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The Third Reich's Last Hope, 1944-1945
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781591143451
  • Binding: Hardcover & eBook
  • Era: 20th Century
  • Number of Pages: 320
  • Subject: World War II
  • Date Available: May 2007
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Full Description:

The popular conception of Hitler in the final years of World War II is that of a deranged Führer stubbornly demanding the defense of every foot of ground on all fronts and ordering hopeless attacks with nonexistent divisions. To imply that Hitler had a rational plan to win the war flies in the face of widely accepted interpretations, but historian Howard D. Grier persuasively argues here that Hitler did possess a strategy to regain the initiative in 1944–45 and that the Baltic theater played the key role in his plan.

In examining that strategy, Grier answers lingering questions about the Third Reich's final months and also provides evidence of its emphasis upon naval affairs and of Admiral Karl Dönitz's influence in shaping Hitler's grand strategy. Dönitz intended to starve Britain into submission and halt the shipment of American troops and supplies to Europe with a fleet of new Type XXI U-boats. But to test the new submarines and train their crews the Nazis needed control of the Baltic Sea and possession of its ports, and to launch their U-boat offensive they needed Norway, the only suitable location that remained after the loss of France in the summer of 1944.

This work analyzes German naval strategy from 1944 to 1945 and its role in shaping the war on land in the Baltic. The first six chapters provide an operational history of warfare on the northern sector of the eastern front and give evidence of the navy's demands that the Baltic coast be protected in order to preserve U-boat training areas. The next three chapters look at possible reasons for Hitler's defense of the Baltic coast, concluding that the most likely reason was Hitler's belief in Dönitz's ability to turn the tide of war with his new submarines. A final chapter discusses Dönitz's personal and ideological relationship with Hitler, his influence in shaping overall strategy, and the reason Hitler selected the admiral as his successor rather than a general or Nazi Party official.

With Grier's thorough examination of Hitler's strategic motives and the reasons behind his decision to defend coastal sectors in the Baltic late in the war, readers are offered an important new interpretation of events for their consideration.

Howard D. Grier is a professor of history at Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina.

~ Praise for Hitler, Donitz, and the Baltic Sea ~

“A valuable work for anyone interested in the Eastern Front or the naval war.”

The NYMAS Review

"At last we have here an excellent account of the strategy that Hitler still hoped in the last year of World War II would turn the tide in Germany's favor. At the same time, it explains both how German naval needs dominated strategy at the northern part of the eastern front and why Hitler chose Admiral Dönitz to be his successor." —Gerhard L. Weinberg, professor of history emeritus, author of A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II

"Howard Grier's thought-provoking study ascribes to Hitler a more rational conduct of the war of the last phase of the war than is usually attributed to the Führer's decision making in 1944–1945. Utilizing a variety of sources, the author incorporates operational history with the army and navy's strategic goals providing new insights into the often overlooked importance of Scandinavia and the Baltic in Hitler's strategy. His analysis of Dönitz's influence on Hitler with the promise of a 'new' U-boat war is a significant contribution to the scholarship of this period." —Keith W. Bird, author of Erich Raeder: Admiral of the Third Reich

"Dr. Grier has written an excellent study on German strategy in the last two years of WWII. The author did make full use of German military and naval documents and the most important literature on military and naval history. The book is written in a good style and gives us a great panorama of Hitler's war and poor leadership." —Dr. Werner Rahn, naval historian, coauthor of Germany and the Second World War, vol. VI: The Global War


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