At the outbreak of World War II, the German Kriegsmarine had a total of 21 operational destroyers, compared to the 260 vessels of the French and British allies. Until the end of the war, only 19 additional ships were completed, and 15 of all destroyers survived the war. Several of them were taken over by allied navies and served until the mid 1950s.
During the Norwegian campaign - Operation Weserübung - almost 50% of all destroyers were lost during the battles at Narvik, the remaining ships operated in Norway, the North and Baltic Sea, the Channel and off the French coast.
Two major disadvantages were common to all German destroyer designs, the very unreliable high-pressure steam engines and the too heavy 15 cm armament of the later ships which proved not very effective at all.