Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz was a major military commander in the Second World War. His name will always be associated with his attempt to cut Britain’s supply lines with U-boats deployed in mass ‘pack’ attacks on convoys in the Atlantic. Research in the German naval archives has allowed Peter Padfield to describe the evolution of the strategy and the demands Dönitz placed on his commanders and crews. Triumphant in the early war years, Allied countermeasures eventually turned the tables and the hunters became the hunted. Yet, as the life expectancy of U-boat men on operations fell to a matter of weeks Dönitz continued to send out his young men to probable violent death.
Just why is the theme of this book: far more than a study of war at sea, it is a portrait of a sensitive officer who proved his ability as a U-boat commander in the First World War and preserved an ice-cold leadership veneer, yet was personally insecure and a fantasist in need of a cause to serve. He found it in the person of Adolf Hitler. An early convert to Nazism – contrary to the non-political image of him constructed by his peers after the lost war – he followed the Führer with blind fanaticism to the end. Rewarded by promotion to Commander-in-Chief of the German navy, finally Hitler appointed him his successor, and he became the last Führer of the Third Reich. This is the story of a personal tragedy played out within the greater tragedy of a nation.
Author: Peter Padfield
Title: Dönitz: The Last Führer
First Published by: Gollancz
Date: 16 February 1984