Führer Directive 51

For the last two and one-half years the bitter and costly struggleagainst Bolshevism has made the utmost demands upon the bulk of ourmilitary resources and energies. This commitment was in keeping with theseriousness of the danger, and the over-all situation. The situation hassince changed. The threat from the East remains, but an even greaterdanger looms in the West: the Anglo-American landing! In the East, thevastness of the space will, as a last resort, permit a loss of territoryeven on a major scale, without suffering a mortal blow to Germany’schance for survival.

Not so in the West! If the enemy here succeeds in penetrating ourdefenses on a wide front, consequences of staggering proportions willfollow within a short time. All signs point to an offensive against theWestern Front of Europe no later than spring, and perhaps earlier.

For that reason, I can no longer justify the further weakening of theWest in favor of other theaters of war. I have therefore decided tostrengthen the defenses in the West, particularly at places from which weshall launch our long-range war against England. For those are the verypoints at which the enemy must and will attack; there-unless allindications are misleading-will be fought the decisive invasion battle.

Holding attacks and diversions on other fronts are to be expected. Noteven the possibility of a large-scale offensive against Denmark may beexcluded. It would pose greater nautical problems and could be lesseffectively supported from the air, but would nevertheless produce thegreatest political and strategic impact if it were to succeed.

During the opening phase of the battle, the entire striking power of theenemy will of necessity be directed against our forces manning the coast.Only an all-out effort in the construction of fortifications, anunsurpassed effort that will enlist all available manpower and physicalresources of Germany and the occupied areas, will be able to strengthenour defenses along the coasts within the short time that still appears tobe left to us.

Stationary weapons (heavy AT guns, immobile tanks to be dug-in, coastartillery, shore-defense guns, mines, etc.) arriving in Denmark and theoccupied West within the near future will be heavily concentrated inpoints of main defensive effort at the most vulnerable coastal sectors.At the same time, we must take the calculated risk that for the presentwe may be unable to improve our defenses in less threatened sectors.

Should the enemy nevertheless force a landing by concentrating his armedmight, he must be hit by the full fury of our counterattack. For thismission ample and speedy reinforcements of men and materiel, as well asintensive training must transform available larger units into first-rate,fully mobile general reserves suitable for offensive operations. Thecounterattack of these units will prevent the enlargement of thebeachhead, and throw the enemy back into the sea.

In addition, well-planned emergency measures, prepared down to the lastdetail, must enable us instantly to throw against the invader every fitman and machine from coastal sectors not under attack and from the homefront.

The anticipated strong attacks by air and sea must be relentlesslycountered by Air Force and Navy with all their available resources. Itherefore order the following:

A) Army:

1.) The Chief of the Army General Staff and the Inspector General ofPanzer Troops will submit to me as soon as possible a schedule coveringarms, tanks, assault guns, motor vehicles, and ammunition to be allocatedto the Western Front and Denmark within the next three months. Thatschedule will conform to the new situation. The following considerationswill be basic:

a) Sufficient mobility for all panzer and panzer grenadier divisions inthe West, and equipment of each of those units by December 1943 with 93Mark IV tanks or assault guns, as well as large numbers of antitankweapons.

Accelerated reorganization of the 20 Luftwaffe Field Divisions into aneffective mobile reserve force by the end of 1943. This reorganization isto include the issue of assault guns.

Accelerated issue of all authorized weapons to the SS Panzer GrenadierDivision Hitler Jugend, the 21st Panzer Division, and the infantry andreserve divisions stationed in Jutland.

b) Additional shipments of Mark IV tanks, assault guns, and heavy AT gunsto the reserve panzer divisions stationed in the West and in Denmark, aswell as to the Assault Gun Training Battalion in Denmark.

c) In November and December, monthly allotments of 100 heavy AT gunsmodels 40 and 43 (half of these to be mobile) in addition to thoserequired for newly activated units in the West and in Denmark.

d) Allotment of large numbers of weapons (including about 1,000 machineguns) for augmenting the armament of those static divisions that arecommitted for coastal defense in the West and in Denmark, and forstandardizing the equipment of elements that are to be withdrawn fromsectors not under attack.

e) Ample supply of close-combat AT weapons to units in vulnerablesectors.

f) Improvement of artillery and AT defenses in units stationed inDenmark, as well as those committed for coastal protection in theoccupied West. Strengthening of GHQ artillery.

2.) The units and elements stationed in the West or in Denmark, as wellas panzer, assault gun, and AT units to be activated in the West, mustnot be transferred to other fronts without my permission. The Chief ofthe Army General Staff, or the Inspector General of Panzer Troops willsubmit to me a report through the Armed Forces Operations Staff as soonas the issue of equipment to the panzer and assault gun battalions, aswell as to the AT battalions and companies, has been completed.

3.) Beyond similar measures taken in the past, the Commander in ChiefWest will establish timetables for, and conduct maneuvers and commandpost exercises on, the procedure for bringing up units from sectors notunder attack. These units will be made capable of performing offensivemissions, however limited. In that connection I demand that sectors notthreatened by the enemy be ruthlessly stripped of all forces except smallguard detachments. For sectors from which reserves are withdrawn,security and guard detachments must be set aside from security and alarmunits. Labor forces drawn largely from the native population mustlikewise be organized in those sectors, in order to keep open whateverroads might be destroyed by the enemy air force.

4.) The Commander of German Troops in Denmark will take measures in thearea under his control in compliance with paragraph 3 above.

5.) Pursuant to separate orders, the Chief of Army Equipment andCommander of the Replacement Army will form Kampfgruppen in regimentalstrength, security battalions, and engineer construction battalions fromtraining cadres, trainees, schools, and instruction and convalescentunits in the Zone of the Interior. These troops must be ready forshipment on 48 hours’ notice.

Furthermore, other available personnel are to be organized intobattalions of replacements and equipped with the available weapons, sothat the anticipated heavy losses can quickly be replaced.

B) Luftwaffe:

The offensive and defensive effectiveness of Luftwaffe units in the Westand in Denmark will be increased to meet the changed situation. To thatend, preparations will be made for the release of units suited forcommitment in the anti-invasion effort, that is, all flying units andmobile Flak artillery that can be spared from the air defenses of thehome front, and from schools and training units in the Zone of theInterior. All those units are to be earmarked for the West and possiblyDenmark.

The Luftwaffe ground organization in southern Norway, Denmark,northwestern Germany, and the West will be expanded and supplied in a waythat will-by the most far-reaching decentralization of own forces-denytargets to the enemy bombers, and split the enemy’s offensive effort incase of large-scale operations. Particularly important in that connectionwill be our fighter forces. Possibilities for their commitment must beincreased by the establishment of numerous advance landing fields.Special emphasis is to be placed on good camouflage. I expect also thatthe Luftwaffe will unstintingly furnish all available forces, bystripping them from less threatened areas.

C) Navy:

The Navy will prepare the strongest possible forces suitable forattacking the enemy landing fleets. Coastal defense installations in theprocess of construction will be completed with the utmost speed. Theemplacing of additional coastal batteries and the possibility of layingfurther flanking mine fields should be investigated.

All school, training, and other shore-based personnel fit for groundcombat must be prepared for commitment so that, without undue delay, theycan at least be employed as security forces within the zone of the enemylanding operations.

While preparing the reinforcement of the defenses in the West, the Navymust keep in mind that it might be called upon to repulse simultaneousenemy landings in Norway and Denmark. In that connection, I attachparticular importance to the assembly of numerous U-boats in the northernarea. A temporary weakening of U-boat forces in the Atlantic must berisked.

D) SS:

The Reichsfuehrer-SS will determine what Waffen-SS and police forces hecan release for combat, security, and guard duty. He is to prepare toorganize effective combat and security forces from training, replacement,and convalescent units, as well as schools and other home-frontestablishments.

E) The commanders in chief of the services, the Reichsfuehrer-ss, theChief of the Army General Staff, the Commander in Chief West, the Chiefof Army Equipment and Commander of the Replacement Army, the InspectorGeneral of Panzer Troops, as well as the Commander of German Troops inDenmark will report to me by 15 November all measures taken or planned.

I expect that all agencies will make a supreme effort toward utilizingevery moment of the remaining time in preparing for the decisive battlein the West.

All authorities will guard against wasting time and energy in uselessjurisdictional squabbles, and will direct all their efforts towardstrengthening our defensive and offensive power.

signed: Adolf Hitler