Hitler's directive 21


The Führer
and Supreme Commander
of the Armed Forces
Führer Headquarters
December 18th, 1940

9 Copies 

  Directive No. 21

"Operation Barbarossa"

The German Armed Forces must be prepared, even before the conclusion
   of the war against England, to crush Soviet Russia in a rapid campaign
   ("Operation Barbarossa").

   The Army will have to employ all available formations to this end,
   with the reservation that occupied territories must be insured against
   surprise attacks.

   The Luftwaffe will have to make available for this Eastern campaign
   supporting forces of such strength that the Army will be able to bring land
   operations to a speedy conclusion and that eastern Germany will be as little
   damaged as possible by enemy air attack. This build-up of a focal point
   in the East will be limited only by the need to protect from air attack the
   whole combat and arsenal area which we control, and to ensure that attacks
   on England, and especially upon her imports, are not allowed to lapse.

   The main efforts of the Navy will continue to be directed against England
   even during the Eastern campaign.

   In certain circumstances I shall issue orders for the deployment against
   Soviet Russia eight weeks before the operation is timed to begin.

   Preparations which require more time than this will be put in hand now,
   in so far as this has not already beendone, and will be concluded by
   15th May 1941.

   It is of decisive importance that our intention to attack should not be known.

   The preparations of the High Commands will be made on the following basis:

   I. General Intention

   The bulk of the Russian Army stationed in western Russia will be destroyed
   by daring operations led by deeply penetrating armored spearheads. Russian
   forces still capable of giving battle will be prevented from withdrawing into the
   depths of Russia.

   The enemy will then be energetically pursued and a line will be reached
   from which the Russian Air Force can no longer attack German territory. The
   final objective of the operation is to erect a barrier against Asiatic Russia on
   the general line Volga-Archangel.

   The last surviving industrial area of Russia in the Urals can then, if necessary,
   be eliminated by the Luftwaffe.

   In the course of these operations the Russian Baltic Fleet will quickly lose
   its bases and will then no longer be capable of action.

   The effective operation of the Russian Air Force is to be prevented from the
   beginning of the attack by powerful blows.

   II. Probable Allies and their Tasks

   1. On the flanks of our operations we can count on the active support of
   Romania and Finland in the war against Soviet Russia.
   The High Command of the Armed Forces will decide and lay down in due
   time the manner in which the forces of these two countries will be brought
   under German command.

   2. It will be the task of Romania to support the attack of the German
   southern flank, at least at the outset, with its best troops; to hold down the
   enemy where German forces are not engaged; and to provide auxiliary
   services in the rear areas.

   3. Finland will cover the advance of the Northern Group of German forces
   moving from Norway (detachments of Group XXI) and will operate in
   conjunction with them. Finland will also be responsible for eliminating Hango.

   4. It is possible that Swedish railways and roads may be available for the
   movement of the German Northern Group, by the beginning of the operation
   at the latest.

   III. Conduct of Operations

   A. Army (in accordance with plans submitted to me)!

   In the theater of operations, which is divided by the Pripet Marshes into
   a Southern and a Northern sector, the main weight of attack will be delivered
   in the Northern area. Two Army Groups will be employed here.

   The more southerly of these two Army Groups (in the center of the whole
   front) will have the task of advancing with powerful armored and motorized
   formations from the area about and north of Warsaw, and routing the enemy
   forces in White Russia. This will make it possible for strong mobile forces to
   advance northwards and, in conjunction with the Northern Army Group
   operating out of East Prussia in the general direction of Leningrad, to destroy
   the enemy forces operating in the Baltic area. Only after the fulfilment of this
   first essential task, which must include the occupation of Leningrad and
   Kronstadt, will the attack be continued with the intention of occupying
   Moscow, an important    center of communications and of the armaments

   Only a surprisingly rapid collapse of Russian resistance could justify the
   simultaneous pursuit of both objectives.

   The most important task of Group XXI, even during these eastern operations,
   remains the protection of Norway.
   Any forces available after carrying out this task will be employed in the North
   (Mountain Corps), at first to protect the Petsamo area and its iron ore mines
   and the Arctic highway, then to advance with Finnish forces against the
   Murmansk railway and thus prevent the passage of supplies to Murmansk
   by land.

   The question whether an operation of this kind can be carried out with
   stronger German forces (two or three divisions) from the Rovaniemi area and
   south of it will depend on the willingness of Sweden to make its railways
   available for troop transport.

   It will be the duty of the main body of the Finnish Army, in conjunction
   with the advance of the German North flank, to hold down the strongest
   possible Russian forces by an attack to the West, or on both sides of Lake
   Ladoga, and to occupy Hango.

   The Army Group operating South of the Pripet Marshes will also seek, in a
   concentric operation with strong forces on either flank, to destroy all Russian
   forces west of the Dnieper in the Ukraine. The main attack will be carried out
   from the Lublin area in the general direction of Kiev, while forces in Romania
   will carry out a wide enclosing movement across the lower Pruth. It will be the
   task of the Romanian Army to hold down Russian forces in the intervening

   When the battles north and south of the Pripet Marshes are ended the pursuit
   of the enemy will have the following aims :

   In the South the early capture of the Donets Basin, important for war industry.

   In the North a quick advance to Moscow. The capture of this city would
   represent a decisive political and economic success and would also bring about
   the capture of the most important railway junctions.

   B. Luftwaffe

   It will be the duty of the Luftwaffe to paralyze and eliminate the effectiveness
   of the Russian Air Force as far as possible. lt will also support the main
   operations of the Army, i.e. those of the central Army Group and of the vital
   flank of the Southern Army Group. Russian railways will either be destroyed
   or, in accordance with operational requirements, captured at their most
   important points (river crossings) by the bold employment of parachute and
   airborne troops.

   In order that we may concentrate all our strength against the enemy Air Force
   and for the immediate support of land operations, the Russian armaments
   industry will not be attacked during the main operations. Such attacks will be
   made only after the conclusion of mobile warfare, and they will be
   concentrated first on the Urals area.

   C. Navy

   It will be the duty of the Navy during the attack on Soviet Russia to protect
   our own coasts and to prevent the breakout of enemy naval units from the
   Baltic. As the Russian Baltic fleet will, with the capture of Leningrad, lose
   its last base and will then be in a hopeless position, major naval action will be
   avoided until this occurs.

   After the elimination of the Russian fleet the duty of the Navy will be to
   protect the entire maritime traffic in the Baltic and the transport of supplies
   by sea to the Northern flank (clearing of minefields!).

   IV. All steps taken by Commanders-in-Chief on the basis of this directive
   must be phrased on the unambiguous assumption that they are precautionary
   measures undertaken in case Russia should alter its present attitude towards
   us. The number of officers employed on preliminary preparations will be kept
   as small as possible and further staffs will be designated as late as possible
   and only to the extent required for the duties of each individual. Otherwise
   there is a danger that premature knowledge of our preparations, whose
   execution cannot yet be timed with any certainty, might entail the gravest
   political and military disadvantages.

   V. I await submission of the plans of Commanders-in-Chief on the basis
   of this directive.

   The preparations made by all branches of the Armed Forces, together with
   timetables, are to be reported to me through the High Command of the
   Armed Forces.