After the "Machtergreifung" of the nazis (take-off power), one of the categories of new laid down ships were the so-called "Tender", initially intended as smaller boats, around 50 to 60 meter long, serving as "go between" a fleet and shore, either because on shore there was no suitable port for the fleet to enter, or becauswe the fleet did not want to be seen by the respective country's authorities. Later, in 1937, during the first redefinition of the DKM, it was decided to build five new ships with better seagoing capabilities. These five ships were designated as "Mehrzweckschiffe" (multi purpose ships) because they could be outfitted for different tasks: Command ship for a submarine flotilla, or for a fast patrol boat flotilla ("Schnellboot- or Torpedoboot-Flotille") or even itself playing the role of patrolling certain areas.
These MZS were to be good in rough seas and fast in speed. This is how the "Dichter-Klasse" (poet class) was born, initially with five ships, all named by German poets and writers, later followed by further twelve, with slightly different sizes to be able to carry also enough fuel to replenish the flotilla they protected, should by any reason this become necessary.
The first of these ships, MZS-1, later "DKM Heinrich Heine
", was ordered 1936 at the Stülcken-Werft
in Hamburg and laid down in February of 1937. She was commissioned in Mai 1939 and after six weeks of satisfactory sea trials, handed over to the DKM command at Kiel. The ships of this class had a length of 96,5 meter, a beam of 12,6 m and a draft of 4 meter at full load for a displacement of 2.290 tons light and 2.545 t at full load. The propulsion wasw made by four MAN nine-cylinder double-acting two stroke Diesel engines each delivering 4.600 shp and paired onto two shafts driving four bladed controllable pitch screws. Electricity and hydraulic power aboard was provided by two six cylinder four stroke Daimler-Benz Diesel engines driving gensets and hydraulic pumps.
The ships were able to reach a max speed of 34.8 knots and had a normal range of 3.875 sm. Armament were four new 127mm DP guns paired by two, five single AA10,5-cm SK C/32 (L/45) and four 1 × 3,7-cm SK C/30 (L/83) AA guns.
After the power turnover in Germany, as described in the beginning, this type of ship became one of the most used "All purpose" ships for escorts in the high seas of the north Atlantic. However, as the Soviet threat for Europe became weaker and weaker, the action on the seas shifting to the Pacific theater, not too many were built for the "Baltic Alliance", Germany keeping most of the units built.