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Gustav von Senden-Bibran

The basics
Date of birth Rokitki, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Gmina Chojnów, Legnica County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship
Date of death Nov 23, 1909 Berlin, Germany
Awards Order of the Black Eagle
Authority VIAF id
The details

Gustav Freiherr (Baron) von Senden-Bibran (23 July 1847, Reisicht, Lower Silesia, Germany – 23 November 1909 in Berlin) was an admiral of the German Imperial Navy. His father was a Silesian landowner who had served in the Austro-Hungarian Cavalry. He entered the Prussian Navy at age 15, never married, and dedicated his life to building a strong German Navy.

After service in the Franco-Prussian War, from 1871 to 1874 Senden-Bibran attended the post-graduate Naval War College, the Marineakademie, along with the future admiral and colleague Otto von Diederichs.

Senden-Bibran was stationed in China, Japan and the South Pacific, the Mediterranean and Constantinople. After a cruise around the world (1881–83) he was given more important commands at home.

He became Naval Adjutant or aide to Kaiser Wilhelm II 1888, and, in 1889, Chief of the German Imperial Naval Cabinet. In both positions he was very valuable for his ability to explain technical matters in a manner that the Kaiser could understand. In 1892, he became Rear Admiral and 1899, finally, Vice Admiral.

Senden-Bibran often came into strong conflict with army and civilian leaders over his naval building plans, but he often won his goals with the support of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who "had nothing but the navy in his head." He made no secret of his goal of building a navy which would wrest world economic and political power from the British. He was accused of having "delusions of grandeur" and little knowledge of the realities of world politics and power. His period of greatest influence was in the 1890, lessening after the triumph of Tirpitz. He was something of a "naval Éminence grise" to the Kaiser, with whom he had a standing appointment to meet on Tuesday mornings, either in Berlin or Potsdam.

His power waned after the appointment of Admiral Tirpitz to the Imperial Naval Office in 1897, partly because he took the losing pro-cruiser side in the debate within the government (and for the Kaiser's ear) over whether Germany should build a cruiser fleet or a great battleship fleet.

In the controversy over where Germany should seek a base in the Far East, Senden-Bibran preferred Chusan, an island in the mouth of Hangzhou Bay.

He retired from the Naval Cabinet in 1906 in favor of Georg Alexander von Müller.

In 1903 he was made full Admiral and Adjutant General to the Kaiser. He died in 1909.


Order of Saint John (Bailiwick of Brandenburg) (Der Johanniterorden)

Order of the Black Eagle

Grand Cross of Order of the Red Eagle with oak leaves and swords

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