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Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 1 February 1945, at 1600.
1. During the discussion of the situation in Pomerania, the Commander in Chief, Navy, as well as the Chief of the Army General Staff [Generaloberst Guderian] and the Chief of the OKW [Generalfeldmarschall Keitel] emphasize that the Stettin-Swinemünde area is of great strategic importance, due to the harbors, the shipyards, the Pölitz hydrogenation plant, and the connection with Pomerania and West Prussia. The Führer agrees with them that everything in any way possible must be done to defend this area. Future developments in this area will depend on how fast the Steiner SS Panzer Corps can be brought up from Kurland, the 4th SS Police Division from the west, the 163rd Infantry Division from Norway, and the Naval Rifle Brigade from the area of the Naval Command, North Sea.
2. The infantry divisions which are to be brought from Kurland after the Steiner SS Corps, are to be unloaded at Gotenhafen and sent to the Pomeranian front.
3. The various reports made today concerning ships damaged by mines in the Bay of Swinemünde cause the Commander in Chief, Navy, to emphasize that the shipyards must maintain full production at all costs. Due to the extensive mining operations of enemy planes and due to the fact that the mines are equipped with period delay mechanism, making it necessary to run over them frequently before they can be eliminated, a large number of ships is required for countermeasures. In order to keep sea traffic going at all, therefore, the damaged mine-detonating vessels, minesweepers and other patrol units must be repaired.
4. As to the troop shipments from Norway, the Commander in Chief, Navy, expresses hopes that they can be accelerated with the aid of two mine-detonating vessels just completed and two additional transport ships.
5. The Commander in Chief, Navy, discusses with Minister Speer the necessity of including minesweepers, motor minesweepers, and mine-detonating vessels in the emergency armament program as previously requested by telegram. Minister Speer promises to take appropriate action.
6. As a result of the situation conference, the Commander in Chief, Navy, issues the following instructions:
a. The Stettin shipyards are to continue full force with repairs and new construction. In order to utilize to the fullest extent the repair capacity of these yards, vessels requiring only a few weeks for repair are also to be taken to Stettin.
b. Information is to be obtained at once as to whether or not it will be possible to use naval equipment, i.e., depth charges or mines with special fuses, to break the ice on the Oder River, an operation considered necessary by the Army. Immediate steps for all possible measures are to be taken not later than tonight.
c. Information is to be obtained at once as to how the Navy can contribute to the defense of the Oder River. The necessary measures are to be started immediately.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 2 February 1945, at 1600.
1. An Account of the situation with regard to new activations and replacements in the Army is given to the Führer by SS-Obergruppenführer Jüttner. At the proposal of the Commander in Chief, Navy, it is decided that 5,000 of the 10,000 men promised to the Commander of the Replacement Army several days ago, but afterwards held in reserve for the naval division, are to be made available to him by the Navy after all. They are to be used solely as replacements for Waffen-SS divisions. The Navy will keep the remaining 5,000 men for the naval division, or for replacements in the Naval Rifle Brigade.
2. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer that he has reduced the Naval High Command drastically, discontinuing work in many fields which are important under ordinary circumstances but which can now be dispensed with. The original 8,000 have been reduced to 2,800. About 4,000 men have become available for other purposes, chiefly for naval emergency units. An advantage of this reduction is that the Naval High Command has achieved greater mobility and can thus adapt itself better to the exigencies of the situation.
The sections of the Naval High Command in Eberswalde and "Koralle" are being transferred to the Sengwarden-Varel area. The Commander in Chief, Navy, will remain in "Koralle" [OKM Headquarters north of Berlin]. The sections of the Naval High Command in Berlin will remain there.
The Führer welcomes this measure with great satisfaction and calls it an example for the other branches of the Wehrmacht and other offices.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 3 February 1945, at 1600.
1. In connection with today's air attack on the center of Berlin, the Commander in Chief, Navy, expresses his concern regarding possible air raids on Stettin and Swinemünde, which would surely have disastrous results because of the heavy concentration in these cities of naval and merchant vessels, refugees, and wounded soldiers. These harbors are of decisive importance for Army troop transports, and as ports of debarkation, bases and shipyards for the security forces of the Navy. From a strategic point of view, the enemy made a mistake in attacking Berlin rather than these harbors. It can be assumed that political motives determined the target of the raid. Everything possible must be done to protect the seaports.
2. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that the congestion at Swinemünde has increased. At present there are about 35,000 refugees in Swinemünde and 22,000 more are on the way. It is urgent that the Gauleiter alleviate the situation.
3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, informs the Chief of Operations Staff, Army General Staff, Generalleunant Wenck, once more in detail about the critical shortage of ammunition for the heavy guns of the heavy cruisers. The available ammunition for 20.3 cm. guns is sufficient only for one ship for 10 missions and the ammunition for 28 cm. guns only for one ship for 13 missions. It is no longer possible to manufacture new ammunition of this caliber. As the situation can develop in a way which may offer many opportunities for decisive operations by these ships, the Commander in Chief, Navy, asks the General Staff to restrict heavy naval gun fire against land targets to cases of extreme urgency. The available armor-piercing high explosive shells in addition to the above, sufficient for 12 missions with 20.3 cm. guns and 7 missions with 28 cm. guns, are not suitable for use against land targets and are therefore not taken into consideration.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 5 February 1945, at 1600.
Note: The Commander in Chief, Navy, was not present at the Führer conference on 4 February 1945.
1. During the report on the Northern Army Group, the Führer declares that it is the most important task of the Group to clear up and secure the situation around Königsberg and Pillau. These ports are the life lines of the East Prussian theater of war. The fighting for a western passage to Danzig must be subordinated to this task.
2. The Führer again emphasizes the significance of Stettin for the whole war situation. Army Group, Vistula, is to conduct its operations accordingly.
3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, again reports to the Führer how vitally important it is to assign adequate amounts of Diesel oil for the continuation of submarine warfare. The Chief of the OKW assures the Führer that he will do his utmost to satisfy the demands of the Navy, so that the 60 submarines which will be ready for operations in February can be equipped in time. The Führer agrees with the arguments of the Commander in Chief, Navy, and points out that this proves again the correctness of the measures he ordered for the protection of the oil-producing areas in Hungary and in the Vienna Basin, which produce 80% of our present oil supply. Modern warfare is primarily economic warfare, the requirements of which must have first consideration.
4. After the discussion of the situation, the Chief of the OKW asks the Commander in Chief, Navy, to investigate whether the Navy could turn over temporarily some Otto carburetor fuel to the Army. It is needed for the large transfer movements from the western and eastern fronts. Even a few hundred cubic meters would be a considerable relief. The Chief of the OKW promises to try to replenish the supplies of the Navy within a reasonably short time.
5. On orders of the Commander in Chief, Navy, the Admiral at Führer Headquarters explained to the Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, on 4 February, how important maintenance of the front west of the Rhine between Emmerich and Arnheim is for the coal transport on the Rhine. The Commander in Chief, Navy, discusses this subject again with the Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff, and emphasizes the catastrophic consequences which an interruption in coal transports on the Rhine would have for the supply of German ocean-going shipping and harbors, and for the situation in Holland, where coal keeps the pump works running.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 6 February 1945, at 1600.
1. During his report on operations by "Seehund" midget submarines and S-boats, the Commander in Chief, Navy, calls attention to the fact that they are greatly handicapped by the long spell of unusually bad weather, in spite of the great perseverance with which new attempts are constantly being made.
2. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that the anti-aircraft defense of Swinemünde and of Stettin is inadequate compared with that of Pölitz. There are 29 anti-aircraft guns in Swinemünde, plus 8 at the anti-aircraft training school, and 12 en route; in Stettin are 80; in Pölitz, on the other hand, are 329. The situation is serious in view of the vital importance of these ports. The Führer orders that the Luftwaffe send sufficient reinforcements from the 10.5 cm. batteries which have been released in the west. The OKW will issue the necessary instructions.
3. During the discussion on the situation in the area of Army Group, Vistula, the Führer approves the decision that the 389th and the 281st Infantry Divisions, now being transferred from Kurland to Gotenhafen, are not to be employed in the Elbing area but on the Pomeranian front, so as to be sure to prevent a Russian breakthrough into Pomerania. Should also communications between Eastern Pomerania and the Danzig-West Prussian area and the west be cut off, it would no longer be possible to master the supply situation by sea.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports in this connection that even now all facilities of the Navy and the Reich Commissioner of Maritime Shipping are being taxed to the utmost, so that it would be quite impossible to take on any additional, large-scale tasks.
4. The Führer stresses that it is the most important task of the Northern Army Group to safeguard communications between that part of East Prussia which we still control and Pillau and Königsberg, as well as to secure land and sea communications between these two ports, since the present method of transporting supplies over the Haff is only an emergency measure which will be inadequate in the long run. The Commander in Chief, Navy, confirms the fact that supplies for East Prussia and the Northern Army Group can be guaranteed only if we remain in firm control of the harbors and the Pillau-Königsberg area.
5. Acting on the request made by the Chief of the OKW on 5 February, the Commander in Chief, Navy, has decided that 300 m³ of Otto carburetor fuel from the Naval Command, North Sea, are to be made available, provided that the February quota of 550 m³ allotted to the Navy is delivered in full and that the Navy receives 100 m³ in addition to the regular quota on 1 March, 1 April, and 1 May. The Chief of the OKW is informed accordingly.
countersigned: Kapitänleutnant Neumann
Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 9 February 1945, at 1600.
1. In a discussion of the situation at the Northern Army Group sector, the Commander in Chief, Navy, points out that Königsberg can at present be supplied only by way of the road on the southern side of the Haff. We shall not be able to use the sea route before the southern coast of Samland is in our hands again. The Führer confirms that there are plans to accomplish this as soon as possible.
2. The situation in the Cleves-Nijmegen area causes the Commander in Chief, Navy, to refer once more to the fact that a further enemy advance to the Rhine would paralyze our coal shipments on the Rhine. The Führer orders the necessary forefield west of the Rhine to be held under all circumstances.
3. The Führer highly commends the accomplishments of the Navy in transferring the 3rd SS Panzer Corps from Libau to Stettin, and he remarks that this transfer was effected more rapidly than the land transfer of the western divisions to the East.
4. In connection with the report of the damage done to the S-boat shelters in Ijmuiden by heavy bombs, the Commander in Chief, Navy, states that he ordered the shelters to be cleared of S-boats whenever weather conditions permit direct target bombing by enemy aircraft. In such a case the shelters would be nothing but "mousetraps", and would actually help in giving the enemy targets for bombing, without providing protection for our S-boats. The above order proved its worth in this attack; the S-boats were scattered and not one was damaged, in spite of severe damage to the shelters.
5. Concerning the small expenditure of ammunition by the heavy anti-aircraft batteries during the air attack on Pölitz on 8 February, the Führer pointed out that the concentration of heavy anti-aircraft guns at one location - there were 370 guns in Pölitz - can be advantageous only if they are used for heavy barrage fire and consume large amounts of ammunition. In this connection the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that the Navy had achieved excellent results with barrage fire by destroyers during air attacks on Skagerrak convoys, since it had the effect of dispersing the enemy and preventing accurate bombing.
6. The Commander in Chief, Navy, replies to the inquiry of the Führer received on 8 February regarding the possibilities for improving the communication lines to Libau, that the only existing cables, from Zealand and Bornholm to Libau, are damaged and beyond repair. It is out of the question to lay a new cable because of the lack of material and because of the enemy situation. As a substitute a radio teletype connection is being established between Kiel and Libau which will be as effective as a regular teletype connection; it will be ready for use in a few days.
7. Oberstleutnant von Greiff, Deputy Chief of the Luftwaffe, Operations Staff, reports to the Commander in Chief, Navy, that the Luftwaffe has reinforced the anti-aircraft protection of Swinemünde with three 12.8 cm railway artillery batteries, besides releasing the anti-aircraft cruiser UNDINE, and has also added one of these batteries to the anti-aircraft defense of Stettin. It would require a certain amount of time before further reinforcements could be organized. In addition Oberstleutnant von Greiff reports that the minesweeper squadrons at Dievenow and Langfuhr, whose activities had been stopped by local command stations because of lack of fuel, were returned to action immediately by the Luftwaffe Operations Staff [Luftwaffe Führungsstab].
8. The Chief of the OKW asks the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the approval of the Führer, whether the Navy could manage with only 20,000 volunteers of the 1928 age group instead of the 50,000 volunteers and 5,000 draftees which were originally intended for the Navy. The Commander in Chief, Navy, promises an investigation.
9. The Commander in Chief, Navy, asks the Deputy Chief of the OKW, Operations Staff [Generalleutnant Winter], to help supply the 2nd Naval Division with equipment and arms, since the Navy can provide almost nothing besides the personnel, and has to depend on the Army for equipment and arms, according to the decision of the Führer.
10. The Admiral on Special Duty [Konteradmiral Wagner] confers with SS-Standartenführer Zander, representing Reichsleiter Bormann, about sending a representative of the Party chancellery to the Commanding Admiral, Baltic Sea, as a deputy for matters dealing with refugees, in order to regulate all problems of a non-military nature concerning the transportation and care of refugees, in cooperation with the Party offices concerned - the Gauleiters and the National Socialist Organization for Public Welfare. The Commander in Chief, Navy, agrees to this proposal.
SS-Standartenführer Zander considers the next main task to be the transportation of as many refugees as possible from East Prussia to West Prussia and Pomerania. Although the transportation of refugees farther west is very desirable, it must be subordinated to this more important task.
Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 11 February 1945, at 1700.
1. Following the account of the situation at the Western Front in the Cleves sector, the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer as follows: Since the ice had melted on the Rhine it has been possible to send about 20 vessels with 9,000 tons of coal from Duisburg via the Ijssel to Holland. 20 additional vessels with another 9,000 tons of coal are lying in the harbor of Lobit. Since the enemy has succeeded in penetrating as far as the Rhine in this region, Lobit is being strafed by enemy machine gun fire. 20 tug boats and 160 coal barges with a capacity of 38,000 tons that are ready to leave Holland cannot be sent up the Rhine for the same reason. Coal transportation on the Rhine has thus come to a standstill for the time being.
2. In connection with the loss of the hospital ship STEUBEN [sunk on 10 February by Soviet submarine S-13], the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that in spite of the regrettable losses, the use of large ships for evacuating the wounded from the Eastern Area cannot be dispensed with. Otherwise the possibility of transporting the wounded would be reduced by about 40,000 men a month; the small ships which are available could carry about 17,000 in all. It is better to use every possible means of evacuating the wounded and to count on losses now and then than to forego the evacuation of a large number of wounded right from the start. After all, a total of about 76,000 wounded has been transported west by water from the Eastern Area up to the present time, and the losses represent only a small percentage in comparison. The Führer agrees.
3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer details of the submarine operations along the British coast. Our own losses have increased again lately, and the number of submarines lost is probably as high as 7. But in any case 4.4 enemy vessels, mostly steamers, were sunk for each submarine lost, so that the Commander in Chief, Navy, feels that the results achieved justify continuing the operations. Up to the present time there is no clear picture as to the reason for these losses; it is to be hoped that they are due to a variety of causes. At least there is as yet no reason to believe that the enemy has found a new defense against submerged submarines.
The Führer is in full agreement with the Commander in Chief, Navy, particularly on the point that the continued use of submarines must still be considered advisable.
4. The Commander in Chief, Navy, informs the Chief of the OKW that he cannot possibly agree with the proposal of the Reich Defense Commissioner, Minister Dr. Goebbels to institute commissions with the power to issue orders which are designed to make a systematic search of the branches of the Wehrmacht for personnel for the Army. The Navy on its own is doing everything in its power already in order to help the Army in personnel matters. He cannot permit an outside commission to make decisions about the personnel requirements of the Navy. Such a procedure would only be the source of perpetual friction, without having any better results than the Commander in Chief, Navy, is already achieving himself. A statement of the position of the Commander in Chief, Navy, is en route to the Chief of Staff of the OKW by telegram.
5. In addition the Commander in Chief, Navy, informs the Chief of the OKW that the Navy is contenting itself with 10,000 volunteers of the 1928 age group. The Chief of the OKW had proposed to the Führer that of the total of 30,000 volunteers and 5,000 draftees, the Navy give up 10,000 volunteers and the 5,000 draftees. Thus the Navy is releasing an additional 10,000 volunteers for the Army.
6. The Commander in Chief, Navy, again confers with the Deputy Chief of the OKW, Operations Division, Generalleutnant Winter, on the problem of arming and equipping the 2nd Naval Division. The Commander in Chief, Navy, cannot consent to arrangements made by subordinate naval representatives with the corresponding Army headquarters that small arms and motor vehicles are to be furnished by the Navy. The Navy is so short of small arms that the Commander in Chief, Navy, has already ordered all arms on naval vessels mobilized in order to equip fully at least the anti-aircraft regiment at Gotenhafen. No section of the Navy has sufficient small arms; therefore it is no longer in any way possible to equip the 2nd Naval Division from the naval stocks.
The motor vehicle situation is similar. Generalleutnant Winter agrees to take the necessary steps to secure arms and equipment for the 2nd Naval Division from Army sources.
Admiral on Special Duty with Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Conference of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with the Führer on 14 February 1945, at 1600.
(Note: On 10, 12, and 13 February the Commander in Chief, Navy, was not present at the Führer Conferences.)
1. A report that a number of Russian submarines were observed in the Baltic Sea causes the Führer to bring up the question of whether our planes that are chasing submarines are supplied with adequate radar equipment. The Chief of the Luftwaffe Operations Staff [Luftwaffenführungsstabes], Generalmajor Christian, answers that enough aircraft are committed for this task, but that the radar equipment (Hohentwiel make) which is provided is not sufficiently effective against submarines. Up until now no satisfactory radar equipment has been produced for this purpose. The Commander in Chief, Navy, explains that in the course of the past few years very little progress has been made in radar development, and that it is absolutely necessary to produce an efficient radar device similar to the British Rotterdam (Berlin device) for operational use.
2. In discussing the situation in the East the Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that at present the reason the Northern Army Group is receiving only a very small amount of supplies is because sufficient supplies are not being provided by the Army; naval transports could handle considerably more if supplies were available. A discussion on this question ensues between the Commander in Chief, Navy, and the Chief of Army General Staff, and the latter finally admits that the Commander in Chief, Navy, is right. In explaining the situation, the Commander in Chief, Navy, merely desires to point out once more the danger of not sending sufficient supplies to the Northern Army Group; the danger can be avoided only if the Army provides adequate quantities in time.
3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports to the Führer the result of his inspection of the front at the 1st Naval Division on 12 February 1945. He gained a very good impression of the troops and their readiness for action. Shortcomings in training are still apparent; however, they can gradually be eliminated. In equipment there is a need above all for heavy weapons, particularly since the assault gun brigade which was allotted them has temporarily been withdrawn. The Commander in Chief, Navy, believes that the division could well adapt itself to mobile warfare in time. He has his doubts, however, whether the officers in the middle ranks, from battalion commanders on up, can cope with the demands of modern land warfare. (See Annex 1)
The Führer requests the deputy of the Reichsführer SS in the Führer Headquarters to urge the Reichsführer SS that he return the assault gun brigade to the 1st Naval Division as soon as possible. Finally, the Führer remarks that he believes the Naval Division capable of great perseverance regardless of its lack of experience in land warfare.
The Führer remarks in this connection that in the past he has regarded the defense of naval fortifications too much from the land point of view. He is now convinced that the protection of naval fortresses and shore batteries on the land side, too, should be the responsibility of the Navy. For this task the Navy requires infantry units of its own in the form of naval corps.
4. Kapitän zur See Assmann reports to the Commander in Chief, Navy, that the Dortmund-Ems Canal would presumably be back in operation by 16 February. Thus the shipments of coal from Duisburg, which can no longer take the Rhine route owing to the British advance in the Cleves area, could be sent north through the Dortmund-Ems Canal.
Annex 1Notes on the Trip made by the Commander in Chief, Navy, to the 1st Naval Division on 12 February 1945.
1. Reorganization of the division. The commander of the division reported that by decreasing the personnel of each company the Army Group plans to make available enough men to organize an engineer battalion, mortar companies, and a field replacement battalion. He also stated that the division needs a unit to take care of supplies, and that a supply regiment is to be set up for this purpose. The division commander said he is opposed to these plans because they would interfere with the current fusion of the various units and would decrease the combat strength of the companies. He feels that the inevitable disturbance thus caused would have an unfavorable influence on the troops, which are inexperienced and still in the process of training.
The Commander in Chief, Navy, discussed these points with the Reichsführer SS.
Result: The Navy is investigating whether it is possible to organize an engineer battalion independent of the 1st Division. A supply regiment is to be set up and assigned to the division by the Army Group when the division has received advanced training and is more mobile than at present. Additional artillery in the form of heavy infantry guns will be assigned to the division. The assault guns that have been withdrawn from the division temporarily will be returned as soon as possible.
Mortar companies are to be set up. A motorized battalion of infantry riflemen, starting with one company, is to be organized. The division commander mentioned also that the Army Group requests the organization of a replacement training battalion with a combat school. It is to the interest of the division to set up such a training center.
2. The division commander requested the following in particular:
b. A regulation for the assignment of replacements.
c. Regulation of the Armed Forces postal service, which is not functioning properly; the division has received no mail since being transferred from the North Sea area.
d. There are too few trucks; 40 regular medium-sized trucks are needed.
e. Field cable is lacking; 30 lengths are requested from naval stocks.
f. 100 binoculars are needed.
g. 100 telescopes for rifles are needed to equip sharpshooters.
h. A judge advocate is needed for the staff of the division.
i. The question of a division court-martial must be clarified.
j. Procurement of prismatic compasses.
k. Procurement of battery commander's telescopes.
l. Assignment of two well-trained signalmen to each company (Branch IV Signalmen).
m. The distribution of post exchange articles has still not been regulated.
b. The replacement of officers; formation of an officer reserve.
c. Facilities for officers' training (replacement training battalion).
d. Detailing of Army officers to improve the training of the men.
e. The appointment of Army officers as regiment and battalion adjutants.
f. The appointment of an interpreter.
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