Mutiny at Kiel

At the close of the First World War, writes David WoodwardGerman Sailors were the forerunners of general revolt against the imperial system.

David Woodward | Published in History Today

On November 1st, 1918, the five light cruisers of the Fourth Scouting Group of the German High Sea Fleet lay alongside the dockyard wall at Cuxhaven; they had been loading mines, but now the clanking and rattling of the cranes and the bumping of the mines as they were lowered on to their rails was over, and officers and men had a moment to discuss the latest news.

There was plenty of that; everyone knew that Germany had asked for an armistice and that, on the demand of President Wilson, unrestricted submarine warfare had been stopped and the U-boats recalled.

Now there were rumours of the U-boats returning to duty and rumours that the High Sea Fleet itself was going to sea; in theory this was for exercises only, but the Fourth Scouting Group knew that they only loaded mines when it was a question of a real operation. Thus it was easy for them to believe stories of a great sortie by the High Sea Fleet against the British Grand Fleet.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.