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Mutiny in Germany
The SMS Westfalen, the crew of this ship threw their captain overboard during the mutiny Photo: Imperial War Museum

Mutiny in Germany

Berlin, 12 October 1917 - There are claims that there has been a mutiny involving the crews of four German battleships at Wilhelmshafen.

The captain of one of the battleships, the Westfalen, died after his crew threw him overboard. The mutineers then left their ships and went ashore where marines were ordered to attack them but refused. Eventually, an Oldenburg regiment surrounded them and the mutineers surrendered.

In addition to the four battleships, there was a mutiny on board the light cruiser Nurnberg which was at sea. The crew, it has been reported, seized control of the vessel and locked up the officers. They then headed in the direction of Norway with the purpose of getting interned there.

John Horne, Professor of Modern European History at Trinity College Dublin, talks to RTÉ's David McCullagh on how the First World War was fought. 

The mutineers’ plans unravelled when they fell into the company of a torpedo boat flotilla, the commander of which became suspicion of them.

The revolt, it is now understood, has been quelled.

After the mutiny
The Kaiser himself went to Wilhelmshafen after the mutiny and ordered that one of every seven mutineers should be shot. Dr Michaelis, the Chancellor, who accompanied the Kaiser objected. Eventually only three men were shot; heavy sentences of penal servitude were imposed on the others.

A telegram from Paris, published in The Excelsior, points to a range of reasons for the mutiny – from bad and insufficient food to the influence of the Russian Revolution, news of which has been transmitted by neutral sailors.

News of the mutiny has been welcomed by the Irish Times, which believes that, for the Allies, the apparent confirmation of the mutiny when it was given an airing in the Reichstag is one of the ‘most encouraging incidents’ in the whole history of this lengthy war.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.