by Bernard Edwards
A British naval historian recounts the victories and defeats of two of the most infamous German Navy vessels during World War II. Bernard Edwards’s Beware Raiders! tells the fascinating story of two German ships and the havoc they caused amongst Allied shipping in World War II. One was the eight-inch gun cruiser Admiral Hipper—named for World War I’s German fleet Admiral Franz von Hipper—fast, powerful, and Navy-manned. The other was a converted merchant man, Hansa Line’s Kandelfels armed with a few old scavenged guns manned largely by reservists, and sailing under the nom de guerre Pinguin. The difference between the pride of the Third Reich’s Kriegsmarine’s fleet and the converted cruiser was even more evident in their commanders. Edwards emphasizes the striking contrast between the conduct of Ernst Kruder, captain of the Pinguin, who attempted to cause as little loss of life as possible, and the callous Iron Cross–decorated Wilhelm Meisel of the Admiral Hipper, who had scant regard for the lives of the men whose ships he had sunk. Contrary to all expectations, as Edwards reveals in his thrilling accounts of the missions performed by each ship, the amateur man-of-war reaped a rich harvest and went out in a blaze of glory. The purpose-built battlecruiser, on the other hand, was hard-pressed even to make her mark on the war and ended her days in ignominy.