Kaiserliche Marine Administration
The German navy was an imperial institution pure and simple. Naval "contingents" did not exist, nor could they well exist from the very nature of things. At the erection of the North German Confederation, each State possessed an army of its own, but no State, save Prussia, could boast of a marine force. The Prussian navy, too, was more of a possibility than a fact. Such as it was, however, the navy of Prussia became the navy of the Union, but the supreme command over it remained in the hands of the Prussian king. From the very beginning, therefore, the naval force of Germany has been organized on a unitarian principle.
The Constitution, Art. 53, recites a state of facts when it declares that "the navy of the Empire is a unitary one, under the supreme command of the Kaiser." With a logical regard for this state of facts, Art. 53 further provides that the organization and composition of the navy, as well as the appointment of officers and naval officials, shall fall to the Kaiser, and that the expenses incident upon the creation and maintenance of the navy shall be borne by the imperial treasury. The imperialistic nature of the navy thus comes into bold relief, and the competence of the Empire over against that of the several States is sharply defined. In naval matters, the powers of the Empire include not only that general right of legislation and supervision conceded to it by Art. 4 (14) of the Constitution, but the sum total of sovereign rights, legislative and administrative, and the right of legislation, is inclusive.
The Navy of the German Empire was under the supreme command of the Emperor, with a Naval Cabinet, with a flag officer at its head. All matters concerning the promotions, appointment of officers, etc., were dealt with by this Cabinet. There are two other central authorities, one of which has as its President the Secretary of State for the Navy, who represented the Navy in Parliament, and in whose office matters of organisation and administration are dealt with, and the other is the Admiral Commanding in Chief, under whose direction were the movements of vessels and squadrons.
The department of the Naval Secretary of State consisted of several branches, not unlike those in the British Admiralty, such as the Constructive Department, the Ordnance Department, and the Hydrographical Department. in the same division is the Department of Intelligence. In the office of the Admiral Commanding in Chief the business of war, and its preparation - training and education, plans of operations, studies of foreign navies, mobilisation, the political work of the Navy, and soon. Each section had at its head a naval officer who was on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief.
An "Admiral Staff" of the Navy had been established, of which all the officers on the staff of Admirals, whether ashore or afloat, were members, just was in the case of the General Staff of the Army. The Admiral Staff at the Admiralty was officially termed the Chief Admiral Staff, and the assimilation between the Army and Navy had been carried out in regard to ranks and titles, and the composition of the Fleet.
In the German Navy, the apparent separation of the component parts of the organization depended entirely for its success on the form of the German Government itself. For the first few years of the existence of the Prussian Navy (1848-1853) it formed a part and was under the control of the War Ministry. In 1853 an independent naval board was created. In 1859 this board was split into two parts, the Oberkommando to discharge the function of the chief command and the Marineverwoltung for administrative duties. The latter was two years later developed into a naval ministry (Marineministerium), whose first head was also Minister of War. Following the war of 1870 the Oberkommando was abolished and all functions of command and administration were assumed by an undivided admiralty under the authority of the imperial chancellor and the Emperor.
In 1889 a complete reorganization was effected; the Oberkommando was re-established under the direct control of the Kmperor, and this body exercised the authority of command over the fleets and the commander in chief of the house fiorts, who, in turn, were in charge of the military affairs of the ports as distinguished from the administrative affairs of personnel and materiel: the " Reichs-Marlne-Amt " (imperial navy office) was established as an independent ministry subject to the imperial chancellor and the Kmperor, and was charged with responsibility for all administrative duties. In addition there was a naval cabinet to the Emperor, which had to do with matters of promotion and 'irfointnipnt among officers of the higher ranks.
It was soon found that the vital inter-relationship between the departments made further changes essential, and thus resulted the complete reorganization of 14 March 1899 which established a new system of control of the Navy. The Oberkommando was abolished in so far as its functions of active command were concerned, but one of its sections, which had dealt with staff duties only, was retained and reformed into the admiral staff of the navy (admiralstab der marine), which was directly under the Emperor. The Reichs-Marine-Amt was retained unchanged and placed under the direct authority of the Emperor. In addition to thesw two bodies certain officers in positions of high command (commanders In chief of the home ports, chiefs of the high sea fleet and of the cruiser squadron, and the inspector of training) were given the first direct approach to the Emperor in matters relating to their own special functions, but in matters under the cognizance of the Reichs-Marine-Amt they must cooperate with the navy secretary of state prior to laying the proposal before the Emperor. The Emperor also appointed directly an inspector general of the navy. The head of the imperial German naval office (Keichs-Marine-Amt) was a naval secretary of state, and a Prussian minister of state, and as such is a member of the Buudesrath, and had the right of addressing in person the Reichstag in matters of naval finances; he was responsible for everything that related to the materiel and personnel of the navy, and his functions can be described briefly as dealing with everything that cost money - his duties were, therefore, broadly administrative.
The Admiralstab was a body composed of some 30 officers and was not concerned with administration, and in time of peace had advisory functions only; its chief was the Emperor's advisor on general policy in regard to the expansion, movements, distribution, and use of the fleet. In time of war the importance and duties of the chief of the admirnlstab were generally enlarged as his power under the Emperor were practically unlimited for at such time matters of finance and administration were naturally subsidiary to the immediate necessity for victory. It was clear in the German naval organization that the body referred to as a "general staff" is one without executive or administrative functions, except in time of war or peace it was subject to the Emperor, who was the civil head of the German government as well as commander in chief of the military and naval forces.
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