The Leader And Supreme Commander Of The Armed Forces.
The Leader's Headquarters. 11th January, 1941. 13 copies.
Directive No. 22 -- German Support For Battles In The Mediterranean Area
The situation in the Mediterranean area, where England is employing superior forces against our allies, requires that Germany should assist for reasons of strategy, politics, and psychology.
Tripolitania must be held and the danger of a collapse on the Albanian front must be eliminated. Furthermore the Cavallero Army Group must be enabled, in cooperation with the later operations of 12th Army, to go over to the offensive from Albania.
I therefore order as follows:
1. Commander In Chief Army will provide covering forces sufficient to render valuable service to our allies in the defence of Tripolitania, particularly against British armoured divisions. Special orders for the composition of this force will follow.
Measures will be so timed that this formation can be transported to Libya in conjunction with the movement now in progress of one Italian armoured and one motorised division to Tripoli (from about 20th February).
2. X Air Corps will continue to operate from Sicily. Its chief task will be to attack British naval forces and British sea communications between the western and eastern Mediterranean.
In addition, by use of intermediate airfields in Tripolitania, conditions will be achieved for immediate support of the Graziani Army Group by means of attack on British port facilities and bases on the coast of western Egypt and in Cyrenaica.
The Italian Government will be requested to declare the area between Sicily and the North African coast a closed area, in order to facilitate the task of X Air Corps and to avoid incidents with neutral shipping.
3. German formations in the approximate strength of one Corps, including 1st Mountain Division and armoured units, will be detailed and made ready to move to Albania. The movement of 1st Mountain Division will begin as soon as the High Command Of The Armed Forces has received Italian approval of this. Meanwhile, after discussion with the Italian Command in Albania, it will be decided what further forces in Albania can usefully be employed for an operational attack, and how they and the Italian divisions would be supplied.
It will be the task of the German forces:
(a) To act as immediate stiffening in Albania in case further critical situations should arise.
(b) To enable the Italian Army Group to go over to the offensive at a later date with the purpose:
(1) of breaking through Greek defences at a decisive point for extensive operations;
(2) of opening the passes west of Salonika from the rear, thereby supporting a frontal attack by the List Army.
4. Instructions for the chain of command of German forces engaged in North Africa and Albania and on the limitations which will be applied to the employment of these troops will be laid down by the High Command Of The Armed Forces in cooperation with the Italian Armed Forces Staff.
5. German transports available in the Mediterranean and suitable for the purpose will be used, in so far as they are not already on convoy duties to Tripoli, for the passage of forces to Albania. The group Of Ju 52 transport aircraft stationed in Foggia will also be employed in moving troops.
Every effort will be made to complete the movement of the main body of German forces to Albania before the movement of the covering force to Libya (see paragraph 1), which will require the bulk of German shipping.