The German Navy During Nazi Regime
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime (1935–1945). It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany. The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly during German naval rearmaments in the 1930s. In January 1939 Plan Z was ordered, calling for the construction of many naval vessels. The ships of the Kriegsmarine fought during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. The commander-in-chief of the Kriegsmarine was Adolf Hitler, who exercised his authority through the Oberkommando der Marine. The Kriegsmarine's most famous ships were the U-boat wolfpacks, most of which were constructed after Plan Z was abandoned at the beginning of World War II. They were submarine groups which attacked Allied convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic. Along with the U-boats, surface ships (including auxiliary cruisers) were used to disrupt Allied shipping in the early years of the war. However, the adoption of convoy escorts later in the war greatly reduced the effectiveness of naval strikes on convoys. At the end of the Second World War, the Kriegsmarine's remaining ships were divided up amongst the Allied powers and were used for various purposes including minesweeping.