High Command of the Kriegsmarine
Minutes of the Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 18 and 19 January 1944 at Headquarters Wolfsschanze.
Accompanied by Konteradmiral Wagner.
18 JANUARY 1944.
1300. Conference on the situation with the Führer.
a. During the report on the air situation, the Führer brought up the question of the anti-aircraft defenses of Pola. He referred to a letter from Gauleiter Greiner who discussed the heavy damage caused by the air raid on Pola with the remark that reconstructing the Pola shipyard would be a hopeless effort so long as no improvement is made in the anti-aircraft artillery and pursuit plane picture, since the enemy is at present complete master of the situation.
The representative of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe, Major Büchs, announced that anti-aircraft batteries had been transferred from Fiume to Pola, and that the whole question of air defenses in Istria was now under consideration by the General Staff of the Luftwaffe.
b. The following was announced: A Croatian Colonel who up to now had been liaison officer to the German liaison staff in Croatia fled with his wife in a Dornier 217 which we gave to Croatia and he probably joined the British.
He possesses a thorough knowledge of the military situation in Croatia.
Report to a small group by the Commander in Chief, Navy, after the conference on the situation.
a. Supplies to the Crimea. The Commander in Chief, Navy, believes that the Navy will be able to ship 45,000 tons per month to the Crimea provided that enemy interference does not grow appreciably. In the spring, shipments will possibly increase to about 50,000 tons per month (cf. contents of Annex 1. page 9, which do not, however contain numerical data in detail).
The Führer believes that the Army's request for 2,500 tons per month from April on is probably too high (cf. Demiansk and Stalingrad). He will have them checked.
b. The Commander in Chief, Navy, requests the Führer to make a decision concerning the departure of four blockade runners for Japan, which has been planned for the next new moon phase beginning on 22 January 1944. He reports on all vital points in Annex 2, and in concluding expresses his belief that the advantages will outweigh the great risk involved.
The Führer considers that there is also imminent danger that tungsten shipments from Spain and Portugal might cease. He has therefore given orders to bring in as much tungsten as possible now. He no longer considers the need for rubber decisive enough to the war effort to justify the enterprise; buna tires, if not driven at speeds over 70 kilometers an hour, last 40,000 kilometers as compared with only 20,000 kilometers in the case of rubber tires. On the whole he does not consider the economic factors really worthwhile. He believes that the plan has so little chance of succeeding that even the importance of supporting Japan plays no part here, since the ships will never reach that country anyway.
He decides that no surface blockade runners are to leave port, and thereby specifically abandons all intention of importing raw materials from Japan in the future with surface blockade runners.
c. The Führer agrees to the construction of 50 midget submarines as planned, and considers the development of both the mine-carrying and torpedo-carrying types correct.
d. The Führer approves the construction of one man torpedoes which according to the report of the Commander in Chief, Navy, are to be used particularly as a defense weapon in case of enemy landings.
e. The development of the concrete coastal defense mine (R.M.K.) and the plans for using it have the Führer's emphatic consent. (Annex 3)
f. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports on the new explosive for torpedoes developed by Oberregierungsrat Dr. Buchmann. The Führer expresses full approval. He is convinced that more can be achieved by improving the explosive than by increasing the charge. (Annex 4)
g. The Commander in Chief, Navy, suggests to the Führer that the solution to the problem of monitors in the Danube and the Black Sea lies in mounting two 10.5 cm guns on each of the next 6 artillery barges (A.M.F.P.), the essential parts of which are to be armored. The Führer agrees.
h. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports on the plan of using radar spar decoy buoys ("Thetis"-Geräte) in the Bay of Biscay and in the Atlantic. The Führer approves this measure.
i. The Commander in Chief, Navy, informs the Führer about the optical improvement of the night vision aiming periscope (Nachtzielsehrohr).
j. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that there is a possibility of attempting an attack on a convoy in the North Atlantic in the near future with submarines equipped with 3.7 cm anti-aircraft guns. We will have to concentrate our weak air reconnaissance at the proper time and place. On the other hand, there is danger of an Anglo-Saxon landing in Portugal for which our submarines might then be too late. The submarines would be occupied approximately 3 weeks by the operation against the convoy, and during this period would require about 9 days to reach Portuguese waters. The Führer believes that there will be more obvious signs when the enemy intends to land, and gives his consent for the convoy attack.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, and General Jodl have a brief discussion concerning the shipyard in Odessa on the basis of a telegram from the OKW, Operations Staff, Chief Supply and Administration Officer, Section QU 2 East B Report No. 00341/44 Top Secret and filed under Seekriegsleitung, Quartermaster Division, Fleet Section 264 Top Secret (OKW/WFST Qu.2 Ost B Nr. 00341/44 gK.(A I 264 GK.)).
The Commander in Chief, Navy, states that he must build submarines in Odessa, and this is possible only if the shipyard comes under definite German management. He has the Führer's consent for this, but can get no satisfaction from the above answer of the OKW. General Jodl believes that the Chief of the German Military Mission in Rumania, General Hansen, can put the matter through in our favor only if he is assisted by Navy experts capable of refuting Rumanian counter-arguments. The Commander in Chief, Navy, therefore decided to speak with Mr. Merker first and then to send two experts, one for shipyards and one for submarine construction, to General Hansen to see that our demands are realized.
Noon and evening. The Commander in Chief, Navy, was invited for dinner and supper with the Führer.
2230. Evening conference on the situation. No particular questions were discussed.
19 JANUARY 1944.
1100. Telephone call from Field Marshal Kesselring to the Commander in Chief, Navy.
a. The Commanding General Armed Forces, Southwest, proposes that the Navy turn over her intended construction projects in the Italian area to the Organization Todt, as did the Army and the Luftwaffe. The Commander in Chief, Navy, agrees to examine the proposal.
b. The Commanding General Armed Forces, Southwest, requests personnel for naval coastal artillery. The Commander in Chief, Navy, replies that the personnel problem is a bottleneck in the Navy and that no promises can be made. He will have an investigation made, however.
c. The Commanding General Armed Forces, Southwest, requests more submarines for the Mediterranean. The Commander in Chief, Navy, replies that new submarines are being continuously sent there and will be sent there in the future.
1300. Conference on the situation with the Führer, followed by a report of the Commander in Chief, Navy concerning measures taken by the Navy against an invasion in the Western Area.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, reviews in general outline the fleet and defense forces available in the western area from the Polar Coast to Spain, the plans for using them, the mine situation, and the plans for future use of mines. The following particulars are brought out:
a. The Commander in Chief, Navy, mentions that he intends to transfer the PRINZ EUGEN to northern Norway in February. The Führer receives the information without special comment.
b. The Führer shares the view that our cruisers cannot be used against enemy landings in the Channel-Holland area. In addition he considers cruiser operations in the Skagerrak hardly possible, especially since a high percentage of the crews are officer candidates for submarines. The loss of such personnel would jeopardize the development of the submarine service.
c. In answer to the report of Commander in Chief, Navy, that drafting emergency units also from Group A would cripple part of the training program and therefore handicap the development of the submarine service, the Führer replies that when taking these measures the greatest consideration must be given to submarine requirements.
General Jodl later requests that only such units be designated belonging to Group A as can be used without injury to the submarine service. The Commander in Chief, Navy, orders that the whole question be reexamined, bearing in mind that decisions on the use of training vessels and emergency units must rest with him, and that a general alarm will take place only in case of a large-scale attack in the Skagerrak-Jutland area.
d. The reinforcement of the Skagerrak minefields planned for spring is in the Führer's opinion particularly important.
e. The Führer wishes to be informed about the feasibility of using pressure mines (DM-Minen) as a defense against enemy landings. The Commander in Chief, Navy, declares that their use for defense directly off our coast is not practical, since small landing craft have too little displacement and larger ones approach the coast at too slow a speed to activate the detonator. The use of the mines for this purpose, in contrast with their use off the enemy coast, is therefore not advisable.
f. The Führer inquires about the surface speed of the new submarine types when the electric motors are used. The Commander in Chief, Navy, replies that their surface speed is 15 knots per hour, and thus because of the fishlike shape of the vessels is actually less than their underwater speed. The Führer suggests corresponding tests with the older boat types. The Commander in Chief, Navy, intends to come back to this question at the next Führer conference.
g. The Führer expresses particular anxiety concerning a possible landing in the area South of the Gironde.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, was invited for dinner with the Führer.
countersigned: Fregattenkapitän Pfeiffer
Annex 1Data on the Crimean Supply Situation as of 15 January 1944.
Other Additions: Concrete ships and concrete barges will be available beginning in mid-1944. These ships have not been tested.
150 French freight barges
These ships are being transferred from France and Belgium by the Reich Commissioner of Maritime Shipping. It is expected that they will not begin to arrive in the Black Sea until the end of March 1944.
No transfers from the Aegean Sea are to be expected. At present 2 freighters of together 3,200 BRT are being transferred to the Black Sea, but 1 freighter of 3,700 BRT (steamship PETER) will have to go to the Aegean Sea in return.
B. The shipping space available can handle an average of 45,000 tons per month, provided that no losses occur and that the cargo space is fully utilized. There must be no bulky goods, etc. A somewhat lower transport volume should be expected in wintertime. The newly constructed ships that will be added to our fleet will enable us to raise the total to approximately 50,000 tons per month next spring, provided that there are no losses.
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