German commerce raiders – auxiliary cruisers looking like harmless merchantmen, but carrying strong concealed armament – were operating worldwide on sea lanes during the Second World War. Even today they are an interesting and rarely described theme, being often cloaked in legends and “naval lore”. These mystery ships – similar to the Allied Q-ships from the First World War, old and almost derelict cargo vessels with concealed weapons, equipped to chase German submarines – were rebuilt in secrecy and could swiftly change their disguise using means on boardonly. They operated far from home, in the waters where enemy and neutral merchantmen weren´t expecting any danger. In spite of the fact that the British Royal Navy was watching all entrances into the Atlantic, nine German commerce raiders left German harbors undiscovered and mostly unopposed between 1940 and 1942, to disrupt British and Allied maritime communications on worlds´ oceans. Already there are some books, mostly in German, describing better known German raiders (armed merchant cruisers and some regular warships) or German armed merchant cruisers as a category, but here the author is trying to cover for the first time all operations of all German auxiliary cruisers in World War Two, being described chronologically for each ship. The story begins with a short historical overview of the war against commerce since the 19th Century and is concluded with some questions about the future. The main text is supplemented by attachments on armament and equipment of these German trade disruption cruisers, including tables listing their technical data and armament, together with detailed lists of all Allied and neutral merchant vessels sunk or seized by German
armed merchant cruisers in World War Two. The book is illustrated with more than 200 photographs and drawings, showing the raiders, their victims, supply ships, other German warships available or suitable for the war against commerce, the armament of the armed merchant cruisers and the routes of all their voyages.