Deutschland (1931)

Deutschland in 1935. Photo in the collections of the US National Archives.

Nation
Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down
1929
Launched
1931
Commissioned
1933
AD/BC
AD
History

Deutschland was the lead of a three ship class of the interwar German Navy. She and her sisters were classified as Panzerschiffe (literally "armored ships" in English) by the Germans, but gained the nickname of "Pocket Battleships" from the British press, due to being larger than the cruisers allowed under the current naval treaties, and being armed with 11" guns. Laid down 5 February, 1929, Deutschland was commissioned 1 April, 1933. She participated in neutrality patrols during the Spanish Civil War, and departed Germany for the North Atlantic shortly before the invasion of Poland, but her raiding mission was not given the green light by Hitler until 26 September. Her first cruise was fairly bland, netting only three ships. In 1940, she was renamed Lützow, and reclassified as a heavy cruiser. The name change was to prevent the propaganda disaster of a ship bearing the name of Germany being sunk. Lützow participated in the invasion of Norway, and was badly mauled by the Norwegians at the Battle of Drøbak Sound, putting her out of action for a year. Lützow later participated in the Battle of the Barents Sea, but her gunnery was poor. In September, 1943, Lützow returned to Kiel for overhaul, and never left the Baltic again. She was sunk by Tallboy bombs on 16 April, 1945, but her guns remained in operation. Lützow was used as a stationary artillery platform, supporting the retreating German Army until her crew tried to blow her up on 4 May. She was later raised by the Soviets, and sunk as a target in July, 1947.