Hans von Koester
Overview
 
Hans Ludwig Raimund von Koester (29 April 1844-21 February 1928) was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 naval officer who served in the Prussian Navy
Prussian Navy
Throughout the centuries, Prussia’s military consistently concentrated on its land power, and never sought a similar power at sea. Yet historically there were always Prussian naval forces , beginning in the days when "Prussia" meant only the Margraviate of Brandenburg.- The Navy of Electoral...

 and later in the Imperial German Navy. He retired as a Grand Admiral
Grand Admiral
Grand admiral is a historic naval rank, generally being the highest such rank present in any particular country. Its most notable use was in Germany — the German word is Großadmiral.-France:...

.

Born Hans Ludwig Raimund Koester in 1844 in Schwerin
Schwerin
Schwerin is the capital and second-largest city of the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The population, as of end of 2009, was 95,041.-History:...

, Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Mecklenburg-Schwerin was a duchy in northern Germany created in 1348, when Albert II of Mecklenburg and his younger brother John were raised to Dukes of Mecklenburg by King Charles IV...

, he entered the Prussian Navy as a Kadettenanwärter (Cadet candidate) on 21 June 1859. He had an active seagoing career in the service, which became the Norddeutsche Bundesmarine
Norddeutsche Bundesmarine
The Norddeutsche Bundesmarine was the Navy of the North German Confederation, formed out of the Prussian Navy. It was eventually succeeded by the Kaiserliche Marine in 1871.-External links:*...

 in 1866, and then the Kaiserliche Marine
Kaiserliche Marine
The Imperial German Navy was the German Navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy and Norddeutsche Bundesmarine, which primarily had the mission of coastal defense. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded...

(Imperial Navy) in 1871.
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Encyclopedia
Hans Ludwig Raimund von Koester (29 April 1844-21 February 1928) was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 naval officer who served in the Prussian Navy
Prussian Navy
Throughout the centuries, Prussia’s military consistently concentrated on its land power, and never sought a similar power at sea. Yet historically there were always Prussian naval forces , beginning in the days when "Prussia" meant only the Margraviate of Brandenburg.- The Navy of Electoral...

 and later in the Imperial German Navy. He retired as a Grand Admiral
Grand Admiral
Grand admiral is a historic naval rank, generally being the highest such rank present in any particular country. Its most notable use was in Germany — the German word is Großadmiral.-France:...

.

Born Hans Ludwig Raimund Koester in 1844 in Schwerin
Schwerin
Schwerin is the capital and second-largest city of the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The population, as of end of 2009, was 95,041.-History:...

, Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Mecklenburg-Schwerin was a duchy in northern Germany created in 1348, when Albert II of Mecklenburg and his younger brother John were raised to Dukes of Mecklenburg by King Charles IV...

, he entered the Prussian Navy as a Kadettenanwärter (Cadet candidate) on 21 June 1859. He had an active seagoing career in the service, which became the Norddeutsche Bundesmarine
Norddeutsche Bundesmarine
The Norddeutsche Bundesmarine was the Navy of the North German Confederation, formed out of the Prussian Navy. It was eventually succeeded by the Kaiserliche Marine in 1871.-External links:*...

 in 1866, and then the Kaiserliche Marine
Kaiserliche Marine
The Imperial German Navy was the German Navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy and Norddeutsche Bundesmarine, which primarily had the mission of coastal defense. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded...

(Imperial Navy) in 1871. His first command was the naval brig Undine, which he took on a 15-month voyage to North, Central and South America in 1874-75.
Promoted to Korvettenkapitän
Corvette Captain
Corvette captain is a rank in many navies which theoretically corresponds to command of a corvette . The equivalent rank in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth and USA is lieutenant commander...

 (Lieutenant-Commander) in 1875, he was later assigned to various training ships, the latest of which was the Kreuzerfregatte (cruiser-frigate) Prinz Adalbert, which he took on a world cruise from 1878 to 1880. Koester was promoted to Kapitän
Kapitän
Kapitän is the German word for Captain. It is also a shortened version of several ranks in the German navy, ranging from Korvettenkapitän to Kapitän zur See. The general meaning is equivalent to Captain....

in 1881. Appointed commander of the Segalfregatte (sail frigate) Niobe in 1883, Koester next took command of the Panzerkorvette (armored corvette - later battleship) Württemberg
SMS Württemberg (1878)
SMS Württemberg was one of four armored frigates of the German Imperial Navy. Her sister ships were , , and . Württemberg was built in the AG Vulcan shipyard in Stettin from 1876 to 1881. The ship was commissioned into the Imperial Navy in August 1881...

 in 1884. In 1887 he was named commander of the Panzerfregatte (armored frigate - later armored cruiser) König Wilhelm, long the largest ship in the fleet.

From 1884 to 1887 he served 2.5 years as chief of staff of the German Imperial Admiralty
German Imperial Admiralty
The German Imperial Admiralty was an imperial authority in the German Empire. By order of Kaiser Wilhelm I the Northern German Federal Navy Department of the North German Confederation , which had been formed from the Prussian Navy Department , became on 1 January 1872 the German Imperial Admiralty...

 (Kaiserliche Admiralität), then headed by Admiral und General der Infanterie Leo von Caprivi
Leo von Caprivi
Georg Leo Graf von Caprivi de Caprera de Montecuccoli was a German major general and statesman, who succeeded Otto von Bismarck as Chancellor of Germany...

. In 1887 he became another 2.5 years as director of the Kaiserliche Werft Kiel
Kaiserliche Werft Kiel
Kaiserliche Werft Kiel was a German shipbuilding company founded in 1867, first as Königliche Werft Kiel but renamed in 1871 with the proclamation of the German Empire...

 (Imperial Dockyard) at Kiel. Then, until 1903 he occupied the post as commander of the Baltic Sea Naval Station in Kiel. In this capacity he strongly encouraged development of Kiel
Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

 as a naval harbor and garrison town.

When Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz
Alfred von Tirpitz
Alfred von Tirpitz was a German Admiral, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, the powerful administrative branch of the German Imperial Navy from 1897 until 1916. Prussia never had a major navy, nor did the other German states before the German Empire was formed in 1871...

 presented his plan for a great battle fleet in June 1897, Koester objected on the grounds that there simply were not the personnel to cover such an expansion of the navy, and that the resources would be much better spent elsewhere.

He was promoted to Kontradmiral
Counter Admiral
Counter admiral is a rank found in many navies of the world, but no longer used in English-speaking countries, where the equivalent rank is rear admiral...

(Rear Admiral or Commodore) in 1889, Vizeadmiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

in 1892, and full Admiral
Admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

 in 1897. It was he, as acting commander in chief in place of a sick Admiral Eduard von Knorr
Eduard von Knorr
Ernst Wilhelm Eduard von Knorr was a German admiral of the Kaiserliche Marine who helped establish the German colonial empire.-Life:...

, who sent the German East Asia Squadron
German East Asia Squadron
The German East Asia Squadron was a German Navy cruiser squadron which operated mainly in the Pacific Ocean between the 1870s and 1914...

 commanded by Otto von Diederichs
Otto von Diederichs
Ernst Otto von Diederichs was an Admiral of the German Imperial Navy, serving in the predecessor Prussian Navy and the Navy of the North German Confederation.-Education, war and peace:Diederichs entered the Prussian...

 to the Shandong Peninsula area in the fall of 1897, and who gave the order to take over Kiautschou
Jiaozhou Bay concession
The Kiautschou Bay concession was a German colonial concession in Imperial China which existed from 1898 to 1914. It had an area of 552 km², it was located around Jiaozhou Bay on the southern coast of the Shandong Peninsula, which lay in the imperial province of Shandong in northern China.Jiaozhou...

 in November. He was named to the somewhat ceremonial post of Generalinspekteur der Marine
Generalinspekteur der Marine
The Generalinspekteur der Marine was a position in the government of the German Empire. It was founded in 1871 as the command authority of the German Imperial Admiralty and lasted intermittently to 1919....

(Inspector General of the Navy) in 1899, but retained his post as Commander of the Kiel Naval Station until 1903. In 1900, he was instrumental in uncovering the poor preparation and staffing of the German Imperial Admiralty Staff
German Imperial Admiralty Staff
The German Imperial Admiralty Staff was a military institution established in 1899 under the direct authority and command of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II for managing the German Imperial Navy...

 under Diederichs, which "was a threat to national security." However, along with Vice Admiral August von Thomsen
August von Thomsen
August von Thomsen was an Admiral of the German Imperial Navy...

 (Commander of the First Naval Division in Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea.-History:...

), he strongly opposed the solution Diederichs proposed: a major increase in the size of the Admiralty Staff, the creation of a separate intelligence section, and the removal of the Naval War College
German Imperial Naval Academy 1872-1918
The German Imperial Naval Academy at Kiel, Germany, was from 1872 until the end of the First World War the higher education institution of the German Imperial Navy, Kaiserliche Marine, where naval officers were prepared for problems in higher levels of command...

 (Marineacademie) to Berlin. In the meantime, he was raised to the German nobility
German nobility
The German nobility was the elite hereditary ruling class or aristocratic class from ca. 500 B.C. to the Holy Roman Empire and what is now Germany.-Principles of German nobility:...

 in 1900 as Hans von Koester.

On 18 September 1902 he was decorated with the Order of the Black Eagle
Order of the Black Eagle
The Order of the Black Eagle was the highest order of chivalry in the Kingdom of Prussia. The order was founded on 17 January 1701 by Elector Friedrich III of Brandenburg . In his Dutch exile after WWI, deposed Emperor Wilhelm II continued to award the order to his family...

. Koester was awarded the 'Diamonds' distinction of this order on 21 June 1909.

Koester became the first active-duty German naval officer to attain the rank of Grossadmiral (Grand Admiral
Grand Admiral
Grand admiral is a historic naval rank, generally being the highest such rank present in any particular country. Its most notable use was in Germany — the German word is Großadmiral.-France:...

) on 28 June 1905; the previous recipients of this rank were Kaiser Wilhelm II of German and King Oscar II of Sweden (both in 1901). Named a member for life of the Prussian House of Lords
Prussian House of Lords
The Prussian House of Lords was the first chamber of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1850-1918. The second chamber was the Prussian House of Representatives . The House of Lords was created on January 31, 1850 with the adoption of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Prussia...

 (Herrenhaus) on 17 September 1905, Koester was retired at his own request on 31 December 1906.

Elected president of the Deutsche Flottenverein
Navy League (Germany)
The Navy League or Fleet Association in Imperial Germany was an interest group formed on April 30 1898 on initiative of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz through the German Imperial Naval Office which he headed to support the expansion of the Imperial Navy ...

 (German Fleet Association) in 1908, he held this position until October 1919; thereafter he was honorary president. In this position he worked closely with Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz
Alfred von Tirpitz
Alfred von Tirpitz was a German Admiral, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, the powerful administrative branch of the German Imperial Navy from 1897 until 1916. Prussia never had a major navy, nor did the other German states before the German Empire was formed in 1871...

 to raise public support for the navy by promoting "public theater" with navy related activities such as ship launches, which became extremely elaborate after 1900. He represented Germany at the Hudson-Fulton Celebration
Hudson-Fulton Celebration
The Hudson-Fulton Celebration from September 25 to October 9, 1909 in New York and New Jerseywas an elaborate commemoration of the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River and the 100th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s first successful commercial application of the paddle...

 in New York, 25 September-11 October 1909. Made an honorary citizen of Kiel on his 70th birthday, 29 April 1914, Koester worked during the First World War as a delegate of the Kaiserliche Marine for health care. In 1916-17 he was an advocate of unrestricted submarine warfare
Unrestricted submarine warfare
Unrestricted submarine warfare is a type of naval warfare in which submarines sink merchantmen without warning, as opposed to attacks per prize rules...

.

Koester died in Kiel
Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

 in 1928 at the age of 83. He was buried in the Nordfriedhof cemetery.

Sources

Jürgen Hahn-Butry (Hrsg.): Preußisch-deutsche Feldmarschälle und Großadmirale. Safari, Berlin 1938.
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