Hitler's Henchmen

Season 1 Episode 6

The Admiral: Karl Doenitz

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Aired Unknown Feb 04, 2013 on
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The Admiral: Karl Doenitz
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For some, Dönitz was the man who saved millions of refugees who had been trapped in Eastern Europe. For others he was a cold technocrat who had faithfully served the causes of destruction. For the allies he was first and foremost a war criminal. And for himself? An honorable soldier who had simply done his duty. Dönitz was Hitler's grand admiral and the instigator of one of the Führer's most feared weapons: the U-Boot. "The only thing which constantly filled me with dread were Dönitz's boats," Churchill confessed after the war. As head of the German navy, Dönitz shared Hitler's idea of "holding out" to the bitter end. As a result he too was responsible for the death of tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians during the final days of the war. Before Hitler committed suicide in the bunker beneath the Chancellery, he appointed Dönitz as his successor. Dönitz's term, however, only lasted 23 days. The Allies allowed him to conclude the war. But that was all. They had other plans for Dönitz. Hitler's successor was tried in Nürnberg as a war criminal - a charge which he denied during his 10 year prison term, right up to his dying day. Exclusive testimonies and documents tell a different story. Dönitz participated in both the Holocaust and the systematic murders which accompanied it. Eyewitnesses tell of his mad declarations which urged the country to hold out, of his complete disregard of reality and the merciless way in which he sent submariners to their certain deaths. His daughter Ursula and his nephew Klaus Hessler, for the first time on film, shed light on Dönitz's largely unknown private life.moreless
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