chapter  6
20 Pages

The Character of the German Naval Offensive: October 1940-June 1941

WithDonald P. Steury

As remarkable a logistical achievement as the German surface campaign was, its success only underscores the extent to which the German naval offensive was conducted on a shoe string. However, the character of the German naval offensive was defined not so much by this fact, or its various components, as by its underlying conception. Skl's "psychological" strategy of dispersion and disruption was — and could be — no more than a holding action fought against the superior maritime power of the Royal Navy. Moreover, the inability of Britain's west coast harbors to handle the import traffic that was arriving muted the impact of the German naval offensive. Karl Donitz significantly overestimated Germany's industrial potential and capability to win the war at sea, but he correctly understood it to be a war between economies, one that could only be won by attacking the industrial strength of the enemy at its source.