The Kriegsmarine (German, War Navy) was the name of the German Navy from 1935 to 1945, covering most of the period of Nazi rule. It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the interwar Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly during German naval rearmament in the 1930s (the Treaty of Versailles had limited the size of the German navy previously). The ships of the Kriegsmarine fought during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. The Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine (as for all branches of armed forces during the period of absolute Nazi power) was Adolf Hitler, who exercised his authority through the Oberkommando der Marine.

The Kriegsmarine's most famous ships were the U-boats and the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. Wolfpacks were rapidly assembled groups of submarines which attacked Allied convoys. Despite early success in battles like the Battle of the Blockade, the Kriegsmarine later suffered heavy losses through Allied bombing and battles like the Battle of Kristiansand, and the U-Boat force was rendered ineffective by Allied convoy escorts. At the end of the war, the Kriegsmarine's remaining ships were divided among the Allies.

Ships[edit | edit source]

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