Hans Zenker

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Hans Zenker
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-13764, Hans Zenker.jpg
Admiral Hans Zenker, circa 1928
Born (1870-08-10)10 August 1870
Died 18 August 1932(1932-08-18) (aged 62)
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
Commands held SMS Von der Tann

World War I

Hans Zenker (10 August 1870 in Bielitz – 18 August 1932 in Göttingen) was a German admiral.


Born in Bielitz (now Bielsko-Biała, Poland), he entered the Imperial German Navy on 13 April 1889. After serving as captain of several torpedo boats, he commanded in turn the light cruisers Lübeck in 1911 and Cöln in 1912–13. As captain of the battlecruiser Von der Tann in 1916–17, Zenker saw action in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May – 1 June 1916.

Zenker joined the Admiralty Staff in 1917. He was appointed to the North Sea area command in 1918, holding this post when the German war effort collapsed in November 1918.

After the war, he was an officer of the Reichsmarine, serving as Inspekteur der Marineartillerie from 1920 to 1923 and the top post of Oberbefehlshaber der Reichsmarine (ObderRM) from October 1, 1924, to September 30, 1928. His tenure as OBderRM saw the beginning of the rebuilding of the German fleet with the construction of light cruisers and torpedo boats and the planning of Deutschland class ships, later built as the Deutschland, Admiral Scheer, and Admiral Graf Spee.


The last years of his life Zenker spent in Osterode am Harz. His son, Karl-Adolf Zenker (1907-1998), held the office equivalent to OBderRM—Inspector of the Navy—in the West German Bundesmarine from 1961 to 1967.


  • Bradley, Dermot; Hildebrand, Hans H.; Henriot, Ernest (1990). Deutschlands Admirale 1849–1945. Die militärischen Werdegänge der See-, Ingenieur-, Sanitäts-, Waffen- und Verwaltungsoffiziere im Admiralsrang. Band 3: P–Z. Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio Verlag. ISBN 3-7648-1700-3.
Military offices
Preceded by
Admiral Paul Behncke
Commander in Chief of the Reichsmarine
Succeeded by
Admiral Erich Raeder