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on and sink any neutral merchant ships except those of

"friendly" neutral countries. (c) The Fuehrer is reserving the announcement of the law

in reply to the order in council until the moment of the general intensification of the war; should the offensive be long delayed, then until such time as special measures

will have to be carried out in place of an offensive. The good treatment of friendly neutrals is to continue." (p.r. of "Vortrag des Ob.d.M. beim Fuehrer am 30.XII.39. (Gegenwart Gen.Ob. Keitel und Freg.Kpt. v. Puttkamer.)”)

Appendix to the above:

(signed by Fricke of the Naval War Staff, 1st Division (1 Skl.))

"Intensification of the war on merchant shipping. I. The position of the German war on merchant shipping at the end of December 1939. (a) Attacks by U-boats without warning: (1) against all enemy merchant ships, with the exception of

passenger ships sailing in convoy. (2) against all neutral ships sailing in enemy convoys. (3) against all ships sailing without lights in the area: 20°

W, 62° N, 3° E, 44° N, (4) against all ships which disobey when ordered to stop or

to discontinue the use of their wireless, (5) against all tankers within the American prohibited area

west of 2° E, with the exception of Italian, Russian,

Spanish, American and Japanese tankers." (From "Anlage zu Vortrag beim Fuehrer am 30.12.1939”)


From a report, signed by Raeder, on a meeting he had with the Fuehrer. Gen.Ob. Keitel, Gen.Maj. Jodl and Freg. Kapt. v. Puttkamer were also present:

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* *

(2) North Sea. * *
(d) Intensification of the U-boat war.

Up to the present, all ships sailing without lights (in-
cluding passenger ships sailing without lights) could be
fired on and sunk within the American prohibited area.
It has now been established that British ships sailing
without lights have, of late, often been showing dim
navigation lights. This is done, presumably, to avoid
collisions. Besides flying their country's flag and show-
ing the markings of their nationality, neutral ships are

obliged to sail with lights so that they may be recognised beyond all doubt. Ob.d.M. proposes that even passenger ships sailing without lights, but showing navigation lights, be fired on and sunk (without warning) as this would signify that they were British. The British use passenger ships to a great extent for transporting troops and freight, owing to the shortage of freighters. The

Fuehrer has agreed to this.” (P. 2. of "Vortrag des Ob.d.M. beim Fuehrer am 23.2.40–1030Gegenwart: Gen. Ob. Keitel, Generalmajor Jodl, Freg.Kpt. v. Puttkamer".)

II. Extracts from documents contained in file: "1 Skl. Handakten, Korv. Kapt. Assamann."


* *


From a memorandum entitled: "The position of the Naval War Staff to the question 'Reaction to the Order in Council,' concerning the seizing of German export goods."

"I. The 'order in council was announced on the 28th November 1939. According to its text and also according to the intention of the British, its purpose is to stop Germany from exporting goods in neutral ships *

II. This British measure calls for a counter-measure from Germany, whether it actually has a great effect or whether its effect has merely been over-estimated by the British. The Reich Government has so far 'reserved further measures' *

III. * * * It is not necessary to reply merely by sea warfare. Retaliation in the political, economic and other spheres of war (i.e. the Luftwaffe) can also be given consideration * * * V. *

* * It would be possible to make the order in council' grounds for a general intensification of the war. Should however, the moment for this be long delayed, then a reply if indeed any such is intended, must be made earlier, i.e. soon.

VI. Naval measures for intensifying the war on merchant shipping have so far progressed that only the last step is required to exhaust all the possibilities. The suggestion of the Auswaertigen Amt, of replying to the Order by a pronouncement of blockade or with similar measures, does not meet with the approval of Skl. [Seekriegsleitung-Naval War Staff). This measure should be reserved for the general intensification of the war. A measure such as that sketched in the appendix might be considered as a reply to the 'order in council. This outline for a law, proposed by Skl, has been approved by the Auswaertigen Amt, which relinquishes its earlier, more extensive proposal, since Skl intends a further intensification of the war on merchant shipping in the near future.


VIII. The proposal of Skl is: should the political authorities wish to reply to the order in council' before the general intensification of the war, and if they consider that such an answer can be given only by intensifying the naval war, then the law should come into force about Dec. 15th." ("Stellungnahme der Seekriegsleitung zu der Frage ‘Reaction auf die order in council', betreffend Exportbeschlagnahme deutscher Waren.” [This document iš near the beginning of the file and has many underlinings in green pencil.])

Appendix to the above:

"A Special Law in retaliation to the enemy measures against

German Export.

ART. I. Goods and materials, including fuel of all kinds, which are enemy property, or of enemy origin, or which have been loaded in an enemy port, are liable to be seized or taken into port, whatever the nationality of the ship carrying the cargo may be.

The terms of the Prize Regulations concerning contraband goods apply accordingly. This law applies to goods and materials shipped after * * *

This law comes into force on its publication.

Grounds for the special law. The grounds for the law are to be set out, in the preamble and in the notes given with its notification to neutrals, somewhat in the following way:

By the Order of 28.11, the British Government has subjected to attack export goods of German origin on neutral ships making for neutral ports, even when they are neutral property. It is immaterial where such export goods of German origin are encountered.

Threefold breaking of International Law by the British Government:

(1) by the attempt to carry out a permissible ban on merchant shipping in the form of an illegal ‘paper' blockade (as the first step to a formally declared and effective blockade), without employing the corresponding blockade forces,

(2) by extending the application of this ‘paper' blockade over all the seas; not limiting it to German waters.

(3) by subjecting neutral countries thereby to the effects of a procedure, permissible neither in form nor in content." (The above appendix is attached to document 'Stellungnahme der Seekriegsleitung * * Neither is signed nor dated).


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From notes, undated and unsigned, on a memorandum on the intensification of the war at sea against Britain. (This does not seem to refer to any particular document contained in the file, none of which, however, contain any information on this subject which is not given in the extracts in Section I).

"The memorandum clearly shows that, for some time to come, we shall not be in a position to gain a decisive success in the economic war against Britain by war means, even if these are put into force in their most intense form. This fact leads to the logical conclusion that the economic war must be conducted so that, on the one hand, it should be operationally as successful as possible without, on the other hand, producing results which would unfavourably change the whole war situation. This latter would be the case if, as happened in the last war, our use of the most extreme form of naval economic warfare resulted in the entry of the USA into the war against us." (p. 2)

* The American Neutrality Law is a shackle for the most war-loving of American Presidents, one which presumably cannot be shaken off so long as we do not provide him with the excuse to break this shackle and thus fulfill the dearest wish of the British! The terms of the neutrality law however, are such that, under them, we could conduct a very intense naval economic war against Britain without the fear of a conflict with the USA. The final stage of intensification, perhaps not yet to be employed because of the USA, would not outweigh the risk of war with the USA. This could be justified only when our general war position is so strong and our naval resources for the economic warfare so formidable (either by our own strength or with Italian or Russian aid), that, even by their most severe employment, we could easily deal with such a decisive result as American aid to the enemy.

"Even if we are convinced that, should the war be of long duration, the USA will enter it in any case,

* it must be our object to delay this event so long that American help would come too late.” (pp. 3 & 4) (Bemerkung zu der Denkschrift ueber die Verschaerfung des Seekrieges gegen England.")



III. Extracts from documents contained in file: B.d.U. Operations-befehle, 1939/42”.

A.Teil I. 23.8.39.

From Operation Order No. 3 for Atlantic U-boats, (Operation order No. 3 for U-boats “Alarm practice North Sea") For U.26, U.53. The order is signed by Doenitz:


Merchant shipping warfare according to the "New Draft

of the Prize Regulations." As long as the war against Merchant shipping is to be conducted in accordance with the Prize Regulations, the following ships are the main ones to be attacked, and these, even under these regulations, may be sunk without warning: (1) Troop transports i.e. any vessels on which troops or war

materials can be seen, or which can be identified as such

in other ways. (2) Vessels escorted by enemy warships or planes. (3) Vessels taking part in actions, or directly supporting

hostile operations i.e. by sending signals. It should be assumed that a merchant ship is taking part in an action, as soon as ever it prepares to offer resistance, or takes

steps calculated to endanger the U-boat. (6) Should danger zones be declared by Germany, at the out

break of, or during the war, limitless merchant shipping warfare, i.e. attack without warning on all vessels encountered, will be permitted within those areas. None of our own surface craft will be within the areas of such danger zones, therefore unrestricted action will be yours in these

specific areas. (c) Attacks on enemy warships from Flotilla leaders upwards

and submarines; destroyers only if the opportunities of fir

ing are favourable and sure. (d) Opportunities for attacks against merchant vessels will

present themselves in area T on the merchant shipping
routes from North America (Canada) to the northern out-
let of the Irish Sea and the Clyde Harbour, and in area M
on the merchant shipping routes from South America -
Cape Verde Island - West coast of Africa.
In area M, French troop transports may also be expected.

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