The Occupation Regime
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Between the suicide of Hitler and the beginning of Allied Military Government in Germany there occurred the unscheduled interlude known as the 23 days of the Dönitz regime. Grand Admiral Dönitz, head of the navy and one of the few senior officers who had not quarrelled with Hitler, had been appointed Chancellor under the latter’s will, which also named other members of the Dönitz cabinet. Dönitz himself had taken refuge at Flensburg on the Danish border, and was at first given de facto recognition by the British and Americans. His main concern was to end the fighting in the west immediately, while postponing as long as possible the surrender of the German forces in the east so as to give them and the mass of refugees fleeing from the Russians time to move far enough west to be within the British or American sphere when the armistice lines were finally drawn. In this aim he was only partially successful: Eisenhower would not risk a breach with the Russians. After the German armies in North West Europe and elsewhere had, with Dönitz’s authority, surrendered to Montgomery on Luneburg Heath, the final surrender of all the armed forces to the four victors took place in formal ceremonies at Rheims and at Karlshorst, the Berlin suburb where the Russians set up their headquarters. The war was over. Germany lay prostrate under the conqueror’s feet, stunned and crushed.
KeywordsFederal Republic Black Market Western Zone Western Power Federal Constitutional
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