The time is 1946, the place the ancient, proud, now devastated city of Nuremberg, Germany, and the man is Karl Doenitz, indicted and arraigned before the International Military Tribunal. Flottenrichter Kranzbuehler has just completed his final argument before the court. The defendant is the former Head of State, who had capitulated a few months before to the Allies, thus bringing to an end his short-lived Flensburg government on May 7, 1945. He was formerly the Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy with the rank of Grossadmiral. He had been the Commander of the Submarine Fleet.
The prosecution includes not only the distinguished jurists of the several United Nations but also the whole outraged humanity and the people of the United Nations, who had waged war for the preservation of their freedom. Their anger was righteous and justice was to be done. For years they had heard and used the term “war criminal.” It was possible that an injustice might be overlooked in their zeal to punish those men who had caused the war.
The defendant gives his final plea:
I should like to say three things:
Firstly, you must judge the legality of the German submarine warfare, if your conscience dictates you to do so. I consider this conduct of the war to be justified, and I have acted according to my conscience. I would have to do exactly the same all over again. My subordinates, on the other hand, who have carried out my orders, have acted in the fullest confidence in me and without there being a shadow of doubt regarding the necessity and legality of these orders. In my opinion, no later judgment can deprive them of the trust in the honesty of a fight for which they voluntarily have made sacrifice after sacrifice until the last hour.
Secondly, much has been said here about a conspiracy which is alleged to have existed among the defendants. In my opinion, that assertion is a political dogma. As such it cannot be proved, but can only be believed or rejected. Considerable portions of the German people will never believe, however, that such a conspiracy could have been the cause of their disaster. Let politicians and jurists argue about it; they will only make it harder for the German people to secure for themselves the recognition from this trial of that which is decisive and important for its attitude regarding the past and the reconstruction of the future. That is the recognition that the Fuehrer principle as a political principle is wrong. With regard to the military leadership of all the armies in this world, the Fuehrer principle has proved itself in the best possible way. On the strength of this recognition, I consider this also right with regard to political leadership, particularly in the case of a nation in the hopeless position in which the German people found itself in 1932. The great successes of this new government, and entirely new feeling of happiness on the part of the entire nation, seemed to prove it right. But if, in spite of all ideals, all decency, and all devotion on the part of the masses of the German people, no other final outcome has been achieved through the Fuehrer principle than the misfortune of this people, then that principle as such is wrong, wrong because apparently human nature is not strong enough to utilize the powers in that principle for a better end, without their falling victims of the temptation of that power.
Thirdly, my life was devoted to a mission and with that to the service for the German people. As the last Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy and as the last head of the State, I consider myself responsible for everything that I have done and left undone.
Of the two principal naval leaders who were defendants at the Nuremberg Trials, it is apparent on the strength of the final plea alone that Doenitz was easily the more remarkable. One might say that he was the most remarkable of all the German leaders that occupied the 22 cells of the Nuremberg jail. At least it is known that he did make a very good impression on the Allied officers at an American prison in Luxemburg before the removal of the defendants to Nuremberg. When Julius Streicher, the creator of Der Stuermer, was brought into the American prison, the other principal German leaders, who had long been repulsed by the grossness of his moral fiber, formed a delegation, which was headed by Karl Doenitz, requesting that at least they be treated as gentlemen and not be required to eat with that rabble rouser. The American authorities rejected the request and stated that since they were all in the same situation they would have to mess together.
Karl Doenitz, who became the head of the State after the death of Hitler and, thereby, ascended to the Fuehrership, lived most of his life entirely by the North Sea. He had joined the German Navy in 1910. He hailed from Mecklenburg, where he was born in 1892. His family had fishing and farming as the chief occupation. In 1913 he was commissioned as an ensign, Leutnant zur See, reporting to the Breslau in the Mediterranean Squadron. The Breslau made the dash to Constantinople in 1914 together with the Göben. He was called “Doenitz, the Prussian landlubber” by his brother officers, and this rankled in him as a double injury, Prussian and landlubber. After he could stand their teasing no longer, he transferred to the U-boat branch in 1916 and gained a second stripe as Oberleutnant zur See, lieutenant junior grade. As commander of the U-25, he became very interested in the technical development of submarines, particularly machinery and hull design and construction. After sending memoranda to his superiors and gaining their attention, he was given command of the underwater cruiser, UB-68. When back in the Mediterranean a few weeks before the Armistice, he attacked a British convoy off Malta, but was forced to the surface by the escorts. He scuttled the submarine, without using the deck gun, which was of considerable caliber, and was taken prisoner. He spent the remainder of the war in a prison camp in England’s Lancashire. In prison he feigned insanity as an attempt toward escape. This was a failure, but his brother officers were fooled for many years. His German naval doctor said, after being confounded by Doenitz’s return to normality, “It’s all very well. But you can say what you like, that man’s cowardice and egotism border on lunacy.” Doenitz commented on this aspect of his life to the prison psychiatrist at Nuremberg. “After all, I was only a youngster. I knew nothing of insanity and how to feign it. Two companions and I decided it might aid our escape efforts if we were adjudged insane. We decided we should imitate submarines. We walked about our heads hunched down, going ‘Bzzz, bzzz,’ and insisting that we were U-boats. The British doctors were too smart for us. We didn’t get anywhere. Solitary confinement cured our ‘mental state’ in no time.”
Doenitz was repatriated in 1919 and continued in the German Navy. He became commander of a destroyer flotilla and later a cruiser captain. During this period, Republican Germany did not possess a submarine fleet. The German High Command did not dare to break the clause of the Treaty of Versailles that forbade its construction. He developed his ideas and bided his time. Near Kiel a “school for anti-submarine warfare” was founded, which was in reality a training school for officers and men for the proposed submarine fleet, and the discreet Admiral Zenker thought this was the ultimate concession to those firebrands who were interested in submarines.
“If only the last war had lasted another two years, the U-boats alone would have forced England to her knees,” said the omniscient Hitler. Doenitz never did appreciate Admiral Raeder’s cautious attitude. The Republican Government was fulfilling the demands of the Reichswehr readily enough, but would not listen to the submarine men. The German Navy was still the junior service. Doenitz, who was then Fregattenkapitän, the equivalent of commander, received official permission to carry on his tests in public. With the expansion of the submarine fleet, a question was soon raised. Should an officer who had spent his career in research and development of the submarine branch remain as head of that branch and gradually attain flag rank, or should a tested and experienced admiral, even though not a specialist, take over this important branch and apply to it his broader knowledge and experience with responsibility? As Karl Doenitz well knew, the traditional and historical practice of all the navies of the world was in favor of Raeder. But Hitler was well pleased with Doenitz, who was then holding the rank of Kapitän zur See. In February, 1936, Doenitz pressed for freedom. The Führer der Unterseeboote was to be directly responsible to the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy and to no one else, giving him unlimited power. Raeder received some satisfaction in limiting Doenitz’s appointment to the command of the Weddigen Flotilla, the First Submarine Flotilla, which was in the beginning solely experimental.
In spite of his rise, Doenitz, who ultimately succeeded Raeder, never did create a very strong impression in this period between the wars. It is said that the character of the man was contained in the motif of a paper that he wrote on midget submarines, which was “Cunning is the strength of the weak.”
The contrast between Raeder and Doenitz was marked and quite distinct. He always obtained his desired ends by subtlety rather than the open and direct methods of the officer who was his senior. But, Raeder, whose sentence at Nuremberg came as a surprise to many who found that it was difficult to believe one who had been a professional naval officer would have or could have been so thoroughly implicated and involved in the crimes, was in the hidden workings of the Nazi Party. It should be said that this story of naval history is unique in that no story ever made less mention of ships and the sea and more of the politics of Admiral Raeder with Adolf Hitler. This statement may still surprise some, but if it does, those individuals do not realize just how great a role international politics may play in naval strength and sea power.
The personal files of Admiral Raeder, who was Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy from 1928 until January, 1943, were among the largest and most important haul of German documents made during the Second World War. At Schloss Tambach, near Coburg, some 60,000 files of the German naval archives, together with their guardians, were captured. At Nuremberg Raeder’s files helped greatly in exposing his political career.
In the words of Nicolo Machiavelli, we find an application to Doenitz’s senior.
Yet it cannot be called talent to slay fellow-citizens, to deceive friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion. What he achieved cannot be attributed either to fortune or to genius.
In his position as Commander of the Submarine Fleet, Doenitz spent much of his time at sea in the capacity of technician and engineer. Even during World War II, he had little to do with the political aspects of his nation; until he was called by Hitler to succeed Raeder, he was primarily interested in his special branch. His relations with Raeder in the period before he became Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy were obviously not of the best. Raeder says, speaking of this period, “I did not like Doenitz’s rather conceited and tactless manner.” However, there is every indication that he was able to win the popular support of the junior officers. Even before this time Doenitz had adopted new methods. He issued orders to the effect that no staff was to come between him and the commanding officer of a submarine. Each commanding officer was to adopt a comradely behavior toward his crew, schaftliche Haltung. As far as he was concerned the class distinction between officers of the Navy and the men should be eliminated completely. He had personal experience of the dangers that may arise in the crowded submarines if the crew have cause to resent their officers. Some of his critics claimed that, in his devotion to the U-boat branch, the development of which was accelerated by his skill and imagination, he was destined to remain ignorant of the wider fields of naval administration and strategy. This limitation, if real, certainly did little to keep him from accepting greater responsibilities and performing them well.
The contrast between the two men is again apparent. Raeder was aloof in his relations with the other Nazi leaders, but Doenitz seemed to enjoy their fullest confidence. This is a paradox in that Raeder was the one that was so thoroughly involved with all of them. Raeder probably would have considered Doenitz’s jokes with Goering degrading and undignified for an officer. In fact, even at Nuremberg Doenitz continued to joke with Goering. He did not consider this degrading. He saw clearly that as long as Goering was the most powerful figure in Hitler’s regime and was the most influential with the Fuehrer, that it would do Doenitz and the Navy no harm to continue in his support. He was not supported by Goering, however, in his request for a separate Naval Air Arm.
Doenitz remained in the background in the political sense until the time when he soared over the heads of his companions to become the last Fuehrer of the Third German Reich. In that selection Hitler showed that he was no fool, for Karl Doenitz was the one leader in Germany for whom the Luftwaffe, the Wehrmacht, and the Navy had the greatest respect. While in prison at Nuremberg, Doenitz concluded that his appointment to the Fuehrership was due to the fact that all others were either dead or in disgrace. He was, therefore, the only man left who was capable of filling the position. Doenitz said, “After all, I was the only leader left alive who was not under arrest or under order of death. Of course, the Army leaders were still active, but neither the Navy nor the Luftwaffe would pay any attention to them. Consequently, I was picked simply because it was felt that I could most easily bring about peace. This I did as fast as possible, and now the Americans want to hang me, as Hitler’s successor. This seems to be an example of Yankee humor.”
Doenitz was able to impress his captors with his high degree of intelligence. He appeared to be well informed and possessed an attractive personality. His excellent sense of humor stood him in good stead at Nuremberg, where the seatless toilets, the K-rations, and the poor sleeping conditions seemed to be some sort of joke. He consistently denied ever being a war criminal, and he firmly contended, even in his final plea, that he acted in good faith as a naval officer. Although his Nazi affiliations were slight, he was a steadfast believer in Hitler and genuinely admired him. After the films of the Nazi concentration camps were shown, he was sincerely amazed at the brutality and horror. He could not believe that the Nazi leaders could employ such drastic methods. This is borne out well by the comment he made to Doctor Kelley, the prison psychiatrist. Doenitz said, “All I can say is that Hitler must have had two sides to his character and was clever enough to conceal the other side from decent people.”
In affairs with men who were essentially decent and straightforward, Hitler seemed to have the immeasurable ability to impress them in the best manner acceptable to those individuals. With Doenitz, he gave the impression that he was primarily concerned with naval affairs. We can imagine Doenitz, the naval officer, discussing the aspects of naval warfare with the Fuehrer and being impressed with the latter’s interest in the development of the Walther submarine, which could use diesel engines submerged, hydrogen peroxide being the oxidizing agent, and achieve a speed equal to that of escort vessels while in that submerged condition. Even with the older style of U-boats, Doenitz’s effectiveness should not be questioned. There is still a black line, caused by the fuel oil and other fuels carried by the large number of tankers sunk, at the high water mark along the East coast of the United States. We know how close Karl Doenitz came to winning the Battle of the Atlantic. That achievement probably would have contributed greatly to the defeat of the United States in the last war. In a statement given freely to the British at the end of the war, Doenitz stated that Nazi failures were as follows as regards German sea power: failure to invade England, the failure to stop the British in the Mediterranean, permitting the invasion of North Africa, and allowing the Allied forces to invade Normandy. He also stated at this time that our radar, which could detect a submarine 60 nautical miles away, was our best anti-submarine weapon.
Doenitz was highly impressed by Hitler’s apparent brilliance as an organizer and by his superior memory and knowledge of naval affairs. Actually, however, Hitler understood very little about sea power and was primarily interested in the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe. Keitel thought that Hitler was a strategic genius. From his library of some 16,000 volumes, including practically every known work on military science and tactics, Hitler was undoubtedly able to gain the information needed to impress his generals and admirals. Doenitz told the prison psychiatrist that Hitler was able to give at any time complete descriptions with all specifications of every type of naval vessel. This task would not have been quite so easy in the case of American and British vessels, but it is still remarkable. Keitel and Jodl were amazed that Hitler, in an off-hand way, could cite information about any piece of Wehrmacht ordnance, listing full specifications from memory. The fact that these men, the best in their respective fields, could be swayed by Hitler’s knowledge is substantiated by Brandt, who stated that during ten years of constant and skeptical checking on his Fuehrer in encyclopedias and dictionaries, he never once caught Hitler in a mistake of memory.
Doenitz’s firm admiration for Hitler is most probably attributable to the fact that it was through Hitler that the German Navy, the former’s true love, was rebuilt, and that Germany again became a world power.
During the interval between the wars, much planning that ultimately affected Doenitz was contemplated. Germany actually did not have a submarine or surface fleet of any appreciable size in September, 1939. This is important because the British prosecution accused Doenitz of preparing for an aggressive war against them.
After Hitler seized power in 1933, Raeder then had his chance to rebuild the German Navy, Hitler had so far mastered the techniques of power politics that he endeavored to increase the size of the German Navy, which was restricted to 15,000 men and a very small number of ships. Contacts were made with the important people, and contracts were let out to the shipyards of Spain, Finland, and Holland. Much scientific research was undertaken in the field of naval weapons, primarily torpedoes and mines. The pocket battleships were designed. But in order to keep the rest of the world lulled, Hitler decided that rather than make an open abrogation of the Versailles Treaty, he thought it best to come into an agreement with the principal naval power, England. Under this plan the German Navy was not really a threat to the Grand Fleet, but at most a match for France or Russia. Raeder was most enthusiastic about Hitler’s proposals, even though it was apparent that England could have three times the tonnage of the Germans at top shipbuilding capacity.
After the necessary diplomatic negotiations with England, the London Treaty was signed on June 18, 1935. This treaty limited the German Navy to approximately 35 percent of the British surface fleet, and an even later agreement allowed German parity with the British in submarines. The London Naval Agreement freed Germany from the restrictions of the Versailles Treaty and allowed her to build the foundation of power which was later to threaten the world. This was the first act of appeasment.
From the size of the British Fleet it could have been seen that the Germans would really have to become a race of superhumans in order to match the fleet of England. Because time was desperately needed, Hitler said that there would be no war with England until 1944 or 1945. But after Munich (September, 1938), Raeder believed it was only the inadequate conditions of air defenses that forced England to acquiesce. So Raeder sought to put the Navy on a war footing as soon as possible and to increase its size as much as possible by a new plan, called Plan “Z,” which was based on the top capacity of the German shipyards and the type of warfare that was to be fought. Hence the idea of a balanced fleet had to be scrapped and battleships and submarines made paramount. It was with this plan that the idea of a Naval Air Arm was conceived as a supporting force, but which, of course, met with great opposition from Goering. The landmindedness of the High Command, along with resentment against Raeder for these demands, helped to ruin this plan. By this plan there were to be 126 U-boats by the end of 1943. Forty-six U-boats had been constructed. This plan was a good one until the completion of the annexation of Czechoslovakia and the issuing of the preliminary orders for the invasion of Poland, which the High, Command was greatly opposed to, made it clear that war with England would result much earlier than the predicted 1944 or 1945. Thus, on September 1, 1939, with the long range plan scrapped, Germany had only 57 U-boats; two battleships, the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau; two near completion, the Bismarck and Tirpitz; three pocket battleships, the Deutschland, Scheer, and Graf Spee; three heavy cruisers, the Hipper, the Bluecher, and Prinz Eugen; five light cruisers, the Koenigsberg, Nuernberg, Leipzig, Koeln, and Karlsruhe. There were also a fair number of destroyers, motor torpedo boats, minesweepers, and auxiliary vessels, along with 26 merchant vessels, which were to be converted to armed merchant cruisers, with the old battleships, Schlesien and Schleswig-Holstein, and the cruiser Emden as the training flotilla. We can only conclude that the war came five years too soon for Admiral Raeder.
Before the capitulation of the Flensberg government and during the prosecution of the war, it was well known that the governments of the several United Nations had stated that war criminals were subject to the justice of an international military tribunal at the end of the war. This was urged by many to prevent the horrors of Bijlet Dag, the Day of Little Hatchets, with swift, stern action.
There is not any doubt that the Nuremberg Court was an International Military Tribunal, which was provided for by the London Agreement of 1945. As far as the defendants were concerned, it was actually an Inter-Allied Court, for it was fully recognizable that such a body had the power to try prisoners of war of the enemy for certain violations of the laws of the nations committed in the course of the war before their capture. This did not exactly apply to Karl Doenitz, however, who had been a naval officer in tactical command before becoming Head of State and who, in that capacity, was Reich President at the time of the capitulation of the Flensberg government. None of the prisoners had the status of prisoners of war, with the exception of Rudolf Hess. All the rest were arrested by the Allied occupation forces after the acceptance of the two General Surrender Documents of the German High Command. Further, no precise definition of the term “prisoner of war” can be found in the Hague Conventions of 1889 and 1907. It is known that the Geneva Convention of July 27, 1929, in article I, section 2, stipulates that prisoners of war are “prisoners belonging to the armed forces of belligerents who are captured by the enemy in the course of operations of maritime or aerial war.”
Since the Nuremberg defendants lacked the international status granted to prisoners of war, it is difficult to see exactly how the Nuremberg Tribunal had the jurisdiction over them in the purely legal sense. This was mute evidence that the sort of Victorian age of rules for the prosecution of warfare and the rights of the vanquished had passed forever. And in that passing of an age, no one really bothered about it, except for a few jurists of international law, whose arguments and condemnation served perhaps to salve their consciences. But there was little salvaged from the now faded glories of the past. The precedent had been established and could be used against us in the future.
The Potsdam Declaration of June 5, 1945, stated in effect that the whole legislative and executive power of the German government headed by Grossadmiral Karl Doenitz had been taken over, without any restriction, by the governments of the occupying powers, the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom, and the Provisional Government of the French Republic. Therefore, in legal consequence, the Potsdam Declaration, supplanting the government of Doenitz, stated that Germany as an independent state had ceased to exist, and that it was replaced by the joint sovereignty of the occupant powers, which had established a condominium over the German territory and the German population.
It was on October 18, 1945, that the International Military Tribunal lodged an indictment against the defendants in accordance with article 14 of the Charter. These men were individually and collectively indicted as members of certain groups, which included the Reich Cabinet, the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, the SS, the SD, the Secret State Police, of Gestapo, the SA, and the General Staff and High Command of the German Armed Forces. This indictment consisted of four counts, which were as follows:
Count one. The common plan or conspiracy.
Count two. Crimes against the peace.
Count three. War crimes.
Count four. Crimes against humanity.
Karl Doenitz was indicted on counts, one, two, and three. On September 30 and October 1, 1946, the International Military Tribunal rendered the Judgment, and at this time Doenitz was sentenced to ten years, the lightest punishment in the case of those not acquitted which was recorded. He was pronounced guilty on counts two and three.
Article 6 of the Charter provided that the Tribunal had the power to try and to punish persons, who, acting in the interests of the European Axis countries, whether as individuals or members of the specified organizations, committed any of the following crimes, which were to have been acts of individual responsibility:
(a) Crimes against peace; namely, planning, preparation, initiation, or waging a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;
(b) War crimes; namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment, or deportation to slave labor or for any purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;
(c) Crimes against humanity; namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian populace, before or during the war, or persecution on political, racial, or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.
A summarization of the Court’s findings are essential to the case of Karl Doenitz in order to understand the defense and the argument and the issues raised in his behalf by the defense. The Court referred to planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of a criminal war; as was seen above this category fell under crimes against the peace in saying that “count two of the indictment charges the defendants with committing specific crimes against peace by planning, preparing, initiating, and waging wars of aggression against a number of other states.” Thus it can be seen that a distinctive feature or aspect of these crimes as opposed to the crime of conspiracy was that they were connected with particular wars of aggression, or aggressive wars against certain nations, while the common plan or conspiracy had principally its objective aggressive war as an instrument of policy. In this regard the Court did little to make any precise definition or distinction between planning and preparation.
Karl Doenitz, former Commander-in-Chief of U-boats, Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy, Grossadmiral, and Head of State, was exonerated by evidence from the stigma of having prepared aggressive war. “He was a line officer performing strictly tactical duties. He was not present at the important conferences when plans for aggressive war were announced, and there is no evidence he was informed about the decisions reached there.” On the other hand, it was noted that military planning and preparation was considered criminal in so far as it was pursued by persons holding positions of authority, such as the military leaders Goering, Keitel, Raeder, and Jodl.
Even though no one defendant was found guilty of having initiated aggressive war, the Tribunal stated that the nearest to initiation was Goering, who “was the moving force for aggressive war second only to Hitler.” Doenitz was expressly acquitted by the Court of having initiated such an aggressive war primarily because he was at the time a field officer, performing strictly tactical duties.
However, Karl Doenitz was expressly convicted of waging aggressive war. The statement of the Court follows:
It is true that until his appointment in January, 1943, as Commander-in-Chief he was not an Oberbefehlshaber. But this statement underestimates the importance of Doenitz’s position. He was no mere division or army commander. The U-boat arm was the principal part of the German fleet and Doenitz was its leader. . . . That his importance to the German war effort was so regarded is eloquently proved by Raeder’s recommendation of Doenitz as his successor and his appointment by Hitler on 30 January 1943, as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. Hitler, too, knew that submarine warfare was the essential part of Germany’s naval warfare. From January 1943, Doenitz was consulted almost continuously by Hitler. As late as April 1945, when he admits he knew the struggle was hopeless, Doenitz as its Commander-in-Chief urged the Navy to continue its fight. On 1 May 1945, he became head of the State and as such ordered the Wehrmacht to continue its fight in the east, until capitulation on 9 May 1945. . . . In the view of the Tribunal, the evidence shows that Doenitz was active in waging aggressive war.
It can only be concluded that this is a fairly accurate interpretation of what the Court considered to be aggressive war in the military sense of the expression. However, the statement is not consistent with the facts of the case; nor is it justified in the light of what Doenitz was attempting to perform during the closing days of the conflict in Germany. These issues will be discussed in the order that they arose.
On the witness stand, Karl Doenitz testified in his own defense and answered many questions, both of the defense counsel and of the prosecution. It is impossible to give them in full detail so a summarization will have to suffice.
Karl Doenitz stated that he had been a member of the Navy since 1910 and that he had been an officer of that service since 1913. From 1916 until the end of the First World War, he had been a member of the U-boat Flotilla Weddigen, the first U-boat flotilla after 1918. In order to bridge the gap of the intervening years, he went to Turkey on a U-boat cruise. His rank in the service was then Fregattenkapitän, the German equivalent of Commander. In receiving his orders from Admiral Raeder, who was then the Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy, he took over the command of the flotilla, which consisted of three boats of about 250 tons each, with about six used for training. His orders were to fill in the gap from 1918 and to train the U-boats in cruising, submersion, and firing of torpedoes, but he was not to train for a specific war. In this regard the submarine commanders were trained in warfare against merchant ships by the issuance of a tactical order. This preparation was in full accord with the German Prize Ordinance. This training was performed as a part of the tactical training of the submarine fleet. Every young officer learned well the details of checking a merchantman’s bill of lading against one hold and making the appropriate remarks in the merchantman’s log to the effect that a search had been conducted with the conclusion as to whether or not contraband was found. If contraband were discovered, the vessel could be legally sunk.
In 1938 the complete draft of the German Prize Regulations was promulgated to the flotillas. This instruction book was comparable to the Tentative Instructions Governing Maritime and Aerial Warfare, which was issued to our own forces, all ships and stations, by the Secretary of Navy, Frank Knox, on May 7, 1941. These were put into effect by an ALNAV, May 7, 1941.
Doenitz stated that he developed the “wolf pack” tactics, which were a breaking with the principle of individual operations and were, therefore, an attempt to use submarines in the same manner as surface ships. These tactics did not abrogate the Prize Regulations, but were used against formations of ships, both warships and merchant ships. Of course, no vessel in convoy had any preferential treatment in accordance with both the German Prize Regulations and the Hague Conventions.
In the mission of development of the U-boat force, Doenitz had the mission of development of the U-boat service to the highest degree of efficiency. He never had as his task the assignment of preparations for war against any specific enemy. Once his orders from the Naval Operations Staff in 1936 and 1937 stated that if France made war in attempting to interrupt the German rearmament program, that it would be the task of the U-boat force to attack French transports leaving North Africa for France.
In the year 1939, the German U-boat force was not prepared technically or tactically for a naval war with England. The Germans had only about thirty to forty boats according to Doenitz, and only one-third of these available could be used for tactical operations at any one time, the remainder either returning to port or being outfitted for another operation.
The prosecution repeatedly termed the U-boat an aggressive weapon, and Doenitz admitted this, saying that the U-boat had the mission of approaching an enemy and attacking with torpedoes. In that respect the U-boat was definitely an aggressive weapon. As to whether it was a weapon for aggressive warfare, Doenitz said that the U-boat could be used with equal effectiveness in either an offensive or defensive war. He said, “If one should conclude that the navies that have U-boats are planning an aggressive war, then all nations—for all the navies of these nations had U-boats, in fact, many had more than Germany, twice and three times as many—planned aggressive war.”
Doenitz repeatedly denied that he had anything to do with the planning of an aggressive war as such, and, even after the war had begun, he made no suggestions of proposals concerning the war against a new enemy. In the case of Poland and Norway, he neither had the authority nor the opportunity to examine whether the tactical instructions which he had to give his U-boats led or were to lead to the waging of an aggressive war. He said at the trial, “I should like to ask what soldier of what nation who receives any military task whatsoever, has the right to approach his general staff and ask for examination of justification as to whether an aggressive war can evolve from this task.” He stated that he received military orders as a professional naval officer, and that his purpose was to carry out these tasks, and that the question of whether the State was thereby waging an aggressive war or not was not for him to decide.
As the Commander-in-Chief of the U-boats, Doenitz received his orders from the Chief of the SKL, the Naval Operation Staff, Grossadmiral Raeder. His orders received at the beginning of the war in September, 1939, called for war against the enemy’s merchant shipping according to the Prize Regulations, which incorporated the Provisions of the London Pact. According to these provisions, the German U-boats were fully justified in attacking all ships which were either proceeding under escort, or in convoy, or which were under air cover. Doenitz was further justified in exercising force against any ship, which, when stopped, used its radio, or resisted the order to stop, or did not obey the order to stop. The plan of the Naval Operations Staff was that, according to the enemy’s tactics, there was to be retaliation by intensified action.
At the beginning of the war the merchantmen not only took advantage of their radio to send their position when a submarine attempted to stop them, but also transmitted messages if they sighted German submarines on the horizon. The results were usually that the U-boat was brought under attack by both surface and air forces. Remember, England was the other party to the London Agreement of 1935. The actions of the British were unjustified according to their agreement with Germany. These merchantmen, as Doenitz soon discovered, were well armed with deck guns, depth charges, depth charge projectors, and stern racks. It was apparent to him that the British were using the merchantmen as an element of the military intelligence system. On October 1, 1939, the British Admiralty broadcast the order that the merchantmen were to ram German U-boats whenever possible. On this basis, Doenitz did not protest to the SKL directives, which led to an intensification of the war on merchantmen, for he considered it perfectly justified considering the losses sustained in this one-sided conflict, which he was fully responsible for. Doenitz stated that the countermeasures were always taken about four weeks after it had been definitely established that the enemy was changing his tactics. On October 4, 1939, the German High Command issued an order that all armed merchantmen were to be sunk without warning. This was approximately four weeks after the British steamship Manaar had shelled a German U-boat, which had tried to stop the ship, on September 6, 1939.
“When you see a rattlesnake rearing its head, you do not wait until it jumps at you but you destroy it before it gets the chance.” In these words President Roosevelt justified his order to “shoot on sight” and directed the United States Navy to attack German submarines in the North Atlantic in 1941.
The orders of the British Admiralty had fallen into the hands of the Germans shortly after the war began. These orders were submitted to the Tribunal by decision. Included in these orders were the Confidential Fleet Orders and the Defense of Merchant Shipping Handbook. which had been issued in 1938, and, therefore, did not deal with counter-measures, but were in effect at the beginning of the war, when Germany considered the London Agreement as the only applicable document on submarine warfare. This information clearly indicated that all British merchant shipping acted from the first day of the war according to the orders of the Admiralty. These instructions included the reporting of submarines by radio, the use of naval artillery, and the use of depth charges. All of the Admiralty directives indicated that from the first day of the war the merchantmen were firmly organized within the Royal Navy and that they were a part of the communications network which included the British naval and air forces. It is difficult to see just why this formidable merchant marine, which was destined and so well utilized for battle, should have been counted among those vessels that were entitled to the protection of the London Agreement against sinking without warning.
The British severely criticized Doenitz for the declarations of the operational area around the British Isles. This attitude was understandable in light of the fact that most of the foodstuffs and materials necessary to the subsistence of the British people came from abroad. However, the United States, on the other hand, commenced unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan and declared the entire Pacific Ocean an operational area the first day of the war, December 7, 1941.
In September, 1942, with the overwhelming air supremacy of the Allies affecting German submarine efforts, Doenitz was to undergo a severe test of his sense of fairness and humanity in the war. It was during this period that he received word that the British transport Laconia was sunk on September 13. In the report from the German U-boat commander, Kapitänleutnant Hartenstein, he received information that there were 1,500 Italian prisoners of war aboard. Hartenstein requested orders. Doenitz knew from the handbook on British armed ships that the Laconia had sent out radio messages, because Doenitz hoped that American and British ships would come to the rescue. On September 13 at 0600 Hartenstein sent out the following message in plain English:
If any ship will assist the shipwrecked Laconia crew, I will not attack her, provided I am not being attacked by ship or air force.
The U-boats commenced the rescue with great zeal. There were three or four submarines, and each took about 100 to 200 people aboard. Lifeboats were being towed also. Doenitz said, “All these reports caused me the greatest concern because I knew exactly that this would not end well.” His premonition was to be borne out. Doenitz radioed that Hartenstein was to remain near the location and that all U-boats were to maintain ability to dive. Another message stated that the safety of the U-boats was not to be endangered in the rescue operations, and still another ordered that the boats be cleared for crash-diving and for underwater use. The commanders were also admonished to beware of enemy interference by airplanes and submarines.
At 1311 Hartenstein sent an emergency message that he was under air attack. At 2304 the amplifying report read as follows:
Radiogram sent; from Hartenstein—to Admiral Doenitz—Bombed five times by American Liberator in low flight when towing four full boats in spite of a Red Cross flag, four square meters, on the bridge and good visibility. Both periscopes at present out of order. Breaking off rescue; all off board; putting out to West. Will repair.
Doenitz states that Hartenstein had some 110 Englishmen and Italians on board at the time. During an attack one of the life boats was struck by a bomb, and during the second attack the U-boat received a direct hit amidships. Hartenstein later reported that it was only by a miracle of German shipbuilding technique that the submarine did not fall to pieces. Doenitz, therefore, deliberated at length whether, after Hartenstein had been attacked repeatedly in the course of rescue measures, he should not break off all attempts at rescue. From the military point of view, he would have been fully justified in doing so. He received a call from the Naval Operations Staff that the Fuehrer did not wish him to risk submarines in rescue work or summon them from distant areas. After a heated discussion with his staff, he exclaimed, “I cannot throw these people into the water now. I will carry on.” In doing so he took full responsibility for further losses.
Wurdemann of the U-506 reported the following morning that he had been attacked by aircraft also. At 2343 on September 17 he reported that he had completed the transfer of survivors to the Annamite, a French cruiser that had been summoned to the scene. Still later he reported that he was attacked by a heavy seaplane at noon and that he was fully ready for action.
The third submarine, the U-507, commanded by Schacht, sent a message that it had people on board and that it was towing lifeboats. Doenitz thereupon ordered him to cast off the boats, burdening him for diving.
In all cases during the rescue, the lifeboats were supplied with necessary navigational information, the survivors fed and given hot beverages, and the wounded cared for. Schacht later sent this message:
Transferred 163 Italians to Annamite. Navigation officer of Laconia and another English officer on board. Seven lifeboats with about 330 Englishmen and Poles, among them 15 women and children, deposited at Qu. FE 9612, women and children kept on board for one night. Supplied all shipwrecked with hot meal and drinks, clothed and bandaged when necessary. Sighted four more boats at sea-anchor Qu FE 9619.
Of 811 Englishmen about 800 were rescued, according to the figures that Doenitz had available. This certainly refuted the prosecution’s remark that Doenitz had prohibited the rescue of Englishmen. The sinking actually had taken place on September 12, 1942. The rescue had lasted for four days, in spite of the repeated air attacks. The rescue actually lasted until the survivors had been turned over to the French cruiser Annamite, which Doenitz had summoned to the location. From Doenitz’s viewpoint, the time had definitely passed when U-boats could effect rescue on the surface without danger. In spite of the message to all ships, the British and the American naval forces at Freetown did not assist in the rescue, but sent air strikes continually against the U-boats. All of the U-boats that were engaged in this operation were lost in the nextaction or soon thereafter from aircraft attacks.
The feelings of Doenitz are well expressed in his statement that “the situation in which the enemy kills the rescuers while they are exposing themselves to great personal danger is really and emphatically contrary to ordinary common sense and the elementary laws of warfare.” Truly, the old order had changed. On September 17, Doenitz issued an order, which was sent to all the U-boats on the High Seas, that no more attempts to rescue enemy personnel would be made.
In the Tentative Instructions for the Navy of the United States, which had been promulgated and put into effect by an ALNAV, is found the following article:
Belligerents are under obligation to comply with the provisions of international conventions in regard to distress signals and distress messages so far as their military operations permit.
Nothing in these rules shall be understood to relieve a belligerent from such obligation or to prohibit the transmission of distress signals, distress messages, and messages which are indispensable to the safety of navigation.
Neither the British nor the American forces aided in any way in the rescue of the personnel from the Laconia. The prosecution called the above order of Doenitz an “order to murder.” But then that showed a different viewpoint entirely. It seemed it was of no consequence whatsoever to consider the hundreds of thousands of noncombatants who died in the air raids on the German cities, but was of greater importance to consider those combatants who were torpedoed when their ships carried the war material and the bombs destined to fall on the German civilian populace. No one can assert that the civilian populace was not the goal of such warfare. The use of the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki seemed to produce the final evidence thereto, and the atomic arms race of the present day only confirms the judgment.
Doenitz received criticism from the Prosecution for his crimes against humanity and was implicated in Hitler’s desire to depart from the rules of the Geneva Convention. The facts of the case are that Doenitz disapproved of the leaving of the Geneva Convention, and that Hitler, who said that all of the military leaders were strongly opposed to such a course, did not take that matter up with them after that instance. He had also been criticized and attacked for reprisals against enemy naval personnel and was also charged with having abused prisoners of war. Doctor Kranzbuehler stated that he thought that those men who acted as Doenitz did with regard to the prisoners of war of the Navy might reasonably not be charged with throwing overboard the standards of law and morals with regard to prisoners of war. An English commander certified that when the prisoners of war of the German Navy were released from that camp, all prisoners, without exception, stated that they had been treated with “fairness and consideration.” It seems that the Prosecution should have taken particular notice of this statement, considering what the treatment of prisoners of war had been elsewhere.
In the regulation of the Naval Courts in the occupied countries, it is shown that the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy constantly supervised the meting out of naval justice as the highest legal authority, much in the same manner as the Judge Advocate General does in our Navy. A survey displayed to the Tribunal, based on the examination of about 2,000 delicts and the judgments and circumstances, told of the administration of naval justice by the Navy Court for the protection of the inhabitants in both the East and West with strictness and impartiality.
One of the outstanding conclusions is that all soldiers knew that if they violated life or property in the occupied areas they were amenable to naval justice in those areas that the German Navy occupied. The severity of the penalties indicated how seriously the German Navy considered their task as far as protecting occupied populations was concerned.
In the spring of 1945, a German prisoner of war, a non-commissioned officer, had been executed because he had in prison camp unobtrusively and according to a plan had Communists liquidated. This action was claimed to indicate a general plan to execute Communists. Actually Flottenrichter Kransbuehler claimed that an order protecting Communists existed and revealed the true circumstances.
A sergeant, who had stolen hospital blankets which were intended for the Soviet prisoners of war and who had broken out a dead prisoner’s gold teeth, was condemned by a naval court and executed after the sentence had been approved by the Commander-in-Chief, as was the procedure in the cases against Wehrmacht personnel.
Although it is not possible to support the actions of the Grand Admiral in more detail, the writer cites the above cases to show that Doenitz did attempt to execute justice and to protect the personnel in occupied countries, in spite of the accusations of the Prosecution to the contrary.
As has been stated before, Karl Doenitz was never active politically until he became the Head of State, which was on May 1, 1945. After his promotion to Commander-in-Chief, he did receive from the Fuehrer on January 30, 1944, the Golden Party Badge, whereupon he became an honorary member of the Party. The Prosecution asserted that he became Commander-in-Chief because of his political attitude. This assertion is false. He had no reason to participate in National Socialism afterwards, because to him, as to the remainder of the officers’ corps, every political activity was forbidden according to the Compulsory Service Law. However, what admiral does not have to approach the politicians when he wants appropriations, equipment, and an expanding naval force? Doenitz did the same thing and in the same manner as have others, even those officers in our own Navy. It is the writer’s opinion that his contacts with the Fuehrer and the Party, which were concomitants of his position and of his duties as Commander-in-Chief, never caused him to perform any act which, was contrary to his conscience. The Fuehrer wanted the shipwrecked personnel shot; Doenitz rejected this proposal. Hitler desired that the Geneva Convention be scrapped. Again Admiral Doenitz was against it.
It was due to his remarkable stand against the Party’s influence in the armed forces that the Fuehrungsoffiziere, the National Socialist educational officers, did not become political commissars, but were merely advisers to their commanding officers, who retained the sole responsibility of their commands. He even prohibited the transfer of jurisdiction of political cases against military personnel to the Volksgerichtshof, the People’s Courts, which had been advocated by the Party, until the winter of 1944-45. Afterwards, in spite of the Fuehrer’s order, the Naval Courts never relinquished their jurisdiction.
The only person that Karl Doenitz had connections with who had been interned in concentration camps was the celebrated German churchman, Pastor Niemoeller, who had been a former comrade of his in the Navy. When Doenitz’s last son was killed, Niemoeller expressed his sympathy, sending the information through a third person.
It is now necessary to discuss the period of time after Doenitz, as Commander-in-Chief in the Seekriegsleitung, the German Naval Command, became the Head of State.
After word was brought from the Propaganda Ministry in the shattered German capital to the Fuehrer’s bunker in the Reichschancellery during the last days of the war that der treue Heinrich, Himmler, had negotiated with Count Bernadotte, according to a Reuter report, Hitler knew that this was the signal for the end. During the night of April 28–29, 1945, he disposed of Himmler’s claim to succession, wrote his last will and testament, married Eva Braun, and wrote his political testament. He later made Plans for his suicide. On April 30, Hitler shot himself through the mouth and Eva Braun took poison. Their bodies were burned in an adjacent courtyard.*
Afterwards the personal followers were told that the Chief was dead. “Der Chef ist tot.” Whatever Hitler had attempted to achieve in his death, he at least is now immune from discovery, like Alaric, who was secretly buried under the river-bed of Busento.
After Hitler’s death, Bormann sent the following telegram to Doenitz:
Grand Admiral Doenitz:
In place of the former Reich-Marshal Goering the Fuehrer appoints you, Herr Grand Admiral, as his successor. Written authorization is on its way. You will immediately take all such measures as the situation requires.
The important and most relevant fact that Hitler was already dead was not mentioned, undoubtedly because Bormann desired to prolong the authority which he loved but could no longer legally exercise.
At Ploen, Doenitz received the appointment which was entirely unexpected. Only two days before, Doenitz had gone to Himmler and offered support to the logical successor of Hitler. Doenitz did not know of Himmler’s negotiations which had alienated der treue Heinrich with the Fuehrer. Doenitz was mortified as he had never entertained any ideas or ambitions. “Not Himmler but Doenitz!” exclaimed the amazed Schwerin von Krosigk, who had bet on the wrong horse, but still possessed the ability to survive in either case. Nevertheless, since it was the Fuehrer’s order, he did not disobey it. Himmler’s numerous bodyguard, which seemed to dominate the whole scene, had to stand idle while their leader offered to serve under Doenitz. But Doenitz threw all the Nazis out of his government, and Himmler served no useful purpose until he committed suicide when captured by the British.
Doenitz, believing that Hitler still lived, replied by telegram:
My loyalty to you will be unconditional. I shall do everything possible to relieve you in Berlin. If Fate nevertheless compels me to rule the Reich as your appointed successor, I shall continue this war to an end worthy of the unique, heroic struggle of the German people.
Grand Admiral Doenitz
It was Goebbels who sent Doenitz the following telegram, having no need for ambiguities in policy as did Bormann:
Grand Admiral Doenitz—
Most secret—urgent—officer only.
The Fuehrer died yesterday at 1530 hours. Testament of 29 April appoints you as Reich President, Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels as Reich Chancellor, Reichsleiter Bormann as Party Minister, Reich Minister Seyss-Inquart as Foreign Minister. By order of the Fuehrer, the Testament has been sent out of Berlin to you, to Field-Marshal Schoerner, and for preservation and publication. Reichsleiter Bormann intends to go to you today and to inform you of the situation. Time and form of announcement to the Press and to the troops is left to you. Confirm receipt.
However, Goebbels later committed suicide, and Bormann is believed to have been killed in the attempted escape from Berlin.
In his own government, Doenitz assumed the burdens and also the privileges which they conferred. He neither accepted the list of ministers nor waited for Bormann to deliver the copy of the Fuehrer’s testament. At 2020 that evening the Hamburg Radio warned that an important announcement would be made, and then, accompanied heroically by the strains from Wagner’s operas and the slow movement of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, came the announcement of Hitler’s death. At 2130 Doenitz himself announced that the Fuehrer died fighting “at the head of his troops” that afternoon. Actually Hitler had died the day before. The former inaccuracy was undoubtedly designed to prevent desertion. Koller and Jodl had been disgusted when Hitler announced his suicide plan on April 22. General Weidling had released his troops from their oaths. Doenitz felt that if he was to negotiate a successful peace with the West, he had to have the support of the armed forces. In his announcement he stated that the people owed the same allegiance to him as they had to Hitler. It was therefore prudent to assume that Hitler had died a soldier’s death.
On May 2, 1945, Doenitz moved his headquarters from Ploen to Flensburg, on the Danish frontier. With him, as an unofficial member of the new government went Albert Speer. At last Speer was able to put his program into effect, which during the Fuehrer’s lifetime he did not dare to. On May 3, he broadcast a speech to the German people, the last broadcast of the old regime. The German people, who for years had been filled with abstract slogans and political mythology, now heard the sane voice of a technocrat telling them not to despair, not to let political disillusion breed apathy, but to keep famine in check, to work and repair the railways, to increase agricultural work, and to keep the life of the nation undestroyed.
At the same time, Doenitz sent Admiral von Friedeburg to Field-Marshal Montgomery with the first offer of surrender.
After his assumption of the office of the Head of State on May 1, 1945, he urged that the forces in the east hold on so that the hundreds of thousands of the civilian populace could escape to the western sectors before the surrender. In fact, he held up the surrender in the east a few days so that this task could be completed.
On the 7th of May the instrument of unconditional surrender was signed at Rheims. The Thousand-Year Reich had ended.
Karl Doenitz had not sought a political job, but he was given that position. He, nevertheless, made the best of that task and had the people’s interests in mind, particularly in allowing the civilians to escape to the west before the surrender. He undoubtedly saved countless thousands of lives by that act alone. The Prosecution claimed that this was a fanatical urge to continue the war.
I believe that Karl Doenitz fulfilled his obligations to the German people very well. As he stated in his final plea, his life was devoted to the German people, and there are many who owed their lives to him for holding a line in the east so that they could escape from the Russian advance.
But, the finest tribute to the man comes not from the author of this paper, but from the U-boat commanders, who were in the Featherstone Park camp in England at the time of the Nuremberg Trials. This statement was received at Nuremberg through the British War Ministry and the General Secretary of the Court. This statement, dated January 18, 1946, and addressed to the prisoner-of-war camp commander, reads as follows:
The undersigned commanders, who are now here in this camp and whose U-boats were active on the front, wish to make the following statement before you, Sir, and to express the request that this statement should be forwarded to the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg.
From the press and radio we learn that Gross-admiral Doenitz is charged with having issued the order to destroy survivors from the crews of torpedoed ships and not to take any prisoners. The undersigned state under oath that neither in writing or orally was such an order ever given by Grossadmiral Doenitz. There was an order that for reasons of security of the boat, because of the increased danger through defense measures of all kinds, we were’ not to surface after torpedoing. The reason for that was that experience had shown that if the boat surfaced for a rescue action, as was done in the first years of the war, we had to expect our own destruction. This order could not be misunderstood. It has never been regarded as an order to annihilate shipwrecked crews.
The undersigned declare that the German Navy has always been trained by its leaders to respect the written and unwritten laws and rules of the sea. We have always regarded it as our honor to obey these laws and to fight chivalrously while at sea.
MAIL BUOY LOOKOUT
Contributed by JOHN J. FOWLSTON
The young seaman recruit was on his first cruise. As an appropriate initiation he had been stationed in the eyes of the ship during the morning watch “on lookout for the mail buoy.” The importance of his duty had been duly impressed upon him by the boatswain’s mate who had charged him, “Keep alert now. If you don’t see and report the mail buoy, you will have to answer to all hands for the consequences.”
He was properly dressed for the occasion in a crispy uniform of the day, watch belt, and leggings, and bore a long powerful glass. He took his station with serious intent, well impressed with the importance of his task and the penalty for failure.
During the course of the watch, the Captain glanced down from the bridge and was concerned to see a special lookout stationed in the bow, in clear weather. “Go down and find out what that man is doing there,” he directed his orderly.
In a few minutes the orderly reported, “Man says he is on watch for the mail buoy, Captain.”
“Go down and tell him to report to me,” ordered the Captain.
After some interrogation the orderly returned alone to the bridge to report, “Captain, that man says that he is on duty and knows better than to leave his station without proper relief. Besides, he says the whole crew will be down on him if he should miss the mail buoy.”
The Captain bit through his cigarette. “Dammit, Orderly, you go down and relieve him, then, and send him up to me.”
The bridge was tense as the seaman made his way through the maze of forecastle gear to the foot of the bridge. As he disappeared up the ladder the bridge crew became expectantly silent.
The Captain met the man at the top of the ladder.
“Is it true that you are on lookout for the mail buoy—a hundred miles at sea?” he snapped.
“Yes sir, Captain, I was put on watch by a boatswain’s mate this morning.”
The Captain softened a little, “Go below and tell that boatswain’s mate I want to see him” he ordered.
Some time elapsed and the starch of the people on the bridge changed to veiled amusment when the seaman returned and dejectedly reported in a “mission-not-accomplished” manner, “I’m sorry, Captain, I couldn’t find the ‘Boats’ who put me on watch.” Then for a moment his face lighted as he looked up, “But, I did find out his name.”
“Well then, what’s his name?”
Eagerly and brightly came the reply, “CHARLEY NOBLE.”
(The Proceedings will pay $5.00 for each anecdote submitted to, and printed in, the Proceedings.)
Graduated from the Naval Academy in the Class of 1951, Lieutenant Seagren had prepared the first draft of his article as a term paper for the Department of English, History, and Government at the Academy. Since July, 1953, he has been assigned to the Inspector General, Strategic Air Command.
* Note: A tailor, W. O. Mueller, who had been employed in the Fuehrer’s headquarters and was immured . the rest in the Chancellery, relates an interesting story on Hitler’s decision to commit suicide. This man was very surprised when Brigadefuehrer Rattenhuber, the head of the police guard and a general in the SS, slapped him cordially on the back and greeted him with familiarity. The strict discipline of the Fuehrerbunker never allowed this conduct before. The tailor felt as if he was a high officer to be treated in this manner. “It was the first time I had ever heard a high officer say ‘good evening,’ ” he said; “so I noticed that the mood had completely changed.” Then, from an equal, he learned the reason for this sudden and most irregular affability. Hitler had said good-bye and was going to commit suicide. Common relief had been the solvent of class distinction.