on Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the USSR, which Erich Raeder vigorously opposed. Erich Raeder believed Adolf Hitler was so bent on destroying the Russian regime that he did not understand the larger, global strategy that could have easily tipped the balance in Third Reichs advantage. After series of disastrous naval operations e.g., Battle of the Barents Sea, made so much worse because of the spectacular successes of the U-boat fleet which was commanded by Karl Dönitz which led to Erich Raeder demotion to the rank of Admiral Inspector of the Kriegsmarine in January 1943. Erich Raeder tendered his resignation as an apology and officially resigned from Kriegsmarine in May 1943. Karl Dönitz officially took over on 30 January 1943 as Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine.
Erich Raeder was suspected of participating in the 20 July plot, but instantly cleared himself by attending the Rastenburg in person to guarantee Adolf Hitler of his loyalty.
At the end of the Second World War, Erich Raeder was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Nuremberg Trials, for waging a war of aggression, a charge arising from his planning of the German invasion of Kingdom of Norway. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland had previously been divided about invading the Kingdom of Norway, Winston Churchill was in favour, with Clement Attlee and Labour in opposition. Adolf Hitler dreaded a British invasion after the HMS Cossack had stopped the Altmark in Norwegian coastal waters.
The sentence was later decreased due to ill health, Erich Raeder was released on 26 September 1955. After his release Erich Raeder settled down at the Uhlandstrasse in Lippstadt, Westphalia. Erich Raeder later wrote an autobiography, Mein Leben, in 1957.
Erich Raeder passed away in Kiel on 6 November 1960. Erich Raeder is interned in the Nordfriedhof, Kiel, Germany.
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