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

Report of the Commander in Chief, Navy, to the Führer at Wolfsschanze in the afternoon of 22 August 1941.

Present: Chief of the OKW [Generalfeldmarschall Keitel]
General Jodl
Kapitän zur See von Puttkamer

I. Points suggested for the conference between the Führer and the Duce.

1. The Transport situation in the Mediterranean.

a. By the middle of September, shipping space ready for use, including German ships, ships chartered from Spain, and Danish and Belgian ships taken over from the French, will amount in all to:

    16 sea-going ships totalling
    13 coastal ships totalling
    54,100 BRT
    11,600 BRT
    65,700 BRT
This shipping is adequate for the time being for transports to Africa.

German shipping reserves in the Mediterranean are low; they are as follows:

Eleven ships totalling 31,000 BRT used for ore transport; commandeering these would involve economic disadvantages.

Seven ships totalling 15,000 BRT used for operations in the Aegean and the Black Seas; they are indispensable there.

Losses in German shipping up to 31 July amount to 7%. Further losses must be expected.

b. The transport situation could be improved by using the French merchant ships or non-French ships lying in French ports, and later by capturing Gibraltar, making it possible to bring German ships into the Mediterranean.

c. Demands to be presented to Italy.

    (1) Increased use should be made of Italian shipping. The following ships are available in Italy:

    120 freighters over 2,000 BRT, totalling
    114 freighters under 2,000 BRT, totalling
    46 passenger ships
    19 tankers
    299 ships
    552,000 BRT
    122,000 BRT

    445,954 BRT
    1,119,954 BRT

    Previous experiences have shown that the Italians are very reluctant to use their shipping. Their intention to retain their shipping for commercial use during the period after the war when there is a shortage of shipping is obvious. Very strong pressure by the Government is necessary here. In order to carry out German transports most effectively it is necessary that the Italians surrender ships to the German Commanding Officer, Supply and Transports, for purely German use.

    (2) Malta should be attacked and the escort service should be improved, in order to keep losses within reasonable limits. For this purpose search receivers delivered from Germany should be put to appropriate use by installing them on ships really suitable for anti-submarine warfare, making use of German proposals and experiences.

    (3) Italian facilities and workmen should be used for construction of German transport ships according to German plans and under German supervision. German aid in materials should be afforded by the Ministry of Economics. (It is intended to use similar measures in other coastal areas, for example in France, Russia, Rumania, etc.) The construction of these ships (using simplest design and mass production techniques) is important because of constant losses in ships, the impending large transport tasks, and also in order to relieve and improve merchant shipping. Construction of tankers is particularly urgent.

    It is planned to construct approximately the following ships, all with "SS" priority:

    30 troop transports of 5,000 BRT
    20 troop transports of 3,000 BRT
    20 tankers of 3,000 BRT

2. Capacity of African harbors.

a. The capacity of Tripoli and Benghazi is barely adequate to handle current supply traffic. A larger number of transports could be managed only by considerably increasing transloading performance and by expanding all Libyan ports. Measures of great urgency, such as removal of wrecks and improvement of clearance facilities at the landing stages, are not being carried out with the necessary vigor. The Commanding Officer, Supply and Transports in Italy, on instructions from the Seekriegsleitung, has already repeatedly offered German assistance in expanding the Libyan ports, both verbally and in writing. So far, the Italians have not accepted the offer.

b. Italy should be requested to make use of the German offer of assistance in material and personnel for expanding African ports.

3. Italian transport ships used in Libyan traffic since the beginning of the German crossings.

a. Freighters:

Troop and cargo transports
In addition, from Albanian traffic
New addition
Total shipping used for Libya
Completely lost
In operation at the present time
22 ships = 127,735 BRT
2 ships = 11,711 BRT
1 ship = 6,300 BRT
25 ships = 145,746 BRT
6 ships = 30,822 BRT
19 ships = 114,924 BRT

b. Passenger ships (purely for transporting men without materiel or equipment, therefore of no practical use to us):

Put in operation
In operation at the present time
6 ships = 93,529 BRT
1 ship = 17,779 BRT
5 ships = 75,750 BRT

German ships in operation at the same time:

Total put in operation
Completely lost
Ready for operation
38 ships = 152,237 BRT
7 ships = 38,565 BRT
18 ships = 83,597 BRT
13 ships = 29,975 BRT*

*Apparent error in original

The Führer notes and approves the foregoing points, which are given in writing at the same time to the Chief of the OKW. He will discuss them with the Duce.

II. Development of relations with France.

The fundamental views of the Seekriegsleitung as expressed in the memorandum of the Battle of the Atlantic are stated. (See Annex 1, Conference 25 July 1941, Tr.N) The demands made in this report can also be met step by step rather than all at the same time, e.g., first of all the question of transport shipping can be solved, then West Africa can be secured, and finally there can be unlimited cooperation. So far, the French handed over to us five Belgian and three Danish steamers totalling 15,300 BRT. Our demand for nineteen ships totalling 74,000 BRT has not been met as yet. The following demand should be made:

    a. Suitable ships should be sold or chartered to us.

    b. Certain transport tasks from Toulon and Marseille to Bizerte should be taken over by French shipping under French escort.

The Chief of the OKW replies with regard to point "a" that negotiations are in progress; and with regard to point "b" that this question can be solved only in conjunction with the whole Bizerte problem.

III. The importance of Gibraltar and cooperation with Spain.

As long as relations with France are not completely cleared up, and cooperation with her is not effectively established, the occupation of Gibraltar continues to be of decisive importance. If we occupied Gibraltar we would rule the Western Mediterranean, and even the importance of Malta would be reduced to a certain degree.

Cooperation with Spain is not only a necessary condition for the attack on Gibraltar, but also offers very valuable bases on the Atlantic coast to the German Navy, e.g., El Ferrol and Cadiz, which are situated nearer to the operational areas and further away from enemy bases and airports.

Cooperation with Spain and control of the Strait of Gibraltar would enable us to bring naval forces and transport vessels into the Mediterranean. This might be of decisive importance for the transport situation in the central Mediterranean.

The Führer fully appreciates the importance of Gibraltar.

The investigation made by the Seekriegsleitung of the artillery defenses of the Spanish harbors of El Ferrol, Cadiz, and of the Canary Islands has shown that is is necessary to get anti-aircraft batteries and searchlights to El Ferrol and Cadiz before the commencement of operation "Felix". Possibly mines should be sold to Spain for the purpose of closing the Strait of Gibraltar. Permission to begin the preparations is requested. (See Annex 1.)

Permission must be obtained from the Chief of the OKW.

IV. Change in the American Neutrality Zone.

In view of the increasingly unfavorable political attitude which the South American countries are adopting towards us, the Seekriegsleitung has asked the Foreign Office to consider whether it might not be warranted to disregard the Pan-American Safety Zone which we still respect as far as 300 miles off the coast of South America. The Seekriegsleitung suggests that the boundary should be pushed back to 20 miles off the coast. The opinion of the Foreign Minister is requested on this point. (All South Atlantic shipping has been transferred into the neutrality zone.)

The Führer will await a statement from the Foreign Minister.

V. Concentration of submarines in the Atlantic.

The Führer touches on the question of transferring submarines to the Mediterranean.

The Commander in Chief, Navy, states that in view of the fact that enemy convoys are more and more heavily escorted, successes can be achieved only if they are attacked, not by just a few, but by a large number of submarines simultaneously. The transfer of enemy traffic to more distant and remote areas also necessitates use of a very large number of submarines merely to locate the enemy convoys. Even with the gradual increase in the numbers of submarines, therefore, all available boats will have to be concentrated in the Atlantic. Only in this way can we expect to achieve decisive successes. Submarines should be transferred to other theaters of operation and to other tasks only in cases of great emergency. The Commander in Chief, Navy, has ordered the withdrawal of the four submarines from Finland and the four submarines from the outlets of the Belts and the Sound, in order that the numbers of Atlantic submarines should not be reduced further; he believes that no submarines should be transferred from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean until there are forty operational submarines in position in the Atlantic.

The Commander in Chief, Navy, also points out the differences between methods of submarine warfare in the Mediterranean and in the Atlantic, as well as the different nature of the anti-submarine defenses.

The Führer elaborates on the following points: The British will probably undertake an attack on Sollum and Tobruk to relieve the Russians; the surrender of North Africa would mean a great loss both to us and to the Italians; the British are very dependent on supplies by sea in the Eastern Mediterranean; the Italians have achieved nothing with their submarines. It is very desirable to relieve the Africa Corps with a few German submarines, and he proposes sending three groups of two vessels each, totalling six in all.

The Commander in Chief, Navy, recommends a conference with the Duce first and a request for a suitable base, which would then be equipped by us.

The Führer agrees.

The Commander in Chief, Navy, does not believe that the Duce will agree.

VI. The question of eliminating Hangö.

Speedy elimination of Hangö is necessary. The Seekriegsleitung brought up the question in a letter to the OKW, proposing that Hangö be occupied soon. (See Annex 2.)

General Jodl states that the Finns will be able to take steps to occupy Hangö only when operations on Lake Ladoga are over. Heavy artillery can be transported to the vicinity soon.

VII. To what extent will the Baltic countries belong to the Greater German Reich after the war, making it possible for such ports as Libau, Tallinn, and Baltic Port to be used as shipyards and bases? The Führer states that the bases can definitely be counted on; he will not surrender the Baltic countries.

VIII. What are the Führer's intentions with regard to the future status of the Channel Islands? Are they to belong to the Greater German Reich even if the French coast near them is not in our possession? The Führer wishes to retain the Channel Islands; he would like to fortify them as strategic bases.

IX. What is the Führer's opinion of Japan's political attitude? The Führer is convinced that Japan will carry out the attack on Vladivostok as soon as forces have been assembled. The present aloofness can be explained by the fact that the assembling of forces is to be accomplished undisturbed, and the attack is to come as a surprise move.

The Führer assumes that the positions in Indo-China are being secured at the same time, and that Thailand has special agreements with Japan.

X. Ogeration "Seelöwe". The Commander in Chief, Navy, requests a decision on the proposal made by the Seekriegsleitung with regard to operation "Seelöwe". The Chief of the OKW states that the matter was presented to the Führer; a decision about determining the exact facilities available will be forthcoming within a few days. The Führer is anxious that the threat to Britain should never quite cease so that as many British forces as possible will be tied down.

XI. Norwegian ships in Sweden. The Commander in Chief, Navy, explains the situation with regard to Norwegian ships in Sweden. Sweden has declared that she guarantees none will escape in the immediate future; that Germany should, however, arrange with the Norwegian Shipping Union for the ships to be handed over to Germany. This company is under pro-British management and recognizes the old Norwegian Government. This company will work in our interests only if it comes under the control of the National Socialists. Quisling should be commissioned to arrange this.

The Führer orders an investigation to be made.

(The Commander in Chief, Navy, gives General Jodl a copy of the notes made by Professor Aal on these questions.)

XII. Guns for the Russians. (See Annex 3.)

signed: Raeder

Annex 1

Defenses of the Spanish Harbors of El Ferrol and Cadiz and of the Canary Islands.

1. El Ferrol.

a. Coastal batteries: The number and range of the guns are adequate. Ammunition supplies of the six new type 38.1 cm. Vickers batteries (British make, range 35,100 m.) are insufficient. Possibilities for remedying this situation are being Investigated.

b. Anti-aircraft artillery: Three 10.5 cm. anti-aircraft batteries, of four guns each, are available. They are of little value as far as fire control apparatus is concerned, and considering the size of the area to be defended. Illuminants are completely lacking.

2. Cadiz.

a. Coastal batteries: These are numerous, but are of small caliber and obsolete. One 30.5 cm. twin turret is to be completed in the south in September. One heavy long-range battery is needed in the north near the estuary at Huelva.

b. Anti-aircraft artillery: Only one 10.5 cm. battery consisting of four guns, and two 7.5 cm. batteries consisting of four guns each are available. There are no illuminants. Defensive strength is small.

Should operation "Felix" be executed, each of the two ports will be provided with one heavy and one light army battery, these to be replaced later by naval guns as follows:

    El Ferrol: four 30.5 cm. Nina guns, four 15 cm. guns.
    Cadiz: two 34 cm. railway batteries (captured French), four 15 cm. batteries (first at the disposal of the Army against Gibraltar)
Anti-aircraft defense must be considerably strengthened both in El Ferrol and in Cadiz.

3. Canary Islands.

a. Coastal batteries: Long-range batteries (up to 21,600 m.) are available only at Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Las Palmas, and the airfield at Gando. Coastal artillery is also stationed almost exclusively at these places. There are a few mobile batteries. The equipment is for the most part obsolete, with the exception of the long-range batteries; they have a slow rate of fire, and use black-powder shells.

b. Anti-aircraft artillery: There is one anti-aircraft battery of four 7.5 cm. guns on Tenerife, and one on Grand Canary; they have no modern sighting devices.

c. The Army, mobilized, consists of 38,000 men. Heavy weapons are lacking. Lines of concrete emplacements, field fortifications, and road improvements are under construction.

d. The Air Force: There are two airfields, one at Gando, on Grand Canary, and one at Los Llanos on Tenerife.

In December, twenty five Fiat type fighter planes were stationed at Gando. The airfields are being improved. There is a shortage of gasoline.

Attempts to land can be prevented for some time if a good defense is put up. The duration of this resistance would depend primarily on supplies. Heavy damage to harbor installations by long-range naval guns could hardly be prevented.

According to a communication from Madrid, the six German 17 cm. coastal guns and the six German 15 cm. coastal guns were shipped from Cadiz to the Canary Islands on 12 August. The necessary technical personnel is in Spain and will be taken to the islands by air.

On the south coast of Spain and on the coast of Morocco coastal artillery is well placed, and work is progressing satisfactorily.

Searchlights are almost entirely lacking everywhere.

Annex 2

Berlin 8 August 1941


Subject: Hangö

As far as is known here, there is no longer any intention of supporting the Finns on the Hangö front. The enemy will therefore probably be able to hold out in Hangö for some time to come, and to station parts of his Baltic fleet there.

Hangö offers an excellent base for light naval forces, particularly for submarines, in view of the equipment which is available there or which could be brought up from Leningrad, Tallinn, or Kronstadt without difficulty within a short time.

Both at sea and from the sea the German Navy cannot substantially hamper the operations of enemy forces based at Hangö. As long as Hangö remains in enemy hands, there can be no substantial relief for operations in the Baltic. The result is as follows:

1. Army supplies by sea as well as merchant shipping to and from Scandinavia, particularly ore imports from Lulea, continue to be exposed to dangers and possible losses.

2. The number of new submarines becoming available for operations is reduced considerably because trials and training of newly commissioned submarines is greatly hampered.

3. Forces urgently required at other points are tied down in the Baltic Sea, i.e., submarines, S-boats, motor minesweepers, minesweepers, patrol and escort craft, minelayers, and naval air forces.

4. Trials and training of new surface forces, as the TIRPITZ and destroyers, are being delayed further. Increasing disadvantages and difficulties are resulting from interference with regular training schedules of all other units of the fleet.

The Seekriegsleitung feels obliged to call attention to these conditions once more at this time, so that measures can be taken to eliminate Hangö as soon as possible as a base for Soviet forces.

signed: Fricke

Annex 3

Summary of the heavy and medium guns with cradles which were being manufactured for Russia.

1. Heavy guns: Sixteen 38 cm. guns with cradles, including reserves, were under construction for the Russians. Eight of these have been completed, and are distributed as follows:

Four have been sent to battery “Hanstholm II" in Denmark.
Four are intended for the battery under construction at Kristiansand, Norway.

If the Russian program had been carried through, we would have had to convert the above batteries and equip them for the time being with fewer guns.

The remaining eight guns are still under construction and are not expected to be ready for delivery until after the middle of 1942, at the rate of one a month. The first seven of these guns are to be given to the Army for use as railway guns. The army will make replacements to the Navy about 1943.

Construction on the 38 cm. turrets has been stopped, in order to release productive capacity which is urgently required. They could be completed if the ships in Russia for which they were intended are to be finished.

2. Medium guns: Twelve 15 cm. rapid firing C/25 guns in four 15 cm. triple turrets.

Work has been suspended, as it was not sufficiently far along to make completion worth while during the war.

3. 20.3 cm. guns with cradles from cruiser "L": Four guns with cradles are available. These were placed at the disposal of the High Command, Army, following a letter by the Chief of Army Equipment and Commander of the Replacement Army (Az 73 i 0093 Wa Prüf. 4 - VII c - B. Nr. 4622 geh./41) dated 14 July 1941.

Four guns with cradles have already been delivered.

4. The Commander in Chief, Navy, is considering setting up the 40.6 cm. guns from Hela near Skagen after the Russian danger has been removed, in order to control the Kattegat as far as Swedish waters.


Battleship Bismarck 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