Führer Directive 20

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13 Dec 1940

The Führer and Supreme Commander
of the Armed Forces
Führer Headquarters,
13th December 1940.
12 copies

Directive No. 20
'Operation Marita'

  1. The outcome of the battles in Albania is still uncertain. In the light of the threatening situation in Albania it is doubly important to frustrate English efforts to establish, behind the protection of a Balkan front, an air base which would threaten Italy in the first place and, incidentally, the Rumanian oil fields.
  2. My intention is therefore-
    1. To establish in the coming months a constantly increasing force in Southern Rumania.
    2. On the arrival of favourable weather-probably in March-to move this force across Bulgaria to occupy the north coast of the Aegean and, should this be necessary, the entire mainland of Greece ('Operation Marita'). We can rely upon Bulgarian support.
  3. The build-up of the forces in Rumania will be as follows:
    1. 16th Panzer Division, which arrives in December, will join the Military Mission, whose duties remain unchanged.
    2. Subsequently a force of about seven divisions will be moved to Southern Rumania. Engineer forces in sufficient strength to prepare the Danube crossings can be incorporated in the transports of 16th Panzer Division (as 'instruction forces'). Commander-in-Chief Army will apply for my orders for the employment of these troops on the Danube in due course.
    3. Preparations should be made to transport reinforcements until the total limit of twenty-four divisions intended for 'Operation Marita' has been reached.
    4. The Air Force must afford air defence for the concentration and will arrange for the necessary headquarters and supply dumps on Rumanian soil.
  4. 'Operation Marita' itself will be prepared on the following basis:
    1. The first objective of the operation is the occupation of the Aegean coast and the Salonika basin. It may become necessary to pursue the attack via Larissa and the Isthmus of Corinth.
    2. The flank of the attack will be protected against Turkey by the Bulgarian Army; but German units will also be held in readiness to strengthen and support it.
    3. It is not yet certain whether Bulgarian formations will play any other role in the attack.

      The attitude of Yugoslavia is also not yet clearly foreseeable.
    4. It will be the task of the Air Force to give effective support in all phases to the advance of the Army; to eliminate the enemy Air Force; and, as far as possible, to seize English bases in the Greek Islands with airborne troops.
    5. The question how far 'Operation Marita' is to be supported by the Italian forces, and how such operations are to be co-ordinated, is reserved for future decision.
  5. The political effect of military preparations, which is especially felt in the Balkans, calls for the most precise regulation of all measures taken by the High Command.

    The movement of troops through Hungary and their arrival in Rumania will be notified, stage by stage, by the High Command of the Armed Forces and will in the first instance be explained as reinforcements for the Military Mission in Rumania.

    Conversations with Rumanians or Bulgarians which might reveal our intentions, as well as notification of the Italians, will depend in each case on my approval, as also will dispatch of reconnaissance parties and advanced headquarters.
  6. At the conclusion of 'Operation Marita' the forces engaged will be withdrawn for new employment.
  7. I expect Commanders-in-Chief to report to me on their plans. The Army has already done this. A precise time-table for the operation should be submitted to me, as well as proposals for the recall of men from the armaments industry where necessary (re-establishment of 'Leave Divisions').



Added By:
C. Peter Chen

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