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Report of the Commander in Chief, Navy, to the Führer on 20 April 1941.

1. German operational situation. Important points in present naval strategy:

Re a: Cruiser warfare is still successful, though restricted to a certain extent by necessary overhauling and replenishment of supplies. At present five auxiliary cruisers are still operating. Ship "10" [Thor] is on return passage in the North Atlantic.

Ship "41" [Kormoran], operating in the Atlantic, has reported sinking 56,000 BRT since the middle of December 1940. Apart from this, one other auxiliary cruiser is in the South Atlantic, two are in the western Indian Ocean. and one is in the eastern Indian Ocean.

The numerous supply ships engaged in replenishing the supplies of auxiliary cruisers and submarines in the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans have hitherto been remarkably successful. Only one prize tanker was lost. At the moment three prize ships are en route to Germany.

Re b: The northern submarine operational area is being shifted from the region just outside the North Channel to an area farther west, southwest of Iceland, on account of enemy patrols and the short, bright nights.

The number of submarines is gradually increasing. At present there are only 30 operational boats. Taking losses into account, the probable number of operational boats will be as follows: On 1 May, 37; on 1 June, 39; on 1 July, 45; and on 1 August, 52.

Re c: In spite of increased enemy efforts to stop or disrupt transport traffic by air attacks, transports to Oslo have continued without interruption. Losses on the west coast of Norway and in the North Sea and the Channel have been satisfactorily small up to now. This shows the effectiveness of the anti-aircraft guns aboard patrol vessels and minesweepers!!

The next operation with battleships BISMARCK and PRINZ EUGEN is scheduled for the end of April, when the ships are to leave home waters for the Atlantic. (See Annex 1 concerning the question of recognizing the American safety zone.)

The questions of anti-aircraft defenses for the base at Brest, bomb and torpedo hits on the GNEISENAU, and bases on the west coast of France are discussed.

The Commander in Chief, Navy, points out that the danger to ships under repair in Kiel and Wilhelmshaven is as great at present as it is in Brest, apart from the fact that a single plane can carry a greater bomb load to Brest. In spite of this, until further notice large ships will put into Brest only in exceptional circumstances. The occupation of Ferrol, which the Führer is determined to carry out in the autumn, is of great importance. If possible the Führer would like to see the Todt Organization quickly construct a large dry dock in Trondheim. This is being investigated.

2. Intensification of the use of aerial mines. A new firing device for aerial mines, combining magnetic and acoustic firing, will be ready in May. Is is necessary to employ this new firing method at once and as extensively as possible before the enemy discovers the new principle and develops appropriate methods for sweeping the mines. In view of previous firing devices, a conjecture concerning the combination or the new firing device is comparatively easy, even for the enemy. In connection with the mining of the Suez Canal, a new combination of this sort was supposedly already suspected.

The mining of the Suez Canal, together with the threat to the British lines of communication through the Strait of Sicily by the 10th Air Corps [X. Fliegerkorps], is a classic example of a practical mining operation which has achieved the desired strategic effect by being executed at precisely the right moment. Perseverance in laying the mines and patience in giving them time to take effect are necessary conditions for success.

Continual use of aerial mines at the entrance of harbors is the most effective way of supplementing operations by submarines, surface forces, and planes against British supply lines.

Considering that our mines present a grave threat to the enemy, while his countermeasures have reached a high degree of efficiency as the result of one and a half years of wartime experience, it is evident that the outcome of the race between offensive mine warfare and anti-mine defense will be of decisive importance. Offensive mine warfare has the advantage at this time, in view or the new firing device with which our mines will be equipped in the near future. However, it is certain that this advantage will prevail for a limited time only. It is therefore imperative that it be exploited at once to the fullest possible extent. Therefore both the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine must lay aerial mines in large numbers immediately.

The Führer will see to it that the Luftwaffe acts accordingly.

3. The question of sending German submarines to the Mediterranean. The present situation in the Mediterranean seems to indicate that operations by German submarines against British transport traffic in the eastern Mediterranean would be particularly desirable and promising. In addition to sinking ships, they would have a strategic effect on Army operations ashore! A detailed examination of the question of sending submarines to the Mediterranean, however, has shown that the disadvantages of doing this probably outweigh possible advantages. The suggestion is therefore to be disregarded.


In summary, the Seekriegsleitung considers that the prospects of success for single boats do not compensate for the disadvantages ensuing from removing them from the main theater of operations in the Atlantic. It is therefore proposed, as already reported, to withdraw Italian submarines from the Atlantic and to concentrate a strong force of Italian submarines in the eastern Mediterranean.

The present is a good time for the withdrawal, since the Italians must realize that their submarines are badly needed in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Führer is in complete agreement with the decision not to send German submarines into the Mediterranean, likewise with the withdrawal of Italian submarines from the Atlantic.

4. Restrictions on naval warfare as the result of the Pan-American Safety Zone. (See Annex 1.) In view of America's present undecided attitude resulting from events in the Balkans, the zone as far as 20º N (that part which is off the U.S. coast) will for the present be recognized, but further south only a 300 mile zone. No note is to be sent to the U.S.A., etc.

5. Sanction for warfare against merchant ships of the U.S.A. according to prize regulations. (See Annex 2.) For the same reason as stated under "4", the following procedure is to be used:

For from ten days to two weeks there is to be no change; however, the BISMARCK and the PRINZ EUGEN can receive instructions for action according to Paragraph V of Annex 2, which can be put into force by means of a code word as soon as the Führer has decided accordingly.

The Foreign Minister requests that, should any incidents occur, the wording of a public announcement should be worked out with him, since the U.S. must be made to appear the aggressor in order to have the Tripartite Pact become effective as regards Japan.

The Foreign Minister states that he agreed to attacks on neutral ships proceeding alone in the new closed area only providing they are doing escort duty for merchant ships. (According to the definite instructions received from the OKW, unrestricted offensive action was sanctioned against all naval and merchant vessels in the blockade area.)

6. Relations with Japan. What were the results of Matsuoka's visit? Was operation "Barbarossa" mentioned during the conference? What views are held with regard to the Russo-Japanese pact?

The Führer answers that Matsuoka was informed that Russia will not be attacked as long as she maintains a friendly attitude in accordance with the treaty; if this is not the case, he reserves the right to take suitable action. The Russo-Japanese pact was concluded with Germany's acquiescence. The above stand taken by the Führer has had a salutary effect on the attitude of Russia, who will now conduct herself with great correctness and who expects no attack for the present.

The Führer values the Russo-Japanese pact because Japan is now restrained from taking action against Vladivostok and should be induced to attack Singapore instead. Matsuoka and Oshima have assured him that all preparations will be completed by May. The Commander in Chief, Navy, draws attention to the extremely vague and non-committal statements of Nomura: he intends to continue to try to influence him.

7. Relations with Russia. What is the Führer's opinion of the present change in Russia's attitude in an obviously pro-German direction? The Führer replies in the same vein as under Paragraph 6. The Commander in Chief, Navy, points out the need for taking effective steps to mine the White Sea Canal so that submarines and destroyers cannot escape into the Arctic Ocean, and the urgent necessity for heavy air bombardment of the locks in the canal, as it is of little use to mine the Neva. The Führer agrees.

8. Conferences between the Army General Staff and the Finnish General Staff have already begun. when can the naval conferences be expected to begin? The Führer replies that the conferences so far have been of a very general nature. The time for naval conferences has not yet arrived. Nevertheless the Führer fully realizes the importance of this matter.

9. Relations with France. Does the Führer still consider operation "Attila" necessary? The Führer replies that it must be held in readiness for the present, even though he is inclined to believe that Darlan's attitude is trustworthy.

10. Italo-German cooperation in the Aegean Sea. The following arrangements have been agreed upon:

signed: Raeder

Annex 1

Restrictions on German Naval Warfare as the result of the Pan-American Safety Zone.

The establishment of the Pan-American Safety zone was not agreed to at the time on strategic grounds, because German warfare would have been restricted considerably by it. After subsequent rejection on the part of Great Britain, Germany sent notification that the "German Government could not see any prospect of success in continuation of the Safety Zone plan, unless the Anglo-French standpoint were basically revised".

The private order to naval forces to respect the zone just the same incurred all the strategic disadvantages which an official rejection of the zone was supposed to have prevented. On the other hand, the advantages from a strategic, political, and propaganda point of view which would have accompanied an official recognition were not forthcoming.

In February 1941 a new note was dispatched, pointing out that in view of the numerous violations of the Pan-American Zone by Great Britain a change in the negative British attitude towards the zone cannot be expected.

Strategic disadvantages:

The operational freedom of our own naval forces is considerably restricted, as, in some parts, the zone covers half the Atlantic. All contraband traffic from South, Central, and North America moves as far as possible within the zone (see map, Appendix 1). The enemy can therefore concentrate his escort forces in the area where merchant shipping is forced to leave the zone, thereby making possible a considerable increase in escort forces and making attack difficult not only for submarines and auxiliary cruisers, but also for cruisers and battleships. This is of importance for the forthcoming operation of the BISMARCK and the PRINZ EUGEN in the Atlantic.

Therefore it is again suggested that offensive operations be permitted within the zone. The Seekriegsleitung predicts an increase in sinkings of merchant ships as a result of the widely scattered distribution of enemy forces which will be necessary to cover the whole Atlantic. It also seems absurd that oil transports en route to Freetown, and American deliveries of arms and aircraft to Takoradi, which are transferred from there to Egypt, should be immune from attack by us during the greater part of the voyage. The Seekriegsleitung considers it both unnecessary and inexpedient to dispatch a note. It will suffice to give naval forces freedom of operation.

The following points must be emphasized:

1. The British have never respected the zone (see Appendix 2).

2. By mistake, a German auxiliary cruiser respected only the 300 mile zone, sank five steamers and fought two actions, with the ALCANTARA and the CARNAVON CASTLE, within the zone. There were no repercussions of any sort. The U.S. State Department confirmed that the action took place outside the zone.

3. The following are to be considered as compromise suggestions:

    a. The part of the zone off the U.S. coast, i.e., roughly north of 20º N, might be respected, but not the part off South America.

    b. The same as under "a", but recognizing a 300 mile zone off South America.

Appendix 1 to Annex 1

Appendix 2 to Annex 1

British Violations of the Pan-American Safety Zone.

1. The tanker EMMY FRIEDRICH was stopped by the British cruiser CARADOC in the vicinity of the Yucatan Strait on 24 October 1939 and was scuttled by her own crew.

2. The steamer USSUKUMA was stopped by a British naval vessel on 6 December 1939 off Bahia Blanca, Argentina, inside the safety zone, and was scuttled by her own crew.

3. The motor vessel DUSSELDORF was stopped by the British cruiser DESPATCH on 15 December 1939, six or seven miles off the Chilean coast near Caldera. The sea cocks were opened, but the ship did not sink, and she was brought in by a British prize crew.

4. The steamer ARAUCA was stopped by the British cruiser ORION on 19 December 1939 inside North American territorial waters off Ft. Lauderdale (within the three mile zone), fired on and finally escorted by three American planes.

5. The steamer COLUMBUS was stopped by the British destroyer HYPERION on 19 December 1939 within the safety zone, 300 miles northeast of Cape Henry, Virginia, and was scuttled by her own crew. The COLUMBUS was escorted by the American cruiser TUSCALOOSA, which directed the British naval vessel to the German ship.

6. The steamer WAKAMA was stopped by a British cruiser on 13 February 1940 inside the safety zone off the Brazilian coast (between Cabo and Sao Thome), and was scuttled by her own crew. Lifeboats were fired on with machine guns.

7. The steamer TROJA was stopped by a British cruiser off Aruba in the Caribbean Sea on 1 March 1940, was set on fire and sunk by her own crew.

8. The motor vessel HEIDELBERG was stopped by a British Cruiser on 1 March 1940 off the north coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea, and was scuttled by her own crew.

9. The motor vessel HANNOVER was stopped by a British (or French) destroyer on 8 March 1940 off the east coast of the Dominican Republic inside territorial waters, and after opening of the sea cocks was set on fire by her own crew.

10. The motor vessel WESER was captured by the Canadian auxiliary cruiser PRINCE ROBERT on 26 September 1940 west of Manzanillo, Mexico, probably inside the safety zone, and taken to Esquimalt, British Columbia.

11. The motor vessel PHRYGIA, 4,137 BRT, of the Hamburg-America Line, was scuttled by her own crew on 16 November 1940 shortly after leaving Tampico in order to escape capture.

12. The steamer IDARWALD, 5,033 BRT, of the Hamburg-America Line, was scuttled by her own crew on 9 December 1940 off Cuba in order to escape capture. She sank on 10 December in spite of British efforts to salvage her.

13. The motor vessel RHEIN, 6,031 BRT, of the Hamburg-America Line, was stopped by a Dutch naval vessel on 11 December 1940 in the Caribbean Sea and thereupon scuttled by her own crew.

14. The motor vessel MÜNCHEN, 5,619 BRT, of the Hamburg-America Line, was stopped by an enemy naval vessel on 2 April 1941 west of Callao shortly after putting to sea, and was thereupon set on fire and sunk by her own crew.

15. The motor vessel HERMONTHIS, 4,833 BRT, North German Lloyd, was treated like the motor vessel MÜNCHEN.

16. The French passenger ship MENDOZA, 8,199 BRT, was captured by a British cruiser on 13 January 1941 inside Uruguayan territorial waters, set free again on 14 January, and was captured again on 18 January on the boundary of Brazilian territorial waters, five miles from the island of Santa Catharina, and taken to freetown.

Annex 2

Warfare against American Merchant Shipping according to Prize Regulations.

I. Present situation.

a. The greater part of American supplies of arms, aircraft, and other war material are sent to West, Central, and East Africa, and from there to Egypt, by routes which avoid the war zone declared by the U.S. Government. The chief routes are as follows:

    Atlantic: New York to Bermuda to Takoradi (Gold Coast) or Matadi (Congo); New York to Bermuda to Cape Town; Gulf ports to Fernando-Noronha to Cape Town.

    Indian Ocean: From Durban through Mozambique Channel to East Africa or India (Bombay).

This shipping plays a very considerable part in helping the enemy to guarantee military supplies to the most important strategic British positions (Egypt and the Near East). The American plans of bringing ships around the Cape or through the Pacific and Indian Oceans to the Near East must be counteracted.

b. The enemy and the U.S.A. both know, from the course of the war up till now, that German naval forces do not attack American steamers. This fact leads to the following results:

    1. American shipping sails unhindered over the direct routes.

    2. It serves as a medium of reconnaissance for enemy shipping.

    3. British ships can camouflage themselves as American ones without giving themselves away either to us or the world at large. Proof of this is the fact that the first and only American steamer captured by us since Autumn 1939, CANADIAN CRUISER, captured and sunk by the SCHEER on 20 February, was a camouflaged British steamer!!

II. The effects of applying prize regulations to American shipping.

a. It is difficult to estimate the success in terms of tons, but it promises to be considerable, especially in the first weeks, particularly if this action coincides with an operation of the fleet in the North Atlantic. In the following period captures will remain within the normal limits of warfare against enemy shipping.

b. The following indirect advantages will result:

    1. American will be forced to choose new routes. This will incur detours, reduction in the amount of material transported, higher cost of transport, and lower profits.

    2. The danger of shipping as well as the losses themselves will necessitate an increase in freight and insurance charges, hence profits will be reduced and shipping may be shifted to safer areas, e.g., the Pacific Ocean.

    3. The U.S. Fleet, strong though it may be in relation to other fleets, is not in a position to provide sufficient vessels for escort duty considering the length of the sea routes involved; this is all the more true since the greater part of her forces are tied up on account of the political situation in the Indian Ocean, and there is greater need for organizing convoys in the North Atlantic for protection against submarines.

c. One special advantage is the fact that enemy ships can no longer gain protection by camouflaging themselves as American ships.

III. For the above reasons the Seekriegsleitung requests permission to conduct warfare against American merchant shipping according to prize regulations.

IV. Sparing the lives or U.S. citizens.

A definite guarantee that no American lives will be lost cannot be given, as even if the principles of prize law are adhered to the use of armed force is permissible under certain circumstances, even though the vessel concerned is sailing under neutral flag:

a. Against all ships proceeding under escort of enemy naval vessels or aircraft; ships are assumed to be proceeding under convoy when enemy surface forces, submarines, or air forces are within sight of a number of merchant ships proceeding sufficiently close together.

b. Against vessels which transmit useful information to the enemy concerning fighting forces or naval operations. This includes any radio message transmitted while measures in accordance with prize law are in progress.

c. Against vessels which resist by force or take part in any combat action.

d. Against vessels which ignore the order to stop, to keep on a certain course, not to make use of radio apparatus, or not to make signals. Use of radio by a vessel proceeding in company with others without enemy escort after the order has been given to stop and to refrain from using the radio entitles the opponent to take ruthless action against all the ships in the company, when it cannot be established which one of the ships made use of the radio.

e. Against vessels of whom it is known or becomes known that they are carrying enemy troops aboard.

In spite of the right to employ armed force in the above cases, naval forces already have orders to endeavor to rescue crews after action. It is not to be expected that these instructions should be modified in favor of American crews to the disadvantage of our own forces, or that the above mentioned permissible use of armed force should be restricted in favor of American ships.

V. If for political reasons restrictions cannot be lifted altogether, it seems a matter of urgent necessity that an order should be issued at least once to the fleet forces to capture and bring in as many American ships as possible during the next operation, in order to deprive enemy shipping of the possibility and protection of neutral camouflage, and also to bring home to the U.S.A. the seriousness of the situation caused by their continuous support of the enemy.

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