Canada in the Second World War


Karl Dönitz

Karl Dönitz, born in Berlin on September 16th, 1891, died in Aumühle near Hamburg on December 24th, 1980. Officer of the Kriegsmarine (German war navy), he succeeded Adolph Hitler as Führer of the Third Reich in 1945.

Dönitz started his naval career with the Kaiserliche Marine (German imperial navy) in 1910. A U-boat commander during WWI, he was captured by the British in October 1918 and spent the next nine months as a war prisoner. Back in Germany, he resumed his duties with the German navy. Appointed as Führer der Unterseeboote in 1936 and Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote in 1939, he is then the Commander-in-Chief of the German submarine fleet, which he will develop considerably, planning the construction and deployment of U-boats in the North Atlantic, and designing their combat strategies.

His military successes and Hitler’s trust allow him to be appointed in January 1943 as Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine (Commander-in-Chief of the War Navy), with the rank of Grossadmiral (Grand Admiral). In 1945, Hitler chose him as his successor; at the Führer’s death on April 30th, 1945, Dönitz inherited a besieged nation. He negotiated the May 8th surrender, and was captured on May 23rd.

Convicted for war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials, Dönitz served an eleven and a half-year sentence. Released in 1956, he retired to Aumühle, near Hamburg, where he wrote his memoirs.