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  • W
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  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • Dönitz, Karl

    lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.5pt;font-family:"Meridien-Medium","serif"; color:black'>(18911980)

    supreme commander of the navy

    Karl Dönitz was appointed grand admiral and

    chief of the submarine fleet in 1936 and promoted

    to commander in chief of the navy in

    1943. He was named HITLERs successor and

    head of a new Reich government on May 1,

    1945, surrendering to the Allies on May 78,

    1945.

    Born in Berlin-Grüneau on September 16,

    1891, he attended a semi-classical high school,

    and he joined the Imperial German Navy in

    1910. During WORLD WAR I he served aboard

    the cruiser Breslau and then was assigned to submarine

    duty in 1916. He assumed command of

    two submarines and was captured by the British.

    After the war he joined the Reichsmarine of the

    WEIMAR REPUBLIC, his service culminating as a

    staff officer in the Admiraltys office in Wilhelmshaven.

    In 1935 he was placed in command

    of Germanys reconstituted submarine

    fleet. He developed the famous wolf pack tactics

    for submarine attack. The best time for Ger-

    Dönitz, Karl 339

    Admiral Karl Dönitz congratulating German U-boat sailors after returning from a successful mission, 1942 (Library

    of Congress)

    man submarines was at the beginning of Americas

    involvement in the war when two or three

    ships were being sunk daily. Soon, however, the

    Allies had developed the convoy system, longrange

    radar, and escort planes, which very

    quickly turned the tables in favor of the Allies.

    By 1943 the Allies had won the BATTLE OF THE

    ATLANTIC, and Dönitz had to withdraw his submarines

    because of Allied material and technological

    superiority. This infuriated Hitler. In the

    meantime, in 1942 he had been promoted to

    admiral and on January 30, 1943, he replaced

    Admiral Erich Raeder as supreme commander of

    the navy.

    Efforts to develop new all-electric submarines

    were hopelessly late, as the first of the 107 Mark

    XXI boats were not operational until March

    1945. In 1944, as the Germans were retreating

    on the eastern front, the navy supplied ground

    formations against the Russians. Also, the navy

    had the responsibility of evacuating more than

    2 million Germans and transporting supplies.

    Just before Hitler committed suicide, he named

    Dönitz as his successor. Setting up a temporary

    government in Schleswig-Holstein, Dönitz hoped

    to provide enough time for as many German

    troops to surrender to the British and Americans.

    He was captured by the British on May 23,

    1945, and was indicted as a war criminal by the

    International Military Tribunal on October 20,

    1945. He was sentenced to 10 years, which he

    served at Spandau Prison.

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