Doenitz, Karl (1891–1980), a German naval officer. He was a submarine expert who became commander in chief of the German navy in 1943. Following Adolf Hitler's death, Doenitz announced himself as Hitler's designated successor (May 1, 1945). His government surrendered unconditionally to the Allies a week later.
Doenitz was a U-boat commander in World War I and was captured by the British after his vessel was badly damaged by depth charges. After the war he returned to the navy and built up the submarine force, which he commanded from 1935 until 1943. His U-boats, more than any other force, nearly brought the Allies to defeat in World War II.
In 1946 an Allied tribunal found Doenitz guilty of war crimes and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.