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Seekriegsleitung

Visit of the Commander in Chief, Navy, at the Führer Headquarters from 1 to 3 January 1945.

Accompanied by: Admiral on Special Duty, Konteradmiral Wagner
Adjutant, Korvettenkapitän Lüdde-Neurath.

1 JANUARY 1945.

1500. The Commander in Chief, Navy, attended the Führer's conference on the situation. The following questions of naval warfare are discussed:

a. The Commander in Chief, Navy, informs the Führer that it is planned to have submarines carry 6 "Biber" midget submarines to Kola Bay, and then to have them proceed on their own against the battleship which has been located there and against other worthwhile targets.

b. With the aid of a map the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer on planned operations for small battle units [Kleinkampfverbände] in the Scheldt River area during January 1945. He states that on 1 January the first 18 "Seehund" midget submarines are to start on their first mission. He also presents two maps showing submarine successes off Cherbourg and those of S-boats and small battle units off the Scheldt River. This information was compiled from reports received from radio intelligence so far.

c. The Commander in Chief, Navy, then shows a copy of the magazine "Picture Post" dated 28 October 1944, and calls attention to an article dealing with a film of the Battle of the Atlantic, in which comments are made on the poor construction of the liberty ships. He states that similar statements have also been made elsewhere.

d. Reporting on the shipping situation between Norway and Denmark, the Commander in Chief, Navy, points out that this area is very exposed; at the moment the enemy is making increased use of aerial mines and planes, and he may create an even worse situation in the future by using surface forces, too. While the German Skagerrak minefields are no great obstacle in themselves, they evidently greatly discourage the enemy from operating in these waters. It is planned to reinforce them.

1700. The Admiral on Special Duty confers with the Deputy Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, General Winter, on the following subjects:

a. The jurisdiction of the Commanding Admiral, North Sea, as Commander, Armed Forces in the coastal area.

General Winter explains that the OKW did not intend to interfere with the authority of the Naval Command, North Sea, when the battle instructions of 10 December 1944 were issued at the suggestion and urgent request of the Operations Staff, North Norwegian Coast. He says that it is up to the Reichsführer SS, as Commander of the Replacement Army, to define the different jurisdictions. General Winter believes that the OKW need not interfere, since the Commander in Chief, Navy, and the Reichsführer SS are in agreement. Rather, the Seekriegsleitung and the Commander of the Replacement Army or the Naval Command, North Sea, and the Operations Staff, North Norwegian Coast, can best settle directly whatever differences still exist between them. The Commander in Chief, Navy joins them later and gives his approval.

b. The question is raised as to what action has been taken on the 10 demands contained in the memorandum on the "Necessity for Providing Additional Facilities for the Navy and Merchant Shipping" (1/Skl Gkdos. 3714/44 Chefs.); they had been approved by the Führer. General Winter replies that at first, due to a misunderstanding, the OKW had dealt only with those matters directly concerning them; in the meantime, however, action has been taken on the other matters as well.

As to the confiscation of cranes and docks in Denmark, the Commander in Chief, Navy, has already discussed this question with the Foreign Minister, who gave his assurance that the proper instructions would immediately be sent to the competent German official in Denmark.


2 JANUARY 1945.

1700. The Commander in Chief, Navy, attended the Führer's conference on the situation. During the report on the situation in the Baltic Sea, the Commander in Chief, Navy, elaborates on the strained mine situation in the Baltic Sea, and emphasises that German forces are not sufficient to accomplish all tasks simultaneously, in spite of the reinforcements which have been ordered. Thus the training areas of the Submarine Acceptance Command and the firing positions of the fleet off Memel cannot be swept at the same time.


3 JANUARY 1945.

1345 to 1500. The Commander in Chief, Naval Command West, visits Bad Schwalbach. The Commander in Chief, Naval Command West, Admiral Krancke, requests that each month a submarine be dispatched with supplies to German naval fortresses in western France, above all to Lorient and St. Nazaire. It is his opinion that the time the fortresses can hold out can be lengthened considerably if vital supplies, even in small quantities, can be sent to them, and he stresses the effect on morale that such supply missions would also have. 4 submarines would be required to carry out these missions. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reserves his decision.

1800. The Commander in Chief, Navy attends the Führer's conference on the situation. The matters reported on are not related to naval warfare.

1900. The Führer and the Commander in Chief, Navy, have a private discussion. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer on the present state of sinkings and likely developments in the near future. Assuming that out of the 80 "Seehund" midget submarines scheduled to operate per month only 50 are able to attack, then 100 torpedoes would be fired at the enemy. If 20% of the torpedoes hit their targets, about 100,000 BRT will be sunk. Latest reports turned in by submarines with Schnorchel equipment and information submitted by radio intelligence prove that these boats, too, can achieve success even in waters where German submarines were forced to cease operations more than 3 years ago, i.e., the Cherbourg area, the Irish Sea, Scapa Flow, and Peter Head. However, this success will serve to forewarn the enemy that a new German submarine offensive has begun. Therefore we will have to be prepared for strong countermeasures in the immediate future, even before the new submarine models are ready for operations. Since it is difficult to combat these submarines at sea because of their ability to remain submerged, these countermeasures will of necessity be directed against submarine bases and yards, and against the routes used by the submarines in entering and leaving the harbors. The attack against Hamburg on 31 December 1944 and the increased mine offensive in the western part of the Baltic Sea and the Skagerrak appear to be the beginning of these countermeasures already. Thus the difficulties involved in the new submarine offensive do not lie in operations at sea, but entirely in the threat to home bases by the enemy air force. The importance of the 10 demands contained in the memorandum submitted to the Führer is thus emphasized time and again by every renewed consideration. In this connection the Commander in Chief, Navy, proposes to concentrate the use of smoke screens in areas which cannot be reached by the enemy's boomerang method, since that method cancels the effect of the smoke anyhow.

The Führer agrees entirely with the viewpoint expressed by the Commander in Chief, Navy, and discusses with him countermeasures in detail. He stresses particularly the fact that he himself will see to it that the harbors are given anti-aircraft reinforcements.

2000. The Commander in Chief, Navy, departs from Führer Headquarters.

signed: Dönitz

countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann


   


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