Dönitz: The Last Führer

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Dönitz: The Last Führer

By Peter Padfield
Harper, 1984
523 pp. $25.00
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A readable biography of a man whose life was the German navy since before World War I. He served as a U-boat commander in the Great War and remained a fanatical believer in that weapon ever after. He directed the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II, which was lost inter alia because of Ultra, i.e., the decoding of German communications. The author, a man of the sea and lately a writer on naval affairs, is persuasively harsh on this major figure of the Third Reich, whom Hitler appointed his successor and who was given the lightest term of those convicted at Nuremburg; Padfield believes that had the court known all the facts about Dönitz he would have earned the harshest sentence.