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Report of the Commander in Chief, Navy, to the Führer on 8 December 1939.

Present: Generaloberst Keitel
Fregattenkapitän von Puttkamer

1. Situation in the Baltic Sea. A protest is being made by the Foreign Office about the Swedish-Finnish mine field in the Aland Sea, as it interferes with the war on merchant shipping.
Patrol boats have been lost in the Belt mine fields.

2. Situation in the North Sea. Destroyer operations took place off Cromer on the night of 6 December. One British destroyer was torpedoed. Further plans are discussed.

Aircraft operated on the nights of 6 and 7 December over the Thames, the Humber, and the Downs. Losses sustained were reported.

British counteraction: Attacks were made on Borkum and Heligoland.

Submarine operations: Mine fields have been laid along the east, southeast, and west coasts. Further plans are discussed.

War against merchant shipping: U26 is en route to the Mediterranean. There is pronounced activity along the northeast coast; therefore it is not yet necessary to declare a danger zone off Kinnaird's Head.

Convoys from Norway to the Shetlands are under attack. Attacks on the Halifax and Freetown convoys are planned for later.

The patrols of the U47, U57, U34, and U49 are reported on.

TMC mines and new firing devices are discussed.

3. Operation of the battleships 21 to 27 November: A report is made on the execution and result of these operations. Pressure on the GRAF SPEE has let up due to the uncertainty of the whereabouts of the DEUTSCHLAND, leading to extensive measures in the North Atlantic. Plans for January are discussed.

4. Plans for operations of the GRAF SPEE are discussed.

5. Return of merchant ships. Losses and danger of internment in Dutch ports. The return of the BREMEN is discussed. No ships are to be sold.

6. Economic warfare.

    a. The British "order in council" of 28 November 1939 is a violation of the Paris declaration of 1856 and a threefold violation of international law. Counteraction will be necessary as soon as neutral protests, combined with German propaganda, have had time to take effect - not too late, about the middle of December. If intensive economic warfare (a siege) is planned only in conjunction with general intensification of warfare (an offensive), as the Führer has confirmed, a law altering the prize regulations to correspond with the "order in council" will have to be considered. A suggestion will be made after the report of the Special Staff, Commercial and Economic Warfare.

    b. The British intend to buy ships from neutral powers. A note from the Foreign Office is planned to the effect that if any neutral sells her ships to Britain, all ships of that power will be treated as enemy ships.

    c. Danish deliveries of foodstuffs to Britain must cease; the agreement must be broken off. (Negotiations are planned.) A concentrated effort must be made to cut off Britain, so that the war will be shortened. In this way the difficulties of the Ministry of Food will also be indirectly decreased.

    d. Transport via Sweden and Norway over Trondheim to England is extremely active. Points of departure from the Norwegian coast are very numerous and therefore difficult to control. It is important to occupy Norway. The northern countries should route their exports to Germany, among others.

    e. The urgent need for the Luftwaffe to concentrate its attacks on convoys is discussed. The Führer will work in this direction.

7. Operation "Gelb" [Invasion of Holland and Belgium]: Destroyer operations can begin during the first night. Naval plans for defense of the coast are reported on.

8. The effect of the Finnish war on Italy and Spain is discussed.

9. The Japanese have replied that no submarines will be available; further conferences are to be held with regard to supply and communication service. The relations between America and Japan are discussed.

10. The Führer advises to delay somewhat the embarkation of Italian officers aboard submarines, but he has no fundamental objections.

11. The question of a temporary delay in the production of heavy naval ammunition: A four month's delay could barely be coped with, but no more. (See Annex 1.) The Chief of the OKW says a longer delay is not intended. In three months the Commander in Chief, Navy, will make inquiry.

12. The submarine construction program will be delayed, since for the first quarter of 1940 only 140,000 tons of iron are available instead of 170,000 tons, and there is a substantial decrease in other metals. The Chief of the OKW says the iron situation will probably improve beginning the second quarter of 1940; the quota for other metals has just now been substantially increased.

13. Sales to the Russians: The Führer decides that sale of the SEYDLITZ and the PRINZ EUGEN is to be refused, also sale of the turrets of ships "H" and "I". Sale of 20 cm. guns intended for the LÜTZOW is to be put off (they must be returned by the Army first). If after the offensive a war of position ensues, though we hope this will not be the case, 20 cm. guns will be needed by the Army; otherwise they can be sold. Plans for the BISMARCK are discussed. What is the price? The Führer will then make a decision. The Commander in Chief, Navy, agrees, as only two ships are being built and the Russians need at least six years to copy them.

14. Personnel questions:

    Admiral Albrecht
    Admiral Saalwächter
    Vizeadmiral Marschall
signed: Raeder

countersigned: Assmann


Annex 1

The results of delaying work on heavy caliber naval shells for four months.

1. Battleships BISMARCK and TIRPITZ. One allowance of ammunition consists of 130 shells for each gun.

    a. Previous plan: Two allowances of ammunition were to be ready about two months after the completion of the ships.

    b. Now possible: Only one allowance of ammunition can be ready about the time of completion, the second allowance not until about six months later.

Ammunition for firing practice cannot be provided until afterwards.

2. Battleships SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU. One allowance of ammunition consists of 150 shells for each gun. Two allowances are available except for a small part.

    a. Previous plan: The third allowance of ammunition was to be ready by about August 1940.

    b. Now possible: The third allowance cannot be ready until January 1941.

3. Panzerschiffe of the DEUTSCHLAND class. One allowance of ammunition consists of 120 shells for each gun. Two allowances and parts of the third are available.
    a. Previous plan: The third allowance of ammunition was to be ready by about May 1940.

    b. Now possible: The third allowance will not be ready until the end of 1940.

4. Heavy cruisers. One allowance of ammunition consists of 140 shells for each gun. Two allowances are available for HIPPER and BLÜCHER; one allowance for PRINZ EUGEN. The second allowance for PRINZ EUGEN will not be ready until the end of August 1940.

For SEYDLITZ. One allowance of ammunition will be ready on commissioning. The second allowance will not be ready until the end of 1940. The third allowances of ammunition for all four cruisers cannot be ready before autumn 1941.

5. This program makes no provision for the production of ammunition for the planned 38 cm. coastal batteries.


Discussion Points for the Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 8 December 1939.

I. Questions of naval warfare.

1. The situation in the North Sea. Further successful mine-laying operations by destroyers, submarines, and aircraft. Destroyer operations on the night of 6 December off Haisborough were carried out according to plan (approximately 70 mines were laid). An enemy destroyer was sunk by torpedo spread. Our own destroyers were apparently unobserved. The operation is not to be made public in view of possible later mining operations.

The Submarine Arm: Mines were layed on the east coast and torpedo submarines operated successfully on the east coast of Scotland. The success of U47 (commanding officer, Prien) against a heavy British cruiser has not yet been absolutely confirmed. In all probability hits were scored. Total loss of the cruiser is still doubtful.

New Losses: Presumably U35 was lost on the northeast coast of Scotland. The crew was probably taken prisoner. This brings the number of submarines lost to date up to 8.

Naval Air Force: Mines were layed off eastern ports during the night. Continued successful reconnaissance activity over the entire North Sea. Unfortunately there were several losses as a result of unfavorable weather conditions (icing and fog) and enemy activity. British fighter defenses must be rated highly. An attempt is to be made to protect our own reconnaissance by our long-range fighter planes as far as possible.

British air attacks on Borkum and Heligoland show the danger to which we are exposed from the well prepared enemy air force. So far the British were not successful, however. There is the possibility of surprise attacks by low-flying aircraft. Defense measures in Borkum are being strengthened. It is not yet possible to base fighter groups on Heligoland.

2. Survey of the situation in the Atlantic. GRAF SPEE sank a 10,000 ton steamer, DORIC STAR, on 2 December 400 miles west of Southwest Africa.

Plan: The war against merchant shipping is to be continued. The GRAF SPEE may proceed to operations off the east coast of South America. If everything proceeds as planned, the Naval Staff anticipates the return of the Panzerschiff at the end of January or the beginning of February. The supply ship ALTMARK is also to be recalled.

3. Strategic effect of the battleship operations in the Iceland-Faroes area. The desired diversion has been achieved and will probably remain effective for some time. The withdrawal of heavy enemy forces from other important security zones (Canada, North Atlantic route, and Middle Atlantic) prevents an enemy concentration of forces in the South Atlantic, thereby relieving the Panzerschiff GRAF SPEE. Other appreciable effects are the temporary interruption of convoy traffic, creation of an attitude of apprehension and uncertainty, increased air patrol activity, demands on men and material, the upsetting of plans for the distribution of forces and other plans.

The results of the first battleship operation were very favorable for us. The ships have shown themselves to be entirely suitable for offensive operations on a large scale. The ships are at present being overhauled; a far-reaching, large-scale operation is planned for January.

4. Situation in the Baltic Sea. The protection of the approaches to the Baltic Sea is of primary importance. Danish mine barriers have been laid in the Great and Little Belts. Complete agreement has been reached with Denmark with regard to patrol, pilot service, etc. The Danish Navy is remarkably cooperative. Unfortunately owing to poor weather conditions several patrol vessels have been lost due to our own mines.

Sweden's attitude is very unsatisfactory. The German barrage in the Sound has been extended as far as the three mile limit against the will of Sweden. There is still heavy traffic in Falsterbo Channel. Plans for discouraging it are discussed. In spite of Swedish assurances to the contrary, the Swedish mine field laid in the Quarken and Aland Sea must be regarded as a purely anti-German measure directed at complicating Germany's war against merchant shipping. A protest has been made to the Swedish Government.

The restriction of the operational area to 20º E (Russian sphere of interest) complicates the war against merchant shipping in the Baltic Sea. Submarine chase in the western Baltic has achieved no results whatsoever; thus there is no evidence of the presence of enemy submarines at the moment.

5. Additional plans for warfare against Britain:

    a. Our efforts should be concentrated on offensive mine warfare. The smaller harbors on the east coast are to be included as well as the larger ones. Torpedo-carrying submarines in the Atlantic are to be recalled temporarily in favor of mine-laying submarines.

    b. Naval surface forces are to operate against enemy convoys between Norway and Britain.

    c. Attacks are to be made on the enemy fishing fleet for the purpose of capturing enemy fishing craft.

    d. Submarine plans: submarines are to lay dense mine fields in suitable areas; for the most part this is possible only during the new moon. It is a difficult undertaking because the areas are heavily patrolled and strongly defended. Aside from smaller current operations on the east coast, the following places are to be mined: Firth of Forth, Firth of Clyde, Bristol Channel, and Liverpool.

    e. Naval aircraft is to continue laying mines; support by the operational Air Force is anticipated in the near future.

6. Mines with magnetic firing devices. From now on we must expect that the enemy will discover and subsequently copy our mine fuse within one or two years. In order to present the British with a new problem, non-contact firing on an entirely new basis is being tried out.

7. German merchant shipping. The return of German merchant ships from overseas has been highly satisfactory for the most part. For example, seven of the eight ships which put out of Vigo have arrived in Norway. Of course there have also been regrettable losses, i.e., the USSUKOMA and the WATUSSI. The danger that German ships will be confiscated in neutral ports is increasing. The sale of German ships is not advisable except in special cases, as it may be presumed that within a short time they will fall into enemy hands. Hence the necessity for scuttling them promptly.

8. The return of the HELENE. The ship is ready to put to sea and is to receive instructions through the Naval Staff, presumably for 10 December. The Navy will provide for escort as the situation may require.

9. Operation "Gelb".

    a. According to a directive from the Führer, destroyer operations off the Scheldt are not permitted until the second night. Complications and impediments must therefore be expected.

    b. The Navy's plan to fortify the Dutch-Belgian coast is discussed. Purely defensive measures are planned by the Navy for important positions as protection against enemy attacks from the sea. The Navy will not install anti-aircraft defenses or take over Army duties. It seems necessary to install two heavy batteries (Hook of Holland, Blankenberghe) and three medium batteries (Texelstroom, Ijmuiden, Walcheren); in addition one railway battery should be made available.

10. Political questions.
    a. The effect of the Russo-Finnish conflict on the attitude of Italy, Spain, and other countries toward Germany. Sympathy for Finland is especially noticeable in Italy and Spain. The Führer's opinion on the subject is requested.

    b. The Foreign Office (Ambassador Ritter) is preparing a directive for foreign missions to counter enemy measures for chartering neutral shipping; neutral governments are warned against letting their ships to enemy powers. Such action will be regarded as a breach of neutrality. If they persist in such action to any great extent in spite of this warning, all ships bearing the flag of the country in question will be treated as enemy ships if they are encountered in a certain area. (The American war zone as far as about 3º E is meant.)

    c. The Navy's attitude on the "order in council" for the British blockade of German exports is as follows:

    German countermeasures are necessary. The Naval Staff is not yet in favor of taking recourse to the most drastic methods of warfare against merchant shipping by declaring a state of siege in answer to the "order in council". This measure must be reserved for a general intensification of the war. If the "order in council" is to be answered before a general intensification of the war, and if this answer will consist only in intensified naval warfare without the support of air attacks or political or economic measures, the Naval Staff suggests a special decree which will permit striking at enemy exports.



   


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