| The Führer and Supreme Commander of the Armed forces
OKW/WFSt./Abt.L(I) Nr.33 408/40 g.Kdos. 18 December 1940
Directive No. 21. Operation Barbarossa
The armed forces of Germany must be prepared, even before the
conclusion of the war with England, to defeat Soviet Russia in one
rapid campaign ("Operation Barbarossa").
The Army must in this case be prepared to commit all available
formations, with the proviso that the occupied territories must be
secured against surprise attacks.
The Air Force will have to make available for the support of the
Army in the Eastern Campaign forces of adequate strength to ensure a
rapid termination of land action and to give the East German
territories maximum protection against enemy air raids. This making of
the main effort in the east must not be carried to a point at which we
can no longer adequately protect the totality of our battle and our
armament zones against enemy air attacks, nor must the offensive
against England, and in particular against England's supply routes,
suffer in consequence.
For the Navy the point of main effort will remain consistently
against England, even while the Eastern Campaign is in progress.
I shall give the order for the assembly of troops, etc., for the
proposed operation against Soviet Russia, should the occasion arise,
eight weeks before the operation is due to begin. Preparations that
require more time than this shall - so far as they have not already
been made - be begun at once and are to be completed by the 15th May,
Great stress however, must be laid on disguising any offensive
intentions. Preparations by the high commands are to be based on the
I. General Intention
The mass of the Army stationed in Western Russia is to be destroyed
in bold operations involving deep penetrations by armored spearheads,
and the withdrawals of elements capable of combat into the extensive
Russian land spaces is to be prevented.
By means of a rapid pursuit a line is then to be reached from beyond
which the Russian air force will no longer be capable of attacking
German home territories. The
final objective of the operation is to be the attainment of a line
sealing off Asiatic Russia and running, in general, the
Volga-Archangel. From such a line the one remaining Russian industrial
area in the Urals can be eliminated by the Air Force should the need
In the course of this operation the Russian
Baltic Fleet will rapidly be deprived of its bases and thus will
no longer be capable of combat.
Effective intervention by the Russian air force is to be prevented
from the very beginning of the operation by means of powerful attacks
II. Anticipated Allies and their Tasks
1. On the wings of our operations we can count on active
co-operation in the war against Soviet Russia by Rumania and Finland.
How exactly the combat forces of those two countries will be under
German control when they go into action is a matter that the Armed
Forces High Command will arrange and lay down at the proper time.
2. Rumania's task will be to pin down the enemy's forces opposite
that sector and to give assistance in rear areas.
3. Finland will cover the movement of the Northern German Group
coming from Norway (elements of Group XXI) and will then operate in
conjunction with this group. The elimination of Hango will also be
4. It may be anticipated that the Swedish railways and roads will be
made available for the movement of the Northern German Group, at the
latest when the operation has begun.
III. The Conduct of the Operations
(A) Army (in approbation of the intentions submitted to me):
The area of operations is divided into southern and northern halves
by the Pripet Marshes. The point of main effort will be made in the
northern half. Here two army groups are to be committed.
The southern of these two army groups - in the center of the whole
front - will have the task of breaking out the area around and to the
north of Warsaw with exceptionally strong armor and motorized
formations and of destroying the enemy forces in White Russia. This
will create a situation which will enable strong formations of mobile
troops to swing north; such formations will then co-operate with the
northern army group - advancing from East Prussia in the general
direction of Leningrad - in destroying the enemy forces in the area of
the Baltic states. Only after the accomplishment of these offensive
operations, which must be followed by the capture of Leningrad and
Kronstadt, are further offensive operations to be initiates with the
objective of occupying the important center of communications and of
armaments manufacture, Moscow.
Only a surprisingly rapid collapse of the Russian ability to resist
could justify an attempt to achieve both objectives simultaneously.
The primary task of Group XXI, even during the eastern operations,
remains the protection of Norway. Forces available other than those
needed for this task (Mountain Corps) will first of all be used to
protect the Petsamo area and its mines together with the Arctic road,
and will then advance, in conjunction with Finnish forces, against the
Murmansk railway and will cut the Murmansk area's land supply routes.
Whether an operation of this nature can be carried out by stronger
German forces (two to three Divisions) coming from the area of
Rovaniemi and to the south is dependent on Sweden's willingness to make
the Swedish railways available for such a move.
The mass of the Finnish
army will have
the task, in accordance
the advance made by the northern wing of the German armies, of tying up
maximum Russian strength by attacking to the west, or on both sides, of
Lake Ladoga. The Finns will also capture Hango.
The army group south of the Pripet Marshes will make its point of
main effort from the Lublin area in the general direction of Kiev, with
the object of driving into the deep flank and rear of the Russian
forces with strong armored formations and of then rolling up the enemy
along the Dnieper. The German- Rumanian group on the right flank will
have the task of
(a) protecting Rumanian
thus of covering the
southern flank of the whole operation;
(b) in co-ordination with the attack by the northern of Army
Group south of tying up the enemy forces on its sector of the front;
then, as the situation develops, of launching a second thrust and thus,
in conjunction with the air force, of preventing an orderly enemy
withdrawal beyond the Dniester.
Once the battle south or north of the Pripet Marshes have been
fought, the pursuit is to be undertaken with the following objectives:
In the south the rapid occupation of the economically important
Donetz Basin, in the north the speedy capture of Moscow.
(B) Air Force:
It will be the task of the air force, so far as possible, to damage
and destroy the effectiveness of the Russian air force, and to support
the operations by the army at the points of main effort, that is to say
in the sectors of the central army group and in the area where the
southern army group will be making its main effort. The Russian
railways will either be destroyed, or, in the case of more important
objectives close to hand (i.e. railway bridges) will be captured by the
bold use of parachute and air-borne troops. In order that maximum
forces may be available for operations against the enemy air force and
for direct support of the army, the munitions industry will not be
attacked while the major operation is in progress. Only after the
conclusion of the mobile operations will such attacks, and in
particular attacks against the industrial area of the Urals, be
During the war with Soviet Russia it will be the task of the navy to
protect the German coast line and to prevent any hostile naval force
from breaking out of the Baltic. Since once Leningrad has been reached
the Russian Baltic fleet will have lost its last base and will thus be
in a hopeless position, major naval operations are to be previously
avoided. After the destruction of the Russian fleet it will be the
responsibility of the navy to make the Baltic fully available to
carrying sea traffic, including supplies by sea to the northern wing of
the army. (The sweeping of minefields!)
It is important that all Commanders-in-Chiefs make it plain that the
taking of necessary measures in connection with this directive is being
done as a precaution against the possibility of the Russians adopting
an attitude towards us other than what it has been up to now. The
number of officers engaged in the early stages on these preparations is
to be kept as small as possible, and each officer is only to be given
such information as is directly essential to him in the performance of
his task. Otherwise the danger will arise of our preparations becoming
known, when a time for the carrying out of the proposed operation has
not even been decided upon. This would cause us the gravest political
and military disadvantages.
I anticipate further conferences with the Commanders-in-Chief
concerning their intentions as based on this directive. Reports on the
progress made in the proposed preparations by all services of the armed
forces will be forwarded to me through the Armed Forces High Command.
Signed: Adolf Hitler