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Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine

Report on a Conference between the Commander in Chief, Navy, and the Führer at the Berghof the afternoon of 15 June 1942.

Present: Chief of the OKW [Generalfeldmarschall Keitel].
General Jodl
Vizeadmiral Krancke
Kapitän zur See von Puttkamer

1. a. Submarine Attack on Brazilian Shipping and Ports (See Annex 1): Permission was granted to execute the mission in the beginning of August. See Annex 1, section 3. The political situation should be reviewed once more before operations get under way.

b. The Führer proposes that an operational group of submarines be held in readiness for the purpose of quick interference in case the enemy should suddenly strike at such points as the Azores, Madeira or Cape Verde. The Commander in Chief, Navy, points out that at this time we cannot afford to divert a considerable number of submarines for such a purpose alone. At the present time, all available submarines must be used in the war against enemy merchant shipping. It may be possible, however, to form such a group within the framework of our present submarine warfare. For instance, the Commander in Chief, U-boats, has had 8 submarines patrol the convoy lanes to and from the U.S. via the Azores. In an emergency, these submarines could be used as suggested. The Seekriegsleitung, Quartermaster Division, declares that it might likewise be possible to solve the problem by stationing several submarines for a certain length of time in the vicinity of the endangered area.

2. Attack of the Norway Forces on Convoy PQ17 in June (See Annex 2):

The Führer considers aircraft carriers a great threat to the large vessels. The aircraft carriers must be located prior to the attack, and they have to be rendered harmless by our Junker 88 planes before the attack gets under way.

Upon the request of the Commander in Chief, Navy, our naval forces may be sent to their stations in the North in good time. There they must await the order to attack. This is subject to the Führer's approval.

3. Precarious Situation of Northern Jutland (See Annex 3):

The Commander in Chief, Navy, emphasizes that northern Jutland is particularly vulnerable to enemy landings because of its flat coast and the gigantic air base at Aalborg. If the enemy lands in force, he will be in a position to capture the 38 cm battery, and the Lim Fjord will provide him with a strong bulwark toward the South. The troops stationed in northern Jutland should therefore be sufficiently strong to be able to keep an invading enemy from digging himself in. The Führer as well as the Reichsmsrschall are of the same opinion.

4. Operation "Herkules" (See Annex 4):

The Führer recognizes how important it is to capture Malta. However, he does not believe that this can be done while the offensive on the eastern Front is in progress, and especially not with Italian troops. During that time the Air Force cannot spare any transport planes. Once Tobruk is taken, most shipments will be routed to Tohruk via Crete. On the other hand, the British efforts to get convoys through to Malta from the East and from the West testify to the plight of the island. These convoys, by the way, give us an opportunity to inflict much damage on the enemy. Once Malta has been bled white by the continuous air raids and the total blockade, we could risk the attack.

5. Auxiliary Aircraft Carriers:

The plans for the auxiliary aircraft carriers will be submitted within a week. Four weeks later the construction will reach the stage where the materials can be ordered. Number of airplanes:

    EUROPA: 18 bombers, 24 pursuit planes
    POTSDAM: 8 bombers, 12 pursuit planes
    SEYDLITZ: 12 bombers, 6 pursuit planes
    GNEISENAU: 8 bombers, 12 pursuit planes
It will not pay to convert the SEYDLITZ, now 90% completed, since the superstructure of the vessel would have to be removed to the level of the armor deck.

6. Manpower Problem (See Annex 5):

The Commander in Chief, Navy, points out that repairs are taking an excessively long time due to the manpower shortage. For example, it will take from eight weeks to three and a half months to repair the PRINZ EUGEN. Therefore he urgently requests the allocation of a few thousand workmen specified in Annex 5, sections A and B.1. and later also as set forth in section B.3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, asks specifically that no worker engaged in submarine construction or repair be drafted into the Armed Forces since the submarine war is of decisive importance, and affects all land operations. The Führer recognizes the fact that the submarine war will in the end decide the outcome of the war. Therefore he considers these requests justified. He directs the Chief of the OKW to see it that Minister Speer attends to the matter. In any event, there will be no more inductions from July on.

7. Italian Requests for Fuel Oil:

The Seekriegsleitung, Quartermaster Division, submits the latest requests for fuel oil made by the Comando Supremo [Italian High Command]. He shows that it is impossible to supply the Italians with additional oil. The Commander in Chief, Navy, asks that this request be denied, thus confirming the negative reply he already made to Admiral Riccardi. The Führer agrees.

signed: Raeder


Annex 1

Re: The Opening of Hostilities Against Brazil.

1. The appraisal of the political situation and the military facts may be found in Secret Report No. 13638/42 of 4 June 1942 made by the Political and Propaganda Section of the Seekriegsleitung, Operations Division (1.Skl. Ic 13638/42 gKdos). On the basis of these deliberations, the Seekriegsleitung is planning to counter the measures taken by Brazil with a powerful blow. The fact that the Brazilian Air Force is attacking Axis submarines is not the only decisive factor. Equally important is our conviction that Brazil, because of her warlike actions, is actually in a state of war. She will make a formal declaration of war after she had time to make all preparations and to organize her defenses at leisure.

2. Data regarding naval operations against Brazilian ports have been forwarded with Secret Report No. 1035 by the Submarine Section of the Seekriegsleitung, Operations Division, 1 June 1932 (B.Nr. 1.Skl. Iu 1035 gKdos). From this information the following possibilities become apparent:

a. General: If the submarines are to be successful, they must be refueled by submarine tanker (U-Tanker) prior to the actual operation, and the operation must begin about 5 to 8 days before a new moon period. (13 June, 11 July and 9 August.) The submarines will require approximately 26 days to proceed from the western French ports to the waiting zone where the refueling is to take place. From here it will take approximately 6 or 7 days to the zone of operations. Therefore the operations will begin about 32 to 34 days after the submarines leave the ports of western France.

b. Departure Dates of Submarines in June and July: The submarines which will be ready to leave the bases in Western France between 6 June and the end of July are divided below into three groups for the sake of clarity:

    Group I: from 6 June to 16 June.
    11 type VII C
    3 type IX C
    1 type IX B

    Group II: from 22 June to 4 July.
    2 type IX C
    8 type VII C

    Group III: not yet specified. However, according to data so far available, this group will probably consist of approximately 15 submarines and should be ready any time after 26 July.

c. Submarine Tankers: At present, 2 submarine tankers are ready for operations, namely U459 and U460. The third submarine tanker, U461, will be ready for operations by about 21 June. U 459 is en route to the zone of operations off the American Coast. Its presence is needed there, since several submarines would be unable to reach their bases in western France without refueling.
U 460 left on 8 June.

d. Possible Procedure: Group I cannot possibly participate in the operations off the Brazilian ports because the submarines would be in the zone of operations at the time of the full moon, and because no submarine tanker is stationed there. U 460 would be unable to reach the waiting zone in time to supply the submarines with fuel before they begin operations. Group II will be in a position to execute the planned operations.

Advantage: The submarines will appear off the ports between 3 and 8 August, having previously been refueled by U460.

Disadvantage: U460 must proceed directly from its home base to waiting zone and therefore will have only enough fuel left to supply 10 submarines at the most. Moreover, U460 will be unable to supply the submarines leaving their bases in Germany in the second half of June; they will be forced to put into ports in western France for refueling before proceeding to the zone of operations off the American Coast. This will cause a delay of three weeks.

The zone of operation off the American Coast would be affected the least if Group III were to execute the operation. However, in that case the operation could not be undertaken before the new moon in the beginning of September. The third submarine tanker, U461, would then be available.

3. Plans of the Seekriegsleitung: The Seekriegsleitung is planning to use the submarines of Group II for the operation outside the main Brazilian ports. Submarine tanker U460 is to assist, and the operation is scheduled for 3 to 8 August approximately. The submarines will proceed to a waiting zone off the Northeast Coast of Brazil. In the order of their arrival they will refuel from the submarine tanker which has been sent ahead of them; they will then advance into the zones chosen for the attack. All the submarines have orders to attack at once.

It is planned to provide some of the submarines with 2 to 4 mines each, depending on their technical equipment.

10 submarines are considered sufficient for this operation, since it will hardly pay to use more than that number within and immediately outside of the ports in question. Shipping in the other regions off the Brazilian Coast is comparatively limited at this time. Generally speaking, the success of the operation will depend greatly on how carefully the submarines have been prepared and equipped for this special task. This will take a certain amount of time. Therefore, if Group II is to be used, these submarines must get their orders no later than 15 June.


Annex 2

Operation "Rösselsprung".

1. Task: Attack on Convoy PQ17.

2. Task Forces:

    Trondheim Group:
      TIRPITZ with the Fleet Commander aboard.
      HIPPER.
      6 destroyers (IHN, LODY, GALSTER, RIEDEL, ECKOLDT, and STEINBRINK).

    Narvik Group:
      LÜTZOW with the Commanding Admiral of Cruisers aboard.
      SCHEER.
      6 destroyers (Z24, Z27, Z28, Z29, Z30 and BEITZEN)

    Submarines: 3 submarines will be stationed Northeast of Iceland beginning 10 June. They have the task of locating the convoy. Other available submarines, probably 3 or 4, will be in attack position between Jan Mayen and Bear Island. Submarines becoming available at a later date will be stationed off Bear Island in attack position.

Note: There are at this time only 2 destroyers in Trondheim (IHN and LODY). The other 4 destroyers will be transferred from Germany to Norway within the next few days. Besides these, there are 2 or 3 torpedo boats in Trondheim, which are to serve as escorts to the Trondheim Group.

3. Command:

    Operational Command: for the entire mission: Group North, with headquarters in Kiel.

    Tactical Command:

      Trondheim Group and all other forces: Fleet Commander aboard TIRPITZ.
      Narvik Group: Commanding Admiral of Cruisers aboard LÜTZOW.
The submarines will be under the command of Group North through Admiral, Arctic Ocean, at Narvik by means of radio relaying station. It is not intended to place the submarines directly under the command of the Fleet Commander.

4. Execution: As soon as Convoy PQ17 has been located, the task forces will take their stations. This is to be done as late as possible!

The Trondheim Group will proceed to the Vest Fjord.
The Narvik Group will proceed to the northern exit of the Alta Fjord. There they will refuel. They will depart for the operation on receipt of the code word from Group North.

The Fleet Commander will head for the convoy at full speed.
The Commanding Admiral of Cruisers is to join forces with the Fleet Commander.

Main Task: Rapid destruction of the enemy merchant ships. If necessary these should only be crippled and the sinking left to the submarines and the Luftwaffe. The escort forces should be engaged only if this is indispensable for accomplishing the main task. In such an event it is primarily the task of the TIRPITZ and HIPPER to fight the escort forces, while the LÜTZOW and SCHEER dispose of the convoy during that time. An engagement with superior enemy forces is to be avoided. The operation should be executed quickly; should be completed before an enemy security unit composed of battleships and carriers - presumably stationed in the Faroe-Iceland area - has a chance to intervene. The operation can be called off by the Fleet Commander or by order of Group North.

5. Aerial Reconnaissance: Extensive aerial reconnaissance is prerequisite for the execution of the operation and especially for the participation of TIRPITZ and HIPPER. The Luftwaffe has the following assignment:

    a. After the convoy has been located, continuous contact should be maintained. The composition of the convoy and the strength of the escort forces should be reported as quickly as possible.

    b. An attempt should be made to locate a heavy enemy naval force in the Shetland-Faroe-Iceland-Jan Mayan area, scouting Reykjavik, Scapa, Firth of Forth and Moray Firth in the process. Once the enemy force has been located, continuous contact should be maintained.

    c. As long as the heavy enemy force has not been located, the area within a 250 mile radius of the convoy is to be carefully patrolled and all enemy forces sighted are to be reported.

6. Battle Operations of the Air Force: The Luftwaffe has been requested to order the planes to attack only aircraft carriers and merchant vessels once our forces have engaged the enemy, unless the identity of the ships is unmistakable, or Group North has issued special orders.

Remarks:

    1. This once we shall probably have 12 destroyers available for the operation.

    2. The fuel oil situation permits an operation of this scope at this time.

    3. The weather is especially favorable in June. The period of spring storms is over. Heavy summer fogs do not occur until July.

    4. The ice situation likewise is especially favorable in June. The ice has receded very little to the North, so that it will be impossible for the convoy to evade us to the North. As a matter of fact, beginning about 150 nautical miles West of Bear Island, the enemy convoy has to sail East within 250 to 300 nautical miles off the Norwegian Coast. This area is completely dominated by our own Air Forces. Therefore no heavy enemy vessels have sallied into this area so far.

    5. The operation will be executed only if reconnaissance has established with certainty that there is no risk of becoming involved with superior enemy forces.

    6. It is particularly important that the Luftwaffe fulfill the request of the Navy in regard to aerial reconnaissance, if necessary at the expense of participating in battle. The Navy's request would appear to be justified in view of the total success it seems possible to achieve with the aid of our heavy naval forces.


Annex 3

Concerning the Defense of Jutland against Enemy Landings.

Reference is made to the letter of the Commanding Admiral, Denmark, B. Hr. gKdos 944 of 30 May 1942, addressed to the Naval High Command, etc.

Following is the text of the letter written by the Commanding General of the German troops in Denmark on 28 May 1942 to the OKW, the OKW, Opera- tions Staff, and to the Staff of the Chief of Army Equipment and Commanding General of the Replacement Training Army (B. Nr. Abt. Ia 245/42 gkdos):

"The Commander in Chief, Navy, visited Jutland this past week. The evaluation of the situation made by him of this occasion is contained in the letter of the Commanding Admiral, Denmark.

In this connection it should be reported that the strength of the coastal defense forces will be considerably increased by the addition of 1,000 recruits to the Army coastal batteries, i.e. 100 recruits per battery. (Cf. letter from Commanding General, Denmark, Ia/173/42 gKdos of 12 May 1912.)

Furthermore, the fighting power of the 416th Infantry Division will be considerably improved. One machine gun company will be added to each of the division's six infantry battalions and a heavy mortar unit will be added to each infantry company. The average age of the division will be lowered by replacing older troops by young recruits.

For occupation of the Danish islands, the Commanding General, Denmark, left only three Infantry Replacement Training Battalions, the Copenhagen Guard Battalion and one Artillery Replacement Battery. All other available troops have already been transferred to Jutland. The troops have been distributed in view of the danger to the tip of Jutland North of the Lim Fjord.

That this occupation force of Jutland is insufficient to repel a strong enemy landing operation was reported orally. Nevertheless, no request for further troops is made in full recognition of the fact that they are needed worse in other theaters of war."

This letter carries the following addition for the Commanding Admiral, Denmark:

"Please take cognizance of the above. In recognition of the danger to the northern tip of Jutland, one battery of the 416th Infantry Division will soon be emplaced on Jammer Bay."


Annex 4

Operation "Herkules".

The Seekriegsleitung once more carefully examines the operation from the standpoint of naval strategy. The difficulties involved are fully recognized by the Seekriegsleitung. However, on the basis of operational principles and plans forwarded by the Commanding General, South, the operation is considered feasible from a naval point of view. There is no doubt about the strategic value of the island. The Seekriegsleitung shares the Führer's doubts and misgivings particularly in regard to the Italians' ability to carry out the operation. The Seekriegsleitung concurs in the Führer's opinion that the operation must under all circumstances be a success. Therefore, the success of the difficult operation will be assured only if German leadership has the decisive word in its execution and if strong German forces are employed.

In all probability the British will not launch a counter offensive with heavy naval forces, i.e. battleships and carriers, from either Gibraltar or Alexandria against our landing troops and supplies. It would therefore not be necessary for the Italians to employ their battleships and expose them to air raids and submarine attacks. All that would seem necessary is for the Italian battleships to be held in readiness. We must expect that an enemy carrier task force will be employed in the western Mediterranean for the purpose of giving Malta air support and supplying it with additional planes. We also may expect that enemy destroyers and cruisers sent from Gibraltar and Alexandria will appear in the immediate vicinity of Malta within a comparatively short time. If the air Force locates and attacks the enemy naval forces as they approach, however, we have reason to believe that it will be possible to supply sufficient quantities of everything the army requires by means of escorted convoys and Italian transport submarines once the bridgehead has been established. In spite of their known lack of training and faulty tactical leadership, Italian naval forces, i.e. cruisers and destroyers, promise to be effective for convoy duty in the area in question and in view of the enemy forces probably available.

Therefore, it seems unnecessary to resort to transporting supplies with the help of the air transport units so badly needed on the eastern Front, especially since a certain number of Italian air transport units are available.

The oil shortage in the Italian Navy is as yet unrelieved, and the Italian request for a large quantity of fuel oil has not been filled. The Seekriegsleitung considers the request for an additional 40,000 tons of fuel oil exaggerated and ascribes it to the desire of the Italians to play absolutely safe. In all probability it will be possible to reduce the additional amount requested by cutting requirements down to an absolute minimum and by economizing in other places. Therefore the Seekriegsleitung considers it possible to solve the fuel oil problem.

In conclusion the following ma be said: The operation is difficult and risky. However, in the long run the Seekriegsleitung considers it still more risky not to carry out the operation. From the standpoint of strategy, the Seekriegsleitung considers the occupation of Malta an absolute necessity and therefore mandatory for us if we want to continue shipping supplies to Africa, to protect our position in North Africa, and later hope to launch an attack against Suez. And we must keep in mind that conditions for taking Malta will in all probability never again be as favorable as they are this summer.


Annex 5

Re: Manpower Requirements for Repair of Prinz Eugen, Conversion of Gneisenau, Completion of Graf Zeppelin.

These calculations were made with the understanding that the construction of new ships is not to be curtailed. Replacements for workers about to be drafted into the Wehrmacht are not included in these figures.

The following additional workers are needed:

A. Prinz Eugen
Gneisenau
Graf Zeppelin
779
1,307
1,555
Total: 3,641

It is impossible to fill these manpower requirements by drawing on workers from other shipyards. The present number of workers in the shipyards is insufficient to handle the work to be done.

B. Manpower Shortages:

  1. For Repair Work:

    a.
    b.
    Submarine repair
    Repair of surface vessels
    (Norway, Aegean Sea, and Black Sea)
    2,200

    1,000

  2. For Construction of New Ships:

    a.
    b.
    With the present number of workers only 19 submarines can be built per month.
    5,200 men have already been transferred from the construction of new surface vessels to repair work. This has necessitated a considerable reduction in the construction of light naval vessels.

  3. Workers required for the planned conversion of vessels to auxiliary aircraft carriers.

  4. Replacements for the workers still to be drafted into the Wehrmacht. We have to expect that as many as 20,000 of them may still be drafted.



   


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