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Friedrich von Hollmann (January 19, 1842 – January 21, 1913) was an Admiral of the German Imperial Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) and Secretary of the German Imperial Naval Office under Emperor Wilhelm II.

Hollmann was born in Berlin, Germany. He entered the Prussian Navy in 1857 and made his first trip as a cadet aboard the SMS Amazone, the SMS Gefion and the SMS Thetis. In 1859-1862 he took part in the expedition to the Far East along with Karl Eduard Heusner whom he would follow years later as Secretary of the German Imperial Naval Office.

In 1863 he was appointed to the Central Division (Zentralabteilung) of the Prussian Navy Department.

During the Second Schleswig War in 1864 he commanded the gunboat SMS Wolf, and then (1864–1867) served as a Lieutenant aboard the cadet school ship SMS Niobe. From 1867 to 1869 he was assigned to the naval school in Kiel.

In Franco-Prussian War in 1870-71 Hollmann was a Kapitänleutnant, then (1871–1873) served the expedition to North and South America aboard SMS Gazelle.

Between 1874 and 1881 in the Central Division (Zentralabteilung) of the Admiralty, he commanded the cadet ships SMS Undine and SMS Medusa from 1876 to 1878, and then captained the academy corvette SMS Elisabeth of the Arcona class on its global tour from 1881 to 1883, the year the Krakatoa volcano broke out. On May 20, 1883 the German ship was stationed in the Sunda Strait, observing the ongoing eruption.[1]

In 1886-87 he was president of the Ship Examination Board (Schiffsprüfungskommission) and in the subsequent two years, Chief of Staff of the Admiralty. Now a Rear Admiral, Hollmann commanded the squadron which accompanied the Kaiser and Kaiserin on their royal visit to Greece and Turkey, 1889 to 1890.

On 22 April 1890, Hollmann became a member of the Federal Council (Bundesrat, upper house of the Parliament) and State Secretary of the German Imperial Naval Office (Reichsmarineamt) in the cabinet of Chancellor Leo von Caprivi, following the resignation of Karl Eduard Heusner. Here he planned naval construction and maintenance programs, directed the procurement of naval supplies, and represented the navy in the Reichstag.[2] In the same year he was appointed Vice Admiral and in 1896, finally, Admiral.

He was conservative in his attitude to war and especially horrified when he heard talk of war with Britain.[3] In the mid-1890s the quest for a German naval base in the Far East was uppermost in the minds of the naval leaders of the German Empire. Many saw the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95) as an opportunity to act. For Hollmann, bases were "an absolute necessity for overseas naval operations." In the heated discussions as to where the basse should be, he preferred Amoy on the Taiwan Strait.[4] Nevertheless, when the Kaiser demanded that the navy take territory on the Shandong peninsula in September 1895, he demurred because of the uncertain reaction of Japan, Britain and Russia.[5]

In the struggle over the Kaiser's naval expenditures, he admitted in February 1896 that "there are not 10 people in the Reichstag in favor of our great future fleet plans."[6] He resigned in June 1897 because he could not prevail in getting the Kaiser’s desired increases in the 1897 budget of the navy through the Reichstag. He promoted a navy of mainly cruisers as opposed to the heavy battle fleet sought by his successor, Alfred von Tirpitz.[7]

Hollmann was appointed a member of the Prussian House of Lords in 1904. In 1906 he became the President of the Institute for Testing of Aerodynamic Models of the Powered Airship Society (Motorluftschiff-Studiengesellschaft) and its successor company, the Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft, which dealt with the construction, development and distribution of airships, including for the Navy.

On 27 January 1905 he was appointed to the Order of the Black Eagle.

He is one of the founders of the German Fleet Association (Deutsche Flottenverein).

After leaving the military Hollmann was a member of the supervisory board of the Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft AEG, and later its chairman. He died in Berlin.


  1. Krakatau 1883, p. 58
  2. By order of the Kaiser, p. 112
  3. By order of the Kaiser, p. 124
  4. By order of the Kaiser, p. 143
  5. By order of the Kaiser, p. 142
  6. The Kaiser and His Court, p. 119
  7. The Corfu Papers, p.152


  • Krakatau 1883: The Volcanic Eruption and its Effects. By Richard S. Fiske and Tom Simkin; Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 1983, 464 pages
  • By order of the Kaiser: Otto von Diederichs and the rise of the Imperial German Navy, 1865-1902. By Terrell D. Gottschall; Institute Press, 2003, 337 pages
  • The Kaiser and His Court: Wilhelm II and the Government of Germany. By John C. G. Röhl, Translated by Terence F. Cole; Cambridge University Press, 1994, 288 pages
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II New Interpretations: The Corfu Papers. By John C. G. Röhl and Nicolaus Sombart; Cambridge University Press, 2005, 336 pages

External links

  • [1] Paper on the 1883 eruption of the Krakatau volcano. Course held 2005 by S. Muthukrishnan, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Furman University, Greenville, S.C.

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