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Dreadnought Destruction: Sinking the German Battle Fleet

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Broadcaster:  ZDF/ARTE

While the Treaty of Versailles is still being negotiated in Paris to bring an end to World War I, the admiral of the German High Seas Fleet, von Reuter, secretly orders the deliberate sinking or "scuttling" of his entire fleet in Orkney, Scotland. Having been forced to surrender to the Allies and parade to this quiet bay in the Scottish isles, von Reuter decides that self-annihilation is better than total defeat. 74 ships sink to the ground almost immediately - to this day still sitting at the bottom of the bay. It marks the end of the Kaiser’s ambition for global sea power and also the beginning of an aggressive remilitarization in Germany.

 

Dreadnought Destruction: Sinking the German Battle Fleet uses dramatic reconstructions, rare archive and expert interviews to recount the scuttling at Scapa Flow, and in doing so illustrates the wider tensions unfolding in Europe at the end of World War I - a time between colonialism, mercantilism, feudalism and industrialization, where naval supremacy equaled political dominance on the world stage.

 

As the greatest loss of warships in history and the last casualties of WWI, the sinking at Scapa Flow was a monumental decision with consequences for European history that still reverberate today.

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