The Führer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces
WFSt/Abt.L(I) Nr. 33 356/40 g.K.Chefs.
12 Nov. 1940
Directive No. 18
The preparatory measures of the High Commands for the conduct of the war in the near future are to be in accord with the following guiding principles:
With reference to France:
The aim of my policy toward France is to cooperate with that country in the manner most effective for the future conduct of the war against Britain. For the time being she will play the role of a "non-belligerent power" which is required to allow German war measures to be taken in the territories under her sovereignty - especially in the African colonies - and, if necessary, must even support these measures by the use of her own means of defense. The chief task of the French is the defensive and offensive protection of their African colonies (West and Equatorial Africa) against Britain and the De Gaulle movement. This task might eventually draw France into full participation in the war against Britain.
The negotiations with France subsequent to my meeting with Marshal Petain are, for the present, - apart from the current work of the Armistice Commission - being conducted exclusively by the Foreign Ministry in conjunction with the Armed Forces High Command. Detailed instructions will be issued upon the termination of these discussions.
Spain and Portugal:
Political measures have already been initiated to bring about the early entry of Spain into the war, The aim of German intervention on the Iberian peninsula (code name "Felix"), will be to drive the British from the Western Mediterranean. To achieve this, the following is to be accomplished:
- Gibraltar is to be taken and the Strait closed.
The British are to be prevented from gaining a foothold at any other spot on the Iberian peninsula or on the islands in the Atlantic.
The preparation and execution of this operation is planned as follows:
Reconnaissance squads (officers in civilian clothes) will complete. the preparations required for the action against Gibraltar and for taking over airports.
With regard to secrecy and cooperation with the Spanish, the safety measures laid down by the Chief, Armed Forces Intelligence Division (Ausland Abwehr) are to be followed.
- Special units of the Armed Forces Intelligence Division, in secret cooperation with the Spaniards, will handle security measures in the Gibraltar region against British attempts to extend defenses farther inland or to detect and interfere with our preparations prematurely.
The units assigned to this task will be assembled at a considerable distance from the Franco-Spanish border. Their destination is not to be prematurely disclosed to the troops. They will receive advance notice 3 weeks prior to crossing the Franco-Spanish frontier (but only after preparations have been completed regarding the islands in the Atlantic).
In view of the limited capacity of the Spanish railways, the Army will assign primarily motorized units to this operation, so that the railroads can be utilized for supplies.
- Air.Force units, tipped off by observers in Algeciras, will at a favorable moment stage an air attack from French bases upon the British warships in the harbor of Gibraltar and will land at Spanish airports after the attack.
- Shortly thereafter the units assigned to Spain will cross the Franco-Spanish border.
- Attack with German troops in order to take Gibraltar.
- Concentration of troops in order to invade Portugal in case the British should gain a foothold there. The units earmarked for this assignment will march into Spain close on the heels of the forces designated for Gibraltar.
Support of the Spanish in closing the Strait after the Rock has been 'taken; if necessary, also from Spanish Morocco.
Regarding the strength of the forces for operation "Felix" the following will apply:
The units assigned to Gibraltar must be strong enough to take the Rook, even without Spanish assistance.
In addition, a smaller force will have to stand ready to aid the Spaniards, should the British attempt to land at some other spot on the coast. Such an attempt, however, seems unlikely. Motorized units, mainly, for the contingency of an entry into Portugal are to be provided.
For the air attack on the harbor of Gibraltar forces are to be assigned in sufficient strength to guarantee good results.
Dive bombers,. in particular, are to be transferred to Spain for the ensuing fight against naval targets and for supporting the attack against the Rock.
Anti-aircraft artillery sufficient for use against ground targets, also, is to be attached to the Army formations.
Submarines are to be on hand to combat the British Gibraltar forces, and especially to hinder an attempt to put to sea which may be expected after the air attack.
In cooperation with the Army, the transfer of single coastal batteries is to be prepared for, in order to assist the Spanish in closing the Straits. Italian participation is not being planned on.
The islands in the Atlantic (especially the Canary and the Cape Verde Islas) will assume greater importance in the British' as well as in our naval strategy on account of the operation against Gibraltar. The Comander in Chief, Navy and the Commander in Chief, Air are to examine the problem of assisting the Spanish in the defense of the Canary Islands and of occupying the Cape Verde group.
I request also that the problem of occupying Madeira and the Azores be examined, and the advantages and disadvantages for naval and air strategy which would result. The conclusions drawn from these investigations are to be submitted to me at an early date.
- Reconnaissance squads (officers in civilian clothes) will complete. the preparations required for the action against Gibraltar and for taking over airports.
Italian offensive against Egypt:
The employment of German forces will be considered, if at all, only when the Italians have reached Marsa Matruh. Even then primarily the assignment of German air forces is to be considered, if the Italians will put the necessary air base at our disposal.
Preparations of the branches of the Armed Forces for assignment in this or any other Worth African theater of operations are to be made as follows:
An armored division (composed as previously provided for) is to be kept in readiness for employment in North Africa.
German ships in Italian harbors which can be used as transports should be equipped to move the largest possible contingents either to Libya or to Northwest Africa.
Preparations for offensive operations against Alexandria and the Suez Canal, in order to close the latter to British warfare.
The Commander in Chief, Army will make preparations to occupy continental Greece north of the Aegean Sea from Bulgarian bases, if necessary - thus asking it possible to employ German air force units against targets in the eastern Mediterranean, especially those British air bases which threaten the Rumanian oil fields.
To be equal to any eventuality and to keep Turkey in cheek, plans and transportation calculations should be based on the assignment of an Army Group in the strength of approximately ten divisions. The railroad running through Yugoslavia cannot be counted on for transporting these forces. In order to shorten the period required for the movement, plans for reinforcing the German military mission in Rumania before very long are to be prepared and submitted to me.
The Commander in Chief Air will, in accordance with prospective Army operations, prepare to assign German Air Force units to the southeastern Balkans and an Air Force signal service unit to the southern border of Bulgaria.
The German Air Force mission in Rumania will be augmented to the extent proposed to me.
Bulgarian requests for arms and ammunition for their army are to be handled in an accommodating way.
Political discussions have been initiated to.sound out Russia's attitude for the near future. Regardless of the results of these discussions, all preparations for the East which have been ordered verbally are to be continued.
Directives will follow as soon as the Army's basic operational plan has been reported to and approved by me.
Landing in the British Isles:
Since changes in the general situation might make it possible or necessary to return once more to operation "Seelöwe" in the spring of 1941, the three branches of the Armed Forces are to take pains to improve in every way their plans for such an operation.
I expect reports of the Commanders in Chief regarding, measures referred to in this directive, After they have been received I shall issue orders concerning the method of execution as well as chronological coordination of the individual actions.
Special precautions are to be taken to safeguard secrecy by limiting the number of those working on the preparations., This refers especially to the enterprise in Spain and to plans concerning the islands in the Atlantic.
signed: Adolf Hitler