Many sources say that a general ceasefire order was issued by Doenitz to German submarines on patrol on May 4, 1945. We know that the German instrument of surrender was signed in the early morning (Europe) on May 7, and took effect late on May 8. Why the submarines have been put out of action 4 days before, especially as they were the only really valuable fighting arm of Nazis by that point?

My guess that it was because of the VLF transmitters guiding and coordinated their actions have been overrun by advancing Allies, like the Goliath transmitter, making communication with submerged boats impossible. But this is just a guess. Does anyone have a better idea? Also, when exactly did the Germans lose their final VLF transmitter, making any coordinated action by the boats impossible?

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    as they were the only really valuable fighting arm. On the other side, at that time the submarines were basically useless, Germany was going to be defeated and there was nothing that the submarines could do to prevent Berlin from being captured. And any USA/UK supply/troop ship lost by submarines would be unconsequential (Germany was to be defeated before those supplies or troops reached the front line). So maybe he was trying to avoid the senseless death of his men.
    – SJuan76
    Jun 8 '15 at 1:31
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    The Doenitz government surrendered its military forces facing the Western Allies effectively on the 4/5th of May. The U-Boot cessation of hostilities was part of this. Jun 8 '15 at 7:02

In short, politics.

The Flensburg Government (Doenitz's German government) wanted to surrender to the Western allies (the United States and United Kingdom) rather than the Allies as a whole, primarily because of the Soviet reputation for how they (mis)treated prisoners. To this end, Admiral Friedeburg was sent to Field Marshal Montgomery's headquarters. Montgomery was unwilling to accept such a surrender, but Friedeburg was able to negotiate a partial surrender, of forces in Denmark, the Netherlands, and northwestern Germany, including the U-Boat forces. This had the effect of being a surrender to the Western allies, since they were the ones who controlled or were adjacent to these areas.

Between the May 4 partial surrender and the May 8 total surrender, German refugees and troops frantically tried to reach Western allied lines to surrender; this included several breakout attempts by forces encircled by the Soviets. On May 7, General Eisenhower informed the Flensberg Government that further attempted surrenders by German troops to the Western forces would not be accepted, which lead to the May 8 unconditional surrender of all forces to the Allies as a whole.

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