Ingenohl, the Anti-Chucker

November 9th, 2018

Friedrich von Ingenohl, that is. Ever heard of him? Me neither, 'til I served dinner tonight and after the third bite of Orange Chicken it was "So let me ask you this." ("Ask me.") "How did World War I start?". We won't belabor the precious few paragraphs that followed, accepted more or less as they were after several years of violent dissociation from ninth grade social studies and the occasional quasi-conscious polish. Of specific interest is those paragraphs' reward, the following cascade: 1) Germany decided it lost the war because of traitorous elements among its own people; 2) reality decided that Germany lost the war because it failed at sea; 3) the very sailors witness to this failure eventually had enough and threw their silly hats into the ring of the revolution that spawned the Weimar Republic. Freidrich von Ingenohl sits at the center of this sequence, having thoroughly embodied the failure at sea responsible for Germany's loss of WWI, and arguably therefore WW2, and arguably thence-and-hence-forth.

Ingenohl received his post as commander-in-chief of the German Navy in 1913 after nearly forty years of dicking about with the same outfit in East Asia. His inheritance was a capable fleet not at all subject to the "inferior materiel problem" that might vaguely rattle around between the ears of poor sods originally educated in the same sad schooling system as I. No, Ingenohl's navy was stacked with excellent battleships and submarines, and he brought several dozen to fuck up England's northeast coast in December of 1914, including a few very heavy dreadnoughts. Some of these he left as massive reinforcements stationed a little closer to home, "just in case". Despite an arguably superior naval force and despite the considerable advantage of being able to sit in port while England's ships were obliged to patrol, Ingenohl was nervous. Possibly he contracted it from the Kaiser, who'd warned him to avoid unnecessary losses, whatever that means. In any case, Ingenohl was nervous, and he went to war with it.

His underling Admiral Hipper took a few of the ships close to shore, where they damaged a few ports and several hundred port-dwellers. The weather was on the Germans' side --the fog gave the land batteries an extra challenge-- and England had a slow start rousing ships for defense. Eventually she sent a submarine, and Hipper fled. George Warrender1, Vice-Admiral of the Royal Navy, gave chase with a motley, but small, assortment. The shitty weather and report of a single enemy ship spotted prompted Warrender to send a mere six battleships towards the lurking behemoth of Ingenohl's reserve force. Shots were fired; at least three of the British ships were hit; one in particular managed to fire a torpedo from its flailing wreckage; it was not really quite dawn yet; Ingenohl was nervous. There was smoke and noise and hey maybe the entire fucking Royal Navy is nigh and Kaiser said "careful"! So he left.

He'd've blown Warrender's business to smithereens with ease, but he left. With the exception of naval minister Alfred von Tirpitz, who had already been throwing fits about Ingenohl and protested that he'd had the fate of Germany in his hand at that moment, nobody seems to have been conscious of the meaning of this abject failure. Men stuck sitting around the docks and dinghies Ingenohl oversaw apparently took a confused sort of umbrage; but the official lines, in and out of Germany, forgot and forgave Ingenohl in some magic admixture that prevents his psychological disorder from being studied as much as it deserves.

stashio

Pretty good moustache, tho'.

  1. Was his name all he needed for his military resume?! I mean.... []

One Response to “Ingenohl, the Anti-Chucker”

  1. Compare and contrast with that very famous sinner. Some men build empires ; some other men fuck them up once they're built. It all has to do with Christmas. And other things.

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