|  Home Intro Technical History Crew Models Gallery Kriegsmarine Archives More Forum UPDATES|
Conference of the Chief of the Seekriegsleitung and the Führer on 23 September 1939 in Zoppot.
Present: Generaloberst Keitel
After a report on the situation in the Baltic, North Sea, and Atlantic, the Chief of the Seekriegsleitung reported the following:
1. The first phase of the submarine war in the Atlantic and the Channel is over. When war broke out, numerous submarines were at sea; a great stream of ships was returning home to England and France; as yet there were no armed merchantmen; defenses were not fully organized. It is true the submarines sank 232,000 tons of shipping so far, but they are hampered by political restrictions, e.g., no attacks on passenger vessels and no action against French naval and merchant shipping. The latter restriction prevents submarine action against the French battleships DUNKERQUE and STRASBOURG, the chief opponents of our Panzerschiffe; it hampers our operations against the large convoys from North Africa to France, and interferes with effectively harassing British troop transports to France, especially by mining French ports. The Navy considers the disruption of British transport traffic a special duty. Mines have been laid in the approaches of some of the many possible British ports of departure, such as Weymouth and Dover, but we cannot be sure they are the ones being used. The number of French ports of arrival is smaller, however, and thus easier to deal with - but it is doubtful whether this is true at the present stage. At present, moreover, three submarines, are operating against the British troop transport traffic, two from the east and one from the west, and they should not be handicapped in their already tremendously difficult task by having to give consideration to possible French ships which may have to be spared.
On the basis of these arguments, the Führer, with the agreement of General Keitel, approved lifting the restrictions on the following eight points:
3. The Chief of the Seekriegsleitung then broached the question of the measures to be adopted if the war against France and England has to be fought out to the finish. (The Führer still hopes to drive a wedge between France and England. He intends to make a statement on the political situation to the Commanders in Chief within the next two weeks.) Among the measures discussed are the following:
The expression "submarine warfare" is to be replaced by the expression "war against merchant shipping". The notorious expression "unrestricted submarine warfare" is to be avoided. Instead of this, the proclamation of the "siege of England" is under consideration; such a military system would free us from having to observe any restrictions whatsoever on account of objections based on International Law. It would be up to the Kriegmarine and the Luftwaffe to put the siege into effect. If necessary both branches of the Wehrmacht could participate, but the Luftwaffe alone may be sufficient. In about two weeks, after discussions with the Foreign Office, there will be more detailed information as a basis for a decision by the Führer.
4. It will be necessary to commit the Panzerschiffe by about the beginning of October so that their supplies will not be exhausted or their morale undermined.
The second large wave of submarines will also be committed at the beginning of October, presumably against convoys west of Spain, coming from the Mediterranean or from around Africa.
The protection of merchant shipping by means of convoys is from now on of primary importance to the enemy.
The Führer agrees.
5. According to aerial reconnaissance, the SCHARNHORST and the GNEISENAU have at the moment no opposition even in the northern North Sea (Shetland Islands-Norway); it would be incorrect, therefore, to send them out on a wild goose chase, whereby they would be unnecessarily exposed to submarine attacks while putting in and out of the Belts and the German Bight. They are still greatly in need of training and this can be carried out in the Baltic Sea. The HIPPER has not had sufficient trial runs. These ships are to be committed when enemy resistance by surface forces in the North Sea is strengthened due to our intensive war on merchant shipping in those waters, which is to begin next week, and which will be directed against the steamers sailing between Great Britain and Scandinavia. At the same time they are to divert the attention of the enemy from the operations of the Panzerschiffe.
6. The submarine construction program set up within the framework of the Mobilization Plan, as ordered by the Führer in the conference on 7 September 1939, gives figures which, in the long run, will not keep pace with the anticipated losses. The planned increases are approximately as follows:
The Commander in Chief, Navy, received instructions to investigate the following:
b. What the Navy needs in the way of labor and material in order to realize a monthly increase of from 20 to 30 submarines (problem of engines and periscopes).
|Home Guestbook Quiz Glossary Help us Weights & Measures Video Credits Links Contact|