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  1. Operationsplan III as it was known, the Kaiser's plot to invade America before World War 1. By the start of WWI, it appears the German Navy was still greatly superior to the United States Navy in the number of modern Dreadnoughts. At a glance, it looks like Germany holds to potential to successfully mount an assault on the US. The Kaiserliche Marine had 15 dreadnoughts to the USN's 10, and were building more Dreadnoughts on top of that. The Kaiserliche Marine also appears to have a great superiority in the number of Destroyers, although parity in pre-dreadnought strength. So question is, did Operationsplan III actually have a leg to stand on? Some background: "Beginning in 1899, Wilhelm II had taken over personal command of his Navy, assisted by the admiralty staff. By March he had a plan of his own prepared that, for the first time, set a timetable for the American invasion: departure from Wilhelshaven on the seventh day after mobilization, with the Azores being the immediate destination for coaling, and then proceeding directly to the U.S. East Coast. The Kaiser calculated that the crossing would take 30 days. Neither of the plans would be possible without the requisite warships. Since the Flottengesetz (naval bill) of March 1898 did not budget sufficient ships for an American adventure, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the state secretary of the Imperial Navy, was tasked with convincing the Reichstag to fund additional warships. Tirpitz proved a master at influencing public opinion. Although the fleet enlargement was clearly directed at the British, the “American danger” was not neglected in subsequent discussions for a new fleet. Admiral Diederichs, now chief of the admiralty staff, supported Tirpitz, arguing that the construction program had to be doubled to demolish the American fleet and seize several ports on the East Coast. Finally, in the summer of 1900, the two strategists celebrated the passage of the Second Fleet Construction Program. At one stroke, the Imperial armada was doubled and now consisted of 38 battleships, 38 light cruisers, and 20 heavy cruisers. Diederichs proudly assured the Kaiser that by 1901 the German Navy would surpass the American. Ironically, the model for German sea hegemony was the work of American military theorist Alfred Thayer Mahan, whose seminal book, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, Wilhelm had translated into German and placed aboard all his battleships. The Crossing and the Landing Despite the success of the Second Fleet Construction Program, it seemed clear that no invasion of the United States could succeed without the involvement of the Army. To the chief of the general staff, Count Alfred von Schlieffen, it was just as clear that a war conducted 3,000 miles from the homeland would be an absolute fiasco, especially given the fact that the ships needed to transport the troops existed only on the engineers’ drawing boards. Von Schlieffen was afraid that in the end the Army would be blamed for the failure. Still, being Kaisertreu, he prepared as best he could for the planned invasion. In December 1900, Diederichs submitted to Wilhelm the Admiralty’s latest plan. Either Boston or New York City should now be the main target of the attack—or perhaps both. The operations base was to be the Cape Cod peninsula. To the vexation of the Admiralty, however, the Kaiser suddenly insisted upon Cuba becoming the seat for operations, reasoning that not enough troops could be transported to the American mainland at the start of the war and, therefore, Cuba should become the preliminary assembly point. Von Schlieffen was to determine the necessary troop strength. His answer was a masterstroke of tactically disguised rejection through the marshaling of practical objections. Any evaluation of the necessary force needed to successfully establish a base of operations and capture Boston or New York City would depend on the size of the opposing forces, he said. To this commonplace reasoning, Diederichs commented ironically in the margin, “Das ist sehr geistreich”—“That is very illuminating.” In any event, 50,000 men would be needed to secure Cuba and at least 100,000 for an operation against Boston. Many more would be necessary for the New York City phase of the plan. Diederichs became unnerved—a nonexistent fleet of troop ships was now being called upon to transport more than 100,000 infantry and equipment. It was impossible. Meanwhile, Tirpitz had already instructed his naval attaché in Washington to find suitable places near Boston for a landing. At the end of August 1901, Lieutenant Herbert von Reuben-Paschwitz set out on an exploratory journey and concluded, despite an earlier report, that Cape Cod was not favorable because the advancing infantry would lack the necessary naval gun support because the area was not visible from the sea. Instead, the beach north of Manomet Point on the west side of the bay was ideal, he said, adding, “If the main body succeeds in capturing the Manomet Hill heights effective fire support from here could be maintained for the advancing troops.” The tiny port of Rockport, north of Boston, was also seen as militarily advantageous. The lieutenant’s recommendation was in line with a prior report by an American naval captain, Charles Train, to the United States Senate. Train predicted that in the event of war with Germany, New York City and the New England coastal cities would certainly be attacked, with Provincetown, north of Montauk, being the likely primary target and Rockport and its breakwater the secondary. Reuben-Paschwitz’s inexperience was just what von Schlieffen wanted. Coolly, he pointed out that Provincetown and Cape Cod could only be considered as the base of operations if the landing in the neighboring bay of Manomet Point were successful, which “in my judgment, would not be the case since, as the attaché reported, the ridges of Manomet Hill with their excellent artillery positions, command completely the Bay. A landing could only succeed if the heights of Manomet Point were neither or only lightly defended, which cannot be counted on.” Moreover, as was clear from Train’s report, the Americans fully expected any invasion to target Boston. “Therefore, a timely assembly of American troops necessary to defend a landing could be assured,” remarked Schlieffen sarcastically. Diederichs would have to abandon his plans. Why Kaiser Wilhelm II Almost Attacked America's East Coast President Theodore Roosevelt leads a gaggle of soldiers and diplomats on an impromptu inspection of the American fleet. The Short Life of Operationsplan III In early 1902, William Büchsel, a confidant of Tirpitz, replaced Diederichs as chief of the admiralty staff. Under Büchsel, the plans for the American invasion—since November 1903 officially named Operationsplan III—reached their apogee. A necessary precondition for a war with the United States was a political situation in Europe that would allow the Germans a free hand elsewhere. The thought of using Puerto Rico as a possible assembly point was now broached, as it would give Germany the chance not only to control the proposed Panama Canal but also to break Washington’s hegemony in Central and South America. That pleased the Kaiser, and once again von Schlieffen was ordered to calculate the men and materiel needed to succeed. Under Büchsel, for the first time, political considerations were made as well as military ones. The American undertaking was threatened from an entirely new direction—namely, the Venezuelan debt crisis arising from that country’s obligations to various European debtors. The United States was determined to show not only its readiness to defend itself, but also Venezuela under the cloak of the long-standing Monroe Doctrine. No territorial seizures would be permitted against newly created republics in the Western Hemisphere. When the major debtors (Great Britain, Germany, and Italy) proposed a blockade after Venezuela’s refusal to pay or even consider a repayment scheme, President Theodore Roosevelt sent all available warships under Admiral Dewey into the Caribbean as a “neutral observer.” To Dewey’s satisfaction, his 54-ship squadron outnumbered the Europeans several times over. It was America’s greatest demonstration of sea might to that time. The blockade was initially instituted by Great Britain in December 1902, and Germany followed its lead. The European blockade ultimately won Roosevelt’s approval, since he was irritated by Venezuela’s seeming indifference to its economic responsibilities. Ultimately, the dispute went to the Hague Tribunal for resolution. Significantly, Germany was publicly eager to assuage American suspicions about its intentions in the Caribbean-—to the point that Baron Speck von Sternberg, its chargé d’affairs, stated in a New York Times interview: “The Emperor understands the Monroe Doctrine thoroughly. He would no more think of violating that doctrine than he would of colonizing the moon.” By 1906, Operationsplan III was dead, as ominous new European events had surfaced: the conclusion in 1904 of the Entente Cordiale between Great Britain and France, the uncertain attitude of Russia toward a military pact with Berlin, and the launching of the British Dreadnought, whose 10 12-inch guns made all other battleships obsolete and for which Germany had no immediate answer. It became clear that any war would take place in Europe, not off the coast of the United States. The Kaiser, accordingly, turned his attentions closer to home. But for Roosevelt and Dewey, nothing had changed. They both knew, in their heart of hearts, that Germany would be America’s next opponent. They never realized, however, just how close the two nations had already come to war. " - https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/military-history/why-kaiser-wilhelm-ii-almost-attacked-americas-east-coast/ -
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