Minutes of the Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 28 November 1944, at 1530 at the Reich Chancellery.
At the conference on the situation with the Führer, the following questions concerning naval warfare came up for discussion:
1. The effect of the loss of the Svorbe Peninsula on the war situation in Kurland. With Svorbe eliminated as an obstacle, the possibility of Russian landings along the coast of Kurland increases. The Commander in Chief, Navy, submits a plan to the Führer, showing the disposition of the coastal batteries in Kurland. All work necessary to prepare them for action has just been completed.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, suggests that the Army should now build a considerable number of emergency piers (Stichbrücken) on the west and particularly the east coast of Kurland, because the ports alone cannot handle the amount of shipping necessary, particularly since they will be more and more subject to air attacks. Furthermore, the situation may develop in such a way that the ports will not be available for our use at all. The Commander in Chief, Navy, intends to discuss this question personally with the Chief of the Army General Staff [Generaloberst Guderian], who is not present today.
2. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer that he is somewhat worried about the effectiveness of our own mines, since reports of self-detonations of German nines that have torn loose from their moorings are quite frequent. To be sure, the latest aerial photographs and reports of the enemy press seem to indicate that the enemy has not made very much headway in clearing away the mines in the Scheldt region. Thus the mines have held him up longer than the Commander in Chief, Navy, anticipated, i.e. since the loss of Walcheren on 11 November, 18 days to date. This may be attributable to the use of different combinations and types of mines and firing mechanisms. The Führer requests a list of the mines used, indicating type of fuze and setting.
3. During the discussion of the situation in Norway, the Commander in Chief, Navy, makes reference to the Navy's proposal to retain a few coastal batteries with the necessary infantry protection in front of the Lyngen position. Their purpose would be to make it more difficult for the enemy to occupy these important fjord regions, especially since only small Norwegian forces have fought there so far, the Russians having withdrawn again behind the Finnish frontier. In the opinion of the Navy, the region of the Altenfjord and Hammerfest are well suited for such an enterprise. The Führer gives approval to this measure.
4. In regard to the transfer of troops from Norway to Denmark, the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that shipping space is not causing any concern. Enough is available to handle the number of troops as they are brought to the embarkation points by rail. The length of time it will take to transfer the troops is much more dependent on the weather, on enemy interference and on the limited number of escort vessels.
5. In the discussion of possible enemy landings in Holland, the Commander in Chief, Navy, stated that conditions at present are not favorable for a landing in that area. He pointed out, however, that according to the reports on hand, several British divisions are assembling in the area south of the Thames, and that the influx of enemy troops to the Western Front will increase considerably after the Scheldt River becomes navigable. The Führer confirms this view.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Minutes of the Conference on the Situation with the Führer, attended by the Commander in Chief, Navy, on 30 November 1944, at 1600.
I. Before the conference, the Commander in Chief, Navy, had a talk with the Chief of Operations Staff, Army General Staff, Generalleutnant Wenck, in the absence of the Chief of the Army General Staff himself. He pointed out to Generalleutnant Wenck the increased danger of enemy landings in Kurland since the fall of the Svorbe Peninsula. He informed him about the mining of the Irbe Strait, completed except for a gap off the coast of Kurland. He suggested that the Army General Staff issue orders to Army Group North to have their engineers build temporary piers along the coast of Kurland, especially along the east coast, in consultation with the local naval commands. The purpose of this precautionary measure is to be able to cope with any situation arising in case the ports along the west coast become overcrowded, are too greatly endangered, or are actually lost. In spite of such possible reverses, these piers would enable us to continue supply shipments or, if necessary, to evacuate troops. The east coast must not be neglected. Because of the prevailing west winds, it is possible to embark or disembark troops on the open coast only on the east side.
II. During the conference, the following questions concerning naval warfare came up for discussion:
1. With reference to the situation in the West, the Führer stresses the great importance of transferring the 6th SS Mountain Division and the 2nd Mountain Division, together approximately 36,000 men, quickly from Oslo to Aalborg. In this connection, the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that no congestion has so far occurred in Oslo, except for about 14,000 troops on leave or otherwise returning home, who must wait until these divisions have been shipped. The 11 transports assigned, together approximately 50,000 BRT, are adequate to take care of the combat troops arriving at the rate of 6 trains per day. In addition, 30 coastal motor ships left Holland a week ago. These will increase the transport facilities and help to reduce the congestion.
2. The Commander in Chief, Navy, refers once more to the serious threat to German shipping along the Norwegian coast, and to the great losses we incur there, primarily inflicted upon us by the enemy air forces. Unless we can guarantee adequate air reconnaissance against enemy aircraft, aircraft carriers and surface forces, the time will not be far off when ship movements in this region will come to a complete standstill. The Führer agrees with this view. He stresses the importance of constructing railroads along the northern coast of Norway as substitutes for sea traffic, emphasizing their comparative safety from air attacks due to the fact that one third of the distance is through tunnels, and the remainder mostly along high mountains. Then he discusses the necessity of forceful measures to be taken by the Luftwaffe against attacking airplane carriers and naval forces.
3. In connection with Churchill's claim, which is unsubstantiated as yet, to be sure, that the first convoys have arrived in Antwerp, the Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff [Generaloberst Jodl], emphasizes that the Luftwaffe and the Navy must take all possible measures in order to disrupt these enemy supply shipments, not to mention the bombardment of Antwerp with V-1's and V-2's. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer that 2 S-boat flotillas were sent on minelaying missions in the West Scheldt the night before, and another S-boat flotilla on a torpedo mission west of the Scheldt. He again requests that Antwerp and the Scheldt River be photographed from the air, so that he may get a true picture of the situation. Generalmajor Christian, the representative of the Chief of the Luftwaffe General Staff, received orders to that effect.
III. Following the conference on the situation, the Commander in Chief, Navy, informs the Führer that he was asked to address the German-Japanese Society at its next meeting and asks the Führer's permission to do so. This is granted.
IV. As the result of the overall picture presented at the conference on the situation with the Führer, the Navy at this time should concentrate its efforts on the following tasks:
1. The fast and safe transfer of the combat divisions from Norway, which is sufficiently important to justify exposing the escort vessels, i.e. cruisers EMDEN and KÖLN, to greater risk.
2. The fight against enemy movements on the Scheldt River, which must be carried on with all means that can be made available.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
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