was the name of the German Navy
during the Weimar Republic
and first two years of Nazi Germany
. It was the naval branch of the Reichswehr
, existing from 1918 to 1935. In 1935 it became the Kriegsmarine
, a branch of the Wehrmacht
; a change implemented by Adolf Hitler
The Vorläufige Reichsmarine (Provisional Imperial Navy) was formed after the end of World War I
from the Kaiserliche Marine
The provisions of the Versailles Treaty restricted the German navy to 15,000 men and no submarines, while the fleet was limited to six pre-dreadnought battleships, six cruisers and 12 destroyers. Replacements for the outdated battleships were restricted to a maximum size of 10,000 tons.
Extent and equipment
The Treaty of Versailles limited the size and armament of the Reichsmarine and prevented it from introducing new technologies. The restrictions were intended to prevent the German navy from becoming a threat to the Allied powers. On the other hand, the Allies had made certain that the Reichsmarine would be in the foreseeable future the strongest power in the Baltic Sea, in order to serve as a counterweight against the new Soviet Union, which was viewed with distrust by the Allies.
The Reichsmarine tried to meet the arms restrictions with secret armament and technical innovations such as the introduction of the pocket battle ship.