Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 18 January 1945, at 1600.
1. During the discussion of the situation on the Eastern Front, the Commander in Chief, Navy, offers the Führer a naval rifle regiment of 3,000 men, to be sent to the Army front. The regiment has infantry equipment, i.e., hand weapons, light and heavy machine guns, light infantry guns, and medium mortars. Light mortars and some field kitchens are lacking. The regiment will be ready for transfer on 48 hours' notice. The North Sea coast will be exposed by the transfer, to be sure, but this can be borne in view of the emergency in the East, since the North Sea coast is not in acute danger during the winter months.
The Führer agrees with this opinion and approves the proposal. The Commander in Chief, Navy, determines jointly with the Chief of the Army General Staff [Generaloberst Guderian] that the regiment is to be assigned to the Tilsit sector.
2. Regarding the removal of one panzer division and two infantry divisions of the Northern Army Group to the Reich, the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that sufficient shipping space is available. The time required for the transfer depends on the loading capacity of the port of Libau and on the weather situation, which for the time being is very unfavorable - there are western gales. It is to be hoped that the panzer division can be transferred within 3 days.
3. The Führer asks if the troop transports from Norway to Denmark cannot be speeded up, but the Commander in Chief, Navy, answers in the negative. The delay is due to the weather and especially to the mine situation. It would be irresponsible to force the transports, regardless, since this would not speed them up, but only cause losses.
4. The Commander in Chief, Navy, gives a short report on possibilities for naval operations against the enemy supply traffic between the Thames and Antwerp. Destroyers and torpedo boats could be used only at the risk of very severe losses and with little positive effect; therefore it cannot be justified - particularly since these vessels cannot be spared from combat and escort assignments in other areas. The area is unfavorable for submarine operations. Nevertheless, in the near future a VII C submarine with Schnorchel will be dispatched to the Channel. An unexpected storm interfered with the success of the first operation by "Seehund" midget submarines. However, valuable experience was gained, and the boats are continuing to operate. Because of the long distances involved, the other small battle weapons [Kleinkampfverbände] can be used only as suicide weapons, and then only if the weather is suitable, as they would otherwise not even reach the area of operations. Despite these limitations, all efforts will be continued to interfere with the enemy supply traffic to Antwerp.
5. During a report on the distribution of the British Fleet, the reasons why the British are keeping such a relatively large number of vessels in home waters are discussed. The Commander in Chief, Navy, believes that these vessels might be used to operate against our sea communications along the west coast of Norway and to penetrate into the Skagerrak. He again calls attention to the necessity of protecting the Skagerrak strongly on the western side.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 19 January 1945, at 1600.
1. The Führer decides that in addition to the transfer of 3 divisions which has already been ordered, 2 more divisions are to be removed from Kurland to the Reich. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that 9 steamers are already available for embarkation in Libau. The time required for the transfer is at present determined by the speed with which the Army can bring up its troops overland. The steamer COMETA arrived in Gotenhafen the afternoon of 19 January with advance troops of the 4th Panzer Division. They are now disembarking.
2. The Chief of the Army General Staff [Generaloberst Guderian] reports that a battalion of Tiger tanks is to be transferred by naval barges from Memel to Pillau. The Commander in Chief, Navy, comments that this transport operation depends very much upon the weather. However, steamers cannot be used because there is a wreck in the entrance to Memel which would prevent their passage, and furthermore there are no steamers available for transporting tanks.
3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that the 3rd Naval Rifle Regiment, which has been made available to the Army for the Eastern Front, will be ready for shipment the morning of 20 January.
4. After the situation conference the Commander in Chief, Navy, directs the Führer's attention to the decisive significance of the East and West Prussian area for naval warfare. Its loss would paralyze naval warfare, especially submarine operations. The Führer completely agrees with this opinion. The Commander in Chief, Navy, discusses the same problem with the Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, Generaloberst Jodl.
5. The Commander in Chief, Navy, asks the Chief of the OKW [Generalfeldmarschall Keitel] for the speedy assignment of the light anti-aircraft weapons required to arm the merchant ships, as provided by the memorandum of 19 December 1944 approved by the Führer. The Deputy Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, General Winter will take the necessary measures.
6. After the situation conference, Reich Commissioner Terboven, Generaloberst Jodl and the Commander in Chief, Navy, confer about the coal supply of central and northern Norway at Terboven's request. The latter feels that the Norwegian railway should take over coal shipments from the south to the north at the expense of a certain delay to troop transports from the north to the south. The Commander in Chief, Navy, and the Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, however, think that bulky cargoes like coal should continue to be moved by ship, and that sea transportation, despite some losses, can still cope with this task. It is only necessary to get the proper priority rating; otherwise the problem can generally be solved by local authorities.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 20 January 1945.
1600. In a conference requested by Reich Commissioner Terboven with the Chief of the OKW, the Commander in Chief, Navy, the Reich Commissioner for Maritime Shipping, and representatives of the Reich Coal Commission and the transportation offices, the question of Norway's coal supply is discussed once more.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, is of the opinion that the time has come when it is necessary to establish a strict and uniform control of the entire coal supply within the German area through central agencies, both as regards overall distribution as well as distribution between the Navy and merchant shipping. These agencies must determine how much coal is available, and must decide how it should be distributed. The needs of naval warfare must have top priority, as the transfer of the divisions from Kurland and Norway depends on the Navy. Priority rating must be assigned in the following order:
c. New construction
The Chief of the OKW agrees with the Commander in Chief, Navy, with some additional suggestions of his own, e.g., pertaining to railroads for troop transports. Appropriate steps are to be taken.
1645. Conference on the situation with the Führer:
a. Concerning the troop transports from Libau to Gotenhafen the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that 2 destroyers and 10 ships are waiting in Libau already loaded. The time of their departure depends on the weather situation. Later the Führer receives an additional report that 5 ships have left Libau.
b. In view of the threatening developments in the East, the Commander in Chief, Navy, puts 20,000 naval troops at the disposal of the land forces. The Führer accepts this offer, and after a discussion of the type of troops to be used he decides that the above-mentioned number of men from training units of the Navy are to be transferred to the Danish area, where they are to join the land defenses. This would free 22 Army replacement battalions from the Danish area for service on the Eastern Front. This solution has the advantage for the Navy that the naval personnel will stay together, and can later be re-assigned to naval operations when the overall situation has changed.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, further declares that of the 4 branches of the Navy, i.e., the submarine arm, escort forces, anti-aircraft and coastal artillery, the first 3 cannot be touched. Coastal artillery in Holland, Denmark, Norway, and the Eastern Baltic Sea cannot be weakened. Thus there remain only the 7,000 men along the coast of the German Bight; but also there it is inadvisable to expose the key bases of Heligoland, Borkum, and Sylt.
The Führer decides that coastal artillery is not to be weakened either since this would be of no advantage.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 21 January 1945, at 1600.
1. In view of the fact that the situation at the East Prussian land front continues to be extremely strained, the Commander in Chief, Navy, offers Naval Artillery Units 629, in Gotenhafen, and 533, in Pillau, for use under Army command. This will mean that all coastal batteries on the Gulf of Danzig will be silenced. The Commander in Chief, Navy, feels that this must be done, however, since the sea front does not seem to be endangered, whereas the land front is threatened most seriously. The Führer approves the proposal.
2. The evacuation of Memel, which is to be carried out partly by sea and partly by way of the Kurische Nehrung, is discussed. The Führer decides in favor of the proposal made by the Commander in Chief, Navy, that contrary to previous orders the destruction of the harbor is to be prepared and to be carried out at the proper time.
(As for the German bases in the Gulf of Danzig, the Commander in Chief, Navy, of his own accord orders that preparations for the destruction of the harbors be organized and the necessary material made ready. No active preparations are to be made as yet. The measures ordered are to be kept secret and should be carried out without attracting attention.)
3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, using a chart of the central part of the Baltic Sea indicating all areas free of ground mines, elaborates once again on the great importance of the Gulf of Danzig, the only submarine training area, for the continuation of naval warfare. He emphasizes that the loss of this area would paralyze submarine warfare.
4. Reporting on the successes achieved by submarine commander Hechler [U870] off Gibraltar, the Commander in Chief, Navy, points out that they are very impressive proof of the operational possibilities of submarines equipped with the Schnorchel device and of the new submarine models. He reveals that in past breakthrough attempts in that area our losses have amounted to 60-80%. Now a single boat can operate there for as long as 10 days and can achieve considerable results.
5. After the conference on the situation the Chief of the OKW informs the Führer of the difficult coal situation and of the necessity to organize coal distribution very strictly. The Commander in Chief, Navy, declares that the present situation is untenable, because everyone is confiscating coal for his own purpose, and the most important tasks of the Wehrmacht are therefore being endangered. Coal must be secured for sea transports and defense forces; otherwise divisions can no longer be sent to the front, and Army Group, Kurland, which can be supplied only by sea, will be cut off entirely from supplies. The distribution of coal is a task of military nature, and it can be accomplished only by a determined member of the Wehrmacht with the necessary authority. The agencies concerned must keep in constant contact with one another and get the facts on the coal situation; on these findings the coal czar must base his decisions as to the proper distribution according to military needs. In addition to the Reich Commissioner for Coal as the supplier, all the agencies requiring coal must be represented: The OKW, the Kriegsmarine, the Reich Commissioner of Maritime Shipping, the railroad, and the Gauleiters. The Führer adds war industries to the list.
The Führer approves the proposal that a member of the Wehrmacht be appointed coal czar. He also approves the suggestion that the shipment of 40,000 tons of coal en route to Norway be held back, and that ¼ of this amount be diverted to Danzig.
(Following the conference on the situation, the Commander in Chief, Navy, offers his services as coal czar to the Chief of the OKW, who had declared that there is no one with sufficient authority available for this position. The OKW must make the decisions as to where the delivery of coal is most vital from a strategic point of view; the Commander in Chief, Navy, would take over the practical execution. The Chief of the OKW will see to it that the matter is regulated in this way.)
The Commander in Chief, Navy, also reports that Konteradmiral Engelhardt is organizing 70 to 90 tug boats and a corresponding number of barges on the Rhine to ship coal to the Netherlands. The Navy is supplying the required number of officers and 1,000 men for this task. Light anti-aircraft guns are needed. The Führer welcomes this initiative and decides that the anti-aircraft weapons are to be provided.
6. The Commander in Chief, Navy, calls attention to the serious oil shortage in the Navy and to the fact that even the submarine arm is now affected by it. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reveals that in order to send out the 27 submarines ready for operations in January, he was forced to make use of the reserves of the SCHEER and the LÜTZOW, and these ships are thereby unable to operate for the present.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 22 January 1945, at 1600.
1. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer with regard to the evacuation of refugees from East Prussia that the Reich Commissioner of Maritime Shipping can provide a total of 18 ships in home waters for refugee evacuation without interfering with current troop movements. These ships are dependent on coal supplies in the eastern area, however. Here lies the difficulty. There is only a 3 weeks' supply of coal available for sea transport tasks, e.g., bringing up divisions and supplying Army Group, Kurland, and there is only a 10 days' supply for railroad transportation to take the troops to the front after they are landed. Thus the allocations will probably have to be shifted in favor of railroad transportation, because no additional shipments of coal can be expected in the near future. The transport of the divisions and of the supplies for Army Group, Kurland, must be given priority, since without supplies the Army Group would be beaten within a very short time. Thus there is nothing else to be done but to abandon the evacuation of the refugees. The Navy will do everything possible to evacuate refugees on oil-burning vessels which can temporarily be spared from other operations.
The Führer agrees with the viewpoint of the Commander in Chief, Navy, and decides that coal supplies which are still available must be reserved for military operations alone and must not be used for evacuating refugees.
Afterwards the Commander in Chief, Navy, informs Reichsleiter Bormann of this situation and of the Führer's decision, and asks him to instruct the Gauleiter concerned accordingly.
(The Commander in Chief, Navy, issues orders to use cruiser EMDEN for the evacuation of refugees as soon as she is ready for temporary duty; also other naval vessels which are being transferred to the region west of the Gulf of Danzig are to be used for this purpose. Under no circumstances, however, is this to interfere with vital strategic operations of the Navy involving the transport of troops and supplies, and the escort services.)
2. The Führer decides that Memel is to be evacuated. The bulk of the troops is to retreat by way of the Kurische Nehrung. Heavy equipment is to be shipped by sea. The Chief of the Army General Staff mentions that local authorities estimate it would take the Navy about 2 weeks to organize and carry out the demolition of the port; the Führer decides, upon the proposal of the Commander in Chief, Navy, that only as much time as is available be used for demolishing the harbor, but that evacuation not be delayed.
3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, proposes to the Führer that the submarine training division in Gotenhafen with about 900 non-commissioned officers and 600 men be used on the land front in the defense of Danzig. The Führer rejects this proposal, pointing out that these 1,500 valuable specialists would be unable to change the situation on land, while every single submarine operating against the enemy is of more value to the war effort than this entire division if used for fighting on land.
4. Instead the Führer inquires whether it would not be possible as a special measure to transfer an infantry regiment with limited heavy equipment to Elbing or Danzig within a very short time, without interfering with the Kurland transports. The Commander in Chief, Navy, replies in the affirmative and issues the necessary instructions at once.
5. The Commander in Chief, Navy, asks the Chief of the OKW to instruct the Commanding General, West, to take measures to protect the coal transports of the Navy on the Rhine near Lobith, between Emmerich and Arnheim, where they are endangered by enemy artillery because they are so near the front. The Chief of the OKW replies that such instructions have already been issued and that the Army artillery in this area is already being reinforced in order to neutralize the enemy's artillery.
6. Hauptdienstleiter Saur of the Ministry for Armament and War Production, reports to the Commander in Chief, Navy, that 150 15 mm. triple-barreled guns (or similar weapons) and 100 2 cm. double-barreled guns are being set aside for the naval tug boats and coal barges on the Rhine. Shipment to Duisburg is to begin on 23 January 1945. The exact address of the receiving unit is still to be given.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 23 January 1945, at 1600.
1. During the discussion of the situation in the East, the Führer points out the vital strategic areas on the eastern front: The Hungarian oil lands and the oil fields in the Vienna Basin are of first importance, since without this oil, which is 80% of production, it will be impossible to continue the war. The Danzig Bay area, which is vital for the continuation of submarine warfare, and the Upper Silesian industrial area, which is the center of the defense industry and coal production, are next in importance.
2. The Führer points out that Memel will have to be evacuated very suddenly and quickly to prevent the pursuing Russians from causing losses. He asks the Commander in Chief, Navy, for the assignment of naval forces to protect the evacuation.
3. The report about the successes of submarine commander Dobratz [U1232] off Halifax leads the Commander in Chief, Navy, to explain that the new submarine types have even better chances of success than the old VII C Schnorchel boats. This proves again that we have gone in the right direction by changing to the new submarine types and by keeping them below the surface. The Führer emphasizes again the strategic importance of the Bay of Danzig for the whole war, since it is the training area for our submarines.
4. During a report on the air situation, the Commander in Chief, Navy, stresses the importance of mining the Scheldt River by aircraft, as mine hits in the narrow channels, aside from the direct effect, can considerably delay enemy supply shipments to Antwerp.
5. After the conference on the situation, the Führer discusses measures for preventing sabotage in Norway with a small group consisting of the Foreign Minister; the Commanders in Chief of the Luftwaffe and the Navy; the Chief of the OKW; Minister Lammers; the Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, and Reichsleiter Bormann. The Führer decides to resort to severe countermeasures, as advocated by the Commander in Chief, Navy. Detailed orders will follow.
6. The Commander in Chief, Navy informs the Chief of the OKW of the coal situation on the coast as reported to him by Konteradmiral Engelhardt at a conference in Hamburg: The present supplies on hand are sufficient to maintain naval transports, escort forces, shipyards, and railroad traffic essential to the war for 12 days beginning 22 January. The daily requirements for the above consumers are 5,000 tons. It is therefore necessary that 11 days from today, i.e., beginning 3 February, 5,000 additional tons must be provided daily. The Chief of the OKW promises to make the necessary arrangements.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 25 January 1945, at 1600.
1. Of the 10 "Seehund" midget submarines which left Ijmuiden on 21 January 1945 between 1400 and 1600, 9 have so far returned. Partly because of technical defects and partly because of the unfavorable weather their mission was unsuccessful. The Commander in Chief, Navy, comments as follows:
The "Seehund" midget submarines underwent a severe test during their first assignment. Despite negligible successes the operations were of the greatest value. All the defects which might never have been discovered during further tests in the Baltic Sea showed up under the severe conditions in the Hoofden and can thus be corrected. The limitations of this weapon under adverse weather conditions have been established. The most important discovery made was that enemy planes and naval forces can neither see the "Seehund" submarines nor locate them by radar even when they have surfaced. Furthermore, they are relatively immune to depth charges because they offer so little resistance because of their shape, that they are tossed aside like a cork instead of being damaged. Thus the "Seehund" submarines have proved relatively insusceptible to enemy defenses. Despite the negligible initial successes, the crews have gained considerable confidence in their equipment. It can be expected that future mass operations by "Seehund" will score considerable successes under favorable weather conditions.
2. The Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, relates some of the experiences gained during maneuvers of the Commanding General, Armed Forces, Denmark. The Commander in Chief, Navy, takes this opportunity to point out the importance of Zealand. By getting possession of this island the British, with very small land forces, and making use of their naval superiority, could create a very favorable situation for themselves: Zealand blocks almost completely the approaches to the Baltic Sea, and the loss of Copenhagen would put us at a considerable political disadvantage and would cause us great loss of prestige. Once the enemy has established himself there, it would be very difficult to drive him off. If the British Navy were under the leadership of a Nelson or a Lord Fisher it would certainly have recognized the strategic significance of this area and taken daring action accordingly. Even though the British lack this daring in action at present and though the situation in the west makes new operations seem unlikely at the moment, this problem must be kept in mind for a later date, and it must not be forgotten when the defenses in the Danish area are further reinforced. Besides, we must attempt to appear stronger in the Skagerrak and Kattegat than we actually are. The Navy has therefore spread stories to this effect through the foreign news services. Also the transfer of the small battle units to the Danish area, which cannot be kept secret, will work in the same direction.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 26 January 1945, at 1600.
1. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer the reasons why the Norway-Denmark transports are moving so slowly: They have no minesweeping escorts, and the smaller vessels substituting as minesweepers are handicapped by the present unfavorable weather. The transfer of a mine-detonating vessel from the North Sea area has already been ordered. More mine-detonating vessels will be available after repairs are completed.
2. After conferring with Minister Speer, the Commander in Chief, Navy, informs the Führer of the state of submarine construction if the Upper Silesian industrial area is lost. In such an event 170 submarines of Type XXI and 70 boats of Type XXIII could be completed including those already delivered. The Commander in Chief, Navy, requests the Führer to order these submarines built and to give them the same priority as the emergency armament program, which already includes submarine repair.
The Führer approves the request. Minister Speer will attend to the necessary measures.
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 28 January 1945, at 1600.
1. The Führer inquires whether it is not possible to replace the 28 cm. gun barrels on the SCHLESIEN in order to increase her firing efficiency against land targets. The Commander in Chief, Navy, replies that since the loss of the SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN, the SCHLESIEN is the only ship the Navy has which can be used as a heavy icebreaker. The Führer replies that after the war the Navy must build heavy icebreakers at once so that the German Reich will not be dependent again on begging icebreakers from Russia for use in German waters like before this war, or will have to use naval vessels for this task in wartime.
2. In reporting the engagement of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla with two cruisers of the FIJI class off the west coast of Norway on 27 January, the Commander in Chief, Navy, informs the Führer that he approves the manner in which the commander of the flotilla, Kapitän zur See von Wangenheim, conducted the action. He succeeded in scoring hits on the enemy vessels, but he quite correctly withdrew his destroyers from the action while there was still time, since the enemy was superior, and the full moon gave the enemy cruisers the additional advantage of very good visibility. With the limited forces at our disposal we must avoid unnecessary losses on occasions which promise no particular advantage, so that we may keep our few destroyers for vital tasks.
3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, informs the Führer that the refugees can be evacuated by sea only insofar as this operation does not affect the transfer of fighting forces from Kurland and Norway. Aside from this, everything at all possible is being done to move the refugees west. As of 28 January a total of 62,000 refugees from East and West Prussia had been evacuated westward by sea.
4. With reference to the report that the last of the 10 "Seehund" midget submarines which left on 21 January has now returned, the Commander in Chief, Navy, calls attention to the fact that this particular "Seehund" remained at sea for 6 days. The experience gained on this occasion will be of the greatest value in planning future "Seehund" operations.
5. Kapitän zur See Assmann reports on the present state of submarine warfare. The Commander in Chief, Navy, adds that 4 submarines which operated in the waters around the British Isles are due to arrive in Norway. It is to be hoped that these boats will arrive; however, even if they are lost, there is no reason for abandoning the current operational areas. Radio intelligence has revealed that quite a number of successes were achieved in these waters. Therefore assignment of a large number of submarines to this area is justified all the more so because shipping losses so close to the British coast must be particularly disagreeable to the enemy. Judging from present experience, it can be assumed that enemy anti-submarine warfare is concentrated primarily on deep-laid mines, which, however, are troublesome for British shipping, too: Change of tide causes difficulties; the mines tear loose in heavy seas; control of mines is hampered. German submarines attempt to by-pass this danger by operating close to the coast in British inshore waters or along the enemy's known convoy routes, where they stay very close to the surface.
If submarine construction can proceed in the near future without too much interference, it will be possible to launch about 60 submarines for operational use by the end of February. The first submarine of Type XXIII is to leave Oslo on 29 January for operations off the east coast of Britain.
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 30 January 1945, at 1600.
1. During the discussion of the serious developments in the East, the Commander in Chief, Navy, emphasizes again the importance of Stettin and Swinemünde for the continuation of naval warfare, particularly for the maintenance of all transport operations to and from the eastern front. The Navy is constantly examining what naval personnel could be spared for the land defenses, and has decided to make available the 3 remaining regiments of the Naval Rifle Brigade of the Naval Command, North Sea. This constitutes a grave reduction in strength for the Navy, as there are valuable specialists in these regiments who are needed for the new ship construction program which is to start within the next few months. However, since the threat to Stettin and Swinemünde is already endangering the home bases of naval warfare, the Commander in Chief, Navy, considers it best to put up with the considerable disadvantages, and to assign the brigade to the land forces of Army Group, Vistula, under the Reichsführer SS.
The Führer agrees to this proposal. The brigade is to be sent to Stettin as quickly as possible, where the necessary weapons and gear are to be provided; it is to be assigned together with the Steiner SS Corps. Provision is to be made for return of the brigade to the Navy as soon as the situation changes.
In view of the great shortage of radio technicians and the long time required to train them, the Commander in Chief, Navy, decides to withhold one battalion of the Naval Rifle Brigade from the land forces and to keep it in the Navy, because 70% of its members are radio technicians.
2. On 29 January the Commander in Chief, Navy, informed the Führer via the Admiral at Führer Headquarters, that he is considering organizing a naval corps; today the Commander in Chief, Navy, inquires whether he could not retain a part of the 20,000 men slated for Denmark in order to form a naval division. The Chief of the OKW [Generalfeldmarschall Keitel], and the Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff [Generaloberst Jodl], support this request. The Führer decides that all personnel which has not yet been transferred to the Army shall be held back. On 31 January, as soon as the Commander in Chief, Navy, has gained a more exact picture of the current personnel situation from a report which has already been ordered, he is to make practical proposals to the Führer about the formation of a naval division or a naval corps. The Reichsmarschall is willing to furnish guns mounted on trucks or trailers in order to provide the division with the necessary artillery.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, already spoke with the Chief of the OKW, and the Chief of the Army Personnel Office, General Burgdorf, on 28 January, and received the assurance of their aid in procuring weapons and the necessary officers from the Army.
3. During the report on the bombardment of land targets by the 2nd Task Force in the Cranz area, the Führer asked why bombardment of land targets was not carried out near Elbing as planned. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that a task force was made available for this purpose, but that the orders were cancelled by the Army. The Führer orders the Chief of the Army General Staff, Operations Division, Generalleunant Wenck, to investigate the reason for this action.
4. During the discussion of the Norway transports, the Commander in Chief, Navy, points out that the difficulties in the Skagerrak and the Kattegat due to the weather and to enemy mining operations continue to be very great, and therefore an acceleration of the transfer of the 163rd Infantry Division and subsequent transport operations cannot be counted on.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 31 January 1945, at 1600.
1. The Führer orders that the Naval Rifle Brigade which is to be assigned to the lower Oder is to be equipped especially well and completely, since first-class soldiers must have first-class weapons. He orders the assignment of 31 assault guns, and personally directs the Chief of Staff to the General of the Panzer Troops, General Tomale, and the Chief of the Army Staff with the OKW, General Buhle, to speed up the supply of weapons.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, directs the Admiral at Führer Headquarters to push the matter in cooperation with the above-named Army officers.
2. In connection with the sinking of the passenger steamer WILHELM GUSTLOFF by submarine torpedoes on the outer route north of the Stolpe Bank, the Commander in Chief, Navy, declares that with the extensive transports in the Baltic Sea, it was realized from the start that there would be losses. Painful as any loss may be, it is very fortunate that more have not occurred. However, he must point out that Russian submarines are able to operate undisturbed in the Baltic Sea only because there are no German planes there to combat them. Because of the shortage of escort forces the Navy must restrict itself to direct protection of convoys and can carry on submarine chase only in very limited areas. The only practical defense against submarines is the radar-equipped plane, the same weapon which enabled the enemy to paralyze our own submarine warfare. The Chief of the Luftwaffe, Operations Staff, reports that the Luftwaffe lacks both fuel and sufficiently effective equipment for such operations. The Führer underscores the arguments of the Commander in Chief, Navy, and orders the Luftwaffe to investigate how the matter can be remedied.
5. A report is made on the "Biber" midget submarine operations in the Scheldt River, during which one tanker was sunk and 4 other explosions were definitely established. The Commander in Chief, Navy, points out the great effectiveness of this weapon. Even though only 2 ships were sunk, it was at the cost of only 9 men, which is very low in proportion to the success achieved.
4. The Führer orders that the ships evacuating refugees should carry food for the refugees on their return trip to the east. The OKW is to arrange the assignment of the food through Reichsleiter Bormann or the Gauleiters.
5. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that there ia a congestion of more than 20,000 refugees in Swinemünde. These endanger troop transports from Kurland. Though it is a strategic necessity to evacuate these steadily increasing masses of refugees, the railroad sent only one hospital train out of Swinemünde yesterday, and not even one train of refugees. The Führer orders that the refugees be dispersed at once among the surrounding villages, and that facilities are to be provided to speed up evacuation. Reichsleiter Bormann is responsible for the execution of this order.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
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