The Jutland Legacy Conference

Wednesday 31st May through to Friday 2nd June

The Big Debate

Book your Jutland Conference tickets

In 1916, the Battle of Jutland was fought over 36 hours from 31st May to 1st June. Both sides claimed victory in what was considered the defining naval battle of the First World War. Yet even today, the results and aftermath of the battle are still being debated.

Who really won the battle? How did this conflict really determine the outcome of the war? What was the social impact of the battle on Britain and Germany? What is the cultural legacy of the battle?

These questions have since divided opinions on both sides.

Now, an Anglo-German Conference of leading historians and archaeologists explore the legacy and wider impact of the battle.

What lessons were learned by Germany and Britain from the battle? What was the response at home, in Britain and Germany, to the battle? Was Jutland really the only defining naval battle of the war? What clues can be revealed about the battle from maritime archaeology?

These are the kinds of questions that will be explored at our first ever three-day Conference at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which opens on Wednesday 31st May through to Friday 2nd June, on the 101st anniversary of the battle. You can be a part of the debate and learn more about the legacy of Jutland, and why it still matters today. Find out more

Jutland was the climax of centuries of naval warfare, the last time two fleets of big gunned battleships contested control of the seas.

Dan Snow

Jutland 1916: The Big Debate

Originally planned as part of the Jutland Commemorations last summer, the rescheduled ‘Jutland: The Big Debate’ was held on Thursday 2nd February bringing together historical experts, members of the public and a virtual audience from all over the world.

The Big Debate was preceded by a preview of the blockbuster exhibition ’36 Hours Jutland 1916: The Battle that won the War’. Refreshments were served and there was an opportunity to direct questions to the assembled Battle of Jutland experts.

With the dramatic sounds of the exhibition hall bringing alive the Battle of Jutland the mood was suitably set to start the debate raising the central question: was Jutland the Battle that won First World War

The debate, held in the style of BBC’s Question Time, tackled a variety of questions put to the expert panel. Direction of the debate was competently managed by Dan Snow, TV presenter, historian and popular host of the podcast series ‘History Hit’. Throughout the debate live feeds were shown from Twitter allowing the audience to enjoy the further discussions being generated on social media. The whole debate was streamed live onto Facebook and Twitter, allowing many more visitors to participate in the debate from around the world.

Discussion was lively particularly when Dr Andrew Gordon (The Rules of the Game) claimed that Jutland was not a battle - a claim hotly denied by The National Museum of the Royal Navy's Nick Hewitt who cited the nearly 10,000 casualties sustained in 12 hours of fighting.

The German perspective was ably given by Dr Stephan Huck visiting from the Deutsches Marinemuseum in Wilhelmshaven and Dr Laura Rowe (University of Exeter). Both argued persuasively that we should question the received narrative that the Naval Blockade caused the collapse of Germany in 1918 explaining that the real reason was due to a lack of central planning within Germany itself. Time didn’t allow for full debate of the renewed U-boat campaign of 1917 and its connection to the surface war that had culminated in Jutland, or indeed America’s subsequent entry into the war though there was a tantalising comment that America was far from being unready to join anyway.

Proceedings were brought to a close at the debate with a show of hands for consensus regarding the final question, "Was Jutland a decisive victory for the British Royal Navy?", significantly few raised their hands at close of proceedings.


Highlights from the evening debate