Who's Who - Reinhardt Scheer
Reinhardt Scheer (1863-1928) commanded the German High Seas Fleet at the Battle of Jutland and subsequently headed the Naval Supreme Command in 1918 until his dismissal by the Kaiser shortly before the war's end.
Scheer was born on 30 September 1863 in Obernkirchen, Hanover. He entered the German navy in 1879 and rose to the rank of battleship captain by 1907, having established himself as a torpedo specialist in the 1890s.
Appointed Chief of Staff of the High Seas Fleet by its commander Henning von Holtzendorff in 1910, Scheer was made commander of the Second Battle Squadron three years later.
A strong proponent of (and noted strategist in) the use of submarines, once war was declared in August 1914 Scheer consistently over-estimated their value for the remainder of the war, recklessly encouraging their use even at the price of antagonising the then neutral U.S.A.
Scheer planned and executed German submarine raids directed against the English coastline, regularly using surface shipping as bait for luring British ships into open waters where his submarines would be lying in wait.
Appointed commander of the High Seas Fleet in January 1916, replacing Hugo von Pohl, the aggressive Scheer determined to first reduce the size of the British Grand Fleet before tackling it in battle at a later date.
As such, he resolved to draw the British fleet into battle in late May 1916, his intention being to separate the British forces in order that he could pick off isolated shipping.
Resulting from as much chance as planning, the Battle of Jutland (31 May-1 June 1916) saw the British Grand Fleet meet the German High Seas Fleet. The consequent battle did not proceed according to either British or German plans, although both British Admiral Jellicoe and Scheer manoeuvred brilliantly when necessary. Scheer himself almost certainly saved the German High Seas Fleet from destruction.
Jutland is generally regarded as something of a draw. The German forces appeared the tactical victors, inflicting more damage upon British shipping, but the British claimed the rather more important strategical victory, for neither the Kaiser, Wilhelm II, nor Scheer were willing again to risk the High Seas Fleet in battle against the British Grand Fleet.
On 8 August 1918 Scheer was appointed Chief of the Admiralty Staff - that is, as head of the Naval Supreme Command - replacing Holtzendorff (reluctantly agreed upon by the Kaiser) and belatedly imposing a unified command structure upon the navy.
Having planned a bold (most say suicidal) attack upon the British fleet in October 1918, Scheer found his plans wrought nought by the Kiel Mutiny of 30 October 1918. He was subsequently dismissed by Wilhelm II on 9 November and formally retired by the incoming German government (in the new republic) the following month.
Scheer wrote his account of the war, Germany's High Seas Fleet in the World War, in 1919 (published in English in 1920).
Reinhardt Scheer, who was the recipient of both the Pour le Merite and the Oakleaves, died on 26 November 1928 in Marktredwitz at the age of 65.
Flak was a term used to describe anti-aircraft fire.
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