SMS Elsass was the second of five pre-dreadnought battleships of the Braunschweig class in the German Imperial Navy. She was laid down in May 1901, launched in May 1903, and commissioned in November 1904, though an accident during sea trials delayed her completion until May 1905. She was named for the German province of Elsass, now the French region of Alsace. Her sister ships were Braunschweig, Hessen, Preussen and Lothringen. The ship was armed with a battery of four 28 cm (11 in) guns and had a top speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). Like all other pre-dreadnoughts built at the turn of the century, Elsass was quickly made obsolete by the launching of the revolutionary HMS Dreadnought in 1906; as a result, her career as a frontline battleship was cut short.
The ship served in II Squadron of the German fleet after commissioning, and during this period, she was occupied with extensive annual training, as well as making good-will visits to foreign countries. Surpassed by new dreadnought battleships, Elsass was decommissioned in 1913, though she was reactivated a year later following the outbreak of World War I and assigned to VI Battle Squadron. Elsass saw action in the Baltic Sea against the Russian Navy. In August 1915, she participated in the Battle of the Gulf of Riga, during which she engaged the Russian battleship Slava. In 1916, she was placed in reserve because of crew shortages and the threat of British submarines operating in the Baltic, and she spent the remainder of the war as a training ship.
She was retained after the war under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and was modernized in 1923–1924. Elsass served in the Reichsmarine with the surface fleet until 1930, conducting training operations and visits to foreign ports as she had earlier in her career. In 1930, she was again placed in reserve, and the following year she was stricken from the naval register. Elsass was used for a short time as a hulk in Wilhelmshaven. The outdated battleship was sold to Norddeutscher Lloyd in late 1935 and was broken up for scrap the following year.