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March 29, 2011

Two German admirals in World War II — one was a war criminal and one was a hero

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:55 am

There were two famous admirals in World War II, both of German heritage:  Admiral Karl Dönitz and Admiral Chester Nimitz.  Admiral Dönitz fought for Germany and he was one of the war criminals in the dock at the Nuremberg IMT.  Admiral Nimitz was an ethnic German from the German-American town of Fredericksburg in Texas, but Nimitz was not a war criminal because he fought for the winning side. (You can read about Fredericksburg, TX here.)

There is an anecdote about Admiral Dönitz that I heard years ago, but I don’t know if it is true or not.  The story is that Admiral Dönitz was told that he could have anyone of his own choosing to defend him in the proceedings of the Nuremberg IMT.  To this offer, Dönitz allegedly replied that he wanted Admiral Nimitz to defend him.  His request was not granted, of course. 

Here is a quote from Wikipedia which will help the reader to understand why Dönitz wanted Admiral Nimitz to defend him in court:

(Dönitz’s) sentence on unrestricted submarine warfare was not assessed, because of similar actions by the Allies: in particular, the British Admiralty on 8 May 1940 had ordered that all vessels in the Skagerrak should be sunk on sight; and Admiral Chester Nimitz, wartime commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, stated that the U.S. Navy had waged unrestricted submarine warfare in the Pacific from the day the U.S. entered the war. Thus although Dönitz was found guilty of waging unrestricted submarine warfare against unarmed neutral shipping by ordering all ships in designated areas in international waters to be sunk without warning, no additional prison time was added to his sentence for this crime.

Dönitz was sentenced to only 10 years in prison because no additional time was added to his sentence for the crime of waging unrestricted submarine warfare since the Allies had committing the same crime.

Here’s the way justice works:  If you are on the winning side in a war, you are a hero, but God forbid, you are on the losing side.  Losers are war criminals.

You can see a nice color photograph of Dönitz here and get information on a radio show called the Voice of Reason which will feature a discussion on the subject of the unfair prosecution of Dönitz at Nuremberg.

5 Comments

  1. The nazism were not war criminals because they lost the war. That is a heinous statement. They were war criminals because they had started the war by unlawfully trying to expand their borders while murdering the rightful occupants of captured territories.

    Comment by Richard Kelfa-Caulker — April 20, 2016 @ 6:55 am

  2. Sorry for the double post, the less turgid of these is the one I prefer.

    Comment by Amory Stern — June 30, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

  3. Actually Nimitz did defend Dönitz, and Grand Admiral Erich Raeder too. See:
    http://lawofwar.org/Hostilities.htm
    Contemporary article about the subject:
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2206&dat=19460522&id=V_gtAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vtQFAAAAIBAJ&pg=4427,2490754
    According to this site dedicated to Robert H. Jackson, “Nimitz’s affidavit cleared Doenitz of some of the war crimes charges, but he was still guilty of crimes against Jewish people.” But as far as I can tell the prosecution was unable to prove the charge of crimes against humanity. Raeder served about nine years, but the Jackson site says Nimitz helped his case, too. These men could have gone to prison for life–maybe the gallows in Dönitz’s case–but it is likely that Nimitz helped prevent that.
    http://www.roberthjackson.org/the-man/nuremberg-trial/nuremberg-trial-timeline

    Comment by Amory Stern — June 30, 2012 @ 8:09 pm

  4. Actually Nimitz did defend Dönitz, and Grand Admiral Erich Raeder too. See:
    http://lawofwar.org/Hostilities.htm

    Contemporary article about the subject:
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2206&dat=19460522&id=V_gtAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vtQFAAAAIBAJ&pg=4427,2490754

    According to this site dedicated to Robert H. Jackson, “Nimitz’s affidavit cleared Doenitz of some of the war crimes charges, but he was still guilty of crimes against Jewish people.” But as far as I can tell the prosecution was unable to prove the charge of crimes against humanity, and Dönitz was “guilty of crimes against Jewish people” only by virtue of being a Nazi–basically what he served ten years in jail for. Raeder served about nine years, but the Jackson site says Nimitz helped his case, too. These men could have gone to prison for life–maybe the gallows in Dönitz’s case–but it is likely that Nimitz helped prevent that.

    http://www.roberthjackson.org/the-man/nuremberg-trial/nuremberg-trial-timeline

    So Nimitz himself apparently did not deny that one’s man’s hero is another’s war criminal in the laws of the sea, making him a hero of a different sort.

    Comment by Amory Stern — May 5, 2012 @ 7:09 am


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