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Paul Behncke (13 August 1869 – 4 January 1937) was a German admiral during the First World War, most notable for his command of the Third Battle Squadron of the German High Seas Fleet during the Battle of Jutland.

Paul Behncke
Adolf Grohs Admiral von Schröder mit dem früheren Chef des Admiralstabes Behnke, Gustav Liersch & Co. 7663 Bildseite v.l. Fritz und Paul Behncke, 2x unbekannt, Admiral Ludwig Schröder, 2x unbekannt.JPG
(left to right) Fritz and Paul Behncke with Ludwig von Schröder
Born(1869-08-13)13 August 1869
Died4 January 1937(1937-01-04) (aged 67)
Allegiance German Empire
Weimar Republic
Service/branch Imperial German Navy
Years of service1883–1924
Commands heldIII Battle Squadron
Battles/warsWorld War I
AwardsPour le Mérite

He was born in Lübeck in 1869. At the age of fourteen he joined the navy and as an officer commanded a gunboat in the Far East. After studying at the Naval Academy in Kiel he was assigned to the general staff. As commander of the Falke he returned to Chinese waters and on being promoted to the rank of captain he was appointed to the battleship SMS Wettin, and afterwards to the SMS Westfalen.

Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War Behncke was promoted to Rear-Admiral and again assigned to the general staff. During the conflict he was opposed to Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz's theories on submarine warfare, and was appointed head of the III Battle Squadron, composed of the eight most modern battleships of the German navy (the König and Kaiser classes). Leading these ships aboard his flagship SMS König Rear-Admiral Behncke took part in the Battle of Jutland, where he was seriously wounded by a shell splinter and found himself in command of the whole fleet during the third phase of the action.

During the 1917 occupation of the Island of Moon he prevented the retreat of part of the Russian fleet and sank the Slava. By that time he had the rank of Vizeadmiral and the following year, after the renunciation of Admiral Eduard von Capelle, rose to Secretary of State of the Imperial Naval Office, a position he held for only one month before being relieved.

Behncke regained office after the war, replacing admiral Adolf von Trotha, and retired from the navy in 1924. In retirement, Behncke served as the president of the German-Japanese Society.[1] He died in Berlin in 1937.


  1. ^ "ADMIRAL BEHNCKE, 70, OF GERMANY IS DEAD". New York Times. 5 January 1937.
  • Enciclopedia General del Mar, Jose Mª Martinez - Hidalgo, Volume I, s.v. BEHNCKE, Paul, Page 1323, Ediciones Garriga, S.A., Barcelona, 1968

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Military offices
New creation Chef der Marineleitung
15 September 1920 – 25 September 1924
Succeeded by
Vizeadmiral Hans Zenker
Preceded by
Konteradmiral William Michaelis
Chef der Admiralität
1 – 14 September 1920
Office renamed
Preceded by
Admiral Eduard von Capelle
Staatssekretär im Reichsmarineamt
18 – 27 September 1918 (Acting since August 28th)
Succeeded by
Vizeadmiral Ernst Karl August Klemens von Mann
Preceded by
Admiral Reinhard Scheer
Chef des III. Geschwaders
24 January – 11 August 1918
Succeeded by
Vizeadmiral Hugo Kraft
New creation Deputy Chief of the Admiralty Staff
2 August 1914 – 4 September 1915
Succeeded by
Vizeadmiral Reinhard Koch
Preceded by
Kapitän zur See Friedrich Gädeke
Commanding officer of SMS Westfalen
15 September 1910 – 30 September 1911
Succeeded by
Kapitän zur See Wilhelm Starke
Preceded by
Kapitän zur See Wilhelm Souchon
Commanding officer of SMS Wettin
19 September 1909 – 14 September 1910
Succeeded by
Kapitän zur See Hermann Nordmann
Preceded by
Korvettenkapitän Friedrich Musculus
Commanding officer of SMS Falke
30 October 1903 – 3 November 1905
Succeeded by
Korvettenkapitän Georg von Ammon