Walter Lüdde-Neurath served as Dönitz's adjutant during the last year of the Second World War, a period that started with Dönitz as commander in chief of the German Navy and ended with him as Hitler's successor and for a brief period the ruler of what was left of the Third Reich. This account of those days was written while the author was in prison at Nuremburg, and the events of the period under discussion were still fresh in his mind. The vast bulk of the book deals with the final days of the war, from Dönitz's final visit to Berlin to his arrest and imprisonment, although the first chapter deals with his time in command of the navy and his relationship with Hitler in that period.
The author was nowhere near as deluded as many senior Nazis in the final period of the war, which makes his text rather easier to read than some. He did have something of an obsession with the legality of Dönitz's removal from power and arrest, although this seems to have had more to do with the division of Germany than with any real lingering traces of the weirdly distorted world view of Nazi Germany (a world in which Dönitz could be genuinely see himself as an untainted leader, despite having been in charge of the unrestricted U-boat war).
This is one of the most valuable accounts we have of the last government of the Third Reich, and the events that unfolded as the Allies closed in on Germany. We see Dönitz's reaction to be appointed to command the northern part of the Reich, his attitude to Goebbels, and to the task of ruling first those parts of Germany still under his control, and then his attempts to play some sort of role in the post-war government of German, suggesting that Dönitz was rather more deluded at this stage that our author.
Author's Foreword, 1948
Author's Foreword, 1953
Publisher's Foreword, 1964
1 - Autumn 1944-April 1945 - Impressions at Führer-Headquarters
2 - Dönitz leaves Berlin
3 - An Impossible Job - Defend the Northern Region
4 - Regarding the Succession to Hitler
5 - Reich President by Signal
6 - The Military Situation on 2 May 1945
7 - Realisation and Decision
8 - Partial Capitulation in the North
9 - Unconditional Surrender
10 - The Fate of the Occupied Territories
11 - The Unpolitical Cabinet
12 - Himmler's Dismissal
13 - Abdication?
14 - East or West?
15 - The Allied Control Commission
16 - The Arrest of the Caretaker Government
Section II: Walter Baum: The Dönitz Government in Modern Academic Research
1 - The Struggle for the Succession
2 - Making the Dönitz Government
3 - The Capitulation
4 - Finis Germaniae? The Reich as a Problem of International and Constitutional Law
Author: Walter Lüdde-Neurath