Flensburg government


Flensburg government

The Flensburg government was the short-lived administration that attempted to rule Germany during most of May 1945 at the very end of World War II. The government was formed following the suicides of German dictator Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels during the Battle of Berlin. After his suicide on 30 April, Hitler's last will and testament designated as his successors Goebbels (Chancellor of Germany) and Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz (President of Germany). On 1 May, Goebbels committed suicide.

The administration was referred to as the "Flensburg government" because Flensburg, near the border with Denmark, was the location of the headquarters that Dönitz was using by this time.

Dönitz designated Head of State

In his testament, Hitler designated Dönitz his successor. Dönitz was not to become "Führer", but rather President ("Reichspräsident"), a post Hitler had abolished in 1934. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels was to become Chancellor of Germany ("Reichskanzler"). Hitler condemned both Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler as traitors and expelled them both from the Nazi Party. Göring was in Bavaria. Himmler was with Dönitz but was not informed of his being condemned by Hitler.

On 1 May, Dönitz learned that Hitler and Goebbels had committed suicide and that he had been nominated as President. He asked former finance minister Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk to replace Goebbels as Chancellor. Von Krosigk refused the job. Instead, the two agreed that Von Krosigk would be the 'Leading Minister'.

The cabinet of the "Flensburg government" had its first meeting in Flensburg on 5 May. Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg were both dismissed from office on 6 May. Some accounts indicate this was done in an attempt to make the government more acceptable to the Allies. Other accounts indicate it was done because the two were interfering with the functioning of the new regime. During his brief period in office, Dönitz devoted most of his efforts to ensuring the loyalty of the German armed forces and trying to ensure German troops would surrender to the British or Americans and not the Soviets, since he feared they would face Soviet reprisals.

At the urging of Dönitz, Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel and General Alfred Jodl attempted to direct what was left of the German Armed Forces ("Wehrmacht") towards the armies invading from the west. [http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/policy/1945/450506a.html#1 The German Surrender Documents - Wwii: ] ]

On 6 May, Dönitz authorized Jodl to sign the unconditional surrender of the Armed Forces to the Allies in Rheims. On 7 May, Dönitz issued the authorization empowering Von Friedeburg, Keitel and Stumpf to sign the ratification of the unconditional surrender in Berlin..

Former armaments minister Albert Speer suggested that, after the surrender, the Flensburg government should dissolve itself. Instead Dönitz and his ministers chose to continue in hope of presiding over post-War Germany as a provisional government.

The speech by Winston Churchill announcing victory to the British people is evidence of a "de facto" recognition of the Flensburg Government's authority, at least up to the moment of the unconditional surrender, since Churchill mentioned that the surrender was authorized by "Grand Admiral Dönitz the designated Head of State". However, after the unconditional surrender, the Flensburg government was not recognised by the Allies and was dissolved when its members were captured by British forces on 23 May 1945, at Flensburg.

On 20 May, the Soviet government made it clear what it thought about the Flensburg government. It attacked the Dönitz government and referred to it as the "Dönitz Gang". "Pravda" said:quote|Discussions of the status of the Fascist gang around Dönitz continue. Several prominent Allied circles will deem it necessary to make use of the "services" of Dönitz and his collaborators. In the British Parliament, this gang has been described as the 'Dönitz Administration' . . . . A reporter of the reactionary Hearst press has called the enlistment of Dönitz "an act of political sagacity." Thus a Fascist scribbler has seen fit to make common cause with Hitler's marauding disciple. At the same time, the Fascist press on both sides of the Atlantic has put it abroad that conditions in Germany in 1918, when German Rightists produced similar fairy-tales of impending chaos. Then, the intact German Army units were used for new adventures in the East, immediately after capitulation. The present campaign has similar objectives. Many reactionary circles around the Allies are opposed to the creation of a new Europe on the basis of the Crimea Conference. These circles consider the preservation of Fascist states and breeding grounds a means of thwarting the democratic aspirations of all freedom-loving nations.... [Dollinger, Hans. "The Decline and Fall of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan", Library of Congress Catalogue Card # 67-27047, Page 239]

On 23 May, a British liaison officer went to Dönitz's headquarters and asked to speak with all members of the government. He then read an order from General Dwight Eisenhower ordering the arrest of all its members.

The Dönitz Cabinet

*Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, Reich President
*Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk, Chancellor, Foreign Minister, Minister of Finance, and presiding officer of the Cabinet
*Heinrich Himmler, Minister of Interior (dismissed May 6, 1945)
*Alfred Rosenberg, (dismissed May 6, 1945)
*Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart, Minister of Culture, succeeded Himmler as Minister of the Interior
*Albert Speer, Minister of Industry and Production
*Dr. Herbert Backe, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Forests
*Dr. Franz Seldte, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
*Dr. Julius Dorpmüller, Minister of Posts and Communications

Colonel General Alfred Jodl was Chief-of-Staff of the German Armed Forces ("Wehrmacht") and represented Dönitz in negotiations with the Allies in Rheims, France. Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel represented Dönitz in negotiations with the Red Army in Berlin, Germany.

ee also

* End of World War II in Europe
* German Instrument of Surrender
* Victory in Europe Day
* Victory Day (Eastern Front)

Footnotes


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