Hitler issues Directive No. 6 for the conduct of the war

Item 3.b mentions Belgium and Northern France to be used as a base for the air war against England.

The Supreme Commander Of The Armed Forces.

Berlin. 9th October, 1939. 8 copies

Directive No. 6 For The Conduct Of The War

  1. Should it become evident in the near future that England, and, under her influence, France also, are not disposed to bring the war to an end, I have decided, without further loss of time, to go over to the offensive.
  2. Any further delay will not only entail the end of Belgian and perhaps of Dutch neutrality, to the advantage of the Allies; it will also increasingly strengthen the military power of the enemy, reduce the confidence of neutral nations in Germany's final victory, and make it more difficult to bring Italy into the war on our side as a full ally.
  3. I therefore issue the following orders for the further conduct of military operations:
    1. An offensive will be planned on the northern flank of the western front, through Luxembourg, Belgium, and Holland. This offensive must be launched at the earliest possible moment and in greatest possible strength.
    2. The purpose of this offensive will be to defeat as much as possible of the French Army and of the forces of the Allies fighting on their side, and at the same time to win as much territory as possible in Holland, Belgium, and Northern France, to serve as a base for the successful prosecution of the air and sea war against England and as a wide protective area for the economically vital Ruhr Basin.
    3. The time of the attack will depend upon the readiness for action of the armoured and motorised units involved. These units are to be made ready with all speed. It will depend also upon the weather conditions obtaining and foreseeable at the time.
  4. The Air Force will prevent attacks by the Anglofrench Air Forces on our Army and will give all necessary direct support to its advance. It is also important to prevent the establishment of Anglofrench air bases and the landing of British forces in Belgium and Holland.
  5. The Navy will do everything possible, while this offensive is in progress, to afford direct or indirect support to the operations of the Army and the Air Force.
  6. Apart from these preparations for the beginning of the offensive in the west according to plan, the Army and Air Force must be ready, at all times, in increasing strength, to meet an Anglofrench invasion of Belgium, immediately and as far forward as possible on Belgian soil, and to occupy the largest possible area of Holland in the direction of the west coast.
  7. These preparations will be camouflaged in such a way that they appear merely to be precautionary measures made necessary by the threatening increase in the strength of the French and English forces on the frontiers between France and Luxembourg and Belgium.
  8. I request Commanders In Chief to submit to me their detailed plans based on this Directive at the earliest moment and to keep me constantly informed of progress through the High Command Of The Armed Forces.

Adolf Hitler.

Hitler issues Directive No. 9 Principles for the Conduct of the War against the Enemy's Economy

The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces
Berlin, 29 Nov. 1939
OKW/WFA Nr. 215/39 g.Kdos. Chefs. Abt.L I
Eleven copies
Top secret

Directive No. 9 Principles for the Conduct of the War against the Enemy's Economy.

  1. In the war against the Western Powers, Great Britain is the driving spirit and the leading power of our enemies. The conquest of Britain is, therefore, the prerequisite for final victory.

    The most effective means to achieve this is to paralyze Britain's economy through interrupting it at critical points.

  2. The development of the situation and progress in our armament may, in the near future, create favorable, conditions for extensive warfare against the foundations of British economy. The necessary provisions must therefore be made as early as possible for striking a destructive blow at the British economy by concentrating suitable weapons of our Armed Forces on the most important targets.
    The non-military means of warfare, complementary to the measures of the Armed Forces, will be put into effect according to special instructions.
  3. As soon as the Army has succeeded in defeating the Anglo-French field army and in occupying and holding a part of the coast facing England, the task of the Navy and the Air Force of carrying on warfare against the economic structure of Britain will become of prime importance. Cooperation of the sabotage and fifth column organizations is desirable.
  4. To the Navy and Air Force will fall the following joint tasks, enumerated here in the sequence of their importance:
    1. Attacks on the main British ports of transshipment by mining and blocking the approaches to the harbors and by destroying vital port installations and sea locks.
      In this connection the role of the mine-laying planes will be a very important one, especially with regard to the harbors. on the west coast of Britain, in narrow waterways, and estuaries.
    2. Attacks on British merchant shipping and against the enemy fleet protecting it.
    3. Destruction of British supplies of oil and of food in cooling plants and grain elevators.
    4. Interference with British troop and supply transports to theFrench coast.
    5. Destruction of industrial plants, the elimination of which is of decisive importance for the conduct of the war; above all of key-plants of the aviation industry and the factories producing heavy ordnance, anti-aircraft guns., ammunition, and explosives.
  5. The most important transshipment ports in the British Isles, which handle 95% of the foreign trade and could not be adequately replaced by others, are:

    • London
    • Liverpool
    • Manchester

    for imports of food, timber, and oil, and the processing therof.

    These three harbors, handling 58% of England's peacetime imports, are of decisive importance.

    • Newcastle
    • Swansea
    • Blyth
    • Sunderland
    • Barry
    • Hull

    for the export of coal.

    The following may be considered alternate harbors, but to a limited extent and for certain goods only:

    • Grangemouth
    • Leith
    • Middlesbrough
    • Grimsby
    • Southampton
    • Glasgow
    • Holyhead
    • Bristol
    • Belfast
    • Newport
    • Goole
    • Dundee

    It will be necessary to watch continuously for any possible shifting in the use of these harbors. Besides it will be important gradually to compress and shift British foreign trade into channels which are within easy range or our naval and air forces.

    French harbors will be attacked only insofar as they play a role in the siege or Britain, or if they are or importance as debarkation points for troops.

  6. In harbors which cannot be blocked effectively with mines, merchant shipping is to be paralyzed by sinking ships in the roadsteads and by destroying vital harbor installations. Special emphasis is to be laid upon the destruction or the great canal locks at the harbors or Leith, Sunderland, Hull, Grimsby, London, Manchester (Ship Canal), Liverpool, Cardiff, Swansea, and Bristol-Avonmouth. Particularly on the west coast these locks are very important in regulating the water level and, through it, the harbor traffic.
  7. In preparing these actions it will be important to do the following:

    1. Continually to check and supplement the basic data available on British harbors, their installations and capacity, as well as information on the British war industries and supply depots.
    2. To rush the development or an effective method enabling planes to lay moored mines also.
    3. To provide a large supply or mines, sufficient for the increased demands or the Navy and Air Force.
    4. To coordinate the strategy of the Navy and Air Force, as to time and location.

These preparations are to be made as soon as possible. I request the Commanders in Chief of the Navy and the Air Force to keep me constantly informed about their plans.

I shall decide later as to when the restrictions still in effect in the naval and air war will be lifted. This probably will coincide with the start of the big offensive.

signed: Adolf Hitler

OKW order "The War Against England" is issued

Armed Forces High Command
WFA/Abt. L Nr. 33124/40 g.Kdos.Chefs.
Feuhrer Headquarters
2 Jul. 1940
Five copies
Top Secret
Re: Warfare against England

The Fuehrer and Supreme Commander has decided:

  1. A landing in England is possible, provided that air superiority can be attained and certain other necessary conditions fulfilled. The date of commencement is therefore still undecided. All preparations are to be begun so that the operation can be carried out as soon as possible.
  2. The High Commands of the branches of the Armed forces are to supply the following information promptly:
    • Army:

      1. Estimate of the strength of the British army in view of the planned objectives. Probably losses, especially of equipment, and the expected condition of the army after partial rearmament during the next few months.
      2. Possibilities of using artillery from the Continent for additional protection of ship concentrations and transports against British naval forces (in cooperation with the Navy).
    • Navy:

      1. Analysis of the landing possibilities for large numbers of Army troops (25 to 40 divisions) and antiarcraft units, with a description of the coastal topography of southern England and of the British naval and land defences.
      2. Statement as to which routes and what equipment could be used for troops and supply transports on such a scale with adequate safety.
        It should be kept in mind that a landing on a broad front will probably facilitate the further penetration of the Army.
      3. Information as to the type and amount of shipping pace available and the time required to make it ready.
    • Air Force:

      1. Opinion on whether and when we can reckon with achieving decisive air superiority. In this connection information of the comparative strength of the British and the German Air Forces.
      2. Which airborne forces can be used to support the operation and in what way. Transport planes should be assembled for this purpose, regardless of all other tasks.
  3. The High Commands should jointly examine all organisational questions pertaining to the landing troops arising from the necessity to limit and utilise the naval and air transport space in the best manner possible.
    The forces to be landed should be greatly superior in numbers to the British troops, especially as regards tanks; they should also be largely motorised and protected by strong antiaircraft forces.
  4. All preparations must bear in mind that the plan to invade England has not taken any sort of definite shape as yet, and that these are only preparations for a possible operation. As few people as possible of these plans.

The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces High Command

signed: Keitel.

OKW order "Artillery protection for transports to Britain" is issued

Armed forces High Command
WFA/Abt. L Nr. 33137/40 g.K.Chefs.
Berlin, 10 July 1940
Nine copies
Top Secret

Re: Artillery protection for transports to Britain.

In pursuance of the requested analysis of artillery protection for transports to Britain (OKW/WFA/ Abt. L Nr. 33 124/40 g.K.Chefs. Paragraph 2.b), the Führer has ordered:

All preparations are to be made to provide strong frontal and flank artillery protection for the transportation and landing of troops in case of a possible crossing from the coastal strip Calais-Cap Gris Nex - Boulogne. All suitable available heavy batteries are to be employed for this purpose of the Naval High Command and are to be installed in fixed positions in conjunction with the Todt Organization.

The Commander in Chief, Air will assume responsibility for protection against air attacks upon batteries under construction or already built. He will see to it that the antiaircraft batteries assigned to this area, insofar as their position will permit, can also be employed for defence against targets at sea.

Arrangements for coordinated fire control will be in the hands of the Commander in Chief, Navy, who is to report at an early date concerning the state and probable duration of preparations.

The duties assigned to the Army High Command in Paragraph 2b of the above order are cancelled.

Chief of Staff, Armed Forces High Command

signed: Keitel

OKW issue order relating to Seelöwe preparation

OKW issue an order resulting from the previous day's conference, signed by Keitel:

The Armed Forces High Command
WFA/Abt. L 1 Nr. 33189/40 g.K.Chefs.
Führer Headquarters
1 Aug. 1940
Eight Copies
Top secret

Re: Operation "Seelöwe"

Following the report of the Commander in Chief, Navy of 31 Jul. to the effect that preparations for operation "Seelöwe" cannot be completed prior to 15 Sep. 1940, the Führer decided as follows:

  1. Preparations for "Seelöwe" are to be continued, and also the Army and the Air Froce should try to be ready for 15 Sep.
  2. 1 or at the most 2 weeks after the beginning of the large scale air offensive against England, which can start on approximately 5 Aug., the Führer will decide, depending to the results of this battle, whether operation "Seelöwe" is still to take place this year or not.
  3. If a decision is made against execution of "Seelöwe" in September, nevertheless all preparations should continue, but in a form which will not damage seriously the economy through paralysing inland shipping.
  4. The operational preparations should for the time being continue on the previously planned wide scope, in spite of the objection of the Navy that it can safeguard only a narrow strip (westward about as far as Eastbourne).
  5. The orders in Directive 16, No. 3, second paragraph remain in effect, but transfer to the vicinity of Führer Headquarters should take place only shortly before the operations, and parts of the Army High Command can remain in the previous Army headquarters.

The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces High Command

signed: Keitel

OKW directive for Seelöwe

The Armed Forces High Command
WFSt/L 1 Nr. 33229/40 g.K.Chefs.
Führer Headquarters
16 Aug. 1940
Eight Copies
Top secret

Re: Operation "Seelöwe"

  1. The Führer decided on 15 Aug. as follows:
    1. Preparations for operation "Seelöwe" are to be continued for 15 Sep., including assembly of all necessary naval personnel.
      The decision concerning execution of the operation will be reserved until the over-all situation becomes clearer.
    2. Preparations for a landing in Lyme Bay are to be discontinued because of the lack of sufficient defence possibilities.
      The ships are to be assembled along the coast between Ostend and Le Havre, so as to avoid concentration in a few harbours close to the enemy coast, and confuse the enemy's picture of our landing plans.
    3. Preparations must be made in such a way that they do not preclude a crossing on a narrow front, if this should be ordered on a week's notice; on the other hand it should remain possible to cross once in the direction of Brighton, without further reinforcement of heavy equipment.
  2. On the basis of this Führer decision, the Commanders in Chief, Army and Air are asked to make suggestions for the use of paratroopers and airborne troops, and especially to express an oppinion as to whether these should be used together with the first landing wave, or whether these should be kept back as a reserve, depending on the situation in the Channel.

The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces High Command

signed: Keitel

OKW directive for Seelöwe dates

The Armed Forces High Command
WFSt/L 1 Nr. 33255/40 g.Kdos.Chefs.
Führer Headquarters
3 Sep. 1940
Eight Copies
Top secret

Re: Operation "Seelöwe"

For the time being the following dates have been decided upon for the preparations for operation "Seelöwe":

  1. The earliest date for departure of the transport fleets is 20 Sep., and for S day (day of the landing) 21 Sep.
  2. The order for the start of the operation will be issued on S minus 10 day, in other words probably on 11 Sep. 1940.
  3. The final decision on S day and S time (the beginning of the first landing) will be made at the latest at noon on S minus 3 day.
  4. All preparations must be made in such a manner that the operation may be stopped as late as 24 hours before S time.

The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces High Command

signed: Keitel

Hitler further postpones the Seelöwe order for three days

S-Tag now slips back to 27 September which is outside the window given by OKM as suitable tide conditions for the landing, the weather forecast is also unfavourable. Air attacks on London are to be expanded.

The Armed Forces High Command
WFSt/Abt 1 Nr. 33287/40 g.K.Chefs.
14 Sep. 1940
Eight Copies
Top Secret

At the conference with the Commanders in Chief of the branches of the Armed Forces on 14 Sep. the Führer made the following decisions;

  1. Operation "Seelöwe"
    1. The beginning of the operation is being postponed further. A new order (referring to OKW/WFSt/Abt.L Nr. 332255/40 g.Kdos.Chefs. of 3 Sep. 1940, number 2) will be issued on 17 Sep. All preparations are to be continued.
    2. The Air Force is to carry out the attack on British long-range batteries firing on the French coast, as soon as preparations to that effect are concluded.
    3. Under these circumstances it is not necessary at this time fully to carry out the special measures provided for the coastal areas (OKW Nr. 2332/40 g.K.Chefs. Abw.III(C) of 29 Aug. 940, Translator's note: Not included.) However, measures for defense against spies and for deception purposes are to be intensified according to agreement to be reached between the Armed Forces Intelligence Division and the Army High Command or the corresponding Armed Forces commanders for the various coastal sectors.
  2. Air attacks on London
    Air attacks on London should be expanded, continuing primarily against important military targets and those vital to the city (including railroad stations), as long as there are worthwhile targets.
    Terror attacks against purely residential sections are to be kept as a last resort, and are not to be used for the time being.

The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces High Command

signed: Keitel

OKW releases ships allocated to invasion

The Armed Forces High Command
WFSt/Abt. L 1 Nr. 33294/40 g.Kdos.Chefs.
19 Sep. 1940
Eight Copies
Top secret

Re: Operation "Seelöwe"

The Führer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces has made the following decisions:

  1. Concentration of the transport fleet is to be stopped, insofar as it has not already been completed.
  2. The ships assembled in the ports of departure are to be dispersed in such a way that losses from enemy air attacks will be reduced to a minimum. However, it should remain possible to reassemble the ships at the ports of departure on 10 days notice under favorable weather conditions.
  3. The 10 steamers from the Norway traffic earmarked for operation "Herbstreise"* should be returned to their normal tasks. Six other steamers earmarked for operation "Seelöwe" should be withdrawn over a period of time unnoticeably, and should be used until further notice to speed up supplies for group XXI.
  4. The Commander in Chief, Air is to increase the Air defenses in the invasion ports to the greatest possible extent.

The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces High Command

signed: Keitel

* Landing on the coast of Scotland planned as a diversionary operation in connection with "Seelöwe". Four empty ocean liners and 11 transport steamers heading towards Britain between Newcastle and Aberdeen whist the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper attempted to break out into the Atlantic via Iceland and the Faroes.

Hitler rules out any invasion of Britain before the end of the year

The Armed Forces High Command
WFSt/Abt. L (I) Nr. 33 318/40 g.K.Chefs.
Führer Headquarters
12 Oct. 1940
Fourteen Copies
Top secret

  1. The Führer has decided that preparations for the landing in Britain are to be kept up from now until spring, merely as a means of exerting political and military pressure.
    Should a landing in Britain be decided on again in the spring or summer of 1941, the required degree of readiness will be ordered at the proper time. Until then the military dispositions for a later landing are to be further improved.
  2. All measures connected with relaxing readiness for combat are to be ordered by the High Commands according to the following principles:
    1. The British are to be left under the impression that we are still preparing a landing on a wide front.
    2. At the same time the strain on the German economy is to be eased.
  3. This, in detail, means that:
    • Army:
      The units earmarked for operation "Seelöwe" will be available for proposed new formations or other assignment. However, we must avoid allowing it to become noticeable that the coastal areas are less heavily garrisoned.
    • Navy:
      The preparations in personnel and material are to be eased n such a manner that both personnel and tonnage, especially tugboats and fishing steamers, will be returned, insofar as is necessary, to the tasks of naval warfare and the public economy. All movements of shipping connected with the relaxation of of combat readiness are to be carried out inconspicuously, and extended over a considerable period of time. They are to be utilized as far as possible for the transportation of goods or captured material.
  4. The High Commands are requested to report by 20 Oct. to the Armed Forces High Command all measures taken in connection with relaxing the preparations for operation "Seelöwe", as well as the length of time which will be required to restore ten-day readiness.

The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces High Command

signed: Keitel

Hitler issues directive 18 which states Seelöwe may resume in spring 1941

The Führer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces
WFSt/Abt.L(I) Nr. 33 356/40 g.K.Chefs.
Führer Headquarters
12 Nov. 1940

Ten copies

Top secret.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

    1. Gibraltar is to be taken and the Strait closed.
    2. 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:
      First period:

      1. 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.
      2. 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.
      3. 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.

      Second period:

      1. 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.
      2. Shortly thereafter the units assigned to Spain will cross the Franco-Spanish border.

      Third period:

      1. Attack with German troops in order to take Gibraltar.
      2. 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.

      Fourth period:
      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:

      • Army:
        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.
      • Air Force:
        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.
      • Navy:
        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.
  3. 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:

    • Army:
      An armored division (composed as previously provided for) is to be kept in readiness for employment in North Africa.
    • Navy:
      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.
    • Air Force:
      Preparations for offensive operations against Alexandria and the Suez Canal, in order to close the latter to British warfare.
  4. The Balkans:
    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.
  5. Russia:
    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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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

Preparations for "Seelöwe" discontinued

The Armed Forces High Command
WFSt/Abt. L(I) Nr. 344 011/41 g.K.Chefs.
Führer Headquarters
10 Jan. 1941
Nine Copies
Top secret

The Führer decides as follows on 9 Jan. 1941:

  1. Operation "Marita" [Greece]
    In accordance with the plans of the Commander in Chief, Army, the Danube can be crossed immediately after it is frozen over by the first wave or parts of it. The pause between the time when the ice melts on the Danube and the time the bridges have been completed will have to be reckoned with.
    It is necessary, however, that sufficient forces have arrived in the southern part of Dobrogea (Rumania) and that adequate air cover is available at the time of the Danube crossing.
  2. Operation "Felix" [Gibralter]
    Preparations are to be discontinued.
  3. Preparations for operation "Seelöwe"
    Preparations are likewise to be discontinued except for the development of special equipment and for the purposes of deception.
  4. Operation "Attila" [Vichy France]
    It must be possible to carry out this operation on short notice at any time.
    During the Air Force operations against Toulon, the harbor should be mined very heavily and the harbor and the heavy coastal batteries captured. For this purpose, naval gunners should be used, if possible on freight-carrying sailing vessels.
    Dive bomber units should be held in readiness to prevent operations of the British fleet against Toulon, and long-range fighters should be available for bombing. For the same reason it is important that heavy Army batteries be made available in Toulon soon, since the available coastal batteries cannot necessarily be counted upon.

The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces High Command

signed: Keitel

Hitler issues directive 23 which cancels directive 17

The Supreme Commander of the Armed Foces
OKW/WFSt/Abt. L (IL Op.) Nr. 44 095/41 g.K.Chefs.
6 Feb. 1941
Ten Copies
Top secret

Directive No. 23

Guiding principles for the conduct of the war against the British war economy.

  1. The effect of our conduct of the war against Britain up to the present:

    1. Contrary to our original belief, the best effects in the war against Britain's war economy have been achieved in the losses- due to attacks on her shipping tonnage by our naval and air forces. This effect was further increased by demolishing harbor installations, destroying great stores of supplies and forcing ships to sail in convoy, resulting in less effective utilization of shipping space.
      We can expect these results to be increased to a considerable extent, since more submarines will be used this year. This can lead to the collapse of British resistance before very long.
    2. It is more difficult to appraise the effect of air attacks aimed directly against the British armament industry. However, a considerable decrease in production can certainly by expected as a consequence of the destruction of numerous plants and the resulting disorganization of the armament industry.
    3. The least perceptible effect, so far, has been that made upon the morale and the resistance of the British people.
  2. Conclusions for our strategy:
    The effect of naval operations against enemy merchantmen will presumably be increased in the course of the next few months, since we will be using additional submarines and surface forces. On the other hand, the volume of our air attacks cannot be sustained, since commitments in other theaters compel us to withdraw increasingly larger portions of the Air Force from assignment against the British Isles.
    Therefore in the future it will be necessary to concentrate the air attacks still more and to aim primarily at targets whose destruction will have results similar to those achieved by our naval warfare. Only thus can a final decision be expected within a reasonable time.
  3. Therefore the aim of further operations against the British homeland must be to concentrate all means of naval and air warfare against the enemy's' supplies, to slow down the British aircraft industry and, if possible, to cause further damage to it.
    For this purpose the following will be necessary:

    1. To destroy the most vital British import harbors, especially harbor installations and ships* at anchor or under construction.
      * Handwritten marginal note: Warships and merchantmen.
    2. To fight shipping with all means at our disposal, especially inbound traffic.
    3. To destroy systematically the nerve centers of plane production; also the anti-aircraft industry and industries producing powder and explosives.

    These missions must be carried out by the forces remaining in this area even ifs strong units of the Air Force are withdrawn to other theaters of operation during the course of the year.

  4. In carrying-out this task the following will be observed:

    1. Sinking merchantmen is more important than combatting enemy warships.
      This applies also to the use of aerial torpedoes.
      Decrease of enemy tonnage not only intensifies the effects of the all-important blockade, but at the same time it renders any operation in Europe or Africa more difficult for the enemy.
    2. The attacks on harbor cities and plants of the aircraft industry are to be continually repeated even if good effects have been observed.
    3. The enemy's losses and his sense of insecurity are to be increased by continuous mining operations.
    4. When the British move their shipping to. the smaller ports because of our attacks against the principal import harbors, our attacks must follow, so far as the range of our planes permits.
    5. Only if objectives named in paragraph 3. cannot be attacked on account of the weather or other operational conditions, are attacks justified against other armament factories or cities of primary importance to the war economy, as well as against supply depots in the interior and communication facilities.
      No decisive results can be expected, on the other hand, from systematic terror attacks on residential districts, or operations against coastal fortifications.
  5. Up until regrouping begins for operation "Barbarossa", air and sea attacks are to be steadily increased, if possible, not only in order to cause as much damage as possible to Britain, but also to create the impression that we still plan to invade the British Isles this year.
  6. Separate orders will be issued for reconnaissance at sea, to provide the necessary cooperation between sea and air warfare.
  7. Directive No. 9 of 29 Nov. 1939, tile supplement to Directive No. 9 of 26 May 1940, and Directive No. 17 of 1 Aug. 1940 are cancelled.

signed: Adolf Hitler

Hitler issues orders concerning air reconnaissance tasking

The Führer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces

OKW/WFSt/Abt. L Nr. 00354/41 g.K.

Führer Headquarters

28 Feb. 1941

  1. I am acquainted with the differences in opinion prevailing in the Navy and the Air Force concerning organization of coastal reconnaissance in the coastal areas and at sea from the written and oral reports of the Commanders in Chief of these branches.
    Both branches agree on the tasks to be performed by this reconnaissance and on the forces needed. However, the Navy demands, on the basis of the agreement reached in 1939 between the Commander in Chief, Air and the Commander in Chief, Navy, that all coastal air forces set up for the purposes of naval warfare should bee paced under its command.
    The Commander in Chief, Air is of the opinion, however, that only those air forces should be under the tactical command of the Navy which operate exclusively for naval warfare, but that for the best possible use of the forces involved the Air Force should have unified command over air forces engaged in operations concerning both aerial and naval warfare, At times such operations are of greater importance to naval warfare, at times to aerial warfare,changing frequently. Often reconnaissance forces, become available for new tasks, and then again more planes must be supplied by the Air Force.
  2. I make the following statement concerning these differences of opinion:

    1. The agreement reached in 1939 between the two Commanders in Chief was based on the, supposition that the operations areas of the Navy and of the Air Force would generally be separate. At that time it was not possible to foresee to what extent the Air Force would be involved in operations at sea which would require previous reconnaissance. Briefly only the course of this war has brought out the close interrelation, of naval and aerial warfare, For this reason the agreements reached in 1939 cannot be considered binding and excluding any other course which may appear advisable during this war.
    2. If all forces needed for carrying out certain tasks were permanently placed under each branch of the Armed Forces, also when these forces by their nature belong to another branch, this would be simplest and most convenient for each branch, but it would be extravagant and wasteful from an over-all point of view, particularly at times when all available forces are needed.
    3. Since only a few air forces can be used against the British Isles in the spring, they must-be utilized as economically as possible. Reconnaissance and bombing missions of the coastal air forces and of the Air Force are largely carried out in the same areas, and therefore must be under the unified command of the Air Force.
  3. I therefore issue the following orders:

    1. The Navy will remain in charge of reconnaissance north of 520 N in the Skagerrak and the Baltic Sea entrances. In addition to submarine protection in this area, it takes over this function in the English Channel as far as Cherbourg. For this purpose, the Commander, Naval Air remains under the tactical command of the Navy.
    2. The Air Force takes over reconnaissance off the Norwegian coast, and in the northern North Sea inclusive of the Orkney, Shetland, and Faroe Islands by means of a special "Commander, Reconnaissance, Norway". Air escort in this area is also his task.
      The demarcation line between the areas defined under 1 and 2 can be determined only after their forces have been allocated for these tasks to the Commander, Naval Air and-the Commander, Reconnaissance, Norway.
      The Navy has the right to request assistance in reconnaissance and escort from the Commander, Reconnaissance, Norway in the area along the borderline of the two reconnaissance areas.
    3. The Air Force will continue to carry out reconnaissance in the Channel area and fighter protection south of 52° N as far as the latitude of Cherbourg, except for submarine escort (paragraph B, 1) and subchase already previously assigned to the forces of the Commander, Naval Air.
    4. The Commander in. Chief, Air will be in charge of air reconnaissance and air cover for convoys in the Atlantic. For this purpose he will set up an Air Commander, Atlantic, based at Lorient. This position should be filled by an Air Force officer familiar with the problems of naval warfare, who will guarantee that the needs of aerial and naval warfare will be met equally, Naval officers are to be appointed to his staff.
      The tasks of the Air Commander, Atlantic are as follows:

      1. Reconnaissance for submarine warfare.
      2. Escort and reconnaissance during operations of naval surface forces in the Atlantic and convoy escort in the coastal area.
      3. Weather reconnaissance.
      4. Bombing missions against ships at sea in areas to be agreed upon between the Air Force and the Navy.

      The reconnaissance and escort missions have priority over all purely combat missions.
      Forces of the Air Commander, Atlantic may be used for operations against the British Isles only if this does not curtail the requirements or reconnaissance and escort for naval warfare.

    5. Furthermore, the Commander in Chief, Air is making preparations for setting up an Air Commander, Baltic Sea, to whose staff naval officers should like-wise be appointed. I will issue orders as to when this command is to be set up, what forces are to be allocated, and what tasks are to be carried out.
    6. The setup outlined under paragraphs 1-4 will become effective on 15 Mar., insofar as the present organization is affected.
      The necessary details are to be determined between the Navy and the Air Force, and are then to be submitted for approval or if necessary for decision. They are to concern themselves with the following:

      1. Distribution of forces in the various reconnaissance areas.
      2. Measures which must be taken so that air reconnaissance and escort will not break off when ships pass from one area into the other.
      3. The air reconnaissance and escort requirements of the Naval Group Commands must be met to the fullest extent, and any decrease in the reconnaissance forces made on 15 Mar. or their transfer to another command area must be submitted to the Navy for approval or to me for a decision.
      4. Safe and direct communications between the naval group commanders and the commanders of reconnaissance and escort must be assured.
      5. Agreement must be reached on codes, reconnaissance wave lengths, and maps.
  4. This decision covers only an emergency situation such as will prevail in the spring, without being a final settlement of the problem of naval air forces.
    However, the commanders who carry out reconnaissance for naval as well as for aerial warfare must be aware of their great responsibility with regard to over-all warfare at sea, and especially with regard to those air forces which were established and trained for the purposes of naval warfare.
    The persons responsible for combined reconnaissance and escort operations must strive to, think beyond the limits of only one branch of the Armed Forces, and to regard warfare within their sea areas as one unified operation, for the benefit of which reconnaissance and escort forces operate with changing emphasis.

signed: Adolf Hitler