The Leader And Supreme Commander Of The Armed Forces.

The Leader's Headquarters.   23rd March, 1942.   25 copies

Directive No. 40 -- Reference: Competence Of Commands In Coastal Areas

                I. General Considerations:

                The coastline of Europe will, in the coming months, be exposed to the danger of an enemy landing in force.

                The time and place of the landing operations will not be dictated to the enemy by operational considerations alone. Failure in other theatres of war, obligations to allies, and political considerations may persuade him to take decisions which appear unlikely from a purely military point of view.

                Even enemy landings with limited objectives can interfere seriously with our own plans if they result in the enemy gaining any kind of foothold on the coast. They can interrupt our coastal sea traffic, and pin down strong forces of our Army and Airforce, which will therefore have to be withdrawn from areas of crucial importance. It would be particularly dangerous should the enemy succeed in capturing our airfields or in establishing his own in areas which he has occupied.

                The many important military and industrial establishments on the coast or in its neighbourhood, some of them equipped with particularly valuable plant, may moreover tempt the enemy to undertake surprise attacks of a local nature.

                Particular attention must be paid to English preparations for landings on the open coast, for which they have at their disposal many armoured landing craft, built to carry armoured fighting vehicles and heavy weapons. The possibility of parachute and airborne attacks on a large scale must also be envisaged.

                II. General Operational Instructions For Coastal Defence:

                1. Coastal defence is a task for all Armed Forces, calling for particularly close and complete cooperation by all units.

                2. The intelligence service, as well as the day to day reconnaissance by the Navy and the Airforce, must strive to obtain early information of enemy readiness and approach preparations for a landing operation.

                All suitable sea and air forces will then concentrate on enemy points of embarkation and convoys, with the aim of destroying the enemy as far from the coast as possible.

                It is possible, however, that the enemy, by skilful camouflage and by taking advantage of unpredictable weather conditions, may achieve a completely surprise attack. All troops who may be exposed to such surprise attacks must be in a state of permanent readiness.

                One of the most important duties of Commanding Officers will be to overcome the lack of vigilance among the troops which, as experience has shown, increases with the passage of time.

                3. In defending the coast -- and this includes coastal waters within range of medium coastal artillery -- responsibility for the planning and implementation of defensive measures must, as recent battle experience dictates, lie unequivocally and unreservedly in the hands of a single Commander.

                The Commander responsible must make use of all available forces and weapons of the branches of the Armed Forces, of organisations and units outside the Armed Forces, and of our Civil Headquarters in the area, for the destruction of enemy transports and landing forces. He will use them so that the attack collapses if possible before it can reach the coast, at the latest on the coast itself.

                Enemy forces which have landed must be destroyed or thrown back into the sea by immediate counterattack. All personnel bearing arms -- irrespective to which branch of the Armed Forces or to which nonservice organisation they may belong -- will be employed for this. Moreover, the required working capacity of the naval shore supply establishments must be guaranteed, in so far as they are not involved in the land fighting themselves. The same applies to the readiness for action of the Airforce ground staff and the antiaircraft defence of airfields.

                No Headquarters or formation is to initiate withdrawal in such circumstances. All German troops stationed on or near the coast must be armed and trained for battle.

                The enemy must be prevented from securing a foothold on all islands which could present a threat to the mainland or coastal shipping.

                4. The distribution of forces and the extension of defensive works must be so carried out that our strongest defence points are situated in those sectors most likely to be chosen by the enemy for landings (fortified areas).

                Other coastal sectors which may be threatened by small scale surprise attacks will be defended by a series of strongpoints, supported if possible by the coastal batteries. All military and industrial plant of importance to the war effort will be included within these strongpoints.

                The same principles will apply to offshore islands.

                Less threatened sectors will be kept under observation.

                5. The division of the coast into sectors will be decided by the three Services in mutual agreement, or, should the situation demand it, by the responsible Commander (referred to here in paragraph III.1.), whose decision will be final.

                6. The fortified areas and strongpoints must be able, by proper distribution of forces, by completion of allround defence, and by their supply situation, to hold out for some time even against superior enemy forces.

                Fortified areas and strongpoints will be defended to the last man. They must never be forced to surrender from lack of ammunition, rations, or water.

                7. The responsible Commander (referred to here in paragraph III.1.) will issue orders for keeping the coast under constant observation, and ensure that reconnaissance reports from all services are quickly evaluated, coordinated, and transmitted to the Headquarters and civilian authorities concerned.

                As soon as there is any evidence that an operation by the enemy is imminent, the Commander is authorised to issue the necessary instructions for coordinated and complementary reconnaissance on sea and land.

                8. There can be no question of peacetime privileges for any Headquarters or formation of the Armed Forces in coastal areas, or for nonmilitary organisations and units. Their accommodation, security precautions, equipment, immediate readiness for action, and the use they make of the terrain, will be entirely dependent upon the necessity of meeting any enemy attack as swiftly and in as great strength as possible. Where the military situation requires it, the civilian population will be immediately evacuated.

                III. Competence Of Commanders.

                1. The following are responsible for the preparation and execution of coastal defence in the areas under German command:

                (a) In the eastern area of operations (excluding Finland): The Army Commanders appointed by High Command Of The Army.

                (b) In the coastal area of Army High Command Lapland: Commander In Chief Army High Command Lapland.

                (c) In Norway: Commander Armed Forces Norway.

                (d) In Denmark: The Commander Of German troops In Denmark.

                (e) In the occupied western territories (including the Netherlands): Commander In Chief West.

                For coastal defence the responsible Commanders in (d) and (e) will be directly subordinate to the High Command Of The Armed Forces.

                (f) In the Balkans (including the occupied islands): Commander Armed Forces Southeast.

                (g) In the Baltic territories and the Ukraine: Commander Armed Forces Baltic Territories And Ukraine.

                (h) In the Home Theatre of war: the Commanding Admirals.

                2. The Commanders named in paragraph III.1. will have for these tasks full powers of command over the Staffs commanding all Armed Forces, the German civil authorities, and the nonmilitary units and organisations in their area.

                In exercising their authority, they will issue the necessary tactical, administrative, and supply instructions, and will ensure that they are complied with. In all matters relating to land fighting, training of units will follow their ruling, and all necessary information will be put at their disposal.

                3. Among the orders to be given and measures to be taken, the following must be given first place.

                (a) The inclusion within fortified areas or strongpoints of all important military and industrial establishments connected with defence, particularly those of the Navy (submarine bases) and the Airforce.

                (b) The coordination of coastal reconnaissance.

                (c) The defence of fortified areas and strongpoints by infantry.

                (d) The defence by infantry of all isolated positions outside the fortified areas and strongpoints -- for example, coastal lookout points and air attack warning posts.

                (e) Artillery defence against land targets. (The Navy has priority in the installation of new batteries, or the conversion of existing batteries.)

                (f) The defensive readiness, development, and supply facilities of installations, as well as of isolated positions away from these installations. (This includes being equipped with all weapons needed for defence: mines, hand grenades, flame throwers, barbed wire, and so on.)

                (g) The signals network.

                (h) Methods for ensuring that troops are always on the alert, and that infantry and gunnery training is being carried out in accordance with the special defence requirements.

                4. The same authority is conferred upon local Commanders up to Sector Commanders, in so far as they are responsible for the defence of a part of the coast.

                The Commanders designated in paragraph III.1. will, in general, appoint Commanders of Army Divisions employed in coastal defence as local Commanders with full powers. In Crete the Fortress Commandant Crete will appoint them.

                As far as their other duties allow, local Commandants or Commanders Of The Airforce and Navy will be made responsible for the general defence of individual sectors or subsectors, particularly Air and Naval strongpoints.

                5. All naval and air units employed in strategic warfare are subordinate to the Navy or Airforce. In the event of enemy attacks on the coast, however, they are required to comply, in so far as tactical considerations allow, with the orders of the Commanders responsible for defence. They must therefore be included in the distribution of such information as they require for their duties, and close liaison will be maintained with their headquarters.

                IV. Special Duties Of The Branches Of The Armed Forces In The Field Of Coastal Defence.

                1. Navy.

                (a) Organisation and protection of coastal traffic.

                (b) Training and employment of all coastal artillery against targets at sea.

                (c) Employment of naval forces.

                2. Airforce.

                (a) Air defence of coastal areas. The use against enemy landings of suitable and available antiaircraft guns, under the orders of the Commander responsible for local defence, will not be affected.

                (b) The completion of ground organisations and their protection against air attack and surprise attack by land; the latter in cases where airfields are not included in the coastal defences and are therefore insufficiently protected.

                (c) Operational employment of air forces. Attention will be paid to the duplication of command implied by these special duties.

                V. Orders And Instructions Which Run Contrary To This Directive Are Cancelled From 1st April, 1942.

                New operation orders, which will be issued by Commanders on the basis of my Directive, are to be submitted to me through the High Command Of The Armed Forces.

Adolf Hitler.