Fuehrer Headquarters
23 March 1942

 

Top Secret

 

The Fuehrer
and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces

 

 

25 Copies
Copy No. ...

OKW/WFSt/Op.Nr.: 001042 g.Kdos.

 

 

Directive No. 40

 

Subj: Command Organization of the Coasts

 

  1. General Situation:
    In the days to come the coasts of Europe will be seriously exposed to the danger of enemy landings.
    The enemy's choice of time and place for landing operations will not be based solely on strategic considerations. Reverses in other theaters of operations, obligations toward his allies, and political motives may prompt the enemy to arrive at decisions that would be unlikely to result from purely military deliberations.
    Even enemy landing operations with limited objectives will--insofar as the enemy does establish himself on the coast at all--seriously affect our own plans in any case. They will disrupt our coastwise shipping and tie down strong Army and Luftwaffe forces which thereby would become unavailable for commitment at critical points. Particularly grave dangers will arise if the enemy succeeds in taking our airfields, or in establishing airbases in the territory that he has captured.
    Moreover, our military installations and war industries that are in many instances located along or close to the coast, and which in part have valuable equipment, invite local raids by the enemy.
    Special attention must be paid to British preparations for landings on the open coast, for which numerous armored landing craft suitable for the transportation of combat vehicles and heavy weapons are available. Large-scale parachute and glider operations are likewise to be expected.
  2. General Tactical Instructions for Coastal Defense:
    1. Coastal defense is a task for the Armed Forces, and requires particularly close and complete co-operation of all the services.
    2. Timely recognition of the preparations, assembly, and approach of the enemy for a landing operation must be the goal of the intelligence service as well as that of continual reconnaissance by Navy and Luftwaffe.
      Embarkation operations or transport fleets at sea must subsequently be the target for the concentration of all suitable air and naval forces, with the object of destroying the enemy as far off our coast as possible.
      However, because the enemy may employ skillful deception and take advantage of poor visibility, thereby catching us completely by surprise, all troops that might be exposed to such surprise operations must always be fully prepared for defensive action.
      Counteracting the well-known tendency of the troops to relax their alertness as time goes on will be one of the most important command functions.
    1. Recent battle experiences have taught us that in fighting for the beaches--which include coastal waters within the range of medium coastal artillery--responsibility for the preparation and execution of defensive operations must unequivocally and unreservedly be concentrated in the hands of one man.
      All available forces and equipment of the several services, the organizations and formations outside of the armed forces, as well as the German civil agencies in the zone of operations will be committed by the responsible commander for the destruction of enemy transport facilities and invasion forces. That commitment must lead to the collapse of the enemy attack before, if possible, but at the latest upon the actual landing.
      An immediate counterattack must annihilate landed enemy forces, or throw them back into the sea, All instruments of warfare--regardless of the service, or the formation outside of the armed forces to which they might belong--are to be jointly committed toward that end. Nevertheless, shore-based Navy supply establishments must not be hampered in their essential functions, nor Luftwaffe ground organizations and Flak protection of airfields impaired in their efficiency, unless they have become directly affected by ground combat operations.
      No headquarters and no unit may initiate a retrograde movement in such a situation. Wherever Germans are committed on or near the coast, they must be armed and trained for active combat.
      The enemy must be kept from establishing himself on any island which in enemy hands would constitute a threat to the mainland or coastwise shipping.
    2. Disposition of forces and improvement of fortifications are to be so made that the main defensive effort lies in those coastal sectors that are the most probable sites for enemy landings (fortified areas).
      Those remaining coastal sectors that are vulnerable to coups de main of even small units must be protected by means of a strongpoint type of defense, utilizing, if possible, the support of shore batteries. All installations of military and military-economic importance will be included in that strongpoint defense system.
      The same rules apply to offshore islands. Coastal sectors that are less endangered will be patrolled.
    3. The several services will establish a uniform definition of coastal sectors, if necessary on the basis of a final decision on the part of the responsible commander named in III.) 1.) below.
    4. By means of proportionate allocation of forces, improvement of positions (perimeter defense), and stockpiling of supplies, the fortified areas and strongpoints must be enabled to hold out even against superior enemy forces for extended periods of time.
      Fortified areas and strongpoints are to be held to the last. They must never be forced to surrender because of a shortage of ammunition, rations, or water.
    1. The commander responsible according to III.) 1.) below, issues orders for coastal security, and assures a speedy evaluation, collation, and dissemination to authorized headquarters and civil agencies of intelligence procured by all the services.
      Upon the first indication of an imminent enemy operation, that commander is authorized to issue the necessary orders for unified and complementary reconnaissance by sea and air.
    2. All elements stationed in the vicinity of the coast, whether headquarters or units of the Armed Forces, or organizations or formations outside of the Armed Forces, will forego the niceties of peacetime protocol. Their quarters, security measures, equipment, state of alert, and utilization of local resources will be governed solely by the necessity of countering every enemy raid with the utmost speed and force. Wherever the military situation demands, the civilian population will be evacuated at once.
  1. Command:
    1. The following authorities are responsible for the preparation and conduct of defense on coasts under German control:
      1. in the Eastern Theater of Operations (excluding Finland), the army commanders designated by OKH;
      2. in the coastal sector under the control of Army Lapland, the Commanding General of Army Lapland;
      3. in Norway, the Armed Forces Commander, Norway;
      4. in Denmark, the Commander of German Troops in Denmark;
      5. in the occupied West (including the Netherlands), the Commander in Chief West;
      In matters pertaining to coastal defense, the commanders mentioned in categories d) and e) above are under the direct control of OKW.
      1. in the Balkans (including the occupied islands), the Armed Forces Commander Southeast;
      2. in the Baltic and the Ukraine, the Armed Forces Commanders Baltic and Ukraine;
      3. in the Zone of Interior, the commanding admirals.
    2. Within the framework of coastal defense missions, the commanders designated in III.) 1.) above, will have command authority over tactical headquarters of the services, the German civil authorities as well as units and organizations outside of the armed forces that are located within their respective areas. In exercising that authority, the commanders will issue tactical, organizational, and supply orders necessary for coastal defense, and insure their execution. They will influence training to whatever extent is necessary for preparing their forces for ground operations. The required data will be put at their disposal.
    1. Orders and measures implementing this directive will give priority to the following:
      1. inclusion within fortified areas or strongpoints of all installations important militarily or to the war economy, particularly those of the Navy (submarine bases) and the Luftwaffe;
      2. unified direction of coastal surveillance;
      3. infantry defenses of fortified areas and strongpoints;
      4. infantry defenses of isolated installations outside of fortified areas and strongpoints, such as coastal patrol and aircraft warning stations;
      5. artillery defenses against ground targets (in installing new shore batteries and displacing those in position, the requirements of naval warfare will receive priority);
      6. defense preparedness of fortified establishments, their structural improvement, and the stockpiling of reserve supplies, as well as defensive preparedness and stockpiling of supplies in isolated installations outside of those establishments (including supply with all weapons necessary for defense, mines, hand grenades, flame throwers, obstacle material, and similar items);
      7. signal communications;
      8. tests of the state of alert as well as infantry and artillery training within the framework of the defensive missions.
    2. Similar authority will be vested in the commanders of local headquarters down to sector commands, insofar as they have been made responsible for the defense of coastal sectors.
      The commanders enumerated in III.) 1.) above, will generally confer such responsibilities on commanding generals of army divisions that are committed for coastal defense, and in Crete, on the Fortress Commander Crete.
      In individual sectors and subsectors, and particularly in establishments that have definitely been designated as air or naval bases, the local Luftwaffe or Navy commanders are to be put in charge of the entire defense, insofar as their other missions permit them to assume those responsibilities.
    3. Naval and strategic air forces are subject to the control of the Navy or Luftwaffe, respectively. However, in case of enemy attacks on the coast they are-within the framework of their tactical capabilities-bound to comply with requests from the commanders responsible for defensive operations. For that reason they must be included in the exchange of military intelligence, in preparation for their future employment. Close contact must be maintained with their respective higher headquarters.
  1. Special missions of the several services within the framework of coastal defense:
    1. Navy:
      1. organization and protection of coastwise shipping;
      1. training and commitment of the entire coastal artillery against sea targets;
      2. commitment of naval forces.
    1. Luftwaffe:
      1. air defense in the coastal areas.
        This mission does not affect the right of local defense commanders to direct the assembly of Flak artillery suited and available for commitment against enemy invasion forces.
      2. improvement of the Luftwaffe ground organization and its protection against air and surprise ground attacks on airfields that have not been sufficiently protected by their inclusion in the coastal defense system.
      3. commitment of strategic air forces.
        Instances of overlapping control resulting from those special missions must be accepted as unavoidable.
  1. As of 1 April 1942, all instructions and orders not in agreement with the present directive are rescinded.
    New combat directives issued by the responsible commander pursuant to my directive will be submitted to me through OKW.
signed: Adolf Hitler