The mysterious 31 of May sickness
If you ask people today to name two great admirals the most likely answers
will be Nelson and Letters. But how did a complete unknown come to be
known as the greatest admiral of our time? Are we to believe the stunning
series of events that ended up with Letters in the position that he found
himself in in1915? The deeper one digs in the events that led up to Letters
assuming command of first the German battle cruisers and later the entire
fleet the harder it becomes to believe that it simply happened by accident.
Were Scheer and Schmidt poisoned?
It is known that the day before the Skagerack sortie Baron Letters invited
several of the commanders of the HSF to dinner at a local restaurant in
Wilhelmshaven. It is also known that Letters recommended the fish for
both Scheer and Schmidt but strangely enough chose the schnitzel for himself.
Admiral Schmidt ate his entire portion and became seriously ill later
that evening, he was rushed to hospital where the doctors diagnosed him
as suffering from acute food poisoning.
Unfortunately the records of Schmidt's medical examination was lost in
a fire shortly after the HSF got back after Skagerack. Blame for this
incident had been placed on the stressed conditions after thousands of
injured men flooded the hospital and an investigation claimed that painting
equipment had been moved out of the way and stored in the area where the
fire began, but there was no maintenance ongoing in the hospital at that
Admiral Scheer did not finish his meal and thus didn't get the entire
dose of poison, this was causing serious trouble to Letters plan to assume
command of the entire fleet. Unfortunately just before the sortie Scheer
let Baron Letters convince him to include Letter's co-conspirator the
then Rear-Admiral von Rudburg (immediately promoted to vice-Admiral after
the Kaiser's battle) as a replacement for Schmidt.
When Scheer was still able to command the fleet at the time of the sortie
the conspirators played their last card, the Ottoman "observer" Abdul Hadi Pasha.
Hadi Pasha was brought into the conspiracy by von Rudburg who served in
Berlin simultaneously with Hadi Pasha's stay there. Members of Scheer's
staff reported after the battle that the Ottoman constantly pestered their
commander and made sure he could get no rest until he finally collapsed
as a result of exaustion and poisoning, once that happened the Pasha administered
some drug during an unsupervised moment to make sure Scheer didn't recover
in time to regain command. The ship's doctor was not able to do any serious
investigation regarding V-Adm Scheer's condition due to the large number
of injured crewmen he had to treat during the battle. With his co-conspirator
in command of the main body the way to glory was now open for Baron Letters.
The Greek Connection
That Baron Letters would be able to mount an expedition only days after
Skagerack is impossible, unless he was prepared and expected to be in
command at that time. That the New York expedition could be launched in
only days is the best proof of the conspiracy and the reason for including
the Greeks in this expedition seems to indicate the paying back of a dept.
The Greek connection runs through the all the events of May-June 1915.
The restaurant where Scheer and Schmidt was poisoned was the property
of a N. Kallikantzari a second generation immigrant to Germany and also
a distant relative to Constantine Kallikantzari who was claimed to have
been killed by British shell fire onboard Imperator. It is also
known through the waitress, Helga Bauer, that von Rudburg was a regular
guest at this restaurant and that he was there and met in private with
Mr. Kallikantzari only the day before the poisonings.
The inclution of so many Greek citizens and the unfinished Greek battleship
Salamis in the breakout can only be explained if the Greeks had
prior knowledge of Letters' plans. It would have been impossible for an
operation of that scale to be started from scratch in so short a time.
With Ballin to bankroll him, the Greek government to assist him and fellow
officers to back him up in his conspiracy, Baron Letters managed to take
over the German fleet, going from a virtual unknown to Germany's greatest
hero in a few short months. But why take these risks? Why would anyone
so desperately seek command of the HSF, unless he was sure he could defeat
the British from the very beginning.
The Traitor in the Grand Fleet
How could a unknown German admiral engage the centuries old power of
the Royal Navy with such complete confidence of success? The most likely
explanation for this is probably found in England itself rather than in
Germany. In a very strange twist of fate the commander of the Grand Fleet
in the beginning of the war was a German, prinz Louis von Battenberg.
In the opening stages of the war the British operated with reasonable
success but the rising tide of anti German sentiment called von Battenberg's
loyalties into question and ultimately forced him to leave his command.
Although no clear evidence have ever been found that von Battenberg betrayed
his adopted country it is clearly known that soon after he left the problems
started for the Royal Navy and a very ambitious German admiral began to
engage the British fleet with much greater confidence than the Germans
had any reason to feel.
It is known that Letters met most of the high ranking officers of the
Royal Navy before the war including von Battenberg and it is quite possible
that he kept contact with a few of them over the years and that the embittered
von Battenberg used Letters to avenge himself on the service and nation
that had treated him so poorly. It is certain that if von Battenberg wanted
to he could do serious harm to the British with his detailed knowledge
of the strengths and more importantly the weaknesses of the Royal Navy.
Was Hipper murdered?
There is however evidence that Letters might have been prepared to go
even further than incapacitating poisons and using von Battenberg's information
to achieve his goal of personal fame and glory.
When Hipper accepted the request that the then almost unknown Baron Letters
be allowed onboard SMS Derfflinger for the Doggerbank sortie he could
hardly know that he set in motion a chain of events that would result
in his own death.
The most damaging evidence that something strange and sinister happened
on the bridge of SMS Seydlitz was the preliminary damage report
regarding the bridge of SMS Seydlitz, it stated that:
- "There is no obvious way that the shrapnel should have been able
to penetrate the bridge..."
- "The damage to the interior equipment do not seem consistent
with the damage that would be expected from shell fragments."
- "There were some signs that equipment had been destroyed from
This seems to indicate that what killed admiral Hipper and his flag captain
on Seydlitz's bridge wasn't a British shell but rather a German
bomb. Several witnesses onboard Seydlitz that day have reported
that commander Nikademus for some reason wore his sidearm that day but
that he had removed it later after Baron Letters had assumed command of
the Battle cruisers. After Doggerbank Nikademus was promoted to command
the second largest German BC by Letters despite not having the seniority
or experience for a command as important as SMS Seydlitz.
Prior to the sortie commander Nik, as he was generally called, had often
stated that the fleet should be used more aggressively and in the week
before the sortie he had been overheard to argue that with different leadership
the fleet would be able to accomplish much more. When this dissatisfied
officer met a man who thought he could provide that leadership the first
seeds of the conspiracy was sown that would place Baron Letters in charge
of the German fleet during the war.
I guess I have been spending too much time reading strange conspiracy
theories on the sceptic network.