Minutes of the Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, at Führer Headquarters Wolfsschanze on 9 July 1944.
1200. A limited group conferred with the Führer on the situation in the East. The following persons participated: from the Navy only the Commander in Chief, Navy; from the Eastern Front: Generalfeldmarschall Model, General Friesner and Generaloberst von Greim.
The conference topic is the problem of clearing up the serious situation on the central sector of the Eastern Front. In this connection a withdrawal of the Northern Army Group is out of the question. Experiences with the 4th Army on the Central Front have shown that we cannot withdraw during the summer without incurring serious losses, because at this time the enemy is able to follow up on an extended front across the open country without depending on the highways. This way he can pass through gaps in the retreating armies and cut them off. Besides, a withdrawal of the Northern Army Group with all its equipment would require at least 4 weeks; the present crisis is too advanced for such a measure. A reinforcement of the penetration area by bringing up additional divisions before 17 July is considered to be the solution to the problem. The commanders of the Eastern Front believe that it will be possible to intercept the Russian thrust this way without having the Northern Army Group cut off.
On the Führer's request the Commander in Chief, Navy, points out what consequences a Russian break-through to the open Baltic Sea would entail. He refers to the importance of our control of the Baltic Sea; it is essential to Swedish iron ore imports which are of decisive importance for our war economy, and to the construction of the new submarine force. The most westerly position which still permits the closing of the Gulf of Finland is the position east of Revel, i,e., the Nashorn minefields. The possession of the Baltic islands is likewise important for this purpose.
However, should the enemy break through to the Baltic Sea further south, in Lithuania or East Prussia, then our position on the Gulf of Finland including the Baltic islands would be worthless. Enemy bases in the immediate vicinity, would threaten or even completely eliminate the ore shipments and the submarine training areas. The prime objective, therefore, to which everything else must be subordinated, even the possible withdrawal of the Northern Army Group, is the prevention of a Russian break-through to the Baltic Sea. Once the enemy has broken through, the threat to our flank from the Russian air force based in Lithuania will make it impossible to supply the Northern Army Group and Finland by sea.
Concerning the employment of naval personnel for army purposes the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that the Navy has only three battalions which have had some training for land combat. These are the Naval Coastal Artillery Battalion 531, at Tytaersaari; the Naval Special Operations Unit, from the Narva Front, which is to participate in operation "Tanne Ost"; and the Naval Battalion 'Hossfeld", formerly in the Crimea, the remaining troops of which are now stationed in Bulgaria.
80% of the entire Navy personnel is directly employed in the defense of Europe. The remaining 20% are needed until the end of 1944 for the fleet, for the present submarines, for newly commissioned submarines, and for combat and defense units. There is already a lack of personnel for other newly commissioned vessels. Therefore it Will be impossible to give up any personnel so long as the Navy is expected to fulfill the duties it has had up to the present time. Aside from that, the Navy has absolutely no equipment for land-based combat troops. General Friesner, Commander of the Northern Army Group, states that he has enough men without equipment (Esthonians) so that such troops are of no interest to him. The Führer decides that no Navy personnel will be transferred to land activities.
During the course of the conference Field Marshal Model reports that he is constantly conducting training courses for non-commissioned officers behind the front and has thereby achieved a continuous supply of fresh replacements at the front. Wherever this is not done - and it does not seem to be the case in other places - the troops eventually become fatigued and fail when suddenly called upon.
1400. After the conference the Commander in Chief, Navy; the Reichsführer SS; Field Marshals Keitel and Model; Generaloberst von Greim and Jodl, and General Friesner have lunch with the Führer.
1530: Conference with the Führer concerning other theaters of war.
a. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports on the qualities of the long range torpedo (Langstreckentorpedo), evolved from the G7e LUT, and the plans for its employment: it is to be fired by S-boats from the area near the Le Havre approach buoys into the landing area in the Orne estuary. The Commander in Chief, Navy, emphasizes that the idea originates with an alert employee of the Torpedo Experimental Station. The Führer is very pleased and urges investigation whether this type of torpedo could also be used with a pilot.
b. In the discussion of the attack made by enemy fighters on the one man torpedo (Neger) pilots returning from their mission during the night of 7 to 8 July, the Führer raises the question whether one could not help these pilots by laying smoke screens from the air.
c. The Chief of the Luftwaffe General Staff [General Korten], reports that V-1's are to be launched from planes during the coming night of 9 to 10 July. This will serve to broaden the area from which they can be launched and will thereby scatter the enemy defenses.
d. He also reports that the first 4 jet-propelled planes (Me 262) will be put into action against the beachhead within a week to 10 days.
e. Subsequent to the conference on the air situation the Führer makes approximately the following statement: The extreme importance of air superiority is apparent on all fronts. The Anglo-Saxons are particularly accustomed to advance only under protection of strong air cover. Everything depends therefore on our fighter construction program. It must be kept top secret and we must accumulate ample reserves. Then the enemy will be very much surprised when in about 4 months the situation will begin to change in regard to air supremacy.
f. Field Marshal Keitel asks the Commander in Chief, Navy, for naval support for protection of the hydrogenation plants. The continuous destruction of these plants constitutes the greatest handicap to our conduct of the war at this time. The last air raids cut gasoline production again from 2,200 m3 per day to 1,100 m3 per day. The Luftwaffe has been ordered to double the smoke screen protection of the hydrogenation plants and also to improve their protection in other ways. However the Luftwaffe does not have sufficient equipment at present. The Navy is therefore requested to assist in the emergency by providing the following:
b. Smoke troops with equipment from Navy units.
countersigned: Kapitän zur See Pfeiffer
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