Karl Donitz Facts and Biography

Karl Donitz

Karl Donitz Biography Summary: Karl Donitz (1891- 1980) was a German naval officer of high rank at the end of the Second World War. He serviced his Fuhrer faithfully, he carried out his duties without question and worked his way from being a lowly sea cadet to Grand Admiral and Commander-in-Chief of the Nazi German Navy. At wars end Karl Donitz was taken prisoner and stood trial for crimes he denied he had committed. He had shown in his life that he was very supportive of the Nazi regime and held closely to Hitler’s Nazi ideology.

He was noted to have declared “In comparison to Hitler we are all pipsqueaks. Anyone who believes he can do better than the Fuhrer is stupid.”

Karl Donitz Fact Sheet: Who was Karl Donitz? The following short biography and fact sheet provides interesting facts about the life, times and history of Karl Donitz.


Facts about Karl Donitz


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Karl Donitz Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1891- 1980 *** Full Name: Karl Donitz *** Nickname: Hitler Youth Donitz and The Lion *** Occupation: German Admiral *** Date of Birth: Karl Donitz was born on September 16th 1891 *** Place of Birth: Karl Donitz was born in Grunau in Berlin, Germany *** Family background: His father was Emil Donitz and engineer and his mother was Anna Beyer. Karl Donitz had an older brother, Freidrich. Karl Donitz married Ingeborg Weber and they had three children *** Early life and childhood: Karl Donitz grew up in Berlin, Germany ***

Karl Donitz Fact 1: Karl Donitz was born on September 16th 1891 during the last decade of the 19th century and in his long life saw many changes in medicine, science, discovery and innovations, two world wars as well as the Cold War, the Spanish Civil War, the Korean War and Vietnam War.

Karl Donitz Fact 2: At 19 years of age Karl Donitz joined the Kaiserliche Marine, Imperial Navy, and became a sea cadet.

Karl Donitz Fact 3: The following year he became a midshipman.

Karl Donitz Fact 4: By 1913 he was an acting sub-lieutenant.

Karl Donitz Fact 5: When the First World War broke out Karl Donitz was posted to serve on the light cruiser SMS Breslau stationed in the Mediterranean Sea.

Karl Donitz Fact 6: Both the light cruiser SMS Breslau and the battlecruiser SMS Goeben were bought by the Ottoman Navy and their name’s changed to Midilli and the Yavuz Sultan Selim.

Karl Donitz Fact 7: In 1916 Karl Donitz was promoted to Oberleutenant zur See and was temporarily reassigned to the Midilli when she put into port for repair.

Karl Donitz Fact 8: At this time he requested a transfer to join the submarine forces which was accepted.

Karl Donitz Fact 9: He began his career as a watch officer on U-39 and from 1918 he became commander of UC-25.

Karl Donitz Fact 10: In late 1918 Karl Donitz was given command of UB-68 deployed to the Mediterranean and in October with his boat suffering some technical difficulties the British were able to sink the submarine and the crew taken prison to Malta.

Karl Donitz Fact 11: He would be transported to England where Karl Donitz would see out the rest of the war and was released in 1919 and returned to Germany 1920.

Karl Donitz Fact 12: On his return to Germany Karl Donitz continued his career path gaining rank and standing the navy. By 1935 he was promoted to naval captain.

Karl Donitz Fact 13: During that same year the Weimar Republic’s Navy would be replaced by the Nazi German Navy.

Karl Donitz Fact 14: An idea Karl Donitz had during the First World War was to group several submarines together to overpower merchant convoy’s defensive escorts and as World War II approached his idea was implemented. Due to the advancement of radio technology and availability this made the “wolfpack” scenario workable.

Karl Donitz Fact 15: Karl Donitz was also confident that the Enigma cipher machine kept communications secure.

Karl Donitz Fact 16: On January 28th 1939 Karl Donitz was finally promoted to commodore and Commander of Submarines.

Karl Donitz Fact 17: Early on in the conflict the Nazi German navy was taking its toll on the allied ships and fuel was becoming a concern or the British.

Karl Donitz Fact 18: In 1943 however the tides began to turn in the Atlantic against the Nazi fleet due to the intensity of his questioning of his boats and their positions etc. This gave the allies more material to work with and to decipher with more and more repetition making their job easier and also enabling them to pinpoint their positions, target with anti-submarine aircraft and sink the subs.

Karl Donitz Fact 19: By early 1943 Karl Donitz was again promoted to Commander-in-Chief and Grand Admiral of the Naval High Command.

Karl Donitz Fact 20: In the final days of the war Hitler named Donitz his successor as Head of State, President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and made Goebbels Head of the Government, but with Hitler’s suicide followed the next by Goebbels, this left Donitz in total control of the disintegrating German Reich.

Karl Donitz Fact 21: Realizing the fate that was about to befall the German troops with the Soviet advancement coming their way, Karl Donitz urged the German soldiers to surrender to the allied forces either the American or the British, fearing reprisals from the vengeful Soviets. In so doing it is estimated he saved nearly two million German soldiers.

Karl Donitz Fact 22: Having surrender to the allied forces Karl Donitz was imprisoned to stand trial for war crimes at Nuremburg. He was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in Spandau Prison. Upon his release he settled in a small village in northern West Germany. Karl Donitz was unrepentant until his death of a heart attack on December 24th 1980.

Influence & Legacy: Military experts will recognize the importance of role that he played in terms of his tactical awareness of submarine warfare. Under his command 15 million tons of allied shipping was sunk by his fleet of U-boats proving their effectiveness in wartime.

List of Medals Awarded to Karl Donitz: *** Iron Cross (1914) *** Friedrich Cross (1916) *** Ottoman War Medal (1916) *** Order of the Medjidie (1917) *** Anschluss Medal *** Clasp to the Iron Cross *(1939) *** Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (1943) *** Commander’s Cross of the Military Order of Savoy (1941) *** Order of the Rising Sun (1943) *** Order of Naval Merit (1940) ***



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