Hitler – Japan must be encouraged to attack

Hitler with Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, head of the German Armed Forces, March 1941.

Germany Italy and Japan had entered into the Tripartite Pact in September. Now Wilhelm Keitel, head of the German Armed Forces, issued Directive 24 setting out the direction of the war that Hitler would like to see:

High Command Of The Armed Forces.

The Leader’s Headquarters. 5th March, 1941.

Directive No. 24 – Cooperation With Japan

The Leader has issued the following orders for cooperation with Japan:

1. The purpose of the cooperation based on the Three Power Pact must be to induce Japan to take action in the Far East as soon as possible. This will tie down strong English forces and will divert the main effort of the United States of America to the Pacific Ocean.

In view of the military unpreparedness of her enemies, the sooner Japan strikes, the greater her chances of success. Undertaking Barbarossa establishes particularly promising political and military conditions for this.

2. In preparing for such cooperation it is important to strengthen Japanese fighting spirit by every means.

For this purpose Commanders In Chief of the branches of the Armed Forces will respond generously and comprehensively to Japanese requests for information about German experience in the war, and for economic and technical assistance. Reciprocity is desirable but should not impede negotiation. In this respect, priority will naturally be given to those Japanese requests which could have an early effect upon the conduct of the war.

(a) The common aim of strategy must be represented as the swift conquest of England in order to keep America out of the war. Apart from this, Germany has no political, military, or economic interests in the Far East which need in any way inhibit Japanese intentions.

(b) The great success attained by Germany in war on merchant shipping makes it appear particularly desirable that powerful Japanese forces should be devoted to the same end. Any possibility of support for the German war on merchant shipping is to be exploited.

(c) The position of the three pact powers in respect of raw materials demands that Japan should secure for itself those territories which it needs for the prosecution of the war, particularly if the United States is engaged. Deliveries of rubber must continue even after Japan’s entry into the war, since they are vital for Germany.

(d) The seizure of Singapore, England’s key position in the Far East, would represent a decisive success in the combined strategy of the three powers.

The Chief Of The High Command Of The Armed Forces.
Keitel

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