The Leader And Supreme Commander Of The Armed Forces.

The Leader's Headquarters.   2nd December, 1941.   17 copies

Directive No. 38

                1. In order to secure and extend our own position in the Mediterranean Sea area, and to establish a focus of Axis strength in the central Mediterranean Sea area, I order, in agreement with The Duce, that part of the German Airforce no longer required in the east be transferred to the southern Italian and North African areas, in the strength of about one Air Corps with the necessary antiaircraft defences.

                Apart from the immediate effect of this movement on the war in the Mediterranean and North Africa, efforts will be made to ensure that it has a considerable effect upon farther developments in the Mediterranean area as a whole.

                2. I appoint Field Marshal Kesselring to command all forces employed in these operations. He is also appointed Commander In Chief South.

                His tasks are:

                To secure mastery of the air and sea in the area between southern Italy and North Africa in order to secure communications with Libya and Cyrenaica and, in particular, to keep Malta in subjection.

                To cooperate with German and allied forces engaged in North Africa.

                To paralyse enemy traffic through the Mediterranean Sea area and British supplies to Tobruk and Malta, in close cooperation with the German and Italian naval forces available for this task.

                3. Commander In Chief South will be under the orders of The Duce, whose general instructions he will receive through the Commando Supremo. In all Airforce matters Commander In Chief Airforce will deal direct with Commander In Chief South. In important matters the High Command Of The Armed Forces is to be simultaneously informed.

                4. The following will be subordinate to Commander In Chief South:

                (a) All units of the German Airforce stationed in the Mediterranean Sea and North African areas;

                (b) The air and antiaircraft units put at his disposal for the execution of his tasks by the Italian Armed Forces.

                5. German naval forces in the central Mediterranean Sea area remain under command of Commander In Chief Navy.

                For the execution of the tasks assigned to him, Commander In Chief South is authorised to issue Directives to the German Admiral With The Italian Naval High Command and, if necessary, to Naval Group South (for the eastern Mediterranean Sea area). Operation orders will be issued by the Naval Headquarters concerned in agreement with Commander In Chief South.

                Requests by Commander In Chief South for combined operations by allied naval forces will be made exclusively to the German Admiral with the Italian Naval High Command.

                6. The duties of Commander Armed Forces Southeast and of the German General at the headquarters of the Italian Armed Forces remain unchanged.

Adolf Hitler.