Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Report by the Commander in Chief, Navy, and the Führer at the Führer's Headquarters, 22 December 1942.
I Norway. Distribution of naval forces:
In the bay of Narvik: Nürnberg, 1 destroyer.
In Trondheim: Tirpitz (ready for action again in January), 3 destroyers.
The Lützow is assigned to cruiser warfare in the Arctic Ocean since supplies are apparently being carried to northern Russia in unescorted vessels at the present time, and submarines are not very effective during the dark months of winter for patrolling the northern supply routes.
The fuel oil situation is going to become more difficult in the near future because the Italians need large additional supplies, due to the reduction in Rumanian deliveries during the winter months. Even now our fuel oil situation is such that the large vessels cannot be refueled in the main harbors unless the allocations are made far in advance, since we are unable to keep sufficient supplies on hand.
Four S-boats, which were previously stationed in western Norway, (in Bergen), have been in Bodø since 13 December. The 8th S-boat Flotilla with the KARL PETERS left for Norway on 18 Dec. with Bodø as its destination.
The HIPPER is to be docked in mid-February and will therefore be transferred to home waters at the beginning of that month.
The Führer considers that the danger of a possible Allied invasion of northern Norway is greatest in January. Anti-aircraft defenses are helpless because of the darkness. Therefore the Führer postpones his decision until the beginning of February.
II. Western Area. The situation has become worse due to our losses and because British naval forces, including destroyers, have repeatedly appeared along our coast. The enemy has apparently cleared channels through our mine fields. Our own forces are not sufficient to repulse such raids or to lay enough mines, particularly in the Channel. Strong enemy plane activity continues. The transfer of Ship "14" [Togo] had to be postponed from January to February because adequate mine protection cannot be provided until then.
Because of this situation, the first eight vessels converted into artillery barges (Artillerie-MFP), which were supposed to be sent to Norway this month, were ordered to remain in the western Area. Of the 25 artillery barges slated for the Northern Area, the first ones will reach the Commanding Admiral, Norway, in January. Deliveries are as follows:
The composition of the 22nd Submarine Chaser Flotilla (Tunisia) is treated in Annex 2.
III. Baltic Sea. Since we have so few escort vessels and these are so heavily taxed, we must review once more the advantages to be gained from an occupation of the islands of Lavansaari and Seiskari and of the Schepel-Oranienbaum strip before the spring of 1943.
Only a really effective blockade of the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland, close to the enemy's key bases, could give us hope of saving fighting forces and mines. Even if Leningrad were completely destroyed by artillery fire, the submarine danger would still exist because Kronstadt remains a base. Every submarine, however, that gets through the blockade is a threat to the entire Baltic Sea and endangers our shipping which is already barely sufficient. The Führer recognizes the importance of the matter. He will keep it in mind and further it as much as possible.
The Allies are still using air-laid mines to a large extent. The situation is well in hand, however, in spite of some difficulties and occasional losses.
Losses up to 18 December 1942: 147 (an average of 3.8 per month).
During this month for the first time one of our own U-boats [U254], commanded by Kapitänleutnant Gilardone, was rammed by another while operating against a convoy.
The boat and most of the crew were lost.
The dates of completion which the High Command, Navy, required of the shipyards are in some cases earlier. A safety margin has been added to cover unexpected difficulties. The experimental boats will be commissioned after completion of the test runs. The Führer suggests that such valuable construction should be carried out in concrete shelters. The Commander in Chief, Navy, will check on this.
C. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that the first of the 103 torpedoes equipped with Pi 2 [pistols] were sent to the combat area in the Mediterranean. Nothing is known yet about their performance. He also mentions that the Fat torpedoes will be introduced next month.
V. At dinner alone with the Führer, the Commander in Chief, Navy, discusses the Iberian question (see Annex 3). The Führer is of the same opinion. He intends to enter into negotiations with Spain and to prepare for an occupation. For the moment he wants to await the results which General Muñoz Grandes [commander of the Blue Division] may obtain.
VI. Raw material quotas for the Navy for the first quarter of 1943 and their effect.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, proposes that Admiral Schmundt be made a member of the committee for "Central Planning". This would improve matters greatly because the Navy could make its needs known promptly. The Führer will look into the matter; he points out, however, that the Army does not have a representative either.
VII. Decree concerning conscription of the German youth for auxiliary war service.
VIII. New Mines. The Commander in Chief, Navy, briefly states that a report on new types of mines will soon be submitted. They should be very successful as a surprise weapon if they are suddenly used simultaneously by both the Navy and the Luftwaffe after a sufficient quantity is procured. The Führer will issue an order at once. The Chief of the OKW proposes that a preliminary draft be submitted.
Annex 1In conformance with the Führer's order the Navy occupied the following islands off the west coast of France:
Since the Army now wishes to recall these troops, Naval Group West, with the consent of the Commanding General, West, suggests that in the future Ile de Croix be permanently occupied by the Army. This will relieve Light Naval Coastal Artillery Battalion 681 which in turn can replace the Army units recalled from the other islands. That leaves one light naval coastal artillery battalion which will not be assigned but will be kept ready for operation "Gisela" [the occupation of the northern coast of Spain by German forces].
This is contradictory to the Führer's recent decree which provided for naval occupation of all islands on the west coast of France. However, since there is such a shortage of personnel it would be very advantageous if the Army would occupy one of the islands, particularly since the Seekriegsleitung considers operation "Gisela" very urgent. Before a decision is reached it must be investigated whether Ile de Croix, which is situated just in front of Lorient, and where the two 20 cm gun turrets from the SEYDLITZ are eventually to be stationed, would not better be retained by the Navy and another island be given to the Army.
The Führer grants permission for Army occupation of one of the islands in view of the Navy's lack of personnel.
The Chief of the OKW doubts that the offer of the Commanding General, West, still stands, since several of his divisions have been transferred in the last few days.
Annex 2Composition of the 22nd Submarine Chaser Flotilla to be stationed in Tunisia.
10 converted fishing steamers, each about 1,000 BRT, are intended for the 22nd Submarine Chaser Flotilla. 6 of these use oil, 2 use coal, and 2 have motors. The average speed of these vessels is 9 to 10 knots.
4 vessels are being converted in Marseille, 4 in Ciotat, and 2 in Port de Bouc. Conversion of the first 5 vessels will take 20 days; they will be ready about 16 January 1943. Each vessel will have the following armament:
Three or four 20 mm anti-aircraft guns.
A number of machine guns, Model 1934.
The first two crews with their commanding officers have already been assigned by the Commanding Admiral, Defenses west. Six more crews will be furnished by the Commanding Admiral, Defenses East and the Commanding Admiral, Defenses North.
The second group of ten vessels for this flotilla includes four fast freighters which could possibly be used as fast transports. Inquiries are being made whether they will be needed as such.
The Iberian Peninsula.
The relationship of the Iberian peninsula to the warring nations and the possibilities of military action on the part of the enemy against Spain or Portugal are of the greatest importance for the strategic situation of naval warfare, especially of submarine warfare and of blockade-running. It is therefore the duty of the Seekriegsleitung to analyze the possible developments on the Iberian Peninsula, to draw conclusions, and to suggest how we should proceed in a military and political way. The various possibilities for developments on the Iberian Peninsula are discussed below.
I. Portugal and Spain intend to stay out of the war. They want to maintain their neutrality if at all possible by adapting themselves to the current political and military situation. However, either nation is not entirely independent politically. Portugal is bound to Britain by old treaties and is especially dependent on Anglo-American sea power because of her extensive colonial possessions. Both countries have to import fuel and grain, which they can get in sufficient quantities at the present time only from the Anglo-American sphere of power. The Portuguese neutrality policy was strengthened somewhat by the agreement announced by Spain, which grew out of Spanish-Portuguese conferences. It provided that Spain would regard any attack on Portuguese territory in Europe, including her Atlantic islands, as an attack on Spain herself, even in the event that Portugal should not try to defend herself. Spain guarantees the full support of her armed forces in case of such an attack.
The domestic situation in both countries is unstable. Both governments are anxious to defeat at the start any attempts at interference either by the Anglo-Americans or by the Communists, and to escape the political, economic, and - since the occupation of French North Africa - the military pressure of the Anglo-Americans. However, this is hardly possible, particularly since the Spanish and Portuguese armies are badly equipped, and since no material or psychological preparations for war whatsoever have been made in either country.
The Franco government is probably conscious of the fact that even if it should yield completely to enemy pressure, it would not be acceptable to the Allies in the long run for ideological reasons. On the other hand, Great Britain at least would be willing to tolerate a Salazar government if it were entirely compliant with the Allies. Also for this reason, quite apart from the ideological reasons which stem from the civil war, Franco will be less obliging to Allied demands than Portugal. The Spanish aristocracy and the Catholic Church have recently approved Franco's leanings towards Germany because they fear the return of a red government.
II. The developments on the Iberian Peninsula, however, are not so much determined by the desires of Spain and Portugal as they are by the wishes and the war necessity of our enemies. We may assume that the lack neither of cargo space nor of anything else will essentially influence their decisions.
A. We do not believe that the Portuguese and Spanish colonies, with the exception of Spanish Morocco, are endangered at the present time.
2. The Portuguese islands in the Atlantic are exclusively at the disposal of our enemies who use them as a base under the protection of a neutral flag. It is not strategically necessary for us to occupy these islands at the moment, although it is a strong temptation to establish our own air bases there. Even though both America and England would like to control the Azores because of their general importance, still we do not consider that there is much danger of an attack on the islands at the present time.
3. The Canary Islands are also not nearly so important as they were before French North Africa was occupied.
B. Nevertheless, an attack against the Portuguese and Spanish homeland, including Spanish Morocco, is definitely feasible; as a matter of fact it is very likely, since such an attack is actually a strategic necessity for the enemy. It does not matter whether the political attack which has already begun is sufficient to force both nations to give up their neutrality and to make their territory, at least their harbors and airbases, available to the enemy, or whether military action will have to be taken against the peninsula. It would be a great military and economic advantage to the enemy to have the Iberian Peninsula in their power.
2. The British Air Force would be considerably closer to France and Italy. The strategic situation at sea in the western Mediterranean would change still more in favor of the Anglo-Americans.
3. An army which could effectively be used in opening another front could be assembled at leisure on the Iberian Peninsula.
4. Germany would be deprived of important raw materials which the Iberian Peninsula can supply, and these would be utilized by the enemy. But these resources are of most decisive importance for our war effort; the Iberian Peninsula supplies us with one million tons of iron ore, 3,500 tons of wolfram, 200 tons of lithium, 1,000 tons of tin, and mica and beryllium ore besides.
5. All problems which the enemy might still have in the Spanish or Portuguese colonies would solve themselves after occupation of the mother country.
6. Gibraltar would be protected permanently; there would be no further danger of Germany's securing the Atlantic harbors as submarine and air bases, thereby increasing her success in the naval war. We may assume that the enemy is ready to establish bridgeheads in the Portuguese harbors and to occupy Tangier and Ceuta at the first sign of an impending German invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. In such a case, a German advance towards Gibraltar would be outflanked by units from the Portuguese area.
It is difficult to predict the developments in detail. One thing is certain, however, and that is that Portugal's political attitude is largely influenced by Spain's, and Spain's attitude by that of Germany. This means that our policies can and must influence future developments.
D. Since our military resources are restricted at the present time, our policy must be based on the following principles:
2. All possible material and moral support must be given to the Armed Forces of Spain.
3. If we wish to strengthen Spain's self-confidence and her will to resist, we must do more than supply her with arms. Binding agreements must be reached to cover any emergency which may arise as, for instance, an Allied attack on Portugal or Spanish Morocco. Therefore political conferences and General Staff conferences should be arranged immediately; we should consider signing a secret mutual-assistance pact, similar to the Tri-Partite Pact. At the same time, conferences should be held to investigate how the economic life of Spain and Portugal can be maintained, particularly in regard to food, in case Spain should have to defend herself against an Allied attack. Spain and Portugal are primarily dependent on the import of 800,000 tons of coal and coke, 380,000 tons of liquid fuels, as well as 750,000 tons of grain and 136,000 tons of fertilizer.
Means must be found to enable continental Europe to maintain a minimum standard of living, if necessary by imposing severe restrictions on ourselves. The word "impossible" cannot be tolerated in this connection. It would be very helpful in this connection if our blockade runners could increase imports by making use of Portuguese harbors.
4. Germany must introduce and carry out the intended measures in the most careful, discreet, and secret manner possible in order not to provoke the enemy to premature and undesirable military or political reactions. Should this happen, the result would inevitably be increased pressure on both countries and further reductions in their imports in order to dissuade them from cooperating with Germany. It would thus be well to camouflage our procedure and to give the outward appearance as if Spain were leaning more and more towards the Allies.
1. It is a great temptation for the enemy to get the Iberian Peninsula in his power. Such a step would be the best way to fight the submarines.
2. It would likewise be of utmost strategic importance to us to take over the entire Iberian Peninsula, among other reasons in order to intensify submarine warfare and blockade running and to neutralize or eliminate entirely the Anglo-American occupation of North Africa.
3. However, since we do not want to divert either the military or the economic forces necessary for such action unless it is imperative, we must strive to maintain the neutrality of the Iberian Peninsula. This, however, requires extensive military and political measures immediately.
4. If the enemy should take over the Iberian Peninsula, we would be confronted by an extremely critical situation from a military point of view. Moreover, the economic problem would be even worse, and almost impossible to cope with. Thus Germany must be ready to seize Spain and Portugal by force and to integrate them into the economic life of Europe at the very moment when the danger of an enemy seizure of the peninsula is imminent, even if such a step should entail great economic sacrifices for the rest of continental Europe.
Annex 4Raw material quotas for the Navy in the first quarter of 1943 and their consequences.
I. Decrease in production in the first quarter of 1943.
In spite of incessant oral and written reports made by my office and by myself personally (my comprehensive report on 26 August), in spite of Minister Speer's efforts, and in spite of the additional allotments from the Führer reserves received by explicit order of the Führer, the quotas of raw materials allowed the Navy for the first quarter of 1943 (steel, non-ferrous metals, structural steel) continue to be insufficient.
The Navy has made an exhaustive investigation of all possibilities for reducing the amount of raw material needed and for changing the criterion determining whether metal or a substitute is to be used. The Navy, in collaboration with responsible officials of the industry, its construction and production experts, has thoroughly investigated the possibility of making the necessary adjustments in construction and production technique and in plant management in order to permit the widest possible use of substitutes.
Likewise all steps have been taken to reduce the required amount of arms, gear, and ammunition, and to decrease the number of accessories and the amount of equipment needed. All construction programs have been thoroughly checked and re-checked and have been reduced to the lowest minimum which military operations permit.
It is also no longer possible to use the stockpiles of the defense plants and shipyards to get through the first quarter of 1943. This was confirmed by both Minister Speer and the Ministry of Economics.
The following quotas for the most important raw materials were decided upon during the conference in the office of Minister Speer on 11 December:
The great reduction in raw material quotas has forced me to order drastic curtailments in production for the first quarter of 1943, in order to avoid misuse of raw materials and to use the remaining contingents to the best military advantage. My principle is to concentrate on submarine warfare and to make certain that it at least will not be disrupted. All production essential for submarine warfare must be carried on with the least possible interruption. I have already taken into account the fact that the prefabricated products are being delivered much faster due to Minister Speer's new measures. Because of their military importance I wish to report these measures:
A. Construction of Naval Vessels:
1. Repair and new construction of submarines (to be increased to 25 boats) are being continued unrestricted. The repair of surface craft is likewise being continued.
2. On the other hand, the following drastic curtailment in the construction and conversion of naval surface vessels and auxiliary vessels is necessary:
b. Construction of landing craft is reduced by one third. This eliminates the construction of 16 artillery-lighters out of a total of 45 landing craft.
c. The construction or more submarine chasers cannot be authorized for the time being.
d. The production of converted fishing craft is extended over a longer period of time. The planned increase cannot be carried out.
e. The construction of auxiliary vessels was greatly reduced. The following are to be discontinued:
Construction on merchant vessels seized by the Navy.
f. Completion of 39 fishing steamers in Holland is postponed.
g. The restrictions on the construction of utility vessels (tugs, water tenders, oil tankers, etc.) will affect supplies of the naval forces.
h. The stocks of ship equipment will diminish and may prove insufficient to fill any great demands. There will be a delay in the contracted return of ship construction material to Denmark and Finland. Diplomatic difficulties may ensue.
The cuts necessary in arms production (artillery, mines, communications equipment, nautical gear) correspond substantially to the decrease in the construction of vessels. Details:
1. Artillery ammunition. Considering the fairly large stocks, the production of ammunition was reduced more than anything else; cut most was production of calibers intended for heavy and medium artillery of surface vessels, the 10.5 cm and 8.8 cm guns of submarines and the 10.5 cm guns of coastal antiaircraft defenses.
2. Mines. The production of mines and minesweeping equipment has been decreased. The available stocks, which are already very small, have been reduced further. Only 60% of the necessary underwater nets are available.
The following statement applies to all arms and ammunition: All stocks have been decreased considerably. In case of need the stocks might be insufficient. New military demands cannot be met on short notice. No more arms or ammunition can be supplied to our allies.
There are enough torpedoes for submarine warfare.
C. Construction projects.
Since we must concentrate on immediate, active naval warfare, all construction plans had to be curtailed radically due to lack of machine steel and structural steel (construction of fortifications, harbor facilities, facilities for troop supply and troop training as well as facilities for armament production.) Details:
1. Fortifications. The construction of defenses on Crete is not possible; new military requisitions cannot be filled on short notice.
2. Harbor facilities. Expansion and equipment of navy yards, fitting-out depots and repair shops in the occupied territories has been delayed. Armament factories, torpedo depots and ammunition depots have been reduced considerably.
3. Facilities for troop supply and troop training: The construction of billets and air raid shelters on the bases in the occupied territories has been delayed. Construction of facilities for training specialists has been postponed. There is a further delay in the construction of workers' quarters.
4. Increased facilities for armament production. There are great delays in the completion of important projects relating to the manufacture of underwater explosives, guns, communications equipment, etc. Expansion in the production or smoke acid (Nebelsäure) has been slowed down. The completion of several private shipyards has been delayed, as was the transfer of repair shops to Gotenhafen and the Schichau shipyards in Königsberg. Remarks:
b. Air raid shelters for the troops (30 shelters requiring 8,000 tons of steel).
b. Construction of 45 new submarine pens requiring 5,000 tons of steel each. Total: 225,000 tons.
c. Air raid shelters for shipyard personnel in western France. The total required is 11,000 tons of steel.
II. Quota demands.
In any event we must definitely insist that future allotments recognize the importance of the Navy and the decisive significance of naval warfare for the whole war effort and reveal proper understanding of the constantly increasing duties of the Navy (ever greater numbers of operational submarines, constantly enlarging combat zones, and war conditions which are becoming more and more difficult). I cannot possibly find such recognition in our steel allotment, for example, which with its 127,000 tons represents a mere 5% of the total contingent of 2,500,000 tons.
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