As the Germans prepared for war, they realized that their battleships would need escorts larger than destroyers or their very light cruisers. They also wanted ships with fuel capacity for longrange operations.
Thus, they invested in 5 heavy cruisers: Hipper, Bluecher, Prinz Eugen, Luetzow, and Seydlitz. Hipper fought in engagements along Norway (where it was significantly damaged after being rammed by destroyer HMS Glowworm) and in the Arctic and survived most of the war. Sistership Bluecher was sunk in Oslo Fjord in April 1940 by shore-based Norwegian reservist torpedo and gun batteries.
Their heavy torpedo armaments went unused, and all the German firstline warships were plagued by the Kriegsmarine's Achilles Heel weakness: malfunctioning engines -- "condensors" are typically mentioned -- something British and American crews never had to contend with.
Hipper, along with Scheer and accompanying destroyers, participated in the abortive attack on Convoy JW51B, which threw Hitler into a rage, vowing to scrap German surface ships altogether. Only Admiral Raeder's resignation tempered his anger.