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Report of the Commander in Chief, Navy, to the Führer on 23 February 1940 at 1030.
Fregattenkapitän von Puttkamer
1. Baltic Sea. Due to the ice situation there has been no activity by naval forces. The Seekriegsleitung considers the present time - after the conclusion of the economic pact with Russia - suitable for reviewing the agreements with Russia regarding the boundary line for warfare against merchant shipping (20º E) and for effecting an alteration. We cannot forego control of merchant traffic in the eastern Baltic. The Seekriegsleitung is contacting the Foreign Office.
2. North Sea.
a. At the present time British naval vessels are being overhauled in large numbers after having been at sea for a long time, so that there are only a few heavy ships entirely ready for action in home waters. Therefore this is an opportunity for operations by our battleships and the HIPPER against convoy traffic. The first operation of 10 to 20 February along the line from the Shetlands to Norway was not successful in intercepting the convoy reported as proceeding from the Scottish coast to the north (Kirkwall), since obviously it was proceeding further to the north. The operation is soon to be repeated. The good work of the radio intercept service decreases the risks run in these operations.
During an operation by a destroyer flotilla off the Dogger Bank on the evening of 22 February for the purpose of bringing in British steam trawlers, two destroyers were lost. The cause has not yet been discovered, but German aircraft may be responsible.
b. Submarines and destroyers are continuing to lay mines off the east coast of Britain; U9 operated in Cromarty Firth; two new mine fields were layed off Cromer and off North Thames-Shipwash Light Vessel. On the south coast a new mine field has been laid off Portland by U48. On the'west coast U33 was sent into the Firth of Clyde, an extremely difficult task. The boat was sunk after a surface engagement with a minesweeper. It is to be hoped that the mine field was laid beforehand. U32 was sent for further mine-laying off Liverpool, U28 for mine-laying off Portsmouth.
c. Submarine warfare. About six submarines are continuously operating in the Atlantic and eight in the North Sea. Results in the Atlantic are increasing: 27,800 tons (six ships), 38,000 tons (eight ships), 43,000 tons (eight ships). Successes also against convoys. In the North Sea the small boats have sunk on an average two steamers, about 3,000 to 4,000 tons, with four to five torpedoes; eleven ships were sunk by one boat during three operations. On 18 February U23 sank the destroyer DARING out of a convoy.
Losses: U15, U55, U33; this makes a total of 12 boats, i.e., about 2 per month.
d. Intensification of submarine warfare. So far all ships proceeding without lights, even passenger steamers, may be fired on in the American closed area. It has now been established that British ships proceeding without lights have of late generally carried dimmed running lights, apparently owing to the danger of collision. Neutral ships are instructed to light up their flags and neutral makings also, so that they may be clearly recognized. The Commander in Chief, Navy, requests that in the future also passenger steamers proceeding without lights but carrying running lights may be fired on without warning, since they are British. The British are using passenger steamers in many cases for freight and troop transport owing to lack of freighters. The Führer agrees.
e. The Commander in Chief, U-boats, requests permission to exchange two German submarine commanders for the two British commanders. The Führer agrees.
f. The Seekriegsleitung intends, when the weather is suitable, to resume laying aerial mines also on the east coast. This had been stopped in view of the ice conditions at the Air Force stations. The Chief of the OKW, states that the Chief of the General Staff, Luftwaffe, has requested that this plan not be carried out, so that the future large-scale mine-laying operations by aircraft of the operational Air Force on the west coast should not be adversely affected by having the British intensify their defense in that area too. The Commander in Chief, Luftwaffe, has made similar representations to the Führer. The Commander in Chief, Navy, states that the important thing is to make immediate use of all available means in order to intensify the effects of submarine warfare. Besides, defense would be intensified on the east coast, if strong attacks were made only in that area. This would be of advantage to the situation on the west coast. There is no objection to this. The question will therefore be discussed by the Seekriegsleitung with the General Staff of the Luftwaffe.
3. Operations by submarines off Halifax. The Commander in Chief, Navy, advances considerations for operations by two submarines with mines and torpedoes off Halifax. He recommends operations within territorial waters with mines, and outside the safety zone with torpedoes. The Foreign Office has no objections. (See Annex 1.)
The Führer refuses to sanction these operations in view of the psychological effect on the U.S.A.
4. Operations by submarines in the Mediterranean. The Commander in chief, Navy, requests a decision on whether these are permissible from the political point of view. The Führer is of the opinion that the Duce's agreement to this would have to be obtained.
The Führer raises the question as to whether such operations are "decisive for the war". The Commander in Chief, Navy, states that the net result of all these operations is decisive for the war, and that all those points at which operations are carried out by surprise, and therefore at first without strong enemy counteraction are especially significant, since they could have a very important effect.
Remark by the Commander in Chief, Navy: The refusal to sanction these two possible operations at particularly favorable points constitutes a real setback to the effectiveness of submarine warfare.
5. Operation "Weserübung". The Commander in Chief, Navy, when asked by the Führer about the possibility of maintaining the ore traffic from Narvik following the occupation of Norway, replies as follows:
a. The best thing for maintaining this traffic as well as for the situation in general is the maintenance of Norwegian neutrality.
b. What must not be permitted, as stated earlier, is the occupation of Norway by Britain. That could not be undone; it would entail increased pressure on Sweden, perhaps extension of the war to the Baltic, and cessation of all ore supplies from Sweden.
c. The occupation of Norway by us would cause the ore traffic from Narvik to be completely suspended at least for a time, since the protection of sea traffic is very difficult even along the inter-island route on a large portion of the 800 mile passage. Extensive use of submarines and aircraft squadrons would be necessary along a great part of the route. It is possible that enemy submarines would penetrate through the many approaches and the steamers would be fired on from the sea. However only about 2,500,000 to 3,500,000 tons per year would be lost, while if the British occupied Norway, all supplies would be cut off. If Germany occupies Norway, she can also exert heavy pressure on Sweden which would then be obliged to meet all our demands. (See Annex 2.)
d. Questions on carrying out the occupation are then discussed: The Commander in Chief, Navy, points out the difficulty of synchronizing occupation in the south by Air Force transports and in the north by naval transports. Transport would be by steamers of the SCHARNHORST class (about 20 knots) or naval store ships (also about 20 knots). Transports carrying materiel, perhaps also troop transports, should proceed first of all to "Basis Nord", since from there the approach route is shorter.
The OKW will be instructed to investigate these questions.
6. Purchase of Estonian submarines. According to a private discussion with the assistant of the Military Attaché, Estonia appears to be ready to transfer her two submarines to Germany, provided that Russia agrees. Estonia herself would have to obtain this agreement from Russia and offer the submarines on her own initiative. Then the acquisition would be most desirable. The Führer agrees with this procedure.
7. Russian agreement. During the discussions in Moscow, Stalin indicated that the desired 38 cm. and 28 cm. turrets are intended for ships under construction; he inquired whether installation would still be possible. The Seekriegsleitung replied that this can be decided only after examining the plans.
8. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that Generaladmiral Saalwächter will be ill for about 6 weeks and that Admiral Carls will take his place.
Considerations Regarding Operations by Submarines against Halifax.
I. Political Situation.
a. Halifax lies within the Pan-American safety zone. This zone does not, however, include the territorial waters of belligerent states, therefore of Canada. Actions off Halifax harbor within Canadian territorial waters therefore constitute no infringement on the American neutrality zone; only engagements outside the three mile limit would be an infringement upon it.
b. Traffic by American ships and passengers to harbors in Canada and Newfoundland:
2. Since, however, there is no definite ban on American vessels calling at harbors in Canada and Newfoundland lying east of 66º W such as applies to harbors within the operational zone laid down by the President, it must be expected that American vessels carrying ballast will proceed to these harbors in order to take on goods and bring them to the United States or to other neutral harbors.
3. Passengers: American vessels are also prohibited from carrying passengers to Canadian or Newfoundland ports east of 66º W.
American citizens are also forbidden to sail in ships belonging to the belligerent states. This ban is not limited to specific areas and therefore applies also to traffic to Canadian ports. There are very few exceptions.
American passengers may, however, reach Halifax on ships of other neutral nations without breaking the laws of their own country.
Operations by two boats with reserve tanks are planned, which, without refuelling, can operate with sufficient reserves for about ten days in the Halifax area. Each boat would have a mixed load: Twelve torpedo mines Type C and nine torpedo mines Type B, as well as several torpedoes.
At first ground mines with several days' delayed action should be laid directly off Halifax harbor within the Canadian three mile territorial zone. Subsequently the submarines, using torpedoes, would operate against British convoys at their point of assembly or en route. There would probably be favorable opportunities for attack, especially within the Pan-American safety zone. If, however, torpedo attacks have to be abandoned within the zone for political reasons, the use of torpedoes would be ordered only outside the safety zone.
III. Prospects of Success.
The possibilities of carrying out the operation are regarded as very favorable in view of the weak defense measures to be expected. Fairway conditions permit very effective mine laying. Mine sweeping can be carried out by the enemy only with great difficulty and with great loss of time. The operation will have a decided effect not only on the whole of the Canadian area but on all British harbors and bases even though far removed.
The operation will force Britain to withdraw anti-submarine and minesweeping forces from home waters, and will relieve German naval warfare in the area around the British Isles.
Favorable weather is an essential factor for success of the operation. The best period in the Halifax area is February. In March fogs set in, increasing up to the middle of April, when the days are foggy 40 to 60 per cent of the time; at the same time danger from ice increases, since it drifts to the south as the season progresses. Halifax is free of ice in the winter.
Berlin 22 February 1940
From: OKW, War Economy and Armaments Division.
Re: Swedish and Norwegian ore shipments to Germany.
Memorandum to the High Command, Navy (Seekriegsleitung, Operations Division).
A. Sweden. Iron ore deliveries to Germany for 1940 as specified by German-Swedish agreement: 10,000,000 tons. (Swedish authorities consider it necessary to ship 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 tons via Narvik.) However if arrangements could be made for storage during the winter months, the following amounts could be shipped:
2. Accumulated stocks do not exceed normal figures.
3. The ore railroad Lulea-Narvik will have to carry the additional load of supplies for Finland.
Iron ore: 1,200,000 tons (ores poor in phosphorus, mainly via Kirkenes). Deliveries since the beginning of the war:
to be extracted from circa:
180,000 tons cupriferous pyrites
19,000 tons cupriferous calcined pyrites
20,000 tons copper ore
Zinc ore: 65,000 tons
No limit on molybdenum concentrates. Output not more than: 750 tons
Deliveries to Germany in 1938: 415 tons
Titanium ore: 40,000 tons.
Sulphur: 5,500 tons (taking into consideration the sulphur content of the cupriferous pyrites, the total sulphur deliveries are about 40,000 tons).
Ferrochrome: No limit on deliveries, circa 6,000 tons.
Ferro-silicon: circa 13,000 tons.
Silicomanganese: circa 5,000 tons.
At. present shipments are progressing normally.
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