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ship sailing in convoy, even if she is not flying the flag of a different nation; by night, it is quite impossible. I have informed Skl that, if this order is to be obeyed, I cannot permit U-boats to operate in the channel. Skl is reserving the final decision concerning the attitude towards French ships and informed me by telephone through Kpt.z.S. Fricke that today's order is to be rescinded and the old order to remain in force; i.e. the risk is to be taken that French ships may be sunk without warning, if they sail in convoy north of the latitude of Brest." (p. 6)
"It will be seen, from reports sent in by U-boats returned to base, that a great many steamships make use of their wireless after they are ordered to stop. As a result, aircraft appear over the position. In this way, steamships support the enemy action against the U-boat. I consider it necessary to operate by every means, and in this way to prevent steamships from taking part in the defensive action against the U-boat. I have asked Skl for a decision on this matter. The question of the attitude towards French ships is becoming more and more urgent in the present development of the war situation. (Troop transports, convoys)" (p. 8)
"The most secret signal, 8027, gives the decision of the Naval War Staff on this matter: French ships are to be treated in the same way as are British ships. The order concerning passenger ships remains unchanged. Merchant ships, which make use of their wireless after they are ordered to stop, are to be fired on. They are to be brought back to port, or sunk." (p. 8) ("Kriegstagenbuch B.d.U. Op. 16.9.-30.9.1939" on cover.)
From the War Diary of B.d.U. for the period 1.10.-15.10.39, signed by Doenitz, Konteradmiral und Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote:
"The Naval War Staff has declared an area around Britain, within which any ship sailing without lights may be attacked without warning. This order facilitates the work of U-boats to a great extent. The area, however, is narrow. The practical results of this order will, in all probability, be few. It has been announced, from the German side, that British merchant ships have several times attacked U-boats, which, in accordance with Prize Regulations, have ordered them to stop. It was added that, if
this continues, German U-boats will have to employ counter measures. As a reply to this, the Admiralty sent orders to all British merchant ships to ram any German submarine sighted * *
"A further order of the Naval War Staff reads: Ships to be considered as passenger ships are those which, in the opinion of the Commander, are built to accommodate more than 120 passengers. Explanations will be found in M.D.V. 87. The following may be taken as clues: a great number of boats-approx. more than 4 on each side of the ship-length and number of promenade decks, port-holes.
"The boats have been informed of both these orders.
"The term 'passenger ship' is very loose and its interpretation is left to the individual commander. It must be made clear that, in practice, more scope to the individual is given by the issue of this order, especially as the opportunities for observation are very limited in a submerged U-boat." (pp. 4 & 5)
"In connection with the conduct of the war on merchant shipping, the following orders have been issued by the Naval War Staff:
(1) The area, in which unrestricted use of armament is allowed against vessels sailing without lights, is enlarged westwards up to 15° longitude.
(2) U-boats are allowed unrestricted use of armaments against enemy merchant ships, on which the presence of armament is definitely established, or which, according to concrete instructions from the Naval War Staff, are known to be armed. As far as circumstances permit, steps are to be taken for rescuing the crews when there is no possibility of the U-boat being in danger. Passenger ships which are not troop transports are, as before, NOT to be attacked even if they are armed. Both orders constitute a considerable advance in the prosecution of the war. They effect the essence of the U-boat attacks and increase their prospects." (p. 6)
(Kriegstagebuch B.d.U. 1.-15.10.1939.)
From the War Diary of B.d.U. for the period 16.10.-31.10.39 signed by Doenitz, Konteradmiral und Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote:
"As in the last war, losses of U-boats on the surface are, in most cases caused by:
(1) The dangers to which the U-boat is exposed when conducting the war on merchant shipping in accordance with the Prize Regulations.
(2) The dangerous position of the U-boat when carrying on an artillery battle with an armed merchant ship. A hit can render the U-boat incapable of diving and cause her to be a sure victim to destroyers * *
(3) Unexpected encounters with enemy, especially in bad weather * *
(4) Possible unpreparedness on the part of the boat.
While the causes given in 3) and 4) can and must be met by the crew, the taking of prizes constitutes an extra danger and cause of losses which can be eradicated only:
(1) by the ceasing of prize-taking i.e. only those ships would be attacked which may be sunk without warning or
(2) by ordering limitless warfare,
In both cases, the U-boat would be forbidden the use of artillery (a) to stop a steamship (or break her resistance)
(b) to sink a steamship." (p. 8-9)
"The channel as an operational area.
* * * The A/s defence is strongest in the Straits of Dover and north east of this line; better opportunities for attacks by U-boats are afforded in the more open section to the west. This presents a good operational area for U-boats, provided they can sink without warning. War on merchant shipping in accordance with the Prize Regulations cannot be considered here owing to the surveillance and the proximity of enemy bases." (p. 11)
"On the grounds of the conclusions entered in the War Diary on 23.10. I have decided on the following orders for the purpose of limiting the number of our losses:
1. The boarding of a steamship, in order to carry out a search is not permitted.
2. The steamship is to be sunk only by torpedo, even when this is required by reason of the search (which consists now only of an examination of the papers), or after the breaking of resistance with artillery." (p. 15)
"The Naval War Staff has ordered the unrestricted use of armament against passenger ships in enemy convoys." (p. 16)
("Kriegstagebuch B.d.U. 16.10.-30.10.1939.")
From the War Diary of B.d.U. for the period 16.11.-30.11.39
signed by Doenitz, Konteradmiral und Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote.
"The order has been issued by SKL, that unrestricted use of armament is to be permitted against enemy passenger ships which are seen to be armed or are known to be armed. As most passenger ships are already armed, this is a distinct step forward in the conduct of the war. In practice, however, this seldom concerns any but those passenger ships whose armament can be seen by the boats. Only in very exceptional cases can commanders identify armament from written instructions issued to them owing to the fact that usually the type of ship can be established only a short time before a favourable firing position is gained. If lifts have to be referred to, to find out whether the ship is armed, further time is wasted. Once the ship has passed, the boat has to renew the chase; she must therefore be capable of a greater speed than the ship and, with passenger ships, this is not usually the case." (p. 3)
("Kriegstagebuch B.d.U. 16.11-30.11.1939.")
From the War Diary of B.d.U. for the period 1.-15.12.39, signed by Doenitz, Konteradmiral und Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote:
"B.d.U. has requested of SKL. an extension of the areas in which ships sailing without lights may be sunk without warning. The following is desired:
(1) With regard to a recent report from U.38, before and within the Westfjord. In all probability, British steamships sail without lights in this area. Almost all are painted grey, so that their visibility be limited, and are armed.
(2) For U-boat operations in the Mediterranean and off the Portuguese coast. Reports from boats, returning from operations, show that steamships sailing without lights have been sighted there. From this, the question arose, what was the correct procedure. Legal measures of prize-taking are difficult and dangerous to the U-boat, especially near Gibralter.
The decision of the Naval War Staff is negative. The zone for U-boats cannot be extended, since German steamships, breaking through or returning home, have to be considered both on the Norwegian and Spanish coasts." (p. 7)
("Kriegstagebuch B.d.U. 1.-15.12.39.")
Appendix to German "Sink at Sight" Policy
This document deals mainly with procedure in the taking of prizes and in dealing with captured vessels.
The following extract is Article 18 of the Prize Regulations dated 28th August 1939, with amendments made on 12th September 1939. (A copy of the unamended Regulations is not available.)
"The decrees of the VIth Agreement of the Hague Convention concerning the treatment of enemy merchant shipping on the outbreak of war remain intact.
Note 1. The Agreement governs in particular the treatment of merchant ships, which are in enemy ports on the outbreak of hostilities. It has not been put into effect in the present war."
PARTIAL TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENT C-119
Access only through an officer
O Qu/Qu 2 1/40 G.Kdos. Chefs.
From D-Day this instruction will be treated as secret.
This order may only be issued at the.same time as the tactical instructions.
Special instructions on the attitude to be adopted
in the occupation of Denmark and Norway
(A) General. (Deals with demarches to be made on D-Day visa-vis Danish and Norwegian governments.)
(B) Special Military Measures. (Lays down steps to be taken regarding Danish and Norwegian troops, ships, aircraft, etc.) (C) Attitude towards Danish and Norwegian authorities. (Civil authorities, railways and police to continue to work. Communications to outside world to cease.)
(D) Economic Measures. (Lists German naval officers who are to see that Danish and Norwegian economic machine continues to work, and sets out the steps to be taken.)
(E) Other Measures. (Include treatment of enemy Legations,