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Translation of document C-66
[MEMORANDUM FOR ADMIRAL ASSMANN FOR HIS OWN USE, SIGNED “RAEDER,” 10 JANUARY 1944.] I. S. O. Only a. Barbarossa. 1. At this time the Fuehrer had made known his “unalterable decision” to conduct the Eastern campaign in spite of all remonstrances. 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 West-an 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 21 July 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 September 1940 the possibility of an Eastern campaign was mentioned rather often by the Fuehrer, for 1 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 26 June 1940, concerning the significance of the Mediterranean and North Africa. after I had first made [Page 889] a thorough report on these questions, on 6 September 1910. In this interview of 26 September 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 (al 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 [Page 890] 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 and 38 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 1939-40 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 tear 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 [Page 891] Rhine, passing through the Scandanavian 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 Commintern 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. Gross Admiral Assmann, for your own personal information. Not for distribution. [signed] Raeder. 10.1.44. 1 Chefaache ******* b. Weser-Ubung. 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* based on this letter for my report to the Fuehr er which I made on 10.10.:39, since my opinion was identi- [Page 892] cal to that of Admiral Carls, while, at that time, SKI 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.** 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. ---------- * 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. ** At the crucial moment, R. hurt his foot, so that I visited him in his house on the morning of 14.12.