Oberkommando der Marine

The Oberkommando der Marine (OKM), translated as High Command of the Navy or Upper Command of the Navy, was the high command and the highest administrative and command authority of the Kriegsmarine. It was officially formed from the Marineleitung ("Naval Command") of the Reichswehr on 11 January 1936. In 1937 it was combined with the newly formed Seekriegsleitung (SKL). There were two major re-organisations, in November 1939 and May 1944.

High Command of the Navy
Oberkommando der Marine
Kriegsmarine Grossadmiral-Flag 1945
Active11 January 1936 – 22 June 1945
Country Nazi Germany
Branch Kriegsmarine
See list


The OKM was broadly divided into six sections:

  • At the top was the Oberbefehlshaber der Marine (OBdM) - the Commander-in-Chief and his staff, with responsibility for liaison with the OKW, and including planning, technical, engineering, medical, economic, research, propaganda and personnel departments.
  • The Seekriegsleitung (SKL) ("Naval Warfare Command") was formed on 1 April 1937. Originally closely linked with both the OBdM and the Marinekommandoamt, with the Commander-in-Chief (OBdM) also the Chief of the SKL, and the Chief of the Marinekommandoamt doubling as the SKL Chief of Staff. From 23 August 1939 the offices were split and the Marinekommandoamt became subordinate to the SKL with its own Chief and staff. The SKL led the planning and execution of naval warfare and directed the distribution of naval forces, though during the war its authority was limited to non-domestic sea-areas, and in February 1943 when Dönitz was appointed OBdM it also lost control over U-boat operations. On 1 May 1944 the Chief of Staff of the SKL was re-designated the Chef der Seekriegsleitung. The office was then tasked with the command of fleet units operating as transports, blockade runners, auxiliary cruisers and supply shipping.
  • The Marinekommandoamt ("Naval Command Department") was formed on 11 January 1936 with the formation of the OKM, but had previously existed in the Marineleitung since 1920. Subordinate to the Oberbefehshaber der Marine, from April 1937 the Chef des Marinekommandoamt also served as the Chief of Staff of the SKL. In mid-1939 the two offices were split and the Marinekommandoamt received a new Chief who was subordinate to the Chief of Staff of the SKL. From 1942 the office was also known as the Quartiermeisteramt and from 20 April 1943 the Chief was re-titled Admiralquartiermeister. On 1 May 1944 the office was officially re-designated the Quartiermeisteramt. As well as naval operations the Marinekommandoamt had responsibilities in manning, supply, intelligence, training, and in coastal and air defence.
  • The Marinewaffenamt ("Naval Weapons Department") was formed in 1934, and was renamed the Marinewaffenhauptamt ("Naval Weapons Head Department") in 1939, and to Kriegsmarine-Rüstung ("Navy Armaments") in 1944, and oversaw the development, testing and production of naval weapons of all kinds, as well as electronic counter-measures and radio communications.
  • The Allgemeines Marineamt ("General Navy Department") founded in January 1936, renamed Allgemeine Marinehauptamt ("General Navy Head Department") in November 1939, and again to Kriegsmarine-Wehr ("Navy Defense") in 1944, was concerned mainly with administrative matters; it included legal, medical, economic, construction and export departments.
  • The Konstruktionsamt ("Construction Department"), formed in 1936, was renamed Amt Kriegsschiffsbau ("Department of Warship Construction") in 1939, and later the same year to Hauptamt Kriegsschiffsbau ("Head Department of Warship Construction"), before reverting to its previous designation in 1944. As its name suggests this department dealt with the construction of new vessels for the navy, dealing with the design and engineering of ships and U-boats, working with suppliers and shipyards, and liaising with the Ministry of Armaments and War Production.

The Flottenchef (Fleet commander) of the Kriegsmarine was also considered a serving member of the OKM.

List of commanders

The Commanders-in-Chief (Oberbefehlshaber der Marine) of the Kriegsmarine were:[1]

Oberbefehlshaber der Marine Took office Left office Time in office
Erich Raeder
Erich Raeder
1 June 193530 January 19437 years, 243 days
Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz
30 January 19431 May 19452 years, 91 days
Hans-Georg von Friedeburg
Hans-Georg von Friedeburg
1 May 194523 May 1945 †22 days
Walter Warzecha
Walter Warzecha
23 May 194522 June 194530 days

Flags of the Commander-in-Chief

On 7 November 1935 a decree was issued by Werner von Blomberg, the Reichskriegsminister and Commander-in-Chief of the German Armed Forces ordering the introduction of a new pattern of flag for use by the Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine. The flag consisted of a white square on which was displayed a large black Iron Cross. Placed behind it were two straight bladed unsheathed swords in bright yellow, crossed at right angles to each other. The flag was modified when on 1 April 1939 Erich Raeder rose to the rank of Großadmiral. The flag continued to be in use when Karl Dönitz came into this position on 30 January 1943. The swords were replaced by a pair of Admiral's batons crossed at right angles. Superimposed over both the crossed batons and the Iron Cross was a Wehrmachtsadler ("Armed Forces' Eagle") in gold, facing towards the hoist. On 30 January 1943 a further special flag was introduced for Großadmiral Raeder in order to represent his position as Admiralinspekteur of the Kriegsmarine. It was in the same design as for the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, but with the addition of a wide light blue border.

Kriegsmarine Flag-OBKM 1939-1939 v1

Flag of the Commander-in-Chief from 7 November 1935 to 30 March 1939

Kriegsmarine Grossadmiral-Flag 1945

Flag of the Commander-in-Chief from 1 April 1939 to 8 May 1945

Kriegsmarine Admiralinspekteur-Flag 1945 v1

Flag of the Admiralinspekteur from 1 February 1943 to 8 May 1945


  1. ^ "Deutsches Marinearchiv". deutsches-marinearchiv.de. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
15 cm TbtsK C/36 naval gun

The 15 cm TbtsK C/36 was a German medium-caliber naval gun deployed on Type 1936A (Mob) destroyers during the Second World War. It was designed because the Oberkommando der Marine (German Naval High Command) thought that the 12.7 cm (5.0 in) guns of the Type 1936 and 1936A destroyers would potentially be inferior to those of possible enemies. The guns caused serious issues when actually placed upon ships however, as they added significant weight high up on the ships. To deal with this increase in weight, the destroyers had one gun removed, sometimes with a twin gun being used in order to keep five guns.

Erhard Maertens

Erhard Maertens or Eberhard Maertens (26 February 1891 in Głogów – 5 May 1945 in Berlin) was a German Vizeadmiral of the Kriegsmarine during World War II. Between 16 June 1941 and 5 May 1943, Maertens was Chief of Office of Naval Intelligence, Naval War Command (German: Marinekommandoamt) in the Oberkommando der Marine. Maertens was principally known for permanently underrating British Intelligence, and specifically in overrating the security of the Naval Enigma cipher machine. In 1941, Maertens held an naval enquiry into the strength of Naval Enigma security, after the capture of U-boat U-570 and attributed all the suspicious losses in U-boats at the time, to the British Huff-Duff. The second enquiry, ordered by Commander-in-Chief of the Navy (German: Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine) Karl Dönitz, in May 1943, he investigated a number of areas, but finally exculpated Enigma security, for the second time, incorrectly blaming British 9.7 centimetre Centimetric radar, for the massive losses in U-boats, by mid 1943.

Fleet commander (Kriegsmarine)

The Fleet commander of the Kriegsmarine (Flottenchef) was the highest ranked administrative officer in the organization of the Kriegsmarine, and served as a member of the Oberkommando der Marine. The fleet commander did not actually serve as commander of an at-sea fleet, but instead was the senior officer to which the vessel type commanders reported. The position of fleet commander was created from an older position of the Reichsmarine known as Der Oberbefehlshaber der Seestreitkräfte.

In 1926, the position adopted the name Flottenchef, but was declared defunct one year later and left vacant with no assigned officer. The title became a position within the Kriegsmarine in 1936.

Friedrich Lützow

Friedrich Lützow (31 August 1881 – 1 November 1964) was a German naval officer who served in the Kaiserliche Marine, the Reichsmarine and the Kriegsmarine, eventually reaching the rank of Vizeadmiral during World War II. He was also a writer on naval warfare.

Following the start of World War II in Europe on Friday, 1 September 1939, when German forces invaded Poland, Lützow was called back into military service on 24 December 1939. He served as head of the propaganda department of the Kriegsmarine. In this capacity, he was the speaker of the Oberkommando der Marine (Naval High Command). He regularly held Wednesday evening's radio broadcast lectures under the title "naval warfare and naval power," in which he explained the recent events of the war at sea.

German High Command

German High Command may refer to:

German Imperial Naval High Command (Kaiserliches Oberkommando der Marine)

Oberste Heeresleitung (OHL, "Supreme Army Command") of the German Empire

Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW, "Supreme Command of the Armed Forces") of Nazi Germany

Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH, "Supreme Command of the Army") of Nazi Germany

Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OKL, "Supreme Command of the Air Force") of Nazi Germany

Oberkommando der Marine (OKM, "Supreme Command of the Navy") of Nazi Germany

German Imperial Admiralty

The German Imperial Admiralty (German: Kaiserliche Admiralität) was an imperial naval authority in the German Empire. By order of Kaiser Wilhelm I the Northern German Federal Navy Department of the North German Confederation (1866–71), which had been formed from the Prussian Navy Department (Marineministerium), became on 1 January 1872 the German Imperial Admiralty (Kaiserliche Admiralität). The head of the Admiralty (Chef der Admiralität) administered the Imperial Navy under the authority of the imperial chancellor and the supreme command of the Emperor (Kaiserliche Kommandogewalt). It lasted until 1889, undergoing several reorganizations, but proved an impractical arrangement given the constant growth and the expansion of the Imperial Navy. Finally it was abolished in April 1889 and its duties divided among three new entities: German Imperial Naval High Command (Kaiserliches Oberkommando der Marine), the Imperial Naval Office (Reichsmarineamt), and the Imperial Naval Cabinet (Kaiserliches Marinekabinett). The Imperial Naval High Command was, on 14 March 1899, replaced by the German Imperial Admiralty Staff, which simply transferred over most of the personnel of the Admiral Staff detachment of the former Naval High Command.

German Imperial Admiralty Staff

The German Imperial Admiralty Staff (German: Admiralstab) was one of four command agencies for the administration of the Imperial German Navy from 1899 to 1918. While the German Emperor Wilhelm II as commander-in-chief exercised supreme operational command and control of the naval forces, the military staff was split into the Admiralty, the Naval Office, the Naval Cabinet, and the Inspector-General. The command structure had a negative impact on German naval warfare in World War I, as a professional head of the Imperial Navy, similar to the First Sea Lord, was not established until August 1918. After the war and the German Revolution of 1918–19, the Admiralty Staff became subordinate to the Naval Office and was finally disestablished by order of the German President.

German Imperial Naval High Command

The German Imperial Naval High Command (German: Kaiserliches Oberkommando der Marine) was an office of the German Empire which existed from 1 April 1889 until 14 March 1899 to command the German Imperial Navy. A similarly named office existed in the Prussian Navy and the Kriegsmarine of Nazi Germany.

After the dissolution of the German Imperial Admiralty (Kaiserliche Admiralität) on 1 April 1889, the Imperial Naval High Command, the Office of the Inspector-General of the Navy, and the Imperial Naval Office (Reichsmarineamt) were established as successor institutions. The Imperial Naval High Command was headed by a commanding admiral, directly subordinate to the emperor, Wilhelm II of Germany. With the same obligations and rights as a commanding general of the army, this admiral fulfilled the duties of a Chief of the Naval Staff. Under instructions from the emperor, he commanded all naval units at sea and ashore.

When the German Emperor decided to take over the supreme command of the Navy himself on 14 March 1899, the Imperial Naval High Command was disbanded. This happened mainly at the instigation of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, to increase the power of his Imperial Naval Office (Reichsmarineamt). Some of the powers of the Imperial Naval High Command were transferred to the previously existing Admiralty Staff.

German Imperial Naval Office

The Imperial Naval Office (German: Reichsmarineamt) was a government agency of the German Empire. It was established in April 1889, when the German Imperial Admiralty was abolished and its duties divided among three new entities: the Imperial Naval High Command (Kaiserliches Oberkommando der Marine), the Imperial Naval Cabinet (Kaiserliches Marinekabinett) and the Imperial Naval Office performing the functions of a ministry for the Imperial German Navy.

German submarine U-1308

U-1308 was the last Type VII/41 submarine to be laid down, launched and commissioned by Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. The Oberkommando der Marine or OKM, (the German naval high command), had decided near the end of World War II to put all of its resources into building newer types of Unterseeboot, such as the types XXI and XXIII. U-1308 was part of a batch of eight U-boats (U-1301 to U-1308) ordered on 1 August 1942 to be built at Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft, Flensburg (54°48′30″N 9°26′07″E). She was laid down on 16 February 1944 and launched on 22 November. The eight boats were commissioned over a 12-month period between February 1944 and 17 January 1945 .

As U-1308 was the last Type VII, the Kriegsmarine fitted her out to be one of the most advanced. U-1308 was one of nine Type VIIs that the Kriegsmarine fitted with an experimental synthetic rubber skin of anechoic tiles known as Alberich, which had been designed to counter the Allies' asdic/sonar devices. U-1308 was also one of two Type VIIC/41s that was equipped with a new design of passive sonar hydrophones, thus increasing detection ranges by approximately 70% over the older designs.

A few days before Germany surrendered on 8 May 1945, U-1308 was taken approximately 5 km (2.7 nmi) north-west of Warnemünde and scuttled on 2 May at approximately 54°13′00″N 12°02′00″E. During the final days of Nazi Germany there was a plethora of U-boats which suffered the same fate. In the last week of the war, 28 other boats joined her.

H-class battleship proposals

The H class was a series of battleship designs for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine, which were intended to fulfill the requirements of Plan Z in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The first variation, "H-39," called for six ships to be built, essentially as enlarged Bismarck-class battleships with 40.6 cm (16.0 in) guns. The "H-41" design improved the "H-39" ship with still larger main guns, with eight 42 cm (16.5 in) weapons. Two subsequent plans, "H-42" and "H-43", increased the main battery yet again, with 48 cm (19 in) pieces, and the enormous "H-44" design ultimately resulted with 50.8 cm (20.0 in) guns. The ships ranged in size from the "H-39", which was 277.8 m (911 ft 5 in) long on a displacement of 56,444 t (55,553 long tons), to the "H-44", at 345 m (1,131 ft 11 in) on a displacement of 131,000 t (129,000 long tons). Most of the designs had a proposed top speed in excess of 30 knots (56 km/h).

Due to the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, none of the ships were ever completed; only the first two of the "H-39" ships were laid down. What work that had been accomplished was halted; the assembled steel remained on the slipway until November 1941, when the Oberkommando der Marine ordered it be sent for scrap and used for other purposes. Contracts for the other four "H-39" type ships had been awarded, but no work was begun on any of them before they were canceled. None of the subsequent designs progressed further than planning stages.

Heinz Bonatz

Hermann Leopold Ludwig Eugen Hans Heinz Bonatz (18 August 1897 in Witzenhausen – 1981) was a German naval officer during World War II, known as Heinz Bonatz. He was most notable for being chief of B-Dienst (German: Beobachtungsdienst, literally: observation or monitoring service) until January 1944. B-Dienst was Division III Radio Intelligence (German: Abteilung Funkaufklärung) of the Naval Intelligence Service (German: Marinenachrichtendienst (MND)) of the Oberkommando der Marine (OKM). This division dealt with the interception and recording, decoding and analysis of the enemy, in particular British, radio communications.

Inspector of the Navy

The Inspector of the Navy (German: Inspekteur der Marine) is the commander of the Navy of the modern-day German Armed Forces, the Bundeswehr. Since the various bodies responsible for the high command of the German Navy were merged in 2012, the Inspector has been based at the Navy Command at Rostock. Before then, the Inspector was head of the Naval Staff of the Ministry of Defence, based in Bonn. Both the Inspector and his deputy hold the rank of vice admiral (German: Vizeadmiral).The Inspector is responsible for the readiness of personnel and materiel in the German Navy, in that regard he reports directly to the Federal Minister of Defence. The Inspector commands the Navy Command; however, the subordinate departments of the Navy are led by their heads at Navy Command and do not report directly to the Inspector. The Inspector sits under the General Inspector of the Bundeswehr and is a member of the Defence Council for Bundeswehr-wide matters.

Max von der Goltz

Otto Ferdinand Maximilian Leopold Freiherr von der Goltz (April 19, 1838 in Königsberg, Prussia, Germany – December 20, 1906 in Potsdam, Germany) was an Admiral of the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine).

Goltz joined the Prussian Navy in 1853, and became an Fähnrich zur See (midshipman) 1859, and Kapitänleutnant (lieutenant) in 1865, and Korvettenkapitän in 1870. He was then at the Navy Ministry.

Now a captain (Kapitän zur See), he made several trips as commander of the corvette Augusta to South America (Brazil) and West Indies. Between 1877 and 1882 he was senior director of the shipyard in Kiel and reorganized the yard. He was then chief of the Mediterranean Squadron during the conflict in Egypt and in 1883 briefly became commander of the German East Asia Squadron (Ostasiengeschwader) before being appointed Konteradmiral (rear admiral) and chief of the German Imperial Admiralty. Five years later he was made Vizeadmiral and appointed commander (Marinetstationschef) of the North Sea Naval Station (Marinestation der Nordsee) at Wilhelmshaven. In 1889 he became commanding admiral of the Kaiserliches Oberkommando der Marine (Naval High Command) and in 1892 Goltz finally became a full Admiral.

On 13 May 1895 von der Goltz resigned his position for health reasons. He died on 20 December 1906 in Potsdam.

Oberkommando des Heeres

The Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) was the High Command (lit. Upper Command) of the German Army during the Era of Nazi Germany. It was founded in 1935 as a part of Adolf Hitler's re-militarisation of Germany. From 1938 OKH was, together with OKL (Oberkommando der Luftwaffe, High Command of the Air Force) and OKM (Oberkommando der Marine, High Command of the Navy), formally subordinated to the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, High Command of the Armed Forces), with the exception of the Waffen-SS. During the war, OKH had the responsibility of strategic planning of Armies and Army Groups, while the General Staff of the OKH managed operational matters. Each German Army also had an Armeeoberkommando, Army Command, or AOK. Until the German defeat at Moscow in December 1941, OKH and its staff was de facto the most important unit within the German war planning. OKW then took over this function for theatres other than the German-Soviet front.

OKH commander held the title Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres (Supreme Commander of the Army). Following the Battle of Moscow, after OKH commander Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch was excused, Hitler appointed himself as Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

Plan Z

Plan Z was the name given to the planned re-equipment and expansion of the Kriegsmarine (German navy) ordered by Adolf Hitler in early 1939. The fleet was meant to challenge the naval power of the United Kingdom, and was to be completed by 1948. Development of the plan began in 1938, but it reflected the evolution of the strategic thinking of the Oberkommando der Marine (Naval High Command) over the two decades following World War I. The plan called for a fleet centered on ten battleships and four aircraft carriers which were intended to battle the Royal Navy. This force would be supplemented with numerous long-range cruisers that would attack British shipping. A relatively small force of U-boats was also stipulated.

When World War II broke out in September 1939, almost no work had been done on the new ships ordered under Plan Z. The need to shift manufacturing capacity to more pressing requirements forced the Kriegsmarine to abandon the construction program, and only a handful of major ships—all of which had been ordered before Plan Z—were completed during the war. Nevertheless, the plan still had a significant effect on the course of World War II, in that only a few dozen U-boats had been completed by the outbreak of war. Admiral Karl Dönitz's U-boat fleet only reached the 300 U-boats he deemed necessary to win a commerce war against Britain in 1943, by which time his forces had been decisively defeated.

Ruhleben Barracks

The Ruhleben barracks (German: Ruhleben-Kaserne) is part of the German Naval establishment located in Plön, Holstein, Germany.

From 1940 to 1945 it was home to the III U-Boat Training Division (III Untersee-Boot Ausbildungsabteilung). On April 22, 1945 Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz moved the headquarters of the Naval High Command (Oberkommando der Marine) there. As of April 30, 1945 until May 2, 1945, following Dönitz being named head of the German Reich, it was the de facto capital of Germany.

On May 7, 1945, the installation was captured by British Forces who installed themselves there and renamed it the Connaught Barracks. Towards the end of formal British occupation, the British set up the King Alfred School on March 10, 1948 to teach the children of the British military service personnel stationed in Germany.

Following the re-establishment of the German Navy, the barracks reopened as the home of the Naval NCO School (Marineunteroffizierschule Plön) on September 9, 1960.

Walter Warzecha

Walter Wilhelm Julius Warzecha (23 May 1891 – 3 August 1956) was a German naval commander and high-ranking officer of the Kriegsmarine. Serving in the rank of General Admiral he succeeded General Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg as the last Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine after the end of World War II.

Shore Forces
Battles and engagements
Uniforms and awards
Chiefs of the navy by country


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