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He took the SMS Victoria to Liberia in 1881

SMS Arcona

The gun-runner Itata in San Diego Bay in 1891

Victor Valois (1841–1924), was a vice-admiral (Vizeadmiral) in the German Imperial Navy. He graduated from the post-graduate Naval War College, the German Imperial Naval Academy 1872-1918 (Marineakademie) in 1874 in a class with three other future admirals: Otto von Diederichs, Felix von Bendemann, Gustav von Senden-Bibran.[1]

He married Minna von Behrendt.[2] He served as executive officer of SMS Vineta, out of Wilhelmshaven.[3]

Valois commanded the cruiser corvette SMS Victoria (France, 1863) in February 1881 on a cruise to Liberia to protest a native attack on the shipwrecked crew of a German merchant ship. He exacted a monetary fine from the Liberian government and shelled the village of the natives involved.[4]

In early 1890 he left the position of Director (oberwerftdirektor) of the Imperial Shipyard in Kiel to become commander of the German East Asia Squadron 1890-1892. In December 1890 he was in Australia with the SMS Sophie, SMS Leipzig, the SMS Arcona and the SMS Alexandrine.[5]

The purpose of the East Asia Squadron was to protect and promote imperialist interest in Asia and the Pacific. On 21 December 1890 he was as Samoa with his squadron in connection with German plans to annex the Marshall Islands when an approaching hurricane caused him to flee in his flagship SMS Leipzig.[6]

This was a period of tensions and rivalries in the Pacific between the great powers, including Germany and the United States. This tension was increased slightly when Valois brought his squadron into San Francisco on 4 June 1891 without the expected courtesy of raising an American flag. Perhaps it was for this reason that Admiral Andrew E. K. Benham, commander of Mare Island Station did not visit Valois.[7] Nevertheless, this was during the 1891 Chilean Civil War and he was soon ordered south where, along with US and British navies, he was involved in the search for the gun-running Chilean ship Itata (Itata Incident).[8]

As opposed to the battle fleet favored by Alfred von Tirpitz, he especially favored a cruiser fleet which would go after Great Britain's merchant in case of war.[9]

His book "Seekraft Seegeltung Seeherrschaft" published in 1899 caused a stir of interest in international naval circles as in it he admitted that the German naval build up was directed at Britain and proposed that mutual interest of the United States and Germany should lead to an alliance against Britain.[10]

He took part as something of a progressive in the naval related questions of the time such as foreign colonies, even after retirement. As a member of the Kolonialrat [colonial advisory board], he objected to a board recommendation in 1901 against a proposal to free all slaves in Germany’s African colonies by 1920. Valois proposed that all children born to slaves should be born free, but this was overruled as “premature.”[11]

He was a long foe of the United Kingdom and supported a strong cruiser fleet as the most feasible way to fight her in a coming war. In the April 1910 issue of Überall, the magazine of the Navy League (Flottenverein), he had a violently anti-British article, "Our Navy in the Service of the Colonial Movement,” saying that " there is at present no greater menace to the world's peace than the presumption of England."[12]

Although he was long retired when the United Kingdom entered the First World War against Germany, he published a pamphlet “Nieder mit England!” (Down with England!) which strongly attacked the new enemy and called for her destruction.[13]

Works authored[]

  • Victor Valois, Seekraft Seegeltung Seeherrschaft, 1899.
  • Victor Valois, Deutschland als Seemacht, Leipzig: Wiegand, 1908.
  • Victor Valois, “Nieder mit England!” 1914 or 1915.


  1. By order of the Kaiser, p. 113
  2. San Francisco News Letter and California Advertiser, June 13, 1891.
  3. By order of the Kaiser, p. 45
  4. The United States and Africa: A History by Peter Duignan, Lewis H. Gann; Cambridge University Press, 1987. 450 pages, pp. 120-121.
  5. New York Times, December 24, 1990, P. 6
  6. The Brisbane Courier, 13 January 1891. p. 3
  7. San Francisco News Letter and California Advertiser, June 13, 1891.
  8. Sacramento Record-Union, November 16, 1891, Page 2.
  9. By order of the Kaiser, p. 230
  10. New York Times, October 8, 1899, p. 4.
  11. Mission und Macht im Wandel politischer Orientierungen: europäische Missionsgesellschaften in politischen Spannungsfeldern in Afrika und Asien zwischen 1800 und 1945 by Ulrich van der Heyden, Holger Stoecker; Franz Steiner Verlag, 2005 700 pages. p. 49.
  13. What Germany Thinks by Thomas F. A. Smith; BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2008 (1915), 260 pages, p. 223.


  • 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.

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