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Conference of the Chief of the Seekriegsleitung, Operations Division, [Konteradmiral Fricke], with the Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, General Jodl on 4 November 1940.

1. The Führer made a number of decisions today regarding measures to be taken by Germany as a result of the Italian campaign against Greece.

2. Egyptian Offensive. The Führer's Decision: No troops (i.e., no panzer division) are to be sent to Libya, since the second thrust of the Italians against Marsa Matruh will not be possible until the end of December. A necessary third thrust will probably require just as much time for preparation as the second one, so that the actual attack on Alexandria, for which participation of our panzer division was planned, cannot be expected until about the middle of summer 1941. The Führer, however, is planning to transfer dive bomber units to Egypt for the purpose of attacks against the British Fleet in Alexandria after Marsa Matruh has been occupied. He will also send bomber units to mine the Suez Canal.

3. The war in Greece. This was definitely a regrettable blunder on the part of the Italians, on no occasion was authorization for such an independent action given to the Duce by the Führer. It seems that Italy has started the attack with entirely inadequate forces, i.e., three divisions. The British have occupied Crete and Lemnos. As a result Britain's strategic position in the eastern Mediterranean has considerably improved. With Lemnos in her possession, she has an advanced position for the purpose of encroaching on the mainland, is able to influence and support Turkey, and also has facilities for launching bomber attacks against Rumania. The Führer considers the Rumanian oil fields to be endangered by British forces on Lemnos! Therefore it is necessary to transfer anti-aircraft reinforcements, fighters, and fighter bombers to Rumania immediately.

The support of the Italian offensive against Greece by German troops consisting of two divisions or one corps is being considered. There are two possibilities for operations: To proceed either with or without Bulgaria. An advance against Greece will be attempted through Rumania and Bulgaria in the direction of Salonika-Larissa. The OKW estimates that another four weeks are needed for preparing this operation from Rumania! Details are being investigated by the General Staff. In addition, military support of Bulgaria against Turkey has been ordered to ensure against Turkish attacks.

It is anticipated that Russia will remain neutral. Within the next few days there will be a conference with Molotov in which the problems arising from this neutrality will be discussed. The attitude of Turkey will depend on Russia's future policy. The Führer does not plan to take action against Turkey for the purpose of breaking through to the Suez Canal from the east via Syria. This would be a very lengthy operation and would involve very great difficulties.

4. Gibraltar. The Führer is determined to occupy Gibraltar as soon as possible. Franco is obviously prepared to enter the war on Germany's side within a short time; the Army General Staff has already made preparations to send the necessary troops. The Führer has given the following orders:

    A reconnaissance unit, consisting of about 50 officers, is to be sent to Spain at once.

    The transfer of troops to the Franco-Spanish border for the Gibraltar operation must begin at once.

    Spain will be requested to make a road available for German troop movements.

It must be assumed that our plans will be revealed by the time German troops reach the Spanish border. The following measures are therefore scheduled to begin when Army troops are ready to cross the Franco-Spanish border:
    a. Commencement of attacks by the German Air Force against the British Fleet in Gibraltar.

    b. Occupation of the Canary Islands. It is planned to strengthen defenses of the Canary Islands primarily by Spanish action. Spanish resources will be reinforced by German measures.

    c. Occupation of the Cape Verde Islands.

Regarding the occupation of Gibraltar, certain difficulties will arise due to the fact that the operation and the defense are to be undertaken only with German and Spanish forces. Investigations should therefore be made as to what possibilities are foreseen by the Seekriegsleitung for blockade and defense of the Strait of Gibraltar in view of the limited means available. In this connection Spanish territory and the Ceuta area may have to be utilized. There is no doubt that control of defense in any case must be in German hands.

The possibility of incorporating French forces is to be investigated; it can be assumed that all British defense facilities, i.e., guns, etc., will be put out of action. Therefore the great question is how the Strait of Gibraltar can be closed most effectively, if all British batteries and defense Installations are destroyed.

All German vessels assembled in Italy must be made available for transport purposes within the Mediterranean.

5. Cape Verde Islands. On the question of the occupation of the Cape Verde Islands, the Chief of the Seekriegsleitung, Operations Division [Konteradmiral Fricke], expressed fundamental objections; the operation, dependent on support from the French, would be difficult to carry out and we could not be sure of holding the islands in view of the available forces. The islands have no great value for the enemy, but the political disadvantages resulting from our occupation of this Portuguese territory, with possible counteraction by Britain and the U.S.A. against the Azores, Portugal proper, and the Portuguese colonies, must be regarded as very serious. The Chief of the Seekriegsleitung, Operations Division, points out that the operation against the Cape Verde Islands can be carried out only if Dakar is in our hands. The Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff [General Jodl], replies that considerable support from France could be counted on.

The Commander in Chief, Navy, will have to talk to the Führer at some length, since the Führer is apparently very much in favor of an operation against the Cape Verde Islands.

Regarding further action against Portugal, it is planned that, upon occupation of the Cape Verde Islands, three German divisions are to advance to the Portuguese border in order to be able to counteract immediately and effectively any hostile attitude on the part of the Portuguese.

The Chief of the Seekriegsleitung, Operations Division, is of the opinion that it would be better from a political as well as from a military point of view to desist from occupying the Cape Verdes and from taking immediate military steps against Portugal. It would be better to use political pressure and the threat of military action to stop Portuguese assistance to Britain. If the enemy should attempt to land in Portugal it would not be very difficult to drive him out again. Any German military action against Portugal would, however, afford the British the possibility of occupying the Portuguese colonies of Madeira, the Cape Verdes, and the Azores.

The OKW requests that a report be submitted on the subject of what importance Portugal has for us and for the enemy from the point of view of naval strategy and the war economy.

6. Regarding the transfer of German troops from France to Spain, facilities for protecting troop transports from Bayonne should be investigated, since they are exposed to attacks from the sea.

The Chief of the Seekriegsleitung, Operations Division, replies that it is not possible to use naval forces for protection from the sea. The possibility of using mines for flank protection is being investigated. Protection must be effected primarily by motorized Army artillery and by dive bombers.

7. The Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, points out that preparations for an eastern campaign, as well as for execution of operation "Seelöwe" in the spring, have to be continued according to the Führer's decision.

8. Relations with France. Final clarification has not yet been reached, since the discussions between the Führer and Petain dealt only with basic matters concerning political collaboration and military cooperation. No final agreements have yet been reached. This week there will be discussions between Laval and Ribbentrop. In the course of these conferences, the French will submit definite proposals and German demands will be stated. Cooperation is intended along the following lines:

    a. Protection of French colonies by France herself. She will have an entirely free hand in the colonies for this purpose.

    b. Elimination of the threat arising from the De Gaulle movement, and defense against all Anglo-American intentions in the African area. If possible, the British bases In West Africa are to be attacked.

    c. Demilitarization of continental France is to proceed!

The Chief of the Seekriegsleitung, Operations Division, points out that the entire forces of the considerably reduced French Fleet will be necessary in order to carry out the necessary tasks in the colonies; these can not be handled by a few submarines, fleet tenders, and destroyers. This fact will necessitate a completely different attitude by the Italians on the question of French disarmament. It is therefore planned to disarm France, but to leave her freedom of action in the colonies.

9. The meeting at Florence was primarily for the purpose of removing certain objections raised by the Duce, who believed that Germany is allowing the French too much freedom and that the Italian requirements are thus receiving no consideration. The Führer is, in principle, pursuing the definite policy of keeping France weak in order to eliminate any threat to the Axis Powers. There is no doubt that France will be forced to meet the territorial demands of Germany and Italy!

10. The following points are therefore to be investigated by the Seekriegsleitung:

    a. Facilities for defense of the Strait of Gibraltar.

    b. Occupation of the Canary Islands and reinforcement of the defenses there.

    c. Protection of the coastal road along the southern coast of France for the transfer of German troops to Spain.

    d. Occupation of the Cape Verde Islands.

    e. The Importance of Portugal from the point of view of naval strategy.

    f. Release of the French Fleet to take over its tasks within the over-all strategic plan.



   


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