Karl Dönitz

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Karl Dönitz

Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz (1891 - 1980) was commander of the U-boat fleet of the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) during the Second World War and very briefly leader of the remaining area of Nazi Germany upon Hitlers Death. Dönitz also served as a U-Boat captain during the First World War.


Upon the death of Hitler and Goebbels, Dönitz was appointed President.[1][2] Dönitz immediately opened up negotiations with the Allied Powers to offer Germany's unconditional surrender.[3] On May 7, the British and US governments accepted a surrender authorized by Dönitz.[4] The decision was controversial, as the Big Three Allied Powers had agreed not to accept any separate peace terms. Dönitz was subsequently arrested and tried as a war criminal.[5]


Dönitz was placed on trial in Nürnberg where he was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for war crimes, largely related to his policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. A part of his defense at the trial was that the US had also waged unrestricted submarine warfare from day one of their involvement.


After his release he lived a quiet life writing a small number of books. His most famous being his memoir 10 Jahre, 20 Tage. 10 Years and 20 days; an allusion to his 10 years as a Kriegsmarine officer and his 20 days as the nominal head of the German state.


  1. http://www.flottenbasis.de/marine_kurier/ausgabe012005/achterstich1.html
  2. http://lexikon.meyers.de/meyers/Bundespr%C3%A4sident
  3. http://www.br-online.de/wissen-bildung/thema/kriegsenden/09-kapitulation.xml
  4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/11/a3530611.shtml
  5. http://www.br-online.de/wissen-bildung/thema/kriegsenden/09-kapitulation.xml