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

Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Chief of the Seekriegsleitung

Report of the Commander in Chief, Navy, to the Führer on the afternoon of 6 September 1940.

Present: Chief of the OKW [Generalfeldmarschall Keitel]
General Jodl
Fregattenkapitän von Puttkamer

1. Current Naval Operations:

a. Home and Channel Area. In preparation for operation "Seelöwe", flank mine barrages were successfully laid in the Hoofden area. Several British destroyers were destroyed there by mines at the beginning of September. Minesweeping activities have been started in the Channel in preparation for operation "Seelöwe". Owing to weather conditions and the situation in air warfare, the planned operations of the minesweeping forces were delayed until now and are still greatly hampered. This is not meant as a criticism of Air Force activities!

b. Norwegian Area. Extensive transport movements have been carried out as planned to strengthen the Norwegian position. Construction of batteries in northern Norway is in progress. Artillery defenses will be completed by the end of the year.

c. Submarine Warfare. The strategic position of bases at Trondheim, Lorient, and Bordeaux provides extensive operational possibilities. The main operational area at present is the western part of the North Channel and the waters west of Scotland. It is very remunerative! Operations are made from Lorient and from home bases. The results at present are considerable. A further gradual increase in successes may be expected when the declaration of an operational area around the British Isles and permission to fire without previous warning on all targets have eliminated all restrictions hitherto existing. At the moment anti-submarine defense is provided not so much by naval escort vessels, of which there are few, but by strong air cover.

Losses sustained since the outbreak of war: Of the 61 operational submarines 28 boats, or 46% have been lost! The Führer is asked to acknowledge the contribution of the submarines in his next speech. He promises to do so.

Submarine warfare in the Atlantic is to be supported by Italian submarines. Therefore Bordeaux is to be expanded into a base. Agreements have been concluded with the Italian Navy. The German Navy will equip the base and will be responsible for defense outside of Italian terrain, as well as for the protection of the harbor area and outbound routes. The Italian Navy is to protect its own harbor basin, installations, and docks. Operational command will be in the hands of the German Commander in Chief, U-boats. Liaison officers will be exchanged for the purpose of coordination in tactical and operational matters. The first submarine has arrived at Bordeaux. At the moment there are 3 boats in the Atlantic and 6 are en route. 36 boats are to be sent into the Atlantic before the end of October.

d. Auxiliary Cruisers. Operations, including replenishment of supplies at sea, have progressed surprisingly as planned. The distribution of the ships is as follows: Two auxiliary cruisers are in the Indian Ocean, one is in Australian waters, one in the South Atlantic, one in the Middle Atlantic; one is outward bound via the northern route and is now in the vicinity of the Bering Straits. The successes of all the auxiliary cruisers have exceeded expectations. Ship "16" [Atlantis] has sunk 41,000 tons. There are strong indications of concern on the part of the enemy, who is not in a position to carry out extensive search activity.

e. British codes have been changed; therefore the Radio Intercept Service is not getting much information at the moment.

2. Operation "Seelöwe". Information is given on transport space, the assembly thereof, clearing of the harbors, fuel supplies, provision of personnel, minesweeping, and mine laying. Relevant charts are shown. In summary: If air supremacy is increasingly established it will be possible to meet the new deadline. The crossing itself will be very difficult. The Army cannot count on keeping the divisions together. The execution of operation "Seelöwe" appears possible, if attended by favorable circumstances regarding air supremacy, weather, etc.

In the north a diversionary maneuver (a dummy landing) is planned with 4 large steamers from the German Bight, 10 steamers from the Norwegian area, and escort forces. The HIPPER is to operate in the Iceland area, in order to relieve the dummy landing operation.

3. What are the Führer's political and military directives in the event that operation "Seelöwe" does not take place? It is hoped that maximum production in German industry will be re-established through release of the capacity now being used for operation "Seelöwe", the return of personnel and of the steamers, other vessels and barges. At the same time the appearance of an "invasion of Britain" should be kept up. The Führer agrees.

4. The Seekriegsleitung's deliberations on further possibilities for warfare against Britain in addition to, or in place of, operation "Seelöwe are as follows:

Gibraltar and the Suez Canal have decisive strategic significance for German-Italian warfare in the Mediterranean area. Britain should be excluded from the Mediterranean. Control of the Mediterranean area is of vital importance to the position of the Central Powers in southeastern Europe, Asia Minor, Arabia, Egypt, and the African area. Unlimited sources for raw materials would be guaranteed. New and strategically favorable bases for further operations against the British Empire would be won. The loss of Gibraltar would mean crucial difficulties for British import traffic from the South Atlantic. Preparations for this operation must be begun at once so that they are completed before the U.S.A. steps in. It should not be considered of secondary importance, but as one of the main blows against Britain. The Führer gives orders to this effect.

5. The Problem of the U.S.A. In the present significant events, i.e., the agreement between the U.S.A., Great Britain and Canada, the Seekriegsleitung sees the beginnings of a situation which will necessarily lead to closest cooperation between Britain and the U.S.A. The course of events will be accelerated by the dangerous plight in which Britain finds herself. Britain will probably relinquish her leading position in favor of cooperation with the U.S.A. The British Empire is not expected to collapse, owing to the peculiar innate force of the political objectives embodied in the conception of the Commonwealth of Nations. The Empire will in all probability have to undergo the most drastic changes, but it will very likely re-emerge as an Anglo-Saxon Empire. Understanding between the U.S.A. and Britain concerning Canada is a prerequisite for this. This understanding has been reached.

The U.S.A.'s resolution to support the British war effort with the delivery of 50 destroyers represents an openly hostile act against Germany. It is not yet clear whether the United States, even in her present policy, is acting selfishly or in Anglo-Saxon interests. The leased islands are of great significance to the U.S.A. They represent a considerable gain in prestige and a decisive step forward in the pursuit of the Pan-American objective. The possibility of exerting influence on the South American countries is increased.

An examination of the possibilities for active participation in the war on the part of the U.S.A. leads to the following thoughts: In the interest of her own position, the United States will hardly support the British motherland with significant amounts of materiel and personnel. Planes may be provided after American needs have been satisfied. The United States may, however, occupy the Spanish and Portuguese Islands in the Atlantic, possibly even the British West African possessions, in an attempt to influence, and if necessary to take over, the French West African colonies. Preparatory U.S. propaganda accuses Germany of action against French West African colonies, and points out that the German Air Force could take off from West Africa and fly across the South Atlantic to attack the United States.

The Commander in Chief, Navy, stresses once more the extreme importance of Dakar for Germany in this war. The danger of a British or American occupation of the Azores and Canary Islands is particularly great in the event that Spain or Portugal enters the war. The Führer therefore considers occupation of the Canary Islands by the Luftwaffe both expedient and feasible. The question of supplies for the Luftwaffe would present the only difficulty, as submarines cannot carry gasoline. The Commander in Chief, Navy, believes that tankers can reach the Canary Islands from Spain.

6. Treatment of the French Colonies. In the French possessions in Equatorial Africa there is an open break with Petain's government and a swing over to General de Gaulle. There is danger that unrest and revolt might spread to the French West African colonies. The economic situation in the colonies, particularly as regards foodstuffs, is used by Britain as a means of exerting pressure. An agreement between the colonies and Britain, and revolt against France would jeopardize our own chances of controlling the African area; the danger exists that strategically important West African ports might be used for British convoy activities and that we might lose a most valuable source of supplies for Europe. The danger of an attack on the part of the U.S.A. is not entirely out of the question, in view of the possibilities for such action.

Far-sighted German measures are necessary to counteract any development of this kind. Therefore the Seekriegsleitung agrees in principle to sending French naval forces to the areas threatened; to the resumption of merchant traffic between the colonies and neutral countries by means of French and neutral vessels, in order to alleviate economic difficulties; and to the attempt to re-establish merchant shipping between France and her colonies. A condition is that ships must be scuttled in the event of capture by British forces. Germany and Italy must have the possibility to control the vessels. There must be economic advantages to Germany and German right of recall.

7. Operation "S". The question of carrying out operation "S" is of special significance to the Navy in deliberating on how to concentrate the weak naval forces whose present assignments, from North Cape to Bordeaux, are already more than they can cope with. The Army and the Luftwaffe are to fix the time for operation "S". The most favorable time from the Navy's point of view is when the ice is melting. We would be able to operate, but the enemy would still be hampered. It is impossible to execute "Seelöwe" and "S" simultaneously. This is confirmed by the Führer. The most favorable time for "S is to be investigated once more by the OKW in view of the ice situation.

8. Relations to Occupied Territories and Neutral Countries. What are the Führer's plans regarding treatment of the occupied northern areas and of Sweden and Finland? The Führer conceives a north Germanic union in which the individual members have a certain sovereignty (diplomatic representation, etc.) and have armed forces trained and equipped by them but organized on the pattern of the German Armed Forces. Otherwise, however, they should be both politically and economically closely connected with Germany. These are the views of Quisling, whose standpoint the Führer recognizes to be the correct one as opposed to that of Terboven, the Foreign Office, and von Falkenhorst; the Navy alone, moreover, held these views, quite rightly, from the very first.

9. German Merchant Shipping. Since the overthrow of France, the prospects for German maritime shipping have improved considerably! The Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Economics have been made aware of the existing favorable opportunities for the promotion of maritime shipping; there are certain difficulties to be overcome with these authorities. Apart from the practical advantages to be derived from merchant shipping, as return of German ships and import of goods, one can expect an increase of prestige in neutral countries.

10. The Inter-Allied Investigating Committee's Memorandum of January 1940. Views on German Warfare: The Allies continually stress the fact that they consider the ruthless submarine warfare for the disruption of merchant shipping in close cooperation with air warfare agaisnt facilities and ships in ports of import the greatest danger to Great Britain. The Commander in Chief, Navy, is therefore of the opinion that these operations must be continued with tenacity and energy, irrespective of whatever other operations may be undertaken. The Führer agrees.

signed: Raeder



   


Battleship Bismarck Book
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