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Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 20 June 1940 at Wolfsschlucht.
Chief of the OKW [Generaloberst Keitel]
Fregattenkapitän von Puttkamer
1. France. The Armistice. The Führer wishes to refrain from taking any measures which would affect French honor. The fleet is therefore to be interned at Brest and Toulon (Italy) according to peacetime disposition. The ships are to be inactivated in accordance with special instructions. Some naval units must be available for the defense of Indo-China. Bases on the Atlantic coast with all their resources must be completely at the disposal of the German Navy for warfare against Britain. Demands for minesweepers and vessels to defend the harbors and channels are to be made during the negotiations.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, points out that the Navy can man only the coastal defenses and is not in a position to carry out any land defense. The Army will have to hold troops ready inland. The Führer is quite aware of this fact. Mechanized forces will be kept in readiness for immediate action at suitable points inland. The Luftwaffe is to take over the air defense. The Navy can provide only two antiaircraft units.
Brest will probably be the main base for submarine warfare, Boulogne and Cherbourg for S-boats.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, draws attention to the importance of bases on the Atlantic coast, e.g., Dakar.
The Führer intends to use Madagascar for settling Jews under French supervision. However, he realizes the importance of the proposal made by the Commander in Chief, Navy, to exchange Madagascar for the northern part of Portuguese Angola, and he will consider the suggestion.
a. The Commander in Chief, Navy, calls attention to the necessity of starting vigorous air attacks on British bases in order to destroy ships under construction and repair. The Führer contemplates taking such action soon.
b. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports on negotiations with the Foreign Office concerning a state of siege.
c. The Commander in Chief, Navy, makes a report on the preparations for an invasion of England. This report deals with the locality chosen for landing, the question of mines, and shipping available now and in the future.
Special craft (of the type proposed by Von Schell and Feder) are discussed. The Commander in Chief, Navy, requests that the Navy alone should make and carry out decisions with regard to the construction of special craft. The OKW will receive instructions to insure this. The Commander in Chief, Navy, states that air supremacy is necessary for an invasion. The Army must check the composition of the divisions required for this purpose, and all superfluous material must be left behind.
3. Norway. Trondheim is to be the base for naval warfare. Coastal traffic to Narvik-Tromsø is to be escorted. Tromsø and Narvik are to be fortified with 15 cm. batteries. The northern area is to be consolidated first of all, and the southern area afterwards. There is a possibility of getting ore transport from Narvik moving by winter if Sweden helps in preparing railways and in sending supplies to northern Norway and to the troops. A sharp note has been sent.
The British will try to upset coastal traffic by raids, mines, and submarines; thus the struggle in Norway is not at an end for the Navy.
The Navy is in urgent need of air support:
[* In connection with this telegram see letters at end of this page. These letters were found in the personal files of Grand Admiral Raeder.]
The Führer requests that in the future his decision on such questions be sought through the OKW.
b. The Commander in Chief, Navy, gives a report on the progress made in returning the squadrons which Group Vest had voluntarily placed at the disposal of the Commander in Chief, Luftwaffe. The Führer replies as in "a". The Führer orders that the OKW prepare both these cases for his final decision. The Chief of the OKW will receive the necessary data from the Commander in Chief, Navy.
5. Submarine construction and the war economy. The Commander in Chief, Navy, made a report on the construction program and the necessity for the immediate allocation of the required material and men if even the restricted program (1 January 1942) is to be carried out without further delay. The Chief of the OKW explains that the demands made by the Navy have been approved at this very moment.
6. The Commander in Chief, Navy, emphasizes the necessity of increasing and accelerating allocation of ammunition for the SCHARNHORST and the GNEISENAU. The Chief of the OKW announces that this has likewise been approved.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, requests that the heavy guns should be transferred back from the Army to the Navy, in particular the 38 cm. guns, with firing mounts. He also asks for an allocation from the Army's output of heavy guns. The Führer and the Chief of the OKW agree that this will be done to the fullest possible extent.
7. The Commander in Chief, Navy, mentions that Admiral Marschall is ill again and it is necessary to replace him by Vizeadmiral Lütjens. He reports that the Navy maintains no contact whatsoever with Lieutenant von Muecke (retired). He also states his intention to call the next destroyer flotilla the "Narvik Destroyer Flotilla".
Discussion Points for the Report of the Commander in Chief, Navy, to the Führer on 20 June 1940.
1. Arctic Ocean-North Sea: Battleships and HIPPER are in Trondheim; the Fleet Commander is Weichsel; discuss further operation of the GNEISENAU-HIPPER task force.
The cruiser NÜRNBERG is proceeding to Narvik-Tromsø.
The SCHARNHORST was hit by a torpedo; she is to be returned home after being rendered sufficiently seaworthy; repairs will require several months.
2. Baltic Sea-Skagerrak: Sea transports are continuing according to plan, making heavy demands on the few escort forces. Until further notice transport vessels will keep to the former schedule (exchange of anti-aircraft divisions, return of troops).
There is no change in the situation in the eastern Baltic Sea at the moment resulting from Russian action against frontier states. In accordance with the agreement with Russia, warfare against merchant shipping west of 20º E will continue for the time being.
3. Situation in the Atlantic:
Ship "16" [Atlantis] is in the operational area either in the South Atlantic or the Indian Ocean; there are no reports.
Ship "36" [Orion] is in "the South Pacific, about 155º W, en route to the Australian area.
No news of ship "21" [Widder] in the North Atlantic.
Ship "10" [Thor] put out on 6 June; she is at present in the Norwegian Sea, possibly attempting to break through the Denmark Strait.
Ships "33" [Pinguin] and "45" [Komet] are preparing to leave port.
Ship "33" will probably be ready in a few days to cooperate with a submarine.
Ship "45" will be ready to take the northern sea route at the beginning of July.
4. Submarine situation:
At present operating in the Atlantic: 14
On outward passage: 2
At home: (in the shipyards - June/July): 4
On trial: 6
At present operating in the North Sea: 2
At home: 3
On trial: 1
Submarine training: 20
Submarine successes in the last two weeks: At least fifteen steamers totalling approximately 80,000 BRT and three auxiliary cruisers (CORINTHIA, SCOTSTOWN, and ANDANIA) totalling 51,225 BRT were sunk.
5. Provision of transport vessels in the event of operation "Ikarus". Instructions have been given to prepare the BREMEN, EUROPA, GNEISENAU, POTSDAM, MOLKENFELS, and NEIDENFELS for transport duty.
What are the Führer's motives in giving these instructions? How and when does the Führer intend to carry out this operation? (See Annex 1. and appendixes.)
6. Invasion of England:
a. Our air supremacy is a necessary condition for an invasion. The Luftwaffe must be able not only to eliminate any threat by British naval forces, but also to provide bridgeheads with paratroops after the coastal defenses have been destroyed.
b. In view of the situation at sea, the crossing must be made at the narrowest place possible. The southeast and south coasts of Britain, therefore, can be considered as disembarkation areas.
c. Preparatory measures already taken or in progress:
(2) The construction of special transport vessels (Staatssekretaer Feder's proposal, which is under consideration). Reference to invention of hydrofoil boats, etc. (Task of General Schell??)
(3) Careful scrutiny of the coast line with a view to its suitability for landings.
(4) Suspension of mine laying in the area involved in the operation in the English Channel and off the coast of England.
(2) Proper distribution of the Army landing troops aboard the available transport vessels.
8. The Seekriegsleitung demands the return of Naval Air Squadrons 3/106 and 3/906 (Heinkel 115 squadrons) vhlch are urgently needed for carrying out the tasks assigned by the Führer.
9. Naval base Trondheim must be protected against air attacks; the Seekriegsleitung's request for the necessary fighter and bomber protection, and the Field Marshal's answer!!
10. The question of the siege of Britain.
11. The speedy formation of a strong Norwegian Government is desired in order to gain firm control and influence over the Norwegian people. This will assure in particular that all connections with Britain (intelligence, espionage) are broken off.
12. What is the Führer's view of the probable further development of the war in France and Britain? How does the Führer visualize the possible capitulation of France? To what extent can the French coastal area be utilized for our purposes?
How does the Führer expect to solve the problem of territorial expansion of Germany after the victorious conclusion of the war? What territorial demands does the Führer propose to make to safeguard the German Lebensraum permanently? What stand does the Führer take with regard to the permanent relations of the northern states of Denmark and Norway to Germany? On what political considerations should the Seekriegsleitung base its deliberations on a policy concerning bases which will serve the interests of the Greater German Reich and the needs of a large Navy?
For the views of the Seekriegsleitung on this matter see Annex 2.
Annex 1Operation "Ikarus".
(These notes are to be used as a working basis by Korvettenkapitän Junge and Fregattenkapitän von Puttkamer.)
The problem of transport in connection with operation "Ikarus" is similar to that presented by operation "Weserübung". The task consists of transferring large numbers of men and quantities of material to remote waters for the most part controlled by the enemy.
Here, in contrast to the north Norwegian area, we are dealing with a sea area continuously occupied by enemy forces (cruisers and auxiliary cruisers) in the course of the enemy's long-range blockade. The fact that until further notice, probably in October or November, only one battleship will be available for operations on a large scale complicates our operations. (After repairs have been carried out on the SCHARNHORST, for which the time needed is not known, the GNEISENAU has to be overhauled.) In addition, there is a considerable shortage of light forces as a result of the losses sustained during operation Weserübung".
The speeds of the transport vessels intended for the operation differ (two ships capable of a speed of 28 knots, two ships capable of 20 knots, two ships capable of 15 knots) and therefore they must proceed separately if their speeds are to be exploited. This means the escort forces must be scattered still more.
The disadvantages of this can be cancelled out in part by the judicious selection of the points at which the ships are made ready and the points of departure. These transport vessels must be disposed according to their speed; the slower the ship, the nearer to the place of disembarkation. For example, "B" and "E" in the German Bight, "Sc" and "Gn" somewhere near Trondheim; the ships capable of a speed of 15 knots are to be dispersed among the small harbors along the northwest coast of Norway (Andalsnes, Molde). An early transfer to the vicinity of the port of departure and loading is advisable in order to maintain greater secrecy. A fairly long wait is possible there if they are effectively camouflaged. The invasion troops and materiel should be assembled as far as possible at the place of embarkation, not before.
The prospective points of debarkation on the enemy coast must be known so that preparations can be made for carrying out the operation. It appears inadvisable to transport troops on naval vessels to the same extent as in operation "Weserübung, since this limits the combat readiness of the Navy too much. The time of year and the prevailing weather conditions are decisive for the execution of this operation. It would appear impossible during the summer (about April to September) owing to lack of darkness in the northern latitudes, when surprise cannot be guaranteed and large-scale operations are not possible against a superior enemy.
Reference must again be made to the fact that it will be impossible to keep our invasion forces supplied regularly. Supplies will have to be carried by occasional blockade-runners which will operate particularly in the dark winter months.
The plan might be executed in the following manner: The lightly escorted transport groups circle around far to the north. A task force, as strong as possible, will be at sea to provide operational protection. It must be loosely coordinated, particularly as concerns time, with the fast transport group ("B" and "E"). The landing points, which will presumably be on the west side, should be approached by hauling around the north end of the island. Every effort must be made for the transport groups to arrive at the same time.
Important demands to be made by the Navy:
1. The transport groups should be distributed so that the length of the line of approach is in proportion to the speed of the transport vessels.
2. The operation should be executed at a time of the year when the area provides the protection of darkness.
3. The over-all weather situation must be taken into consideration.
4. The impossibility of insuring regular supplies must be stressed.
Appendix 1 to Annex 1Iceland.
Southwest: The main port and capital is Reykjavik. 1/3 to 2/5 of the population lives there or in the vicinity. The roadsteads are sheltered and suitable for big ships; it is 1/2 mile from the roadstead to the harbor.
Harbor for steamers up to 3,000 BRT and even larger steamers not fully loaded (troop transport vessels); there is a pier and a coal crane. (Note in writing: Draught 6 meters.)
North: Akureyri is the main city and the most important trading place in the northern section. The fjord is deep, the roadsteads are sheltered, and there is anchorage for very large ships. There are small jetties for steamers.
Two motor roads connect Akureyri and Reykjavik in the summer. There is only tourist traffic however; goods are carried by coastal steamers.
The inland is entirely uninhabited. It is characterized by desert, lava fields, and glaciers; there is not even scanty pasturage.
There are no trees on Iceland, and there is therefore no wood. It is necessary to import everything except shell fish, wool, hides, and fish, which constitute the chief wealth of the country.
The inhabitants are distributed as follows:
30% in Reykjavik.
16.9% in other towns (none of which possesses more than 6,000 inhabitants).
11.7% in coastal settlements.
41.7% in rural districts.
The greater part of the island consists of high land from 500 to 1,000 meters above sea level, from which smaller ice-covered tablelands rise as high as 1,900 meters.
Reykjavik: This is Iceland's capital and its most important commercial town. It has about 28,000 inhabitants. It is ice-free and has telegraph communications with the mainland and via the Faroes.
Imports: Coal, salt, iron goods, groceries, wood, and oils.
Exports: Fish, mutton, fats, and skins.
Sheltered berth with a depth of 17 meters. The harbor basin between the town and the Island of Effersoe across from it has an average depth of 6 meters. There are two fairly large jetties 119 and 160 meters long for medium-sized ships. There is a slipway for ships up to 600 tons, also two smaller ones.
Cable: Iceland, Faroes, Shetlands.
In peacetime steamer traffic with Germany was irregular, but with Denmark, Norway, and Britain it was regular: Weekly from February to October, and twice a month at other times. Coastal steamers sail east and west around the island from Reykjavik from April to October inclusive, in connection with the postal service.
Appendix 2 to Annex 1
War Economy. Iceland has no war and armament Industry. This country joined with the Scandinavian states in declaring neutrality in 1938. It refused to enter the League of Nations.
Iceland's economic strength lies in agriculture and fishing. A rapid intensification of farming has taken place since 1933, and creation of an industry relying on native raw materials - the manufacture of fish oil and fish meal - was begun.
The merchant fleet consisted in 1933 of forty steam trawlers and thirty other fishing craft with a total capacity of 25,000 BRT. In 1937, 25,000 tons of dried fish, 13,000 tons of salted fish, and 17,000 tons of frozen fish were exported. In 1937 the herring production realized 19,900,000 kroner. The fish meal and fish oil factories are of great importance.
Farming is for the most part dependent on cattle and horses.
In 1936 there were 653,000 sheep, 37,000 cattle, and 46,000 horses. The horses are small, hardy, and easily cared for; they are today still the most important method of transportation in the unpopulated areas, which lack paths and have numerous river courses.
The chief exports are salted mutton, oils, and fats; also skins and wool.
Iceland has had a favorable balance of trade for years.
The Imports consist mainly of coal, salt, iron and ironware, grain, groceries, cloth, fuel oil, tar, rubber, ships, boats, engines, instruments, and rough and processed wood.
Only one fifth of the country is habitable; one fifth is permanently covered with ice. The remainder is made up of stony wastes, volcanic earth, fields of lava, and rocky or river areas.
Annex 2Views of the Seekriegsleitung on the Policy of Bases.
Up to now the views of the Seekriegsleitung regarding overseas possessions and bases have rested on the following fundamental considerations:
1. German policy concerning bases is ruled by the necessity for a final and basic improvement in the geographical and strategic position of the Greater German Reich, in order to eliminate for all time a British threat to Germany and her interests overseas.
For the internal development of the Navy, it is very important to have opportunities in peacetime for activity and training in extensive sea areas, from bases lying outside the confining waters of the German Bight and the Baltic Sea.
2. The British blockade in the Iceland area on a line with the Shetlands presents a continuous and unbearable threat to German safety. It must be broken once and for all.
3. Britain's exclusive control of Germany's nearest lines of communication to the Atlantic through the Channel should be broken by Germany's presence on the Channel Coast (the Scheldt-Boulogne area).
4. The creation of a large united German Colonial Empire in Central Africa (from French Guinea and Sierra Leone via Togo, Nigeria, the Cameroons, the French Congo, the Belgian Congo, to German East Africa) which is necessary for national and economic reasons, necessitates bases on the coast of the colonial territory. Only thus can British naval supremacy in the Atlantic finally be destroyed and the sea routes to the German colonies be safeguarded.
The Seekriegsleitung considers that these basic claims can be fulfilled by pursuing a bold policy as regards bases; this, however, should be limited to the requirements necessary for protecting Germany's position as a great power and must not entail boundless and exaggerated territorial demands.
a. From a purely military standpoint it is desirable to build up an area around Trondheim as a naval and air base. In this case, considerations of politics and national psychology are disregarded for the time being.
As far as possible the problem of bases is to be solved by a liberal adjustment within the framework of the Norwegian State, at the same time sparing Norwegian national interests.
b. Iceland should be annexed and the Icelandic area should be exploited as a naval and air base.
c. The ports of Boulogne, Calais, Dunkirk, and Antwerp should be used as German bases in the Channel area. (Marginal note: Brest?)
d. Agreement should be reached with Portugal and Spain regarding the purchase and development of bases on the Azores or the Canaries and the Cape Verde Islands, as well as exchange or purchase of the islands lying off German colonial territory, in the Gulf of Guinea, and off the coast of German East Africa.
The possession of Madagascar and the French island groups in the Indian Ocean would extend Germany's naval power to the Indian Ocean, and decisively increase the protection of German sea communications against Britain's efforts to achieve naval supremacy.
e. Naval bases and operational harbors should be established in colonial territory.
f. No demands should be made for bases in the Mediterranean, American, East Asiatic, and Australian areas.
The following two letters were found in the personal files of Grand Admiral Raeder. They have reference to the telegram mentioned in the conference of 20 June 1940.
Berlin 8 August 1940The Reichsmarschall
Due to special circumstances it was only a few days ago that I read the actual contents of the telegram sent to you some time ago, containing my opinion with regard to your note on matters concerning Norway. I can assure you that I was extremely shocked when I realized that, due to a chain of misunderstandings in my staff, this telegram was delivered to you in this form and with this wording. I alone am of course responsible, for I was in a state of excitement because your proposition was presented to me as so categorical that I saw therein an interference in my own sphere of command. Not for a moment, however, could I assume that my attitude would be so interpreted that such a telegram would be sent to you personally. You can rest assured, my dear Grand Admiral, that I too share the point of view that such a tone in communications between the Commanders in Chief, and especially between two men whom nothing separates but much more unites, is absolutely unthinkable. I regret most deeply that such a thing has happened and I wish to apologize personally and in all due form for having, though quite by mistake, been responsible for such a grave offense.
Although the matter in question has been clarified and settled, I beg of you nevertheless to destroy this telegram. The thought of having telegraphed you in such an impossible tone is absolutely unbearable to me. The high esteem which I hold for you would at all times make such a tone toward you seem impossible to me. The only explanation which I can offer you is that the matter was presented to me at a time when other important things were passing through my mind, so that I did not read the telegram myself afterwards. Had I done so, the telegram would of course never have been sent. I would like to assure you once more that really no one ever drew my attention to this telegram up to the moment a few days ago when I myself saw it for the first time in the files. It was clear to me immediately that only a comprehensive apology to you could make amends for it. I would greatly appreciate it if you would not hold the matter against me in the future, although you would certainly be fully entitled to do so. May I also beg that this letter be considered as a purely personal matter?
With comradely greetings and Heil Hitler
Berlin 13 August 1940Commander in Chief of the Navy
Most esteemed Reichsmarschall!
It was with great satisfaction that I read your letter; I thank you most sincerely. In view of our mutual efforts to cooperate most closely and most effectively, it had depressed me very much of late that it could have appeared as though differences had arisen between us which in turn seemed to have affected the cooperation of the lower echelons.
The very comradely form in which you stated your point of view in this matter touched me deeply. The telegram is destroyed.
You may rest assured that my personal esteem and respect for you, my dear Reichsmarschall, has at no time undergone a change.
yours very respectfully,
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