Home · Intro · Technical · History · Additional · On-line Archive · Models · Articles · 
Guestbook · Forum · Glossary · Help us · Books · Other · 

Report of the Commander in Chief, Navy, to the Führer on 22 November 1939, at 1500.

Present: Generaloberst Keitel
Fregattenkapitän von Puttkamer

1. Baltic: Agreement with Denmark and Sweden concerning the closing of territorial waters in the southern approaches of the Belts and the Sound. Attacks by Swedish patrol forces on German naval forces engaged in the war against merchant shipping in the Sound and the Aland Sea. The Führer is in favor of drastic measures.

2. North Sea: Mining operations by destroyers; good results. Destroyers laid 540 mines off the Thames and the Humber. Submarines laid mines on the east and the west coasts. Up to now submarines have laid 150 mines. In three nights planes laid 17 mines in the Thames, 24 off Harwich, and 36 in the Humber. Direct and indirect effects of mine barrages are discussed: they are a strong deterrent to neutrals, and incoming traffic is delayed and diverted. Freight rates and insurance premiums are going up.

3. Losses of enemy and neutral merchant shipping from 8 to 21 November 1939 are reported as follows:

    As a result of submarines
    As a result of mines
    As a result of Panzerschiffe
    16 ships (9 British)
    18 ships (8 British)
    1 ship (1 British)
    35 ships (18 British)
    48,195 BRT
    66,150 BRT
    780 BRT
    115,125 BRT
    As a result of submarines
    or mines, no yet confirmed
    10 ships
    45 ships
    52,626 BRT
    167,751 BRT
4. The suggestion is made to declare a mine area on the northwest coast of Britain on 1 December 1939. The Führer agrees. (See Annex 1.)

5. The Commander in Chief, Navy, inquires about future political and military developments to justify a further intensification of submarine warfare. The Führer remarks that the coming offensive will give rise to protests from the enemy and neutrals alike; nevertheless it is to be carried out with the utmost intensity as soon as the weather permits. It must be decided after the beginning of the offensive whether the naval war is then to be intensified.

6. The return of the DEUTSCHLAND and the GRAF SPEE are discussed. The LÜTZOW is to be sent out again in January. Auxiliary cruisers are to be sent out.

7. Operations of the GNEISENAU and the SCHARNHORST are scheduled for 21 to 27 November 1939.

8. Economic warfare. It will probably be necessary to call off the German-Danish agreement, because Denmark is supplying foodstuffs to Britain; further, if Britain takes action against German exports in neutral ships, appropriate action will be taken against British exports, for example, export of coal to Scandinavia and Denmark. In this way our export of coal to these countries would be promoted, which would, to some extent, counterbalance Britain's action. The Führer agrees to this. If necessary, these steps may be taken without further consultations with him. The Chief of the OKW asks that this question be referred to Admiral Schuster for investigation. The Commander in Chief, Navy, concurs.

9. A survey of the planned submarine construction program is given by the Commander in Chief, Navy, who points out, however, that this program can be carried out on the scale necessary only if the demands for material, facilities, and labor are fulfilled. The OKW had agreed to renew inquiry into this matter in December. (See Annex 2.)

10. The Commander in Chief, Navy, remarks that owing to their great inferiority, the naval forces are dependent to an enormous degree on adequate expansion of the naval air forces. Up to now this has not been approved to the extent agreed upon by the Commander in Chief, Luftwaffe, as regards the numbers of units and types. Negotiations are still in progress. The Commander in Chief, Navy, requests the Führer's support already now, in case justified demands are not fulfilled.

11. It may be expected that Japan will agree to let Germany have submarines and to permit using Japanese bases. Italy will be asked for submarines once more as soon as her attitude is clarified more. It seems to be crystallizing by degrees, as witnessed by the note to Britain concerning the molesting of Italian merchant ships. Estonia and Latvia cannot be asked for submarines, as Russia could easily take this to be an encroachment on her sphere of interest. The Chief of the OKW again advocates getting submarines from Russia. The Führer once again refuses, as he is convinced that the Russian ships are in poor condition and that the Russians, who, moreover, must not be allowed to see any of our weaknesses, would in no case consent to give us submarines.

12. The Führer gives permission for a press release on mine warfare.

signed: Raeder

countersigned: Assmann

Annex 1

Declaration of a Mined Area off Scotland.

I. Plan: For the purpose of effectively paralyzing traffic proceeding to the east coast of Britain, it is intended to declare a mined area off the Scottish coast. In this area our own submarines will be able sink ships without warning, and it will appear that they struck a mine. The declaration of this mined area is ostensibly purely a preliminary measure for the purpose of combatting enemy military operations, and not of disrupting neutral shipping. It is planned to extend the area southwards up to the British declared area soon after our first announcement.

II. Execution of the plan: On 1 December 1939 the following announcement will be made by radio as a warning for shipping: "The German Government hereby gives warning that, in the course of operations against British forces and bases on the east coast of Britain, mines have been laid in an area bounded on the north by the latitude of Kinnaird's Head up to 0º 30' W, on the south by the latitude of St. Abb's Head up to 1º 30' W, and on the east by the line connecting the above points."

Mines will not actually be laid there at present. The Commander in Chief, U-boats, will be given permission to operate accordingly beginning 2 December 1939. The submarines are to keep out of sight in accordance with the principle of the plan.

Annex 2

Survey of the Planned Submarine Construction Program
Additional Submarines
Total Submarines at beginning of month
Submarines withdrawn for training purposes
Boats at disposal of Com. Ad., Submarines
Boats operating against enemy
Total submarines at the end of month
Nov. 39
Jan. 40
Jul. 40
Oct. 40
Jan. 41
Apr. 41
Oct. 41
Mar. 42
Oct. 42
Mar. 43
Jul. 43

Outline for the Conference of Department Heads on 25 November 1939.

Information about the most important developments in the international situation. Evaluation of the military strength of our western enemies, and the Führer's decisions in view of the overall situation. This information is only for present company. It may not be communicated to lower departments.

1. Russia: She is at present not capable of action, and, as long as Stalin is in power, it is certain that she will adhere strictly to the pact made. It is not expected that there will be any great activity against Britain, Turkey, etc. Extension of her zone of interest in Persia (Persian Gulf) is possible, and will be supported by German foreign policy. Her political attitude may change after years of building up her internal strength, particularly if Stalin is overthrown or dies.

2. Italy: The Duce is adhering to his plan of building up a large Roman Empire. As soon as Germany's military situation appears more favorable, it is expected that Italy will come in actively on the side of Germany. The only followers of this policy are the Duce and his Fascists. The royal family with their followers are opposed. In case the Duce should die, a change in policy and an anti-German attitude may be expected.

3. Scandinavian Countries: They are at present neutral under German-Russian pressure. The socialistic parliamentary governments in these countries are in themselves enemies of National Socialism. If Germany's situation deteriorates, their attitude may be expected to alter.

4. Countries in the Southeastern Area: They are neutral under Russian pressure, and are also willing to cooperate economically to a large extent. The attitude of Yugoslavia is determined by that of Italy.

5. Holland-Belgium: With the exception of the Flemish section of the population, there are strong sympathies for the Western Powers. They are at present strictly neutral under German pressure. If the military strength of Britain and France increases and if Germany's position deteriorates, their neutral attitude can definitely be expected to change in favor of the Western Powers.

6. Great Britain: She is determined on a war of extermination against Germany. At present she is not sufficiently armed.
The Army, is not yet appreciable in numbers, is insufficiently trained, and has no modern equipment.
The Navy is capable only to a limited extent of maintaining supply routes from overseas, since it was disarmed considerably after the last war. Expansion of the fleet is not practically possible until 1941.
The Air Force, including the French Air Force, is at present inferior to the German Air Force offensively as well as defensively.

7. France: She has a fairly well-trained army (nine months training ), but it is not equipped for modern warfare. Guns and ammunition are for the most part still from supplies of the last war. The Navy has been built up to a fair strength for the protection of overseas possessions. Both Western Powers may be expected to increase their strength soon with equipment from overseas. In one to two years they will be equal to Germany in armament.

8. Conclusions: At present there is definite military superiority on the part of Germany. Germany has no military obligations in the East. For the first time in fifty years a war on one front is possible. If Germany takes a defensive attitude, her situation will gradually deteriorate not only from the military point of view but also in foreign policy. Victory can be achieved by offensive action alone.

9. Decision: By means of offensive action in the west and an advance into the area of the French Channel coast, we must seek to obtain favorable strategic bases for an offensive war against Britain by submarine, mine, and plane. By extending the north German front to the west, the Ruhr - the "Achilles heel" of the armament industry, can be defended. Neutrality questions are irrelevant in case of victory.

10. The Führer expresses his special appreciation of German naval warfare.


Battleship Bismarck Book
The Battleship Bismarck.
The Complete History
of the Ship.

KBismarck.com Naval Gift Shop

Naval & military gifts

Back to Main

Copyright © 1998-2019 KBismarck.com