The small cruisers Karlsruhe
were among the many ships of this kind build in Germany between 1908 and the outbreak of World War I. They were the last small cruisers which were build with the four-funnel layout, typical for several different classes of small cruisers, and showed no major differences to its predecessors.
Both ships were lost during the war. The Rostock
was used for fleet operations after the outbreak of the war, serving as flagship for the torpedo boats. The ship took part in the battles of Helgoland (28.08.1914) and Doggerbank (24.01.1915). During the battle of Jutland, a torpedo took out the boiler rooms while breaking through the German battle line and the ship had to be scuttled on 01.06.1916.