Both Totenhead and Hagen have raised the issue of unattainable expectations as the reason the U-Boats failed to force Britain into a negotiated peace. Over-expectation was certainly an important reason for the failure, as was the Germans' perceived need to avoid war with the United States, which led them to conduct the commercial war under the so-called Prize Regulations and produced a command rift over the question of conducting unrestricted submarine warfare But over-expectations and command indecision are only a part of the explanation for the U-boats' failure to achieve victory. The success of British radio intelligence and Germany's inferior industrial capacity were equally important.
Before the war was two months old, British radio intelligence, known as Room 40, had acquired the three code books that the Kaiserliche-Marine used throughout the war. The coup was as important, and as well-kept a secret, as the breaking of the Enigma code in WWII. Throughout war, the British were able to intercept and read all German naval radio communications.
Industrial inferiority coupled with a belief that the war would be short and the Germans' over-expectations as to the U-boats' capabilities, led to under-production early in the war. The result was that Germany did not have enough U-boats to do the job when the opportunity presented itself in 1914-1917. And by 1917-18, when they did have the boats and the will to conduct unrestricted submarine warfare, the Allies' antisubmarine warfare capability had reached the point of being overwhelming.
This is a very brief explanation that omits many other factors that played a greater or lesser role in U-boats' failure. Dwight
Hi, You mention the code books obtained by room 40 and I thought you might like to see one of the actual books.
Cheers GaryAttachment 486668Attachment 486677Attachment 486676Attachment 486675Attachment 486674Attachment 486673Attachment 486672Attachment 486671Attachment 486670Attachment 486669Attachment 486678
Gary: Wow, that's terrific and I thank you for posting it. According to Patrick Beesly, Room 40: British Naval Intelligence, 1914-1918, the SKM was "the most secret of the three codes [and] was only issued to a few formations." I see that in the upper right corner of the cover someone has written The Magdeburg code book. Is that the actual copy that the Russians took off the SMS Magdeburg on 13 October 1914? Is that copy yours? If it is, you are a lucky guy and I envey you enormously. Thanks again for the post. Dwight
It is the one the Russians took of the SMS Magdeburg. Unfortunately the original is still held by British Intelligence and would I expect be worth a relatively large sum of money to any collector today. I had this digital copy sent to me some years ago and I don't know where it came from. Cheers Gary
First-- Hi Gary, nice to see you on this site ! Al H second --- Totenhead- My Great Uncle, Richard Berger was on the U-35 in '15, 16, & 17. I have his pic album & a copy of the log (KTB). ps- The 35 had a mascot monkey (FIPS) ! Al Hunt, near USNA, Annapolis, Maryland, USA