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that none of the Danish ships were sailing in convoy, but it would probably never be possible subsequently to clear up without possibility of doubt the incidents which had led to the sinking.

It was now a question of finding a way to reduce as much as possible future loss of lives. Although I expressed my scepticism as to whether, in view of the situation created by England, the dangers to which the crews of Danish ships were exposed during journeys to and from England could be diminished, and expressed my conviction that insecurity in British waters would increase as time went on, the King continued to maintain that something had to be done immediately to avoid any further losses. The stopping of shipping to England would be a catastrophe for Denmark. In order that no time should be lost, he had chosen the path of speaking with me personally and requested me to bring the contents of this conversation to the Fuehrer's knowledge.

The conversation was carried on by the King without bitterness or reproaches, his statements were filled only with deep concern for Denmark and the feeling of great responsibility towards the fate of Danish seamen. Actually the King did not expressly mention the conversation proposed last week in Berlin by the Danish Government regarding greater safety for Danish shipping, but without doubt he had in mind to accelerate these negotiations.

RENTHE-FINK. [Marginai note:] Produced in (?) copies copies for distribution, Nos. 1 to 13.

1. R.S.
2. R.A.M.
3. S.S.
4. Chef. A.O.
5. B.R.A.M.
6. U.S. Pol.
[remainder mainly illegible]
Copy No. 6.



Berlin, 12th April, 1941. Secretary of State No. 250

Telegram to the Reich Foreign Secretary

Grand Admiral Raeder who this morning could not get into telephonic communication with the Reich Foreign Secretary, therefore approached me with the urgent request to bring about a final decision on the following two problems:

(1) Consent to German Naval Forces in the western part of the Atlantic Ocean being allowed to operate freely as far as the internationally customary three mile boundary.

(2) The cancellation of the preferential treatment which American merchant vessels have been enjoying so far in our warfare at sea.

The Grand Admiral motivated the urgency of his request as to (1) with the necessity for now issuing the necessary orders to the U-boats concerned or for employing them in another theatre of war, as to (2) with the expectation that American merchant vessels would now also appear in the Red Sea with war material.

[signed] Weizsaecker. Copies to :

Under Secretary of State Political Branch
Dg. Pol.
Ambassador Ritter.


4 Copies, this is No. 3 Ambassador Ritter.

Top Secret General Jodl informs me that at the recent interview which Grand-Admiral Raeder had with Hitler, the more extensive orders issued to the naval forces, as they were discussed in connection with the Raeder interview, have been postponed until further notice.

Also, permission to attack US merchant vessels within the framework of the prize laws has not been granted.

The Fuehrer wishes to avoid anything which could lead to incidents with the United States.

[signed] RITTER Salzburg, 9 June 1941 To Ambassador Eisenlohr

Ambassador Leitner


Submitted respectfully to the Secretary of State with the en

closed memorandum.

The Chief of the Operational Dept. of the Naval Command, Captain Fricke, informed me by telephone that the Fuehrer was already dealing with this matter. The impression had, however, arisen here that the political connections had again to be gone


into and brought to the Fuehrer's notice anew. Captain Fricke had therefore sent Lieutenant-Commander Neubauer to the Foreign Office in order to discuss the matter further. Berlin, the 3rd September 1939.

[signed] Albrecht. The question of an unlimited U-boat war against England is discussed in the enclosed data submitted by the Naval High Command.

The Navy has arrived at the conclusion that the maximum damage to England which can be achieved with the forces available can only be attained if the U-boats are permitted an unrestricted use of arms without warning against enemy and neutral shipping in the prohibited area indicated in the enclosed map.

The Navy does not fail to realize that,

(a) Germany would thereby publicly disregard the agreement of 1936 regarding the prosecution of economic warfare.

(b) A military operation of this kind could not be justified on the basis of the hitherto generally accepted principles of international law.

(c) This operation will cause great damage to the neutrals who are important to us politically and economically, that it will aggravate their attitude towards us and that it will undermine their will for neutrality, their resistance to British pressure and their readiness to trade with us.

The High Command does not assert that England can be beaten by unrestricted U-boat warfare. The cessation of traffic with the world trade center of England spells serious disruptions of their national economy for the neutrals, for which we can offer them no compensation.

Points of view based on foreign politics would favor using the military method of unrestricted U-boat warfare only if England gives us a justification, by her method of waging war, to order this form of warfare as a reprisal.

It appears necessary, in view of the great importance in the field of foreign politics of the decision to be taken, that it should be arrived at not only as a result of military consideration but taking into full account the needs of foreign politics.

Copy Wg 2022

Memorandum on conference with Secretary of State
Weizsaecker on the 25th September, p.m. on

question of naval warfare. Present among others: From the Foreign Office: Under Secretary of State Pol., Dir.

W., Dg. Law, Pol. I W XII. From OKM: Rear Admiral Schniewind, Captain Fricke, Com

mander Wagner, Lt. Com. Nebauer, Ministerial Counsellor Dr. Eckhardt, the Reich Commisar at the Supreme Prize Court Admiral Gladisch

and his deputy Vice Admiral von Gagern: From the Reich Ministry of Economics: Under Secretary of

State von Jagwitz; From OKW; war economic staff: Colonel Becker, From the Plenipotentiary for economy: Ministerial Counsellor

von Maass. The following points from the conference must be stressed:

(1) As from yesterday, the naval war is being waged against France also in the same way as against Britain, the British Dominions, and Egypt.

(2) Regarding foodstuffs on neutral ships, a special directive has not up to now been sent to the naval forces, not even regarding the listing of conditional contraband goods. According to the documents submitted by W, which are to be put at the disposal of the Navy and of the Commisar at the Prize Court in the original English text if possible, it is considered probable by the legal department also that, regarding the most important types of food under consideration, evidence of national management can be brought in such a way that even a private receiver's address in enemy territory will justify confiscation. The actual clearing up of the question as to how far confiscations by Britain of food destined for Germany on neutral ships have taken place is to be further worked on by the Foreign Office. The order to treat foodstuffs as contraband without regard to the receiving address is at any rate to be deferred for a few more days.

(3) The OKM will submit to the Foreign Office a proposal, as a basis for a communication to the neutral powers, in which those intensifications of naval warfare will be communicated, the ordering of which has already taken place or is impending in the near future. This includes particularly a warning not to use wireless on being stopped, not to sail in convoy, and not to black out and if necessary also clarification regarding the list of contraband goods. (The question of the treatment of wood is to be specially discussed tomorrow.)


(4) Before permitting attacks without warning against enemy merchant ships, attacks which are called for and justified because of the fact that they are being armed as a general practice and which in practice come into consideration for the area around the British Isles, material—if possible photographs also—is to be published showing the arming. Two cases of attacks by armed enemy merchant ships on German U-boats were mentioned.

(5) The OKM was further requested by Secretary of State von Weizsaecker and Under Secretary of State Woermann that, before any further intensification, the intended orders should be submitted to the Foreign Office in order to obtain the Reich Foreign Minister's opinion.

(6) Ministerialdirektor Wiehl pointed out that at present there was no reason to have special regard for individual—for example Nordic countries, but the situation might soon change. Admiral Schniewind states that the situation in the Baltic and the North Sea might be expected in the near future to permit refraining from sinking neutral ships, and analogous to the British procedure in this matter, taking the ships into German ports and have them unloaded. Colonel Becker pointed out, in this connection, that our most important means of exerting pressure, the German supplies of coal, will only be felt effectively once the supplies of coal from Britain have been actually cut off by our Naval warfare.

A conference with Italy was intended on the subject of how and to what extent imports and exports for Germany could be conducted through Italian ports without the danger of confiscation by the enemy. It would depend on this as to how much consideration could be shown to any possible Italian transports to the enemy countries, particularly food from South America.

(7) Concerning the question of German exports, it was established that, according to the legal position, notwithstanding the treatment of the Italian coal transports and also because of the British regulations about certificates of origin, there was hardly any doubt that Britain would confiscate such transports. Berlin, 25th September, 1939.

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