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Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 16 March 1945 at 1600.
(Note: The Commander in Chief, Navy, did not attend the führer conferences on 14 and 15 March 1945.
1. The Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff [Generaloberst Jodl] reports to the Führer on the situation in northern Norway. While the delivery of supplies generally runs smoothly, the coal situation in Norway is constantly becoming more critical. At the moment there are still 15,000 tons of coal in Denmark, ready to be shipped to Norway. After that, no more coal shipments from Germany can be counted on unless the Navy can find ways and means to provide further quantities. The railway schedule in Norway will shortly be reduced to two trains per day because of the coal shortage. This rate can be maintained even after conversion to wood fueling. In connection with the coal situation, the Commander in Chief, Navy, states that as long as coal is available in German rorts, sea transportation will present no difficulties. Transportation on land, however, is causing difficulties. Coal shipments on the Dortmund-Ems Canal are to be resumed as soon as possible in spite of renewed damages to the Ladbergen sector. The Commander in Chief, Navy, decided with Ministerialdirektor Dorsch that a dump truck railway should be built to serve temporarily until an efficient narrow-gauge railway can be provided. First of all a large labor force will be needed to reload the coal. But the coal transported in this way will probably be needed in the coastal areas of the homeland, since there also coal is very scarce, and our transport and escort forces never have enough.
2. On 15 March the Führer ordered that the Navy accelerate the transfer of the 169th Infantry Division from Norway to Jutland with all available means. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that two more transports were assigned to this task, and that adequate escort forces are also available; therefore the transfer of this division will be effected as rapidly as possible. About four fifths of the division is already in Denmark.
3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer that the first submarine, Type XXI, will depart for the operational area within the next few days. Six more submarines of this type will follow in April. The Commander in Chief, Navy, intends to send one group of the eight to ten boats of Type IX C - to be ready for action at the end of March or beginning of April - to patrol the convoy route to America. According to reports received from our ships there is no more enemy air patrol west of 15º West.
Therefore it would be to our advantage to invade this area with submarines as soon as possible in order to make successful surprise attacks on the one hand, and on the other hand to weaken the enemy's present concentration of defense weapons in the sea area around Britain.
Recent happenings indicate that most of our submarine losses are due to enemy mines. The best way of overcoming this would be to operate in shallow water. The enemy will refrain from using ground mines because of the danger to his own shipping, and it is unlikely that moored mines will be laid in shallow water. At the same time the shallow water will provide for our ships the best protection against enemy radar. However should a submarine be located in this area, it will have difficulty escaping enemy sub-chasing vessels.
4. The Commander in Chief, Navy, presents to the Führer with the aid of a map his ideas about the organization of the shipment of supplies by sea. While this organization functioned smoothly and satisfactorily in normal times, difficulties and frictions have arisen now that the isolation of Army Groups Kurland, North, and of the 2nd Army has brought about increased demands. The Commander in Chief, Navy, believes that the fullest cooperation of all interested parties will achieve maximum efficiency. It is a matter of making rapid reassignments of ships already at sea, thus assuring quick delivery of supplies whenever new needs arise. While delays due to enemy interference and weather conditions can scarcely be overcome more efficiently than is the case at this time, the Commander in Chief, Navy, believes that the situation could be improved by more efficient assignment of ships and by speeding up the loading process in the harbors. Therefore he requests that the Transport and Supply Office, Scandinavia, be put under the command of the Navy. After the Commander in Chief, Navy, affirmed the Führer's inquiry as to whether he expected a more rapid supply delivery from such a new regulation, the Führer decides in favor of the suggestion and signs the following order:
"The Office of Supply and Transport, Scandinavia, with its subordinated branches is released from the command authority of the OKW and put under the Naval Staff, Commanding Officer, Supply and Transport for the Armed Forces. Executive orders will be issued by the Chief of the OKW in cooperation with the Commander in Chief, Navy. (This order will be released by the OKW, which will thereupon make suggestions for the executive orders to the Commander in Chief, Navy, and the Seekriegsleitung.)
5. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer that in case Danzig and Gotenhafen are lost, he does not plan to destroy these harbors completely, but merely to block them as effectively as possible. While the port of Danzig, being a river port, cannot be completely eliminated by mere demolition, also Gotenhafen would, in spite of the most thorough demolition, still provide sufficient harbor space for the small requirements of the Russians. Therefore it would seem more practical to forego demolition altogether and to concentrate on blocking the ports with deep mine fields. However it is essential that the minor basins south of the main harbor of Gotenhafen be completely demolished. The same holds true for Pillau and Königsberg. The Führer agrees with this suggestion. In conclusion the Commander in Chief, Navy, again stresses the decisive value the ports of the Bay of Danzig have for German naval as well as land warfare in this area.
6. The Chief of the Army General Staff [Generaloberst Guderian] suggests assigning an Army officer as fortification commander for Gotenhafen. The Commander in Chief, Navy, agrees, since the fortification is in greater danger from land than from the sea, and it is therefore essential that the chief responsibility for the defense lies in the hands of the Army. Naval matters are to be managed by the officer up to now in command of the fortification, in his new capacity as Naval Shore Commander, West Prussia.
7. The Commander in Chief, Navy, points out to the Chief of the Army General Staff that he cannot accept the complaints of the Fortification Commander, Kolberg, about the supposed failure of the Navy concerning the evacuation of refugees from Kolberg. He believes that the evacuation of over 60,000 refugees within twelve days by improvised means is quite exceptional and will hold its own against all criticism. The Chief of the OKW informs the Commander in Chief, Navy, that he is of the same opinion.
8. In a conversation with Field Marshal Busch, the new Commanding General of the Operations Staff, North Coast, the Commander in Chief, Navy, stresses the necessity of leaving the overall command authority of the immediate coastal area in the hands of the naval commanders, since experiences in the West Area proved that they are better qualified to handle the operation of weapons along the coast.
Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 17 March 1945 at 1600.
1. The Chief of the Army General Staff [Generaloberst Guderian] expresses to the Comnander in Chief, Navy, the opinion that the Führer's decision to hold Kurland can partly be traced back to his concern for naval warfare. The Chief of the Army General Staff therefore requests that the Commander in Chief, Navy, support him in his endeavor to evacuate Kurland. Though the Commander in Chief, Navy, is convinced that problems of naval warfare did not influence the Führer's de cision, he nevertheless sees the necessity to clarify this problem. He reports to the Führer that West Prussia is now as ever of prime importance for naval warfare, but that the Navy purely from a viewpoint of naval strategy has no interest in the defense of Kurland. The shipment of supplies to Kurland is only a strain on the Navy. The Führer confirms the correctness of this opinion and explains at length the reasons - all based purely on considerations of land warfare - which made him decide not to abandon Kurland. In the course of the conversation the Commander in Chief, Navy, states in answer to a question by the Führer that it would take the Navy about five weeks to evacuate five divisions. According to rough estimates about 2,000 men, 600 horses, and 300 vehicles could be shipped every day. The Führer delegates the Commander in Chief, Navy, to investigate these problems again in the light of present conditions.
2. Reporting on the transport situation in Norway, the Commander in Chief, Navy, mentions that soon three additional ships will be assigned to the transport service to make up for the loss of the transports MARKOBRUNNER and TIJUNKA , which were damaged by mines.
3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer that the harbor patrol vessel No. 31 (a small boat about 16 m. long with one machine gun and a crew of one noncommissioned officer and five men), escaped to Sweden after the officer had been shot. One member of the crew returned in a rubber dinghy. It is probably the action of a madman. The Foreign Office is requested to demand the extradition of the escaped crew.
4. On the basis of a communication from the Commanding Admiral, Eastern Baltic, transmitted via Naval Command, East, the Commander in Chief, Navy, calls the attention of the Chief of the Army General Staff to the fact that the maintenance of the bridgeheads at Danzig, Gotenhafen, and Hela depend above all on weapons and ammunition, and he requests therefore that adequate supplies be made available.
5. After the conference the Reich Commissioner of Shipping, Gauleiter Kaufmann, in the presence of the Führer and the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports on problems of logistics and the shipment of supplies and coal to Norway. No new angles are disclosed.
Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 18 March 1945 at 1600.
1. The Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, Generaloberst [Alfred] Jodl reports that the main body of enemy air reconnaissance has been shifted from the Nijmegen region toward the northeast, which points to certain conclusions as to the intended direction of enemy attack. In this connection the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer that in the area of the German Bight and in the Skagerrak the enemy is continuing to lay mines set for two weeks and that he has laid no mines in the Ems estuary and in the Dollart. This points to the conclusion that the enemy wants to keep these areas open temporarily for his own movements, and that enemy landings, especially in the Ems estuary, are very possible.
2. It was learned from American sources that the big railroad bridge at Remagen has collapsed, allegedly owing to previous damage. The Commander in Chief, Navy, takes this opportunity to give the Führer an idea of the repeated attempts by naval detachments to destroy this bridge under the most difficult circumstances.
3. In reply to the Führer's inquiry of 17 March about the transportation possibilities from Kurland, the Commander in Chief, Navy, submits the following report:
b. In one round trip these ships can handle 23,250 men, 4,520 horses, and 3,160 vehicles.
c. Taking into consideration possible delays caused by weather conditions or enemy interference, one round trip between Libau and Swinemünde takes an average of nine days.
d. The harbors of Libau and Swinemünde will be adequate to handle these transports, provided that all transports carrying wounded and refugees are unloaded in harbors other than Swinemünde.
e. This is possible only if the coal supply for the transport ships, convoy escort forces, and repair shipyards is the same as heretofore.
f. The above figures do not take into account any exceptional intensification of enemy activity which might result in heavy losses in shipping and destruction of harbors, since this sort of thing cannot be estimated in advance.
4. The Führer informs Minister Speer that he has decided to continue the production of ammunition for heavy ship artillery within the frame of the emergency program. (Figures covering production capacity and need are being compiled at present.)
5. Following the report on the launching of the first submarine of Type XXI, the Commander in Chief, Navy, informs the Führer of the very good results that were reported by the commander of a submarine Type XXIII, Oberleutnant zur See Heckel. After the attack he withdrew at a speed of 9 knots, changed over to crawling speed, and succeeded in escaping from the anti-submarine forces; they dropped their depth charges without effect far away from the submarine. Furthermore, the Commander in Chief, Navy, emphasized once more that our figures of German submarine successes as they are published are no doubt smaller than the actual results. Assuming that the missing submarines averaged as well as those which returned, an additional 26,000 tons may have been sunk. The submarines could do even better if we were still in the possession of the harbors in the Bay of Biscay.
6. In connection with the report on the S-boat missions during the night of 17 March, the Commander in Chief, Navy, calls attention to the great activity of the S-boats lately. Some time ago he had been under the impression that the Commander, S-Boats had become somewhat too dogmatic in the use of his forces, although one must be very careful about establishing any set rules, considering the changing conditions and experiences. These difficulties now seem to have been overcome.
7. During a discussion of possible enemy plans in the Mediterranean Sea, the Commander in Chief, Navy, states that the observations of enemy ship movements through the Strait of Gibraltar are of no real value, because no one knows either whether the troop ships are carrying replacements or men on furlough, or whether the convoys remain in the Mediterranean or go on to East Asia.
8. The The Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff [Generaloberst Jodl] informs the Commander in Chief, Navy, that the Commanding General, Armed Forces, West, has asked for permission to transfer the Naval Command, West, from Bad Schwalbach to Lindau on Lake Constance for reasons of air defense. The Commander in Chief, Navy, is of the opinion that the Naval Command, West, should remain in the vicinity of the Commanding General, Armed Forces, West. The The Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff intends to make his decision to this effect.
9. SS-Standartenführer [Wilhelm] Zander submits a request from Reichsleiter Bormann to relieve the congestion in Pillau somewhat by evacuating some 5,000 refugees, in addition to the main evacuation of refugees from West Prussia. The Commander in Chief, Navy, asks that the Party representative with the Naval Command, East, be given the necessary instructions; he will notify the Commanding officer, Supply and Transports of the measure himself.
10. The Chief of the Army General Staff informs the Commander in Chief, Navy, that Army Group, Vistula, has requested that the naval emergency regiments at the Dievenow front be incorporated into the 163rd Infantry Division and the 5th Light Infantry Division; these emergency units have fought very well, but they lack training and experience. The Commander in Chief, Navy, is of the opinion that the bulk of the emergency regiments should remain with the Navy as a naval infantry division. He is willing, however, to contribute part of the emergency units to bring one of the two army divisions up to strength. It is proposed to organize a new naval infantry division out of three naval emergency regiments and the core of the 163rd Infantry Division, which will go over to the Navy; in addition the 5th Light Infantry Division could be brought up to strength by means of an additional emergency regiment, which would be taken over by the Army. The Chief of the Army General Staff intends to examine the practicability of this solution.
Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 20 March 1945 at 1600.
(Note: The Commander in Chief, Navy, was not present at the Führer conference on 19 March 1945.)
1. On the basis of reports from agents, the Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, states that the enemy will most likely make a combined air and sea landing in the area of the Ems estuary in the near future. The Führer, on the other hand, believes that the enemy will use his airborne troops nearer the front in direct support of an offensive by occupying bridges, crossroads and inportant points rather than in an independent strategic oporation. The Corunander in Chief, Navy, states that while the Ems is the most probable goal for a possiole landing, he is also of the opinion that a large independent landing operation is not likely at the morient. It is decided that two divisions will be transferred to the area of the Ems estuary. However, the 2nd Naval Infantry Division is to remain in its present assembly area and after being assembled it is to be transferred to the area near the front behind Army Group, Vistula, as planned heretofore.
2. In answer to the Führer's inquiry about participation of the task forces in the fighting around the Dohnas Mountain west of Gotenhafen, the Commander in Chief, Navy, shows him the report of the Admiral, Eastern Baltic Sea, according to which the ships' artillery has been in action against targets in this area every day since 10 March. On the decisive days of 17 and 18 March, however, comparatively little armunition was used. The demands of the Army, also concerning the use of ammunition, were almost entirely satisfied. The Führer is of the opinion that the Army did not make sufficient use of the very effective ships' artillery in the decisive fighting around the Dohnas Mountain.
3. The Northern Army Group reported that the transfer of the 4th Army with equipment from Rosenberg to Pillau can be accomplished in about five nights. According to the Führer's statements, the 4th Army is about 150,000 men strong. In this connection the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that these figures reach far above the capacity of the Navy's equipment. According to latest íigures, the Navy can carry only 4,000 men per night without equipment. This number could be increased to 7,000 if more ships are assigned to this task. The Conmander in Chief, Navy, will report the exact figures on 21 March, as soon as his inquiries have been answered. The Commander in Chief, Navy, orders that as a precautioniary measure all naval barges available in the Baltic area are to be transferred at once to Pillau.
4. In answer to the Führer's inquiry, the Chief of Staff, Army, General [Walther] Buhle (Artillery) reports that 450 rounds of 28 cm. ammunition (4.1 caliber lengths) from a battery of Army Group, Vistula, can be made available for the SCHLESIEN and that the Army can furnish 394 rounds of 28 cm. ammunition (4.1 caliber lengths) and 2,556 rounds of armor piercing shells for the LÜTZOW. The Führer orders that this ammunition be given to the Navy immediately.
5. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer that he is going to try to reinforce the task force in Gotenhafen by transferring the LÜTZOW from Swinemünde. (The corresponding order of the Commander in Chief, Navy, effecting this transfer is telephoned to the Naval Command, Baltic, and the Seekriegsleitung, on the evening of 20 March.)
6. The Führer states that at the moment an adequate supply of ammunition is our most important task, even at the expense of troop transports. It would be useless to transfer more troops to the Northern Army Group before the shortage of ammunition there has been relieved. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports in this connection that according to his observations no appreciable time can be saved during the transportation of ammunition to the ports, nor afterwards at sea, but only by correct assignment of the ships and accelerated turnover in the ports. This was also the reason why the Commander in Chief, Navy, requested that the Supply and Transportation Office, Scandinavia, be placed under the Commanding officer, Supply and Transports for the Armed Forces. (The Commanding Officer, Supply and Transports, is ordered to accelerate ammunition shipments to the Northern Army Group and especially to the 2nd Army in every way possible, even if other tasks must be postponed.)
7. With the help of a map, the Admiral on Special Duty with the Commander in Chief, Navy, explains to the FUhrer the S-boat operations on the nights of 17 and 18 March. In conclusion the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports as follows:
b. The mass employment of S-boats scatters enemy defenses, so that some of the S-boats are able to attack because others are engaging the enemy escort forces and thus diverting them from the object to be protected.
c. Torpedoes have proven more successful than mines. Therefore their use should under no circumstances be given up in favor of mines.
d. The S-boats stand good chances of success even in poor visibility. The enemy is handicapped when he has to depend on locating devices only without being able to see, and his defenses are considerably less effective. Supposedly it was proven that S-boats cannot operate successfully when visibility is less than 2,000 meters and have to discontinue operations under such circumstances. This assumption, which had come to be accepted in practice, has been proved erroneous.
e. The S-boat coramanders have generally made the mistake of establishing principles for the operation of S-boats which were not adequately substantiated, but to which they adhered obstinately. The Commander in Chief, Navy, has intervened and has done away with such rigid conceptions. The recent successful activity of the S-boats shows that this effort has been worth while and has proved useful to S-boat operations.
9. The Commender in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer that he has transferred the Naval Command, West, from Bad Schwalbach to Lindau, since the front was too close to permit its proper functioning. There is at the moment no other location available. However the Commander in Chief, Navy, believes that closer connection between Naval Command, West, and the Commanding General, West, is necessary in the long run, and he intends to transfer Naval Command, West, to the vicinity of the Commanding General, West, as soon as suitable headquarters are available.
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