Minutes of the Conferences of the Commander in Chief, Navy, at Führer Headquarters Berghof on 11 to 13 July 1944.
11 JULY 1944.
1300. Conference with the Führer on the Situation. On the basis of this conference and several private conferences, the situation in the East appears as follows:
The situation at the Central and Northern Army Groups, which was so optimistically described by the Commanders of these two Army Groups on 9 July at Wolfsschanze, is not developing quite as expected.
Even though the measures taken for the purpose of stabilizing the front in the area of the Central Army Group may still prove successful, the possibility that things may take a turn for the worse must also be considered.
It is therefore necessary to make plans in advance in case there should be a successful Russian penetration into East Prussia.
To prepare for such an eventuality a telegram (see Annex 1) was sent by the Commander in Chief, Navy, to the Chief, Seekriegsleitung [Admiral Meisel].
1530. The oakleaf cluster of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross is awarded to Kapitän zur See Petersen, Commander of S-boats [F.d.S.]; Korvettenkapitän Hoffmann, Commander of 5th Torpedo Boat Flotilla; and Kapitänleutnant von Mirbach, Commander of 9th S-boat Flotilla.
2000. The officers newly decorated with the oakleaf cluster and Kapitän zur See Assmann are guests of the Commander in Chief, Navy, in Hintersee.
12 JULY 1944.
Forenoon. The Commander in Chief, Navy, decided to have the personnel situation of the Navy investigated once more, in order to assist in relieving the critical overall situation. Consequently the attached telegram (see Annex 2), is sent.
1300. Conference on the Situation with the Führer:
a. During the discussion of further enemy invasion possibilities, the Commander in Chief, Navy, points out the necessity of air reconnaissance in the Thames area, so that enemy operation originating there may be discovered in time. The transfer of a large part of American troops from the area south of the Thames into the area between the Thames and the Humber suggests a possible enemy surprise attack from the Thames in the direction of Holland-Belgium, the German Bight, or even Jutland-Skagerrak. However, this transfer might be the result of V-1 bombardments.
b. The Chief of the Luftwaffe General Staff [General Korten] is asked to secure aerial photographs of the port of Cherbourg as soon as possible, which will reveal to what extent the enemy can use the harbor for supply shipments.
c. The Führer asks whether the Navy could spare 10,000 men to occupy part of the Narva position, so that one division may be released for combat on the front of the Central Army Group. It is a well fortified position, and all the soldiers would need is high morale in order to fulfill their mission there. They would be relieved by 1 September at the latest, because the last divisions that are to be brought up to strength will then be ready for action. The Commander in Chief, Navy, replies that he believes he can provide 10,000 good soldiers, but that the Navy is absolutely deficient in weapons and is particularly lacking in commanding officers and subordinate commanders who would be capable of handling this situation, which is not within the scope of the Navy. The Chief of Staff, Army, General Buhle, is charged with investigating the problem of armament. No final decision has been reached on this question for the time being.
1500. Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with Field Marshal Keitel.
a. Motor vehicles for the Admiral, Small Battle Units [Admiral der Kleinkampfverbände]. The Commander in Chief, Navy, asks that the motor vehicles needed by the Admiral, Small Battle Units, be made available from the stocks of the OKW at appropriate times. In return, the Navy will forego claiming the equipment of the 2nd Naval Motor Transport Battalion from Army Group E. The OKW will be supplied with the exact list of the motor vehicles required with the dates they are needed. The Chief of the OKW promises to deliver the required motor vehicles in time.
b. Concerning the question of personnel, the Commander in Chief, Navy, again emphasizes that any naval personnel drafted for other types of duty will henceforth be at the direct expense of the submarine service. The only exception will be those troops already engaged in defense operations in the West.
c. The Commander in Chief, Navy, requests the OKW to take steps to free the captured submarine commanders Lüdden and landfermann.
d. The Commander in Chief, Navy, once more stresses the necessity for thorough air reconnaissance in the Thames area and the southern North Sea, so that enemy operations originating in that area may be discovered in time.
2000. The Commander in Chief, Navy, is the guest of the Reichsführer SS.
Because of an alarming teletype from the Commanding General, Northern Army Group, the Commander in Chief, Navy, decides to postpone his departure and to take part in the conference on the situation with the Führer on 13 July.
13 JULY 1944.
1300. Conference on the Situation with the Führer:
a. The situation in the East and questions of Army command are discussed by a very small selected group. The Commander in Chief, Navy, is the only representative of the Navy. During these discussions the Führer decides that the 5,000 men to be furnished by the Navy for a blocking unit (Sperrverband) are not to be taken from men in training for submarine duty, but from those training units already now engaged in defense operations in the West.
b. Conference on the situation concerning the other theaters of war, including naval and air situation, a larger group participating.
2. The Commander in Chief, Navy, expresses the opinion that in the case of an evacuation of the Narva position by the Army, the island of Tytaersaari must be held under all conditions to the bitter end, since it is the key to all the minefields in that region. The Führer agrees with this.
countersigned: Kapitän zur See Pfeiffer
Annex 1Telegram - Top Priority - Top Secret - For Commanding Officers only.
To: Chief of Seekriegsleitung, Headquarters Koralle.
1. The situation did not entirely turn out as expected on Sunday. While the outcome may still be favorable, the contrary must also be reckoned with.
2. Therefore the necessary measures must be planned at once. To begin with, however, aside from certain members of the Seekriegsleitung, only the Commanding Admiral, Naval Command Baltic, the Commanding Admiral, U-boats, and one member of the staff of each are to know of these plans. I believe a conference with the Commanding Admiral, Naval Command Baltic, and the Commanding Admiral, U-boats, in Koralle on 12 July would be advisable.
3. I shall probably return Thursday morning.
Annex 2Telegram - Top Priority - Top Secret
1. The Commander in Chief, Navy, requests immediate investigation of the personnel situation of the Navy from the following angles:
b. How much extra personnel will result from this until 1 January 1945?
c. An exact account of the distribution of the 74,000 men under the Commanding Admiral, U-boats, and his personnel requirements up to 1 January 1945. These should be calculated on the basis of commissioning and decommissioning dates as now scheduled.
3. The purpose of this investigation is to make sure that no personnel is being hoarded over and above what is actually needed up to 1 January 1945. Instead, all personnel that can possibly be dispensed with is to be made available for other purposes of importance to the conduct of the war, if need be for such auxiliary work as the construction of fortifications and the like.
4. The findings on points 1 and 2 above are to be reported to the Commander in Chief, Navy, at Headquarters Koralle on 13 July.
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