This biography—the first in English—of the prominent pre-World War I German naval officer Otto von Diederichs examines the evolution of the Imperial German Navy and Diederichs's participation in the Navy's strategic and operational development. When he secured his naval appointment in 1867, the Prussian Navy was little more than a coastal-defense force, but during the course of his naval service, the fleet evolved into the Imperial German Navy whose High Seas Fleet played a major role in the world war.
Known as an expert troubleshooter, Diederichs served variously as a training officer, commander of a gunboat during the Franco-German War of 1870-1871, first officer aboard a cruiser in East Asian waters, and a naval educator at the Navy's undergraduate and postgraduate academic institutions. His most famous achievement, the 1897 seizure of Kiao-chou Bay as Germany's first overseas naval base, and his most controversial act, an 1898 confrontation with Rear Admiral George Dewey at Manila Bay, are thoroughly explored in the book. German naval historian Terrell Gottschall also takes a careful look at the strategic dispute between Diederichs and Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz that led to Diederichs's early retirement. Intended for both general and scholarly readers, the book fills a gap in German naval history prior to the emergence of Tirpitz and his policies that led Germany into World War I.