Alfred von Tirpitz
Tirpitz profile

Full Name Alfred Peter Friedrich von Tirpitz
Titles Großadmiral of the Imperial German Navy, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, Reichskanzler of the German Empire
Born 19 March 1849
Died 3 June 1930
Allegiance Flag-GER
Political Party DVLP
Important Events Weltkrieg

Alfred Peter Friedrich von Tirpitz (19 March 1849 - 3 June 1930) was a Großadmiral of the German Empire during the Weltkrieg, also serving as Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office from 1897 until 1916, before being appointed as Reichskanzler from 1923 to 1930.


Birth and Early Life

Service in the Imperial German Navy

The Weltkrieg

Under the Ludendorff Regime

The Unexpected Election

On 10 July 1923, the liberal newspaper Berliner Tageblatt published a lengthy expose on the misused funds from the Osthilfe program. The Osthilfeskandal quickly took on a life of its own, implicating many within Ludendorff's inner circle. Most explosively, it named Wilhelm Breucker, adjutant to General Ludendorff, as one of the biggest culprits, and suggested Ludendorff had full knowledge of what was happening, perhaps even encouraging or facilitating it. By that afternoon, garrison Heer units had confiscated all unsold copies of the paper and occupied the Tageblatt's offices. Chief Editor Theodor Wolff began calling every possibly friendly newspaper and asking them to run his story to prevent its suppression. On the morning of 11 July Die Post, Die Frankfurter Zeitung and Die Allgemeine Zeitung all carried the story.

On the 13th, Theodor Wolff and von Tirpitz were seen arriving at the Kaiser's residence. Von Tirpitz had been more actively involved in politics since the founding on the Deutsche Vaterlandspartei (DVLP) (German Fatherland Party) in 1917, after which he served as honorary chairman of the party alongside both Ludendorff and von Hindenburg. The next day, Wilhelm abruptly cancelled his vacation and returned to Berlin, holding a meeting with Reichkanzler Paul von Hindenburg that lasted into the next morning. Ludendorff demanded to meet with the Kaiser as well, but was rebuffed. The panicking General spent the 16th calling friendly army officers to a meeting at the Hotel Adlon of Berlin the following day. When his car pulled up to the hotel, it was surrounded by policemen, who placed Ludendorff under arrest.

The de facto leader of the German Empire was taken, in handcuffs, to Kaiser Wilhelm II at the Berliner Stadtschloss. In front of the generals he had presumed were his allies, von Hindenburg, von Tirpitz, Wolff and many other journalists, and the leaders of every major political party in Germany, including Otto Wels of the SPD, the Kaiser stripped Erich Ludendorff of his command and ordered him to retire. The Kaiser made a short public announcement that claimed that the forced resignation was "to provide our most loyal and selfless defender with an opportunity for rest", announced the reconvening of the Reichstag, and that its first election in over a decade was to take place in one week's time.

The 1923 Election campaign was a heinously chaotic time, and became known as the Tage der Schreihälse (Days of the Criers). In the end, the "Grand Coalition" of the DVLP, NLP-FKP, Zentrum and DKP formed the new government, although the SDP was still the largest single party. The now victorious DVLP appointed von Tirpitz to become the new Reichskanzler. Erich Ludendorff disappeared into retirement at his Ostelben estate, and von Hindenburg followed him a week later.

Germany's Golden Chancellor

In some of his first acts as Reichskanzler, von Tirpitz set about instituting a far more liberal economic policy for Germany. In response, on 14 May 1924, several sitting DVLP Reichstag members withdraw from the party. In alliance with several prominant figures from the Pan-German Union, they go onto form the Alldeutscher Verband.


While on a trip to Hamburg, von Tirpitz was suddenly taken ill. Despite the best efforts of local doctors, the Reichskanzler died on 3 June 1930, due to complications from his advanced age. The death of von Tirpitz caught the DVLP unawares, as he had not prepared anyone to act as his successor.

A public burial parade for von Tirpitz was held four days later on 7 June through the streets of Berlin. The enormous outpouring of affection for Germany's "Second-Greatest Chancellor" was coupled with fears that the prosperity that had been ushered in by von Tirpitz was soon to follow him to the grave. Following some internal disputes among the DVLP, von Tirpitz would be succeeded as Reichskanzler by Franz von Papen.