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Hans-Georg von Friedeburg (15 July 1895 – 23 May 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.

His grave next to that of Wolfgang Lüth.


Friedeburg was an ardent supporter of Nazi regime. 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 later organised 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 Dönitz to negotiate a truce with the Western Allied forces. Arriving at Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery's headquarters in Lüneburg, 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 4 May 1945.

Friedeburg was later 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 8 May 1945, along with Colonel General Hans-Jürgen 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. Doing so, he became the only German representative who signed both official surrender declarations. Two weeks later, on 23 May 1945, the day when the members of the Flensburg government were arrested, Friedeburg became a prisoner of war of the British in Plön. Unable to endure the defeat of his country, and having made up his mind back in 1944 about this perspective, he took poison the same day. He was interred in Adelby Cemetery near Flensburg.[1]

His son Ludwig von Friedeburg (1924–2010) was a well-known sociologist and politician (SPD) and served between 1969 and 1974 as minister for culture in the state of Hesse.



  1. Borgert, p. 331
  2. Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 541.
  • Borgert, Heinz-Ludwig (1998): Generaladmiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg. In: Gerd R. Ueberschär (ed.): Hitlers militärische Elite. 68 Lebensläufe. Frankfurt am Main: Primus Verlag, 2011 (second edition). ISBN 978-3-534-23980-1
  • 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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