WW1 and ongoing deceit and equivocating of defeated Germany who, along with other defaults continuously delays or misses her reparation payments and engages in delaying tactics which are to the disadvantage of the Allies, the victors of the Great War.

Even by 1920 the Germans still refuse to surrender those accused of war crimes

The_Times_1920-02-05 Germans breaking the treaty.pdf  - reduce the zoom setting for a better read.

We all know that the differences between the ending of WW1 and WW2 were hugely different! Armies aside, history has often shown that the defeat of a nation can only come through the defeat of the civilian population, its infrastructure, economy, manufacturing basis and morale.

In WW1 the German civilian population was quite literally starved to death by a total naval blockade.  In WW2 they were bombed to death by the more humane Allied powers, and subjected to a fate worse than death at the hands of the less humane Allied powers, namely the Russian Red Army - some say fully justified because of what the German Army did to the Russians in Russia.

The upshot of those endings was that well after the Armistice of November 1918, some reports dating late 1920, told of German Army units wandering around the streets of their undestroyed cities in gangs looking for those thought to be responsible for the capitulation of the German Army in the field, whilst in 1919 it was a regular sight to see German officers, particularly in the Cologne areas wherein was based the British Occupation Army of the Rhine, in full walking-out uniform parading up and down in the Sulz and Stotzheim areas, just as though the war was ongoing or that they were the victors - sheer arrogance personified.

What is not common knowledge is WW1 Part 2 from 1918 to 1921! In November 1918, at the Armistice, the Russian Bolshevik Red Army had set its evil eye on the Baltic States general area {[WW1 spellings] Esthonia, Livonia, Poland, Finland, Lithuania} and were advancing on several fronts. The Allied Powers and its Supreme Council {SC} was in its embryonic state and in order to act quickly, the British were tasked to develop a rapid logistics plan to counter the Red Army and needed troops in that area rapidly. They took a chance [a huge risk as it turned out] but condoned by the SC, and gave the surrendered German army already occupying the Baltic States a new role to repel the Russians, thereby allowing them to keep their weapons and armour and to remain as a fighting force under the command of General Gustav Adolf [yep, another Adolf] Joachim Graf Von der Goltz. It is a long story from hereon but in short this is what happened.

This army soon became a rag-bag of tired and battle-weary German troops, added to which were German sympathisers living in the Baltic States and remnants of the heavily defeated German 8th army. They were based on what was, and is now again, that beautiful city of Riga. The Germans and the Latvians fought together as one unit. The German/Latvia troops drove out the Bolshevik's. The German army unit was ordered back to Germany striped of it arms. The Germans delayed saying that if they left now the Russians would take advantage. Being German Von der Goltz then decided to seize friendly Latvia, and with local Germans on his side, deposed the Latvian National Government, while the Germans with others took Riga by force on the 23rd May 1919 against all expected actions and contrary to their orders. Latvia asked Estonia for help. The Germans reneged on their agreement with the British by attacking with full force Estonia causing many injuries and deaths instead of attacking the agreed enemy, the Bolsheviks. They were defeated and fled back to Riga.  The Allies now demanded their immediate disengagement and home going effectively into captivity as were the vast majority of their German colleagues. There was no response and the German General did what most Germans did [and do] he continued his plunder of a friendly power. In view of the German attack on Riga, His Majesty's Government decided that small arms and ammunition to the value of £16,000 should be sent to the Provisional Government of Latvia. At the same time a strongly-worded Note was addressed by the Peace Conference to the German Government, insisting on the immediate fulfilment of the Allied demand for the evacuation of all German troops from the Baltic States, and it has been decided to dispatch an  Allied Representative Commission, under a French General, to control the execution of the necessary measures on the spot. Von Goltz jolly well soon responded with his rag-bag mercenaries and was taken back into British captivity. Once home in Germany, Von der Goltzhe claimed that his true objective had been to attack St Petersburg, there to set up a pro-German anti-bolshevik local Government. Von der Goltz thereafter engaged himself in German affairs, but to the British he was just another of WW1's evil men, the descendent of an evil country and race of people. When one considers the British commitment to the period 1914 to 1922, one can do nothing but admire the nation whose sacrifice averted an Armageddon and baled out countries who remained neutral and did not lift a finger. Apart from the war proper, we had the clear-up of the killing fields; the war on the side of the Russian monarchists/anti-Bolshevik's; the incident just mentioned above in Latvia; the scourge of the Spanish-flu, the infamous Yorkshire coal miners strike and the deprivation at home plus the limitations imposed because of the country's enormous debt with many other countries, who benefitted from our commitment, walking away scot-free, not owing a penny and not needing to shed a tear for lost warriors. Just as a post script to this paragraph because there really is no other place to put the story. By 1920, the British Government had more or less completed their list on "savings" to be made to help meet the payments on the enormous British war debt. All had to tighten belts, but when looking at the long list, I am utterly amazed [and saddened] at the sheer meanness of the Government towards the long suffering armed forces. Instead of posting lots of examples of this, let's have a look at the ultimate, the issue of the Victoria Cross for Valour. In WW1 no fewer that 627 VC'S were issued compared to 181 in WW2. Each VC in WW1 earned an annual gratuity of £10 to the recipient or recipient's NOK. A few second VC's were issued called a 'BAR' to the Medal [the same procedure for any medal doubly won.]  The 'BAR' earned the recipient just £5 per annum. A question was raised in the House [of Parliament] asking whether it could be raised to £10 like any other VC issued. This was the answer VICTORIA CROSS AND BAR.pdf

Meanwhile, back in England, the DORA was still the law of the land [see this page for details of DORA http://www.godfreydykes.info/How_the_name_of_an_executed_WW1_German_spy_lives_on_today_in_the_UK.html and the following snippet is one of hundreds of punishments under DORA Regulations.

"On the 4th July 1919 a number of demobilised army officers were summoned at Kingston yesterday for wearing their uniforms at the race meeting at Hurst Park on June 9th contrary to the provisions of the Defence of the Real Act Regulations, were ordered to pay fines of £10 and £5"

In 1919, even for an officer, £10 was a lot of money!

Returning to the German officers wearing uniforms in Cologne, this was almost a paradox because the gangs of soldiers were fully in keeping with the mood of the country at large, which was mutinous, rebellious and not far from civil war using the model of Russia, whereas strutting upper class officers were really asking for trouble acting contrary to the public call for retribution and an army alignment with the proletariat. In 1945 there were no Nazis anywhere, most having fled and those who didn't dressed in civilian attire, wandering shattered roads alongside which stood the remnants of former splendid buildings with carnage all around, claiming to be innocent of the Nazis crimes, or of any involvement in the holocaust and the subjugation of millions of wretched and forlorn human beings. It was a miracle where one minute all of Germany is reveling in its marauding army's advancement successes, proffering the Nazi straight-right-arm salute whilst uttering Ziege Heil - long live the victory [a compulsory salute for all civilians] whilst men in uniform usually saluted with the hand to the kneb of the cap, or said Heil Hitler with an arm/hand salute - a personal salute to the Führer. Next thing we know is that they [millions of Germans] refute this ever happened, and that it was a propaganda ploy put about by the Allies. What holocaust; what mass salute; what atrocities; what shame should we endure and why? In both wars, each started by the Germans, each involving atrocious and unforgiveable war crimes, each denying the international community of a just punishment by not having a German leader to punish, with the Emperor [Kaiser] and Empress [Kaiserin] having fled and the Leader [Führer] killed to order by his own kind.

In short, the breaking of the German surrender conditions of 1945 were smothered before they could be brought forth, by occupational armies each in turn imposing martial law on the incumbents of their allotted geographical area. Germany was totally defeated, navy, army, air force and civilians and the conditions imposed on the Germans were rightly harsh and unequivocal, leaving them without a voice at all, be it a military one or a national one. They were numbed, humbled and awed by their total devastation.

This was not so in 1918, indeed far from it. There are many articles which suggest that the Germans spent their time "moving the goal posts" and that they openly cocked-a-snook at the conditions of the Armistice, those who authored it and those whose task it was to enforce it. After WW1, instead of occupying armies dominating the scene within Germany and Austria [Triple Alliance] and Britain had a large one ~~, an Armistice 'Supreme Council' made up of members of the Allied Powers [Entente and Triple Entente], was set up with its HQ in Paris with powers to oversee that the conditions were met, issuing new directives where necessary to the 'German Peace Delegation', a civilian group of Germans [mainly] set up by the Allies ostensibly to oversee the transition of Germany from war to peace. ~~ The British Occupation Army was rather insensitively supplied through the port of Rotterdam in neutral Netherlands, whereas it should have been Antwerp in Belgium a former friend and ally-in-arms.  This involved every aspect of the consequences of war, chief of which was reparation payments to wronged States and authorities.  The workings of both the Supreme Council and the German Peace Delegation required tens upon tens of thousands of people, many of them uniformed personnel from Allied forces, to ensure that all ran smoothly and to time within a well published well defined plan. Most of those 'workings' are well beyond the scope of this little page, but there is one aspect which is not common knowledge and of great interest, especially to naval people.

Before I go into that with a totally different slant on it to what has become the norm, certainly in my understanding, it is crucially important for my readers to know of the following.

Britain fought the war within an Alliance, the Entente Cordiale of 1904 [Britain & France] plus several others at later dates, whose Governments controlled the prosecution of the fighting. Upon winning the war, these same counties controlled the peace. They formed the organisation called the 'Supreme Council' {SC} of which Britain was a member only, without unilateral power making decisions despite its size and its overall input into the winning of the war. As such, any decision made and endorsed  by the {SC} Britain had a mandatory obligation to adhere to. When the decision was made by the {SC} as to the disposal of the Kaiserliche Marine [the Imperial German Navy], it was finally decided that the Grand Fleet [the surface navy] would be interned in a suitable protected area, away from Germany but reasonably close to Germany and particularly to Kiel to await a decision on the Peace Treaty, at that stage very much in draft form. At first, above all else the internment site should be inside the boundary of a neutral country. No such suitable site could be found and none was offered. The {SC}, independent of the British Admiralty, decided on the Orkney safe haven of Scapa Flow reached via a marshaling point, the Firth of Forth, from where the Royal Navy would escort the German ships north to Scapa. The British readily agreed. It was to be understood by all that the German fleet were INTERNED, and that it has not SURRENDERED nor had it been CONQUERED nor was it significant that Scapa was the internment port other than it fulfilled the criteria of proximity to its mother country as mentioned above. Britain, ergo the Royal Navy were hosts with absolutely no powers over the disposition, the maintenance, or the operational running of these ships which were serviceable warships by and large. That meant that we could not visit any of these ships unless invited, and because of that it was impossible for any member of the hosts, that's every member state of the {SC}, to know what was going on inside these vessels. Rear Admiral Von Reuter knew that and he held all the aces. The Royal Navy knew that too [but no so our Parliament - see pdf below] which was a constant thorn in the side of the Admiralty and a major source of frustration to our senior admirals.

It is important to realise and to understand that at all stages, from the Armistice to the decision taken by the {SC} for internment, the British Admiralty and other British admirals not in the British Admiralty were banging the table, advising on, asking for, and demanding  a total surrender of all German vessels, ships and submarines, but their wise words and sound maritime understanding and knowledge went unheard and unheeded outside the UK, except for a marginal success on the forfeiture of the German submarine fleet at Harwich. The British admirals were as one without a dissenting vote. Diplomatically, the saddest part of this story was that post scuttling, the Americans, French, and even Spaniards, blamed the British Admiralty.  When, compared with Britain, not one of them could even begin to match the nautical wisdom of the British or had but the smallest of  transient commitment in fighting the 'naval war' when manifestly, the British shouldered virtually the whole of the onerous task of defeating the might of the Prussian/Germany and her allies, naval forces.

 But, before we start, have a look at this short piece taken from HANSARDS. The occasion, the first debate in Parliament on the scuttling of the German fleet, scheduled for the 24th June 1919 just three days after the surprise event on the 21st June.  The First Sea Lord is a civilian, the political head of the Admiralty representing the nation - Mr Long. Admirals [though none in this case] serving in the Admiralty are appointed as Sea Lords represent the Royal Navy. In this file, you will see that the Members of Parliament uttered OH!, when being told that Admiral Reuter visited his interned ships using British boats [drifters, trawlers and naval pinnaces]. Mr Long's answer does not relate the reason for this. The German sailors were rebellious and close to mutiny, and the admiral did not want his sailors crewing boats which called on other ships where it would have been easy for sailors to spread dissention/disaffection. Admiral Von Reuter asked the British for many favours to protect him and his loyal sailors from his own kind. The crews of the British manned boats were not allowed to climb the gangways and to enter the visited ships. On an ongoing basis, the officers of the interned fleet were tasked to note the names of the ring leaders of the malcontents, which were shared with the British. This led to British ships going alongside each German ship where the named men we off loaded and taken to a part of Scapa where they were transferred into larger vessels for the journey to Germany and to freedom. That "favour" was granted on many occasions until the German ships were rid of their undesirable crew members. Had it  not been so, it is for certain that a full mutiny would have broken out which would have hindered or even stopped Von Reuters intended plan, that of scuttling his fleet. 

 With that explained the story of scuttling can continue, when you will see that the British were not to blame because like all hosts, we were simply told to look after the guest and within reason to give him all he wanted for a comfortable stay!

In this statement, note the last entry where Commander Bellairs says that he intends to continue the story tomorrow. STATEMENT BY FIRST LORD OF ADMIRALTY.pdf

From the Navy List of January 1920 [corrected to 18th December 1919] we see that Commander Roger M BELLAIRS CMG RN is still listed on the Active List and therefore still in the navy. That is not so surprising for many serving officers were also MP's. Perhaps the most famous of these was Admiral Lord Beresford, who, as a junior naval officer thoroughly annoyed the First Sea Lord by challenging him in Parliament by asking leading questions on the manner in which he ran the Admiralty. He also saw-off  his boss, Winston Churchill, who as First Lord of the Admiralty was no match for this young MP/naval officer. See http://godfreydykes.info/OUR%20POOR%20NAVY%20IN%201879%20!.htm. Like Lord Beresford before him, Roger Bellairs had an ability which transcended most of his peers and was a 'cert' for the highest naval office. However, as you will see by reading his short obituary here 1959-04-27 Rear Adm Bellairs.pdf  he was robbed of that chance by a unique circumstance, and shortly afterwards, was promoted to rear admiral and "put out to grass" as far as his active service was concerned - to his credit, he stayed on doing his very best, serving in WW2 as he had done operationally as sea in WW1 including Jutland. Reading about him, I have a profound feeling that I would have admired him greatly. He kept his promise of continuing his observations concerning the scuttling of the German fleet, but regrettably, for him at least, he was out-classed and out-gunned by the First Lord of the Admiralty, the near opposite of the clash between Churchill and Beresford  a few years earlier in 1913.

Commander Roger Bellairs is probably unique in that he was present  at Jutland as a Commander Royal Navy whilst at the same time being the Conservative MP for Maidstone Kent. This is his track record. MP for twenty years 1906 to 1910 for King's Lynn and 1915 to 1931 for Maidstone - joined Royal Navy in officers training ship Britannia in May 1899, Lieutenant 1904, Commander 1915, Captain 1920, Rear Admiral 1932.

Come the morrow, Commander Bellairs kept his promise to continue his observations of the German fleet scuttling, but he failed to state his case fully, and the navy in Parliament correctly won the day. Despite international pressure, the pressures from within the Supreme Council {SC} and the masked accusations by loose cannons, and certainly Commander Bellairs was one, the mass-scuttle came to be recognised as the sole act of a Prussian zealot admiral, confirmed by the German Government, and not in any way attributable to the British, navy or Government.   SINKING OF GERMAN WAR VESSELS.pdf

 At the end of WW1, it is common knowledge that the German surrender [as the press/media would have us believe] involved the sailing [escorted by the Royal Navy for part of the way] of the German fleet from beleaguered German ports of high inactivity post-Jutland [1916], to Scapa Flow in the Orkneys north of Scotland: now you know that their navy was not and never was surrendered or conquered and that is NOT a play on words! There the German crews scuttled their ships, which we salvaged over time, sold for a huge scrap value, which was given to the Admiralty who in turn gave it as 'prize money' for every man in the Royal Navy#. See http://www.godfreydykes.info/WW1_and_a_few_things_you_might_not_be_familiar_with.html for details. The story, passed down in the UK, was an over simplification, because it never told us what happened to the crews who scuttled these ships etc. Whilst most of you know of the leader of this scuttling, not all know why it had to happened.

# In addition to this salvage money, prize money [usually associated with mercantile matters - ships and cargoes because it doesn't apply to warships they being owned by Governments and not by commerce], was also paid during 'battle conditions', i.e., for sinking enemy warships. The Admiralty rules were simple. Firstly that the group [or fleet] of attacking ships was the sole claimant. If there was a single ship action the payout was obvious, but when in a group attack, even though some ships did not fire upon the enemy, the ships which did [whether straddles or hits], received no more than a share, the same as each ship in the group received. The final rule was that the ships company of the destroyed ship set the cost-level to be applied once the basic unit had been set by the Admiralty which could and did fluctuate. Take Jutland for example. The British Grand Fleet was made up of 160 ships, so whatever the final prize it had to be shared by 160 ships each with a varying size of ship's company where commanding officers got enough [and fairly too] to pay the mortgage for a year, an ordinary seaman got enough to buy his family a seaside weekend holiday. We had to sink a lot of ships, big ships, to make it all worthwhile. As it was, we sank six capital ships and five destroyers, assessed as having 4537 personnel on board. The Admiralty decreed that each life was worth just £5 and made provision to distribute £22685 {5x4537} to the Grand Fleet, sadly, now less than the 160 original ships.   I have used this website http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-1633409/Historic-inflation-calculator-value-money-changed-1900.html to find out what £22685 in 1916 is worth [approximately] in 2015, and the answer is £2,083,522.04. To say the least, a great deal of money. The R.N., in the WW1 Falklands battle, fared a great deal better with fewer ships attacking many German vessels, and destroying them, with famous sailors like Admiral Graf Spee and two of his sons who were drowned, counted as having a money value on their heads!

 This file dots the i's and crosses the t's on Jutland prize money. 1920-07-28 Jutland prize money.pdf

In virtually all cases the telling of the scuttling of the German fleet, was not only an over simplification, but also far from the truth!

The Kaiserliche Marine who called their ships SMS [like we call ours HMS] meaning Seiner Majestät Schiff = His [the Kaiser] Majesty's or Emperor's Ship, were listed in great detail, class by class, and were 'ticked-off' upon leaving Germany and again on arrival at Scapa. Not all the ships set sail from Germany, the German's making all kinds of excuses. The Supreme Council, were quick to respond and suitable Allied naval officers based in Germany were dispatched to seek a reason and a time when the vessel[s] would be ready to cross the North Sea, or, as the German's called it, the German Sea. Time after time these officers were either fobbed-off and given false hopes which the Allied officers duly communicated back to London and Paris F.A.O., the Supreme Council based in Paris. Moreover, it was immediately apparent that several other naval assets which were not only valuable salvage-wise but could be used as tools of war by the German's - the Peace Treaty was a long way off from being ratified - were being held back as an act of defiance. Although the German's were not to know it, their recalcitrance did not auger well for them, as the aid and support bill which in defeat they most needed, was dependent upon their co-operation to expedite the terms of the Armistice and the supportive orders of the Supreme Council. The Supreme Council had, on several other occasions but on different subjects, issued warnings and final warnings to the German Peace Delegation, that unless they toed-the-line and obeyed their instructions to comply, the Supreme Council would by-pass the Peace Delegation, and if necessary, use its own forces.  History records that the German forces never believed that they had been beaten in the field/at sea, and blamed their demise and humiliation on non-combatants at home in Germany, who were judged to be Jews, black-market traders, profiteers, and persona non grata immigrants. It is little wonder that an army brought to its knees by third party activities in its own country, is not in the mood to bow to the wishes of an army [armies in this case] claiming victory as the result of military prowess and superiority.

Now it came time when the German naval hiatus would need to be resolved with one of the famous "New Armistice" Notes issued by the Supreme Council. The timing of their note is significant because it was issued on the 5th November 1919 just days before the first anniversary of the cease fire. It pulled no punches, and it is understood that a face to face meeting convened after an appropriate time allowed for the reading and comprehension of the Note, left the prevaricating Peace Delegation in no doubt about the anger and frustration felt by members of the Supreme Council. There would be no second Note, and the use of the Note phrase "Coercive measures are threatened in the event of a refusal of these demands" meant what it said, coercive meaning by force.

The following newspaper cutting is a little difficult to read, and if you find it so, have a look at my retype here

  The_Times_1919-11-06.jpg New armistice note ONE.pdf

What the Note says is that the crews of the scuttled ships, many, of skeleton crew size, but approximately 1750 souls in total who were rounded up after they abandoned ships they had purposely sunk ¥ {see below}, were transported to the Scottish mainland to the naval port of Invergordon under arrest and in the custody of the Royal Navy's Home Fleet.

¥ Not all the ships scuttled sank, and several were dragged into shallow waters and beached before they were. All of these beaching's were salvaged within three months of the sea-cocks being opened.

 In the short term they were kept in an outside secure compound until more permanent accommodation could be found either locally in the Ross-shire area, or further afield in camps, which come mid 1919 had recently been vacated by troops. From the day of the scuttling, 21st June 1919, before which they were free men as long as they stayed in their interned ship, they had become POW's because they had blatantly broken the rules of the Armistice. Equally, and during this period, the Royal Navy were accused of the same thing when they shot dead several German sailors involved in the scuttling. One German sailor was also shot and wounded [who died a few days later] by a British sailor as an act of retribution and all engulfing detestation of Germans: he lost two brothers serving at the front in army units. The killing of sailors doing acts of sabotage was deemed to be an act of self-defence in a war-hostile environment and the sailors involved absolved of any crime. The lone and un-provoked killing of a German simply because he was a German was the subject of more than one enquiry and court case. This file tells the story The_Times_1920-02-10.jpg sailor shot pow.pdf. All ten of these mentioned plus three other German sailors are buried in Lyness Naval Cemetery on the Isle of Hoy in Orkney. This file lists them Germans buried at Lyness.pdf  The surrender of the five cruisers and the dockyard hardware mentioned in the Note, are obvious!

During this period at Invergordon Admiral Von Reuter and his officers were accommodated in ships of the fleet using the Scottish base.

Once the status of POW was confirmed and the Geneva Red Cross organisation was informed officially, the scuttler's were moved to more suitable POW Camps. The officers with their personal servants and wardroom stewards were sent to Shropshire to Park Hill Camp at Oswestry to a part-vacated army barracks, whilst the ratings were incarcerated nearby in a disused adventure/outward-bound type of camp, the warrant officers being accommodated in the office block. Due to over crowding, a second site at Milehouse was established but was still being built when the men were repatriated: it became POW Camp No 8 during WW2. Shortly after this move from Scotland, the admiral and the senior officers of ships other than the admirals flagship, were shifted to a sheer luxurious POW accommodation at Donington Hall in Leicestershire, but the admiral's staff including the flag captain and junior officers stayed on at Oswestry. Tracing these WW1 camps today is very difficult, all now long abandoned. However I do have a picture of Donington Hall as it is today.



 In other archives I observed that in 1923, three years after the scuttler's had vacated the site, te Oswestry site was sold privately by the War Office. May 1923.docx HANSARDS SALE OF PARK HILL CAMP.pdf

These cuttings refer to those times The_Times_1919-07-04.jpg oswestry.pdf --- The_Times_1919-04-12 German POW recaptured.pdf ---VON REUTER SPECIAL TREATMENT.pdf ---GERMAN FLEET.pdf --- GERMAN FLEET SALVAGING.pdf ---ENEMY PRISONERS OF WAR MENTIONING SCAPA PRISONERS.pdf

On the 30th January 1920 all the scuttlers remaining in England in captivity were repatriated back home to Germany with the admiral receiving a great welcome. 1920-01-30 Adm Reuter freed.pdf

Rear Admiral Von Reuter of the Kaiserliche Marine, was the German Admiral tasked with an almost impossible and unenviable task, which left to his own initiative, he carried out with some commitment. Not for any recognised tactical or strategic reason mind you, but as an act of spite, even dog-in-manger, as you will read about on this page.

Whatever else happened in the Great War, the admiral went to his grave [1943] absolutely convinced that Germany had been the victor of the Jutland Battle which he [the Germans] would have called the Skagerrak Battle. His pragmatic simplistic view was based on numbers lost, and Germany lost fewer ships and fewer men than we did. He never accepted the view point that, although indecisive, the Kaiserliche Marine main battle groups  retreated to its ports and stayed in them, totally inactive for over two years, whilst the British navy maintained a total blockade, having the North Sea to itself, which led to the starvation of the German civilian population. That, despite the losses of each navy, was a strategic win if not a tactical win, and the glory was ours, leading inevitably to winning the war.  In Hitler's Mein Kampf, he states that the German population had become intolerant with the lack of progress in the war and that they were ambivalent about the conditions of the fighting soldier. By and large the army were well supplied and adequately fed the very opposite of what was happening back in Germany.  As soon as the civilian suffering became intolerable, they wanted Germany out of the war, this  notwithstanding Germany's standing in the field!

After that more than two years hemmed-up in harbour, the German battle fleet became a pawn, and Admiral Reuter, a junior admiral, was appointed as its Commander-in-Chief.  The ‘proper’ C-in-C couldn’t bring himself to lead his ships into internment which even he [Admiral Hipper] would have probably considered it as captivity. I am assuming here that after Jutland and the laying-up of the Imperial German navy in home ports, the crews were taken off the ships and used as land –fighting men, rather like we used the RND [Royal Naval Division]!

By this time the Germany Admiralty and Government which Admiral Reuter claimed he hated, was becoming increasingly dysfunctional, the Kaiser had fled to neutral Holland*  and moreover, the crews of these ships measured in their thousands, were totally disillusioned and becoming more mutinous as each days passed.  Many talked about deposing the Government which they blamed for surrendering the German armed forces, and regularly although at great risks to themselves, possessed a personal ‘red flag’ which they unfurled and waved at regular intervals. They clearly were thinking about the successes of the Bolsheviks in Russian. Admiral Reuter was aware of this but at that time didn’t see it as a challenge to his new appointment.

* For many years the Allies worked on a system to bring the Kaiser to trial for German war crimes – these were largely frustrated by the Dutch, who as neutrals had offered the Kaiser refuge which they were loathed to renege  on, even though they were au fait with the bestiality of Germany in the prosecution of their war: how could they not have been?.  However, the Dutch offered refuge simply on the grounds that the Kaiser had committed POLITICAL CRIMES and not as the Allies claimed, crimes against humanity. The Dutch people were almost indifferent about having the Kaiser in their country, and what they said and printed in their media was rounded upon by the Germans heralding the Dutch as heroes, when clearly and patently, there were not: indeed they were anti-heroes. The French thought it better to let sleeping does lay, stating that by putting the Kaiser on trial it would stir up more trouble within Germany especially if he were to be punished and in their eyes, made a martyr. America also were ambivalent overall, but at some stage suggested that the Allies and the Supreme Council were stirring up trouble needlessly, and that if the Kaiser were to be put on trial, so too should be the whole of the German Government.  There was a popular compromise mooted, which would accept the Dutch maintaining its hospitality but not in European Dutch territory. Those supporting that compromise wanted the Kaiser domiciled somewhere in the Duty East Indies with Java being the preferred location. By keeping the Kaiser in Europe it did the Dutch and their Government no favours on the international front, and that they allowed this to occur until his death, was shameful, a disgrace and an abuse of the term 'neutral' for in this matter, they were anything but. As a pointer to proper neutrality, we need look no further than to the beginning of WW2, and to the Battle of the River Plate. The British had chased the German pocket battleship Graf Spee into the River and into the port of Montevideo in Uruguay. Uruguay was a neutral country and could only offer a temporary sanctuary of twenty four hours, after which the Graf Spee would have to leave to regain the river estuary or the open sea. The story is proverbial, but I mention it because the ship was a belligerent and a political manifestation,  just as the Kaiser was a belligerent and the leader of a political manifestation, and the Netherlands should have followed the neutrality path Uruguay did in the second world war. Today of course, the Dutch are a much loved, admired and respected nation, but in days gone by, some of their actions were inexplicable, like for example, in WW2 the raising of a Dutch SS Division!  Nice bunch though they are, they do carry a stigma which is forever indelible in 20th century history. These are newspaper cutting about the proposed Kaiser trial. It is one of many hundreds published from this time, viz 1919, right up and until the Kaiser's death in  June 1941, a year/date range of 22 years of pressing for the trial of one of history's most evil men which the Dutch thwarted from beginning to end. That he lived for 22 years in peace and tranquility beyond when he had caused the deaths of millions of people whose average age would not have been a great deal more than the same 22 years, remember assisted by the Dutch people,  is too terrible to bear and comprehend.  Little wonder that the Dutch stay well clear of commemorating the war and celebrating the final victory  1919-12-04 trial of the KAISER.pdf --- The_Times_1920-02-05  BRITISH PRESSURE ON HOLLAND KAISER.pdf

 The admiral wrote a short account about his appointment which in truth is cluttered with many private thought and prejudices.  He published it [in hard and soft back] in German, which is called “Scapa Flow Der Grab den Deutschen Flotte”, in English meaning ‘The Grave of the German Fleet’. It is well worth a read if you can source it in English. I got mine from the New York Times.

What follows is a short and rough précis of some of his points in his book. His version is important juxtaposed with the British version which is well and professionally covered on the internet under this URL  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scuttling_of_the_German_fleet_in_Scapa_Flow  which I cannot match or better, in Hansards, the Press and the NA. What it lacks, I will endeavour to add in this my story. However, I note from the Bibliography of the Wikipedia article that there is no mention of Admiral Reuter’s book [account] which is a pity, for when all is said and done, his account must be considered as ‘prime witness’ input, alongside that of the British account: all other accounts are hardly relevant.

This is Admiral Reuters version, much abbreviated and written in the third person.


Admiral Von Reuter, who was in command of the German Fleet self-sunk at Scapa Flow wrote a brief account of the experiences of the German naval officers after the surrender of 1918, and of the motives which led them to decide to sink the ships.  According to the admiral, the responsibility was solely his own.  He had no orders from the German Admiralty.  It is not denied, it is even intimated in the book, that the matter had been discussed in German naval circles before Admiral Reuter sailed from Germany, but his final determination was taken on his own motion, simply as a “Prussian” officer in accordance with Prussian “naval tradition.”  Leaving this decision to one man was not a case of lais-ser faire on the part of the German Admiralty, as it was never their intention to destroy their fleet until the outcome of the Treaty document was fully known.  The problem was that Von Reuter could not communicate back to his Admiralty by wireless telegraphy and all mail to and from Scotland was heavily censored. At the time of the scuttle the German establishment was as surprised as many others organisations, but the peoples of Germany were well pleased at the news, falsely believing that their ships were honourably disposed of.  The Germany navy in Scapa was also well pleased that the saga was over and so also were the British who had always considered that the best place for the Kaiserliche Marine was on the bottom of some sea preferably in the deepest part of the Atlantic, never again to threaten and destroy peaceful loving people of all nations.

This may easily have been true for other reasons.  Naval officers are often left in positions where they are out of touch with their superiors and must act on their general knowledge of the “doctrine” of their profession.  They do what they think their chiefs would order them to do if able to issue instructions.  But Admiral Reuter gives special reasons why he made his mind to send his interned ships to the bottom of Scapa Flow.

He was influenced partly by his deep insight into “the British character.  The whole scheme to intern the German war vessels he suspected of being a trick.  Knowing the inherent “duplicity” of the British Admiralty as he did, Von Reuter was confident that only a good opportunity was awaited by the British to seize his ships.  Hence he resolved to forestall English treachery by a treacherous act of his own. Besides, he had just learned that the Versailles Treaty had been submitted to the German delegation, and that they had five days in which either to accept or reject it. How did he know that the war might not begin again any day?**  In that case his warships would certainly be overpowered and captured by the superior forces of the British.  Again, the need of anticipating what the English might do preyed upon his mind and finally led him to sink the fleet rather than to run any risk of its falling into the hands of the enemy.

** Although the Germans had reluctantly laid down their arms on the 11th November 1918, it was widely known that many were willing and wanted to keep up the fight. This article is one of many from the immediate post war period. 1919-12-04 Germanys secret forces.pdf    This file shows of the types of abuses that went on well into the 1920's over two years after the Armistice. There are quite literally thousands of these reports and most told of the well known and hateful arrogance of the German nation. By the mid 1920's Germany's visible army, but refuted by German authorities, was well in excess of 100,000 men. 1919-12-02 Germany .pdf and if you can't read this, here is a retype to assist you. Note the first story in particular which is in two parts. First the unofficial but very real German army - not long after General Foch's initiative, more Allied troops were sent into German to control the rabble and gangs. Nevertheless, these groups increased and festered until early 1930 when men in uniforms appeared on the street as Nazi "spear-carriers". From 1914 until 1945, 31 years, Germany always had some sort of troops causing either outright war or rebellion in Germanic regions, and not even the mass powers of the Allies [Supreme Council] could quell them. Even today, this Nazi scum is prolific in Germany! The second part endorses what Admiral Reuter said about the scuttling of the fleet, namely that it was all his own idea, with the German Government refusing to accept the blame. The second story  is yet another type of German war crime - their cruelty was boundless!  Third story - in many countries post WW1, it was a crime punishable either by death or by the seizure of everything the family owned right down to under clothing. A devastating cruel punishments for those in the family not involved or too young/too old to know what was going on. Here in France it was also illegal but severe punishment were rare. On top of German war crimes which we usually associate with dreadful things happening to people, individually or in groups, there are the countless incidents of the German mentality of wanton destruction for the sake of it, often meaning the shelling to total destruction of beautiful [and often Holy] buildings.

Incidentally, Admiral Reuter reveals sorrowfully the sad state of discipline on board his ships, and that he had asked the Royal Navy for assistance in helping to maintain control and discipline which the Royal Navy had willingly and successfully  supplied. Despite Von Reuter's protestations, he clearly trusted the sailors in the British navy with whom he had contact, daily if he had wanted it, whilst he didn't trust the British admirals or thousands of the lower deckers of his own navy.  By all accounts he kept himself to himself in captivity subsequent to the scuttle, no doubt writing reports and letters.

The crews [full operational crews in many cases] were in almost open mutiny even before sailing from Kiel. During the first months of internment at Scapa, insubordination and many signs of a revolutionary spirit amongst the men were constantly showing themselves.  With Royal Navy full support, given unaware that it would play into the hands of Von Reuter, several thousand German seamen were shipped back to Germany because they would not obey orders and could not be trusted. It was not until after these mutineers and revolutionaries were got rid of that the admiral felt it safe to hoist the agreed signal “sink the ships at once.”

Admiral Von Reuter writes frankly as an officer of the old monarchist type. He scarcely conceals his dislike of the German Republic.  By its weakness in the face of the Entente Powers, he declares, it placed the German navy in a position out of which there was no escape except total destruction.  But of what he did the admiral is obviously proud.

He simply decreed that the “unconquered”, "un-surrendered" German fleet should go into its “self-chosen grave.”

It never occurred to him to ask how an unconquered fleet could sail out and surrender without firing a shot thereby avoiding an further unnecessary deaths.  Alternatively, neither he nor the German Admiralty ever considered a voluntary self-scrapping of the fleet whereby the money generated could have helped with the cost of reparations.

End of précis.

He strikes me as being a person devoid of all fun and humour, unable to think laterally always choosing the logical approach where and when creativity would be an more appropriate answer, and always being on duty, never relaxing or taking leisure. Overall, a rather sad and lonely person, not well fitted for leading men!

My obvious comment is that the admiral is naïve in singling out the British [or, as he sometimes states, the English] accusing us of being duplicitous. All nations, for their own good, whether in peace or war, would be remiss were they not so when the situation warranted it.  For a German to call a Briton in that manner is a case of the “pot calling the kettle black.” However, using a swingometer aka a political indicator, we would readily see that we finished the war on a psychological high, struggling with an insurmountable debt, the lamentations of dreadful human losses bordering on the loss of a generation of men, privations and shortages, whilst Germany failed to register on the swingometer, such was their abject pitiful but deserved position.

It was said that the building of the Nazi navy starting in the early 1930's, the Kriegsmarine,  was considered as a Phoenix with its ships arising from the ashes of the Kaiserliche Marine, some of which still lays on the sea bed at Scapa. Moreover, it is easy to believe that the Germans targeted Scapa as early as possible in WW2 [September 1939] with the great loss of many lives and of the battleship Royal Oak, as a marker, pointing to what was and what was to come as a revenge although against whom or what: after all we neither caused it, ordered it or executed it, and yet we suffered by losing nearly 900 men and a fine ship. Still, he who laughs last, laughs the longest and that is the UK. Admiral Von Reuter no doubt enjoyed that first strike which he lived to see, dying aged 74 on the 18th December 1943, but he didn't live long enough to see the total destruction of Hitlers surface navy, with a new set of admirals ruing the day they crossed swords with the British navy, the RAF Coastal Command and the Bomber command, and later on against the UBoat threat/menace, with our Allies. It was the British who destroyed their surface navy as we had done the Luftwaffe before that, and come 1945, they must have finally realised the potency and pugnacity of our little Islands, just as the French, Spaniards and Dutch had done in the, 17th,18th and 19th centuries. Small though we be, long suffering but resolute, we gave up so much, but in doing so demonstrated to our European neighbours our invincibility. In war-terms, we became known for our impregnability; Germany for its two cataclysmic defeats and heinous war crimes,  and the French for its dishonourable capitulation and fraternisation [Vichy] with the Germans in WW2, and its mutiny in WW1, which had it not been for the undoubted leadership skills/qualities of General Pétain [later Marshal] newly appointed post-mutiny, in rallying the morale of the French infantry, but more importantly keeping the news of the mutiny from the Germans and even his Allies, could have grossly affected the outcome of the war. That it didn't, meant Britain owed a personal debt to Pétain and his Staff. Nevertheless, the ring-leaders were brought to trial under Pétain and 554 were sentenced to death for mutiny in the field.  Of these 45 were shot, the remainder reprieved, receiving less severe but salutary sentences designed to restore discipline.

These two files are relevant to the scuttling of the German ships. 1919-12-04 Note Adm Reuters imprisonment.pdf    1919-12-04 Scapa & the Two documents.pdf

Comparing navies, and taking out of the comparison the near-like losses of Jutland, Germany lost for every reason, so come the end, we cannot feel too sorry for it or for its men in the period of Armistice to the 30th January 1920 the day which completed all repatriations from the UK to Germany, part of which saw the German submarines surrender in Harwich and the surface fleet in the Forth/Orkneys .  The vast majority of sailors who left Germany and arrived in Scapa, were not still in Scapa when the ships were scuttled. They were back in Germany as free men where disgrace no longer mattered, and honour, if they ever had even the slightest understanding of what the word means to most people, was long spent and sacrificed to the myth of the now impotent German/Prussian Black Eagle and the Swastika, which fortunately is either never used or talked about save for the new Germany thugs, or has regained its original conception as the harbinger of  happiness to some of Asia's religions! And the myth....for omnipotence read impotence!

On 1st September 1919  German POW's started be repatriated to their homeland and by the 20th October 218,380 had been transported 32530 from the UK. Yet many remain in the UK including all those survived from the scuttling of the German fleet.