Western Front 
Directive No. 51

The Fuehrer 
OKW/WFSt/Op.N. 662656/43 g.K.Chefs 
Top Secret 
Fuehrer Headquarters 
3 November 1943 
27 copies 

For the last two and one-half years the bitter and costly struggle against Bolshevism has made the utmost demands upon the bulk of our military resources and energies. This commitment was in keeping with the seriousness of the danger, and the over-all situation. The situation has since changed. The threat from the East remains, but an even greater danger looms in the West: the Anglo-American landing! In the East, the vastness of the space will, as a last resort, permit a loss of territory even on a major scale, without suffering a mortal blow to Germany's chance for survival. 

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

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

Holding attacks and diversions on other fronts are to be expected. Not even the possibility of a large-scale offensive against Denmark may be excluded. It would pose greater nautical problems and could be less effectively supported from the air, but would nevertheless produce the greatest political and strategic impact if it were to succeed. 

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

Stationary weapons (heavy AT guns, immobile tanks to be dug-in, coast artillery, shore-defense guns, mines, etc.) arriving in Denmark and the occupied 

West within the near future will be heavily concentrated in points of main defensive effort at the most vulnerable coastal sectors. At the same time, we must take the calculated risk that for the present we may be unable to improve our defenses in less threatened sectors. 

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

In addition, well-planned emergency measures, prepared down to the last detail, must enable us instantly to throw against the invader every fit man and machine from coastal sectors not under attack and from the home front. 

The anticipated strong attacks by air and sea must be relentlessly countered by Air Force and Navy with all their available resources. 

I therefore order the following: 

A. Army 

1. The Chief of the Army General Staff and the Inspector General of Panzer Troops will submit to me without delay a plan for the distribution, within the next three months, of weapons, tanks, self-propelled guns, motor vehicles, and ammunition on the Western front and in Denmark, in accordance with the requirements of the new situation. 

The plan will rest on the following basic principles: 

(a) All Panzer and Panzer Grenadier divisions in the West will be assured of adequate mobility, and each will be equipped with 93 Mark IV tanks or self-propelled guns, and with strong anti-tank weapons by the end of December 1943. 

The 20th Luftwaffe Field Division will be converted into an effective mobile offensive formation by the allocation of self-propelled artillery before the end of 1943. 

SS Panzer Grenadier Division "HJ" [Hitler Youth], 21st Panzer Division, and the infantry and reserve divisions stationed in Jutland will be brought up to full armed strength with speed. 

(b) There will be a further reinforcement with Mk. IV self-propelled guns and heavy anti-tank guns of Panzer divisions in reserve in the West and in Denmark, and of the self-propelled artillery training unit in Denmark. 

(c) A monthly allocation of a hundred heavy anti-tank guns Mks. 40 and 43 (of which half will be mobile), for the months of November and December, in addition to the heavy anti-tank guns, will be made to the newly raised formations in the West. 

(d) An increased allocation of weapons (including about 1,000 machine guns) will be made to improve the equipment of ground forces engaged in coastal defense in the West and in Denmark, aud to coordinate the equipment of units which are to be withdrawn from sectors not under attack. 

(e) A liberal supply of short-range anti-tank weapons will be granted to formations stationed in threatened areas. 

(f) The firepower in artillery and anti-tank guns of formations stationed in Denmark, and on the coasts of occupied territories in the West, will be increased, and Army artillery will be strengthened. 

2. No units or formations stationed in the West and in Denmark, nor any of the newly raised self-propelled armored artillery or anti- tank units in the West, will be withdrawn to other fronts without my approval. 

The Chief of the Army General Staff and the Inspector General of Panzer Troops will report to me, through the High Command of the Armed Forces (Operations Staff), when the equipment of armored units, self-propelled artillery units, and light anti-tank units and companies is complete. 

3. Commander-in-Chief West will decide which additional formations from sectors of the front that have not been under attack can be moved up and made capable of an offensive role, by a timetable of exercises in the field and similar training measures. In this connection, I insist that areas unlikely to be threatened should be ruthlessly stripped of all except the smallest forces essential for guard duties. In areas from which these reserves are drawn, units will be formed from security and emergency forces for duties of surveillance and protection. Our labour units employed on construction will open the lines of communication which will probably be destroyed by the enemy, employing for this the help of the local population on an extensive scale. 

4. The Commander of German troops in Denmark will adopt the measures outlined in paragraph 3 for the area under his command. 

5. The Chief of Army Equipment and Commander of the Replacement Army will raise battle groups of regimental strength in the Home Defence area from training depots, troops under instruction, army schools, training battalions and recuperative establishments. These will form security and engineer-construction battalions, and will be ready, on receipt of special orders, to move within forty-eight hours of being called up. 

In addition, all further personnel available will be incorporated in infantry units and equipped with such weapons as are available, so that they may immediately replace the heavy casualties to be expected. 

B. Luftwaffe 

In view of the new situation, the offensive and defensive power of formations of the Luftwaffe stationed in the West and in Denmark will be increased. Plans will be drawn up to ensure that all forces available and suitable for defensive operations will be taken from flying units and mobile anti-aircraft artillery units engaged in Home defense, from schools and training units in the Home Defense area, and will be employed in the West, and if necessary in Denmark. 

Ground establishments in Southern Norway, Denmark, Northwestern Germany, and the West will be organised and supplied so that, by the largest possible degree of decentralisation, our own units are not exposed to enemy bombing at the beginning of large-scale operations, and the weight of the enemy attack will be effectively broken up. This applies particularly to our fighter forces, whose ability to go into action must be increased by the establishment of a number of emergency airfields. Particular attention will be paid to good camouflage. In this connection also I expect all possible forces to be made available for action regardless of the circumstances, by stripping less threatened areas of their troops. 

C. Navy 

The Navy will draw up plans for bringing into action naval forces capable of attacking the enemy landing fleet with all thefr strength. Coastal defences under construction will be completed with all possible speed, and the establishment of additional coastal batteries and the laying of further obstacles on the flanks will be considered. 

Preparations will be made for the employment of all ranks capable of fighting, from schools, training establishments, and other land establishments, so that they may be deployed with the least possible delay, if only on security duties, in the battle area where enemy landings have taken place. 

In the naval plans for strengthening defenses in the West, special attention will be given to defense against enemy landing in Norway or Denmark. In this connection, I attach particular importance to plans for using large numbers of submarines in the northern sea areas. A temporary diminution of submarine forces in the Atlantic must be accepted. 

D. SS 

The ReichsFuehrer SS will test the preparedness of units of the Waffen SS and Police for operational, security, and guard duties. Preparations will be made to raise battle-trained formations for operational and security duties from training, reserve and recuperative establishments, and from schools and other units in the Home Defence Area. 

E. Commanders-in-Chief of the branches of the Armed Forces, the ReichsFuehrer SS, the Chief of the Army General Staff, Commander-in-Chief West, the Chief of Army Equipment and Commanding General of Replacement Army, the Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, and the Commander of German troops in Denmark will report to me by the 15th November the steps taken, and those which they propose to take. 

I expect all staffs concerned to exert every effort during the time which still remain in preparation for the expected decisive battle in the West. 

All those responsible will ensure that time and manpower are not wasted in dealing with questions of jurisdiction, but that they are employed in increasing our powers of defense and attack. 

Adolf Hitler