The history of the Naval Memorial is strongly connected with German history in the 20th century. Originally erected as a memorial for the German sailors killed in World War I, it has changed to an internationally accepted peace monument after World War II. It is maintained by the Deutscher Marinebund, the German Naval Association.The foundation stone of the German Naval Memorial was laid an the 8th of August 1927 by Admiral Reinhard Scheer, commander-in-chief of the German High Sea Fleet during the battle of Jutland 1916 and then Honorary President of the Deutscher Marinebund. Admiral Scheer dedicated the memorial to “German seamens honour, to Germanys floating arms, may both return.” Besides commemoration the hope of retaliation for the lost war spoke from this dedication, an interpretation that was later taken up by the Nazi regime.
After nine years of construction, the Naval Memorial was inaugurated on the 31st of May 1936, the day before the 20th anniversary of the battle of Jutland, with a grand ceremony and an act-of-state. Adolf Hitler was also present but did not hold a speech. In his stead Generaladmiral Erich Raeder, Commander-in-Chief of the German navy, spoke, who interpreted the memorial according to national socialist ideology as a symbol of regained German naval power.
The Naval Memorial survived World War II largely undamaged. After Germany's surrender in May 1945, the Marine-Ehrenmal was confiscated by the British occupation forces. However, it was not destroyed as other military memorials.
In 1954, the memorial was given back to the re-founded German Naval Association. During the restitution ceremony Otto Kretschmer, a famous U-boat commander in World War II and then president of the German Naval Association, dedicated the German Naval Memorial not only to the killed German sailors, but to all mariners who had lost their lives in both World Wars, including the allied war victims: “In commemoration of all dead German seamen and to our dead enemies”. Thus a new tradition of commemmoration was established, interpreting the German Naval Memorial as a international peace memorial. Until this day, the DMB feels obliged to this commemorative tradition. In the last decades, the Memorial has achieved international significance.To further underline and strenghten this commemorative tradition and to highlight the Naval Memorials role a international place of remembrace, the German Naval Association in 1996 decided to give it a new dedication: “Memorial for all those who died at sea and for peaceful navigation in free waters.”
November to März
daily 9.30 am - 5 pm
April to Oktober
daily 9.30 am - 7 pm
(Last entry one hour before closing time)
(closed on 24th and 31st December)
Guided Tour by request