Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Minutes of the Conferences between the Commander in Chief, Navy, and the Chief of Staff of the Seekriegsleitung, at the Führer Headquarters, on 28 and 29 august 1943.
28 AUGUST 1943.
0845. Departure by plane from Staaken.
1015. Arrival at Rastenburg.
1030. Arrival at Führer's Headquarters.
1130. Conference between the Commander in Chief, Navy, and Commander in Chief, Luftwaffe.
The conference dealt with the offensive use of mines with new firing devices. The Commander in Chief, Luftwaffe, explains that he does not have the forces necessary to carry on an offensive on the scale suggested by the Seekriegsleitung. The Commander in Chief, Navy, calls attention to the fact that a limited use of the pressure mine (D-Gerät) cannot be justified because the risk of compromise is too great. Therefore the decision is made not to use the pressure mines at all, and to limit the offensive on the southeastern coast of England to the use of A-105 mines. The date of the offensive and the number of planes to be furnished by the Luftwaffe are still to be determined by agreement between the two Commanders in Chief.
The results of this conference are made known to the Führer by the Commander in Chief, Navy, after the report on the war situation. The Führer indicates his approval.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, points out to the Commander in Chief, Luftwaffe, that it is advisable for the present to refrain from using even the A-105 mines on the West coast of England, otherwise the British will set up anti-aircraft batteries there, which would make it more difficult or practically impossible to use the pressure mines at a later date as planned. Furthermore the Commander in Chief, Navy orders the Seekriegsleitung to investigate the possibility of effecting a partial blockade with pressure mines laid by S-boats, without running the risk of compromise.
1215. War Situation Report to the Führer.
At the outset of the conference the Führer orders the Commander in Chief, Navy, to send all available naval forces, including naval coast artillery lighters (MAL), minesweepers, and S-boats into the Sea of Azov to assist the Army in checking a strong penetration along the Mius Front, a move which also threatens the southern wing on the Sea of Azov. An order to this effect is transmitted by teletype at 1615 by the Chief of Staff, Seekriegsleitung, to the Chief of the Seekriegsleitung, Operations Division, (Cf. teletype message B Nr. C/Skl. 828/43, top secret, 28 August, 1943).
Furthermore, the Führer orders immediate occupation of Toulon by the German Armed Forces, since there is every indication that Italy is making preparation for an uprising against us in Toulon. At 1645, the Chief of Staff, Seekriegsleitung, sends a similar order to the Chief of the Seekriegsleitung, Operations Division, by teletype. (Cf. teletype message B No. C/Skl 829/45 28 August 1943)
Following the discussion of the general war situation, the Commander in Chief, Navy, presents the problems growing out of the plans for an East Wall on Lake Peipus. He calls special attention to probable effects on naval warfare in the Baltic Sea generally, on warfare in the Gulf of Finland and the menace to the Esthonian oil shale region. The Führer fully agrees with the views of the Commander in Chief, Navy. Also General Jodl supports the demands made by the Commander in Chief, Navy. Therefore the Führer declares that the construction of the East Wall on Lake Peipus is meant only as a precautionary measure. He certainly does not intend to withdraw the North Front so far.
In this connection General Jodl advocates the complete destruction of Leningrad by the Luftwaffe, and the elimination of Kronstadt as well.
1300. Second Conference between the Commander in Chief, Navy, and the Commander in Chief, Luftwaffe.
The anti-aircraft defenses of Toulon were the topic of this conference. The Commander in Chief, Navy, declares once more that the Navy does not have the necessary forces to protect Toulon. The Commander in Chief, Luftwaffe, recognizes this fact and states that the Luftwaffe will provide adequate anti-aircraft protection for the city.
1600. The Commander in Chief, Navy, returns to Berlin by plane.
1700. Conference between Chief of Staff, Seekriegsleitung, and Envoy Ritter.
The note about the Swedish fishing boats is the subject of this conference between the Chief of Staff, Seekriegsleitung, and Envoy Ritter. Envoy Ritter submits to the former the draft of the note the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is planning to send to Sweden, and requests its approval. Since the note corresponds with the views of the Seekriegsleitung, except for a few minor points, which are changed by Envoy Ritter at the request of the Chief of Staff, Seekriegsleitung, the latter approves.
1900. Conference between the Chief of Staff, Seekriegsleitung, and General Jodl.
The Chief of Staff, Seekriegsleitung, tells General Jodl about the reports that have come in during the late afternoon from the Naval Command, Baltic, about developments in Denmark. According to these reports, the Danish government rejects the ultimatum of the German plenipotentiary, Dr. Best. Therefore the "Safari" measures are being put into effect. In this connection it becomes evident that during the last three days General Jodl has received his information about developments in Denmark only through the reports of the Seekriegsleitung. Neither the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the Commander, Armed Forces, Denmark, has kept him informed, since they considered the matter purely political. Jodl states that he will take the matter in hand at once in view of the fact that "Safari" has gotten under way and hopes to have a full report on the situation from the Commander, Armed Forces, Denmark, in the course of the evening.
During further discussions preceding the evening report on the general war situation, Jodl states that the Seekriegsleitung does not need to take any further steps in regard to matters pertaining to the Gulf of Finland. The OKW is fully aware of the situation. The Chief of Staff, Seekriegsleitung, takes this opportunity to inform General Jodl about the incidents in the Skagerrak involving the Swedish fishing boats and about the note the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is intending to send to Sweden. He also tells him about submarine warfare, the planned mine offensive, the rubber imports, and about the Italian and Japanese submarines. The report of the Naval Attaché in Rome concerning the attitude of the Duke of Aosta is also discussed. The Commander in Chief, Navy, has previously expressed the opinion that such reports from the respective attachés directly to the Commanders in Chief are very important. General Jodl shares the belief that politics and warfare are inseparable and that the Commanders in Chief should therefore be kept informed on all such incidents of a political nature.
During supper the Chief of the German Press informs a small group of those present that the Bulgarian King died that afternoon.
2200. Evening War Situation Report to the Führer.
The Chief, General Staff, Army, proposes to the Führer that the Mius Front be pulled back because of strong enemy pressure. The Führer agrees.
Furthermore, the Führer decides that Toulon is to be occupied on 29 August.
After this, the Führer is informed of the latest developments in Denmark. Since the situation seems comparatively quiet, the Führer asks: "Why then all this to-do about Denmark?" He addresses the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who sits somewhat apart, as follows: "My dear Foreign Director, what do you have to say about this?" Ribbentrop replies that the whole thing is purely a political question and it would have been better if the Commander, Armed Forces, had kept out of it altogether. This the Führer dismisses with the remark that it was a matter of military concern. Ribbentrop contends that it is still possible to stop operation "Safari" even though the troops are already on the march. The Führer refuses to consider withdrawal from an action once it has begun. We cannot keep changing our orders according to our whims. Upon this, Ribbentrop remarks that sooner or later we would probably have had to resort to these measures anyhow.
The Danish Situation. Late in the evening of 28 August a message is received to the effect that the Danish Fleet has been ordered to be ready for action on 15 minutes notice. The Führer is afraid that the Danes might make a break for Sweden. The Chief of Staff, Seekriegsleitung, informs Admiral Voss, who is supposed to report to the Führer on our preparations, that if everything goes as planned, the Navy could be ready for operation "Safari" at 2 o'clock that night at the earliest. The Chief of Staff, Seekriegsletiung, calls attention to the fact that the Danish naval forces are widely dispersed. Furthermore, there has been little time for putting into effect recent changes in the plans for operation "Safari"; the operation will have to be carried out by training units of the Navy; and finally, the weather can do a great deal to interfere with the perfect execution of the plans. After his conference with the Führer, Admiral Voss reports that the Führer was fully aware of the difficulties involved. In the meantime the OKW, issued orders scheduling the operation for 0400 on 29 August.
2400. Conference between the Chief of Staff, Seekriegsleitung, and Reichsführer SS Himmler.
The Reichsführer remarked that he would very much like to have the Commander in Chief, Navy, stop in for a long talk as soon as possible during the letter's stay at the Führer Headquarters. He was anxious to hear about the problems in the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea situation in general. He asked to be informed briefly about our submarine warfare. The Reichsführer himself makes the suggestion that it would be much better if the Operations Staff of the Navy were close to the Führer's Headquarters as other similar staffs are.
29 AUGUST 1943.
1300. Afternoon War Situation Report to the Führer.
The situation on the southern sector of the eastern Front is described as critical. The blowing up of bridges is interfering with our retreat along the coast. The Navy must help out with landing craft.(MFP).
As far as southern Italy is concerned it is the consensus of opinion that the enemy has designs on Calabria and Apulia.
Russian newspapers and reports from Rumania imply that Stalin is becoming more insistent in his demands for a second front in western Europe. If these demands are not complied with, Stalin might reserve the right to act on his own.
The Führer takes up the matter of air attacks on Berlin which have threatened anew.
In Denmark, generally speaking, operation "Safari" has been completed. No information is available on the whereabouts of the NIELS JUEL. According to latest reports she was lying in Ise Fjord. The Führer remarks that we had to expect the present situation in Denmark and that sooner or later we would have been forced to resort to the measures just undertaken because the Danes were constantly exposed to enemy propaganda which we are not in position to counteract.
Since further reports on NIELS JUEL are lacking, Chief of Staff, Seekriegsleitung, requests the Chief of Seekriegsleitung, Operations Division, to furnish all available information at once. The reply, transmitted through Admiral Voss, was to the effect that the NIELS JUEL is en route to Copenhagen escorted by one torpedo boat and two minesweepers. This message was transmitted to the Führer.
1530-1730. Conference between the Chief of Staff, Seekriegsleitung, the Chief of the General Staff, Luftwaffe, General Korten, and General Meister.
All pending questions were discussed.
1. In connection with the overall attitude of the Luftwaffe toward the memorandum by the Seekriegsleitung and the position taken by the late General Jeschonnek, Korten tells me that the Reichsmarschall just gave him instructions at dinner that the Luftwaffe should coordinate its efforts fully and cooperate closely with the Navy. Korten reports that the Reichsmarschall highly respects the Commander in Chief, Navy, and likes him personally. He is anxious to keep up these cordial relations. (The Reichsmarschall was aware of the fact that the present conference was to take place.)
2. The mine offensive is scheduled to begin on 15 September 1943. The Luftwaffe will furnish planes to drop 1,000 model A-105 mines per month. The offensive is to be limited to the Southeast coast of England. For the time being no mines are to be used on the West Coast.
3. Orders for the creation of the post of Commander of Naval Air Training, Baltic, are being drawn up by the General Staff, Luftwaffe. They will be issued within the next few days. The wishes of the Seekriegsleitung in regard to personnel will be complied with to a great extent; e.g. Olbricht, Minner. I insisted again that Kessler be kept as Commander of Naval Air, Atlantic Coast, since the Reichsmarschall wanted to replace him. General Korten agrees with me.
4. The Luftwaffe is furnishing two planes for the Communications Equipment Testing Command (NEK). The number demanded by the Commander in Chief, U-boats, will be complied with as nearly as possible.
5. Construction of Blohm and Voss 222 planes is to be discontinued after 7 more have been built, since it has become apparent that their cruising range cannot be increased appreciably by refueling at sea. They will be replaced by the Junker 290, of which two squadrons will be available for use in the Atlantic by fall. The importance of increasing production of fighter planes for the purpose of protecting the home front overshadows all other construction plans of the Luftwaffe.
6. The following questions were also discussed in detail: the anti-aircraft defenses of Toulon, Marseille, and Sevastopol; the need for air reconnaissance as a means of protection against landings in Norway and the desirability of plane support for S-boats. All were in agreement on these points.
1800. Departure of Chief of Staff, Seekriesleitung, by plane.
2000. Arrival at Berlin-Staaken.
[Chief of Staff of the Seekriegsleitung]
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