Erich Raeder

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Erich Raeder

Erich Johann Albert Raeder (April 24, 1876 - November 6, 1960) was a naval leader in Germany before and during World War II. Raeder attained the highest possible naval rank – that of Großadmiral (Grand Admiral) – in 1939, becoming the first person to hold that rank since Alfred von Tirpitz. Raeder led the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) for the first half of World War II, but resigned in 1943 and was replaced by Karl Dönitz. He was sentenced to life in prison at the Nuremberg Trials, but was released on September 26, 1955 and later wrote an autobiography, Mein Leben, in 1957. Erich Raeder died in Kiel, on November 6, 1960.


  • ...the basic principles of the military services are unchangeable. Courage and candor, obedience and comradeship, love of fatherland and loyalty to the State: these are ever the distinguishing characteristics of the soldier and sailor. Building character through intelligent training and education is always the first and greatest goal.
    • Quoted in "He Led Hitler's Navy," "New York Times" article, April 24, 1960.
  • protect our position in the Norwegian and Arctic areas by threatening the flank of enemy operations against the northern Norwegian areas, and by attacking White Sea tie down enemy forces in the Atlantic, so that they cannot operate in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean or the Pacific.
    • Quoted in "The Great Ships Pass: British Battleships at War" - by Peter Charles Smith - History - 1977
  • All wars will be settled by sea power.
    • 1939. Quoted in "The Atlantic System: The Story of Anglo-American Control of the Seas" - Page 221 - by Forrest Davis - 1941


  • The German Navy managed mostly to show that they knew how to die gallantly, especially the surface fleet.
  • Hitler was a demon but I realized it too late.
  • I will bring to everyone's attention that, in case war with Great Britain were to burst; such a war could mean Germany's end.
    • To other admirals and high ranking officials, July 22, 1939.

About Raeder

  • Raeder, the political admiral, stealthily built up the German Navy in defiance of the Versailles Treaty, and then put it to use in a series of aggressions which he had taken a leading part in planning.
    • Robert H. Jackson
  • Navy Commander Erich Raeder was more concerned with enhancing the navy's position in the new Reich than with contributing to a rational grand strategy. His limited vision fitted nicely into Hitler's dreams of world empire.
    • Johannes Steinhoff (1994)
  • An irritable old man with a practical, unimaginative mentality, but academically intelligent.
    • G. M. Gilbert
  • The Athenia sinking — when I broadcast that this was done not by our U-boats but by the British, I had Raeder's word for it. It was Raeder's fault. He knew and Hitler knew it was a German submarine.

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