Home · Intro · Technical · History · Additional · On-line Archive · Models · Articles · 
Guestbook · Forum · Glossary · Help us · Books · Other · 

Report by the Commander in Chief, Navy, to the Führer at Wolfsschanze in the afternoon of 17 September 1941.

Present:

    Foreign Minister [Joachim von Ribbentrop].
    Ambassador Ritter.
    Chief of the OKW [Wilhelm Keitel]
    General Jodl
    Commanding Admiral, Submarines [Karl Dönitz]
    Kapitän zur See von Puttkamer
1. Roosevelt's speech: See Annex: 1 for an evaluation of the strategic and political aspects by the Naval Staff and suggestions for further strategic measures.

On the basis of a detailed discussion of the situation as a whole, in which it appears that the end of September will bring the great decision in the Russian campaign, the Führer requests that care be taken to avoid any incidents in the war on merchant shipping before about the middle of October. Therefore the Commander in Chief, Navy and the Commanding Admiral, Submarines, withdraw the suggestions made in Annex 1. The submarines are to be informed of the reason for temporarily keeping to the old orders.

2. Summary of the situation on 15 September:

a. The Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland: (See Annex 2.) Following the elimination of Oesel and Dagoe, the Russian naval forces and merchant vessels will still have the use of Kronstadt Bay and Hangoe. The main naval force is lying at Kronstadt. Our PT boats and motor minesweepers are in the process of Kronstadt Bay by means of mine fields. Army coastal batteries are scheduled to take part in the blockade. In addition there are Russian mine fields which have evidently been laid during the past few days by cruisers and destroyers; they are probably mainly anti-submarine barrages with gaps. At present the Russians are apparently still maintaining a mine-swept channel through the German-Finnish barrages to Hangoe. However, no major movements of Russian forces in the Gulf of Finland have been observed recently. Their freedom of movement will be further reduced by German-Finnish mining operations.

The Naval Staff considers it highly improbable that Russian warships and merchant vessels will break out of Kronstadt Bay to Sweden. The whole attitue of the Russians so far speaks against such intent on their part, particularly since they have laid a barrage themselves to close Kronstadt Bay and are using numerous ships crews in land fighting. If they do try to break out, heavy losses can be anticipated from mines, PT boats, and planes. If a determined, desperate attempt is made to break out, however, the German Navy cannot completely prevent fast, light units from slipping through. The same applies to Hangoe. On the other hand, once all Russian bases have been eliminated, it will be impossible for Russian forces to attack German sea communications in the Baltic Sea, or to break through the Baltic Sea approaches to the British Isles.

b. Northern Norway: The British realize the vital importance of the sea route off the Artic coast for supplies of the German Armed forces, and they are operating in the northern area with several cruisers, destroyers, one or two aircraft carriers, and submarines. Our own naval and air resources are slight. At present troop transports are unable to proceed east of North Cape. Supply steamers can do so only at very great risk. As the activities of the Air Force are reduced by approaching winter, the threat from surface forces increases.

The submarine danger is being reduced as far as possible by the addition of more subchasers and escort vessels. The threat from surface vessels remains, however, since the British, with bases at Murmansk and Archangel, can always commit stronger forces than we.

Occupation of Murmansk continues to be an important prerequisite for the protection of our supplies. Even after Murmansk is captured, however, enemy operations in the Arctic will continue to harass our supply lines.

In a personal talk with the Führer, the Commander in Chief, Navy, points out the importance of occupying Archangel as well, in order to deprive the British of every base for attack in the north.

The Führer replies that at least the railway to Archangel will be cut.

c. The Channel and the Western Area: Increased enemy activity by means of new PT boats and by brisk air attacks on our convoys have caused some regrettable losses in materiel and personnel, and a number of escort vessels were damaged. Further attacks must be expected, as the enemy will want to profit from the present German concentration of forces on the Eastern Front and the more favorable seasonal conditions. In early October our own PT boat activity will be intensified after the PT boats used in the Russian area have been overhauled.

Patrolling of the Atlantic coast has been successful. It is gratifying to report that, through good cooperation between the coastal defenses, air reconnaissance, and submarines, the auxiliary cruiser ship "36" [Orion] and the ANNELIESE ESSBERGER, coming from East Asia, were successfully brought in. The cargo included 4,000 tons of rubber!

d. The heavy surface forces are still undergoing repairs, overhaul, or trials. Operations in the Atlantic with battleships or cruisers will not be possible before the beginning of 1942.

The Führer discusses the question of whether it would not be better to station the battleships along the Norwegian coast, in order to defend the northern area. They cannot be protected from air attacks in Brest.

The Commander in Chief, Navy, answers that basically the idea of using these ships to wage war against merchant shipping in the Atlantic is the correct one. Originally the battleships were not supposed to remain in Brest very long, since at that time it was definitely hoped that they would be able to use the Spanish bases, from which the Battle of the Atlantic could have been fought very advantageously.

The heavy vessels will not be ready for important operations before the beginning of 1942.

e. Cruiser warfare in foreign waters: Despite enemy countermeasures and strategy, the auxiliary cruisers have been able to achieve further successes. At the present the zones of operations of the auxiliary cruisers are as follows:

    Ship "16" [Atlantis] is in the West Pacific; at the end of the year she will proceed around Cape Horn to the Atlantic and make for the French coast.

    Ship "45" [Komet] is in the East Pacific, with the valuable prize KOTA NOPANG loaded with rubber and tin. She will also return home via the Atlantic in the near future.

    Ship "41" [Kormoran] is in the Indian Ocean.

Two new auxiliary cruisers will leave port at the end of October and the end of November, and two more in the spring.

As for blockade-runners, one is still en route from East Asia carrying rubber. Two more ships will be ready to leave shortly. The steamer WINDHUK is to leave South America and make for the Atlantic coast of France. The outlook for blockade-runners may be considered favorable.

f. Submarine warfare: The Commanding Admiral, Submarines, discusses the main aspects of submarine warfare: Execution of operations, effectiveness, countermeasures, measures against radar, new type of torpedo, etc.

The latest successes should not be allowed to obscure the great difficulties caused by the very strong Anglo-American escorts and the extensive enemy air patrol. In order to be as successful as last year, three to four times as many submarines are needed in view of the heavily escorted convoys. Reconnaissance to locate enemy convoys is still the main problem.

However, the number of submarines becoming available by the end of October permits us to anticipate increased successes, especially if the number of planes available for reconnaissance will increase likewise.

g. Situation in the Mediterranean: As the Führer knows, our North African supply shipments have recently suffered additional heavy losses of ships, materiel, and personnel as the result of enemy air attacks by means of bombs and torpedoes, and through submarine attacks. The views held by the Naval Staff are found in the telegram in Annex 3. Evidently this telegram, together with the appeal for help made by the German General attached to the Italian Armed Forces was responsible for the order from the Führer to concentrate our own air forces on escorting supply shipments, to dispatch immediately six submarines without taking Italian operations into consideration, and to speed up the transfer of motor minesweepers and PT boats.

See Annex 4 for losses in the Mediterranean from 1 July to 14 September.

Submarines for the Mediterranean: Two boats are en route, two will leave at the end of the week, and the remaining boats will be ready on 22 and 27 September.

Transfer of motor minesweepers and PT boats: Preparations have begun. The necessary conversions are being made. The work has been arranged so that the transfer is possible without calling upon French shipyards. The proposed flotilla commanders have been sent to Italy to make preliminary arrangements.

Due to prompt withdrawal, 5 PT boats and 4 motor minesweepers are now ready to leave port. The remaining boats will not be available until the completion of the operations in the Gulf of Finland and subsequent overhaul.

3. The question of later utilization of Oesel by the Navy: There are no installations for a naval base on on Oesel. It would be possible to equip one only at great expense. The Naval Staff requests Libau, Tallinn, and Baltic Port as bases and naval training areas, and also priority in the use of Riga.

Oesel could be substituted for Ruegen harbor. It would then no longer be necessary to install a base at the latter place.

4. Curtailment of construction projects for the Armed Forces: In view of the total change in the air situation in the east, the Naval Staff considers that Gotenhafen is no longer particularly menaced from the air. Thus, in keeping with the over-all cut in construction projects for the Armed Forces, it intends to cancel the previously ordered construction of air raid towers for submarine personnel at Gotenhafen. The Führer agrees.

5. The Führer sanctions the publication of an article in "Nauticus" on the achivements of Admiral Lütjens and the BISMARCK.

6. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that Captain Breuning has been court-martialled for the loss of the minelayers, and that proceedings have been initiated against an officer on the staff of the Commanding Admiral, Cruisers.

7. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports the contents of a communication from Lieutenant Witting on the treatment of his wife by the Gestapo.

The communication has been transmitted to the Chief of the OKW by the Commander in Chief, Navy, with a request for an investigation.

signed: Raeder


Annex 1

Re: The Speech made by the President of the U.S.A. on 11 September 1941.

I. Strategic and political situation:

The strategic and political situation created by the speech of the President of the U.S.A. can be evaluated as follows:

A. Roosevelt stated that the "time for active defense" has come. The U.S. patrol vessels and planes will protect all merchant ships, not only United States ones, within the "American defense waters", and in so doing they will "no longer wait" until the warships of the Axis attack. The mere fact of their presence in these waters "is equivalent to an attack". From new on they will sail in these waters only "at their own risk".

Thus the situation has become considerably clearer: In the future American forces will no longer be employed merely for reconnaissance but also for convoy duty, including escort of British ships. German forces must expect offensive war measures by these U.S. forces in every case of an encounter. There is no longer any difference between British and American ships.

B. The meaning of the expression "American defense waters" is not explained in Roosevelt's speech. According to a telegram from the Charge d'Affaires at Washington dated 15-16 September, shown by the Foreign Minister, Secretary of the Navy Knox defined them as the waters "between the American continent and the waters of Iceland" (see Appendix 1 to Annex 1).

C. This general order to attack, together with the occupation of Iceland, will be extremely injurious to German warfare on merchant shipping in the Atlantic; patrols will be multiplied and the defenses become more effective. Thus further incidents will be unavoidable if Germany continues warfare on merchant shipping.

D. From the standpoint of international law, the U.S. President's order to attack amounts to a declaration of war within a limited area. For within the "American defense waters", which means practically the entire western part of the Atlantic outside the American danger zone or the old German blockade zone, the U.S.A. are claiming the same rights that we, as belligerents, claim within the blockade zone.

E. Strategically the only possible consequence is to reply to each open warlike act with armed force according to strategic expediency. In particular we cannot expose our submarines to certain attack with depth charges and deprive them of the chance to defend themselves, which they can do only before the enemy attack starts. Hence our submarines must be permitted to take immediate action against any U.S. ships by which they can expect to be attacked. The only alternative is to withdraw our submarines from those waters in which U.S. forces may appear.

F. This resistance is strategically the only means of preventing further intensification of American war measures. With his order to attack, the President of the U.S.A. is attempting to make us restrict our attacks through fear of incidents. If we yielded to this threat our successes would be considerably diminished, and this would merely encourage the Americans to constantly increasing interference as in the World War. On the other hand, the incidents created by returning like for like, which cannot be avoided even with the restrictive orders which have prevailed up to now, would probably induce the President to restrict his measures rather than to intensify them; he evidently still wishes to avoid open warfare with German at any rate as long as there is any doubt about Japan's neutrality. (See Appendix 2 to Annex 1.)

II. Conclusions with regard to our own orders: (See Appendix 3 to Annex 1.)

In view of this evaluation of the strategic and political aspects, it is suggested that our own orders should be amended as follows:

A. Naval vessels:

    1. Naval vessels sailing alone:
      a. Within the extended blockade area attack is sanctioned on any warship unless she is definitely recognized as a U.S. vessel. If the action of an American vessel can be construed to constitute an attack or pursuit, attack on the ship in question is also sanctioned.

      b. Outside the extended blockade area attack is sanctioned on any warship recognized as an enemy vessel. At night attack is sanctioned on any warship proceeding without lights, unless she is recognized as American.

    2. Escorting forces: Attacks on escorting forces are permitted in any operational area at any time without regard to the blockade area.
B. Merchant vessels:
    1. Within the extended blockade area attacks without warning are permitted on any merchant vessels (with the exception of the special arrangement with Sweden.

    2. Outside the extended blockade area:

      a. Attack without warning is permitted if the ships are in convoy.

      b. Against ships sailing alone: Enemy ships can be attacked without warning. American and other neutral ships must be dealt with according to prize regulations. They can be attacked without warning only when they are helping the enemy, use radio, or are proceeding without lights.

C. U.S.A. neutrality zone: As the President himself no longer mentions the U.S.A. zone, but extends the U.S.A. defense waters (Western Hemisphere) indefinitely to the east according to the whim of the U.S.A., the following is suggested:
    1. Only a 20 mile neutrality zone should henceforth be respected off the coast of the U.S.A. If this measure is too drastic the neutrality zone off the coast of the U.S.A. should be retained as far as 60º W.

    2. Only a 20 mile neutrality zone should be respected off the coast of South America.

III. Proposals for Counterpropaganda.

The Naval Staff believes that for propaganda purposes the following points should be stressed:

A. The order to fire issued by the President of the U.S.A. rests on the falsification of five basic facts of the case. (Supporting documents have been given by the Naval Staff, Operations Division, to the Foreign Office.) This applies above all to the GREER case. Here the old British method of asserting that the opponent has broken the law has been adopted, in order to justify measures which are contrary to international law and which have been resorted to for some time already.

B.The order to fire is based on the false assertion that Germany is conducting unrestricted submarine warfare. Ignorance and inability to judge matters concerning international law are being exploited. German naval warfare has been conducted right from the beginning of the war according to prize law; intensification has been resorted to only as a countermeasure to British methods. Total blockade has been carried out only in the zone of operations in which there are no non-belligerent, unprotected merchant ships. Extension of the zone of operations to Icelandic waters was a strategic necessity after this island, which has always been European, was occupied by the enemy.

C. The order to fire is justified by misusing the slogan "freedom of the seas". Here, too, the West is betraying its own liberal ideals. For "freedom of the seas“ has always meant only freedom for non-belligerent, neutral merchant trade not carrying contraband. Under cover of a fictitious neutrality, Roosevelt wishes to use warships sailing under a neutral flag to protect not only his own contraband ships but even enemy ships. He wishes not only to protect these ships, which provide the enemy with war material, from attacks by German forces which are permitted under international law, but even to bar Germany from waging warfare against merchant shipping in half of the Atlantic. A more brazen distortion of the principles governing the international rights of naval warfare is not conceivable.

D. The order to fire signifies that the U.S.A. has gone over from silent partnership and only indirect assistance to open participation in the war. The assertion by the President of the U.S. that Germany began aggressive action is politically illogical, for Germany has no interest in a war against the U.S. and no war aims with regard to her. Thus the responsibility is definitely established.

E. The consequence of the order to fire will of necessity lead to the commencement of hostilities. Up to now, in order to avoid any conflict, German naval forces had orders to take no offensive action in the so-called Pan-American Safety Zone and to take action against American ships, even when they were supporting enemy operations, only in defense against definite aggressive action. This generous renunciation of the rights afforded to a belligerent according to recognized international law, entailing severe disadvantages for our own conduct of the war, has become intolerable in view of the procedure adopted by the President of the U.S. In the future every act of war by an American ship or plane will be regarded and answered as such. The German ships will not be "the first to attack", but they will be "the first to defend themselves". This is the duty of the fighting man according to the laws of war,

Naval Staff, Operations Division, Foreign Affairs Section


Appendix 1 to Annex 1

Telegram

Washington, 15 September 1941 at 2011
Received: 16 September 1941 at 0900

After Senators Connally and Pepper, who are supporters of the administration, had already tried in press interviews - evidently on instructions and in order to calm public apprehension - to limit the term "defensive waters“, in which the American-Navy can fire, to waters of the Western Hemisphere which are patrolled by the American Navy, Secretary of the Navy Knox today defined the expression definitely in a talk to the American Legion Convention at Milwaukee: "From 16 September the American Navy will protect ships sailing under all flags carrying lend-lease war material between the American continent and the waters of Iceland 'as completely as lies in our power'."

Thus it is evident that the definition of the term in Roosevelt's speech was deliberately left vague for the present, primarily in order to comply outwardly with Churchill's wishes for active American aid in the war and in order to intimidate us and Japan; it is also evident that the American Navy is not capable of patrolling effectively the entire Atlantic including the route around Africa to Suez, but it can certainly take over entirely convoy escort between the American continent and Iceland. Knox's statement shows clearly that the President is well aware of the lack of operational capacity of American forces beyond this limited sphere because of commitments in the Pacific.

Am telegraphing appropriate extracts from this speech by Knox along with this message uncoded under reference no. 3194.

Thomsen


Appendix 2 to Annex 1

Berlin 12 September 1941

Naval High Command [OKM]

To the Foreign Office

Attention: Minister Eisenlohr

Re: Incidents with American ships. Reference is made to the telephone conversation between Minister Eisenlohr and Count Stauffenberg on 12 September 1941.

With regard to the incidents mentioned by Roosevelt, the following statements can be made, based on evidence available from reports received by the Naval Staff:

1. GREER: According to a report from a foreign radio station, i.e., Reykjavik, the American destroyer GREER transmitted to all American naval vessels the following message:

    "A surfaced submarine sighted at 1121 (German Summer Time) at 62º 48' N, 27º 30' W."
According to a message from U "652" she was attacked with three depth charges and further harassed by a destroyer, flag unrecognized, at 1230 on 4 September at 62º 31' N, 27º 06' W. At 1439 the submarine fired a spread of two in defense, which missed and was observed. She was further pursued with depth charges until 2330. The submarine suffered no damage. The weather was good. So far, no further messages have been received.

2. ROBIN MOOR: According to a message from a submarine the steamer was sighted at 0430 on 21 May 1941 at about 5º N, 27º W. She carried no illuminated neutrality markings. The flag could not be recognized. The vessel had an unusually high deck cargo, and the submarine commander suspected a submarine trap.

At 0535 the steamer was requested to stop and send over her papers by the captain. The first officer came alongside in the ship's boat, but without papers, and stated that the ship was American and on her way to South Africa. Her cargo consisted of engines, engine parts, automobile parts, and general piece goods. The first officer was then informed that the ship was carrying absolute contraband for a power at war with Germany and must therefore be sunk. The first officer requested half an hour to prepare the boats; this was granted. When requested the captain came alongside at 0815 with the bills of lading. The cargo was definitely established as contraband. The captain accepted the information that the ship must be sunk without raising any objections. Bread, butter, a bottle of brandy, and first-aid material were given to the captain who accepted them with many thanks. When the boats had cast off the crew shouted "Heil Hitler" with raised hands. After the ship had been sunk the upper deck cargo came to the surface and aluminum parts were recognized, which were obviously plane parts.

3. Pursuit of an American battleship in "July" 1941: According to a report from a submarine at 1307 on 20 June, she had sighted the American battleship TEXAS and a destroyer near the boundary line of the zone of operations at about 53º N, 31º W. The submarine followed them for 150 miles in a northeasterly direction and back again to the boundary line of the zone of operations. The submarine did not attack. According to this report the pursuit must have commenced on 19 June. At this time the submarines within the zone of operations still had permission to attack all warships.

4. SESSA: According to foreign reports the vessel was sunk on 17 August 1941 some 300 miles southwest of Iceland. She was sailing under the Panama flag. Hence she must have been sunk in the zone of operations, and as she was flying the Panama flag she was legitimate prey for submarines. At that time there were German submarines in the sea area in question. No message has yet been received reporting the sinking of the SESSA, however. The submarines in question have not yet returned.

5. STEEL SEAFARER: This vessel was sunk by the Luftwaffe in the Red Sea area of operations. No restrictions for attacks on American vessels have been issued for this area. The Naval Staff has no details of the attack.


Appendix 3 to Annex 1

Summary of present orders for submarine warfare. (17 September 1941.)

1. Naval Vessels:

    a. In the original blockade area, which corresponds to the American declared war zone and is not touched by the sea route U.S.A.-Iceland, offensive action without warning is sanctioned against all naval vessels, unless these are recognized as American before the attack. (Order of 9 August 1941.)

    b. In the extended blockade area, including Iceland, and in the remaining sea areas, attack without warning is sanctioned on all warships definitely recognized as enemy; this includes destroyers and corvettes. (Order of 9 August 1941.)

    c. Otherwise action is permissible only when the enemy definitely attacks the submarine by using offensive weapons, i.e., depth charges, guns, and torpedoes, and when the situation renders it necessary for the submarine to defend herself in order to shake off continued enemy pursuit (the order was extended due to the GREER incident).

    d. This ruling applies also to convoy escort forces.

2. Merchant vessels:
    a. Within the entire (extended) blockade area: All merchant vessels may be attacked without warning. Swedish vessels are excepted, in accordance with the special arrangement with Sweden.

    U.S. vessels are excepted as follows: Attack without warning is permitted only in the original blockade area, which corresponds to the battle zone declared by the United States. In the area between the original blockade area and the outer limits of the extended blockade area, attacks on U.S. vessels that are identified as such before opening fire are not permitted even when the ships are in convoy.

    b. Outside the extended blockade area:

      (1) Immediate action is permitted against ships in enemy convoy. (Note in pencil: "Except when recognized as U.S. vessels before the attack.")

      (2) Immediate action is permitted against enemy ships sailing alone.

    In the case of neutral ships procedure is to follow the prize regulations: The vessel is to be attacked only if radio is used or if she is proceeding without lights.

    Exception: U.S., Spanish, and Japanese ships are not to be stopped, captured, or sunk.

3. U.S.A. Neutrality Zone (Pan-American Safety Zone): No warlike acts are to be carried out in the zone on our own initiative.


Annex 2

Naval Forces Employed in Operation "Beowulf"

Armament:
4 torpedo boats (2nd Torpedo Boat Flotilla)
8 PT boats (2nd and 3rd PT Boat Flotillas)
1 tank landing craft (F "3")
2 - 10.5 cm., 2 - 2 cm
10 minesweepers 1 or 2 - 10.5 cm.
1 - 3.7 cm., 1 - 2 cm.
6 minesweepers (steam trawlers) 1 - 7.5 cm., 2 - 2 cm.
6 submarine chasers 1 - 8.8 cm., 2 - 2 cm.
1 motor minesweeper parent ship (the BROMMY) 2 - 2 cm.
10 motor minesweepers 1 - 2 cm.
4 small motor mine weepers (Dutch)
1 mine detonating vessel with pinnaces
3 transports (4,000 to 6,000 BRT)*
2 - 2 cm.
* Used only for decoy operations.

Trials Unit Commanded by Rieve:
5 heavy gun carriers 2 - 10.5 cm.
3 light gun carriers 2 with 4 - 2 cm.
1 with 1 - 3.7 cm., 3 - 2 cm.
12 naval barges 1 - 7.5 cm. on wheel mounting.
26 Siebel ferries

Group Commanded by Cellarius:

38 fishing boats (Finnish and Estonian)
2 Siebel ferries
Also numerous tugs, pinnaces, and barges with the Rieve and Cellarius.


Annex 3

Telegram to the OKW

Re: The Transport Situation in the Mediterranean.

The Naval Staff agrees entirely with the evaluation of the situation by the German General attached to the Headquarters of the Italian Armed Forces, dated 6 September (Telegram No. 2498/41), showing the increasing deterioration in the sea transport situation and the very grave position in North Africa resulting therefrom, and agrees also with his conclusions. In this matter the Naval Staff again remarks most urgently as follows:

The situation described is untenable. The Italian air and naval forces are incapable of providing adequate escort. The Italian measures provided are quite insufficient and will continue to be so. The Naval Staff considers a total change and utmost acceleration of relief measures urgently necessary if the loss of the entire German-Italian position in North Africa is to be prevented, to say nothing of our own offensive. The loss of the North Africa position would be tantamount to the loss of the entire Mediterranean. The catastrophic effects of this are incalculable, and are of such vital importance to the outcome of the war that all political and military measures in any way possible must be taken at once to improve the transport situation and with it the situation in North Africa. Besides the demands of the German General, the Naval Staff considers it necessary to arrange immediately for the quickest possible transfer of PT boats and motor minesweepers to the Mediterranean and the return of German air forces to Sicily. The escort of the German and Italian transports to North Africa is a most vital task which must take priority over everything else in the Mediterranean. Even the effect of German air attacks on the Suez area is far less important than the need to protect sea transports, as the main objective must be to reinforce our North African position.

The Naval Staff repeats the conviction already expressed in a memorandum and in numerous consultations: i.e., that maintenance of the North African - and thereby the Mediterranean - position, as well as of the west African position must be regarded as essential for our war activities; in order to win the war as a whole the loss of North and West Africa to Britain and America must be prevented. Therefore we urgently request once more that all political and military measures should be carried out, or should be requested from the Government, so that the gravely endangered Mediterranean situation may be improved as quickly as possible. It is requested that the Führer be informed of the views held by the Naval Staff. If necessary the Commander in Chief, Navy, will request a special conference with the Führer.

Naval Staff


Annex 4

Losses in the Mediterranean Area from 1 July to 14 September 1941.

Total losses as a result of sinkings and damage:

In July: 21 steamers and tankers 78,000 BRT
In August: 25 steamers and tankers 84,800 BRT
In From 1 to 14 September: 10 steamers and tankers
39,500 BRT
56 202,300 BRT
In addition: 1 minelayer of unknown tonnage.
1 cruiser
1 destroyer
1 submarine
3 gun boats
2 coastal patrol vessels
6 minesweepers and motor minesweepers
7 auxiliary sailing vessels and motor fishing vessels.
78 vessels

Of these the following were sunk:

In July: 8 steamers or tankers totalling 25,400 BRT
In August: 17 steamers or tankers totalling 52,200 BRT
In September to date: 6 steamers or tankers totalling
24,500 BRT
31 102,100 BRT
In addition: 1 submarine
3 gun boats
1 coastal patrol vessel
3 minesweepers and motor minesweepers
6 auxiliary sailing vessels and motor fishing vessels
45 vessels


Annex 5

Memorandum

Re: Reaction to Roosevelt's Speech of 11 September 1941.

The following is an addition to the report on the conference between the Commander in Chief, Navy, and the Führer on 17 September 1941:

The Führer has agreed with the evaluation of the strategic and political situation created by the Roosevelt speech and on the whole he has concurred with the demands of the Naval Staff. Due to the political situation, the Führer has agreed to an immediate intensification of the orders in force only to the extent that attacks outside and inside the blockade area on both warships and merchant vessels proceeding without lights are to be sanctioned in general. However, since the Führer obviously cannot at present foresee the possible consequences of such a step, and since on the other hand he has stated that it is necessary to avoid incidents in the war on merchant shipping for the time being, the Commander in Chief, Navy, has given orders that this permission should not be used and that for the present the previous orders are to remain in force.

Naval Staff, Operations Division


Annex 6

Extract from the Discussion Points for the Conference of 17 September 1941.

For the Commander in Chief, Navy.

7. The attitude taken by the OKW towards the Navy:

Various inquiries and assertions create the impression that the Navy at present largely serves as the scapegoat and is made to bear the brunt of dissatisfaction in the OKW. If the Naval Staff points out possible developments at an early stage, it is accused of pessimism; if, however, the predictions made after a thorough investigation of the situation later prove to be correct because the suggestions made by the Naval Staff were not followed, the Naval Staff is blamed for the situation.

The Naval Staff must enter a protest against such accusations.

The Naval Staff has always expressed its opinion of a given situation objectively and promptly after critical examination of the actual facts; however, owing to the prevailing lack of understanding of the decisive importance of naval warfare in this struggle against Britain, it has unfortunately not always received the expected confidence. The Naval Staff must protest against being blamed for matters, the difficulties of which it has constantly emphasized or which it is not in a position to carry out because of lack of forces or lack of adequate air support. The war caught the Navy in the midst of building up its fleet forces. This large-scale construction program would have been concluded to a certain degree by 1944. Prior to that date, according to the express declaration of the Führer, war with Britain was to be avoided. The Commander in Chief, Navy, left no doubt in all his reports before the outbreak of the war that the Navy's state of preparation would not permit any decisive blows against British naval power, which is superior to us in every respect. In spite of this, the Navy achieved far-reaching successes, which greatly exceeded all expectations. with the small number of forces at its disposal and without an adequate naval air arm, the need for which had been pointed out again and again, the Navy was able to achieve these results and fulfill its great and comprehensive tasks only by using all its forces to the fullest extent, without regard for the critical personnel situation.

In order to clarify existing problems, remove prejudices which obviously exist, and improve the attitude taken by the OKW towards the Navy, a thorough discussion will take place between General Jodl and the Chief of Staff of the Naval Staff.

See Appendixes 1 and 2


Appendix 1 to Annex 6

Berlin 16 September 1941

Naval Staff

Discussion Points for the Führer Conference.

Re: Telephone call from the OKW.

1. On the evening of 15 September, Lt. Commander Junge communicated the following:

a. Following a visit to the OKW by the Commanding General, Norwegian Theater, General Falkenhorst, General Jodl telephoned Lt. Commander Junge and expressed distinct dissatisfaction because the OKW had not received sufficient information from the Naval Staff regarding the transport situation in northern Norway.

He then stated "that Admiral Fricke is acting as though northern Norway were no longer there" and wanted to know "whether the Commanding Admiral, Norway is really responsible to the Naval Staff or not".

He said that the present transport situation (i.e., only as far as Alta Fjord or Bille Fjord) is not known to the OKW, and an evaluation of this situation by the Naval Staff is necessary in order to come to a decision as to whether all personnel and materiel reinforcements for the Dietl group routed through the Gulf of Bothnia will have to be discontinued.

Lt. Commander Junge pointed out very clearly to General Jodl that surveys of the situation had been submitted continually; General Jodl himself, however, put the marginal note "Covering themselves! I always said so!" on the first one of these evaluations pointing out the difficulties to be expected, and submitted in writing on 11 August.

Then Lt. Commander Junge proceeded to give his own evaluation of the situation, corresponding in every respect to that of the Naval Staff. He also drew attention to the fact that the lengthening nights bring advantages and disadvantages for the enemy as well as for us, so that this factor, in any case, cannot be expected to improve matters. Since Lt. Commander Junge has the impression that General Jodl has not inwardly retracted his accusation, he recommended in the interests of the Navy a suitable, clear, and pointed reply, making reference to the information which Junge gave to the Naval Staff.

b. Regarding the consequences of the Roosevelt speech, General Jodl sent for Lt. Commander Junge after receipt of the memorandum from the Naval Staff, Operations Division, Foreign Affairs Section. General Jodl expressed the view that a geographical line should be drawn and the Americans informed that no action would take place beyond that line, but that on this side they would have to run all the risks of war.

Lt. Commander Junge opposed this plan of General Jodl's and pointed out the fact that it would be necessary either to move this boundary right up to the American coast, which would provide a good incentive for enemy propaganda, or else to shift the boundary farther east, which would on the one hand entail strategic disadvantages and on the other would be interpreted as yielding to the American threats. He then drew attention to the Naval Staff's proposals and particularly to the necessity that German propaganda handle German measures in the same vague manner in which Roosevelt treated American measures in his speech.

c. Lt. Commander Junge also stated that Jodl and evidently the Führer also were considering using the battleships "for clearing the transport route along the arctic coast". Jodl said to Junge, "Tell the Commander in Chief, Navy, that he should get the battleships out of Brest as soon as possible" (implying to northern Norway); the Führer is said to have stated, "If there isn't a change soon, I shall dismantle the ships; then I will at least have them after the war".

Lt. Commander Junge disagreed with General Jodl and drew his attention to the fact that it is always disadvantageous to use the ships defensively; particularly in view of our lack of light forces the enemy can always bring up a superior task force with the help of his home-based aircraft carriers and battleships; this would force our ships, on the defensive, into all-out action. The result could very well be total loss. (See Appendix 2 to Annex 6.)

Lt. Commander Junge believes that the Commander in Chief, Navy, himself should discuss this matter with the Führer.

d. Lt. Commander Junge said quite generally that the Navy at present serves largely as the scapegoat and is made to bear the brunt of dissatisfaction in the OKW; when early reference is made to possible developments, the Naval Staff is accused of pessimism, and if its predictions prove later to be correct, the Navy gets the blame.

He proposed that the Chief of Staff of the Naval Staff should discuss the current questions as soon as possible in a lengthy conference with General Jodl; he could thus improve and correct General Jodl's attitude towards the Navy.

Chief of Operations Branch, Naval Staff.


Appendix 2 to Annex 6

Survey of Light Forces as of 16 September 1941.



   


Battleship Bismarck Book
BOOK:
The Battleship Bismarck.
The Complete History
of the Ship.


KBismarck.com Naval Gift Shop

Naval & military gifts


Back to Main

Copyright © 1998-2019 KBismarck.com