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Reichsmarine (RM)
Active 1919–1935
Country  Weimar Republic (1919-1933)
23x15px Nazi Germany (1933-1935)
Type Navy
Part of Reichswehr
War Ensign (1933–1935) War Ensign of Germany 1933-1935.svg
War Ensign (1921–1933) Flag of Weimar Republic (war).svg
War Ensign (1919–1921) never used 200px

The Reichsmarine (English: Navy of the Realm) was the name of the German Navy during the Weimar Republic and first two years of Nazi Germany.[1] It was the naval branch of the Reichswehr, existing from 1919 to 1935. In 1935, it became known as the Kriegsmarine, a branch of the Wehrmacht; a change implemented by Adolf Hitler.

Vorläufige Reichsmarine

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 Replacements for the outdated battleships were restricted to a maximum size of 10,000 tons.


Units of the Reichsmarine on maneuvers in 1929. A Königsberg-class cruiser is on the right.

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.

Germany was only allowed six battleships, six cruisers, twelve destroyers, and twelve torpedo boats. The Reichsmarine tried to meet the arms restrictions with secret armament and technical innovations such as the introduction of the pocket battleship. The legal weight limit for the ships were 35,000 tons.

List of Reichsmarine ships:


  1. Raymond C. Watson Jr. Radar Origins Worldwide: History of Its Evolution in 13 Nations Through World War II, Trafford Publishing, 2009, p. 229. Describes the meaning of Reichsmarine as "Realm Navy".

See also