REVIEW: The Memoirs of Karl Doenitz

Originally published in 1958 this book provides the Naval and military history reader great insight into the mind of the German Naval Leader during World War II. The German Prussian military discipline provided the world with some great minds in the 20th Century. Unfortunately, they were on the wrong side of history and through guilt by association they will forever be tied to the ego maniacs and deranged psychotic minds of Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, etc.

This memoir was updated by Jack Showell and Jurgen Rohwer and they did a great job providing the facts and data that was the legacy of the Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz. If you are a Navy or military veteran, I highly recommend reading this book. A valuable leadership reference for all military historians!

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Admiral Doenitz grew up in a Prussian military family and served in WWI and WWII in the German Navy focusing on U-Boat operations. Serving the Third Reich initially as the head of U-Boats he quickly received notoriety for his ruthlessness and cunning as he fielded a strong U-Boat force in European waters, Mediterranean and later in the Battle of the Atlantic. During his exploits two important people were convinced his U-Boats could tip the scales in reducing British Naval Power and war supplies reaching the British and the Russian, Churchill and Doenitz. The main issues were the inability of the German industry and armaments to provide a large amount of U-Boats, U-Boat resupply boats, and fully functional torpedoes! Other constrictions were having an uninhibited supply of iron ore from Scandinavia, and not enough range or commitment for dedicated air cover for the U-Boat operations. In ironic twist, this last restriction, lack of dedicated air support, was exactly what the allies were able to provide their own forces that started to turn the tables on the Germans and the overall impact of U-Boat operations on resupply convoy operations. In hindsight, If the U-Boat Command had been provided more U-Boats, more maintenance personnel, and more attention from Hitler and Armaments Minister Albert Speer the war efforts in 1942 and 1943 could have had a different course of events. Moreover, with German control of the Sea lanes in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, it could have a had a hell of an impact on the land invasion of the British Isles (Operation Sealion) as well as prohibiting British influence in the Mediterranean Theater.

Towards the end of the war Doenitz was at odds with Hitler and his Ministers, constantly arguing for natural resources and replacements.

As Berlin was being assaulted by the Allies Doenitz was notified that he would be the successor to Hitler to lead the Germans after his death. He took this assignment seriously and negotiated the surrender for Germany. He stayed in power long after the Allies took control and started their war crimes tribunals. AS the Allies gained confidence and were unchecked by the United Nations, Doenitz himself became the focus of an investigation about his actions during the war and whether they were war crimes. Before being found not guilty he renounced Hitler and the Third Reich and like so many of his German Officer peers claimed he didn’t know what was going on with the German atrocities happening in Europe nor the Holocaust. After his name was cleared of war crime he soon retired and settled down to write his memoirs.

This book is available on (UK) and Pen and Sword Publishing.

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