Dönitz, Karl

BORN 16 Sep 1891, Berlin: Grünau - DIED 24 Dec 1980, Aumühle, Schleswig-Holstein
CAUSE OF DEATH heart attack
GRAVE LOCATION Aumühle, Schleswig-Holstein: Waldfriedhof, Schulweg (Feld L 5)

Karl Dönitz entered the Imperial Navy in 1910. During the First World War he served in the Mediterranean sea and at the Dardanelles. In 1916 he was transferred to the submarine forces. In October 1918 he was taken prisoner by the British marine and imprisoned on Malta. He was released in July, 1919 and returned to Germany in 1920.

He continued his navy career and became a commander in 1933. In 1935 he was promoted to naval captain. In 1939 he became Commander of the Submarines and a Rear Admiral. From 1942 onwards there were so many U-boats that he was able to conduct mass attacks by groups of submarines, a tactic known as 'wolfpack' that he had propagated for a long time.

In 1943 he replaced Erich Raeder as Commander-in-Chief of the Germna Navy. After Göring asked Hitler to transfer the leadership of the Reich to him Hitler became so angry that he named Dönitz as his successor in the will he drafted on 29 Apr 1945. Hitler shot himslef the next day and now Dönitz was Reichspräsident and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (Goebbels was named Reichskanzler by Hitler but he killed himself as well one day after Hitler).

Karl Donitz realised that the war was lost and did everything in his power to enable the German troops to surrender to the British and American troops and not to the Soviets. He capitulated to the allied forces on 7 May 1945 and in 1945 he surrendered himself to the British forces.

At the Nuremburg trials he was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment for 'planning an agressive war' and 'crimes against the laws of war'' and aquitted for conspiracy to crimes against humanity. He cooperated with the allied forces and many considered him innocent of war crimes, but he served his time in the prison in Berlin-Spandau.

In 1956 he was released and he received a government pension. In 1958 he published his memoirs, "Zehn Jahre und zwanzig Tage" ("Ten Years and Twenty Days"). He died in 1980 in Almühle near Hamburg and was buried at the local cemetery.


The grave of Karl Dönitz at the Waldfriedhof in Aumühle.
Picture by Androom (19 Aug 2011)


Karl Dönitz - Wikipedia

Donkin, Bryan

Published: 15 Feb 2015
Last update: 08 Jan 2023