Up until the very last days of the Third Reich the officially designated successor to Adolf Hitler as the Führer of Germany was Reichsmarschall Hermann Wilhelm Göring (this rank – created specifically for him – gave him seniority over all officers in Germany’s armed forces).
President of the Reichstag, Minister President of Prussia, Reichsstatthalter of Prussia, Supreme Commander of the Luftwaffe, Reich Plenipotentiary of the Four Year Plan, Reichsminister of Aviation, Reichsminister of Forestry, etc., etc.
After the infamous “Göring Telegram”, Hitler fired him from all official posts – including the official successor to the Führer (in the event of the latter’s death). However, he still had to appoint an official successor, because by that time Adolf Hitler already made a decision (for a number of very serious reasons) to commit suicide.
Hitler wanted to remain for eternity (or at least for a very long time) as the only Führer of Germany so he reversed his own decision taken 11 years earlier, did away with the position of The Leader and split it into original two – the Reich President and the Reich Chancellor.
In his Last Will and Testament signed on April 29th, 1945 (less than 24 hours before taking his own life), Hitler appointed Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz President of Germany, Minister of War and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Joseph Goebbels (Reich Plenipotentiary for Total War, Reichsminister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Gauleiter of Berlin, etc., etc.) as Reich Chancellor.
However, just two days later Goebbels (for whom life under any regime other than National Socialism and under any leader but Hitler was unacceptable) committed suicide, taking all his family (including all six of his children with him).
And thus made Dönitz the de-facto Führer of Germany (Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk politely declined an offer to become the Reichskanzler of a new government, accepted only the somewhat vague position of “Leading Minister”.
However, Karl Dönitz was not really a successor to Adolf Hitler. He was not a Führer of Germany – and not even its President. Dönitz was essentially a funeral director who presided over only one thing – the burial of the Third Reich.
However, Adolf Hitler did have a successor. A self-appointed successor, sure – and the one who was just days ago branded a traitor by Hitler himself.
SS-Reichsfuhrer (no one took seriously Hitler’s order that fired Himmler and replaced him in this position with the all but unknown Karl Hanke) Heinrich Luitpold Himmler.
Contrary to the practically universal misconception, the Third Reich did not die with the unconditional surrender of Germany on May 7th, 1945. Or even with the arrest of the “Flensburg Government” on May 23rd, 1945 (interestingly enough, on the date of the alleged suicide of Heinrich Himmler).
No, the Third Reich simply went underground – but as a financial and political, not military, organization. As ODESSA (Die Neue SS), not Werwolf – with Heinrich Himmler as its Führer.
Himmler cleverly designed and brilliantly executed the escape plan – not just for himself, but for the whole Third Reich. He accumulated and subsequently transferred abroad (and to not just neutral nations) enormous amounts of money and other valuables (in tens if not hundreds billions of dollars in today’s prices).
He created the underground organization (Die Neue SS) that took control of this money and used it to make a very much material contribution of the post-war “German economic miracle”.
He deceived everyone with a genuinely brilliant performance, making friends and foes alike (except those who needed to know the truth, of course) believe that he was dead thus making himself free to pursue his grandiose objective of creating the Fourth Reich – the SS-Staat.
And this is how he did it.