Hitler, Donitz, and the Baltic Sea

BOOK: Hitler, Donitz, and the Baltic Sea
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HITLER
|
DÖNITZ

AND THE BALTIC SEA

HITLER
|
DÖNITZ
AND THE BALTIC SEA

THE THIRD REICH’S LAST HOPE, 1944–1945

H
OWARD
D. G
RIER

Naval Institute Press

Annapolis, Maryland

The latest edition of this work has been brought to publication with the generous assistance of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest.

Naval Institute Press

291 Wood Road

Annapolis, MD 21402

© 2007 by Howard D. Grier

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

ISBN 978-1-61251-413-0 (eBook)

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows:

Grier, Howard D., 1955–

Hitler, Dönitz, and the Baltic Sea : the Third Reich’s last hope, 1944–1945/by Howard D. Grier.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

1. World War, 1939–1945—Campaigns—Baltic Sea Region. 2. World War,

1939–1945—Germany. I. Title.

D764.7.B3G73 2007

940.54’21479—dc22

2007000557
                    

Print editions meet the requirements of ANSI/NISO z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper).

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First printing

For Sandy and Anna Mei

Table of Contents

                        
List of Maps

                        
Acknowledgments

                        
Dramatis Personae

                        
Introduction

  
CHAPTER 1
   
The Retreat: From Leningrad to Narva

  
CHAPTER 2
   
The German Collapse in the Summer of 1944

  
CHAPTER 3
   
The Retreat to Courland

  
CHAPTER 4
   
The Struggle for the Baltic Isles

  
CHAPTER 5
   
Army Group Courland, October 1944–May 1945

  
CHAPTER 6
   
Memel, Prussia, and Pomerania

  
CHAPTER 7
   
Courland, East Prussia, and West Prussia: Bastions or Bridgeheads?

  
CHAPTER 8
   
The Swedish Question

  
CHAPTER 9
   
The U-boat War, the Baltic Sea, and Norway

CHAPTER 10
   
Hitler and Dönitz

                        
Conclusions

                        
Notes

                        
Bibliography

                        
Index

Maps

Map 1:
The Retreat from Leningrad

Map 2:
The Gulf of Finland

Map 3:
The Soviet 1944 Summer Offensive

Map 4:
The Retreat from Estonia

Map 5:
The Withdrawal to Courland (Front Line 10 October 1944)

Map 6:
The Baltic Isles

Map 7:
Courland

Map 8:
East and West Prussia

Note on geographic terms:
In general, German terms for cities and geographic locations are used throughout the text. The maps provide current names with the German term in parentheses.

Acknowledgments

I
N THE PREPARATION
of this work I have benefited from the kind assistance of many people. I am particularly indebted to the staff of several archival institutions: the Bundesarchiv/Militärarchiv in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, particularly Herr Moritz and Dr. Maierhöfer; the Bundesarchiv in Berlin-Lichterfelde; Manuela Vack at the Bundesarchiv Koblenz; Karin Popp of Munich’s Institut für Zeitgeschichte; Harry Riley at the National Archives; the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Kathy Lloyd and Ken Johnson at the Washington Navy Yard’s Naval Operational Archives; and Dr. Erik Norberg of the Kungl. Krigsarchiv in Stockholm, who went far beyond the call of duty. Herr Dipl. Ing. Peter Schörner kindly granted the author permission to examine his father’s papers. I am grateful to Erskine College’s Faculty Development Committee for granting funds for archival research and the preparation of maps. The interlibrary borrowing departments of McCain Library at Erskine, particularly Sara Morrison, and of Davis Library at UNC-Chapel Hill provided invaluable assistance in obtaining books and microfilm used in this study.

Professor Gerhard L. Weinberg has been extremely helpful in providing guidance on this project from its inception as an M.A. thesis. His vast knowledge of the Nazi period and its sources prevented the author from making innumerable blunders, and his gentle but persistent prodding to publish the manuscript is greatly appreciated. Professors Willis Brooks, David Griffiths, Donald Reid, and Russel van Wyk offered helpful comments and suggestions on the dissertation that forms the basis of this study. Also of great value were observations from fellow graduate students David Yelton, Norm Goda, Doris Bergen, and Sandra Chaney. Professor Charles Thomas kindly read portions of the revised manuscript and offered helpful suggestions. Dr. Hans Engler deciphered some of Admiral Meisel’s handwriting and improved the author’s translation of a speech by Admiral Dönitz. Thanks are also due to my departmental colleagues at Erskine College: Sandra Chaney, Nancy Erickson, Gary Freeze, Jim Gettys, the late Bill Kuykendall, and Don Weatherman. I am also grateful to my students at Erskine, whose questions and comments have helped me to strive to be more clear and concise. I appreciate the assistance
of Mark Gatlin of the Naval Institute Press for patiently guiding me through the process of publication, and that of Chris Robinson for creating the maps. I am also deeply grateful to Mr. Edward S. Miller for his generous contribution to help defray the cost of publication.

Richard, Erika, Vera, Ingrid, and Harald Müller of Eskilstuna, Sweden, provided friendship and sustenance, as well as tutoring in the Swedish language, with the greatest possible hospitality. I especially appreciate the support of my parents, Dr. John M. and the late Marjorie D. Grier, for their support. Finally, I am most of all indebted to my wife Sandy, who read much of the manuscript and offered valuable suggestions, and to my daughter Anna Mei, who has taught me that there are many things more important than history. All errors, of course, are mine, and any benefit derived from this work is due in great part to those listed above.

Dramatis Personae

Assmann, Capt. Heinz
: naval operations officer on Armed Forces High Command operations staff, August 1943–May 1945

Blanc, Cdr. Adalbert von
: commander of Ninth Escort Division, October 1944–May 1945

Boheman, Erik
: secretary-general at the Swedish Foreign Ministry

Bonin, Col. Bogislaw von
: head of OKH’s operations section, September 1944–January 1945

Burchardi, Adm. Theodor
: Admiral Ostland, November 1941–June 1944; Commanding Admiral Eastern Baltic, June 1944–April 1945

Conrady, Capt. Heinz-Dietrich von
: naval liaison officer to Army General Staff, August 1944–May 1945

Dönitz, Grand Adm. Karl
: commander in chief of the German navy, January 1943–April 1945; Reich president, May 1945

Engelhardt, Rear Adm. Konrad
: head of the Navy’s Shipping Department; sea transport chief of the Wehrmacht, January 1944–May 1945

Foertsch, Gen. Friedrich
: Chief of Staff, Eighteenth Army, December 1943–January 1945; Chief of Staff, Army Group Courland, January–May 1945

Forshell, Anders
: Swedish naval attaché to Berlin

Friedeburg, Adm. Hans-Georg von
: commanding admiral for U-boats, February 1943–April 1945; commander in chief of the German navy, May 1945

Friessner, Gen. Hans
: Commander, Army Detachment Narva, May–July 1944; Commander, Army Group North, July 1944

Fuchs, Adm. Werner
: chief of the Main Office for Warship Construction, 1939–November 1944

Gehlen, Gen. Reinhard
: chief of Army Eastern Military Intelligence (Foreign Armies East), April 1942–March 1945

BOOK: Hitler, Donitz, and the Baltic Sea
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