Minutes of the Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 3 December 1944.
3 DECEMBER 1944.
1600. The Commander in Chief, Navy, attends the conference on the situation with the Führer. He is accompanied by the Admiral on Special Duty [Konteradmiral Wagner].
1. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer his decision to station 7 submarines, the only ones equipped with the Schnorchel device available in that region, outside Scapa Flow for attacks on entering carrier task forces. In reply to the Führer's question whether it is correct to assume that Scapa Flow is the base for carrier task forces, the Commander in Chief, Navy, states that in all probability such is the case, although he has no definite proof.
2. During the discussion of the possibility of shipping the entire equipment of the combat divisions to be evacuated from Norway directly to Denmark by sea, and to transport only the personnel by train to Oslo and from there by boat to Denmark, the Commander in Chief, Navy, makes the following comment: It takes about 90 shiploads of 3,000 BRT each, or a total of 270,000 BRT to transport 12,856 horses and 11,251 vehicles and guns by sea. Since all shipping space is in use, this would mean that 400,000 freight tons of important goods, such as army equipment, ore and pyrite, could not be moved. Little time would actually be saved in view of the time required for loading, not to mention possible delays due to the weather and enemy interference. Escort forces are insufficient to afford sufficient protection for these extensive shipping operations in addition to their other tasks, such as escorting supply convoys, anti-submarine warfare and minesweeping. Great losses must therefore be expected.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, proposes that 20 ships of the Reich Commissioner of Maritime Shipping be assigned to this task, and that the remaining equipment be transported to Oslo by rail as was previously suggested.
The Führer agrees with this proposal and directs that the equipment to be transported by sea should be chosen on the following basis: the most bulky goods, which take up the most space on the train, in other words all types of vehicles, should go by water. In view of the risk involved in transportation by sea, such vehicles should be chosen which can most easily be replaced, that is, approximately in the following order: horsedrawn vehicles, passenger cars, trucks. The Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff [Generaloberst Jodl], is directed to work out a corresponding priority list.
In addition, the Führer orders that for the time being only those vehicles should be shipped which are indispensable to the divisions for combat purposes, while the rest should be left behind for shipment at a later date, when the situation is less critical.
1730. Private conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Fuehrer. Aside from certain personal matters, the following points were discussed:
1. The Commander in Chief, Navy, voices his intention of sending 10 to 15 German naval officers to Japan, giving them the opportunity to become acquainted with naval warfare on a large scale by participating in fleet operations there. Their experiences could later be utilized to build up a German fleet. Since German naval warfare, with the exception of submarine warfare, has developed into a purely coastal war, we have no opportunity whatsoever to acquire experience of this nature in the European theater. The Führer agrees.
2. The Commander in Chief, Navy, submits to the Führer the report of Kapitänleutnant Nollmann, who was in charge of a submarine [U1199] equipped with a Schnorchel in its operations off the east coast of Scotland. Nollmann speaks in the most positive manner about the great possibilities of this ship and states the conviction of his crew that with the introduction of the Schnorchel the old effectiveness of the submarine has been re-established.
In view of this very favorable evaluation of the Schnorchel submarine, corroborated also in other instances, the Commander in Chief, Navy, has no misgivings about the new submarine models, which will be equipped even better for underwater warfare. He believes that the revival of submarine warfare will be chiefly a home and shipyard problem, since the enemy will concentrate all his efforts on the outbound routes of the submarines, their construction and repair yards, as well as their bases, as soon as the first successes of the new submarines become known. While other industries can be moved to less endangered regions, the shipbuilding industry is by its nature confined to the coast and the large ports, and nothing can take its place elsewhere. The Commander in Chief, Navy, refers the Führer to the memorandum submitted about the middle of November concerning the armament situation of the naval forces, and emphasizes that everything possible must be done to force through the Navy shipbuilding program. He fears, however, that Hauptamtsleiter Saur of the Ministry of Armaments and War Industries will be under such pressure on account of numerous special programs of other branches of the Wehrmacht ordered by the Führer, that the shipbuilding program may easily suffer. It is felt that under the circumstances, the influence of the Commander in Chief, Navy, is insufficient to protect the interests of the Navy. He therefore solicits the aid of the Führer to impress Mr. Saur with the needs of the Navy. Unless everything possible is done in this respect, the new submarine arm will by necessity turn out to be a bad investment.
The Führer agrees with the argument of the Commander in Chief, Navy, and indicates that he night approach Mr. Saur regarding the matter.
3. As for the propaganda angle of submarine warfare, the Commander in Chief, Navy, proposes to lull the enemy into a state of security and not to inform the public at first of our successes, in order not to provoke countermeasures on the part of the enemy prematurely. The Führer agrees.
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 10 December 1944, at 1500.
Also present: Admiral on Special Duty, Konteradmiral Wagner.
During the conference on the situation the following problems pertaining to the Navy are brought up:
1. During the discussion of the Army situation in Hungary, the Chief of the Army General Staff [Generaloberst Guderian] points to the importance of taking defensive measures on Lake Balaton and asks the Navy to help as far as possible. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer that in addition to the assault boats which are already operating, 24 remote-controlled explosive motor boats have been made ready, and the transfer of small vessels from the Danube is under consideration. The Navy is also closely cooperating on this matter with the Hungarian Danube Flotilla, which is at our disposal.
2. The Chief of the Army General Staff emphasizes the importance of destroying the Russian Danube bridges south of Budapest. The Commander in Chief, Navy, comments that naval shock troops are available for such tasks in the area of the Southern Army Group, and that it is the responsibility of the local authorities to plan and execute the details.
3. The Russians seem to be withdrawing large forces from the sector of the Northern Army Group, but the destination of the troops which are being diverted has not yet been established. There are various indications that the assault army before Memel is being reinforced, among others. The Führer asks the Commander in Chief, Navy, to throw everything the Navy has into the defense of Memel, should the Russians launch a major attack. The Commander in Chief, Navy, emphasizes the importance of Memel to the Navy and states that the loss of the city would endanger still more our bases, training areas, and convoy lanes.
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