German Admiral, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Navy. He was credited with transforming the Imperial German Navy from little more than a coastal defense force into the High Seas Fleet, Tirpitz was a dominant personality of the emperor William II's reign. He was best known as the champion of building a large fleet of German battleships, the construction of which greatly exacerbated tensions with Great Britain in the years before World War I and materially contributed to the outbreak of that conflict. Ironically, once the war was on, Tirpitz's battleships remained largely idle in the face of the more powerful and experienced Royal Navy. The admiral, who was Navy Secretary in the German cabinet, responded by instigating and vigorously supporting unlimited submarine warfare against the Allied powers, a policy that, whatever its military merits, proved a public relations disaster. Tirpitz's colossal misjudgments were thus substantially responsible for many of the disasters that befell Germany and the world in the 20th century. During World War II, the battleship named after him was sunk in a Norwegian fjord by British bombers and midget submarines. Burial: Waldfriedhof, Munich, Bavaria, Germany.