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The Memoirs of Karl Dönitz (ePub)

Ten Years and Twenty Days

Maritime Military > Frontline eBooks > Frontline: WWII WWII

By Karl Dönitz
Frontline Books
File Size: 6.7 MB (.epub)
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781783031429
Published: 5th March 2012


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The story of the last world war, as told by Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz himself. His memoir covers his early career with submarines in the First World War and follows both his successes and failures through the Second World War, with great detail on the way the U-boat campaign was waged, as told by the man who invented U-boat tactics.

Dönitz includes details of the U-boat campaigns during the Second World War as well as the opinions, ideas and commentary on the period. Of particular interest are the comments regarding British and American conduct during the war. An important social document, and an invaluable source for any student of the last war.

He became the last Führer of Germany after Hitler's suicide in May 1945 and the book's subtitle, Ten Years and Twenty Days, is a direct reference to the time Karl Dönitz spent in Spandau Prison having been convicted of war crimes following trial at Nuremberg.

This book is absolutely essential for anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of the submarine war. From his position, Dönitz had enormous influence on the development, personnel, and structure of the war, both above and below water. The choices he made had far-reaching consequences. The technological developments on the German side are well explained and give insight into the many adversities with which the men had to cope. It is important to bear in mind that the portrayal of events is not completely accurate, but rather reflects how Dönitz wants the narrative to be interpreted by others.

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Traces of War

An important perspective of the German U-Boat service and WWII. The author was a U-Boat commander in WWI and Grand Admiral in WWII. – Recommended Reading.

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Ten Years and Twenty Days is a fascinating read and should appeal to both serious and casual student of the war. Doenitz’s narrative on duty to country in times of war is fascinating, as is his description of the tenets of Nazism and his relationship with Hitler. I strongly recommend Ten Years and Twenty Days and believe it deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the war at sea.

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The Australian Naval Institute

As featured on Argunners


A fascinating and detailed account of the German navy's war, mostly covering U-boat activities until Doenitz became Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine at which point the narrative broadens somewhat, though never regains the level of detail that he gives us on the U-boat war.

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Damien Burke, author of TSR2 - Britain's Last Bomber

For students of Germany´s WWII submarine warfare and the very last days of the Greater German Reich (the official name until 23 May 1945) there is one source that must be considered a real must read, The Memoirs of Karl Döenitz.

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Lars Gyllenhall, Blogger

This was indeed a very interesting book looking at the war in the Atlantic from the German side, or perspective rather than the Allied side. Now I will admit that the book got a little dull in places, but that was due in most part down to the many note-taking details given in the book. I would say that I have certainly learned a lot from the book and the German U-Boat system was very advanced for its time which echoes in other German military hardware and vehicle advances.

In this memoir, Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz provides a very detailed account of his life in going into a very great organisation and detail. I would say that it is very hard not to learn from reading this book. I would say this is one of the best accounts of the Battle of the Atlantic I have read. This book contains many interesting details about the battle, which from the viewpoint of the memoir, you’re not likely to find this sort of level and impact unless you were talking to someone else who when through the same event at the time.

You know when you read certain books about an event or a time. Then those books become like a bible of authority for that event or time, this is one of those books. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn about the Battle of the Atlantic.

UK Historian

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Remains an outstandingly important book

This book was a gift and I approached it with some trepidation. It looked like big read and I thought it might be heavy-going. In fact it wasn't. It is, as other reviewers have pointed out, very detailed but the synopses at the head of each chapter were very useful enabling me to keep track of events -- as was Doenitz himself.

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Amazon review by Ms.J.Jones

Behind the scenes at Nuremberg, his judges had difficulty reaching agreement about him. 0pinions about the Grand Admiral have always varied. Was his prosecution before the international military tribunal the "act of spite" alleged by one journalist, who was there? 0r was he really the "Nazi Sailor" remembered by the British 0fficer who served the indictment on him? Karl Doenitz himself died in 1980, but he leaves this in-depth account of his wartime and other experiences, thereby enabling readers to judge for themselves. This is quite rich fare, particularly for anyone wishing to explore the war at sea from 1939-1945. There are chapters on the Battle of the Atlantic, Convoy Battles and 0perations in Distant Waters, the author's role as Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy and appointment as Head of State and successor to Adolf Hitler. Light is shed upon Doenitz's views with regard to such matters as the sinking of the 'Athenia' and the conduct of Lt. Commander Heinz Eck (shot by the British as a war criminal). The events and circumstances surrounding the controversial 'Laconia 0rder' of 1942 are dealt with at some length, and Doenitz speaks quite frankly about his interpretation of the Nuremberg Tribunal that deprived him of his liberty for ten years. Given that the verdict of that court suggests that he prolonged the struggle when he knew it to be hopeless, the explanation offered by the author as to why he did resist Allied demands for Unconditional Surrender require serious consideration (see pp. 308-309 and 430-431). Specialists may find it instructive to contrast Doenitz's version as to how he came to be appointed Head of State in 1945 with that of Albert Speer. Whatever one makes of Doenitz's character, it does become possible to recognise his ability as a commander without losing sight of the kind of regime he served.
It was fascinating to discover that conflict developed in the early days of the Third Reich between the German Navy and the brown-uniformed SA, and why (see p. 303); also, to learn something of the author's own experiences as a submarine commander during the First World War and time spent in British captivity. These are but broad brush-strokes, however, and there's a wealth of detail in these pages that will appeal not only to specialists but to anyone wanting to understand events from the German point of view.

Stephanie A. Jefford

His place in the history books has been determined by his prosecution of the Battle of the Atlantic, and it is untimately a testament to the quality of his writing that it is almost impossible not to sympathise with his fustrations, even when we are so painfully aware of the malevolent cause he fought for.

Military History Monthly

About Karl Dönitz

Karl Dönitz was commissioned into the Imperial German Navy in 1910. He became convinced of the war-winning potential of U-boats and conducted a battle for the Atlantic that the Allies only just won. He succeeded Grand Admiral Raeder as commander-in-chief of the navy.

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