Soldier to the Last Minute
Grossadmiral Karl Dönitz and the Nuremberg Trial

4. Aftermath

After his more than 11 years of imprisonment, which in modern terms factually qualifies as a life sentence, Dönitz lived a rather reclusive life in a small town near Hamburg. There he spent most of his time writing his memoirs and assisting various journalists and historians from countries all over the world in answering questions about the German naval warfare.

Only after Dönitz' death in 1980 some malevolent people dared to raise their heads and tried to diminish the Großadmiral's reputation in public. This sinister campaign is still continuing, even in the media. But as the years pass, this should soon die out because those trying to diminish the Großadmiral's distinction only succeed in belittling themselves.

Karl Dönitz during a lecture in 1963

Unbiased historians will eventually describe and comprehend the true personality of Großadmiral Karl Dönitz. Then and only then, will people understand why Dönitz is held in the highest esteem by his former war time enemies, why two million Germans regard him as their savior, why his U-boat-men still speak of him with deep respect as 'the Great Lion' or refer to him as their trustworthy comrade 'Uncle Karl' and why his former soldiers still hurry to his defence, whenever his honor or reputation is at stake.

One can be sure that from the fair and clear judgment of history the Großadmiral will emerge as the formidable Naval strategian - probably the best fighting admiral in the Second World War, as a gifted military leader, as a caring and concerned commander and as the responsible and devoted patriot that he was.

The Großadmiral himself should have the final words in this article, as he stated them at Nuremberg 1946:

''My life was devoted to my profession and, therefore, to the service to the German people. As last Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy and as last head of state I felt responsible to the German people for everything I did and did not do.''


[1] Bekker, C.
Flucht übers Meer
Ullstein Verlag, Frankfurt/Main 1995

[2] Diggins, K.
Vor 50 Jahren - Das Siegertribunal 1945/46 - Ein Rückblick zum
30. September 1995
Schaltung Küste Nr. 164, Hamburg 1996

[3] Dobson, C.; Miller, J.; Payne, R.
Die Versenkung der ''Wilhelm Gustloff''
Heyne Verlag, München 1981

[4] Fels, M.
Dönitz - in Nürnberg und danach
Festschrift to Dönitz' 75th birthday, 1966

[5] Frank, W.
Die Wölfe und der Admiral
Bastei Lübbe Verlag, Bergisch Gladbach 1995,

[6] Peillard, L.
Affäre Laconia
Heyne Verlag, München 1973,

Dönitz and the Nuremberg Trials