On 16 February Amazon are to publish a new version of Karl Doenitz’s autobiography ‘Ten Years and Twenty Days’. Its a great book covering his early life as a U-boat commander in World War One, his role developing the wolf pack tactics, the U-boat war in the Atlantic and his brief tenure as Hitler’s successor. I’m lucky enough to own an original copy of chapter 19 ‘My tasks as Commander-in-Chief 1943-45′ which he signed just months before his death in 1980. What the book unfortunately doesnt cover are the Ten Years and Twenty Days referred to in the sub title which he spent in Spandau prison for war crimes.
Donetiz was the only officer in the German High Command who saw that victory in the Second World War could only be achieved by U-boats winning the Battle of the Atlantic and cutting off supplies to Britain. Since his death historians have been very divided about his legacy, some saying he was an ardent Nazi who should have been put to death, others that he was simply following orders. However, his miltary legacy is probably best summed up ironically by Winston Churchill who said “The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril”.
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