Fuhrer and Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht
December 18th, 1940
The German armed forces must be able to defeat Soviet Russia in a brief campaign before the war against England is complete (plan Barbarossa).
The task of the air force is to allocate such forces for support of the land forces in the Eastern campaign that would guarantee a rapid conclusion of ground operations, and, at the same time, limit damage done to eastern regions of Germany by enemy aviation. This concentration of forces in the east must be limited by the requirement that the theaters of war and our military industrial areas are reliably protected from enemy air raids and that the offensive against England, especially against its sea supply routes, is not weakened.
The main forces of the navy will be directed against England even during the Eastern campaign.
An order for strategic deployment of the armed forces against Soviet Russia will be given as necessary eight weeks before the operation begins. Preparations that require more time should be completed by May 15th, 1941, if they have not been completed already.
It is imperative that no one must predict our intention to attack. Preparatory action by all command channels must take into account the following:
- Overall plan: The main Russian forces in the western part of Russia must be destroyed by means of deep and rapid advance of tank spearheads. The retreat of combat-capable forces to the open expanse of Russian territory must be prevented.
The line from which the Russian air force will be unable to make air raids on the territory of the German Reich must be reached quickly. The final goal of the operation is to create a defensive barrier against the Asian part of Russia along the Volga-Arkhangelsk line. This way, if necessary, the last industrial sector that Russia retains in the Urals can be paralyzed with aircraft.
During these operations, the Russian Baltic Fleet will quickly lose its bases and will be unable to continue fighting.
Effective action by the Russian air force must be prevented by powerful attacks in the beginning of the operation.
- Likely allies:
- In the war with Soviet Russia, we can count on active participation of Romania and Finland on our flanks.
Supreme Command of the Armed Forces will coordinate and determine in what capacity the armed forces of both countries will be subordinate to German command at the appropriate time.
- The objectives of Romania will be to support the German offensive on the south flank with its best forces, bind the forces of the enemy in regions where German forces are not used, and perform auxiliary duties in the rear echelon.
- Finland must cover the concentration and deployment of the German separate north group (elements of the 21st army) coming from Norway, and fight alongside them. In addition, Finland is tasked with taking the Hanko peninsula.
- It is possible that Swedish railroads and highway will be available by the start of the operation at the latest for use by the German army group meant for fighting in the north.
- Order of Operations:
- Land forces: The theater of operations will be split by the Pripyat marshes into the north and south parts. The main attack must be aimed north of the marshes. Concentrate two army groups here.
The south of those groups, the center of the overall front, is tasked with advancing its especially strong tank and motorized units from Warsaw and north of it and disperse the enemy forces in Belarus. This will create the ability to turn powerful units north in order to cooperate with Army Group North, which advances from East Prussia to Leningrad, defeating the enemy forces in the Baltic. After this urgent task is completed and Leningrad and Kronstadt are taken, the next step is to begin operations to take Moscow as an importance communication and industrial center.
Only an unexpectedly rapid failure of Russian resistance will make it possible to complete those tasks simultaneously.
The most important task for the 21st Army during this campaign remains the defense of Norway. Forces outside of that (mountain corps) are to be used in the north, primarily for the defense of Petsamo (Pechenga) and its ore mines, as well as shipping lanes in the Arctic Ocean. After that, these forces must move to the Murmansk railroad along with the Finnish forces and paralyze the supply of Murmansk oblast by land.
Whether or not this operation can be completed by larger German forces (2-3 divisions) from Rovaniemi and south of it depends on Sweden's readiness to provide us with its railroads for troop transport.
The main forces of the Finnish army will be given the objective of binding as many Russian forces as possible as the north German flank advances, attack to the west or on both sides of Leningrad, and capture the Hanko peninsula.
Armies fighting to the south of the Pripyat marshes must completely defeat Russian forces deployed in the Ukraine with an encirclement operation and strong flanks before they reach the Dnieper. To accomplish this goal, it is necessary to concentrate the main strike force from Lublin to Kiev, while forces in Romania will create a defensive flank in the lower Prut. The Romanian army is tasked with binding the Russian forces in between them.
After the battles south and north of the Pripyat marshes are concluded, begin pursuing the enemy and achieve the following goals:
- In the south, promptly capture the Donbas, as it is important militarily and economically.
- In the north, quickly reach Moscow.
The capture of this city will result not only in decisive political and economical success, but be the loss of a major railroad hub.
- Air Force: their objective is to maximally paralyze and neutralize the actions of the Russian air force and support the land forces in their operations in decisive directions. This will mostly be necessary in the direction of Army Group Center and the main flank of Army Group South. Russian railroads and supply lines must be cut or disabled by capture of key objects nearby (river crossings) by brave action of paratroopers, depending on their value to the operation.
In order to concentrate all forces against enemy aviation and for support of land forces, do not perform raids on enemy military industrial targets. These raids will be predominately aimed at the Urals towards the end of the maneuver operations.
- Navy: In the war against Soviet Russia, the navy is tasked with protecting the coast and preventing the enemy from breaking out of the Baltic Sea. Since the Baltic Fleet will lose its foundation and become helpless after taking Leningrad, avoid large scale operations at sea.
After the neutralization of the Russian fleet, the goal will be to provide freedom of supply through the Baltic Sea, including supplies to the north flank of the land forces (mine trawling).
- All orders given to supreme commanders based on this directive must be firmly founded in the idea that this is a precaution in case Russia changes its politics regarding us. The number of officers involved in preliminary planning must be limited. All other personnel the involvement of which is mandatory must be informed as late as possible, and only in the capacity that will allow them to perform their function individually. Otherwise, there is a risk of serious political and military difficulties as a result of the discovery of our preparations, the timeline of which has not yet been set.
- I expect verbal reports from supreme commanders regarding their intentions based on this directive.
Report to me through the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces regarding planned preparations in all armed forces and their progress.