From the suicide of Adolf Hitler to the assumption by the Allies of supreme governmental authority, Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz, Hitler's hand-picked successor, ruled Germany for 23 helpless, hopeless days of collapse. Now that documents confiscated by the Allies after the War are finding their way back to German archives, this short period has come under increasing scholarly attention as the time in which Germany ""made its bid for a place in the company of civilized nations"" and the basic decisions were made that shaped the new Germany's character and sealed the division of postwar Europe. 23 Days is the first exhaustive treatment of the Doenitz interregnum, the bungled attempt to preserve a power nucleus qualified to negotiate with the Allies. After a prologue which sets the disastrous scene of the Third Reich's final fall, Steinert sketches the careers of the major figures involved and then details the civil and military activities of the makeshift regime through its unwilling acquiescence in unconditional surrender and its ignominious arrest. Doenitz himself was a career sailor, developer of the U-boat wolf pack tactic, with a deep devotion to the Fuehrer and a wooden commitment to his own idealized vision of Nazism. Though Steinert's book never becomes an apologia, she tries to make comprehensible how Doenitz and the other twilight leaders distortedly perceived their political situation and their personal missions. This concentration on the German perspective is deliberate, but also necessitated by the absence to date of adequate information on the Allied attitudes. Steinert sets down the facts straightforwardly, but the grim unappealingness of a diseased nation's death throes inevitably permeates the work.