Germany’s geographical position has always placed her at a disadvantage in maritime and naval activity in a war with Great Britain. As demonstrated in both world wars, the Germans could not operate surface ships in the narrow sea lanes around England and through which such ships had inevitably to pass on their route from German ports to the open ocean, or vice versa. German commerce was swept from the seas and Germany placed under British remote blockade. The development of the submarine, however, gave Germany an excellent weapon for a counterattack to offset the British blockade. The result was that during both wars German naval leaders finally put primary emphasis on the U-boat and the war against shipping. The ensuing race between the amount of the enemy’s commerce tonnage sunk and his replacement tonnage construction made it necessary to increase the small number of submarines in commission at the outbreak of hostilities and to maintain, despite all losses, a respectable level of units in operation.
German U-Boat Construction
By Karl Heinz Kurzak