The Supreme Commander Of The Armed Forces.
Berlin. 6th February, 1941. 10 copies
Directive No. 23 -- Directions For Operations Against The English War Economy
1. The Effect Of Our Operations Against England To Date:
(a) Contrary to our former view, the heaviest effect of our operations against the English war economy has lain in the high losses in merchant shipping inflicted by sea and air warfare. This effect has been increased by the destruction of port installations, the elimination of large quantities of supplies, and by the diminished use of ships when compelled to sail in convoy.
A further considerable increase is to be expected in the course of this year by the wider employment of submarines, and this can bring about the collapse of English resistance within the foreseeable future.
(b) The effect of direct air attacks against the English armaments industry is difficult to estimate. But the destruction of many factories and the consequent disorganisation of the armaments industry must lead to a considerable fall in production.
(c) The least effect of all (as far as we can see) has been made upon the morale and will to resist of the English people.
2. Consequences For Our Own Future Operations:
In the course of the next few months, the effectiveness of our naval operations against enemy merchant shipping may be expected to increase thanks to the wider use of submarines and surface ships. On the other hand, we are unable to maintain the scope of our air attacks, as the demands of other theatres of war compel us to withdraw increasingly large air forces from operations against the British Isles.
It will therefore be desirable in future to concentrate air attacks more closely and to deliver them chiefly against targets whose destruction supplements our naval war. Only by these means can we expect a decisive end to the war within the foreseeable future.
3. It must therefore be the aim of our further operations against the English homeland to concentrate all weapons of air and sea warfare against enemy imports, as well as to hold down the English aircraft industry and, where possible, to inflict still further damage on it.
For this purpose it will be necessary:
(a) To destroy the most important English harbours for imports, particularly port installations, and ships lying in them or being built.
(b) To attack shipping, especially when homeward bound, by all methods.
(c) Systematically to destroy the key points of the aircraft industry, including factories producing antiaircraft equipment and explosives.
These duties must still be carried out by such forces as remain available for operations against England, even should a large proportion of the Airforce and a smaller proportion of naval forces be withdrawn in the course of the year for employment in other theatres.
4. For the execution of these tasks, it should be noted:
(a) The sinking of merchantmen is more important than attack on enemy warships.
The same is true of the use of aerial torpedoes.
By reducing the available enemy tonnage, not only will the blockade, which is decisive to the war, be intensified, but enemy operations in Europe or Africa will be impeded.
(b) When attacks against ports or aircraft factories have obviously been successful, they will be repeated again and again.
(c) By continuous laying of minefields the enemy's feelings of uncertainty and loses will be increased.
(d) After attacking the large import harbours, efforts will be made, as far as the range of aircraft allows, to prevent the transfer of supplies to smaller ports.
Only when the weather or other conditions prevent attack on the targets designated in paragraph 3 will attacks be made on other armaments plants, towns of particular importance to the war economy, and dumps in the interior of the country, and transport centres.
No decisive success can be expected from terror attacks on residential areas or from attacks on coastal defences.
5. Until the beginning of the regrouping of forces for Barbarossa, efforts will be made to intensify the effect of air and sea warfare, not only in order to inflict the heaviest possible losses on England, but also in order to give the impression that an attack on the British Isles is planned for this year.
6. Special orders will be issued for cooperation between naval and air forces in reconnaissance over the sea.
7. Directive Number 9 of 26th May, 1940, and Directive Number 17 of 1st August, 1940, are no longer valid.