East German Navy

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Founded on 07 October 1949 within the borders of the Soviet Occupied Zone of the German Reich (after World War II Germany was divided by the victorious Allies into four Zones of Occupation), the “German Democratic Republic (GDR)” began to build up Naval Forces as early as 1950.

In February 1950, a “Hauptabteilung z.b.V.” (= Main Department for Special Duties) was established and tasked to create a Sea Police. It was initially named “Hauptverwaltung Seepolizei/ HVS” (= Main Department Sea Police) and located at Berlin-Wilhelmsruh, after 01 July 1952 it changed its name into “Volkspolizei See/ VP-See” (= People´s Sea Police), already some 6.800 men strong. On 01 March 1956 the quasi Armed Forces of the GDR were re-organized and formally transferred into a “Nationale Volksarmee/ NVA” (= National People´s Armed Forces), with the former “People´s Sea Police” now being some 10.000 strong “Naval Forces of the NVA”. On 03 November 1960 these Naval Forces were given the official name “Volksmarine” (= People´s Navy), to take over the “revolutionary tradition” of the 1917/ 1918 uprising of the enlisted Naval Personal of the Imperial German Navy at Kiel, which had formed during that time a so called “Volksmarinedivision” (= People´s Naval Division).

The “People´s Navy” grew constantly and has seen comprehensive armaments programs. Eventually a Navy was established that had capabilities well beyond mere coastal defence. In 1990, its last year of existence (the East German Navy was dissolved officially on 02nd of October 1990 as part of the German unification), the 18.000 strong “People´s Navy” had some 120 warships and about 40 auxiliaries, plus 65 aircraft (helicopters and jets) in two Naval Air Wings.

Submarines were never part of the East German Navy.

The introduction of an own U-boat force for the East German Navy did never go beyond initial planning and some early personal, organisational and infrastructural measures. These were restricted mainly to the years 1952 and 1953. This short period of a potential creation of an East German U-Boat force was clearly before the establishment of the “People´s Navy” and, to be correct, belongs to the short legacy of the pre-Navy organisation, which was the “People´s Sea Police”.

See the notes in tab “Noteworthy Events” to find more about initial planning and measures actually introduced with regard to the introduction of U-boats in the East German Navy.