Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 15 February 1945, at 1600.
1. During a report on the situation in the West the Commander in Chief, Navy, asks the Führer whether it would not be possible to free the left bank of the Rhine northeast of Cleves so that coal shipments along the Rhine can be resumed. The Führer replies that this would be possible only if we undertook a sizable offensive operation. We cannot do this at present since we do not have sufficient forces at our disposal, in view of the impending large enemy offensive.
2. On the basis of reports on enemy plans for landings in the Norway-Denmark area, the Führer asks for the opinion of the Commander in Chief, Navy, regarding the imminence of such landings. The Commander in Chief, Navy, considers the immediate danger of enemy landings slight in view of the weather conditions at this time of year, and because all of the enemy forces are concentrated on the western land front - especially since the British have shown that they are neither able nor willing to attempt any daring or dangerous undertakings. The Commander in Chief, Navy, still thinks the main danger lies in the Kattegat on the east coast of Jutland and the north coast of Zealand. For this reason the minefields at the western entrance to the Skagerrak are to be reinforced by more mines in the next few days. In Denmark and Norway small battle weapons [Kleinkampfverbände] have been distributed in various places as defense against landings.
3. The Führer inquires about the supply situation at the Northern Army Group and the Kurland Army Group. The figures given by Kapitän zur See Assmann show that between 1 and 13 February the Kurland Army Group received about 13,000 tons, and between 1 and 12 February the Northern Army Group received about 8,000 tons of supplies, including coal and fuel. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports in addition that there is sufficient cargo space to send much larger shipments, since the ships carrying troops from the east to the west usually return empty. The Chief of the Army General Staff [Generaloberst Guderian] reports that the small supply shipments are due to the lack of goods. The Führer criticizes the fact that the Northern Army Group, which has a greater number of troops and is engaged in severe combat, received fewer supplies than the Kurland Army Group, which is a third smaller, and where no attacks of any size are expected at the moment. He orders the Chief of the Army General Staff to investigate the supply problem of the two groups thoroughly with this in mind.
4. In connection with the successes of the Arctic Ocean submarines against the PQ convoy, the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer that submarine successes per submarine in operational areas amounted to 9,000 tons in December 1944 and 11,000 tons in January 1945. These figures are as high as they ever were during the most successful period of submarine warfare, but the total is considerably affected by the small number of submarines in the operational areas and by the long periods of time required for the submarines to get to and from the operational areas. This time would be reduced considerably with the new submarine types. The number of submarines in action will increase considerably during the next few months. At present 237 submarines are being prepared for operational use: 111 of the old types, 84 of type XXI, 42 of type XXIII. Aside from these, about 60 additional submarines will be committed each month. The present total of 450 commissioned submarines is the largest number Germany has ever possessed.
5. The Commander in Chief, Navy, points out to the Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, that he can under no circumstances approve the ruling made by the Narvik Army Group, providing that as a rule the leaders of the infantry defense and not the battery commanders are to act as base commanders for the coastal batteries in the Norwegian area during enemy attacks. He will send a corresponding request to the OKW.
6. The Chief of the OKW asks the Commander in Chief, Navy, whether the 2,500 officer candidates of the 1928 age group are included in the 10,000 men of this age group to which the Navy is entitled after having given up claim to the original larger number. The Commander in Chief, Navy, states that the 2,500 officer candidates are in addition to the others. The Chief of the OKW agrees; having expected such a decision, he has already given orders to this effect.
Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 17 February 1945, at 1600.
(Note: The Commander in Chief, Navy, did not participate in the Führer conference on 16 February 1945.)
1. The Reichsmarschall [Göring] raised the question whether the Navy could provide emergency units to relieve the 5th Airborne Division from its sector south of Stettin. The answer of the Commander in Chief, Navy, was a decided negative. He had on the evening of 16 February already discussed this problem with the Reichsführer SS [Himmler], and it was found inadvisable to use the naval emergency units from Swinemünde for such a task. These are equipped with light infantry weapons only, and are made up mostly of technicians with little military training.
2. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that the Navy will provide artillery support for the attack planned by the Northern Army Group in Samland. The SCHEER or the LÜTZOW will support the action from Pillau and two heavy artillery carriers and the training ship DRACHE with six 10.5 cm. guns from the sea canal. He further suggests that, contrary to the plan presented, one attack group should be shifted closer to the sea canal for the assault in order to be able to take greater advantage of the artillery support to be given by the aforementioned naval vessels. The Chief of the Army General Staff agrees with this proposal and will transmit it to the Northern Army Group.
3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, submits to the Führer a map of the Frische Haff indicating the ice conditions and the supply routes used. So far all supply shipments from Pillau went exclusively to Rosenberg. However at the request of the Northern Army Group, a second supply line to Brandenburg, southwest of Königsberg, is to be established.
4. On 16 February the Admiral at Führer's Headquarters transmitted to the Commander in Chief, Navy, the Führer's question how transport between Kurland and the Reich by sea could be increased. The Commander in Chief, Navy, replies that all means have already been exhausted. These transports could be increased only at the expense of the Skagerrak transports. This, however, the Commander in Chief, Navy, hesitates to recommend. The Führer agrees with this opinion.
5. To the Führer's second question as to how long it would take to evacuate the approximately 18 divisions of Army Group Kurland, the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that there are 35 transports available. One round trip would take about 7 days, and each time about 25,000 men, 5,600 horses and 3,500 vehicles could be moved.
The Führer estimates that about 300,000 men will have to be moved including auxiliary units such as labor battalions, Organization Todt, etc., and it would therefore take about 90 days to accomplish this. Normal delays caused by weather and blocked sea lanes are included in this estimate. Asked about possible enemy interference, the Commander in Chief, Navy, replies that it cannot be estimated in advance. Because of their continental orientation the Russians so far have completely overlooked the effect their air force could have on our transport movements by attacking ports and convoys. At any rate they have not availed themselves of this opportunity. The first major air attack against our convoys occurred on 16 February and caused considerable damage. Should the Russians pursue such tactics energetically, they could disrupt our transport system considerably, since shipping losses cannot be replaced. Aside from a few successful operations by Russian submarines the danger to our convoys from Russian naval forces is less serious.
6. In reply to the Führer's question on how long it will take to transfer the 169th Infantry Division from Norway to Denmark, the Commander in Chief, Navy, states that he hopes to be able to accomplish the transfer in two weeks. He figures that the transport movements in the Skagerrak will function more smoothly from now on, since two new transports and likewise two new icebreakers were added to the naval forces there. The Chief, Operations Division, remarks that the railroads bringing the divisions to be evacuated to the ports of embarkation will be synchronized with the sea transportation facilities.
7. The Führer is particularly pleased about the reports of the latest submarine successes. In this connection the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that 7 submarines have recently returned from operations in the areas around the British Isles. These ships had to operate in narrow sea lanes and in shallow waters near the coast. They all report that the enemy defenses are not very effective. This proves therefore that the superiority of enemy submarine defenses has been overcome by the introduction of the Schnorchel. The number of submarines in operation will be increased further in the near future. Since the beginning of February, 35 submarines have left for the operational areas, and 23 more will follow before the end of the month. The Führer asked the Commander in Chief, Navy, about the use of the new submarine types, and was informed that two ships of Type XXIII are already operating along the east coast of the British Isles, and that the first ship of Type XXI will be ready to leave for operations along the American east coast by the end of February or the beginning of March.
8. The Commander in Chief, Navy, explains to the Führer with the aid of a map the submarine operation against the PQ convoy in the Arctic Ocean. This operation proved once again that our old types of submarines have little chance of success in mobile warfare because of their low submerged speed. Therefore it is best to station them outside of enemy ports. This campaign succeeded so well because of adherence to this principle. The result of these operations provides further proof of how futile it is to try, to chase a fast carrier task force on the open sea by submarines.
9. The Commander in Chief, Navy, submits to the Führer maps showing the distribution of small combat weapons in the North and West Areas.
10. In connection with the lecture given by the Chief of the Luftwaffe Operations Staff on the protection of dams against enemy air raids, the Führer delegates the Commander in Chief, Navy, to test small surface mines or other defenses in regard to their usefulness in neutralizing upkeep bombs (Rollbomben). These are specially designed by the enemy for use against dams. These upkeep bombs float on the surface till they hit the dam. This causes them to sink, and after reaching a depth of about 4 meters they explode. The intended barrage is to catch the upkeep bombs on the surface and to render them harmless.
11. At the end of the conference the Führer emphasized the great importance which he attaches to the revival of submarine warfare for the overall war situation. The Commander in Chief, Navy, amplifies this statement with the explanation that the ability of submarines to remain submerged has revolutionized the concepts of naval warfare. The new submarines, Type XXI, can travel all the way from Germany to Japan without surfacing. All equipment at present employed in naval warfare and which determines the domination of the sea can now be circumvented and eliminated by the improvements of the submarine. These submarines can be expected to be very effective. The Commander in Chief, Navy, points out that the intensification of submarine warfare depends greatly on the solution of the construction problem. Therefore it is of greatest importance that the shipyards receive preferential treatment in matters of personnel, coal, and power.
In conclusion the Führer especially comments on the significance of this complete revolution in submarine warfare.
Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 19 February 1945, at 1700.
(Note: On 18 February 1945 the Commander in Chief, Navy, was not present at the Führer conference .)
1. The Führer wonders whether or not the German Reich should withdraw from the Geneva Convention. Since not only the Russians but the enemy in the west as well disregard International Law with their attacks against the defenseless population and the residential districts of the cities, perhaps we should take the same point of view in order to make the enemy realize that we are determined to fight for our existence with all means at our disposal. At the same time this would induce the German population to resist to the utmost. The Führer asks the Commander in Chief, Navy, to consider the pros and cons of this step and to report on the matter as soon as possible.
2. The Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, reports that information has been received that an enemy army in the west is being supplied by transport gliders. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports in this connection that according to information sent by the submarine at Den Hoofden, no sizable transport ships were seen along the Thames-Scheldt convoy route, merely small vessels such as LST's and coastal steamers. This may mean that the enemy has adequate supplies in that area, and that he has therefore transferred vessels from the Thames-Scheldt route to another location. The Führer asks where the Commander in Chief, Navy, thinks the enemy vessels are being used. He replies that nothing definite is known about this and requests that reconnaissance planes be sent as soon as possible to Antwerp and the ports along the British coast. The Führer passes this request on to the Reichsmarschall.
5. The Deputy of the Reichsführer SS at Führer Headquarters, SS-Gruppenführer Fegelein, submits the Reichsführer's inquiry as to when he can count on the arrival of the Panthers which are to be withdrawn from Libau. In addition the Führer asks the Commander in Chief, Navy, when the infantry division which is to be transported by water would arrive from Libau. The Commander in Chief, Navy, replies that he is using all available ships for transport duty, assigning them according to the importance of the task; however, it is the Army which decides what should be loaded and in what order the different units are to be moved. Combat divisions must be given priority. This opinion is confirmed by the Deputy of the Army General Staff, Oberstleutnant i.G. Hermani. The Führer remarks that in the long run combat troops cannot continually be given preference. They may be able to get along without their supply services, such as repair shops, supply trains, etc., for a few days, but not for a longer period of time.
Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 20 February 1945, at 1600.
During the discussion of further operational plans for Army warfare in the east, the Führer asks the Commander in Chief, Navy, to indicate what importance the ports of Stettin and Swinemünde have for our naval warfare. The Commander in Chief, Navy, points out that Stettin and Swinemünde provide the backbone for our naval supply tasks in the eastern Baltic Sea. The loss of these harbors would make troop transports and supply shipments in the Baltic depend entirely on the ports in the western Baltic. With the long routes in shallow water and the great danger from mines this would mean that the time of passage is doubled, particularly since the escort forces would have to carry a greater responsibility. Aside from that, Swinemünde is the decisive base for naval forces in that area. Its loss would also make it considerably more difficult for us to fight the Russians in the central and western Baltic. It would become impossible to continue using the deep sea areas east of Bornholm for submarine training, and we would be forced to limit such training to the sea areas of the western Baltic, which are very shallow and thus badly suited for the purpose. The loss of the dockyards in Stettin and Swinemünde would mean that repair capacity, which is already very limited, would be decreased even further. And finally, our resources for naval warfare would be concentrated in the western Baltic and would thus become all the more vulnerable from the air. All in all, it is of the utmost importance to naval warfare to hold the Stettin area.
The Führer agrees with the statements of the Commander in Chief, Navy, and decides on the operational measures of the Army with them in mind.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, informs the Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, Generaloberst Jodl, and the representative of the Foreign Minister at Führer Headquarters, Ambassador Hewel, of his opinion concerning a possible German withdrawal from the Geneva Convention. From the military point of view, naval warfare would not profit by such an action. On the contrary, the disadvantages would outweigh the advantages. Also from a general standpoint, the Commander in Chief, Navy, does not see that it could be of advantage. It would be better in any case to keep up outside appearances and carry out the measures believed necessary without announcing them beforehand. The Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, and Ambassador Hewel are absolutely of the same opinion.
Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 23 February 1945, at 1600.
(Note: On 21 and 22 February 1945 the Commander in Chief, Navy, did not attend the Führer conference.)
1. In connection with the discussion of the situation faced by Army Group Vistula, the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that during the night from 24 to 25 February it is planned to blow up the bridges built by the Russians across the river Oder at Auras, Vogelsang, and Göritz. This will be done by special naval units.
2. A report on renewed boomerang air attacks on the Deschimag submarine shipyards in Bremen causes the Commander in Chief, Navy, to make the following remarks: Owing to the fact that a fog screen is ineffective and anti-aircraft affords little protection against bombs dropped from an altitude of anywhere from 9,000 to 11,000 meters, jamming stations and night fighters must be used for the defense. The Luftwaffe High Command [OKL] guarantees that two jamming stations will be set up immediately in the area west of Bremen. They will be ready to operate in about a week. It seems vitally necessary to have more mosquito fighters over the Bremen area at night. (Following the conference the Commander in Chief, Navy, discussed this question in detail with the Luftwaffe officers present, Oberst von Below, Oberstleunant von Greiff (General Staff) and Major Büchs. They are of the opinion that night fighting against boomerang planes approaching their target individually, is effective only when weather conditions are such that searchlights can aid the fighters. Still Oberstleunant von Greiff is going to suggest to the Chief of the Luftwaffe General Staff to transfer mosquito night fighters - Me 262 - to Wittmund.)
3. In connection with his report on the successful S-boat operation during the night of 21 to 22 February, the Commander in Chief, Navy, summarizes the experiences gained in this operation in the following manner:
b. Poor visibility does not handicap the operation of the S-boats, because the disadvantages are much greater for the enemy, trying to defend himself, than for the attacking German boats.
c. According to available and rather reliable information on enemy convoy movements, the use of torpedoes by S-boats is preferable to the use of mines.
Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 26 February 1945, at 1700.
(Note: On 21 and 22 February 1945 the Commander in Chief, Navy, was not present at the Führer conferences on 24 and 25 February 1945.)
1. Kapitän zur See Assmann reports that for the first time all troops awaiting evacuation in Oslo have been disposed of, and that at present there are not enough troops there to fill the ships available. Upon inquiry by the Führer, the Deputy Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, Generalleunant Winter, confirms this statement and adds that troops cannot be brought to Oslo fast enough because of the coal shortage (Cf. Annex 1).
2. Since aerial reconnaissance photographs of the Thames show lively convoy traffic in the area, the Commander in Chief, Navy, suggests attacks primarily by "Seehund" midget submarines, which now are becoming available in increasing numbers. Considering that the weather can be expected to improve in this season of the year, and that the new series has an increased operating radius, better results can be expected beginning in March. In this connection the Commander in Chief, Navy, points out how important the Dutch area is to us for the use of small battle weapons.
3. In discussing the enemy air raid against the Weser Shipyard at Bremen the evening of 25 February, the Commander in Chief, Navy, comments that this is the fifth raid on the same shipyard since 17 February, and that these attacks have already lost us 5 submarines of Type XXI. The Luftwaffe reports that two squadrons of night fighters are to be shifted to the Bremen area at once in order to combat the enemy boomerang attacks. It must not be forgotten that these planes are single-engined fighters which can operate only with searchlights, and which therefore depend to a large extent on the weather. Furthermore, two jamming stations were sent on 25 February from the Berlin area to a location near Wittmund Harbor, and two additional ones for whose transfer the Navy will also supply the fuel, will be shipped within the next few days.
4. Plans have been made to abandon the bridgehead at Schwedt in the sector of Army Group, Vistula, and to shift the 1st Naval Division from there to the sector east of Greifenhagen, Pomerania. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports the Reichsführer's intention of converting the 1st Naval Division into a combat division. He agrees with the Reichsführer that all command positions from battalion commanders on up will have to be filled by Army officers experienced in combat. However, the Commander in Chief, Navy, prefers that these troops, which came from the Navy, remain a part thereof, and he asks that the Army officers assigned to the naval divisions be transferred to the Navy. The complement of special weapons and rear echelon services will have to be supplied by the Army. The Führer agrees to this proposal.
5. In a discussion of the future operations of the Northern Army Group, the viewpoint of the Group was expressed that the sea supply lines for the East Prussian sector south of the Frische Haff cannot be maintained indefinitely, since difficulties can be expected when the ice melts. On the basis of reports received in the meantime from the Commanding Officer, Shipping and Transport and the Naval Shore Commander, East Prussia, the Commander in Chief, Navy, states that the passage from Pillau to Rosenberg across the Frische Haff is now almost completely free from ice. A little difficulty might be caused by shifting of the ice, but he hopes it can be overcome with the means available to the Navy. The Commander in Chief, Navy, directs that the Commanding Officer, Shipping and Transport, is to be asked for another report telling, first, whether supplies and reinforcements for Rosenberg can be guaranteed even when the ice melts and, second, whether and at which time a light infantry division can be transported from Rosenberg across the Haff to Pillau with the available facilities.
6. SS-Obergruppenführer Steiner reports to the Commander in Chief, Navy, that he has orders from the Reichsführer SS to organize as large a number of improvised units as possible and to equip them with numerous 2 cm. anti-aircraft guns and machine guns. They are to be utilized according to methods used in the 1st World War in back of the main battle line to prevent the enemy from breaking through. He requests the support of the Navy in releasing such units, including the necessary weapons. The Commander in Chief, Navy, replies that the Navy has already all along on its own initiative given every dispensable man for land warfare, and for this reason there is not a single additional man available at the moment. However, during March 7,000 soldiers who have been at the disposal of the shipyards are to be put into active service, a fact which was ascertained only on 24 February. There might be a possibility of giving some of these soldiers to SS-Obergruppenführer Steiner after 1 April. (See Annex 2.) No complete units can be spared, only separate men. The Navy cannot relinquish any weapons at all, since its own most urgent needs are not nearly satisfied.
7. The Commander in Chief, Navy, requests SS-Obergruppenführer Kaltenbrunner to release the managing director of the Schichau Shipyards at Königsberg, Rodin, as he is urgently needed as director of the shipyards in Norway, and it was for this reason that Generaldirektor Merker recalled him from Königsberg.
8. Asked by the Commander in Chief, Navy, about the possibility of transporting "Marder" one-man torpedoes to Rhodes, the representative of the Luftwaffe Operations Staff, Oberstleunant von Greiff replies that an undertaking of this kind would be justifiable only if it is a measure of great strategic importance, since a large amount of fuel would be required, and the Führer assigned the Ju 290 aircraft in question to other operations. Since it is not a matter of prime strategic importance, the Commander in Chief, Navy, abandons the project. The OKW, Operations Staff, will inform the Admiral, Eastern Aegean Sea.
9. The Chief of the Army Personnel Office, General Burgdorf, confirms the decision made by the Führer on 25 February during the absence of the Commander in Chief, Navy, to appoint Vizeadmiral Hüffmeier as commander of the Channel Islands; the present commander, General von Schmettow, has to be relieved for reasons of health. He will appoint as division commander of the divisions stationed on the Channel Islands a colonel experienced in combat, one who has won the oak leaf cluster.
Annex 1Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Reports to the Commander in Chief, Navy, on the Coal Situation of the Navy and on Shipping on 21 February 1945 at 1000.
The reports were made by the Chief of the Seekriegsleitung, Quartermaster Division, Shipping and Transport Branch, Konteradmiral Engelhardt; the Chief, Fuel and Coal Distribution, Konteradmiral (Ing.) Lüttge; the Chief, Naval Staff, Quartermaster Division, Supplies and Fuel Branch, Konteradmiral (Ing.) Adam.
1. Coal situation: Since 145,000 tons of coal are needed per month for the Navy and 90,000 tons for the Reich Commissioner of Shipping, the coal supplies will last about ten days. Due to the fact that prospective new supplies are not sufficient, all reserves will then be used up. Therefore, in order to remedy this situation it is necessary to take emergency measures. Since the problem of coal supplies is primarily a question of transportation an attempt must be made to utilize inland navigation for transportation to a much greater degree than in the past. It is essential that in the future tug boats and barges of the Navy be permitted to circulate freely on inland waterways, which at present they are prohibited from doing owing to the Reich monopoly of inland waterways (Ministry of Transportation). For the transportation of coal on inland water ways, the Navy is capable of providing at once seventy tugboats and 500 transport ships with a total capacity of 60,000 tons.
It will become necessary to make plans to circumvent damaged ports of the canals with the help of truck columns of Organization Todt.
In Norway too, coal supplies will last only until the beginning of April. In view of the distances involved the shipping of coal supplies must therefore be started at once.
2. The following action is intended:
(2) that the Navy be given the right to take over all idle inland shipping vessels and to operate them with Navy personnel;
(3) that the Organization Todt give aid in overcoming the obstacles resulting from damage to some parts of the canals.
c. Closer coordination between the distribution of coal and its transportation by water is to be achieved by detailing a liaison officer from the Coastal Defense Branch to the Supply and Fuel Branch.
d. In making plans for the coal supply of the coast and allocation of the coal ships for coastal traffic, unavoidable delays caused by the disruption of supply lines or bad weather should be taken into consideration and compensated for as much as possible.
Annex 2Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Report by Generaldirektor Merker to the Commander in Chief, Navy, on 23 February 1945 at 1015.
1. On the basis of his most recent inspection of the shipyards, Merker states that all shipyards have adapted themselves well to the accelerated submarine production program, and that the new measures introduced have proved to be correct. Repairs are also running smoothly.
2. On matters of personnel he reports as follows:
Total number of workmen 68,000
Beginning April, submarine production will be limited to the shipyards of Blohm and Voss and Deschimag. Requirements will then be reduced to:
Total number of workmen 13,000
Therefore beginning 1 April, the number of men to be released from submarine construction will be:
Total number of workmen 55,000
b. On 1 January 1945 the number of men employed in repair work was:
Total number of workmen 42,700
Beginning 1 April the number of men needed for repairs will be:
Total number of workmen 64,200
c. In the Baltic the number of workmen was reduced as follows as the result of assignment to other duties:
(Only 11,000 workers are now employed in shipyards in the Danzig area as compared to the former 23,000.)
d. 2,800 workers were transferred from the eastern part of the Baltic to shipyards in the western Baltic.
e. This improvement in the personnel situation causes Merker to suggest the withdrawal of 7,300 men in addition to the 4,200 soldiers who were assigned to work in the shipyards and who have already been returned. The release would be effected in the following manner:
15 March: 2,300
31 March: 2,200
Almost all soldiers who were assigned to shipyard work as the result of measures "Hilfe 1 and 2" will thus be released. Only a small group of about 600 to 800 men will remain. Merker requests that the men to be retained should be selected by the ship yards, so that they may keep those who are most valuable. He requests further that the 4,300 men on leave for war work be permanently assigned to the shipyards. Thus the 150,000 workmen as of 1 January will be reduced to 117,750 by 1 April as the result of these measures. Merker asks that the shipyards, having made these voluntary reductions in their labor force, not be weakened further by later drafts.
f. The Commander in Chief, Navy, asks whether the following points were given due consideration in deciding on the reduction of workmen:
2. Fifty eight submarines used for training must be made ready for operations as soon as possible.
3. Because of fewer losses, the demand for immediate repairs will increase considerably.
At present the following submarines are available:
237 submarines in training and testing (111 of these are of the old type)
114 new submarines
23 submarines repaired
551 total number of submarines.
Due to the speedy construction of operational submarines, about 40 to 50 per month, we may soon expect the number of 350 submarines which will require constant repairs.
g. After Director Merker confirms that he took the above items into consideration before making his suggestions, the Commander in Chief, Navy, agrees with the proposals in all respects.
4. Merker suggests that the proper authorities should handle the salvaging of the submarines sunk in the harbor (6 vessels of Type XXI). The Commander in Chief, Navy, points out that Kapitän zur See Meyer of the towboat company, working under the command of the Chief of Supplies and Transports, Konteradmiral Engelhardt, would be the most suitable German specialist to be entrusted with this task.
5. Director Merker suggests dropping the idea of converting the Heligoland submarine pens for the use of submarines of Type XXI, since this would involve a great deal of work (40 divers for half a year). The Commander in Chief, Navy, reserves his decision until he has once more discussed the matter with the Ministerialdirektor Dorsch, and the Ministerialdirigent Trittler.
6. Director Merker reports that it has proven impossible to construct the device for moving the submarines to be repaired in the submarine shelter "Valentin"; this device was to facilitate bringing the submarines separately in and out of the shelter. Therefore it may prove difficult to use "Valentin" for repair purposes. The Commander in Chief, Navy, nevertheless considers the completion of "Valentin" correct and believes that it might be used advantageously, for instance, by the Type VII C vessels which are possibly to be covered with "Alberich". Furthermore, Merker proposes to discontinue work on "Hornisse", since it makes considerable demands on our transport facilities, which, in his opinion, cannot be justified in view of the present transportation situation. The Commander in Chief, Navy, wishes to reserve his decision on "Valentin" and "Hornisse until he has discussed these matters with Dorsch and Trittler.
Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 27 February 1945 at 1600.
1. During the report on the situation at Army Group, Vistula, the Führer once more raises the question of transferring the 1st Naval Division. The sector which the 1st Naval Division has held up to now is to be occupied by the Army troops which will become available when the Schwedt bridgehead is evacuated; the 1st Naval Division is to occupy a sector south of Stettin. The Führer plans to transfer the 2nd Naval Division later on to this area also, in this way freeing for assignments elsewhere the parachute troops which are now there. The Führer states that he considers it particularly important to cover Stettin and to hold northern Pomerania and West Prussia, since if this area were cut off, sea transport would be under too great a strain, the submarine training areas in the central part of the Baltic Sea could no longer be used, and the threat to the northern flank of the Russians would be eliminated. He is convinced that the naval divisions will hold their own and will succeed in this defensive assignment. SS-Gruppenführer Fegelein reports that the Reichsführer SS has already ordered the transfer of the 1st Naval Division.
2. The Chief of the Army General Staff reports to the Führer that he has given instructions to evacuate only the wounded whose injuries require treatment in Germany. Slightly wounded men who can be expected to recover behind the front within a short time are no longer to be evacuated in the future.
3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, submits to the Führer a report of the Commanding Officer, Supplies and Transports, Konteradmiral Engelhardt, on the subject of supplies for the Northern Army Group. The Commander in Chief, Navy, states that the Navy could guarantee the shipment of 2,000 tons of supplies daily to the 4th Army by way of Pillau-Rosenberg; short delays of up to one and a half days might have to be taken into account, however, on account of ice conditions. Supplying the 4th Army is not so much a problem of shipping space and transportation, but the difficulty lies rather in the fact that supplies are not available in sufficient quantities. Königsberg and Samland can also be supplied without difficulty as long as we can retain Pillau and the sea canal between Pillau and Königsberg. In this connection the Chief, General Staff, remarks that it is hardly possible to hold in readiness 2,000 tons daily for shipment to the 4th Army, thus confirming the opinion of the Commander in Chief, Navy. The Führer emphasizes finally that, to judge by the reasons advanced by the Commander in Chief, Navy, it is the most important task of the Northern Army Group to hold Pillau and to secure the supply route from Pillau to Königsberg.
4. The Führer expresses his intention of transferring an additional division from Kurland to the Northern Army Group at Pillau as soon as the current battle in Kurland subsides.
5. During the report on the situation in the Western Area mention is made of the necessity of withdrawing the 346th Infantry Division from the islands Schouwen, Goeree, and Overflakkee, at the Maas estuary, and of transferring it to the area where the Americans are attacking. Naval detachments and police forces from the Netherlands are to take its place. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that the four naval detachments - about 4,000 men - which are already at the front in the Dutch area, as well as the two additional detachments stationed in the Netherlands, are available for these assignments. There are no other naval troops available in the Reich, however, which could possibly be used for land warfare; the Navy has already on its own initiative released all of its members who could be spared for the Army and for the naval divisions. The Führer emphasizes the need for using camouflage measures extensively in order to keep the enemy from discovering that this front has been weakened.
6. The Deputy Chief, OKW Operations Staff, reports that aerial photographs locating landing craft in the harbor of Senigallia, in the Adriatic Sea, show that these vessels can carry a load of 50 tanks and about 520 men, or 3,500 men with infantry weapons. No other landing preparations were observed in other Adriatic ports. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that the enemy has enough landing craft available in the Mediterranean to transport five divisions simultaneously, and they can be assembled at any time on short notice. Thus although there are no signs at present which indicate that a landing is imminent, it is nevertheless advisable to remain skeptical on this score. The intensified enemy air attacks against naval bases in the Istrian region may be only the enemy's reply to the constant activity of German naval forces and small battle units. However, they may also be part of preparations for a landing operation.
7. On the question of the Norway transports the Deputy Chief, OKW Operations Staff, reports to the Führer that the coal shortage is responsible for the fact that so few troops are arriving to be evacuated by sea. The Commanding General, Army, Norway, has observed the priorities established by the OKW Operations Staff. An attempt is being made to make up for the present brief delay by dispatching from Oslo troop units with lower priority. While at present the available shipping space is not being fully utilized for a short time, the opposite was true on various occasions in the past, and troops ready to be shipped had to wait in Oslo until enough shipping space became available. The Führer stresses the importance of keeping a sufficient number of troops ready to utilize the ships, since it is much better to have troop units wait for transportation in Oslo for several days if necessary than to waste shipping space even temporarily.
8. After the conference on the situation the Chief of the General Staff asks the Commander in Chief, Navy, whether it is possible to move a light infantry division of the 4th Army from Rosenberg to Pillau across the Haff. The Commander in Chief, Navy, replies that this can be done easily as soon as ice conditions no longer cause difficulties. Transportation for the men is no problem even now, and the move could be completed within a few days. The vehicles, however, can be shipped only on naval landing craft, and the ice might interfere with loading and moving them. It is better, therefore, to wait about 8 or 10 days, when there will be no more danger of ice in the Haff. Hence the division can be moved within a week or 10 days. One must not forget, however, that for the duration of this troop shipment none of the wounded can be evacuated from Rosenberg.
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