KMS Bismarck Named for the Iron Chancellor

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KMS Bismarck Named for the Iron Chancellor



Otto von Bismarck in 1881.

(photo courtesy of German National Archive)

He was Germany’s greatest statesman and united the various bits and small states and principalities which comprised the modern nation of Germany into one nation dominated by the Kingdom of Prussia. Unfortunately, no other German statesman ever had Bismarck’s intelligence or ability for the right diplomatic maneuver at the right time to keep peace in Europe which he managed to do except for small wars he started to unify Germany. In retrospect, of course, it would have been better if Germany had never been unified. Bismarck would never have imagined in his worst nightmare that Germany would unite most of the world in such hatred of her that Prussia itself would be broken up.


German battleship Bismarck with Nazi flag, 1941

German Battleship Bismarck with Nazi flag in 1941. Photo courtesy US Navy History and Heritage Command.  

The ship was commissioned, that is accepted into the German Navy as a completed warship on 24 August 1940. The Bismarck and her later twin, the Tirpitz, were the two largest battleships ever built by a European power. The ship was laid down on 1 July 1936 and launched 14 February 1939.


bismarck launched daily mail

The launching of the battleship Bismarck at Hamburg in 1939. (photo courtesy of the London Daily Mail)


Halftone reproduction of a photograph taken circa August 1940, when the ship was first completed. Rangefinders atop her tower and conning tower have not yet been installed. The original was printed in a German publication.


Photographed circa August 1940, when first completed. Rangefinders atop her tower and conning tower have not yet been installed.

In harbor, circa August 1940, prior to installation of the rangefinders atop her tower and conning tower. This fine-pattern halftone was printed in a Spanish publication, circa 1941. It was provided by the U.S. Naval Attache, Madrid, whose stamp appears at left.


Photographed from astern, 1940-41, showing stern anchor in its recessed well, folding propeller guards, armor belt and other details of hull and
superstructure. The original, a fine-pattern halftone, is sepia in color.


Seen from the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen as the two ships practiced towing and refueling by trailing hose, circa April-May 1941. Copied from the report of officers of Prinz Eugen, with identification by her Gunnery Officer, Paul S. Schmalenbach, 1970.
By | 2016-07-07T17:19:30-04:00 July 7th, 2016|Bismarck, German Navy, Kriegsmarine, naval history, ww2, ww2 history|0 Comments

About the Author:

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: