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Karl Doenitz

Discussion in 'Who Was Who Of Germany In WWII' started by Jim, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. Jim

    Jim Active Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    Karl Doenitz (1891-1980)

    Nationality: German [​IMG]

    Senior position: Commander-In-Chief German Navy.

    Final rank: Admiral.

    Doenitz served aboard Germany's U-boats during World War I and stayed in the much-reduced navy during the interwar years, even though it had been prohibited by the Treaty of Versailles to have submarines. A keen proponent of undersea warfare, he was made commander of the country's small submarine force, which was being revitalized amid considerable secrecy in 1935, and oversaw its gradual but not insignificant expansion in the years before the outbreak of war. He was made rear admiral in October 1959 and was ordered to conduct a campaign against Allied shipping with the limited resources he had available. Doenitz began to lobby hard for more resources and an expansion of the submarine fleet, a position that brought him into direct conflict with more conservative senior naval officers, such as the commander-in-chief, Raeder, who wanted to emphasize the importance of surface warships.

    The Capture of Grand-Admiral Doenitz - May 1945


    Hitler gradually lost faith in the navy's surface fleet when it suffered a series of losses, like that of the Bismarck in 1941, and Doenitz began to prosper thanks to the growing number of Allied merchant ships being sent to the bottom by his submariners. He was promoted vice-admiral in 1940 and full admiral in 1942 and finally replaced the discredited Raeder in January 1945. The surface fleet was all but moribund by this juncture and, henceforth, the navy's expanding force of U-boats bore the brunt of the vital Battle of the Atlantic. Yet by the end of the year, the Allies had turned a corner and had the upper hand in the Atlantic.

    Dr Albert Speer (left), with Admiral Doenitz and Colonel Alfred Jodl after their arrest on 23 May 1945.

    Doenitz tried to regain the initiative with new tactics, equipment, and submarines but the battle had been largely lost and his U-boat fleet was gradually ground down during the remainder of the campaign. Hitler made Doenitz his successor as chancellor in his will of 30 April 1945 but Doenitz ruled the fast-disintegrating Third Reich for little more than a week before "negotiating" its surrender. Tried at Nuremberg, he was convicted of war crimes and served ten years, being released in 1956.

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