The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Aggression Against the U.S.S.R.
(Part 3 of 16)

B. Plan Barbarossa.

By 18 December 1940 the general outline of the army's operational plans having been submitted to Hitler, the basic strategical directive to the High Commands of the Army, Navy, and Air Forces for Barbarossa -- Directive No. 21 -- was issued (446-PS). This directive marks the first time the plan to invade the USSR was specifically referred to in an order, although the order was classified Top Secret. It also marked the first use of the code word Barbarossa to denote the operation against the Soviet Union. One of the most significant passages in that directive-is the opening sentence:

"The German Armed Forces must be prepared to crush Soviet Russia in a quick campaign even before the end of the war against England. (Case Barbarossa)." (446- PS)

The directive continues:

"Preparations requiring more time to start are -- if this has not yet been done -- to begin presently and are to be completed not later than 15 May 1941."

"Great caution has to be exercised that the intention of an attack will not be recognized." (446-PS)

The directive then outlined the broad strategy on which the intended invasion was to proceed and the parts which the Army, Navy, and Air Forces were to play therein, and called for oral reports to Hitler by the Commanders-in-Chief. The directive concluded as follows:

"V. I am expecting the reports of the Commanders-in- Chief on their further plans based on this letter of instructions.

"The preparations planned by all branches of the Armed Forces are to be reported to me through the High Command, also in regard to their time." (446-PS)

The directive is signed by Hitler and initialled by Jodl, Keitel, Warlimont, and one illegible signature.

It is perfectly clear both from the contents of the order itself as well as from its history, which has been outlined, that this directive was no mere staff planning exercise. It was an order to prepare for an act of aggression which was intended to occur and which actually did occur. The various services which received the order understood it as an order to prepare for action and did not view it as a hypothetical staff problem. This is plain from the detailed planning and preparation which they immediately undertook in order to implement the general scheme set forth in the basic directive.

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