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Hans-Georg von Friedeburg (July 15, 1895 ‚Äď May 23, 1945) was the deputy commander of the U-Boat Forces of Nazi Germany and the last Commanding Admiral of the Kriegsmarine.

Friedeburg (right) witnessing the instrument of surrender being signed at Reims, France 7 May 1945.
Friedeburg (right) witnessing the surrender being signed by Alfred Jodl (centre) with Major Wilhelm Oxenius to the left.

In spite of having a Jewish grandmother, Friedeburg was an ardent supporter of Nazi regime and was shielded by Heinrich Himmler from anti-Jewish persecutions. (Mark Bryan Rigg, "Hitler's Jewish Soldiers.") A prominent German naval officer of the post-World War I period, he was appointed Deputy Commander of the German U-boat fleet in September 1941. Overseeing German U-Boat training and deployment of the U-boat bases in France, he would later organize U-boat picket lines in the mid-Atlantic to find and attack Allied convoys. Promoted to Rear Admiral in 1942, Friedeburg assumed command of the German U-boat fleet in February of the following year. He was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Kriegsverdienstkreuzes mit Schwertern on 17 January 1945. He succeeded Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz as Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine when Dönitz became Reich President upon Hitler's suicide (and per Hitler's last will), and was promoted to Generaladmiral on 1 May 1945.

In early May 1945, Friedeburg was ordered by D√∂nitz to negotiate a truce with the Western Allied forces. Arriving at Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery's headquarters in L√ľneburg, Germany he was informed that an unconditional surrender to all Allied forces was necessary and not negotiable. Nevertheless, he signed an instrument of surrender of all German armed forces in Holland, northwest Germany and Denmark on May 4, 1945. Friedeburg was present, on behalf of the German Navy, when the document declaring the official surrender of the German armed forces in Northern Europe, including Germany, taking effect at midnight of 8/9 May 1945, was signed on behalf of the German High Command by Colonel General Alfred Jodl at Reims, France. He later signed on behalf of the Kriegsmarine, in Berlin on May 8, 1945, along with Colonel General Hans-J√ľrgen Stumpff for the Luftwaffe and Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel for the Wehrmacht, an instrument of surrender in the presence of Marshal Georgy Zhukov for the Red Army and other Allied representatives. Two weeks later, on 23 May 1945, the day when the Flensburg Government was arrested, he committed suicide.

His son Ludwig von Friedeburg is a well-known sociologist and served between 1969 and 1974 as minister for culture in the state of Hesse.



  1. ^ Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 541.
  • Patzwall, Klaus D. and Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 - 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 3-931533-45-X.

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