Karl Doenitz and the Last Days of the Third Reich
Karl Doenitz was to be the successor of Adolf Hitler after the Fuhrer’s suicide. The other higher-ups in the Reich were either on the run, taking the coward’s way out, or had fallen out of favor with Hitler. Karl Doenitz’s Naval leadership had led to his high regard by Hitler, but also envy from contemporaries in the other war departments. Karl Doenitz’s patriotic, male-dominated family upbringing lent itself to his own service for his country. He joined the Navy at the age of eighteen. He was held in a POW camp after World War I. The post-war period saw the build-up of munitions, the rise of the Nazi party, and the readying for military action. He would become Senior Submarine officer in the Kriegsmarine where he would be at the helm of unrestricted warfare in the Atlantic, the German Navy becoming the bane of Allied shipping. The tide would eventually turn with the unraveling of the secret Enigma code, D-Day and Allied advances in Europe – Doenitz would find himself alone and in charge as the death knell had rung for the Third Reich.
Barry Turner’s look at the Naval Strongman who oversaw early German dominance in World War II and then saw it unravel is a compelling read. Doenitz, unlike many of his Nazi contemporaries lived a long life, he would be convicted at the Nuremberg tribunals, but spared the ultimate sentence as he didn’t commit crimes against humanity. Turner’s depictions of the rivalries between Doenitz and the Wehrmacht make for interesting reading. A great World War II biography!
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