The Last Führer: 9 Facts about Karl Donitz, Hitler’s Successor

Donitz and Hitler. Pinterest

Karl Donitz was born on September 16, 1891, the second son of Anna Beyer and Emil Donitz, an engineer. In 1910, Donitz enlisted in the Kaiserliche Marine or German Imperial Navy, a career that lasted 35 years. During those years, Donitz was a husband, father, prisoner of war, master strategist and the man who built the greatest submarine navy in the world. He never joined the Nazi party but managed to impress Hitler sufficiently to be named the Fuhrer’s successor. He ended his career as not only Admiral but also the last Fuhrer of the Third Reich.

World War II German U-576 submarine

The Wolfpack Method

In 1913, Donitz’ received his first commission as an acting sub-lieutenant. Just one year later, he was experiencing real action when the First World War broke out. For the first two years of the war, Donitz served on battle cruisers. But in 1916, after he was promoted to Oberleutnant, Donitz was asked to transfer to submarines. For the next two years, he served as a sub-commander in the Mediterranean- until months before the end of the war, his craft was sunk and he and the rest of his crew were taken prisoner in Malta.

Donitz was transferred to a POW camp near Sheffield in the UK. Despite the fact the war ended soon afterward, he was not released until July 1919.   However, while imprisoned, Donitz used his time wisely. He began to consider the best way for U-boats to take down enemy ships. Donitz concluded it was best for several U-boats to lie in wait. When a boat spotted a convoy, they were to radio the other ships so they could gather together -like a wolf pack. The wolf pack would allow the ships to pass. Then they would strike.

 Donitz did not have the chance to test his theory until war broke out again in 1939. He became convinced that German success depended on a campaign against the British merchant fleet. Oil tankers were a prime target, as cutting the oil supplies would severely handicap the Royal Navy. By now, high-frequency transmitters meant that the allies could not jam the German’s radios. If the U-boats stayed close to the surface and attacked under the cover of night, they could not be seen or detected by sonar.

Donitz began to petition for the German fleet to be converted into U-boats. He believed that 300 VII U-boats were sufficient to defeat Britain. Donitz faced stiff resistance from other commanders. But in the end, he convinced them. He began to train sub crews in wolfpack tactic and employ all the technology at his command. By the end of the war, despite the nation’s defeat, Germany had the most advanced submarine fleet in the world- thanks to Karl Donitz.


  • James Oss

    He should have be hanged or shot.

    • Mathew Paul Connor

      “been”, and you’re an idiot.

      • James Oss

        *Yes, he should have ‘been’ hanged, Matt. And while I’m at it, all the confederate traitors from Davis and Lee on down. In fact, I’d like to go on record as saying they should be all tried, dug ups and executed posthumously like what was done with Cromwell after the monarchy was restored after the English civil war. But, knocking down all their monuments is a good start.*

        *And a big Sieg Hiel to you, Matt.,*
        *Jim *

        • Mathew Paul Connor

          Doenitz and Rommel weren’t party members. They were professional soldiers who loved and served their country, not the party. And knocking down monuments is the same mentality as burning books. If history doesn’t suit your narrative, you think it should be re-written? Wow.

          • Ever notice there are no statues of Hitler in Germany?

          • Mathew Paul Connor

            So we’re comparing members of the Confederacy to Hitler?

          • Well, yeah. They both believed in slavery.

          • Harry McNicholas

            No that should not be done. Totally different. The generals of the Confederacy should have gone to prison but none of the soldiers should have. They were obeying orders from the generals. The generals had been officers in the army of the U.S. and thus were traitors. The rank and file no.

          • Harry McNicholas

            I wonder why? If he had died in 1938 he would have gone down as a great German hero instead of the worst monster in history.

          • Harry McNicholas

            You are wrong. Doenitz fully back Hitler. Rommel was in on the attempt to kill HItler. Sorry but Doenitz should have served more time in the joint.

        • Navy Vet

          You are one sick person, James. Lay off the Xanax.

        • Robby House

          Awww. Bless your heart. You keep up the good job you’re doing with these really great postings that are in no way idiotic or could serve as a good example of the sort of random musings that many people might even feel slightly embarrassed for you about.

        • stephen

          Total IDIOT u are

        • DGC

          what a fair man you are, James A$$. execution before a trial. What makes you smarter than our 16th President, Lincoln, who was intent on bringing a nation together peacefully. You are a piece of work. While you are “at it” why don’t you shut your ignorant mouth.

          • James Oss

            DGC, like trump and his Miami Mobbed up press
            secretary ‘Tanned Tony’, you resort to name calling and insulting my family name. Then, also like them, tell me to shut up. You are indeed ‘deplorable’.


      Hate to tell you this James but Chester Nimitz used the same tactics in the Pacific. You think Nimitz should be hanged also?

    • Harry McNicholas

      HM i eo not agree but he should have served more time in prison.

  • spinetingler

    “the whole leadership as the last Furrier of the Third Reich.”

    That’s nice for him, I’m sure, but I’m betting there wasn’t a lot of call for exotic furs by the end of the war.

    • PeregrinesBoat

      Very foxy of you; I think you stole the show on that one.

  • Navy Vet

    The first some of you armchair patriots should’ve read is that Donitz was not Natzi. He was a brilliant tactician who was born on the wrong side of the war. Many of his tactics are still used today by the US. Although he wasour enemy, we learned quite a bit from him. Remember that had it not been for the German officers who were taken by the US at the end of the war, we would not have gone to the moon in 1969.

    • PeregrinesBoat

      By and large agree, Doenitz and particularly Rommel amongst others were not Nazis but loyal to the Germany they loved. However, I was convinced that Werner Von Braun and others were in fact ardent Nazis who had significant intelligence regarding rocketry and guided missile systems that made them valuable to us and above all, prizes not to fall into Soviet hands.
      So we did get to the moon with their help but we also denied the Soviets their possible contributions which would have made for a hotter cold war. I am glad we got them, but cannot be blind to the moral cost of our forgiveness towards them.

      • Harry McNicholas

        No you are wrong. Deonitz was totally devoted to Hitler and never apologized for that. He did not join to keep himself from having to choose between Hitler’s cronies. Rommel was also devoted to Hitler until he saw that Germany was going to lose the war. Then he joined the idea of killing Hitler and trying to make a deal with the allies.

  • Peter Krejci

    had we had sided with hitler, we could have made a dream society for the entire world.
    you should all know by now that hitlers final solution was never to “gas all the jews”, rather to expel them from europe. and honestly? look at todays social and political climate and tell me that isnt a good idea….
    we could have overseen the transfer of the jews to a safe place, defeated the very notion of communism and ensured world peace for all times.
    but nope, we sided with “uncle joe stalin”……

    • Merrill Henderson

      I am totally amazed at your warped theory that forced relocation of a race of people is OK. Some of the darkest chapters in our world’s history have been over forced relocation. I sincerely hope you maintain your healthy ideas when some dictator comes along and decides anyone with a eastern european name needs to be relocated to say the Gobi desert for their own safety.

      • Harry McNicholas

        Anyone with a Slavic name would have been exterminated. Hitler had planned to exterminate all the slavic people as he tried to with the Russians.

        • Merrill Henderson

          I understand that, but if you will notice, my comment states that if “some dictator comes along and decides anyone with a eastern european name needs to be relocated to say the Gobi desert for their own safety” which meant I am now talking in the future and no longer about Hitler.

          • Harry McNicholas

            I was responding to Peter and not you Merill. It would depend upon the views taken by the dictator. A part of Fascism is the idea that the strong race has the natural right to take what it wants from the weaker races. This developed out of 19th century romanticism.