November 23, 1939:
From notes of a Conference address by the Fuehrer, to which all Supreme Commanders were present:
The purpose of this conference is to give you an idea of the world of my thoughts, which takes charge of me, in the face of future events, and to tell you my decisions. The building up of our Armed Forces was only possible in connection with the ideological (weltanschaulich) education of the German people by the Party.
When I started my political task in 1919, my strong belief in final success was based on a thorough observation of the events of the day and the study of the reasons for their occurrence. Therefore, I never lost my belief in the midst of setbacks which were not spared me during my period of struggle. Providence has had the last word and brought me success. Moreover, I had a clear recognition of the probable course of historical events and the firm will to make brutal decisions. The first decision was in 1919 when I, after long internal conflict, became a politician and took up the struggle against my enemies. That was the hardest of all decisions. I had, however, the firm belief that I would arrive at my goal.
First of all, I desired a new system of selection. I wanted to educate a minority which would take over the leadership. After 15 years I arrived at my goal, after strenuous struggles and many setbacks. When I came to power in 1933, a period of the most difficult struggle lay behind me. Everything existing before that had collapsed. I had to reorganize everything, beginning with the mass of the people and extending it to the Armed Forces. First, reorganization of the interior, abolishment of appearances of decay and defeatist ideas, education to heroism. While reorganizing the interior, I undertook the second task: To release Germany from its international ties.
Two particular characteristics are to be pointed out: Secession from the League of Nations and denunciation of the Disarmament Conference. It was a hard decision. The number of prophets who predicted that it would lead to the occupation of the Rhineland was large, the number of believers was very small. I was supported by the nation, which stood firmly behind me, when I carried out my intentions. After that the order for rearmament. Here again there were numerous prophets who predicted misfortunes, and only a few believers. In 1935 the introduction of compulsory armed service. After that, militarization of the Rhineland, again a process believed to be impossible at that time. The number of people who put trust in me was very small Then, beginning of the fortification of the whole country, especially in the west.
One year later, Austria came. This step also was considered doubtful. It brought about a considerable reinforcement of the Reich. The next step was Bohemia, Moravia, and Poland. This step also was not possible to accomplish in one campaign. First of all, the western fortification had to be finished. It was not possible to reach the goal in one effort. It was clear to me from the first moment that I could not be satisfied with the Sudeten-German territory. That was only a partial solution. The decision to march into Bohemia was made. Then followed the erection of the Protectorate, and with that the basis for the action against Poland was laid, but I wasn't quite clear at that time whether I should start first against the East and then in the West, or vice versa.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: There was at that time a rather severe conflict between Hitler and the commanders-in-chief of the Army, and also a difference of opinion with the leading generals concerning the offensive in the West. The Fuehrer assembled all the leaders in order to give them his opinion about this whole matter. He stated—and I was present myself—that up to that time he had always been right in his decisions and that he would also be right in the opinion that the western offensive had to be undertaken in the fall if possible. Toward the end he used very harsh words; in the third from the last paragraph of the document he states: "I shall not be afraid of anything and I shall destroy everyone who is against me." That was directed against the generals. Actually the western offensive did not take place until the spring because the weather conditions delayed them.
November 24, 1939:
...but now we were already in the middle of a war and he was looking at these things retrospectively. Also, he wanted to make it clear to the generals, with whom he had a conflict at that time, that he had always been right in his political conceptions. That is the reason why he quoted all these detailed points again. .... Here it says: "If the French Army marches into Belgium to attack us, then it will be too late for us. We must be first."
Hitler at that time stated that he had received definite news that Belgium would not respect her neutrality and that he also had news already that certain preparations for the reception of French and British troops et cetera had already been made. For that reason, he wanted to forestall an attack from Belgium against us. Apart from that, in his speech of 22 August 1939, he had made a statement entirely to the opposite effect. He had said that Belgium and Holland would not break their neutrality...I had no cause on my part to raise any objection against that statement of his at that moment. ....
Sharp attacks on the British blockade, in violation of international law-these attacks were made by M. Molotov. Here too, protests were made which were turned down. But I wanted to prevent protests and the entire document shows that our deliberations always aimed at taking measures in such a way that they could not be objected to, but were always legally justified. ....
These measures were to be taken in such a way that no objection was possible. If I tell the neutrals: "This is a dangerous area in every way," and nevertheless they go there because they want to make money or because they are being forced by the British, then I need not accept any protest. They are acting for egotistical reasons, and they must pay the bill if they die. .... They received large premiums for exposing themselves to that risk, and it was their business to decide about it.
From the War Diary of the German Naval Operations Staff:
To the Missions... Since the warning issued on (November 7, 1939) regarding the use of English and French ships, the following two new facts are to be recorded: a) The United States has forbidden its ships to sail in a definitely defined area. b) Numerous enemy merchant ships have been armed. It is known that these armed ships have instructions to use their weapons aggressively, and to ram U-boats.
These two new facts give the Reich Government occasion to renew and emphasize its warning, that in view of the increasingly frequent engagements, waged with all means of modern war technique, in waters around the British Isles and in the vicinity of the French coast, the safety of neutral ships in this area can no longer be taken for granted. Therefore the German Government urgently recommends the choice of the route south and east of the German proclaimed danger zone, when crossing the North Sea.
In order to maintain peaceful shipping for neutral states and in order to avoid loss of life and property for the neutrals, the Reich Government furthermore feels obliged to recommend urgently legislative measures following the pattern of the US Government, which in apprehension of the dangers of modern warfare, forbade its ships to sail in an exactly defined area, in which, according to the words of the President of the United States, the traffic of American ships may seem imperiled by belligerent action. The Reich Government must point out that it rejects any responsibility for consequences brought about by disregarding recommendations and warnings. ....
Our naval strategy will have to employ to the utmost advantage every weapon at our disposal. Military success can be most confidently expected if we attack British sea communications where they are accessible to us with the greatest ruthlessness; the final aim of such attacks is to cut off all imports into and exports from Britain. We should try to consider the interest of neutrals, insofar as this is possible without detriment to military requirements. It is desirable to base all military measures taken on existing international law; however, measures which are considered necessary from a military point of view, provided a decisive success can be expected from them, will have to be carried out, even if they are not covered by existing international law. .... In principle, therefore, any means of warfare which is effective in breaking enemy resistance should be based on some legal conception, even if that entails the creation of a new code of naval warfare.
The Supreme War Command, after considering the political, military and economic consequences within the framework of the general conduct of the war, will have to decide what measures of a military nature are to be taken, and what our attitude to the usage of war is to be. Once it has been decided to conduct economic warfare in its most ruthless form, in fulfillment of military requirements, this decision is definitely to be adhered to under all circumstances. On no account may such a decision for the most ruthless form of economic warfare, once it has been made, be dropped or subsequently relaxed under political pressure from neutral powers, as took place in the World War to our own detriment. Every protest by neutral powers must be turned down. Even threats from other countries, especially the United States, to come into the war, which can be expected with certainty should the war last a long time, must not lead to a relaxation in the form of economic warfare once embarked upon. The more ruthlessly economic warfare is waged, the earlier will it show results and the sooner will the war come to an end. ....
From Raeder's IMT testimony: It says "If the existing rules of land warfare cannot be applied to them." It is generally known that international law had not yet been coordinated with submarine warfare, just as the use of aircraft at that time. It says:
December 11, 1939:
"In principle, therefore, any means of warfare which is effective in breaking enemy resistance should be based on some legal conception, even if that entails the creation of a new code of naval warfare"—that is, a new code of naval warfare on the basis of actual developments. Throughout the war a new code of naval warfare was developing, starting with the neutrals themselves. For instance, the Pan-American Security Conference defined a safety zone 300 miles around the American coast, thereby barring a tremendous sea area for overseas trade.
Likewise, the United States fixed a fighting zone around the British Isles which was not at all to our liking, and on 4 November 1939, the United States themselves maintained that it would be extremely dangerous for neutral ships to enter it, and they prohibited their own ships and their own citizens to enter this area. We followed that up by asking the neutrals that they too should proceed in the same way as the United States, and then they would not be harmed. Then only those neutrals sailed to Great Britain which had contraband on board and made a lot of money out of it, or which were forced by the British through their ports of control to enter that area and nevertheless submit themselves to those dangers. Of course, they were quite free to discontinue doing that. ....
We had the experience during the first World War that, as soon as the order for intensification had been given and communicated, as soon as the first neutral had raised a finger to object, these measures were immediately cancelled, particularly when the United States had a hand in it. And here I am saying that under all circumstances it must be avoided that we always withdraw our measures at once; and I give a warning to the effect that we should consider our measures as carefully as possible. That is the reason for the discussion with the Foreign Office and others, namely, to avoid the situation where later on they might be withdrawn, which would mean a considerable loss of prestige and the results would not be achieved. That is the reason. Numerous protests were received by Britain too, and in most cases they were unanswered.
Raeder meets with Quisling, the leader of Norway's Nazi Party.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: Up until 11 December I had neither connections with Herr Rosenberg—except for the fact that I had seen him on occasion—nor, above all, did I have any connections with Quisling about whom I had heard nothing up to that time.
On 11 December my Chief of Staff, Schulte-Monting, reported to me that Major Quisling, a former Norwegian Minister of War, had arrived from Oslo. He was asking for an interview with me through a Herr Hagelin, because he wished to tell me about Norwegian conditions. Herr Hagelin had been sent to my chief of staff by Herr Rosenberg. Rosenberg had already known Hagelin for some time as I have mentioned before. Since reports from such a source on Norwegian conditions seemed to be of great value to me, I declared myself ready to receive Herr Quisling.
He arrived on the same morning and reported to me at length about the conditions in Norway, with special reference to the relations of the Norwegian Government to England and the reports on the intention of England to land in Norway, and he characterized the whole situation as especially critical for, according to his reports, the danger seemed to be imminent. He tried to fix a date. He thought it should occur before 10 January, because then a favorable political situation would arise.
I told him that I was not really concerned with the political situation, but I would try to arrange to have him give his information to the Fuehrer. I would be concerned only with the military and strategic situation, and in that connection I could tell him right away that it would not be possible to take any measures from 11 December until 10 January, first because the time was too short and secondly because it was winter. I considered his expositions to be of such importance that I told him I would try to arrange for him to report to the Fuehrer personally, so that these reports would reach and influence him directly.
From Schulte-Monting's IMT testimony: I took part in that meeting. .... Quisling came on a recommendation from Rosenberg and said he had important news of a military and political nature. He confirmed, more or less, the things which we knew already. Only these things were discussed; the conference was very short. As the things we suspected were confirmed from Norway, Raeder considered this so serious that he went immediately to Hitler. Hitler wanted to talk to Quisling himself. ....
December 12, 1939:
Hitler directed that as a countermeasure theoretical preparations should be made for a German landing in Norway. The order, the final order, as far as I know was not given until March. Raeder and the gentlemen from the Naval Operations Staff and also the front commanders considered that undertaking very risky. I remember Churchill's speech in Parliament when he said, after he had been questioned about that matter, that he did not believe the German Navy would undertake that risk in face of the British Navy. ....
Raeder had told Hitler that he would have to reckon on the possible complete loss of the fleet, and that if the operations were carried out successfully he would have to be prepared for the loss of about 30 percent of the forces used. (Raeder) considered a neutral attitude on the part of Norway as much better than having to take this risk. ....
The desire for fame was not in Raeder's character. The plans for operations which came from his desk bore the mark of bold daring, but also of thorough planning. One does not work out plans to the...detail covering the distance from German ports up to Narvik, which is about that from Nuremberg to Madrid, and one does not use the Navy against a superior British fleet for the sake of fame. Raeder had told the Naval Operations Staff and the front commanders that he had to carry out that operation against all the rules of warfare because there was a compelling necessity to do so.
Raeder meets with Hitler; Conference Notes:
As a result of the Russo-Finnish conflict, anti-German feeling in Norway is even stronger than hitherto. England's influence is very great, especially because of Hambro, the President of the Storting (a Jew and a friend of Hore-Belisha) who is all-powerful in Norway just now. Quisling is convinced that there is an agreement between England and Norway for the possible occupation of Norway, in which case Sweden would also stand against Germany. Danger of Norway's occupation by England is very great-possibly very shortly. From 11 January 1940 on, the Storting and thereby the Norwegian Government is unconstitutional since the Storting, in defiance of the constitution, has prolonged its term for a year. ....
The Commander-in-Chief of the Navy points out that in connection with such offers we can never know to what extent the persons involved want to further their own party aims, and to what extent they are concerned about German interests. Hence caution is required.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: Then on the 12th—that is on the next day—I went to Hitler and informed him of the conversation between Quisling and me, and I asked him to receive Quisling personally so that he might have a personal impression of Quisling. On this occasion I told him—and this is written down in one of the documents—that in cases of this kind one would have to be especially cautious, since one could not know to what degree such a party leader would try to further the interest of his party. Therefore our investigations would have to be especially careful. And I again called the attention of the Fuehrer to the fact that an attempt to occupy Norway would bring with it greatest risks as well as certain disadvantages for the future situation. In other words, I carefully presented both sides of the picture in a neutral manner.
Hitler then decided to receive Quisling together with Hagelin on one of the following days. The two gentlemen then were obviously in touch with Rosenberg. I believe they stayed with him, and Rosenberg sent me, by letter, a record of a meeting which had apparently been drawn up by Quisling and Hagelin and also a description of Quisling's personality. In this letter, which is here as a document but which was not read by the Prosecution, it says specifically that Rosenberg knew what the political conditions were but that, of course, he would have to leave the military side entirely to me since I was the competent authority on that.
From Schulte-Monting's IMT testimony: This entry in the document which you have just presented to me corroborates what I was trying to say, that is, that no party matters or matters depending on agreement along ideological lines were to be settled between Admiral Raeder and Quisling. For this reason I said that Raeder did not discuss politics with him, but merely factual matters. That Quisling, at the time of his introduction, should mention certain things as a sort of preamble is self-evident. But he points out the factor of caution and asks: "What does this man want? Does he want to work with the Party or does he really want to remain aloof? .... I believe that Raeder never saw the reports from the German Ambassador in Oslo. I at any rate do not know these reports.
December 14, 1939:
Hitler meets with Quisling and Raeder.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: I may say that on the basis of the conference which Quisling had with the Fuehrer in my presence on 14 December the Fuehrer ordered the OKW to deal with the matter and study it. The Fuehrer had two more conferences with Quisling on 16 and 18 December at which I was not present. The matter was then handled by the OKW according to the directives and an initial plan known as "North" was drafted. Document C-21, which I have mentioned before, shows that this Plan North was received by SKL on 13 January and then, in the course of January, the date 27 January was mentioned, the draft of a directive for the Plan North was made. That draft was made in the OKW in the usual way. Kapitaen zur See Krancke as expert for the Navy took part in it. The directive was completed on 1 March 1940, and was issued to the three branches of the Armed Forces. In the meantime, a large number of reports had been received, and it was possible to use these as a basis for the drafting of the directive.
These reports besides coming from Kapitaen Schreiber now also came direct from Quisling, who sent them to the Fuehrer. They mentioned the preparatory work carried out by the English and the French—special mention was made of the Navy Attache Kermarrec—in Norwegian ports for finding out the possibilities of landing, measurements of quays, and the height of the bridges between Narvik and the Swedish border and similar things. These reports which reached us showed clearly that within a reasonable time a landing was intended. Also political reports reached us which Hagelin received through his connections in Norwegian circles, reports which in part came directly from members of the Storting-and from members of the Government and their entourage.
All of these reports confirmed that the pretext of aid for Finland in the dispute between Finland and Russia played a certain role. The danger was discussed that England under pretext of aid for Finland would proceed to a bloodless occupation of Norway. The directive for the case Norway, therefore, was issued on 1 March. In the further course of the month of March more reports were received. In the meantime, the Altmark incident had occurred, and it was observed by Hagelin too that the behavior of the Norwegian commander was a pretense, and it was clear that in the case of any encroachment on the part of Great Britain, the Norwegian Government would protest only on paper.
Affidavit of Walter Georg Erich Giese: I can state the following about the preparations which led up to the action against Denmark and Norway: An appointment with the Commander-in-Chief was frequently made for a Mr. Hagelin and another gentleman; whose name I cannot recall at present, by a party official of Rosenberg's Foreign Political Office; as a rule they were received immediately. I also had received instructions that if a Mr. Hagelin should announce himself personally, I should always take him to the Commander-in-Chief at once.
Shortly afterwards I learned from the minute book and from conversations in my room that he was a Norwegian confidential agent. The gentleman from the Foreign Political Office who frequently accompanied him and whose name I do not remember at the moment also conversed with me and confided in me, so that I learned about the Raeder-Rosenberg discussions and about the preparations for the Norway campaign. According to all I heard I can say that the idea of this undertaking emanated from Raeder and met with Hitler's heartiest approval. The whole enterprise was disguised by the pretense of an enterprise against Holland and England. One day Quisling, too, was announced at the Commander-in-Chief's by Hagelin and was received immediately. Korvettenkapitan Schreiber of the Naval Reserve, who was later naval attache in Oslo and knew the conditions in Norway very well, also played a role in all these negotiations. He collaborated with the Quisling party and its agents in Oslo.
From Schulte-Monting's IMT testimony: It is not true that Mr. Hagelin was received by Admiral Raeder. Herr Giese cannot possibly have any information about that because he was stationed two rooms away. If he had perhaps noted down that he was received by me, that would in a certain sense be correct. The fact is that at the time, after the Quisling-Hagelin visit, I had said that if he were to pass through Berlin again and he had any naval political information in this connection, I should like him to make this information available to me. .... He did not meet him before Quisling's visit in December. Later he did not receive him any more. He was accompanied by Quisling, that is correct. But he did not have any special discussion with Raeder alone. The matters discussed were only naval political questions.
December 14, 1939:
The USSR is expelled from the League of Nations. (Kennedy II, Gill)
December 15, 1939:
Raeder proposes the sale of the plans and drawings for the 45,000 ton battleship Bismarck
, then still under construction, to the Russians for 'a very high price.' (Shirer)
December 17, 1939:
The Graf Spree
is scuttled by her crew after being forced into port at Uruguay. Note: The Graf Spee
, under the command of the able Captain Hans Langsdorff, had sunk nine cargo ships with a total tonnage of 50,089; not one enemy crewmen or passenger had been killed in the process.
December 18, 1939:
Raeder is severely dressed-down by Hitler due to the scuttling of the Graf Spree
December 30, 1939:
From the minutes of a meeting between Hitler and Raeder:
The Chief of the Naval Operations Staff requests that full power be given to the Naval Operations Staff in making any intensification suited to the situation and to the means of war. The Fuehrer agrees in principle to the sinking without warning of Greek ships in the American prohibited area and of neutral ships in those sections of the American prohibited area in which the fiction of mine danger can be upheld, e.g., the Bristol Channel. ....
Justified by the sales and chartering of numerous Greek ships to England it has been decreed, with the agreement of the Fuehrer, that Greek ships in the zone from 20 degrees West to 2 degrees East and from 44 degrees North to 62 degrees North shall be considered as hostile craft by U-boats. Attacks to be made invisibly as far as possible. .... With regard to the form and the moment for the commencement of further intensification of the war at sea, the decision of the supreme war command to begin the general intensification of the war with an offensive in the West is of decisive importance.
1 Possibility: The decision of the Fuehrer is made in favor of a Western offensive, beginning very shortly, within the framework of the instructions issued for this to date, by violating the neutrality of other states: In this case the intensified measures for the war at sea will in their political effect only represent a small part of the entire intensification of the war. The gradual change-over to the intensified form of waging the war at sea within the American restricted zone, with the ultimate aim of a ruthless employment of all means of warfare to interrupt all commerce with England, is therefore proposed with the start of the offensive. Immediate anticipation of individual intensified measures for the war at sea is not necessary and may be postponed until the start of the general intensification of the war. The benevolent neutrals Italy, Spain, Japan and Russia as well as America, are to be spared as far as possible.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: With the beginning of the offensive in the West, Hitler also wanted a certain more energetic pursuit of the war at sea. For that reason, he asked me to introduce only at this point the intensified measures which I considered already justified because of the attitude of the British forces. These intensification's were very carefully considered in that memorandum, and they followed step by step the different steps taken by Britain. .... I had nothing to do with this violation of neutrality for we were not there when they marched into these two countries. The only thing I was interested in was to intensify the submarine war step by step, so as to meet the measures introduced by the British, which also violated international law.
December 30, 1939:
From an order generated by the OKW and signed by Jodl:
On the 30th of December 1939, according to a report of the Supreme Commander of the Navy, the Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces decided that:
January 2, 1940:
1) Greek merchant ships in the area declared by England and the USA to be a barred zone are to be treated as enemy vessels. (Attack must be carried out without being seen. The denial of the sinking of these steamships, in case the expected protests are made, must be possible.)
2) In the Bristol Channel all shipping may be attacked without warning-where the impression of a mining incident can be created. Both measures are authorized to come into effect immediately.
From conference notes:
Conference with the Chief of Naval Operations Staff (on the) intensified measures in connection with the Case Yellow (the invasion of Holland and Belgium) the sinking by U-boats...without any warning, of all ships in those waters near the enemy coasts in which mines can be employed... By the present order, the Navy will be authorized, in keeping with the general intensification of the war, to sink by U-boats, without any warning, all ships in those waters near the enemy coasts in which mines can be employed. In this case, for external consumption, pretense should be made that mines are being used. The behavior of, and use of weapons by, U-boats should take this into consideration.
January 13, 1940:
An extract from the War Diary of the SKL:
In complete agreement with this point of view, the Chief of the Naval Operations Staff is therefore also of the opinion that the most favorable solution would doubtless be the maintenance of the present situation which, if strictest neutrality is exercised by Norway, will permit the safe use of Norwegian territorial waters for the shipping vital to Germany's war effort without the attempt being made on the part of England to seriously endanger this sea lane.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: I maintained this point of view when reporting to Hitler. In that report I first mentioned the intelligence reports which we had at hand. Then I described the dangers which might result to us from a British occupation of bases on the Norwegian coast and might affect our entire warfare, dangers which I considered tremendous. I had the feeling that such an occupation would gravely prejudice and imperil the whole conduct of our war.
January 20, 1940:
If the British occupied bases in Norway, especially in the South of Norway, they would be able to dominate the entrance to the Baltic Sea from those points, and also flank our naval operations from the Helgoland Bight and from the Elbe, Jade and Weser. The second outlet which we had was also gravely imperiled, affecting the operations of battleships as well as the courses of our merchantmen. In addition to that, from their air bases in Norway, they might endanger our air operations, the operations of our pilots for reconnaissance in the North Sea or for attacks against England.
Furthermore, from Norway they could exert strong pressure on Sweden, and that pressure would have been felt in this respect, that the supplies of ore from Sweden would have been hindered or stopped by purely political pressure. Finally, the export of ore from Narvik to Germany could have been stopped entirely, and it is known how much Germany depended on supplies of ore from Sweden and Norway. They might even have gone so far¡ªand we learned about this subsequently that such plans were discussed as to attack and destroy the ore deposits at Lulea, or to seize them.
All of these dangers might become decisive factors in the outcome of the war. Aside from the fact that I told Hitler that the best thing for us would be to have strict neutrality on the part of Norway, I also called his attention to the dangers which would result to us from an occupation of the Norwegian coast and Norwegian bases, for there would have been lively naval operations near the Norwegian coast in which the British, even after our occupation of bases, would try to hamper our ore traffic from Narvik. A struggle might ensue which we, with our inadequate supply of surface vessels, would be unable to cope with in the long run.
Therefore, at that time I did not make any proposal that we should occupy Norway or that we should obtain bases in Norway. I only did my duty in telling the Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht about this grave danger which was threatening us, and against which we might have to use emergency measures for our defense. I also pointed out to him that possible operations for the occupation of Norwegian bases might be very expensive for us. In the course of later discussions I told him that we might even lose our entire fleet. I would consider it a favorable case if we were to lose only one-third, something which actually did happen later on. There was, therefore, no reason for me to expect that I would gain prestige by such an enterprise. I have been accused of this ambition by the Prosecution. As a matter of fact, the exact opposite might easily result.
Churchill addresses the House:
It seems pretty certain that half the U-boats with which Germany began the war have been sunk, and that their new building has fallen far behind what we expected. Our faithful Asdic detector smells them out in the depths of the sea and, with the potent aid of the Royal Air Force, I do not doubt that we shall break their strength and break their purpose. The magnetic mine, and all the other mines with which the narrow waters, the approaches to this Island, are strewn, do not present us with any problem which we deem insoluble. It must be remembered that in the last war we suffered very grievous losses from mines, and that at the climax more than six hundred British vessels were engaged solely upon the task of mine-sweeping. We must remember that. We must always be expecting some bad thing from Germany.
March 1, 1940
1500 hours big conference with the three commanders-in-chief regarding Weseruebung (the code name for Nazi Germany's assault on Denmark and Norway and the opening operation of the Norwegian Campaign). Field Marshal, having no knowledge about plans, is furious.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: I cannot explain that (Goering not being informed, above) at all. I had no authority to speak about it and I cannot say why he was not consulted...that shows how little, especially in the Fuehrer's entourage, one can speak of a conspiracy. The Foreign Minister, Von Ribbentrop, also was not present during any of the Quisling conferences or receptions and I had no authority to speak to him about these matters.
March l, 1940:
From the 'most secret' document 'The Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces,' 'Directive for Case Weseruebung':
The development of the situation in Scandinavia requires the making of all preparations for the occupation of Denmark and Norway by a part of the German Armed Forces: Weser Exercise. This operation should prevent British encroachment on Scandinavia and the Baltic; further, it should guarantee our ore base in Sweden and give our Navy and Air Force a wider start line against Britain.
In view of our military and political power in comparison with that of the Scandinavian States, the force to be employed in the Weser Exercise will be kept as small as possible. The numerical weakness will be balanced by daring actions and surprise execution. On principle we will do our utmost to make the operation appear as a peaceful occupation, the object of which is the military protection of the neutrality of the Scandinavian States. Corresponding demands will be transmitted to the governments at the beginning of the occupation. If necessary, demonstrations by the Navy and the Air Force will provide the necessary emphasis. If, in spite of this, resistance should be met with, all military means will be used to crush it. I put in charge of the preparations and the conduct of the operation against Denmark and Norway the commanding general of the 21st Army Corps, General Von Falkenhorst.
The crossing of the Danish border and the landings in Norway must take place simultaneously. I emphasize that the operations must be prepared as quickly as possible. In case the enemy seizes the initiative against Norway, we must be able to apply immediately our own counter measures.
It is most important that the Scandinavian States as well as the western opponents should be taken by surprise by our measures. All preparations, particularly those of transport and of readiness, drafting, and embarkation of the troops, must be made with this factor in mind. In case the preparations for embarkation can no longer be kept secret, the leaders and the troops will be deceived with fictitious objectives. ....
The task of Group XXI: Occupation by surprise of Jutland and of Fuenen immediately after occupation of Zealand. Added to this, having secured the most important places, the group will break through as quickly as possible from Fuenen to Skagen and to the east coast. Occupation of Norway, 'Weseruebung Nord': "The task of the Group XXI: Capture by surprise of the most important places on the coast by sea and airborne operations. " The Navy will take over the preparation and carrying out of the transport by sea of the landing troops. The Air Force, after the occupation has been completed, will ensure air defense and will make use of Norwegian bases for air warfare against Britain.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: May I also mention a particularly important report which I remember now. Quisling reported in February that Lord Halifax had told the Norwegian Ambassador in London that an operation on the part of the British for the acquisition of bases in Norway was planned for the near future. That report also reached us at that time.
March 3, 1940
I should like to add, as I emphasized before, that being fully conscious of my responsibility I always tried to show the Fuehrer both sides of the picture and that the Fuehrer would have to be guided by my documentary proof when deciding, to take or refrain from taking that tremendous step. But that does not mean to say that because I pointed out to my Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces that particular danger, I in any way decline to accept responsibility. Of course, I am in some measure responsible for the whole thing. Moreover, I have been accused because in a letter submitted here under C-155 I had told my officers' corps that I was proud of the way in which this extraordinarily dangerous enterprise had been executed. I should like to confirm this, because I believe I was entitled to be proud that the Navy had carried out that operation with such limited means and in the face of the entire British fleet; I still stick to that. .... In the second half of March repeated attacks were made by British planes and naval forces against our merchant ships bringing the Swedish ore down from Narvik.
The Fuehrer expressed himself very sharply on the necessity of a swift entry into N (Norway) with strong forces. No delay by any branch of the Armed Forces. Very rapid acceleration of the attack necessary. .... Fuehrer decides to carry out Weser Exercise before Case Yellow with a few days interval.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: I have very clearly explained the origin of the Norwegian campaign in documents. There was the danger that the British might occupy Norway, and information of all sorts indicated that. Of course, if we were forced to occupy the Norwegian coast, then, apart from all the numerous disadvantages which I have explained, we had the advantage that we would gain this or that base for our Atlantic submarines. I most certainly thought that (the British wanted to occupy Norway). We had so much information about it that I could have no doubt whatever, and it was fully confirmed later on.
March 4, 1940:
From an interview given by Admiral Raeder to a representative of the National Broadcasting Company:
The German standpoint may be concisely expressed by the formula: Whoever depends on the use of arms must be prepared for attack by arms... In discussing the possibility that there might be frequent differences of opinion, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy mentioned President Roosevelt's order prohibiting American shipping in the dangerous zones around England. He said, 'This prohibition is the best proof against England's practice of forcing neutrals to sail through these zones, without being able to guarantee their security. Germany can only advise all neutrals to imitate the policy of your President. Question: Thus, according to this state of affairs, there is no protection for neutral shipping in the war-endangered zones? Answer: 'Probably not, so long as England adheres to her methods.
March 5, 1940:
From the War Diary of the Naval Operations Staff:
With reference to the conduct of economic warfare, orders are given to the Naval Forces that US ships are not to be stopped, seized, or sunk. The reason is the assurance given by the Commander-in-Chief to the American Naval Attache, whom he received on 20 February, that German submarines had orders not to stop any American ships whatsoever. All possibility of difficulties arising between the USA and Germany as a result of economic warfare are thereby to be eliminated from the start.
March 5, 1940
Big conference with the three commanders-in-chief about Weser Exercise; Field Marshal in a rage because not consulted till now. Won't listen to anyone and wants to show that all preparations so far made are worthless. Result: (a) Stronger forces to Narvik; (b) Navy to leave ships in the ports (Hipper or Luetzow in Trondheim); (c) Christiansand can be left out at first; (d) six divisions envisaged for Norway; (e) a foothold to be gained immediately in Copenhagen also.
March 5, 1940
Katyn Forest Massacre:
People's Commissar for Internal Affairs and First Rank Commissar of State Security, Lavrentiy Beria, had earlier suggested that the 25,700 Polish 'nationalists and counterrevolutionaries' kept at camps and prisons in occupied western Ukraine and Belarus be executed. On this day, the Soviet Politburo approves and Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Kliment Voroshilov and Anastas Mikoyan sign the order.
March 10, 1940
The news about the Finnish-Russian negotiations is very gratifying from a political point of view. The French press is furious about it, because it considers it necessary to cut Germany off from Swedish ore.
March 13, 1940
Fuehrer does not give the order for 'W' (Weseruebung). He is still trying to find a justification.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: The English translation as far as I can remember says "Looking for an excuse." But he needed neither justification nor excuse, because in the first paragraph of the directive of 1 March—that is to say, 2 weeks before that—he had stated what circumstances made it necessary to occupy Norway and Denmark with certain forces of the Wehrmacht. British encroachments in Scandinavia and the Baltic were to be prevented thereby, our ore deposits in Sweden safeguarded, and the bases against England for the Navy and the Air Force were to be expanded.
March 14, 1940
...the expression just used, "justification," is wrong, wrongly translated, Jodl wrote "Begruendung," "reason." But that is also wrong—please will you let me finish—even that is incorrect, because the Fuehrer had an abundance of reasons, which he laid down in the instruction issued on the 1st of March, and it was known to all of us. I have said that by the expression "Begruendung," "reason," he probably meant that he had not yet had a diplomatic note compiled. He had not told the Foreign Minister anything about it at that stage. I told you that recently under oath and I repeat it under oath today.
English keep vigil in the North Sea with 15 to 16 submarines; doubtful whether reason to safeguard own operations or prevent operations by Germans. Fuehrer has not yet decided what reason to give for Weser Exercise.
March 19, 1940
The Fuehrer has returned beaming with joy and highly satisfied from the conference with the Duce. Complete agreement...The Balkans should and must remain quiet.
March 21, 1940
Misgivings of Task Force 21 about the long interval between taking up readiness positions at 0530 hours and closing of diplomatic negotiations. Fuehrer rejects any earlier negotiations as otherwise calls for help go out to England and America. If resistance is put up it must be ruthlessly broken. The political plenipotentiaries must emphasize the military measures taken and even exaggerate them.
March 22, 1940:
From the War Diary of the Naval Operations Staff:
An examination of the question as to whether a mass encroachment by the English into the Norwegian territorial waters was so immediately imminent that it might represent a danger to present German shipping produces the opinion that this is not to be expected at the present time. The ore transports are to be continued, as no losses have yet occurred.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: That was not at all my conception. It was the view of Kapitaen zur See Fricke, who was at that time the Chief of the Operations Department. He did not quite agree with me about the whole of this question. He was of the opinion that the British should be allowed to enter Norway first, and then we should throw them out through Sweden, a completely distorted idea which I could not approve of in any way. I had such clear information from Quisling and Hagelin, particularly at that time, the second half of March, that there was no longer any doubt whatever that within a reasonable time the British would intervene on a big scale....I did not concern myself with it.
March 24, 1940:
From the War Diary of the Naval Operations Staff:
Behavior during entrance into the harbor...The disguise as British craft must be kept up as long as possible. All challenges in Morse by Norwegian ships will be answered in English. In answer to questions a text with something like the following content will be chosen: 'Calling at Bergen for a short visit; no hostile intent.' Challenges to be answered with names of British warships: "Koeln—HMS Cairo; Koenigsberg—HMS Calcutta; Bremse—HMS Faulkner; Karl Peters—HMS Halcyon; Leopard—British destroyer; Wolf—British destroyer; S-boats—British motor torpedo boats. Arrangements are to be made enabling British war flags to be illuminated. Continual readiness for making smoke screen.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: ...that is the principle which is absolutely recognized in naval warfare, that at the moment of firing you have to raise your own flag. .... It was all a question of pulling down the flag and raising the German flag if we met the British. We did not want to fight with the Norwegians at all. It says somewhere that we should first of all try to effect a peaceful occupation. .... I cannot tell you whether any other navy did it...we have not done it and apart from that, we did not do it because on 8 April, we gave the order by wireless-and you know from our War Diary-that this should not be done, so it is quite useless to talk here about what might have been done if it has not been done.
March 24, 1940:
From Flag Officer, Reconnaissance Forces:
...most secret. Following is laid down as guiding principle should one of our own units find itself compelled to answer the challenge of passing craft. To challenge in case of the Koeln—HMS Cairo'; then to order to stop—(1) Please repeat last signal, (2) Impossible to understand your signal'; in case of a warning shot—Stop firing, British ship, good friend'; in case of an inquiry as to destination and purpose—Going Bergen, chasing German steamers.
March 25, 1940
The English have begun to molest or to fire on our merchantmen in Danish and Norwegian territorial waters.
March 26, 1940:
From the War Diary of the Naval Operations Staff:
British landing in Norway not considered imminent—Raeder suggests action by us at the next new moon, the 7th of April—to which Hitler agrees. Further discussions about laying of mines at Scapa before German invasion of Norway. Hitler agrees with Raeder and will issue instructions accordingly.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: Admiral Assmann (archivist of the Naval Operations Staff War Diary) compiled his notes from all sorts of war diaries and records. I most certainly never said that because at that time I reported to Hitler again and again that our preparations which had already been started a time ago would be complete at the end of January, and that that would be the time when the landings had to be carried out for the reasons I always put forward. It is completely wrong to assume that at that time I had the slightest doubt. Later everything was proved right. ....
March 28, 1940
He (Admiral Assmann) is not a deceiver, but he compiled the document from all sorts of papers and I cannot imagine how he could have arrived at that statement, I certainly never made it. I was in favor of carrying out the landings in Norway at the earliest possible time, after ice conditions had improved, as we had previously decided and as had been ordered by Hitler. For that I assume full responsibility. There was every reason for that. I only submitted to the Fuehrer this matter of landing in Norway on the supposition that this information was available and would continue to be available. .... Here it says, the 26th of March 1940: "Occupation of Norway by British was imminent when the Russian-Finnish peace was concluded." That very Russian-Finnish affair was making it particularly urgent for us to carry out a landing because the danger existed that the British, under the pretext of supporting the Finns, would carry out a bloodless occupation of Norway.
Then I go on to the question of the Fuehrer, whether a landing by the British in Norway might be imminent. One must consider that Assmann had summarized all that from war diaries, and this question is explained by the fact that the Fuehrer wanted to know whether the situation had changed in any way, because the peace had been signed. However, the situation had not changed at all, because we knew in reality that the landings by the British were not to be carried out to help the Finns, but for other reasons. That question, therefore, whether at the time, because of the peace treaty, the British landings might be particularly imminent, was answered by me in the negative. Commander-in-Chief Navy suggests action by us at next new moon, 7th April—Fuehrer agrees. Everything remained as before. Only the question whether because of this peace treaty we ought to land at once, I answered 'no.' ....
(Raeder translates the diary entry for the Court) "Occupation of Norway by the British was imminent when the Russian-Finnish peace treaty was signed. Apparently, because of the treaty, it was postponed. Question by the Fuehrer, whether at that moment a landing by the British in Norway was imminent, was answered in the negative by the Commander-in-Chief Navy...." Yes, that did not mean that because of that we had to renounce the idea. "Commander-in-Chief Navy suggests action by us at next new moon." The reasons for our landing remained the same as before; only the Finnish business could no longer be used by the British.
Individual naval officers seem to be lukewarm concerning the Weser Exercise and need a stimulus. Also Falkenhorst and the other three commanders are worrying about matters which are none of their business. Krancke sees more disadvantages than advantages. In the evening the Fuehrer visits the map room and roundly declares that he won't stand for the Navy clearing out of the Norwegian ports right away. Narvik, Trondheim, and Oslo will have to remain occupied by naval forces.
March 29, 1940:
From a message by Norwegian Foreign Minister Koht to the Germans:
The British apparently did not want to take upon themselves the responsibility for openly violating Norwegian 'territory and Norwegian territorial waters without cause, and for carrying out warlike operations in them.
March 29, 1940:
From a report from Dr. Breuer, the German Foreign Minister's representative in Norway:
The future will show whether Foreign Minister Koht sees things quite right. It definitely appears, however, as I have frequently pointed out, that the British have no intentions of landing, but that they want to disturb shipping in Norwegian territorial waters perhaps, as Koht thinks, in order to provoke Germany. Of course, it is also possible that the British behavior of last week, which I have pointed out as well, will grow into more or less regular and increasing interference in territorial waters to attack our ore traffic off the Norwegian coast. .... The firm intention of Norway to maintain her neutrality and to insure that Norway's neutrality rules be respected can be accepted as a fact.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: Dr. Breuer, the Minister to Norway, held a completely wrong view. He believed Foreign Minister Koht's assurances even though our naval attach¨¦ kept reporting that Koht was completely on the side of the British and his assurances were not to be believed. At the same time, information had been received from Hagelin that the Norwegians were giving assurances on paper but they themselves had said that they were doing that only as subterfuge and that they would continue to co-operate with the British. .... I was never in direct contact with Dr. Breuer, only with the naval attache but I must add that Dr. Breuer had only been in Oslo for a comparatively short period and that apparently he was not particularly well informed. The statements made by Norwegian Ministers were certainly not properly judged by him.
From the IMT testimony of Ernst von Weizsaecker: An occupational force always finds it difficult to be popular anywhere. But with this one reservation I should like to state that the Navy, as far as I heard, enjoyed a good, even a very good, reputation in Norway. This was repeatedly confirmed to me during the war by my Norwegian friends. .... Breuer was not with the Legation—he was the Minister himself—and I take it for granted that he reported correctly on the subject from an objective or rather, if I may say so, subjective point of view. Whether this was really correct from an objective point of view or not, is quite another question. To put it in plain German, whether Breuer was correctly informed of the intentions of the enemy forces is another question. .... I must confess that my personal opinion tallied with the opinion of Breuer, although both our opinions subsequently proved to be incorrect and the conjectures of the Navy were justified, or—at least—more justified than the opinion voiced by the Minister.
March 29, 1940:
From the German diplomatic representative in Sweden: The Swedish Government had no reason at all to believe in an impending action by the Western Powers against Scandinavia. On the contrary, on the strength of all official reports and other information, they considered the situation lately to be much calmer. In conclusion, Guenther requested me to report his statements to my government, and repeated that the Swedish Government attached the greatest value to the German Government not erroneously getting the impression of the existence of circumstances which might evoke the possibility—he would not use the word necessity at all—of special measures by Germany with regard to Scandinavia.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: But we had no reason at all to believe these assurances because obviously, quite obviously, Sweden had considerable interest in our not going to Norway, because Sweden believed that by so doing we would be able to exercise pressure on Sweden also. That was what the British wanted, according to the information we received later. Our minister was completely misinformed and as a result was not informed by us because it was known that he sided with Foreign Minister Koht. Our information was so clear, so frequent and so unequivocal, that we could certainly carry out our landing with a clear conscience and in fact this proved to be true.
April 2, 1940
Therefore, there is no point in discussing whether the order on the part of the British to land in Norway—it was Trondheim, Stavanger and, I believed, Kristiansand—whether this order was given on 5 April On the 7th, during the night of the 7th to 8th, as the British reported in a wireless message, the mine-laying in Norwegian waters was completed by British ships and on the 7th, troops were shipped on cruisers, the names of which I forget. Therefore, this actually took place and my conception was correct and not Herr Breuer's who was dismissed immediately after this because he was a failure. Thereupon, we carried out the landings on the strength of quite positive information which we can prove in detail. Sweden's action is thoroughly understandable.
1530 hours. Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, and General Von Falkenhorst with the Fuehrer All confirm preparations completed. Fuehrer orders carrying out of the Weser Exercise for April the 9th.
April 4, 1940
: From the War Diary of the Naval Operations Staff:
The barrage-breaking vessels (Sperrbrecher) will penetrate inconspicuously and with lights on into Oslo Fjord disguised as merchant steamers. Challenge from coastal signal stations and look-outs are to be answered by the deceptive use of the names of English steamers. I lay particular stress on the importance of not giving away the operation before zero hour.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: That is quite a regular ruse of war, that warships carry a foreign flag. A requisite for the legality of that act, however, is that at the moment of an enemy action, the moment fire is opened, their own flag must be hoisted in time. That has always been done in the German Navy, especially in the case of our auxiliary cruisers, which frequently sailed under a foreign flag in order to avoid being reported by merchant ships, but which always lowered that flag in time. That is a matter of honor. It must be added that in this case, as the War Diary shows that on 8 April, on account of certain considerations, we rescinded that order, because we had the report that an English action was underway, and we feared that complications would arise from that. So this order was not carried out in the long run. I believe the document can be found which contains that. ... You also asked about Document C-115, which says that the blockade runners camouflaged as merchant ships with dimmed lights should enter Oslo Fjord unobtrusively. This too is quite a regular ruse of war against which, from the legal point of view, no objection can be made. Likewise there is nothing to be said against English names given in answer to signals of identity.
April 4, 1940
I did not finish answering one question because I was interrupted. That was the question concerning the expression "justification" or "excuse" in the War Diary of Generaloberst Jodl. As I have shown, it was not a question of the justification, which had been expressed a long time before by Hitler, but I believe that I am right in saying that the question was that the diplomatic note which, at the moment of the execution of the enterprise, had to be presented to the Norwegian and Danish governments, giving the reason for his action, had not yet been drafted, especially as he had not yet spoken to the Foreign Minister at that time at all. The Foreign Minister received the information, as he has said himself, only on 3 April.
Fuehrer drafts the proclamations. Pieckenbrock, Chief of Military Intelligence I, returns with good result from the talks with Quisling in Copenhagen.
April 9, 1940:
Nazi forces invade Norway and Denmark.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: From the very beginning I was for good treatment of the Norwegian population. I knew that Hitler had given Gauleiter Terboven, whom he had unfortunately appointed Reich Commissioner for Norway and to whom he had entrusted the civil administration, instructions that he, Terboven, should bring the Norwegian people to him; that is to say, make them favorably disposed, and that he had the intention, finally, to maintain Norway as a sovereign state in a North Germanic Empire. Terboven was opposed to that. He treated the Norwegian population in a very unfriendly manner, and by his treatment he actually sabotaged the aims of Hitler. In close understanding with Admiral Boehm, who became the naval commander in Norway and who had taken Kapitaen Schreiber, the former attach¨¦, on his staff as liaison officer to the Norwegian population, I tried to counteract these intentions of Terboven. On the basis of the reports of Admiral Boehm I repeatedly approached the Fuehrer and told him that with Terboven he would never achieve his purpose. The Fuehrer designated Quisling chief of the Government. I cannot remember exactly when he became Minister President, but Terboven also sabotaged Quisling in his activities by making it extremely difficult for him, and even discredited him among the population.
April 9, 1940:
Terboven's chief reason was, in my opinion, that he wanted to remain Gauleiter of Norway. All our endeavors were unsuccessful, in spite of the fact that Admiral Boehm tried very hard to achieve with the help of the Navy what Hitler had expected, that is, to win over the Norwegian people. I did not understand how on the one side one wanted to gain the sympathy of the Norwegians and on the other hand one sabotaged Hitler's intentions. That went on until 1942, at which time Boehm made a final report to me, in which he explained that things could not go on like that, and that Hitler's intentions would never be realized. I submitted that report to Hitler, but since it did not bring about any change—it was in the late autumn of 1942—this failure of mine became one of the reasons which finally led to my retirement.
As the invasion begins, a German memorandum is handed to the Governments of Norway and Denmark attempting to justify the German action:
The German troops, therefore, do not set foot on Norwegian soil as enemies. The German High Command does not intend to make use of the points occupied by German troops as bases for operations against England as long as it is not forced to do so by measures taken by England and France; German military operations aim much more exclusively at protecting the north against proposed occupation of Norwegian strong points by English-French forces.
April 19, 1940
The Reich Government thus expect that the Royal Norwegian Government and the Norwegian people will respond with understanding to the German measures and offer no resistance to them. Any resistance would have to be and would be broken by all possible means by the German forces employed, and would therefore lead only to absolutely useless bloodshed. The Royal Norwegian Government are therefore requested to take all measures with the greatest speed to ensure that the advance of the German troops can take place without friction and difficulty. In the spirit of the good German-Norwegian relations that have always existed, the Reich Government declare to the Royal Norwegian Government that Germany has no intention of infringing by her measures the territorial integrity and political independence of the Kingdom of Norway now or in the future.
Renewed crisis. Envoy Brauer (the German Minister to Norway) is recalled. Since Norway is at war with us, the task of the Foreign Office is finished. In the Fuehrer's opinion force has to be used. It is said that Gauleiter Terboven will be given a post. Field Marshal (Goering) is moving in the same direction. He criticizes as defect that we did not take sufficiently energetic measures against the civilian population, that we could have seized electrical plant, that the. Navy did not supply enough troops. The Air Force cannot do everything.
April 24, 1940:
Gauleiter Josef Antonius Heinrich Terboven is appointed the Reichskommissar of Norway.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: Several times (I asked Hitler specifically to dismiss Terboven) And I suggested that he should appoint General Admiral Boehm as commander of the armed forces for Norway and give him far-reaching powers so that he could carry out his—Hitler's—aims. I suggested that the Fuehrer should as soon as possible conclude a peace with Norway because only in that way could he bring about co-operation between Norway and Germany and make the population turn to him. I told him the attempts of sabotage by the Norwegian emigrants would lose their meaning and cease and that possibly the Norwegian emigrants who were leaning toward England at that time could be induced to return, because they might be afraid that they might "miss the bus"; especially from the point of view of economic advantages. The task of defending Norway would be considerably easier if a state of peace could be brought about.
And I suggested that he should appoint General Admiral Boehm as commander of the armed forces for Norway and give him far-reaching powers so that he could carry out his—Hitler's—aims. I suggested that the Fuehrer should as soon as possible conclude a peace with Norway because only in that way could he bring about co-operation between Norway and Germany and make the population turn to him. I told him the attempts of sabotage by the Norwegian emigrants would lose their meaning and cease and that possibly the Norwegian emigrants who were leaning toward England at that time could be induced to return, because they might be afraid that they might "miss the bus"; especially from the point of view of economic advantages. The task of defending Norway would be considerably easier if a state of peace could be brought about.
From Schulte-Monting's IMT testimony: Raeder in speaking to Hitler advocated a policy of peace. He suggested repeatedly that attempts should be made for peace with Norway. He was in agreement in that respect with the German Commander-in-Chief in Norway, Generaladmiral Bohm, while Terboven, who was directing political matters, was of a somewhat different opinion...there were serious differences and quarrels all the way up the line to Hitler. Hitler at that time told Raeder that he could not make peace with Norway because of France. Raeder advocated the same thing concerning France. He tried to arrange a conference with Admiral Darlan in an effort to forward these matters. He had pointed out to Hitler, when the Atlantic Coast was fortified, that it would be better and more practical to make peace with France than to make great though inadequate sacrifices for defense. Hitler replied that he fully agreed but out of consideration for Italy he could not conclude a peace treaty with France.
May 8, 1940:
From a statement by the First Lord of the British Admiralty: Therefore we limited our operations in the Skagerrak to the submarines. In order to make this work as effective as possible, the usual restrictions which we have imposed on the actions of our submarines were relaxed. As I told the House, all German ships by day and all ships by night were to be sunk as opportunity served.
May 19, 1940:
The Nazis invade France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; Winston Churchill becomes British Prime Minister. French General Henri Honore Giraud, a member of the Superior War Council, is captured by German troops while trying to block a German attack through the Ardennes.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: This was always my point of view, that from the experience of the first World War Belgium and Holland, as far as the Navy was concerned, could not offer any useful bases, since all forces were under the control of the British Air Force. In the first World War serious fighting occurred between the submarines leaving their ports and destroyers stationed nearby. Therefore I declared myself not to be interested in Belgium and Holland.
May 26, 1940:
FDR delivers a Fireside Chat to the American people:
Of these 215 ships we have commissioned 12 cruisers; 63 destroyers; 26 submarines; 3 aircraft carriers; 2 gunboats; 7 auxiliaries and many smaller craft. And among the many ships now being built and paid for as we build them are 8 new battleships. Ship construction, of course, costs millions of dollars more in the United States than anywhere else in the world; but it is a fact that we cannot have adequate navy defense for all American waters without ships—ships that sail the surface of the ocean, ships that move under the surface and ships that move through the air...
May 27, 1940: U-37
, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Ernst, sinks the Sheaf Mead
. From the U-boats log:
It is not clear whether she was sailing as a normal merchant ship... A large heap of wreckage floats up. We approach it to identify the name. The crew have saved themselves on wreckage and capsized boats. We fish out a buoy; no name on it. I ask a man on the raft. He says, hardly turning his head 'Nixuame.' A young boy in the water calls, 'Help, help, please.' The others are very composed; they look damp and somewhat tired and have a look of cold hatred on their faces. Then on to the old course...
After the fall of France, twelve U-boat flotillas are established in Brest, La Rochelle, La Pallice, St Nazaire, Lorient and Bordeaux.
June 3, 1940:
From a memorandum of the German naval war staff:
These problems are pre-eminently of a political character and comprise an abundance of questions of a political type, which it is not the Navy's province to answer, but they also materially affect the strategic possibilities open—according to the way in which this question is answered—for the subsequent use and operation of the Navy. The solution could perhaps be found among the following possibilities:
June 6, 1940:
1) It is too well known to need further mention that Germany's present position in the narrows of the Heligoland Bight and in the Baltic¡ªbordered as it is by a whole series of states and under their influence¡ªis an impossible one for the future of Greater Germany. If over and above this one extends these strategic possibilities to the point that Germany shall not continue to be cut off for all time from overseas by natural geographical facts, the demand is raised that somehow or other an end shall be put to this state of affairs at the end of the war.
The territories of Denmark, Norway, and northern France acquired during the course of the war continue to be so occupied and organized that they can in the future be considered as German possessions. This solution will recommend itself for areas where the severity of the decision tells, and should tell, on the enemy and where a gradual Germanizing of the territory appears practicable.
2) The taking over and holding of areas which have no direct connection with Germany's main body and which, like the Russian solution in Hangoe, remain permanently as an enclave in the hostile state. Such areas might be considered possible around Brest and Trondheim.
3) The power of Greater Germany in the strategic areas acquired in this war should result in the existing population of these areas feeling themselves and being politically, economically, and militarily completely dependent on Germany. If the following results are achieved-that expansion is undertaken (on a scale I shall describe later) by means of the military measures for occupation taken during the war, that French powers of resistance (popular unity, mineral resources, industry, armed forces) are so broken that a revival must be considered out of the question, that the smaller states such as the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway are forced into a dependence on us which will enable us in any circumstances and at any time easily to occupy these countries again—then in practice the same, but psychologically much more, will be achieved. ....
The solution given in 3), therefore, appears to be the proper one¡ªthat is, to crush France, to occupy Belgium and part of northern and eastern France, to allow the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway to exist on the basis indicated above. Time will show how far the outcome of the war with England will make an extension of these demands possible.
Engelbert Endrass' U-46
torpedoes the armed merchant cruiser RMS Carinthia
off the coast of Ireland. Four crew members are killed in the initial explosion. Carinthia
remains afloat for 35 hours before sinking on 7 June, allowing the rescue of all others on board.
June 8, 1940:
While evacuating British troops from Norway in 1940, the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious
is sunk with the loss of over 1,200 lives.
June 11, 1940:
From a letter from Raeder to the German Navy:
The most outstanding of the numerous subjects of discussion in the Officers Corps are, for the time being, the torpedo positions and the problem whether the naval building program, up to autumn 1939, envisaged the possibility of the outbreak of war as early as 1939, or whether the emphasis ought not to have been laid, from the first, on the construction of U-boats...If the opinion is voiced in the Officers Corps that the entire naval building program has been wrongly directed and if, from the first, the emphasis should have been on the U-boat weapon and after its consolidation on the large ships, I must emphasize the following matters: The building up of the fleet was directed according to the political demands, which were decided by the Fuehrer.
The Fuehrer hoped, until the last moment, to be able to put off the threatening conflict with England until 1944-45. At that time the Navy would have had available a fleet with a powerful U-boat superiority and a much more favorable ratio as regards strength in all other types of ships, particularly those designed for warfare on the High Seas. The development of events forced the Navy, contrary to the expectation even of the Fuehrer, into a war which it had to accept while still in the initial stage of its rearmament. The result is that those who represent the opinion that the emphasis should have been laid from the start on the building of the U-boat arm appear to be right. I leave undiscussed how far this development, quite apart from difficulties of personnel, training, and dockyards, could have been appreciably improved in any way in view of the political limits of the Anglo-German Naval Treaty. I leave also undiscussed, how the early and necessary creation of an effective air force slowed down the desirable development of the other branches of the forces. I indicate, however, with pride, the admirable and, in spite of the political restraints in the years of the Weimar Republic, far-reaching preparation for U-boat construction, which made the immensely rapid construction of the U-boat arm, both as regards equipment and personnel, possible immediately after the assumption of power...
From Raeder's IMT testimony: There is manifold proof to show that I was not expecting a war in the fall at all, and in view of the small extent of rearmament of the German Navy this was quite natural. I have stated quite clearly in my speech before the U-boat officers in Swinemuende that we could not count on it. ....
June 13, 1940
The reason (the above letter was written) was that a number of torpedo boats had misfired and this could be traced to the fact that torpedoes had not yet been as perfectly developed as they should have been at the beginning of a war. An additional reason was that, now that the war had so suddenly broken out, many officers believed that it would have been better to have developed the submarine weapon as much as possible first, so that at least this weapon would be ready in large numbers in the event of a war. I objected to that opinion precisely because such a war was not to be expected. And on Page 6, 8th paragraph, I emphasize again, in the second line, that the Fuehrer hoped until the end to postpone the imminent dispute with England until 1944 or 1945. I am speaking here of an imminent dispute. An imminent dispute is not exactly something to strive for, it is rather to be feared.
From orders concerning 'conditions under which fire may be opened' issued to U-boat commanders:
With reference to D.M.S. Part 1, Article 53, it is now considered clear that in submarine and aerial operations the enemy has adopted a policy of attacking merchant ships without warning. Subparagraph (b) of this article should therefore be regarded as being in force... Against enemy acting in defiance of international law... If, as the war progresses, it unfortunately becomes clear that in defiance of international law the enemy has adopted a policy of attacking merchant ships without warning, it will then be permissible to open fire on an enemy vessel, submarine, or aircraft, even before she has attacked or demanded surrender, if to do so will tend to prevent her gaining a favorable position for attacking... In ships fitted with a defensive armament, open fire to keep the enemy at a distance if you consider that he is clearly intending to effect a capture and that he is approaching so close as to endanger your chances of escape.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: The following changes (in weapons of war) took place (between 1936 and 1939)...It turned out that because of the airplane the submarine was no longer in a position to surface and to investigate enemy ships or any other merchant ships, particularly near the enemy coast where the U-boats carried on their activities at first. There was no regulation at all issued about airplanes...the changes took place in the airplane. The ever increasing efficiency of the airplanes and the extension of their activities also over the seas led to the situation where it became impossible to examine any merchant vessel without aircraft being called to threaten the submarine. That got worse and worse, so that later on even rescuing had to be restricted because of enemy aircraft, and the entire submarine warfare was completely turned upside down in that manner.
June 15, 1940
: An extract from the Naval War Diary:
On the proposal of the Naval Operations Stan (SKL) the use of arms against Russian submarines south of the northern boundary of Oeland warning area is permitted immediately, and ruthless destruction is to be aimed at.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: It had happened just before, that is before the 15th of June, that a submarine had penetrated into the area of Bornholm, which is a long way to the west, and then had given wrong recognition signals when the patrol boat near Bornholm called it. If the wrong recognition signals are given, then it means that it could not be a German submarine but it must be a foreign one. In this case, the course of the ship and the location would bring us to the conclusion that it must be a Russian boat. Apart from that, Russian submarines at that time had repeatedly been located and reported off German ports—Memel, for instance, and others. Consequently, we had the impression that Russian submarines were already occupying positions outside German ports, either to lay mines or to attack merchant or warships. For that reason, as a precaution, I had to report this and I had to propose that we should take action against non-German submarines in these areas outside German ports. That suggestion was passed on the same day and this additional statement was made, which, in my opinion, was not necessary at all, but which prevented complications from arising. ....
June 15, 1940
I consider the first point right because it is always important to get in before one's opponent, and this was happening under certain definite conditions. The second point was ordered by the Fuehrer. Neither of the two points was ever carried out, and therefore it is useless, in my opinion, to discuss this matter. ...if they (Soviet subs) appeared in our waters to reconnoiter or to carry out some other war action, then I considered it right (to destroy them). I considered that better than that our ships should run into Russian mines.
: From an order from Keitel to Raeder:
Offensive action against submarines south of the line Memel to the southern tip of Oeland is authorized if the boats cannot be definitely identified as Swedish during the approach by German naval forces. The reason to be given up to 'B' Day (Barbarossa) is that our naval forces are believed to be dealing with penetrating British submarines.
June 22, 1940:
France signs an armistice with Germany. Under its terms, the French army is to be disbanded and two thirds of France is to be occupied by the Germans. The French are to be allowed to keep possession of their fleet, but it is confined to port.
August 1, 1940:
Raeder reports to Hitler that the earliest possible date for an invasion of Britain is September 15. Hitler gives Goering the go-ahead for Operation Eagle, the Luftwaffe bombing campaign against Britain. (Read)
August 2, 1940:
, the third of four German battleships, is commissioned.
August 17, 1940:
Germany declares a 'total blockade of Britain.'
August 19-29, 1940:
During this time period, seventeen ocean-going U-boats have made their way to the Atlantic. Thirteen smaller U-boats have left their base to prepare to lay mines in British waters and to patrol the North Sea.
September 1, 1940:
Doenitz is promoted to Vizeadmiral (Vice Admiral).
September 3, 1940:
President Roosevelt addresses congress:
The right to bases in Newfoundland and Bermuda are gifts-generously given and gladly received. The other bases mentioned have been acquired in exchange for 50 of our over-age destroyers. This is not inconsistent in any sense with our status of peace. Still less is it a threat against any nation. It is an epochal and far-reaching act of preparation for continental defense in the face of grave danger. Preparation for defense is an inalienable prerogative of a sovereign state. Under present circumstances this exercise of sovereign right is essential to the maintenance of our peace and safety.
September 7, 1940:
US State Department Circular:
The Secretary of State on September 6 sent the following instruction to diplomatic missions of the United States in all the other American republics. It is desired that you formally notify the Government to which you are accredited that the United States has acquired the right to lease naval and air bases in Newfoundland, and in the islands of Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and Antigua, and in British Guiana. The Government of the United States has taken this step to strengthen its ability not only to defend the United States but in order the more effectively to cooperate with the other American republics in the common defense of the hemisphere. The resulting facilities at these bases will, of course, be made available alike to all American republics on the fullest cooperative basis for the common defense of the hemisphere and in entire harmony with the spirit of the pronouncements made and the understandings reached at the conferences of Lima, Panama, and Habana.
September 17, 1940:
Hitler postpones Operation Sealion.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: In the course of the month of September we still believed that the landing (in England) could be carried through. As a necessary condition the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and I, too, always insisted—and he realized this fully—that for a landing air superiority would have to be on our side; and therefore we were waiting to see whether we could actually produce this air superiority in time for the landing, which due to weather conditions could not be carried out later than the beginning of October. If it were not possible by then, it would have to be postponed until May of the following year.
September 26, 1940:
It developed that air superiority could not be produced to the necessary extent; consequently it was said that the landing was to be postponed until the spring of the following year. Further preparations were to be taken and they actually were taken. But in the course of the winter the idea of a landing was completely abandoned, and Hitler decreed that preparations in the harbors along the Channel should be carried on only to such an extent as would give the British the impression that this landing actually was to take place. In September I had the impression that Hitler no longer had any great interest in this landing and that in his own mind he was completely committed to the Russian campaign in conjunction with which he, of course, could not carry out the landing in England.
From official notes of the German naval war staff:
Naval Supreme Commander with the Fuehrer. Naval Supreme Commander presents his opinion about the situation: The Suez Canal must be captured with German assistance. From Suez, advance through Palestine and Syria; then Turkey in our power. The Russian problem will then assume a different appearance. Russia is fundamentally frightened of Germany. It is questionable whether action against Russia from the north will then be still necessary.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: May I first remind you that in the summer of 1940, that is to say, July, August, and September, we in the Navy were very much occupied with preparations for a landing in England; therefore it never entered our heads that there could be any plans for action in another direction. In August I heard from some Army office, possibly that of the Commander-in-Chief, that considerable troop transports were going to the East. I asked Hitler what that meant and he told me it was a grandiose camouflage for his intentions to invade England. He knew that I would be against it right away if he were to speak about an enterprise against Russia.
In September—I cannot recall the date exactly—he finally admitted to me that he had certain intentions against Russia. In September I reported to him at least twice, my more important report was 26 September, when I did everything I could to dissuade him from any undertaking against Russia. In that report which I made in the presence of Field Marshal Keitel and Colonel General Jodl I emphasized particularly the strategic military side; first, because I could do that in all clarity in the presence of other people, and then because I assumed that such military reasons, that is, the possibility of failure of an operation against Russia at a time when the struggle was on against England, would impress him and dissuade him from that plan.
On 26 September, after making this official report, I asked for a personal conference alone with Hitler. Keitel and Jodl can testify that I always did this when I wanted to discuss something particularly important with the Fuehrer, where I had to go beyond the conventional procedure and which I could only do if nobody else was present. One could tell Hitler a lot of things if one was alone with him, but one could not make any such statements in a larger group. Field Marshal Keitel and Colonel General Jodl know that very well, particularly well, because they were the ones who in such cases always had to leave the room.
On that occasion I gave Hitler my views in detail; first, that it was not possible to break the pact myth Russia, that it would be morally wrong, that it would serve no purpose because the pact gave us great advantages and was a basis for a sound policy for Germany later on. Then I told him that under no circumstances could he start a two-front war, as it was he who had always emphasized that he would not repeat the stupidity of the government of 1914 and that, in my opinion, it could never be justified. Then I put to him again the difference of the forces on each side, the absolute necessity for the Navy to concentrate on the war against England and particularly at that moment when all resources were strained to the utmost to carry out the invasion.
On that day I had the impression that Hitler was inclined to listen to my argument because later, or the next day, the naval adjutant, Kapitaen Von Puttkamer, reported to me that Hitler had spoken in very much the same vein as I had spoken, and had appreciated my argument. That went on for several months. I presented many such reports, returning always with the same arguments. I believed again in November that I had been successful. To my utter surprise, however, on 18 December, Directive Number 21 (Barbarossa) came out, which dealt with the case of a war with the Soviet Union before the termination of the war against England. It is true, of course, that it was a directive for an eventuality. .... I was always in favor of the Bismarck policy, that we should have a common policy with Russia. ....
In September 1940 for the first time I heard certain statements from Hitler himself that he was thinking of a war with Russia, given certain circumstances. Even in the directive he mentioned one of these prerequisites, one of these circumstances. He did not say to me at that time that in any circumstances he wanted to wage war, but that we had to be prepared, as it says in Paragraph 1, that before crushing England we might have to fight against Russia. And from September on I began to make objections to him. .... But in spite of that, as the highest man of the Navy, I was not in a position to hold out the threat of resignation at that moment. I was too much of a soldier to be able to do that, to be able to leave the Navy at a moment like that.
From Schulte-Monting's IMT testimony: Raeder informed me fully, because the prospect of war with Russia was much too serious to be taken lightly. Raeder opposed most energetically any plan for a war against Russia; and, I should like to say, for moral reasons because Raeder was of the opinion that the pact with Russia should not be broken as long as the other side gave no cause for it. That, as far as Raeder knew, was not the case in October. That economic treaty—as we called it at that time—to our knowledge was about 90 percent at the expense of the Navy.
September 27, 1940:
We gave Russia one heavy cruiser, heavy artillery for battleships, artillery installations, submarine engines, submarine installations, and valuable optical instruments for use on submarines. Besides, Raeder was of the opinion that the theater of operations should not be allowed to be carried into the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea was our drill field, I might say. All our recruits were trained there; all our submarine training took place in the Baltic Sea. We had already partly stripped the Baltic coast of batteries and personnel for the purpose of protecting the Norwegian and the French coasts. We had very small oil reserves at our disposal, the synthetic oil production was not yet in full swing. The Navy had to turn over some of its reserves to industry and agriculture. Consequently, Raeder was strongly opposed to waging war against Russia.
An extract from the official publication Das Archiv
on the Doenitz's promotion to vice admiral:
In 4 years of untiring and, in the fullest sense of the word, uninterrupted work of training, he succeeds in developing the young U-boat armed personnel and material till it is a weapon of a striking power unexpected even by the experts. More than 3 million gross tons of enemy shipping sunk in only 1 year, achieved with only a few boats, speak better than words of the merits of this man.
September 27, 1940:
Nazi-Germany, Italy and Japan sign a formal alliance called the Tripartite Pact, a 10 year military and economic alliance forming the foundation of the Axis alliance.
September 27, 1940:
From a statement by US Secretary of State Hull:
The reported agreement of alliance (Tripartite Pact) does not, in the view of the Government of the United States, substantially alter a situation which has existed for several years. Announcement of the alliance merely makes clear to all a relationship which has long existed ... to which this Government has repeatedly called attention. That such an agreement has been in process of conclusion has been well known for some time, and that fact has been fully taken into account by the Government of the United States in the determining of this country's policies.
September 29, 1940:
FDR delivers a Fireside Chat to the American people:
For, on September 27th, 1940, this year, by an agreement signed in Berlin, three powerful nations, two in Europe and one in Asia, joined themselves together in the threat that if the United States of America interfered with or blocked the expansion program of these three nations—a program aimed at world control—they would unite in ultimate action against the United States. The Nazi masters of Germany have made it clear that they intend not only to dominate all life and thought in their own country, but also to enslave the whole of Europe, and then to use the resources of Europe to dominate the rest of the world...
October 16-19, 1940:
The first major Wolf Pack attack occurs as convoy SC7 is repeatedly attacked by a pack of seven U-boats, sinking 20 ships out of 34 in the convoy. The very next night, convoy HX79 is attacked with further losses of 14 ships, making a total of 34 ships in 48 hours.
October 28, 1940:
Hans Jemisch's U-32
sinks the ocean liner RMS Empress of Britain
while traveling along the west coast of Ireland. The Empress of Britain
is the largest ship sunk by a U-boat in WW2.
October 29, 1940:
US Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, draws the first number in the first peacetime military draft in US history. Note: Stimson, a Republican, had been Taft's Secretary of War, Governor of the Philippines under Coolidge, and Secretary of State under Hoover.
October 30, 1940:
To support the Greek government, the British send an expeditionary force to Crete and other Greek islands. In addition, the Soviet government sends 134 fighter aircraft to the Greeks to help stem the Italian invasion.
November 11-12, 1940
Battle of Taranto:
The British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious
demonstrates the vulnerability of moored capital ships to surprise attack by carrier-based aviation by attacking the Italian fleet at Regia Marina naval base in the harbor of Taranto. The enemy fleet is devastated as a consequence of the attack by a mere 12 British Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers launched from the Illustrious. At a total cost of 2 aircraft destroyed, 2 pilots killed and two captured, the British kill 59 Italian sailors and wound 600, sink 3 battleships, and severely damage 2 other battleships and a light cruiser. Note: The Japanese planning staff will study the Taranto attack intensively while masterminding their attack on Pearl Harbor.
November 12-14, 1940:
Soviet Foreign Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov travels to Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Adolf Hitler.
November 14, 1940:
From official notes of the German naval war staff:
Naval Supreme Commander with the Fuehrer. Fuehrer is 'still inclined' to instigate the conflict with Russia. Naval Supreme Commander recommends putting it off until the time after the victory over England, since there is heavy strain on German forces and the end of warfare is not in sight.
December 13, 1940:
From Direction Number 20 - Operation Marita:
The result of the battles in Albania is not yet decisive. Because of a dangerous situation in Albania it is doubly necessary that the British endeavor be foiled to create airbases under the protection of a Balkan front, which would be dangerous above all to Italy as well as to the Rumanian oil fields. 2. My plan therefore is (a) to from a slowly increasing task force in Southern Rumania within the next months. (b) After the setting in of favorable weather, probably in March, to send this task force for the occupation of the Aegean North coast by way of Bulgaria, and if necessary to occupy the entire Greek mainland ('Operation Marita'). The support of Bulgaria is to be expected.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: In the beginning I had but little knowledge of the political intentions of the Fuehrer as far as Greece was concerned, but I did know of his Directive Number 20, dated 13 December 1940. .... The next time I heard about these things again was when I heard that the British had landed in southern Greece on 3 March. We learned that on about 5 or 6 March. For this reason I asked the Fuehrer that he occupy all of Greece in order to prevent the British from attacking us from the rear, by air, and from erecting air bases, all of which would hamper the conduct of our war not only in Greece but also in the eastern Mediterranean.
December 18, 1940:
The fact was that when a political decision had been made by Hitler of his own accord and without having consulted anyone, I, as Chief of the Naval Operations Staff, always had to draw my strategic conclusions from this political decision and then had to make to him my proposals on naval and on other warfare as far as they concerned me. Since in December he had already considered the possibility that all of Greece would have to be occupied, the case had now actually arisen for me to make this proposal to him for the reason I have already mentioned. When I said "all of Greece," that implied to me and the Naval Command the entire Greek coast, where the British forces might land.
Hitler gives orders for military preparations against the USSR. From Directive No. 21:
Operation Barbarossa. The German Armed Forces must be prepared, even before the conclusion of the war against England, to crush Soviet Russia in a rapid campaign. .... General Intention: The bulk of the Russian Army stationed in western Russia will be destroyed by daring operations led by deeply penetrating armored spearheads. Russian forces still capable of giving battle will be prevented from withdrawing into the depths of Russia. The enemy will then be energetically pursued and a line will be reached from which the Russian Air Force can no longer attack German territory...
From Raeder's IMT testimony: Such directives were drafted in the OKW after the Fuehrer had taken his political decision, in the Armed Forces Operations Staff; and in that Armed Forces Operations Staff there was also one naval officer and one or more Air Force officers who, under the Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Stay, dealt with matters concerning the Navy and Air Force when such directives were being drafted. The directive then went to the Commanders-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and they were ordered, for their part, to work out and present suggestions for the execution of the orders of the Fuehrer. They had no influence on the directive itself and did not see it at all beforehand.
May I add one more thing? I have been accused by the Prosecution that I used my influence with the Fuehrer not for moral and ethical reasons but that I tried in a cynical way first to settle the account with England and then to assail Russia. I have said before that I told all my reasons to the Fuehrer whenever I had the chance, but that I could not do that in a public meeting or in the presence of other people, nor could I write it down in my war diary, because the sharp words which fell there must not become known to other people by means of the war diary.
I want to point to Document C-170...which dates from 23 August 1939 to 22 June 1941. It is a compilation of many excerpts from the War Diary of the Naval Operations Staff—and from my minutes of conferences with Hitler in which the Russian question was dealt with. This is not a literal reproduction of my statements or word for word excerpts from the War Diary, but it is a summary of excerpts by the naval archivist, Admiral Assmann. I will not read details from these many entries, but I should like to point out that precisely this document, C-170, shows in a large number of entries contained therein that, since the beginning of the war in 1939, I continuously used my influence with the Fuehrer to maintain good relations with Russia for the reasons which I have previously mentioned. It would lead us too far if I were to start quoting several entries here. But the document, I would like to emphasize, is entirely convincing. ....
We had the first conference in January...I had reported to the Fuehrer on 4 February about our intentions and in March the Navy began with certain preparations. I have said already that the Navy throughout the first period was hardly concerned with major operations, but only with the cutting off of the Gulf of Finland by mines and light naval forces. I do not know whether that is in Directive 21 or somewhere else but the Fuehrer, at my urgent request, had ordered that the center of gravity of the naval warfare should still be in the direction of England. Consequently, we could use only relatively small forces for the war against Russia. ....
May I make a brief remark on this directive to the effect that yesterday I believe you made a mistake when you said that this directive was signed by Hitler, Keitel, and Jodl. This was the copy of the operational staff which Hitler had signed; but Keitel and Jodl only countersigned. Thus there is no question of a signature of these two; when such directives were issued they were signed only by Hitler, and the others could merely countersign.
From Schulte-Monting's IMT testimony: After the receipt of Directive 21, called Barbarossa, Raeder approached Hitler again with reference to the war against Russia, and also put down his thoughts in a memorandum. He tried to convince Hitler of the following: Poland had been crushed, France had been occupied, and, for military reasons, an invasion of England was out of the question. He said clearly that now the time had arrived when the further conduct of the war could not be decisive on the Continent, but in the Atlantic. Therefore, he told him that he had to concentrate all forces at his disposal on one objective: To hit the strategic points of the Empire, especially the supply lines to the British Isles in order to compel England to sue for negotiations or, if possible, to make peace. He suggested, as has been mentioned before, that the policy of peace with Norway should be pursued, peace with France, and closer cooperation with the Russian Navy, such as was provided for in the economic treaty, and the repurchase of submarine equipment or submarines. He said that the decision or the date for a decision no longer rested with us because we did not have the necessary sea power and that in case of a long duration of the war the danger of the participation of the United States had also to be considered; that therefore the war could not be decided on the European continent and least of all in the vastness of the Russian steppes. That point of view he continued to present to Hitler as long as he was in office. ....
December 19, 1940:
Raeder, as a matter of principle, never criticized the political leadership in the presence of the gentlemen of the Naval Operations Staff or the front commanders. Therefore, he did not speak to me and the others about the private conversations which he had with Hitler, except when it was necessary for military reasons. .... After he (Raeder) had made his report (to Hitler) at that time, he returned and said, "I believe I have talked him out of his plan (Barbarossa)." And at first we did have that impression because in the following months there were no more conferences about it, to my knowledge, not even with the General Staff.
From the SKL War Diary:
News from the Neutrals—Spain—According to a report from the naval attache, Spanish fishing vessel was sunk by a submarine of unknown nationality between Las Palmas and Cape Juby. In the rescue boats the crew was subjected to machine gun fire. Three men badly wounded. Landed at Las Palmas on 18 December. Italians suspected. (Possibility it might have been U-37).
December 20 1940:
From the SKL War Diary:
Commander, Submarine Fleet, will be informed of Spanish report regarding sinking of Spanish fishing vessel by submarine of unknown nationality on 16 December between Las Palmas and Cape Juby, and requested to conduct an investigation. On the responsibility of the Naval Operations Staff it is confirmed to our naval attache in Madrid that, regarding the sinking, there is no question of a German submarine.
December 21, 1940:
From the SKL War Diary:
U-37 reports: a torpedo fired at a tanker of the Kopbard type (7329) ran off in a circle and probably hit an Amphitrite submarine in the tanker's convoy. Tanker burned out. Spanish steamer St. Carlos (300) without distinguishing marks, through concentrated gunfire. Nine torpedoes left. Then U-37 torpedoed French tanker Rhone and the submarine Sfax and sank the Spanish fishing vessel... We shall continue to maintain to the outside world that there is no question of a German or Italian submarine in the sea area in question being responsible for the sinkings.
December 27, 1940:
From official notes of the German naval war staff:
Naval Supreme Commander with the Fuehrer. Naval Supreme Commander emphasizes again that strict concentration of our entire war effort against England as our main enemy is the most urgent need of the hour. On the one hand, England has gained strength by the unfortunate Italian conduct of the war in the eastern Mediterranean and by the increasing American support. On the other hand, however; she can be hit mortally by a strangulation of her ocean traffic which is already taking effect. What is being done for submarine and naval air force construction is much too little. Our entire war potential must work for the conduct of the war against England; thus for the Navy and Air Force, every dispersion of strength prolongs the war and endangers the final success. Naval Supreme Commander voices serious objections against Russia campaign before the defeat of England.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: I should like to say in this connection that despite the fact that the directive had been issued on 18 December, I made a comprehensive report at the end of December, as can be seen from Document C-170, which I mentioned yesterday on several occasions, in order to convince the Fuehrer of the wrongness of this decision. This shows that I have gone very far, for when the Fuehrer had issued a directive, even if it applied only to a hypothetical case, it was generally impossible to approach him with basic considerations against this directive. Everything else I mentioned already yesterday.
December 27, 1940:
From a directive signed by Jodl: On 30th December, 1939, according to a report of the Oberbefehlshaberder Marine, the Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces decided that:
(1) Greek merchant ships in the area around England declared by USA to be a barred zone are to be treated as enemy vessels.
(2) In the Bristol Channel, all shipping may be attacked without warning where the impression of a mining incident can be created. Both measures are authorized to come into effect immediately.
(Pencil note on document:) And to (1) Attack must be carried out without being seen. The denial of the sinking of these steamships in case the expected protests are made must be possible.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: At that time we had received a large number of intelligence reports from our intelligence service that Greek shipping companies apparently with the knowledge of the Greek Government were allowing Greek ships to be chartered by England under favorable conditions. Therefore, these Greek ships were in the service of England and thus were to be treated in the same way as we were treating the English merchantmen. These intelligence reports were confirmed later on to an even greater degree than had been the case in the beginning.
January 30, 1940:
Hitler speaks in Berlin:
We go into the new year with a fighting force armed as never before in our German history. The number of our divisions on land has been enormously increased. Pay has been increased, the gigantic unique experience of war among the leaders and the file has been put to use. The equipment has been improved—our enemies will see how it has been improved. In the spring our U-boat war will begin at sea, and they will notice that we have not been sleeping...
February 9, 1941:
Churchill broadcasts an address to the British people:
I hope you will believe me when I say that I have complete confidence in the Royal Navy, aided by the Air Force of the Coastal Command, and that in one way or another I am sure they will be able to meet every changing phase of this truly mortal struggle, and that sustained by the courage of our merchant seamen, and of the dockers and workmen of all our ports, we shall outwit, outmaneuver, outfight and outlast the worst that the enemy's malice and ingenuity can contrive...
February 24, 1941
Hitler speaks in Munich:
I am not one of those who see such a war coming and start whining about it. I have said and done all that I could; I have made proposal after proposal to Britain; likewise to France. These proposals were always ridiculed—rejected with scorn. However, when I saw that the other side intended to fight, I naturally did that which as a National Socialist of the early days, I did once before: I forged a powerful weapon of defense. And, just as of old, I proclaimed that we should be not merely strong enough to stand the blows of others but strong enough to deal blows in return. I built up the German armed forces as a military instrument of State policy, so that if war were inevitable, these forces could deliver crushing blows...
February 25, 1941:
, the last of four German battleships, is commissioned. She will never fire against an enemy ship, but spend most of WW2 in various bases in German-occupied Norway.
March 5, 1941:
From a Top Secret order signed by Keitel, Chief of the O.K.W.: Basic Order No. 24 regarding Collaboration with Japan:
The Fuehrer had issued the following order regarding collaboration with Japan: 1. It must be the aim of the collaboration based on the Three-Power Pact, to induce Japan, as soon as possible, to take active measures in the Fast East."Strong British forces will thereby be tied down, and the center of gravity of the interests of the United States of America will be diverted to the Pacific. The sooner she intervenes, the greater will be the prospects of success for Japan in view of the still undeveloped preparedness for war, on the part of her adversaries. The 'Barbarossa' operation will create particularly favorable political and military prerequisites for this. (marginal note:) Slightly exaggerated.
2. To prepare the way for the collaboration it is essential to strengthen the Japanese military potential with all means available. For this purpose, the High Commands of the branches of the Armed Forces will comply in a comprehensive and generous manner with Japanese desires for information regarding German war and combat experience, and for assistance in military economics and in technical matters. Reciprocity is desirable, but this factor should not stand in the way of negotiations. Priority should naturally be given to those Japanese requests which would have the most immediate application in waging war. In special cases the Fuehrer reserves the decisions to himself.
3. The harmonizing of the operational plans of the two parties is the responsibility of the Navy High Command. This will be subject to the following guiding principles: (a) The common aim of the conduct of war is to be stressed as forcing England to the ground quickly, thereby keeping the United States out of the war. Beyond this, Germany has no political, military, or economic interests in the Far East which would give occasion for any reservations with regard to Japanese intentions. (b) The great successes achieved by Germany in mercantile warfare make it appear particularly suitable to employ strong Japanese forces for the same purpose. In this connection every opportunity to support German mercantile warfare must be exploited. (c) The raw material situation of the Pact Powers demands that Japan should acquire possession of those territories which it needs for the continuation of the war, especially if the United States intervenes. Rubber shipments must be carried out even after the entry of Japan into the war, since they are of vital importance to Germany. (d) The seizure of Singapore as the key British position in the Far East would mean a decisive success for the entire conduct of war of the Three Powers.
In addition, attacks on other systems of bases of British naval power—extending to those of American naval power only if the entry of the United States into the war cannot be prevented—will result in weakening the enemy's system of power in that region and also, just like the attack on sea communications, in tying down substantial forces of all kinds (Australia). A date for the beginning of operational discussions cannot yet be fixed. 4. In the Military Commissions to be formed in accordance with the Three-Power Pact, only such questions are to be dealt with as equally concern the three participating powers. These will include primarily the problems of economic warfare. The working out of the details is the responsibility of the Main Commission, with the co-operation of the Armed Forces High Command. 5. The Japanese must not be given any intimation of the 'Barbarossa' operations.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: First of all, the political decision by Hitler, the head of the State; then the directive of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces to the Armed Forces; then the conclusions drawn by the commanders-in-chief of the separate branches of the Wehrmacht. So, after I received the directive of 5 March, I had to contemplate how Japan, after entering the war, could strategically be used with the best results. And that depended on how we could most effectively wound our main opponent, England, on the sea. In this connection I had to insist most urgently that Japan move against Singapore since there were also circles who were of the opinion that Japan should attack Vladivostok, which would have been a grave mistake. England's power center in East Asia had to be attacked. But the very fact that I believed that the capture of Singapore would cause the United States of America to shy away from the war occasioned this proposal of mine, and not the opposite.
March 7, 1941: U-47
, commanded by top ace Guenther Prien, hero of Scapa Flow, is sunk by the British Destroyer HMS Wolverine
March 9, 1941:
The Italians launch a full-scale counterattack across the entire front in Greece. It fails.
March 11, 1941:
Thinly slicing US 'neutrality,' the US Congress passes the Lend-Lease Bill, which enables Britain and her Allies to borrow money to buy additional food and arms. A time limit is placed on the operation of the act¡ªuntil June 1943. A motion originally passed in the House forbidding US warships to give protection to convoys of foreign ships is defeated. Also to be allowed are transfers of ships to other countries solely on Presidential authority without reference to Congress.
March 16, 1941:
The Kriegsmarine loses two of its most successful U-boat commanders, Kretschmer (U-99
) and Schepke (U-100
) to British escorts from convoy HX112.
March 17, 1941:
The HMS Vanoc
utilizes Type 286 radar—able to detect surfaced U-boats—for the first time to detect and sink U-100
March 18, 1941:
Notes from a meeting between Raeder and Hitler:
Japan must take steps to seize Singapore as soon as possible, since the opportunity will never again be as favorable (whole English fleet contained; un-preparedness of USA for war against Japan; inferiority of US fleet vis-a-vis the Japanese). Japan is indeed making preparations for this action, but according to all declarations made by Japanese officers she will carry it out only if Germany proceeds to land in England. Germany must therefore concentrate all her efforts on spurring Japan to act immediately. If Japan has Singapore all other East Asiatic questions regarding the USA and England are thereby solved (Guam, Philippines, Borneo, Dutch East Indies). Japan wishes, if possible, to avoid war against the USA. She can do so if she determinedly takes Singapore as soon as possible. .... The Commander-in-Chief of the Navy requests confirmation of the fact that the whole of Greece is to be occupied even in the case of a peaceful solution. The Fuehrer: Complete occupation is a stipulation for any settlement.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: It is entirely clear that, since I was involved in a naval war with England with my small German Navy, I did not want, under any circumstances, to have America on my neck as well; and it has been discussed here repeatedly that my most urgent effort during the entire first few years of the war was to avoid, under all circumstances, being involved with the United States. Admiral Wagner described here in detail the limitations which I had imposed on the German Navy in order to prevent any clashes with the United States. I imposed limitations which actually I could hardly justify when I carried on U-boat warfare with such relatively small means.
On the other hand, the United States from the end of 1940 on, at the latest, and during the entire year of 1941, exerted pressure on us in our naval warfare wherever possible and committed actions which could be interpreted as definitely not neutral. I remind you merely of the repairing of British warships in the United States, something which up until that time was completely impossible and unheard of; and Roosevelt's orders to shoot given in July and in September 1941; attacks by the American destroyers Greer and Kearney in the Atlantic on our U-boats. In two cases U-boats were pursued with depth charges for 2 hours until finally they surfaced and fired, in one case damaging one destroyer. Despite all this, in June 1941 I reported to Hitler that we were continuing not to disturb the merchantmen of the United States in any way-with the result that United States merchantmen were crossing the Atlantic completely unmolested on sea lanes of their own choosing, were in a position to give reports about our U-boats and our sea warfare without our preventing them from doing so; because of this the British were in a position to camouflage their ships as American ships. That they did. The first time our pocket battleship Admiral Scheer, while crossing the Atlantic, searched a ship flying the American flag it turned out to be the British ship Canadian Cruiser. Despite all this I recommended to the Fuehrer, and he fully approved my suggestion, that we should take no measures against American ships. That we did not go to Halifax to lay mines Admiral Wagner has already mentioned. I need not mention that any further. ....
I should like to picture very briefly the development which led to this proposal. This was not anything that I did on my own initiative, but rather at the beginning of the year 1941 political negotiations were carried on with Japan partly by the Fuehrer and partly by the Foreign Minister. I was not even called into these negotiations, and I must say regrettably so, for at these negotiations many things were discussed which were not correct. However on the other hand this shows again that there can be no talk about a conspiracy. Contact was made, and then the visit of the Foreign Minister Matsuoka took place, I believe, in March. On the basis of this entire development the Fuehrer, on 5 March 1941, issued Directive Number 24.
From Schulte-Monting's IMT testimony: The menace of an occupation from the sea or from the air, or the formation of a Balkan front against Germany, or the menace from the air to the oil fields, had to be eliminated under all circumstances. May I only remind you of the Salonika operation in the first World War. I believe that was a similar situation. ...
March 19, 1941:
Fame requires achievements, and I do not know what the Navy could have conquered in the Mediterranean. We did not have a single man or a single ship down there; but Raeder, of course, for the strategic reasons I have mentioned, had to advise Hitler in that direction. .... We had been informed that in 1939, certain Greek political and military circles had been in the closest connection with the Allied General Staff. We knew that Greek merchantmen were in British service. Therefore we were compelled to consider the Greek merchantmen which sailed through the prohibited zone to England as enemy ships. And, I believe, in the beginning of 1940, or the middle of 1940, we received information that the Allies intended to land in Greece or to establish a Balkan front against Germany.
From official notes of the German naval war staff:
In case of Barbarossa, Supreme Naval Commander describes the occupation of Murmansk as an urgent request of the Navy; Chief of Supreme Command Armed Forces considers compliance very difficult.
March 19, 1941:
Churchill forms the 'Battle of the Atlantic' committee in order to afford the highest level of coordination against the U-boat menace.
March 19, 1941:
From official notes of the German naval war staff: In case of Barbarossa, Supreme Naval Commander describes the occupation of Murmansk as an urgent request of the Navy; Chief of Supreme Command Armed Forces considers compliance very difficult.
March 27, 1941:
Hitler decides to invade Yugoslavia.
March 29, 1941:
From notes of a conversation between Matsuoka and Von Ribbentrop:
The Reich Foreign Minister again referred to the problem of Singapore. Because of the fear expressed by Japan that there might be U-boat attacks from the Philippines and that the British Mediterranean Fleet and Home Fleet would join the attack he had discussed the situation once more with Admiral Raeder. The latter told him that the British fleet would be so completely occupied in the home waters and in the Mediterranean this year that she would not be able to dispatch even a single ship to the Far East. The American U-boats were described by Admiral Raeder as being so inferior that Japan would not have to concern herself about them at all.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: I can only confirm that I never discussed such questions with Herr Von Ribbentrop, for unfortunately there was no connection between the Foreign Office and the High Command of the Navy especially since the Fuehrer had forbidden that any information be given by the Foreign Office to the military authorities. I would never have made such statements since they were in direct opposition to my own opinion, and especially since in this case I had no basis for any such statements.
April 4, 1941
: From the German Admiralty to all ships at sea: American neutrality zone from now on to be observed south of 20 degrees North only at a distance of 300 nautical miles from the coast (full recognition of the neutral zone). For reasons of foreign policy, the hitherto existing limitation will for the time being continue to be observed north of the above-mentioned line.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: At that time, in March 1941, and on the 1st of April and the following dates in 1941, a whole number of intensification's were introduced by the United States, which I mentioned this morning, from the document which I had before me. Therefore, it was clear that I, on behalf of the Naval Operations Staff, which was supposed to conduct the most effective naval war, urged that also with respect to the United States those steps should be taken which were permissible according to international law, and that we should start slowly. Those steps included:
April 6, 1941:
First: that we should no longer respect that 300-mile limit, but go as far as the 3-mile limit, where according to existing international law, it was possible to attack. That is to say, not against international law, but it was just discontinuing certain favorable conditions which we had granted the United States. ....
I only wanted to say that during the hearing of Grossadmiral Doenitz the Prosecution demanded of us that we should not treat certain neutrals better than others, but we should treat them all alike; that is to say in plain language, we must sink them all, no matter whether we wanted to do so or not, and of course we were not bound to do that. The second thing: it was a matter of course that a thoroughly justified suggestion on my part from the point of view of the Naval Operations Staff had been rejected by the Fuehrer if, with regard to the political situation, he decided that at that time he did not desire to adopt a more severe attitude towards the United States.
On Palm Sunday, Hitler invades Yugoslavia and Greece.
April 20, 1941:
From official notes of the German naval war staff:
Naval Supreme Commander with Fuehrer. Navy Supreme Commander asks about result of Matsuoka's visit and evaluation of Japanese-Russian pact....Fuehrer has informed Matsuoka 'that Russia will not be touched if she behaves in a friendly manner according to the treaty. Otherwise, he reserves action for himself.' Japan-Russia pact has been concluded in agreement with Germany and is to prevent Japan from advancing against Vladivostok and to cause her to attack Singapore.
April 24, 1941:
Raeder receives a 'donation' of 250,000 marks from Hitler for his 65th birthday.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: I received from Hitler in the autumn of 1939 in addition to the Golden Emblem, which I have already mentioned, the Knight's Order to the Iron Cross. Furthermore, in the year 1941 on the occasion of my 65th birthday I received a donation of 250,000 marks. This donation was given to me by Hitler through an adjutant and in connection with that he sent a document. When I thanked him on the very first occasion, he told me that he was giving me this donation as a means of decoration in the same manner as the former rulers of Prussia had given their generals similar donations, whether as sums of money or as a country estate; then he emphasized that Field Marshals Von Hindenburg and Von Mackensen had received donations from him as well.
May 2, 1941:
From a memorandum concerning the Case Barbarossa:
Matter for Chief; 2 copies; first copy to files... Memorandum about the result of today's discussion with the state secretaries about Barbarossa. 1. The War can only be continued if all Armed Forces are fed by Russia in the third year of war. 2. There is no doubt that as a result many millions of people will be starved to death if we take out of the country the things necessary for us.
May 8, 1941:
During an attack against convoy OB318, U-110
¡ªcommanded by Julius Lemp¡ªis captured after an attack by the HMS Bulldog, HMS Broadway
, and the corvette HMS Aubretia
. Unfortunately for the Germans, the scuttling charges fail to detonate, allowing the British destroyer HMS Bulldog
to put across a boarding party. The Enigma code machine and accompanying material is taken after the U-boats crew is taken below decks aboard HMS Bulldog
. The British put U-110
under tow, but the damaged U-boat later sinks.
May 8, 1941:
The German raider Penguin
is sunk by HMS Cornwall
off the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean.
May 17, 1941 Operation Rheinuebung:
The German battleship Bismarck
and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen
leave Gotenhafen in the Baltic to begin operations against British convoys in the Atlantic.
May 21, 1941:
The SS Robin Moor,
a US merchant steamship carrying nine officers, 29 crewmen, eight passengers, and a commercial cargo from New York to Mozambique via South Africa, is sunk by U-69
. Although the Robin Moor
was flying the flag of a neutral country (the US is still not at war with anyone), her mate was told by the U-boat crew that they had decided to 'let us have it.' After a brief period for the ship's crew and passengers to board her four lifeboats, the U-boat fired a torpedo and then shelled the vacated ship. Once the ship sank beneath the waves, the submarine's crew pulled up to Captain W.E. Myers' lifeboat, left him with four tins of ersatz bread and two tins of butter, and explained that the ship had been sunk because she was carrying supplies to Germany's enemy.
May 24, 1941
The German battleship Bismarck
, supported by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen
, sinks the British battle cruiser Hood
after firing only three salvoes. There are only 3 survivors out of a crew of 1,421. The Prince of Wales
is also damaged and forced to break off the action.
May 26, 1941
British flying boat spots the Bismarck
at 10:36 AM. Swordfish Torpedo-bombers from the Ark Royal
score hits on the Bismarck
, disabling her steering gear and rendering her un-maneuverable. This will enable the British destroyers to attack after dark.
May 26, 1941
The crippled Bismarck
is relentlessly bombarded by dozens of British warships, including the battleships Rodney
and King George V
. Once her guns are silenced, she is sunk by torpedoes from the cruiser Dorsetshire
. Only 110 survive out of a crew of 2,300.
May 27, 1941:
HX129 convoy becomes the first to be escorted 'end-to-end' across the Atlantic, with the help of the Canadian Navy.
May 27, 1941
: FDR delivers a Fireside Chat:
Since 1799, 142 years ago, when our infant Navy made the West Indies and the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico safe for American ships, since 1804 and 1805 when we made all peaceful commerce safe from the depredations of the Barbary pirates; since the War of 1812, which was fought for the preservation of sailors' rights; since 1867, when our sea power made it possible for the Mexicans to expel the French Army of Louis Napoleon, we have striven and fought in defense of freedom of the seas—freedom of the seas for our own shipping, for the commerce of our sister Republics, for the right of all nations to use the highways of world trade—and for our own safety. During the first World War we were able to escort merchant ships by the use of small cruisers and gunboats and destroyers; and (this) that type, (of) called a convoy, was effective against submarines. In this second World War, however, the problem is greater. It is different because the attack on the freedom of the seas is now fourfold: first—the improved submarine; second—the much greater use of the heavily armed raiding cruiser or the hit-and-run battleship; third, the bombing airplane, which is capable of destroying merchant ships seven or eight hundred miles from its nearest base; and fourth -- the destruction of merchant ships...
June 6, 1941
: Summary of a Memorandum of the Chief of Naval Operations:
Observation on the strategic situation in the Eastern Mediterranean after the Balkan campaign, and the occupation of Crete, and further conduct of the War. .... The memorandum points with impressive clarity to the decisive aims of the war in the Near East, which have been made tangible by the successes in the Aegean area. The memorandum emphasizes that the offensive utilization of the present favorable situation must take place with the greatest acceleration and energy, before England has again strengthened her position in the Near East with help from the United States of America. The memorandum, however, realizes the unalterable fact that the campaign against Russia would be opened very shortly, demands that the undertaking 'Barbarossa' which, because of the magnitude of its aims, naturally stands in the foreground of the operational plans of the Armed Forces leadership, must under no circumstances lead to an abandonment, diminishing or delay of the conduct of the War in the Eastern Mediterranean.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: There were some questions of a loan (from the US to the USSR) without interest, or some such thing. Very probably I did speak to Hitler about it, but I cannot tell you what his attitude was. I can say only that all these measures at that time in no way deterred us from the course we had pursued until then. In June I had the conversation with Hitler at which I explained to him that up to that time we had allowed American warships to go completely unmolested, and that we would continue to do so in spite of the considerable disadvantages entailed which I mentioned recently.
June 15, 1941: From official notes of the German naval war staff:
On the proposal of Chief Naval Operations...use of arms against Russian submarines south of the northern boundary of the land warning area is permitted immediately; ruthless destruction is to be aimed at.
June 15, 1941:
From a letter by Keitel:
Offensive action against enemy submarines in the Baltic Sea. To: High Command of the Navy—OKM (SKL). Offensive action against submarines south of the line Memel-southern tip of land is authorized if the boats cannot be definitely identified as Swedish during the approach by German naval forces. The reason to be given up to B-day is that our naval forces believed to be dealing with penetrating British submarines.
June 21, 1941:
From the log book of U-boat U-71
Sighted lifeboat of the Norwegian motor tanker John P. Pederson drifting under sail. Three survivors were lying exhausted under a tarpaulin and only showed themselves as the U-boat was moving away again. They stated that their ship had been torpedoed 28 days before. I turned down their request to be taken aboard, provisioned the boat with food and water and gave them the course and distance to the Icelandic coast. Boat and crew were in a state that, in view of the prevailing weather, offered hardly any prospects of rescue.
From Schulte-Monting's IMT testimony: I observe that the commanding officer did what he could, in view of the weather which he described when he said that in view of the bad weather he could not rescue them. He threw provisions to them in a sack and gave them the course to the coast. I do not know what there is about that that is inhumane. If he had left without giving them food and the Course, then you might make that accusation. Only the commanding officer himself can judge that, the man in charge of the U-boat. I would have to look at the weather, because it says here "Medium swell.'' ....
June 21, 1941:
I do not know the condition of the U-boat, whether the boat was in a position to take prisoners on board. I believe that you have never seen conditions on a U-boat; otherwise you would not judge it like that. Considering that the crew of a U-boat is under water for weeks and uses every last bit of space and is exposed to the greatest dangers day and night, one cannot simply say that it would have been a humane act to take these additional men aboard. Besides, the commander himself says there was hardly a chance of rescue in view of the prevailing weather.
A massive invasion force prepares for action on the Soviet border.
June 22, 1941:
Operation (Unternehmen) Barbarossa (Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union), begins as 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invade the USSR along an 1,800 mile front.
July 7, 1941:
President Roosevelt addresses Congress:
...forces of the United States Navy have today arrived in Iceland in order to supplement, and eventually to replace, the British forces which have until now been stationed in Iceland in order to insure the adequate defense of that country. As I stated in my message to the Congress of September third last regarding the acquisition of certain naval and air bases from Great Britain in exchange for certain over-age destroyers, considerations of safety from overseas attack are fundamental...
July 7, 1941:
An Einsatzkommando unit begins systematic killings of Lithuanian Jews.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: I say clearly under oath that I had not the slightest inkling about it. I might add in explanation that on no account would Hitler have spoken about such things to a man like myself, whose opinion he knew, especially because he was afraid that on my part there would be very serious objections. I explained the other day why I used the word "Jews" in my memorial speech. In my opinion, I was obliged to do so. But that had nothing at all to do with an extermination of Jews. About the Jewish matter I have only learned...
Excuse me, please, one moment. I only learned something about the Jewish matter when Jews who were known to me, mostly friends of my old parents, approached me and told me that they were about to be evacuated from Berlin. And then I intervened for them. That was the only thing I knew. On occasions I was told in answer to my questions that they were to be evacuated to cities where ghettos had been established. I always understood that a ghetto was a district in a city where all the Jews lived together, so that they would not have to mingle with the rest of the population. ....
I must—so many questions have been asked about this very point and as every man in my position who held the same views says the same, that he does not know anything about it, I should like to explain once for all that one did not hear about these things, because civilians certainly did not talk to us about that, because they were always afraid that they would get into difficulties. The Fuehrer did not speak about it. I had no connection with Himmler nor with other agents of the Gestapo. I did not know anything about it.
Deposition under oath of Walter Kurt Dittmann: I was Naval Administration Inspector and officer in charge of the Naval Clothing Depot at Libau in Latvia. I held this position from the beginning of August 1941 to the end of March 1942. The Jewish population of Libau at that time was supposed to be about 7,000 people. Up to the end of March 1942 many thousands of them had already been 'evacuated' by the Gestapo and the Latvian Police. 'Evacuated' was the local expression for the annihilation of these people.
All Jews were registered. When a new lot was to be evacuated it happened in the following way: The Latvian Police fetched the Jews out of their houses, put them on lorries and drove them to the Naval Port about six to seven kilometers outside the town. Later on these people had to march and were not taken there in lorries. In the Naval Port these people were then shot with machine guns. This was done by the Gestapo and the Latvian Police. The police, of course, got their orders from the German Gestapo. I personally did not witness these incidents, but comrades told me all about them.
Some of the Jews before they were shot worked for the Navy. About 80-100 people worked in the Clothing Depot every day. About 100-150 people worked in the Garrison Administration every day. About 50 people worked in the Garrison Building Office (Navy) every day. Through these contacts and through personal visits to the houses of Jews I heard a lot regarding the terrible happenings in Libau during these months.
I personally went to my superior, Festungs-Intendant Dr. Lancelle, and before that I also went to another superior, the officer in charge of the Hospital Administration, named Mueller, both were Naval Administration Officials. I pointed out to them these abuses which have already been described. The answer I got was that they could not do anything and that things like that were best overlooked.
The Marineverwaltungsassistent Kurt Traunecker accompanied a consignment of clothing from Kiel to Libau. He stayed a few weeks in Libau and he expressed his displeasure at the conditions there regarding the annihilation of the Jews. He then went back to Kiel to the local clothing office. There again he expressed his displeasure and was ordered to appear at the Naval Administration Headquarters (Marine-Intendantur). Whom he saw there, I do not know, but it was made clear to him that these occurrences were not true, and therefore he should not talk about them any more, otherwise he would get into most serious trouble. My personal opinion is that the higher offices of the Navy in Kiel and in other places in Germany must have had knowledge of these terrible conditions.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: I knew nothing about it. ... Of course I had only efficient officers around me. But here we are dealing with things which were not done at all by the Navy. It says here in all places that it was the police and so on. I even was in Libau once and I was told—and this is the only thing in connection with this matter—that the peculiar thing was that the Jews in Libau, contrary to their custom, were craftsmen and therefore they were doing useful work there. That was the only thing I heard about it. As regards any extermination...
July 12, 1941:
I cannot say (when I was there) now. It was after it was occupied' probably immediately afterwards. .... I have to look it up somewhere. It does not say here that anything was reported, only that it was apparently discussed in the Navy Headquarters and with the Navy Quartermaster (Marine-Intendantur), who does not report to me. Of course I would have intervened if I had heard about such happenings.
US Secretary of the Navy Knox informs the representatives of the press of Roosevelt's order to allow American warships protecting convoys to fire on German ships.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: Hitler did subsequently issue an express order that we were in no circumstances to open fire of our own accord, but only in self-defense. This situation actually did arise later in the case of the two destroyers Greer and Kearny.
July 18, 1941:
From an order of the Fuehrer:
In the original operational area, which corresponds in extent with the US prohibited zone for US ships and which is not touched by the US-Iceland route, attacks on ships under American or British escort or US merchantmen sailing without escort are authorized.
August 12, 1941:
In clear violation of the US Neutrality Act, the US Navy takes over patrolling convoy routes in the North Atlantic and tracking German submarines for the Royal Navy.
August 14, 1941:
Churchill and FDR release a joint declaration; the Atlantic Charter:
...after the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want; Seventh, such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance...
August 16, 1941:
Joseph Stalin, acting as People's Commissar of Defense, releases Order No. 270, prohibiting any Soviet soldier from surrendering: 'There are no Russian prisoners of war, only traitors.' The order demands anyone deserting or surrendering to be killed on the spot, and subjects their families to arrest and their wives to be sent to labor camps.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: I had requested Hitler when I heard that he intended in the course of the war to bombard Leningrad, that he should spare the port and dock installations because they would be useful for us later, as we had to keep moving our bases back to the East on account of the British air attacks in the Baltic. Shortly before the date which you have mentioned Admiral Fricke had been at the Fuehrer's headquarters—I do not know for what reason—and had there spoken with the Fuehrer in my absence, and the Fuehrer had explained to him that plan to bombard Leningrad, especially with aircraft, and he used those very exaggerated words which were then written down in the document.
August 16, 1941:
The Navy had absolutely nothing to do with the shelling of Leningrad. We received no orders for that. We were only interested in that one thing which I mentioned before, that the shipyards and port installations should be spared. The Fuehrer had informed Fricke that unfortunately he was not in a position to do that because the attack, especially if made with aircraft, could not be directed quite so precisely. All we could do was to inform Generaladmiral Carls that Leningrad, in case it should be taken, could not be used as a base, and Generaladmiral Carls had to stop the preparations which he had already begun by allocating German workers and probably also machinery which was intended to be used in Leningrad later on. Carls had to know of that and, as the document says, the so-called Quartermaster Department of the Navy had to know about it, and that was why Admiral Fricke passed on that paper. Unfortunately he included in this paper the expressions used by Hitler, which had nothing to do with the whole affair as far as we were concerned, because we had nothing to do with the shelling. By so doing he did not assume in any way the responsibility, in the sense that he approved it. He only believed that he had to pass on Hitler's wording of the order.
The Navy had nothing to do with the matter. It would not have been necessary to pass it on, and unfortunately and very clumsily that expression used by Hitler was entered in that document. However, nothing happened and that document was not passed on from Generaladmiral Carls to our Finland Commander. That is the whole story.
German submarines sink 3 British and one Norwegian ship from the 22 ship and 9 escort Convoy OG-71.
September 4, 1941
The destroyer USS Greer
, while carrying mail and passengers to Argentina, is signaled by a British plane that a Nazi submarine has crash-dived some 10 miles ahead. Forty minutes later the DD's soundman picks up the sub, and Greer begins to trail the submarine. The plane, running low on fuel, drops four depth charges at 1032 and returns to base, while Greer
continues to dog the U-boat. Two hours later the German ship begins a series of radical maneuvers and Greer'
s lookouts can see her pass about 100 yards off. An impulse bubble at 1248 warns the Greer
that a torpedo has been fired. Ringing up flank speed, hard left rudder, Greer
watches the torpedo pass 100 yards astern and then charges in for attack. She lays a pattern of eight depth charges, and less than two minutes later a second torpedo passes 300 yards to port. Greer
loses sound contact during the maneuvers, and begins to quarter the area in search of the U-boat. After 2 hours, she reestablishes sound contact and lays down a pattern of 11 depth charges before discontinuing the engagement. Greer
had held the German raider in sound contact 3 hours and 28 minutes; had evaded two torpedoes fired at her; and with her 19 depth charges had become the first American ship in World War II to attack the Germans.
September 6, 1941:
On a voyage from New York to Suez, the Liberty Ship SS Steel Seafarer
, clearly marked with an American flag painted on the side, is attacked and sunk by a German plane in the Red Sea. "Seaports South of Sahara" reported this vessel was carrying 5,700 tons of munitions, being one of numerous American flag freighters carrying, under lucrative charter terms, munitions for British operations in North Africa.
September 8, 1941:
Keitel's OKW issues a regulation for the treatment of Soviet POW's. It states that Russian soldiers will fight by any methods for the idea of Bolshevism and that consequently they have lost any claim to treatment in accordance with the Geneva Convention. Stern measures are to be employed against them, including the free use of weapons. The politically undesirable prisoners are to be segregated from the others and turned over to 'special purpose units' of the Security Police and the Security Service. There is to be the closest cooperation between the military commanders and these police units.
September 10, 1941
British convoy SC-42 (64 ships), sailing from Sydney to the Britain is attacked by a wolf pack of 19 U-boats just south of Greenland between the 10th and 14th September. SC-42 loses 17 merchant ships for 69,813 tons. 2 U-boats, U-207
are sunk in return.
September 11, 1941:
FDR delivers a Fireside Chat:
...the United States destroyer Greer, proceeding in full daylight towards Iceland, had reached a point southeast of Greenland. She was carrying American mail to Iceland. She was flying the American flag. Her identity as an American ship was unmistakable. She was then and there attacked by a submarine. Germany admits that it was a German submarine. The submarine deliberately fired a torpedo at the Greer, followed later by another torpedo attack. In spite of what Hitler's propaganda bureau has invented, and in spite of what any American obstructionist organization may prefer to believe, I tell you the blunt fact that the German submarine fired first upon this American destroyer without warning, and with deliberate design to sink her.
September 16, 1941:
Our destroyer, at the time, was in waters which the Government of the United States had declared to be waters of self-defense - surrounding outposts of American protection in the Atlantic. In the North of the Atlantic, outposts have been established by us in Iceland, in Greenland, in Labrador and in Newfoundland. Through these waters there pass many ships of many flags. They bear food and other supplies to civilians; and they bear material of war, for which the people of the United States are spending billions of dollars, and which, by Congressional action, they have declared to be essential for the defense of (their) our own land. The United States destroyer, when attacked, was proceeding on a legitimate mission. If the destroyer was visible to the submarine when the torpedo was fired, then the attack was a deliberate attempt by the Nazis to sink a clearly identified American warship...
Convoy HX150—from Halifax as far as Iceland—becomes the first convoy with American escorts.
September 26, 1941:
The first Arctic convoy bound for Russia leaves Britain. It consists of ten merchantmen with escorts and is designated as PQ1.
September 29, 1941:
From a communication from the Naval Operations Staff of to Group North, Generaladmiral Carls, of a conversation between Admiral Fricke and Hitler: "The Fuehrer is determined to make the city of St. Petersburg (Leningrad) disappear from the face of the earth."
From Schulte-Monting's IMT testimony: Communications which were submitted to Admiral Raeder all went through my hands. They always had the notation, either "the Commander-in-Chief has taken due note," and were initialed by me personally in order to certify this notation, or "this order or this directive is to be submitted to the Commander-in-Chief," and in this case too my initials were affixed. This order and this copy which you have just shown to me I have never seen before; I am not acquainted with it; and I consider it impossible that Admiral Raeder should have seen it, because on 29 September 1941 I was in good health and exercising my duties in Berlin. ....
October 3, 1941:
I recall that at the so-called daily discussions regarding the general situation one of the officers of the Naval Operations Staff reported on the intentions of the Army regarding the future of Leningrad—not Petersburg. Whereupon Raeder expressed the desire that it be kept in mind during the operations that Leningrad should, under all circumstances, fall intact into our hands, for he needed shipyards and adjoining territory for naval construction; and he wished that the Army be informed of the urgency of this desire, because in view of the ever-increasing danger of air attacks, we intended to shift part of our shipyard facilities to the East.
At that time we had already begun, if I remember correctly, to move installations from Emden to the East and wanted, furthermore, as Raeder wished, to evacuate Wilhelmshaven subsequently and move the installations there as far to the East as possible. He emphasized expressly that the city should also be left as undamaged as possible because otherwise there would be no place for the workers to live. This is all I can truthfully tell you about the case of Leningrad. .... I do not recall that this case was taken up again. For the operations in the North soon came to a standstill, I believe.
Hitler opens up the charitable Winter Aid campaign with a speech at the Sportpalast:
I am grateful to fate that I may lead this fight. I am convinced that no understanding can be reached with these men. They are mad fools, men who for ten years had not spoken another word but 'We want another war with Germany.' When I endeavored to bring about an understanding, Churchill cried, 'I want war!' He has got it now...
October 6, 1941:
Churchill gives a personal promise to Stalin to send a convoy every ten days to Russia's northern ports.
October 9, 1941:
From President Roosevelt's message to Congress:
The practice of arming merchant ships for civilian defense is an old one. It has never been prohibited by international law. Until 1937 it had never been prohibited by any statute of the United States. Through our whole history American merchant vessels have been armed whenever it was considered necessary for their own defense. It is an imperative need now to equip American merchant vessels with arms. We are faced not with the old type of pirates but with the modern pirates of the sea who travel beneath the surface or on the surface or in the air destroying defenseless ships without warning and without provision for the safety of the passengers and crews. Our merchant vessels are sailing the seas, on missions connected with the defense of the United States. It is not just that the crews of these vessels should be denied the means of defending their lives and their ships...
October 16, 1941:
The United States destroyer USS Kearny
, while escorting a convoy in the North Atlantic, drops depth charges after three merchant ships in her care are torpedoed. The Kearny continues to search for the elusive U-boat all night.
October 17, 1941:
In the wee hours, the U-568
strikes the USS Kearny
on its starboard side with a torpedo, killing 11 and wounding 22. The Kearny
will struggle to recovery in Iceland by the 19th.
October 19, 1941:
The SS Lehigh is sunk off the African coast by U-126
October 20, 1941:
Averell Harriman to Winston Churchill:
The interventionists have increased in number and are more confident and aggressive. Many of the less violent isolationists have become reconciled to the inevitability of war. Some of the more violent isolationists like Lindbergh have been discredited in the public eye. Others are running to cover. And yet, with all this trend, it is not at all clear what or when something will happen to kick us into it. The news on Saturday of the torpedoing of the Kearney did not cause even a ripple. It seems that the public had expected—and were thoroughly prepared for—such occurrences. (Harriman)
October 31, 1941:
The US destroyer, the USS Reuben James
, is torpedoed by German submarine U-552
commanded by Kapitaenleutnant Erich Topp near Iceland. Reuben James had positioned herself in harm's way between an ammunition ship in a British convoy and the known position of a 'wolfpack' (a group of submarines hunting Allied shipping). Of the 159-man crew, only 44 survive. This destroyer is the first US naval casualty in an undeclared war, between Germany and the United States, which has existed since President Roosevelt authorized the use of American naval vessels to escort Lend-Lease convoys bound for Britain.
November 1, 1941:
The German government issues a statement denying the charges made by President Roosevelt that the US destroyers Greer
were attacked by German submarines without any provocation. The exact opposite is true, say the Germans, in that the U-boats fired their torpedoes only after they were tracked and depth-charged for hours by these US vessels.
November 11, 1941:
From a speech by Secretary of the Navy Knox:
My friends, we meet here in the presence of grave dangers. It is impossible to over-emphasize them or exaggerate them. We are not only confronted with the necessity of extreme measures of self-defense in the Atlantic, but we are likewise faced with grim possibilities on the other side of the world: on the far side of the Pacific. Just what the morrow may hold for us in that quarter of the globe, no one may say with certainty. The only thing we can be sure of is that the Pacific, no less than the Atlantic, calls for instant readiness for defense. In the Pacific area, no less than in Europe, interests which are vital to our national security are seriously threatened...
November 13, 1941:
Friedrich Guggenberger's U-81
torpedoes the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal
. The carrier sinks the next day with only one fatality.
November 22, 1941:
All operational U-boats are ordered to proceed to the Mediterranean or its approaches.
November 25, 1941:
Hans Diedrich Freiherr von Tiesenhausen's U-331
sinks the battleship HMS Barham
December 3, 1941:
From the war diary of the German naval attach¨¦ in Tokyo:
1800 hours. The naval attache extended an invitation to several officers of the Japanese Naval Ministry. It transpires from the conversation that the negotiations in Washington must be regarded as having broken down completely and that, quite obviously, the beginning of actions to the south by the Japanese Armed Forces is to be expected in the near future.
December 6, 1941:
From the war diary of the German naval attache in Tokyo: Conversation with Fregattenkapitan Shiba.
1. Last week America offered a non-aggression pact between the United States, England, Russia and Japan. In view of the Tripartite Pact and the high counter-demands, Japan rejected this offer. Negotiations have therefore completely broken down
2. The Armed Forces foresaw this development and consented to Kurusu's being sent only to impress the people with the fact that all means had been exhausted.
3. The Armed Forces have already decided 3 weeks ago that war is inevitable, even if the United States at the last minute should make substantial concessions. Appropriate measures are under way. ....
No exact details are available as to the zero hour for the commencement of the southern offensive. All the evidence, however, indicates that it may be expected to start within 3 weeks, with simultaneous attacks on Siam, the Philippines and Borneo
6. The Ambassador has no knowledge of the transmission of the telegram, but is acquainted with its contents. ....A state of war with Britain and America would certainly exist by Christmas.
From Schulte-Monting's IMT testimony: I do not quite grasp it. I have already said that we had no contact with the Japanese experts or attaches in Berlin. I asserted that we first learned of the Pearl Harbor incident by radio, and I cannot quite see what difference it makes whether on 6 December the attache in Tokyo told us his predictions, or whether he was drawing conclusions about a future conflict from information sources which we could not control. That has nothing to do with our having advised the Japanese in Berlin to attack America. ....
December 6, 1941:
To my knowledge there were no official conferences between the two admiralty staffs, that is, official operational conferences between the Naval Operations Staff and the Japanese admiralty staff. .... I do not know whether you are stressing Pearl Harbor, or the fact that 2 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor we received a telegram from Tokyo to the effect that a conflict was to be counted on. I was asked whether we had known of the fact of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and to that I said: "No." I said that we had had no conferences in Berlin between the Naval Operations Staff and the Japanese admiralty staff.
Averell Harriman (London) to Harry Hopkins (Washington):
The President should be informed of Churchill's belief that in the event of aggression by the Japanese it would be the policy of the British to postpone taking any action—even though this delay might involve some military sacrifice—until the President has taken such action as, under the circumstances, he considers best. Then Churchill will act 'not within the hour but within the minute.' I am seeing him again tomorrow. Let me know if there in anything special you want me to ask.
December 6, 1941:
Germans forces are pushed back by a major Russian counter-attack near Moscow. With supply lines badly over-stretched—and temperatures of -34C (-29F) and below making German equipment nearly useless—even Adolf Hitler himself begins to realize that he has drastically underestimated Soviet strength.
2.8 million Soviet POW's perish through starvation, exposure, and summary execution in the first 8 months of Barbarossa.
December 7, 1941
Night and Fog Decree:
Within the occupied territories, the adequate punishment for offences committed against the German State or the occupying power which endanger their security or a state of readiness is on principle the death penalty. II. The offences listed in paragraph I as a rule are to be dealt with in the occupied countries only if it is probable that sentence of death will be passed upon the offender, at least the principal offender, and if the trial and the execution can be completed in a very short time. Otherwise the offenders, at least the principal offenders, are to be taken to Germany. III. Prisoners taken to Germany are subjected to military procedure only if particular military interests require this. In case German or foreign authorities inquire about such prisoners, they are to be told that they were arrested, but that the proceedings do not allow any further information...
December 7, 1941:
The Japanese attack the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: It was a complete surprise for me and the Naval Operations Staff that this attack (on Pearl Harbor) took place; and it is a complete mistake in judging the mentality of the Japanese to assume that they would have spoken of such a plan to anyone, even inside Japan, who was not directly connected with it. In 1904 they likewise attacked Russian ships "out of the blue" without anyone suspecting anything at all.
From Schulte-Monting's IMT testimony: We never had any military discussions with Japan at all before her entry into the war. Quite on the contrary, he warned Hitler against war with America in view of England's naval superiority and her co-operation with America. ....
December 9, 1941:
First of all, for the reasons which I outlined before, reasons of over-all strategy which motivated Raeder during the entire course of the war. Raeder considered the enemy on the sea primarily, and not on land. If the largest sea power in the world were added to England, which was already superior, then the war would have taken on unbearable proportions for us. Besides, through the reports of our naval attache in Washington, Vice Admiral Witthoft, Raeder was very well informed about the tremendous potential at the disposal of the United States.
I might also say with reference to the conversion of the normal economy into a war economy, that the tremendous outlay of shipyards and installations, as Witthoft stated a few months before the war, permitted the construction of a million tons of shipping each month. These figures were very eloquent and were naturally at the same time a terrible warning to us not to underestimate the armament potential of the United States. ....
In my opinion, that was an absolutely correct measure (to proposed that Japan should attack Singapore) and a correct proposal, which was in line with Raeder's reasoning. He was interested in dealing blows to England's important strategic centers. That he tried to ease our situation is understandable and self-evident. But at no time did he propose that Japan should enter into a war against America, but rather against England. .... I have already stated that before Japan's entry into the war no military discussions with Japan had ever taken place. The Japanese attitude was very reserved. .... We heard about this (Pearl Harbor) for the first time over the radio.
Two days before he declares war on the US, Hitler lifts the ban on U-boats operating in US territorial waters. This is to allow Doenitz to deploy 5 U-boats along the America's eastern seaboard in order to be ready to pounce once the declaration of war is made.
December 11, 1941:
Hitler addresses the Reichstag:
And now permit me to define my attitude to that other world, which has its representative in that man, who, while our soldiers are fighting in snow and ice, very tactfully likes to make his chats from the fireside, the man who is the main culprit of this war...As a consequence of the further extension of President Roosevelt's policy, which is aimed at unrestricted world domination and dictatorship the USA together with England have not hesitated from using any means to dispute the rights of the German, Italian and Japanese nations to the basis of their natural existence. The Governments of the USA and of England have therefore resisted, not only now but also for all time, every just understanding meant to bring about a better New Order in the world. Since the beginning of the war the American President, Roosevelt, has been guilty of a series of the worst crimes against international law...
December 17, 1941:
Convoy HG76, escorted by the Royal Navy's first escort aircraft carrier, the HMS Audacity
, secures its first kill when it sinks U-131
December 21, 1941:
The escort carrier HMS Audacity
is sunk by U-751
December 31, 1941
World-wide from January 1941 to year's end, the number of Allied merchant ships sunk by U-boats is 503 (equaling 2,530,011 gross tons) while 35 U-boats are lost.
January 3, 1942:
From a conversation between Hitler and Japanese Ambassador Oshima, in the presence of Ribbentrop:
The Fuehrer, using a map, explains to the Japanese Ambassador the present position of marine warfare in the Atlantic, emphasizing that what he considers his most important task is to get the U-boat warfare going in full swing. The U-boats are being reorganized. Firstly, he had recalled all U-boats operating in the Atlantic. As mentioned before, they would now be posted outside United States ports. Later, they would be off Freetown and the larger boats even as far down as Capetown...
January 3, 1942:
After having given further explanations on the map, the Fuehrer pointed out that, however many ships the United States built, one of their main problems would be the lack of personnel. For that reason even merchant ships would be sunk without warning with the intention of killing as many of the crew as possible. Once it gets around that most of the seamen are lost in the sinkings, the Americans would soon have difficulties in enlisting new people. The training of seagoing personnel takes a very long time. We are fighting for our existence and our attitude cannot be ruled by any humane feelings. For this reason he must give the order that in case foreign seamen could not be taken prisoner, which is in most cases not possible on the sea, U-boats were to surface after torpedoing and shoot up the life boats. Ambassador Oshima heartily agreed with the Fuehrer's comments, and said that the Japanese, too, are forced to follow these methods.
From a Hitler Order:
Cling to every populated center; do not retreat a single step; defend yourself to the last soldier, to the last grenade. That is the requirement of the present moment. Every point occupied by us must be turned into a base, which must not be surrendered under any circumstances, even if outflanked by the enemy. If, however, the given point must be abandoned on superior orders, it is imperative that everything be razed to the ground, the stoves blown up...
January 10, 1942:
From a Naval Operations Staff document:
In view of the further extension of the war, the Naval Operations Staff has asked the Foreign Office to point out again to the neutral seafaring nations, with the exception of Sweden, the necessity of carefully marking their ships in order that they shall not be mistaken for enemy ships.
January 11, 1942
German U-boats begin to sink ships along the American coast. Their first victim is the 9,000 ton British steamer Cyclops
which is sunk by U-123
east of Cape Cod. Five German Type XI long-range U-boats will sink 25 ships by the end of February. In the first six months of 1942, 21 U-boats will sink 500 ships and terrorize the US East Coast.
January 12, 1942:
Hitler orders Admiral Otto Ciliax, who commands the battleships Scharnhorst
and the cruiser Prinz Eugen
at Brest, to prepare to return to Germany. The new German battleship Tirpitz
, sister ship of the Bismarck
is ordered to Norway.
January 14, 1942:
The German battleship Tirpitz
arrives at Trondheim in Norway. Its mission is to threaten the Arctic convoys. The British will not became aware of this threat until the 23rd.
January 29, 1942:
RAF Bomber Command mounts an unsuccessful attack on the Tirpitz
, at anchor in Trondheim.
Late January, Early February 1942:
Reader meets with French Admiral Darlan in Paris.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: At the end of the year 1941 he (Admiral Schultze) mentioned that he (Admiral Darlan) would like to speak to me. Admiral Schultze reported that to me and I told Hitler about it and recommended such a conversation because I thought it would do some good. ....
February 1, 1942:
That it might bring some advantage. The Fuehrer approved this meeting and instructed me as to his views. The meeting took place near Paris on the occasion of an official trip which I made to the French bases at the end of January or beginning of February 1942. I had the impression that the meeting was very satisfactory, inasmuch as Darlan was of the opinion that a peace would be of advantage to both nations and he also appeared to be inclined to co-operate. He stressed, however, that the whole political situation would have to be settled before peace could be concluded. I also showed that I was prepared to meet him concerning the negotiations with the Armistice Commission with respect to heavy guns for big French ships. I reported to the Fuehrer on the results of the meeting. But in this case too the Fuehrer was again hesitant and did not want to make a decision. He said he had to see first how the war went before he could decide upon his final attitude toward France. Besides, that would be a precedent which might have an effect on other nations. So that also was a failure. I did not obtain the relief in the defense of France which I had hoped for and so, in the case of France, this failure was the second reason which contributed later to my asking for my release, because I could not carry my plans through.
All U-boats adopt a new Enigma cipher known as 'Triton.' The new cipher replaces the previous cipher, 'Hydra' and has an additional rotor in the Enigma machine. This means that the British are now unable to read U-boat coded communications traffic, seriously affecting their ability re-route their convoys around U-boat wolf packs.
February 8, 1942:
While departing by plane from a meeting with Hitler at the Wolf's Lair (Wolfsschanze) at Rastenburg, builder of the Autobahn Dr Fritz Todt, director of the Organization Todt and Reichsminister of Armaments, dies as his Junker 52 aircraft mysteriously explodes.
February 10, 1942:
Albert Speer succeeds Fritz Todt as Reich Minister of Armaments.
February 11, 1942:
Admiral Ciliax orders his squadron, which includes the battleships Scharnhorst
and Gneisenau and the cruiser Prinz Eugen
, to leave Brest and dash through the English Channel for the safety of Kiel in Germany.
February 12, 1942:
British aircraft spot the Scharnhorst
and Prinz Eugen
as they enter the straits of Dover. They launch MTB attacks, but miss. Scharnhorst
both ultimately hit mines while maneuvering, but are able to continue on towards Kiel.
February 13, 1942:
puts into Wilhelmshaven in the wee hours, while the Gneisenau
and Prinz Eugen
reach Kiel a short while later.
February 16, 1942:
German U-boats, with their deck guns, bombard oil storage facilities and refineries on the Dutch islands of Aruba and Curacao in the southern Caribbean.
February 23, 1942:
The German cruiser Prinz Eugen
, sailing to Norway from Kiel, is torpedoed by the British submarine HMS Trident
. The Prinz Eugen
is forced to return to Germany for repairs.
February 24, 1942:
Hitler speaks to the Reich via radio:
Just as the Hun assault could not be beaten back by pious wishes or fair warnings, just as the invasion of our country from the southeast in the course of centuries was not warded off by diplomatic tricks, and the Mongolian onslaught did not spare old monuments of culture, this danger also will not be overcome by right in itself but only by strength supporting this right. Right itself is nothing but the duty to defend the life entrusted to us by the Creator of the world. It is the sacred right of self-preservation. Whether this self-preservation will be successful depends solely on the greatness of our efforts and on willingness to make any sacrifice to preserve this life for the future. Attila's power was broken not at a meeting of the League of Nations but in battle...
February 26, 1942:
The RAF launches an attack against the battleship Gneisenau
at Kiel's floating dock causing severe damage. The battleship will never again put to sea under her own power.
March 1, 1942: U-656
off Cape Race is sunk by a squadron of VP-82 based at Argentia, Newfoundland.
March 2, 1942:
Churchill declares that the Tirpitz
is 'the most important naval vessel in the situation today' and believes her destruction will 'profoundly affect the course of the war'.
March 5, 1942:
British convoy PQ-12, bound for Murmansk, is spotted by German reconnaissance planes.
March 6, 1942:
The Battleship Tirpitz
and 3 destroyers set sail from Trondheim to intercept convoy PQ-12. They are spotted by a British submarine which relays the information to the British Admiralty. Bad weather causes Tirpitz
to miss PQ-12, and, avoiding an attack by aircraft from HMS Victorious
, she heads back to base at Trondheim.
March 12, 1942:
Convoy PQ-12 earns the distinction of being the last PQ convoy to sail without losses when it arrives unscathed at Murmansk.
March 15, 1942:
An aircraft from a US VP-82 squadron sinks U-503
near the Grand Banks, off Newfoundland.
March 21, 1942:
Sauckel is appointed Generalbevollmaechtigter fuer den Arbeitseinsatz (General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labor).
April 1, 1942:
The US begins a partial convoy system known as the 'Bucket Brigade,' where ships sail in convoy as close to the coast as possible during daylight hours, and anchor in protected harbors at night. Due to the shortage of escort vessels, continuous convoying is not possible and the 'Bucket Brigade' system is not extended to the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico.
April 13, 1942:
The first success of the war by a US warship against a U-boat occurs when the destroyer USS Roper
south of Norfolk, Virginia.
April 13, 1942:
Berlin Radio broadcasts a report that German military forces in the Katyn forest near Smolensk had uncovered 'a ditch ... 28 meters long and 16 meters wide (92 ft by 52 ft), in which the bodies of 3,000 Polish officers were piled up in 12 layers." The broadcast accuses the Soviets of carrying out the massacre in 1940.
April 18, 1942:
In an attempt to reduce the success of the U-boats at night, the entire US eastern seaboard is finally ordered to black-out its lights at night.
April 21, 1942: U-459
, the first U-boat tanker, known as a Milch Cow, a submarine capable of refueling and re-arming other U-boats at sea, sets sail for the Atlantic.
April 24, 1942:
On Raeder's 66th birthday, the chief Party organ, the Volkischer Beobachter
, publishes a feature article about him:
It was to Raeder's credit to have already built up by that time a powerful striking force from the numerically small fleet, despite the fetters of Versailles. With the assumption of power, National Socialism began the most fruitful period in the reconstruction of the German fleet. The Fuehrer openly expressed his recognition of Raeder's faithful services and unstinted co-operation, by appointing him Grossadmiral on the 20th of April 1936. .... As a soldier and a seaman, the Grossadmiral has proved himself to be the Fuehrer's first and foremost naval collaborator.
May 14, 1942:
From the 'Report of the Commander of Submarines to the Fuehrer ... in the presence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy (Grossadmiral Raeder):
Therefore it is necessary to improve the weapons of the submarines by all possible means, so that the submarines may keep pace with defense measures. The most important development is the torpedo with magnetic detonator which would increase precision of torpedoes fired against destroyers and therefore would put the submarine in a better position with regard to defense; it would above all also hasten considerably the sinking of torpedoed ships, whereby we would economize on torpedoes and also protect the submarine from countermeasures—insofar as it would be able to leave the place of combat more quickly. A magnetic detonator will also have the great advantage that the crew will not be able to save themselves on account of the quick sinking of the torpedoed ship. This greater loss of men will no doubt cause difficulties in the assignment of crews for the great American construction program.
From Doenitz's IMT testimony: They mean that it was important to us, as a consequence of the discussion with the Fuehrer at his headquarters, to find a good magnetic detonator which would lead to a more rapid sinking of the ships, and thereby achieve the results noted in this report in the war diary ... I mean that not several torpedoes would be required, as heretofore, to sink a ship by long and difficult attack; but that one torpedo, or very few, would suffice to bring about a more speedy loss of the ship and the crew .... The Fuehrer brought up the fact that, in the light of experience, a large percentage of the crews, because of the excellence of the rescue means, were reaching home and were used again and again to man new ships, and he asked whether there might not be some action taken against these rescue ships ....
May 18, 1942:
At this discussion, in which Grossadmiral Raeder participated, I rejected this unequivocally and told him that the only possibility of causing losses among the crews would lie in the attack itself, in striving for a faster sinking of the ship through the intensified effect of weapons. Hence this remark in my war diary. I believe, since I received knowledge here through the prosecution of the discussion between the Fuehrer and Oshima, that this question of the Fuehrer to Grossadmiral Raeder and myself arose out of this discussion ....
If I have not got the old crews any more, I have to have new ones. It makes it more difficult. It says nothing about scaring off there, but the positive fact is stated that new crews have to be trained. ... it depends on the courage, the bravery of the people. The American Secretary Knox said that, if in peacetime—in 1941—the sinkings of German U-boats were not published, he expected it would have a deterrent effect on my U-boats. That was his opinion. I can only say that the silent disappearance through American sinkings in peacetime did not scare off my U-boats. It is a matter of taste ....
He [Hitler] asked whether we could not take action against the crew; and I have already said, after I heard of the Oshima discussion here, that I believe this question to Grossadmiral Raeder and myself was the result of that Oshima discussion. My answer to that, of course, is known: it was 'No ... ' My answer was: Taking action against shipwrecked personnel is out of the question, but it is taken for granted that in a fight, one must use the best possible weapon. Every nation does that .... And also of course, because we considered the crews of the steamers as combatants since they were fighting with weapons."
Churchill remains determined—despite increasing losses—to continue the Arctic convoys to Russia as the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm attacks and hits the German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen
off Norway. She will manage to escape to Kiel.
May 26, 1942:
In appalling weather, Convoy QP-12 and Convoy PQ-16 are attacked by 260 Luftwaffe aircraft, including He 111 torpedo bombers and some U-boats. QP-12 emerges unscathed, while PQ-16 loses 6 out of 35 ships.
May 31, 1942
Since January, the U-boats operating along the US eastern seaboard have sunk 111 vessels.
June 5, 1942:
From the War Diary of the Naval Operations Staff:
According to instructions received from the Naval Operations Staff submarines are ordered by the Commander of U-boats to take on board as prisoners, captains of ships sunk, with their papers, if this is possible without endangering the boat, and without impairing fighting capacity.
June 16, 1942
The operational staff of the Navy (SKL), applied on 29th May for permission to attack the Brazilian sea and air forces. The SKL considers that a sudden blow against the Brazilian warships and merchant ships is expedient at this juncture (a) because defense measures are still incomplete; (b) because there is the possibility of achieving surprise; and (c) because Brazil is to all intents and purposes fighting Germany at sea.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: The relations between Brazil and Germany at this time could not have been worse. The Germans were very much persecuted and treated very badly. Germany's economic interests were heavily impaired. The Brazilians were already completely on the side of the United States. They had allowed United States air bases to be established along the Brazilian coast, and also intelligence stations. They themselves confirmed that they had destroyed a German U-boat; and, on the other side, the German U-boats had also attacked Brazilian ships, for the Brazilian ships were not illuminated according to regulations and consequently could not be recognized as Brazilian ships. Germany had previously asked all of the South American countries to illuminate their ships in such a way that their nationality could be distinguished at night. Then there were air attacks on U-boats of the Axis Powers, and they could have been carried out only from Brazilian bases. At this request of the Naval Operations Staff to the Fuehrer, the Fuehrer decreed that once again we should ask the Italians what intelligence reports they had received; and Italy in turn confirmed that some weeks before Italian U-boats, which had been operating together with ours, had been attacked near the Brazilian coast. Likewise the Brazilian Air Ministry had made known the fact that Brazilian aircraft or United States aircraft coming from Brazilian air bases had attacked Axis U-boats.
July 1, 1942: U-456
On the basis of that confirmation the Fuehrer permitted the use of weapons against Brazilian ships along the Brazilian coast. A plan was worked out, according to which a certain wave of U-boats, which left the French coast in June to proceed into the Atlantic, was to go to the Brazilian coast. The Fuehrer had ordered in particular that this was not to be mere pin-pricks but rather a serious enterprise. This operation was later stopped and not carried through. I am sorry that I am not able to say for what reason. But it can be seen from our document which gives the statements made in the War Diary.
Ambassador Ritter of the Foreign Office declares that an aggravation of the conflict with Brazil is undesirable in view of the attitude of Argentina and Chile and that, previous to measures of war against Brazil, consultations must be held with Italy and Japan. Acting on the report of the Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff, the Fuehrer has ordered on 30 May, that the Naval Operations Staff is to ascertain, by inquiring in Rome, whether the Brazilian reports about warlike actions against Axis U-boats are correct. The inquiry by the Naval Operations Staff shows that Italian U-boats were attacked on 22 and 26 May at the northeast corner of Brazil by airplanes which beyond a doubt had started from a Brazilian air base. The Naval Operations Staff transmit, moreover, the text of the official communique of the Brazilian Air Ministry about the fighting and propose to put into action near the main Brazilian harbors during the period from 3-8 August 10 U-boats to sail from 22 June to 4 July from ports in western France, along with the tanker U-460. The order for execution must be given to the U-boats by 15 June at the latest. After the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy had reported this to the Fuehrer at the Berghof on the afternoon of 15 June, the Fuehrer declared himself in agreement with the intentions of the Naval Operations Staff but ordered, however, that before any final decision is made, the political situation be examined once again by the Foreign Office.
spots PQ-17 and flashes an alarm, but is driven under almost immediately by the destroyer HMS Leamington
. The convoy is locate and shadowed by U-408, U-255
, in order to provide reports on the convoy while reinforcements are sent to the area.
July 1, 1942:
The advance of Axis troops on Alexandria is blunted by the Allies at the First Battle of El Alamein.
July 2, 1942: U-88
spots and reports PQ-17 and its reverse convoy QP-13 (35 freighters and 15 escorts) as they pass each other. German forces are ordered not to attack the empty convoy QP-13, but to concentrate everything on destroying PQ-17.
July 3, 1942:
11 Some U-boats in the area begin to close in on convoy PQ-17; others place themselves along its route. 6 U-boats make attack runs throughout the day, but have no success. They subsequently lose contact or fall behind the convoy.
July 4, 1942:
Convoy PQ-17 and the 7 warships of the cruiser force that had come up during the night come under heavy attack from Luftwaffe dive-bombers and torpedo planes. British First Sea Lord, Dudley Pound, mistakenly concludes that the German surface force has sailed to attack the PQ-17 and will in all probability wipe out the convoy along with the covering cruiser force. He makes the catastrophic decision to withdraw the cruiser force and 'scatter' PQ-17, in the hope that this might save most of the convoy. To the glee of their crews, U-703
sinks 2 merchants, U-88
sinks 2, U-334
sinks 1 and U-456
sinks 1. The Luftwaffe, however, having difficulty in differentiating between friend and foe, damages U-334
, forcing them to return to Norway for repairs.
July 5, 1942:
Admiral Raeder receives Hitler's approval to use the German surface force to finish off PQ-17. Caution is to be exercised in order not to risk the Battleship Tirpitz
, pocket battleship Admiral Scheer
or heavy cruiser Hipper
. Escorted by 7 destroyers and 2 E-boats, the 3 big German ships get underway, and an hour later an RAF Coastal Command Catalina reports the force as at sea. Two hours later, HMS Unshaken
radios in a sighting and an exact description of the force. Admiral Raeder, on receiving intelligence reports of these allied sightings, becomes nervous, cancels the sortie, and orders the surface fleet to return to port.
July 6, 1942
Operation Drumbeat: U-132
sinks 3 merchant ships after entering the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the Canadian East Coast July 15, 1942: When all the ships of convoy PQ-17 arrive in port, a tally of the losses reveals 24 ships sunk for 141,721 tons: 8 ships sunk by the Luftwaffe, 7 by U-boats, and another 9 by combined Luftwaffe/U-boat kills. In addition, 210 aircraft, 430 tanks, 3,350 trucks, and 99,316 tons of general cargo arrive at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. The Germans suffer no U-boat losses and lose only 5 planes.
August 1, 1942:
An advanced convoy system is instituted along the US Eastern Seaboard, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean.
August 2, 1942:
The British Convoy 'Pedestal' gets underway from Britain on a mission to the island of Malta, in the Mediterranean. The 14 fast merchant ships, loaded with fuel, food, and ammunition, are escorted by 2 battleships, 3 aircraft carriers, 14 destroyers, and 3 anti-aircraft cruisers.
August 11, 1942:
Helmut Rosenbaum's U-73
sinks the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle
August 19, 1942:
The Dieppe Raid, also known as The Battle of Dieppe or Operation Jubilee, begins. Six thousand infantrymen—predominantly Canadian—supported by large British naval and Allied air force contingents, invade the German-occupied port of Dieppe in France. Of the 6,086 men who make it ashore, 3,623 will either be killed, wounded, or captured.
August 20, 1942:
From a Hitler speech:
The law is not an end in itself. Its function is to maintain public order...All means used to this end are justifiable...It must adapt itself to this end...The idea that the judge is there to give absolutely irrevocable judgement, even if the world should come to an end as a result, is nonsense... (Maser)
August 20, 1942:
Brazil declares war on Germany, in response to U-boat attacks.
September 5, 1942
From notes of an OKW discussion:
It could not be proved beyond a doubt that the fire had been aimed at the crew boarding the lifeboats. The enemy fire was evidently aimed at the ship itself ... It is the opinion of the Naval Operations Staff that before issuing reprisal orders, one should take into consideration whether such measures, if applied by the enemy against us, would not in the end be more harmful to us than to the enemy. Even now, our boats are able only in a few cases to rescue shipwrecked enemy crews by towing the lifeboats, et cetera, whereas the crews of sunken German U-boats and merchant vessels have so far, as a rule, been picked up by the enemy. The situation could therefore only change in our favor if we were to receive orders, as a measure of reprisal, that shipwrecked enemy crews should not only not be saved, but that they should be subdued by fire. It is significant in this respect that so far it could not be proved that in the cases on record where the enemy used arms against shipwrecked Germans such action was the result of, or was covered by, an order of an official British agency. We should therefore bear in mind the fact that knowledge of such a German order would be used by enemy propaganda in such a manner that its consequences could not easily be foreseen.
September 5, 1942
Battle of the St. Lawrence:
The carriers SS Saganaga
and SS Lord Strathcona
are sunk by U-513
at Bell Island, Newfoundland. Note: Bell Island is the only location in North America to be subject to direct attack by German forces in World War II.
September 8, 1942:
Churchill addresses the House:
...those who are guilty of the Nazi crimes will have to stand up before tribunals in every land where their atrocities have been committed in order that an indelible warning may be given to future ages and that successive generations of men may say, "So perish all who do the like again...
September 12, 1942
Lieutenant Commander Hartenstein and the U-156
sink the armed British liner Laconia
in the South Atlantic. Mistaken for a troop ship, the Laconia
carries 2,732 passengers; 136 crew, 285 British soldiers, 80 civilian passengers, including women and children, 160 Polish guards and 1,800 Italian prisoners of war. Realizing his mistake, Hartenstein radio's the following message to headquarters while assisting survivors: "Sunk by Hartenstein British 'Laconia
'. Grid FF 7721 310 degrees. Unfortunately with 1500 Italian POWs. So far 90 fished. 157 cubic meters (of oil). 19 eels (torpedoes), trade wind 3, request orders." Doenitz, though in principle reluctant to expose his boat's to attack by aircraft while performing surface rescue operations, decides to order all U-boats in the area to assist.
September 12, 1942 Laconia
Lieutenant Commander Hartenstein broadcast's a message in English:
If any ship will assist the ship-wrecked Laconia crew, I will not attack providing I am not being attacked by ship or air forces. I picked up 193 men. 4, 53 South, 11, 26 West. German submarine.
September 15, 1942 Laconia
Flying the Red Cross flag, U-506
, commanded by Erich Wurdeman, and Harro Schacht's U-507
, arrive just around noon, and immediately begin rescue operations; U-156
remains on the scene.
September 16, 1942 Laconia
At 11.25 AM, the concentration of U-boats is over-flown by an American B-24 Liberator bomber operating out of Ascension island. The survivors wave to the plane, and the U-boats, with Red Cross flags draped over their decks, signal for help. The Liberator's pilot, Lieutenant James D. Harden, radio's Ascension for instructions. Captain Robert C. Richardson III, the officer on duty, orders an attack. Harden obeys, bombing survivors and boats both. The U-boats dive and flee.
September 17, 1942 Laconia
From the naval war diary signed by Doenitz:
The attention of all commanding officers is again drawn again to the fact that all efforts to rescue members of the crews of ships which have been sunk contradict the most primitive demands for the conduct of warfare for annihilating enemy ships and their crews. Orders concerning the bringing in of the captains and chief engineers still stand.
September 17, 1942 Laconia
From a top-secret order sent to all commanding officers of U-boats:
1. No attempt of any kind must be made at rescuing members of ships sunk; and this includes picking up persons in the water and putting them in lifeboats, righting capsized lifeboats and handing over food and water. Rescue runs counter to the rudimentary demands of warfare for the destruction of enemy ships and crews.
September 17, 1942 Laconia
2. Orders for bringing in captains and chief engineers still apply.
3. Rescue the shipwrecked only if their statements will be of importance to your boat.
4. Be harsh, having in mind that the enemy takes no regard of women and children in his bombing attacks on German cities.
Incident: A message is sent from Schacht's U-507:
Transferred 163 Italians to Annamite. (Note: The Annamite was a French cruiser which had been called to assist in the rescue.) Navigation officer of Laconia and another English officer on board. Seven lifeboats with about 330 Englishmen and Poles, among them 15 women and 16 children, deposited at Qu. FE 9612, women and children kept aboard ship for one night. Supplied all shipwrecked with hot meal and drinks, clothed and bandaged when necessary. Sighted four more boats at sea-anchor.
September 20, 1942 Laconia
A message is sent by Schacht informing U-boat Command that his U-507
is towing four boats full of survivors to safety; "with British in tow."
September 24, 1942:
Hitler relieves General Franz Halder from duty, placing him in the so-called 'Fuehrer Reserve.'
September 25, 1942:
From the war diary of Doenitz, Commander of U-boats:
U-512 reports that the Monte Corbea was recognized as a neutral ship before being torpedoed. Assumed suspicions of being a camouflaged English ship are insufficient and do not justify the sinking. The commander will have to stand court-martial for his conduct. All boats at sea will be informed.
September 27, 1942:
Radio signal to all U-boats:
The Commander-in-Chief of the Navy has personally and expressly ordered anew that all U-boat commanders are to comply exactly with the orders concerning the treatment of neutral ships. Violations of these orders will have incalculable political consequences. This order is to be disseminated at once to all commanders.
September 28, 1942:
is torpedoed, set afire, and sunk of French Guiana. From the eye-witness account of the Antonico
's second officer:
...that the witness saw the dead on the deck of the Antonico as he and his crew tried to swing out their lifeboat; that the attack was fulminate, lasting almost 20 minutes; and that the witness already in the lifeboat tried to get away from the side of the Antonico in order to avoid being dragged down by the same Antonico and also because she was the aggressor's target; that the night was dark, and it was thus difficult to see the submarine, but that the fire aboard the Antonico lit up the locality in which she was submerging, facilitating the enemy to see the two lifeboats trying to get away; that the enemy ruthlessly machine-gunned the defenseless sailors in Number 2 lifeboat, in which the witness found himself, and killed the Second Pilot Arnaldo de Andrade de Lima, and wounded three of the crew; that the witness gave orders to his company to throw themselves overboard to save themselves from the bullets: in so doing, they were protected and out of sight behind the lifeboat, which was already filled with water; even so the lifeboat continued to be attacked. At that time the witness and his companions were about 20 meters in distance from the submarine....
September 30, 1942:
Hitler speaks in Berlin:
My time is unfortunately much more limited than the time of my worthy adversaries. Naturally he who can travel around the world for weeks at a time, with a broad sombrero on his head, wearing a white silk shirt here, and some other outfit there, can naturally occupy himself much more with speeches. All this time I have really had to be busy managing and doing rather than speaking. Besides, I cannot of course speak every week or every month. For what am I to say? What has to be said will be said by our soldiers. Moreover, the subjects on which I might speak are naturally more difficult than the subjects of the discourses of my adversaries, who are accustomed to send their numerous chats over the world from the fireside or other places. The subject matter of my possible speeches is more difficult, for I do not deem it proper to occupy myself now with the shaping of things for the future. I consider it more appropriate for us to occupy ourselves with that which the immediate present demands of us. Naturally it is very simple to concoct an Atlantic Charter. This nonsense will of course be valid for only a few, very few years. It will simply be cast aside by hard facts...
October 7, 1942:
Hitler personally pens a note in the Wehrmacht daily communique:
In future, all terror and sabotage troops of the British and their accomplices, who do not act like soldiers, but rather like bandits, will be treated as such by the German troops and will be ruthlessly eliminated in battle, wherever they appear.
October 10, 1942:
Hans Ibbeken's U-178
sinks the ocean liner Duchess of Atholl
: In the Battle of the Atlantic, the dominance of Doenitz's U-boats begins a decline as the Allies sink more U-boats this month than the Germans can launch. Though the battle is far from over, the Germans no longer have things going all their own way. (Read)
October 14, 1942:
From the minutes of a meeting of the General Staff of the Wehrmacht:
During the era of total warfare sabotage has become one of the most important elements in the conduct of war. It is sufficient to state our attitude to this question. The enemy will find evidence of it in the reports of our own propaganda units. We have already announced by radio our intention of liquidating, in future, all groups of terrorists and saboteurs acting like bandits. Therefore, the VVFSt has only to issue regulations to the troops, how to deal with terrorist and sabotage groups. In combat or in flight, they are to be killed without mercy. Members of terrorist and sabotage groups of the British Army wearing uniform, who, in the opinion of our troops, are guilty of acting dishonorably or in any manner contrary to the law of nations, are to be kept in separate custody after capture. ....
October 18, 1942:
Instructions concerning the treatment to be inflicted upon them will be given by the WFSt in agreement with the Army legal service and the Counter-Intelligence Department, Foreign Section (Amt Ausland Abwehr). Violation of the laws of war by terrorist or sabotage troops is in the future always to be assumed when individual assailants as saboteurs or agents, regardless of whether they were soldiers or whatever their uniform might be, place themselves outside the laws of war by committing surprise attacks or brutalities which in the judgment of our troops are inconsistent with the fundamental rules of war. In such cases, the assailants will be killed without mercy to the last man, in combat or in flight. Confinement in prisoner-of-war camps, even temporarily, is forbidden.
Hitler issues his infamous Commando Order. This order must not be distributed in writing by flotilla leaders, section commanders, or officers of this rank. After verbal notification to subordinate sections the above officers must hand this order over to the next higher section, which is responsible for its withdrawal and destruction.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: I passed it (the Commando Order) on through the Naval Operations Staff. ....
I did not recommend the order, but I received it as drafted by the Fuehrer, and as it came into my hands, I passed it on as ordered with the same remark as to how far it has to be passed on and how it has to be returned. It was all ordered by Hitler in detail. It was decisive for me that in one of the first paragraphs the reason for this order was given, and the reasons why Hitler considered a deviation from international law justified. Moreover, a short time before I had been in Dieppe in France, and there I was informed that on the occasion of the Commando action of the British in France, the prisoners, I believe they were from the Labor Service, who were working along the coast, had been shackled with a noose around their neck and the other end of the noose around the bent-back lower leg, so that when the leg weakened, the noose tightened and the man choked. ....
I passed it on because it was an order from my Commander-in-Chief. Moreover, in one of the last paragraphs it said that that order should not be applied for the treatment of prisoners taken after a naval action or after large scale landing operations and I, as well as many others in the Navy, concentrated our attention on this point because that was our main activity. But I saw no reason to raise objections to the Fuehrer on account of this order which I thought justified in this way. And I would like to state very clearly that I, as a soldier, was not in a position to go to my Supreme Commander and Chief of State to tell him, "Show me your reasons for this order," that would have been mutiny and could not have been done under any circumstances.
From Schulte-Monting's IMT testimony: May I just say in conclusion that this postscript has been confirmed and that the Navy, in this case Raeder, had no influence on these matters. If you ask me whether I approved that order or something of the sort I would give you my personal opinion of the matters which Raeder and I discussed. The fact is that in this war, for the first time, a form of sabotage was applied, whether behind the lines by means of air landings or otherwise. ....
October 23, 1942:
I have to comment on that order which was issued earlier. The preamble of that order said that, since there w as knowledge of orders to the Allied soldiers or—I do not remember the exact wording any more—since these soldiers were given orders not to bother taking German prisoners but rather to shoot them while carrying out their work in the so-called Commando raids, the following directives had to be issued.
At that time I discussed this matter with Raeder, of course, and I can merely state my personal opinion. I felt that I could believe this preamble because I am of the opinion that if I resorted to, let us say, sabotage behind the lines then of course I could not be bothered with taking prisoners, because then the element of surprise would be excluded. If, therefore, a troop of three to five men, a so-called Commando undertaking, is sent behind the lines in order to destroy enemy installations, then of course they cannot burden themselves with prisoners without running the risk of being killed themselves or of being recognized before they can carry out their undertaking. Therefore I considered this preamble quite credible and I expressly said so at that time. .... I said, here is a fact of which we were informed only by the Armed Forces communique, and that Raeder and the High Command had not been heard on this point. That is what I stated.
Raeder writes a cover letter to Admiral Boehm: "To my regret I have to send you enclosed, for your personal information, a letter from Reich Minister Dr. Lammers to Prime Minister Quisling." From the letter from Lammers to Quisling:
The Fuehrer, therefore, desires that during the war there shall be no conferences or discussions concerning a final or a preliminary peace between the Greater German Reich and Norway, or concerning other measures fixing or anticipating Norway's position to the Reich after the end of the war.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: This influence (on France and German relations), when there was any, was in the first place directed as much as possible towards improving the defense of the country. In the second place, there were above all humanitarian reasons. I often visited naval and submarine bases in France. During these journeys I got some knowledge of conditions in France. I saw that in 1940 and still in 1941 the population lived just as if it were at peace, completely undisturbed. Consequently I believed, since the Fuehrer had shown so much moderation on the occasion of the Armistice, that a basis could be found which would draw France—whose government was after all collaborationist—closer to us.
October 28, 1942:
I was informed that Laval was really sincere in his opinion that only co-operation between France and Germany could guarantee a lasting peace in Europe for the future. Therefore I suggested to him whether he himself could not try to do something in that direction. He did not intend to do this, and I referred to it again when I heard that Admiral Darlan was trying to work more closely with our naval commander in France, Admiral Schultze. That was first achieved in the field of intelligence, where his services were very useful to us.
Hitler's notorious order Commando Order (above, October 18) is promulgated to naval commands:
Enclosed please find a Fuehrer order regarding annihilation of terror and sabotage units. This order must not be distributed in writing by Flotilla leaders, Section Commanders or Officers of this rank. After verbal notification to subordinate sections the above officers must hand this order over to the next higher section which is responsible for its withdrawal and destruction.
October 30, 1942:
in the Mediterranean. Lieutenant Anthony Fasson, Able Seaman Colin Grazier, and 16 year-old Tommy Brown (a NAAFI canteen assistant) board the U-boat and retrieve Enigma code books. Fasson and Grazier drown as the U-boat sinks, and will be posthumously awarded the George Cross.
November 2, 1942
Battle of the St. Lawrence:
The SS Rosecastle
and PLM 27
are sunk by U-518
with the loss of 69 lives.
STRONG>November 7, 1942:
Intelligence reports from late October, of an Allied convoy that had been spotted in the Atlantic, come to Jodl's attention. He concludes that their mission is probably an invasion of Malta. (Brown)
November 8, 1942:
The convoy first spotted in late October disembarks its troops and equipment in North Africa, as Operation Torch begins. Hitler and his generals are caught totally by surprise. (Brown)
November 8, 1942:
Hitler speaks in Munich:
If Mr. Roosevelt says he does not hear my speeches, I can only say, I do not talk for Mr. Roosevelt's benefit at all. Once he accosted me by telegraph, and thereupon I gave him my reply, as a polite man would, but otherwise I do not talk to Mr. Roosevelt at all. I now talk through that instrument through which one can only talk today and that instrument talks loud and distinct enough. Otherwise I talk only on the rarest occasions to the movement and to my own German people, and all that I can say for such a speech is only one thing: Think incessantly, men and women, only of the fact that this war will decide the "To be or not to be" of our people. And if you understand that, each one of your thoughts and each of your actions will be one single prayer...
November 11, 1942:
Ernst-Ulrich Bruller's U-407
sinks the ocean liner RMS Viceroy of India
. Only four crew members are lost out of a total of 432 crew and 22 passengers. Survivors are picked up by the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Boadicea
November 14, 1942:
Gustav Poel's U-413
sinks the ocean liner Warwick Castle
December 14, 1942:
From an internal document:
Top secret: According to the last sentence of the Fuehrer order of 18 October, individual saboteurs can be spared for the time being in order to keep them for interrogation ... The Red Cross and the BDS protested against the immediate carrying out of the Fuehrer order ...
December 17, 1942:
United Nations Statement: "...those responsible for these crimes shall not escape retribution..."
December 31, 1942
The Battle of the Barents Sea:
The heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper
; pocket battleship Luetzow
; and destroyers Friedrich Eckholdt, Richard Beitzen, Theodor Riedel
, Z 29, Z 30
, and Z 31
attack Convoy JW 51B comprised of fourteen merchant ships escorted by the destroyers HMS Achates, Orwell, Oribi, Onslow, Obedient
, and Obdurate
; the Flower class corvettes Rhododendron
; the minesweeper HMS Bramble
; and two trawlers Vizalma
and Northern Gem
. In the end, the Nazis will lose one destroyer and the British one aging destroyer and a minesweeper. The attack is ultimately a humiliating failure for the Germans; all fourteen of the merchant ships will reach their destinations in Russia.
January 1, 1943:
Hitler throws a major tantrum upon being informed of the humiliation on the Barents Sea. Declaring surface ships worthless, Hitler threatens to have them all decommissioned and utilized as scrap.
January 6, 1943:
After a stormy interview, Raeder tenders his resignation. Hitler accepts. From a record of the meeting in Raeder's handwriting:
...if the Fuehrer was anxious to demonstrate that the parting was of the friendliest character and wished that the name Raeder should continue to be associated with the Navy, particularly abroad, it would perhaps be possible to make an appointment to the Inspector General, giving appropriate publicity in the press, et cetera. But a new Commander-in-Chief of the Navy with full responsibility for this office must be appointed. The position of Inspector General, or whatever it was decided to call it, must be purely nominal. The Fuehrer accepted this suggestion with alacrity. The Inspector General could perhaps carry out special tasks for him, make tours of inspection, et cetera. The name of Raeder was still to be associated with the Navy. After Commander-in-Chief of the Navy had repeated his request, the Fuehrer definitely agreed to 30th January as his release date. He would like to think over the details.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: At that moment I had the impression, when he (Hitler) made such serious accusations and when he considerably contradicted his previous judgments, that maybe he wanted to get rid of me, and l therefore considered that that was a particularly favorable moment to leave. .... Yes (it was possible to resign), but in this case, of course, there were two prerequisites. The first was that Hitler himself did not like me any more and I knew it, so that it would not be insubordination if I threw up my post for some reason or other.
January 10, 1943:
Secondly, because it was possible, as I pointed out in that conversation, for the change to take place under peaceful conditions so that the Navy would not suffer by it. If I had left because of a quarrel, then that would have had a very bad effect on the Navy because it might have meant a certain split between the Navy and Hitler, and I had particularly to preserve unity, at that critical moment of the war. ....
I had been in the service for 15 years, and I could tell him, "If that is the way you yourself judge me, then there is no sense in your continuing to work with me." That was a favorable opportunity which made it permissible for me to ask him to release me. But what one could not do was to throw up the job and give the impression of being insubordinate. That had to be avoided at all costs, I would never have done that. I was too much of a soldier for that.
From a memorandum by Raeder:
The Importance of German Surface Forces for Conducting the War by the Powers Signatory to the Three Power Pact...it was planned by the leaders of the National Socialist Reich to give the German Navy by 1944-45 such a strength that it would be possible to strike at the British vital arteries in the Atlantic with sufficient ships, fighting power, and range...In 1939, the war having begun 5 years earlier, the construction of these forces was still in its initial stages.
From the IMT testimony of Admiral Gerhard Wagner: Admiral Doenitz' activity as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy began with a very strong opposition to Hitler. It was Hitler's intention to scrap the large ships of the Navy, that is to say the remaining battleships and cruisers. Admiral Raeder had already rejected that plan ... Apart from that, Hitler's respect for Doenitz was due to the fact that every statement which the Admiral made was absolutely reliable and absolutely honest. The Admiral attached particular importance to the fact that particularly unfavorable developments, failures, and mistakes were to be reported at headquarters without digression, objectively, and simply. ... wishes of the Party were, in my opinion, only put to the Navy in three cases. One was the question of the churches, which for the most part came up during the time of Admiral Raeder. I think it is generally known that the Navy retained its original religious organization and, in fact, extended it as the Navy grew.
From Doenitz's IMT testimony: It (appointment as Kriegsmarine commander) was self-evidently a purely military position, namely, that of the first soldier at the head of the Navy. My appointment to this position also came about because of purely military reasons which motivated Grossadmiral Raeder to propose my name for this position. Purely military considerations were the decisive ones in respect to this appointment.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: The Fuehrer had ordered that I propose two admirals as successors. I suggested in writing first...Admiral Carls, who was the senior and has vast knowledge of the entire conduct of naval policy. In the event that the Fuehrer should want to manifest that he now was placing U-boat warfare in the foreground I suggested Admiral Doenitz, who was the greatest authority in that field. Political considerations of any kind were not mentioned at all; it was purely an official, technical appointment.
January 30, 1943:
Raeder resigns from command of the Kriegsmarine, becoming Admiral Inspector of the Navy, an honorary position. He is replaced by Doenitz.
From The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer: Hitler had become furious with Raeder, who had commanded the German Navy since 1928, for the Navy's failure to destroy Allied convoys to Russia in the Arctic Ocean and for heavy losses suffered there. In a hysterical outburst at headquarters, on January 1, the warlord had ordered the immediate decommissioning of the German High Seas Fleet. The vessels were to be broken up for scrap. On January 6 there was a stormy showdown between Hitler and Raeder at the Wolfschanze headquarters. The Fuehrer accused the Navy of inaction and lack of will to fight and take risks. Raeder thereupon asked to be relieved of his command, and his resignation was formally and publicly accepted on January 30. Doenitz, the new Commander in Chief, had been commander of U-boats, knew little of the problems of surface vessels and henceforth concentrated on submarine warfare.
February 1, 1943:
From the Manchester Guardian:
The replacement of Admiral Raeder, Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy, by the U-boat expert Admiral Doenitz (announced on Saturday) is regarded in Sweden as a substantiation of recent signs that Hitler is pinning all his hopes on winning the war by U-boats. Stockholm reports say that it was known there that Hitler had virtually stopped all major naval building in order to build submarines. It is said that the rate is almost one a day. Raeder, who 'has been appointed Admiral-Inspector is being relieved of his daily work in the leadership of the Navy at his own request.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: I should like to say briefly that on several occasions before the war I asked the Fuehrer to relieve me of my post, or I presented him with an ultimatum. I should like briefly to cite two cases as examples. In November 1938 in the presence of General Keitel I made a report to the Fuehrer about the type of ships and our plans as to how the ships should be developed further. On this occasion the Fuehrer, in a manner defying explanation, began to attack everything that we had built and were building, including the plans for the Bismarck, and to declare them wrong. Later I found out that things like that happened whenever some persons of his entourage, who knew very little about such things, gave him their opinion, that he always followed it up, probably wanting—as I told myself later—to check whether the things he had been told were actually correct.
November 1, 1943
This case, however, was so extreme that I could not do anything else but simply pick up my plans, put them in my brief case, and leave the room. General Keitel was present. The Fuehrer followed me to the door, asked me to come in again, softened his accusations, and asked me not to resign now under any circumstances.
The second case was a purely personal one, but it is rather typical. His naval adjutant, who had just been appointed, wanted to marry a young girl who had a very unsavory reputation at the University of Kiel. I told him I would never consent to the marriage. The Fuehrer had the girl introduced to him and decided he had nothing against the marriage; I left the Berghof and sent the Fuehrer a letter via a staff: officer in which I told him that I would refuse my consent, that the officer would not remain in the Navy should he marry, or else I would not remain. I asked the officer who acted as my courier to bring back the answer since I wanted to reach a decision at once. The Fuehrer had the officer wait 2 days at the Berghof and then sent him back to me with a letter saying:
"Very well, the officer cannot marry and remain in the Navy and he will not be used further as a naval adjutant; someone else will be put in his place. He will become some sort of leader in my National Socialist Motor Corps and will then serve as one of my Party adjutants."
It was also typical of the Fuehrer that, to a certain degree, he wanted to see his will carried through; but this man was out of the Navy, and I could make my conviction felt in this case. Under these circumstances I declared myself ready to continue in office. That was at the beginning of 1939; in the course of the spring, however, I asked again whether I could not be relieved of my position now, since I had served for many years in the Navy and I did not believe I would be able to maintain the dignity of the office much longer. I suggested to him that perhaps in October 1939 I should leave my post. The Fuehrer refused at the time, and on 1 October we were at war, and in time of war I did not believe that I could leave the Navy under any circumstances unless it was very urgent, especially since I considered myself totally responsible for all preparations and for the training of the Navy. In the course of the war our co-operating which up until then, aside from such incidents, had been quite congenial, since the Fuehrer had always made an effort to show me respect, our connection gradually became very strained during the war. The Fuehrer became more nervous when I made reports, flared up in rage when there were divergences of opinion or if there had been any incidents, as, for instance, a technical defect or poor performance by a ship. It happened again and again that his entourage influenced him before I could actually explain matters to him, and I was called in subsequently to set him straight on these matters. In that way unpleasant scenes ensued which wore me out.
One point about which the Fuehrer was especially sensitive was the large ships. He was always uneasy when our large ships were out on the high seas and were carrying on raids against shipping. The loss of a ship, such as the Graf Spree or later the Bismarck, he considered a tremendous loss of prestige; and matters like that, therefore, excited him tremendously. That went on until the end of 1942. Then there came—and this particularly impressed me—my defeat in the consultation with the Fuehrer on questions dealing with Norway, France, and above all, Russia. In the final analysis he always listened more to the Party people as, for example, Terboven, than to an old officer. That led to a situation which could not be tolerated for any length of time. One of the basic characteristics of the Fuehrer was a tremendous suspicion toward anyone and everyone, but especially directed against old officers who had come from the old Wehrmacht and of whom he always assumed—despite all well-intentioned treatment—that in their hearts they did not share these feelings which he had to demand of them. Especially the case of Russia had led me to so many conflicts with him that our relations were strongly influenced thereby. Indeed, the man who compiled all these war diaries and minutes, Admiral Assmann, summed it up on one occasion at the conclusion of such a discussion with the words; "The Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, therefore, is in complete opposition to the Fuehrer in this matter."
At the end of 1942, just after I had had to put an end to the entire Norwegian question, an incident occurred which led to the end. There was to have been an attack on a convoy which was going to Murmansk or Archangel from England. It was in December at a time when in those northern regions there are just 1 or 2 hours of light and hence no favorable weather for fighting by large ships when up against large numbers of destroyers. The ships, together with the destroyers, had started on their journey and had reached the convoy while it was still light. But since daylight soon disappeared and darkness fell and since the convoy was guarded by many destroyers, the admiral considered it expedient to withdraw the big ships from the battle. That was the only correct decision for he might have lost them ad by torpedo attack. This fact, and secondly the fact that unfortunately the radio connection between this admiral and the Naval Operations Staff was made difficult and at times completely broken off by static, caused the Fuehrer to become extremely excited in his headquarters where I reported to him everything I found out myself. The whole day was spent with questions back and forth, and even in the evening I could not give him a clear picture. This excited him extremely. Through Admiral Krancke he had all sorts of insults transmitted to me and demanded that I report to him immediately; and I could see that very strong friction would result. I arranged it so that I did not need to report to him until 6 days later on 6 January so that the atmosphere could first cool off a little. On 6 January I could go to him with a complete report; and in the evening, at a discussion at which Field Marshal Keitel was also present, he made a speech of about an hour's duration in which he made derogatory remarks about everything that the Navy had done so far, in direct contrast to every judgment passed on the Navy up until this time. From this I saw that he was anxious to bring about a break.
I personally was firmly prepared to seize this opportunity to resign, especially as it became ever clearer that the war was becoming a pure U-boat war, and I could therefore feel that I could leave at this moment with a clear conscience.
After the Fuehrer had concluded his speech I asked to be permitted to speak with him alone. Field Marshal Keitel and the stenographers left and I told him that I was asking for my resignation as I could see from his words that he was entirely dissatisfied with me and therefore this was the proper moment for me to leave. As always, he tried at first to dissuade me but I remained adamant and told him that a new Commander-in-Chief of the Navy who would have complete responsibility would definitely have to be appointed. He said that it would be a great burden for him if I were to leave now since for one thing the situation was very critical—Stalingrad was impending—and secondly, since he had already been accused of dismissing so many generals. In the eyes of the outside world it would incriminate him if I were to leave at this point. I told him that I would do everything I could to prevent that happening. If he wanted to give the appearance as far as the outside world was concerned that I had not resigned because of a clash, then he could make me a general inspector with some sort of nominal title, which would create the impression that I was still with the Navy and that my name was still connected with the Navy. This appealed to him at once and I told him on 6 January that I wanted to be dismissed on 30 January. At this point I had concluded 10 years of service as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy under him. He agreed to this proposal and asked me to suggest two successors so that he could make a choice.
On 30 January he then personally dismissed me by appointing me Admiral Inspector of the Navy. He said that he would still on occasion ask me for advice; but that never happened. I was merely sent out twice, once to Bulgaria when the King of Bulgaria was buried and once to Hungary, to the Hungarian Regent Horthy to bring him a gift from the Fuehrer. .... I had no functions and received no orders. .... I do believe that he wanted to get rid of me at this time, for I was in a certain way an inconvenience for him. This one case which I described, where I had my way in the end, he had never forgotten. ...during the war I felt I could not leave the Navy, which was already in such a difficult situation, and I believed I enjoyed its confidence to a certain extent so that I could be useful.
Let those who have hitherto not imbrued their hands with innocent blood beware lest they join the ranks of the guilty, for most assuredly the three Allied powers will pursue them to the uttermost ends of the earth and will deliver them to their accusers in order that justice may be done. The above declaration is without prejudice to the case of German criminals whose offenses have no particular geographical localization and who will be punished by joint decision of the government of the Allies...
January 10, 1944:
Memorandum For (Naval Historian) Vice Admiral Assmann For His Own Use, Signed by Raeder:
1. At this time the Fuehrer had made known his "unalterable decision" to conduct the Eastern campaign in spite of all remonstrance's. After that, further warnings, if no new situations had arisen, were found to be completely useless. As Chief of Naval War Staff I was never convinced of the "Compelling necessity" for Barbarossa.
2. During the campaign in France and also during the beginning of preparation for Seeloewe [invasion of England] while the Fuehrer still had hopes of gaining control of the air (which he too recognized as being an essential prerequisite of Seeloewe), it was doubtless his intention after France's fall to concentrate on the Navy and Air Force. The Fuehrer described the moving of troops to the Eastern front in August to me as a large scale camouflage measure for Seeloewe. (A statement from the Supreme Command of the Army would have to be obtained on this point.)
The Fuehrer very early had the idea of one day settling accounts with Russia, doubtless his general ideological attitude played an essential part in this. In 1937-38 he once stated that he intended to eliminate the Russians as a Baltic power; they would then have to be diverted in the direction of the Persian Gulf. The advance of the Russians against Finland and the Baltic States in 1939-40 probably further strengthened him in this idea.
The fear that control of the air over the Channel in the autumn of 1940 could no longer be attained—a realization which the Fuehrer, no doubt, gained earlier than the Naval War Staff, who were not so fully informed of the true results of air raids on England (our own losses) surely caused the Fuehrer, as far back as August and September, to consider whether even prior to victory in the Western Eastern campaign would be feasible with the object of first eliminating our last serious opponent on the Continent. The Fuehrer did not openly express this fear, however, until well into September.
The Fuehrer's remark of 7/21/1940 is an indication of reflections of this kind (Section 68) ("It is of course our duty to give careful consideration to the question of America and Russia!"); furthermore, comments such as Section 76, dated 12.8, dealing with the fortification of the North Norwegian fjords, and occasional statements regarding the meeting of Russian demands for the delivery of ships and heavy artillery, which show the Fuehrer's mistrust of the Russian attitude and his hope of evading certain commitments altogether.
Doubtless during 9/1940 the possibility of an Eastern campaign was mentioned rather often by the Fuehrer, for I was worried that the war should take a wrong turn (being diverted from the main danger "England"), and this caused me to have an interview with the Fuehrer, tete a tete, "even outside my own department" on 6/26/1940, concerning the significance of the Mediterranean and North Africa, after I had first made a thorough report on these questions, on 9/6/1940. In this interview of 9/26/1940 my statement "It is questionable whether an attack on Russia from the North is necessary," removed all doubt that there had been talk during the previous weeks of the Eastern operation. It is in keeping with the Fuehrer's usual mode of procedure for him to exercise personal reserve in the first instance in this matter vis-a-vis the Chief of Naval War Staff, whose concept would necessarily be a different one. In this connection the Supreme Command of the Army will be able to give fuller details, since it was primarily concerned in the preparations, and will have been addressed by the Fuehrer on the matter. I would particularly point out here—quite apart from the Eastern operation—how I have attempted to impress on the Fuehrer the decisive importance for the war of the question of the Mediterranean and North Africa (when I reported to the Fuehrer on 6.9 and 26.9.40). After the discussion on 26.9. the Fuehrer told Kapitan zur See von Puttkamer that this report had been especially valuable to him, and that he could, in the light of it, review his own opinions, and see whether he was "in the right perspective."
3. At that time (a1 above), the Fuehrer was firmly resolved on a surprise attack on Russia, regardless of what was the Russian attitude to Germany, this, according to reports coming in, was frequently changing. The communication to Matsuoka was designed entirely as a camouflage measure and to insure surprise. Concern lest a note to Matsuoka which stated his telling Matsuoka the whole truth. He told me so at the time at a party!
4. The expression "greatly abbreviated" describes the representations I have always made while at 1 SKL, memorandums, which were not so much German essays, or very exhaustive, as notes, and thus easier to put into report form. By means of the notes I could the more briefly and forcefully present this report, which without doubt gave a particularly clear and significant picture of the situation. It formed a very good supplement to and continuation of my reports made on the 6.6. and 29.6.40. The Fuehrer, whose primary interest was in the setting in motion of Barbarossa (thus, for instance, he wanted to employ the German Air Forces principally on the Eastern Front) naturally took a special interest in those points in connection with which fuller aid could be secured from the Italians. It would be a mistake to conclude, from the expression "greatly abbreviated," that there was "reserve" on my part on this subject, to which I have always given the greatest publicity.
5. In view of previous statements by the Fuehrer (see Section 2), and the contrasts in ideology, I personally have always doubted that the Fuehrer believed from the very beginning that the Russo-German pact would last. I think that the pact arose solely out of the need of the moment and that the Fuehrer (in spite of his speech in the Reichstag on 1.9.39) in no way intended it to be a permanent solution of the Russian problem. After the campaign against Poland he had contented himself in the first instance with a frontier line which would, with the help of an Eastern wall, afford an effective defense against Russia. In my opinion it was only later, when, on the one hand, the first successes in Russia had been gained, and on the other, when the prospects of turning North Africa to good account were fading that it became his aim to make the feeding of Europe dependent on the Ukraine, this plan bringing with it permanent opposition to Russia. Though nothing was actually said, this would involve giving up all thought of targets for which a certain measure of sea power was required, that is, it would mean striving for a pure continental policy.
6. As under section 3. A statement such as this to the Duce should be considered merely as camouflage. The Fuehrer kept his plans most carefully secret from the Italians. I believe that Stalin is our greatest enemy—a statesman at home and abroad, a soldier and an organizer on a prodigious scale, a Titanic genius seeing far into the future. I consider it extremely probable that in 1937-1938 Stalin came to recognize, through the efforts of the United States ambassador, as described by Davies in "Mission to Moscow," that Russia could play an important part in a subsequent conflict between the Anglo-Saxon races and Germany, and that he thereupon began to speed up his armaments. The pact with Germany was of a kind which would help him toward the realization of the first part of his scheme—Eastern Poland, the Baltic countries, Bessarabia and perhaps the Balkans and the Dardanelles. The gains of 1939-1940 were indeed great.
In 1940-41 Stalin had no reason to march against Germany. Germany's surprisingly great successes against France and the Balkans impressively demonstrated her strength to him and perhaps even awakened fear of her. Stalin cannot therefore have intended to take the initiative in attacking this strong Germany in 1941, but while continuing to arm, he must have wanted to wait and see whether the subsequent course of the war between Germany and the Anglo-Saxon powers would offer him a favorable opportunity—he knew from Davies that the USA would join in sooner or later. Whether in this connection he favored a push towards the Rhine, passing through the Scandinavian countries, or to the North Atlantic, or in the direction of the Mediterranean to the Dardanelles, or through Persia to the Indian Ocean, or finally towards India, must have depended entirely on the course of the struggle between Germany and the Anglo-Saxon powers. As I see it, it does not do justice to the importance of Stalin to assume that he intended "to start the war against Germany in the autumn of 1941." It is true that an essential part of his armament was made ready for this deadline. I have sometimes been in doubt whether, for Stalin, the ideological point of view had not taken second place long ago in favor of a tremendous effort to use to the full the opportunity he was offered of realizing the schemes of Peter the Great. Was the announcement of the dissolution of the Comintern perhaps a hint to Germany that an understanding between Germany and Russia would have been possible even then, and that, after the Russian territories had been regained, a peaceful relationship would have been possible between the two States, who, taking the long view, are both threatened by the USA?
7. As no other course is possible, I have submitted to compulsion. If, in doing so, a difference of opinion arises between 1 SKL and myself, it is perhaps because the arguments the Fuehrer used on such occasions (dinner speech in the middle of July to the Officers in Command, to justify a step he had planned) usually had a greater effect on people not belonging to the "inner circle," than on those who often heard this type of reasoning. Many remarks and plans indicate that the Fuehrer calculated on the final ending of the Eastern campaign in the autumn of 1941, whereas the Supreme Command of the Army (General Staff) was very skeptical. ....
b. Weser-Uebung. The memo is wholly insufficient and does not correspond to the contents of the report. During the weeks preceding the report on 10.10.39, I was in correspondence with Admiral Carls, who, in a detailed letter to me, first pointed out the importance of an occupation of the Norwegian coasts by Germany. I passed this letter on to C/SKl for their information and prepared some notes [With the help of K.Adm.v.Puttkamer, these may possibly still be obtainable; I had no duplicate as I did not think I should have to give the notes up] based on this letter for my report to the Fuehrer which I made on 10.10.39, since my opinion was identical to that of Admiral Carls, while, at that time, SKl was more dubious about the matter.
In these notes, I set out the disadvantages which an occupation of Norway by the British would have for us control of the approaches to the Baltic, flanking of our naval operations and of our air attacks on Britain, pressure on Sweden. I also mentioned the advantages for us of the occupation of the Norwegian coast-outlet to the North Atlantic, no possibility of British minefields as in the year 1917-18. Naturally at the time, only the coast and bases were considered; I included Narvik, though Admiral Carls, in the course of our correspondence, hoped that Narvik might be excluded. (At that time, we were able to use Murmansk and/or a special Russian Base). The Fuehrer saw at once the significance of the Norwegian problem; he asked me to leave the notes and stated that he wished to consider the question himself.
In the further developments, I was supported by Korv. Kapitaen Schreiber Naval Attache in Oslo and the M-chief personally—in conjunction with the Rosenberg Organization. Thus, we got in touch with Quisling and Hagelin, who came to Berlin in December and were taken to the Fuehrer by me with the approval of Reichsleiter Rosenberg [At the crucial moment, R. hurt his foot, so that visited him in his house on the morning of 14.12]. On the grounds of the Fuehrer's discussion with Quisling and Hagelin on the afternoon of 14.12.39, the Fuehrer gave the order that preparations for the Norwegian operation were to be made by Supreme Command of the Armed Forces.
Until that moment, the Naval War Staff had taken no part in the development of the Norwegian question, and, even then, they were somewhat skeptical about it. The preparations, which were undertaken by Kpt.z.S. Kranke in the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, were founded, however, on a memorandum of the Naval War Staff.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: He (Vice Admiral Assmann) was a very able historian. I had confidence that he would write history correctly. In the most important sphere we were far behind the Versailles Treaty, as I explained to you very clearly. Possibly we infringed on it the other way round, by not doing as much as we could have done. ....
July 12, 1944:
No, he (Assmann) is wrong. It (Versailles) was not violated at all in this point (10 January 1920), and the reason it started so early was because all the ex-U-boat commanders and U-boat officers and technicians were out of a job and offered their services to maintain technical developments in U-boats abroad; that is why it was so early. But that has nothing to do with me because I had no say in these matters then. At that time I was working on the Navy Archives. .... A good historian can make mistakes too if his information is wrong. I merely said I had confidence in him...what he says about the building of U-boats is wrong. ....
All these things were only preparations made outside Germany. The point under discussion is whether the Finnish U-boats were constructed with the help of German designers. That is true. German designers were not forbidden to help Finnish designers to draft designs for U-boats. We particularly restricted ourselves with regard to the construction of U-boats; and in 1938 we had still not built the 45 percent which we were entitled to build, so we made an application for permission to build up to 100 percent; and this was agreed on, and came into effect, as appears from the text of the English treaty, after a friendly discussion with the British Admiralty at the end of 1938. At the beginning of the war we still did not have 100 percent. We were always behind with the construction of submarines. Admiral Assmann, who probably had no up-to-date knowledge of these matters, is quite wrong. I can swear to that. ....
In 1939 we entered the war with 40 submarines-I do not know the exact number. This is either a misprint or quite an incredible figure. As you know, we started the war with—I think—26 U-boats capable of sailing the Atlantic, and in addition a number of smaller boats. I cannot tell you for certain now what was under construction at the beginning of the war but there was no intention of this kind. That was precisely the accusation made against me-that I did not have sufficient U-boats built in good time. ....
It is perfectly possible that in this case Admiral Assmann has taken two things together. All U-boats and ships were, of course, included in the budget and in this way sanctioned. This budget was drafted at the end of the year and published before the year to which it applied. As this large figure suddenly appears in this document, it is perfectly possible that here the Figure 118 originates on the basis of the agreement with England made on 30 or 31 December. It is perfectly natural that we should include in the budget all the other U-boats which we were allowed to build to complete the 100 percent. This does not necessarily mean that we started to build the U-boats in 1938. Incidentally I think we might have perhaps begun, because one can only build so and so many U-boats in any one year. I think that this explanation, which occurred to me when I saw the words "Naval Budget Department," is a perfectly correct one.
It is an utter exaggeration. First of all, violations—as have been proved here in detail—were mostly of a very minor nature; and only the number of deviations may have given the impression that there were many violations. Secondly, in its essential points, we never actually filled the quotas allowed by the Versailles Treaty; in fact, we remained below the figures granted. Besides, only defense measures are involved, very primitive defense measures—Assmann's representations are just a great exaggeration.
Assmann was a naval officer who was not used at the front any more. He was a very clever writer who had written a few volumes about the first World War. He wrote very well, but even the volumes on the naval warfare during the first World War were corrected a great deal by the persons concerned; but against him and his ability to write history nothing can be said. .... The only thing I am not sure about is the 900-ton type; I cannot quite explain that. I cannot remember that at that time we were building 900-ton boats. Apart from the 250-ton type, our first types were 550-tons, and only then did the 740-ton boats come. Perhaps he is thinking of those when he says 900-tons. We did not actually build 900-ton boats.
...we included these later boats in the budget and had ordered them after we had seen Admiral Cunningham and his staff in Berlin on 30 December and had reached a friendly understanding in accordance with the agreement, allowing us to build 100 percent. The remark read at the beginning, saying that we had committed most violations in this sphere, is a complete untruth. Until the beginning of the war we only built such U-boats as we were allowed to build; that is to say, first 45 percent and later 100 percent. It was a great mistake, of course, that we did it. .... May I, perhaps, add that apart from the submarine problem, the question of two heavy cruisers, which we had originally dropped, was also settled. We only wanted to build three for the time being; and now we were asking for assent to build the other two, to which, we were entitled. That was also agreed upon in accordance with the agreement.
An extract from a lecture by Flottenintendan Thiele given at the German Naval Training Center for Administrative Officers in Prague:
The era of the very large development of the Navy had therefore come at the moment of the seizure of power. Already in the first year after this, in March 1935, the construction of battle cruisers with a displacement of 27,000 tons was undertaken. Such a vessel was ordered to be constructed. Thus one of the clauses of the Treaty of Versailles which was the most important for us was at once violated in the naval sphere in a manner which in a short time could no longer be camouflaged. ....
The U-boats were completed in separate parts, as their construction was under no circumstances to be apparent to the outside world. These parts were stored in sheds for the time being and needed only to be assembled after the declaration of freedom to rearm. .... The third also of those clauses of the Treaty of Versailles that was most disadvantageous for us, the limitation of personnel to 15,000 men, was immediately ignored after the seizure of power. The total personnel of the Navy was already 25,000 in 1934, and in 1935, the year of the London Naval Agreement, 34,000 men. .... In the opinion of A IV, it would be quite wrong to report a larger (ship displacement) tonnage than that which will probably be published shortly, for instance, by England, Russia, or Japan, so as not to bring upon ourselves the odium of an armament race.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: Of course it was a violation, but I have explained here at length that there was no question of building new battle cruisers but of utilizing the two armored ships which had already been granted us; and I said that in 1934 Hitler had only given me permission to enlarge somewhat the plans for these ships, so that the armor might be heavier. I see from this that it was not until March 1935, when it was certain that the treaty would be concluded and also that England would allow us to build such ships through this treaty in a few months' time that the Fuehrer sanctioned the plans projected for the 26,500 ton ships which were to be the first of the battleships in the new program; and they were then begun. So that the three 28 cm turrets—that is, the offensive weapons which he had not yet approved in 1934—were thrown in. ....
We had U-boat parts manufactured abroad and only at the beginning of 1935 did we bring them in and assemble them, when the naval treaty was certain. .... It was clear that we had to train personnel in good time so that crews might be available for our increased naval forces. .... We wished in no circumstance to create the impression that we were increasing the offensive power of our ships. ....
All our evasions of the Versailles Treaty were due to our desire to be able to defend our country more efficiently than we had been allowed to. I have proved here that in the Versailles regulations the only points restricted were those unfavorable to the defense of our country and favoring aggression from without. As regards the ships, I may add that we could never complete any very great number of ships, and consequently we were interested in increasing as far as possible the power of resistance, that is, their seagoing security, et cetera. At no time did we increase the offensive power above the strength which was permitted.
Affidavit of Reich Defence Minister Dr. Otto Gessler: I, Gessler, have known the former Grand Admiral Raeder personally since about the middle of the 1920's when I was Reich Minister for Defense. Raeder was then Inspector of the Educational System in the Navy. I always knew Raeder as a man of irreproachable, chivalrous character, as a man conscious of his duty. As to the subject of the indictment, I know very little. Raeder visited me repeatedly after my release from imprisonment by the Gestapo in March, 1945, when I lay in the Hedwig Hospital in Berlin, and he also made arrangements for me to get home, as I was ill and completely exhausted. I told him then about the ill-treatment which I had suffered, especially the torture. He was obviously surprised and incensed about this. He said he would report it to the Fuehrer I asked him at once to refrain from that, for I had been told officially before that the torture, that all of this was taking place at the explicit order of Hitler. Moreover, I knew definitely that I would immediately be rearrested, since on my release I had signed the well-known declaration, and could not even obtain a confirmation of my detention in order to get a ticket for my trip home.
I heard nothing about secret rearmament in the Navy, neither during my term of office, nor later. During my term of office, until January, 1928, Grand Admiral Raeder could not have been responsible either, for at that time he was not Chief of the Naval Command. At the time of the National Socialist regime, I was both ignored and snubbed by my former department. One of the few exceptions to this was Admiral Raeder. Before 1939, he invited me a third time to visit the cruiser Nuremberg, although I had refused twice. During the visit in June, 1939, he came to Kiel personally to greet me. At that time we also discussed the political situation. I expressed the apprehension that an attack on Poland would mean a European war. Raeder declared positively that he considered it out of the question that Hitler would attack Poland. When this did happen later, I explained this to myself on the grounds that Hitler liked to place even the highest military leaders face to face with accomplished facts.
From Raeder's IMT testimony: When Dr. Gessler, who in spite of my objections had been kept for several months in a concentration camp, returned from the concentration camp and informed me that he was in extremely pitiful condition, and that in spite of my request in August, when he was sent to the concentration camp and when I had asked the Fuehrer through Admiral Wagner for Dr. Gessler to be questioned quickly because he was certainly innocent in connection with the assassination attempt, so that he could be released as soon as possible... I always made serious protests, and that I have proved here, and the adjutant, General Schmundt, told me, "You will be most successful if you try to influence the Fuehrer personally when you are alone with him and tell him quite openly what you think." This is important enough to mention and I must say it.
Well, Dr. Gessler came back from the concentration camp and told me that during his first interrogation—at that time I had not yet had a chance to intervene—he had been tortured. That was the first time that I heard that anywhere in Germany anybody was tortured. There is a letter from Dr. Gessler about that—that I told him immediately, "I am going to the Fuehrer at once to tell him about this because I cannot imagine that he knows about that." Gessler begged me—when he confirmed that letter—for goodness sake not to go to the Fuehrer then, because that would endanger his, Gessler's, life. I said I would answer for it that nothing would happen to him, and that I would still try to approach the Fuehrer.
During the whole of the ensuing period I attempted to approach the Fuehrer, who was not at headquarters. When I was informed in April that he was in Berlin, which was already under heavy attack, I tried to approach the Fuehrer day after day by calling Admiral Voss over the telephone. That was no longer possible, and after I received that information the first thing I did was that I went, together with my wife, to the lake which was behind our house and tore off my Party Emblem and threw it into the lake. I told that to Admiral Voss but unfortunately I could not tell it to the Fuehrer any more. That can be seen from the letter which Dr. Gessler wrote, and we would have liked to have him as a witness, but his state of health did not permit it.
FB: Horrific 20th Century History