The Leader And Supreme Commander Of The Armed Forces.
The Leader's Headquarters. 18th December, 1940. 9 copies
Directive No. 21 -- Case Barbarossa
The German Armed Forces must be prepared, even before the conclusion of the war against England, to crush Soviet Russia in a rapid campaign (Case Barbarossa).
The Army will have to employ all available formations to this end, with the reservation that occupied territories must be insured against surprise attacks.
The Airforce will have to make available for this eastern campaign supporting forces of such strength that the Army will be able to bring land operations to a speedy conclusion and that eastern Germany will be as little damaged as possible by enemy air attack. This build up of a focal point in the east will be limited only by the need to protect from air attack the whole combat and arsenal area which we control, and to ensure that attacks on England, and especially upon her imports, are not allowed to lapse.
The main efforts of the Navy will continue to be directed against England even during the eastern campaign.
In certain circumstances I shall issue orders for the deployment against Soviet Russia eight weeks before the operation is timed to begin.
Preparations which require more time than this will be put in hand now, in so far as this has not already been done, and will be concluded by 15th May, 1941.
It is of decisive importance that our intention to attack should not be known.
The preparations of the High Commands will be made on the following basis:
I. General Intention.
The bulk of the Russian army stationed in western Russia will be destroyed by daring operations led by deeply penetrating armoured spearheads. Russian forces still capable of giving battle will be prevented from withdrawing into the depths of Russia.
The enemy will then be energetically pursued and a line will be reached from which the Russian airforce can no longer attack German territory. The final objective of the operation is to erect a barrier against Asiatic Russia on the general line Volga River-Archangel. The last surviving industrial area of Russia in the Ural Mountains can then, if necessary, be eliminated by the Airforce.
In the course of these operations the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet will quickly lose its bases and will then no longer be capable of action.
The effective operation of the Russian airforce is to be prevented from the beginning of the attack by powerful blows.
II. Probable Allies And Their Tasks.
1. On the flanks of our operations we can count on the active support of Romania and Finland in the war against Soviet Russia.
The High Command Of The Armed Forces will decide and lay down in due time the manner in which the forces of these two countries will be brought under German command.
2. It will be the task of Romania to support the attack of the German southern flank, at least at the outset, with its best troops; to hold down the enemy where German forces are not engaged; and to provide auxiliary services in the rear areas.
3. Finland will cover the advance of the Northern Group of German forces moving from Norway (detachments of Group XXI) and will operate in conjunction with them. Finland will also be responsible for eliminating Hangö.
4. It is possible that Swedish railways and roads may be available for the movement of the German Northern Group, by the beginning of the operation at the latest.
III. Conduct Of Operations.
A. Army (in accordance with plans submitted to me):
In the theatre of operations, which is divided by the Pripet Marshes into Southern and Northern Sectors, the main weight of attack will be delivered in the Northern Sector. Two Army Groups will be employed here.
The more southerly of these two Army Groups (in the centre of the whole front) will have the task of advancing with powerful armoured and motorised formations from the area about and north of Warsaw, and routing the enemy forces in White Russia. This will make it possible for strong mobile forces to advance northwards and, in conjunction with the Northern Army Group operating out of East Prussia in the general direction of Leningrad, to destroy the enemy forces operating in the Baltic Sea area. Only after the fulfilment of this first essential task, which must include the occupation of Leningrad and Kronstadt, will the attack be continued with the intention of occupying Moscow, an important centre of communications and of the armaments industry.
Only a surprisingly rapid collapse of Russian resistance could justify the simultaneous pursuit of both objectives.
The most important task of Group XXI, even during these eastern operations, remains the protection of Norway. Any forces available after carrying out this task will be employed in the North (Mountain Corps), at first to protect the Petsamo area and its iron ore mines and the Arctic Highway, then to advance with Finnish forces against the Murmansk railway and thus prevent the passage of supplies to Murmansk by land.
The question whether an operation of this kind can be carried out with stronger German forces (two or three divisions) from the Rovaniemi area and south of it will depend on the willingness of Sweden to make its railways available for troop transport.
It will be the duty of the main body of the Finnish Army, in conjunction with the advance of the German North flank, to hold down the strongest possible Russian forces by an attack to the west, or on both sides of Lake Ladoga, and to occupy Hangö.
The Army Group operating south of the Pripet Marshes will also seek, in a concentric operation with strong forces on either flank, to destroy all Russian forces west of the Dnieper River in the Ukraine. The main attack will be carried out from the Lublin area in the general direction of Kiev, while forces in Romania will carry out a wide enclosing movement across the lower Pruth River. It will be the task of the Romanian Army to hold down Russian forces in the intervening area.
When the battles north and south of the Pripet Marshes are ended, the pursuit of the enemy will have the following aims:
In the south the early capture of the Donets Basin, important for war industry.
In the north a quick advance to Moscow. The capture of this city would represent a decisive political and economic success, and would also bring about the capture of the most important railway junctions.
It will be the duty of the Airforce to paralyse and eliminate the effectiveness of the Russian airforce as far as possible. It will also support the main operations of the Army, that is, those of the central Army Group and of the vital flank of the Southern Army Group. Russian railways will either be destroyed or, in accordance with operational requirements, captured at their most important points (river crossings) by the bold employment of parachute and airborne troops.
In order that we may concentrate all our strength against the enemy airforce and for the immediate support of land operations, the Russian armaments industry will not be attacked during the main operations. Such attacks will be made only after the conclusion of mobile warfare, and they will be concentrated first on the Ural Mountains area.
It will be the duty of the Navy during the attack on Soviet Russia to protect our own coasts and to prevent the breakout of enemy naval units from the Baltic Sea. As the Russian Baltic Sea fleet will, with the capture of Leningrad, lose its last base and will then be in a hopeless position, major naval action will be avoided until this occurs. After the elimination of the Russian fleet the duty of the Navy will be to protect the entire maritime traffic in the Baltic Sea and the transport of supplies by sea to the northern flank (clearing of minefields!).
IV. All steps taken by Commanders In Chief on the basis of this Directive must be phrased on the unambiguous assumption that they are precautionary measures undertaken in case Russia should alter its present attitude towards us. The number of Officers employed on preliminary preparations will be kept as small as possible, and further Staffs will be designated as late as possible and only to the extent required for the duties of each individual. Otherwise there is a danger that premature knowledge of our preparations, whose execution cannot yet be timed with any certainty, might entail the gravest political and military disadvantages.
V. I await submission of the plans of Commanders In Chief on the basis of this Directive.
The preparations made by all branches of the Armed Forces, together with timetables, are to be reported to me through the High Command Of The Armed Forces.