was the first major German ship build after World War I. The basic design had it sources in the last class of small cruisers in World War I, the Cöln
-Class. Therefore, the main artillery was mounted in single turrets like it was done in small cruisers of World War I and not in turrets like later cruiser designs.
For the first time, electrical welding was used to build a warship of this size. Since the results were very promising, electrical welding got more important for all following ship constructions.
The ship was laid down at the end of 1921 but because of the lack of knowledge in constructing major warships and steel shortages it took three years to launch the ship and one additional year to complete it.
was build to perform like its famous predecessors in World War I, to hunt and sink allied merchant shipping in every ocean of the world. To increase its operational radius, the armor protection of the ship was reduced compared to the one of the World War I cruisers to carry a larger amount of fuel. Originally build with a mixed coal-oil boiler system the coal boilers were later replaced with oil fired one, too.
The ship was mainly used for training purposes. In the years before the war it made several major voyages around the world. Those voyages lead the ship to the Cocos-Islands where the small cruisers Emden
in World War I was destroyed. The ship went to Africa, the Indian Ocean, East Asia, the USA, the Mediterranean and more.
At the start of World War II the ship was already 18 years old and was only used for military actions when no other vessel was available like the occupation of Norway or shore bombardment at the Baltic Sea.