The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
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||Born at Kiel
||Prisoner of war, Britain
||Lieutenant junior grade
||Naval attaché, Japan
||Commander, BC Deutschland
||Naval attaché, Japan|
Paul Wenneker was born to a naval family, joined the German Navy in 1909, and was captured by the British when his ship, the cruiser Mainz,
was sunk at the Battle of the Heligoland Bight during the First World
War. He continued to serve in the tiny navy permitted Germany under the
Versailles Treaty between the wars, rising steadily through the ranks,
and served as naval attaché in Tokyo
during the early years of the Third Reich. Returning to Japan for a
second tour as naval attaché after war broke out in Europe, he tried
unsuccessfully to persuade the Japanese to use their submarine force to attack the Allied lines of communication.
He also arranged for the German Navy to send a modern submarine to
Japan, but the Japanese concluded that duplicating the design was beyond
the ability of their naval yards. Wenneker's attempts to have Japanese crews sent to Germany for training ended in disaster, with all the crews intercepted and lost
at sea. Wenneker was more successful arranging for submarines to run
the blockade between the two powers to exchange technology and strategic
materials. As naval attaché, he was the overall commander of all German
Navy forces in the Far East, though these amounted only to a small
submarine flotilla at Penang.
Interrogated after the war by the U.S. Navy, Wenneker expressed the opinion that Japan's war effort was crippled by underestimation of the Americans, interservice rivalry, and corruption in the military. He also revealed that Japan had tried to persuade Germany to make peace with Russia so that Germany and Japan could turn their full efforts against Britain and the United States. Wenneker succeeded in creating the impression with his American interpreters that he had become disenchanted with Nazi ideology.
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