Minutes of the Conferences of the Commander in Chief, Navy, at Führer Headquarters Berghof from 29 June to 1 July 1944.
Accompanied by Konteradmiral Wagner on special duty and Korvettenkapitän Hansen-Nootbaar, aide.
29 JUNE 1944.
1300. The Commander in Chief, Navy, participates in the Führer Conference on the situation. Nothing in particular came up concerning the Navy. After the conference the Commander in Chief, Navy, had dinner with the Führer.
2000. Conference with the Führer concerning the situation in the invasion area. After considerable time spent in private discussions in which only the Field Marshals von Rundstedt, Rommel, and Keitel, and Generaloberst Jodl participated, the Führer summed up his conception of the war situation in the following terms:
The overpowering aerial superiority of the enemy and his very effective naval artillery limit the possibilities of a large-scale attack on our own part. We cannot fix the time of an attack; it is dependent on when troops and supplies can be brought up, and this cannot be calculated in advance. On the other hand we must not allow mobile warfare to develop, since the enemy surpasses us by far in mobility due to his air superiority and his superabundance of motor vehicles and fuel. Therefore everything depends on our confining him to his bridgehead by building up a front to block it off, and then on fighting a war of attrition to wear him down and force him back, using every method of guerrilla warfare. In attacking enemy supply lines our Air Force must concentrate on mines, torpedoes, and guided missiles (FK); the Navy on mines, torpedoes, and small battle units. Reference is made to the circling torpedo of the Luftwaffe which compels the enemy to abandon the waters he has cleared of mines and forces him back into the minefields. Fighters should be converted into fighter bombers, especially the jet-propelled fighters which can fly over and attack the combat area in short quick sorties in spite of the enemy's superiority in the air. For the safety of our own supply lines he proposes forming several strong anti-aircraft highways which are protected against strafing planes by a large number of anti-aircraft emplacements and are covered by fighter patrols. We will have to concentrate all possible trucks on our supply lines in the West even at the expense of other groups which need them.
The Reichamarschall says: Anti-aircraft artillery must be withdrawn from the airfields of the Reich. The use of mines seems to bring good results. To judge from the latest aerial photographs, the enemy is shifting the center of his unloading activities from the mouths of the Vire and the Orne rivers, where minefields have been laid up to now, to the area of Port en Bassin. This will be taken into account in our future mining operations. (Note: This shifting of enemy unloading activities has not been confirmed by other sources.)
In discussing our fighters, Field Marshal Sperrle states that the area of the 3rd Air Force is in need of an additional 1,200 to 1,400 hundred fighters. This would enable us to operate 500 to 600 fighters per day.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports: The means of the Navy for operations in the Seine Bay are very limited. However, all suitable weapons possible will be used. At present 12 S-boats are ready for action in the Channel area. An S-boat flotilla of 8 boats (the 6th S-boat Flotilla) is on its way there and will be followed by another one of 6 boats (the 10th S-boat Flotilla) after its training period is up in about 4 weeks. The last torpedo boat left in the English Channel will be withdrawn to the East about the middle of July after necessary repairs have been made, since a single torpedo boat can hardly operate successfully. The transfer of a torpedo boat flotilla is intended for later. To be sure, torpedo boats operate under greater difficulties in the Channel than S-boats.
All submarines with "Schnorchel", 8 at present, are now operating in the Channel. They will be reinforced in July by 14 boats, 7 from Germany and 7 from the West. Although great losses are anticipated, their use in this area is justified by the results.
We will continue to lay DM mines with S-boats. Since the output of these mines has increased to 1,200 per month, the supply has become adequate. The bottleneck at present is the lack of sufficient boats for minelaying.
Operations with small battle units ("Neger" midget submarines and remote controlled explosive motor boats) will soon be started. These weapons are subject to weather conditions and their practical value has yet to be established under actual war conditions.
In concluding, the Commander in Chief, Navy, makes it clear that minefields should be established in the Seine Bay as soon as possible, since they are the most effective means for eliminating the danger arising from the superior supply facilities of the enemy.
The Führer: We have got to lay more mines and still more mines in the Seine Bay with the tenacity of a bull dog, following the British procedure against our own transportation network. Just as they do, we must concentrate practically everything against the enemy supply lines; it is incomparably more effective to sink a whole cargo than to have to combat the unloaded personnel and materiel separately on land at a later date. Enemy warships must be attacked, too, especially the battleships. If the enemy should lose 6 to 8 battleships in the Seine Bay, this would have the greatest strategic consequences. Just as we succeeded in Norway in forcing the enemy out of the country by harassing his supply lines with airplanes, submarines, and battleships, we must do the same thing here, too, by using every possible weapon available.
30 JUNE 1944.
1200. Before the conference on the situation, the Commander in Chief, Navy, has a discussion with Field Marshal Keitel concerning problems of motor transportation in the West. The Commander in Chief, Navy, agrees to the consolidation of motor trucks of all branches of the Wehrmacht after the new formulation of the directive has guaranteed sufficient respect for the needs of the Navy.
1300. The Commander in Chief, Navy, participates in the Führer conference on the situation.
a. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that four naval coast artillery lighters were placed at the disposal of the Finns for use on Lake Ladoga. The question of transportation has been solved.
b. Following a report from Ambassador von Papen concerning renewed difficulties which the Turks are having with the British on account of the passage of German vessels through the straits, the Commander in Chief, Navy, declares that no more ships will be sent through for the present until the question is finally settled with the Foreign Office.
1 JULY 1944.
1300. The Commander in Chief, Navy, participates in the Führer conference on the situation.
a. The Commander in Chief, Navy, announces his intention to send a strong submarine force into the North Atlantic in the near future in order to force the enemy to increase the protection of his convoys by withdrawing destroyers and airplanes from the Seine Bay, thus relieving the situation there. If this step is taken, the submarine reserve for defense against invasion in the Biscay Bay would be practically dissolved and the North Sea submarine group would be reduced by about 10 boats. The Commander in Chief, Navy, believes that both consequences are supportable, since we hardly expect enemy action in the Bay of Biscay now, and we have observed no PQ convoys in the Arctic Sea for quite a while. The Führer agrees.
b. In connection with the general strike in Copenhagen, the Führer expresses the opinion that terror can only be fought with terror. A court-martial only creates martyrs. History proves that the whole world talks about those legally tried while no mention is made of the many thousands who lose their lives on similar occasions without a court-martial.
1500. Following the conference on the situation there is a special discussion with the Führer concerning Army matters in which the Commander in Chief, Navy, participates.
1700. The Commander in Chief, Navy, is present at the state funeral for General Dietl at Castle Klessheim. After the ceremony he has a short conversation with the Foreign Minister.
a. The latter asks whether the Navy is in a position to send additional ships through the Bosporus, since it might be desirable not to give in to the pressure exerted by the British on Turkey. Incidents such as that with the cargo ship (KT-Schiff) KASSEL must be avoided, however. The Commander in Chief, Navy, replies that passage of ships through the Bosporus has been stopped for the time being in order not to aggravate the political situation in regard to Turkey through military measures; a resumption of this shipping is possible, though. He would, however, wait for the Foreign Office to take the necessary steps.
b. Speaking of Bulgaria, the Foreign Minister says he is not inclined to give in with regard to withdrawal of German naval vessels from Bulgarian ports. He is trying to steer the discussions into purely military channels, with the aim of bringing the Bulgarians to the point in the negotiations where they themselves will express the wish that the German naval vessels remain where they are. The Führer has not yet approved this procedure, however.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, states that so far Group South had received orders to reduce the number of naval forces in Bulgarian ports to a certain extent, and that further measures would not be taken if the Foreign Office should so desire.
Evening. Return by plane to Koralle [OKM Headquarters north of Berlin].
countersigned: Kapitän zur See Pfeiffer
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