http://www.nwc.navy.mil/press/review/20 ... t5-a05.htm
Algunos fragmentos de interés en mi opinión:
has been suggested that Raeder's resentment of Wegener was due to personal jealousy and the obstruction that Wegener's theories represented to Raeder's plans for recreating between the wars a German world-power fleet (Weltmachtflotte). A number of naval historians have been critical of Raeder's leadership, supporting the general view that the German naval leadership was striving to recreate a "Tirpitzian" battle fleet. (5) Specifically, many prominent German historians have also criticized Raeder's leadership. Their collective assessment implies that interwar German naval leaders learned nothing from the experiences of the First World War and that they directed all of their energy toward preparing for another major fleet engagement against the Royal Navy. Raeder has been accused of attempting "to formulate strategy ... like his predecessor Tirpitz.... without weighing national goals, interests, threats, or strategies, seeing the fleet largely as an isolated entity, detached from grand strategic planning." (6) An American historian writing in 1940 felt that Raeder and his subordinates suffered from "an atrophy of strategic thought." (7)
Severe criticism has also extended to the capital acquisition plans and operational concepts employed by the Kriegsmarine during the Second World War. One of the most damaging such attacks accuses the Germans of having no coherent concept of operations: "The important decisions on warship construction were changed several times and were not based on a detailed, structurally well-thought-out plan." (8) In this view, the German admiralty had not "even a modicum of strategic sense in the handling of capital ships"; for instance, Bismarck should have been held in reserve until Tirpitz was operational, at which point these two battleships should have been used together with the battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and an aircraft carrier. This "might have put an incalculable strain on British resources" and encouraged the Italian navy to more aggressive action. On this view, the Germans resigned themselves to their status as an inferior naval power and as a consequence "wasted their great ships singly as mere commerce raiders." (9)
The falling-out between Grand Admiral Raeder and Vice Admiral Wegener appears instead to have been ideologically based and directly related to Wegener's professional writing. As Raeder began to exceed Wegener in rank, he would use his position and influence openly to suppress the strategic theories of his classmate and to isolate his former friend. Wegener was promoted to rear admiral on 1 March 1923, serving as inspector of naval artillery. With only four vice admirals' positions, the competition for advancement was stiff, and Wegener was directed to retire in 1926 by Admiral Zenker, the naval chief. Raeder, eventually head of the German navy, would direct officers under his command to write articles discrediting Wegener's work. He would also endeavor, unsuccessfully, to stop the publication of Wegener's book The Naval Strategy of the World War (Die Seestrategie des Weltkrieges). (19) The importance of the point is not merely biographical; the differences between the two admirals' philosophies were emblematic of a fundamental divergence at the highest levels of German naval strategy development during the interwar era.
Wegener's book, which was published in 1929 and reissued in a second edition in 1941, was actually a compilation of three staff papers that he had written during 1915, while serving as a fleet staff officer in the rank of lieutenant commander. Indeed, since his earliest days in the navy, Wegener had demonstrated considerable literary and intellectual ability. Between 1902 and 1907, he wrote no less than seven noteworthy papers, most of which while on the staffs of the Naval Education Department and the Naval Academy. After three years of sea duty between 1908 and 1911, during which he served as a gunnery officer in the battleships Preussen and Kaiser Barbarrosa and finally in the heavy cruiser Blucher, Wegener's evident staff skills resulted in his promotion and posting as a fleet staff officer. His first assignment in this capacity was under Rear Admiral Gustav Bachmann as his Second Staff Officer, but his billet was quickly changed in 1912 to the First Staff Officer of the First Battle Squadron, commanded by Vice Admiral Wilhelm von Lans. The significance of this assignment should not be missed--the First Battle Squadron was one of the premier formations in the fleet, composed of eight powerful battleships of the Nassau and Helgoland classes. Wegener's abilities had landed him a high-visibility operational post under the direct supervision of a very senior flag officer.
By February 1915, when the first of Wegener's controversial papers was issued under the signature of Admiral Lans, the reality of the German naval situation was becoming apparent to most observers. The enormous cost of building, supplying, and crewing the fleet had been borne only grudgingly by both the German army and the public. (20) After the loss of Blucher at the Battle of the Dogger Bank (see map 1), Admiral Tirpitz and his Risk Theory (Risikogedanke) became the object of increasing criticism from many quarters. (21) The inactivity of the High Seas Fleet and the mounting effect of the British "hunger blockade" were having disquieting effects. Wegener's questions about the navy's employment came at a time when the German army was increasingly resentful that the navy had suffered relatively little when its own casualties were heavy; the German public, for its part, was generally skeptical about the navy's performance; and the service itself was suffering a crisis of confidence. When the first of Wegener's papers was circulated, Admiral Tirpitz became enraged. That it was possible for Wegener to write two further papers and release them under his own signature is truly remarkable, with regard not only to his junior position and Tirpitz's ire but to the obvious fracture it represented in the strategic thinking of the German naval officer corps. (22)
Collectively, Wegener's three papers argued that the strategic-defensive orientation of the Risk Theory was invalid, in that it did not threaten the principal British vulnerability, maritime trade. The complete dependence of British industry upon imported resources and the inability of agriculture to feed the nation had been well known long before the First World War. The obvious way to bring the imperial giant to its knees was to sever the maritime jugular: "In quintessentially Mahanian terms, the [Wegenerian] treatise stated that sea power consisted of control of maritime communications, particularly the protection of vital sea lanes." Writing in an abrupt and forceful style, highlighting conclusions in terse, one-sentence paragraphs, Wegener charged the wartime leadership with misunderstanding the fundamental uses of the sea. Moreover, he accused it of committing the fleet to battle in pursuit of tactical victories that, having no strategic consequence, were purposeless. Wegener combined classically Clausewitzian logic, which dictated that battle must be accepted only in support of a political aim, with an astute assessment of the German military situation and a clear appreciation of European geography. From all this he concluded, "Our defensive operations plan lacked an object of defense. Therefore, there was no battle for command of the sea in the North Sea. The Helgoland Bight was, is, and remains a dead angle in a dead sea." Wegener asserted that geographic position was just as vital as the possession of a fleet of ships and that such position should relate directly to the willingness of one's forces to engage the enemy: "The tactical will to battle is a correlate of geography." (23)
Having argued that the current strategy was ineffective, Wegener set out his own vision of how the British could be attacked effectively: "Naval strategy is the science of geographic position ... with regard to trade routes." He declared that the only British traffic vulnerable to German interference was the Norway--Shetland Islands--Scotland route through the North Sea. In order to attain a geographic position of strategic relevance with respect to British mercantile shipping, he argued, it was necessary to mount a "northward strategic-offensive operation" that would change the geographic setting. He proposed expansion through Denmark and southwestern Norway and then over to the Shetland Islands, "the Gate to the Atlantic." Wegener insisted that by positioning itself to threaten a trade route the German fleet could overcome the British disinclination to tactical engagement in favor of distant blockade. The British would then be obliged to commit to battle, during which "the compulsion that we would have exerted would have increased with our every success."
.Plainly, Raeder had found something in the work to which he objected strongly. What was it? To understand, let us return to Wegener's thesis.
When Wegener's wartime papers first appeared, Tirpitz had assigned two senior captains to draft counterposition papers; these replies attacked the details of Wegener's work but did not "come to grips with its strategic insights." (38) Actually, Wegener's thesis had enough inconsistencies of detail and contradictions in terms to be vulnerable on the level of technicalities alone. Despite the accuracy of the basic geostrategic assessment and the remarkable clarity of Wegener's style, many reversals of position are apparent both within and between the three papers. Ever meticulous, Raeder would certainly have latched onto these glaring weaknesses and on that basis questioned the entire work.
As an example, immediately after his statement (which became famous) belittling the Helgoland Bight battle as a fight for "a dead angle," Wegener declares, "And yet, we once did exercise command of the sea from the Helgoland Bight--namely, with the U-boats, which even at great distances from their base have the ability to exert lasting pressure upon enemy trade routes." (39) In this short sentence Wegener betrayed a misunderstanding of the term "command of the sea" and so undercut his thesis that fleets require favorable geographic position to effect such command. U-boats were in fact instruments of sea denial and trade interdiction, not sea control. The distant blockade of German ports by the Royal Navy was never broken by the German submarine offensive; British command of the sea, though challenged, remained intact. In another place, Wegener effectively countered his own "Gate to the Atlantic" thesis by openly doubting that the British would really contest a challenge in the Shetland Islands and suggesting they would likely relocate the trade route. (40)
Further, Wegener, having clearly identified the importance of British maritime commerce, failed to recognize that the converse was also true. That is, the Baltic was vital to the Germans during the First World War for the shipment of strategic materials and commercial goods. Again, Wegener in one place complains bitterly, "Our defensive operations plan lacked an objective of defense" and that "the position of the Helgoland Bight commanded nothing." Very soon afterward he contradicts himself: "Imagine that our fleet had been totally defeated [there]; what consequences this would soon have entailed for our economic and military situation. We could not have maintained our east and west front with an indented or even strongly threatened northern front." (41) In such passages his appreciation of the German position seems as weak as his assessment of Britain's position is accurate.
The greatest weakness in Wegener's proposal for an offensive campaign in the North Sea is his complete failure to suggest how it could be accomplished. Knowing full well the Risikogedanke assumption that an attacking force needed a one-third superiority, he does not even hint how an inferior German force could seize the Shetland Islands. (42) Helmuth Heye, at the time a Plans Division staff officer, was later to write that the Washington Conference tended to keep small fleets inferior despite technological innovation; accordingly, Heye felt, qualitative differences could never make up for inferiority in numbers. (43)
Wegener's writing never addressed this major issue. His theoretical foundation made set-piece battle the object of his proposal for aggressive action, although as a gunnery officer of considerable experience he should have been well aware of the overwhelming disadvantage under which his own inferior fleet would labor; (44) Wegener himself complained bitterly of the attitude of inferiority that their smaller ships and guns inculcated among German crews. (45) Once again, Mahan's "big-ship mentality" and emphasis on concentration of force for decisive engagements is clearly evident in his thesis. (46) Wegener, like Mahan (and despite his geopolitical orientation), ignored the economic realities of his theories. (47) German naval force structure was dictated by systemic factors; Germany simply did not possess the resources necessary to produce the naval capability Wegener's vision seemed to require
On what theoretical basis could such a role be based? The Tirpitzian dream of a Weltmachtflotte was now neither politically nor economically feasible, and a fleet based on cruisers and submarines and designed for Kleinkreig had been prohibited by the Treaty of Versailles. Another approach to maritime strategy would be required. Raeder found it in the writings of a recognized and respected naval theorist, one who specialized in middle-power navies--Vice Admiral Raoul Castex of France. (59)
Castex and the "Middle Ground." The theories of Castex, which were developed during the interwar period, were ideally suited to the German position as an inferior continental naval power. Castex, like Raeder, had "had to conceive a naval strategy by which a land power might deal with British naval superiority." (60) The key was to find a middle-ground strategy, between the fleet-action theory of Mahan and the Jeune Ecole theory of Theophile Aube, which employed operational maneuver to create favorable tactical situations. (61) Castex believed that it was not necessary to seek a Mahanian fleet action, rather that a limited tactical victory in a critical situation could "upset the balance" and win opportunities for maneuver. The benefits of winning even secondary objectives in secondary theaters "may exceed expectations and bring a success having major repercussions upon the principal theater, where all remains in doubt, even though the plan of maneuver has foreseen exactly the opposite." (62) On this basis Raeder envisioned a useful role for the navy that the German government might be persuaded to accept. German defensive requirements for seapower had to be balanced against the undeniable need to go on the offensive against Great Britain. To resolve this seeming conundrum, as will be seen, Raeder would resort to an innovation not seen before in naval history.
Breadth and Scope. If Wegener focused almost exclusively on the North Sea, Raeder had an expansive view of naval warfare and the area over which it should be conducted. His conception of seapower was in fact global:
All naval theatres of war formed a homogenous whole and that
consequently any operation must be viewed in its correlation with
other sea areas. Accordingly, cruiser warfare overseas and
operations by the battle fleet in home waters were integral
components of a single naval strategy which, by exploiting the
diversionary effect, sought to weaken the enemy's forces and to
disrupt supplies. (63)
That is, Raeder envisioned improving the odds locally through actions half the world away--an impressive grasp of the potential for the long reach of seapower. Raeder's frame of reference dwarfed Wegener's; this frame of reference underlay a chain of reasoning by which Raeder attempted to answer the fundamental question of how an inferior naval power could engage a superior opponent, something Wegener had not been able to do.
Range and Endurance. An active approach is necessary if maneuver opportunities are to be generated; the strategic-defensive of the Tirpitzian Risikogedanke could not produce them. Further, the geographical restrictions that Wegener perceived in the Great War and 1920s persisted in the 1930s; maneuver would require sea room and the endurance to exploit it. For Germany, then, endurance was a fundamentally limiting factor on the effectiveness of fleet forces. From the moment Raeder assumed command of the German navy, high endurance became a design goal for new Kriegsmarine warships.
The fundamental differences in naval strategy between Admirals Raeder and Wegener corresponded, then, from their different perspectives from which they looked at the problem. Raeder was bound by national strategy, policy, and government economic and budgetary priorities. Wegener's theories were limited by no such realities. Wegener steadfastly held to his notion that Great Britain and its domination over the world's oceans stood in the way of German national greatness. In fact, however, as we have seen, German foreign and defense policy during the Weimar and, at least initially, National Socialist regimes was oriented not against Britain but against the threat of a combined Polish and French invasion. Naval issues were secondary, and Raeder had his minister's instructions: "Base [naval] operational ideas more on political and military [i.e., land] realities." (101) The new and flexible approach to seapower strategy, warship design, and operational concepts that resulted would have been anathema to naval leaders of the Tirpitz era.
While Raeder repeatedly sought and received assurances from Hitler that war against Great Britain was not part of the grand plan, Wegener could see no other outcome. He had declared in his 1929 book, "As long as England acts as an outpost of America, no European world can be established;" (102) unrestrained by practicalities, he continued to press his theories, and in so doing distanced himself from his former crewmate and friend. Ultimately, Wegener's views left him alone and bitter; if his operational doctrines were now unrealistic, he had accurately foreseen the future enemy, and soon he saw his country engaged in the war that he had always maintained was unavoidable.