1. HISTORY AND COMMANDERS
up in August 1939, Marinegruppenkommando West was in charge of naval
operations in the Helgoland Bight, the North Sea and the Atlantic. Originally,
the HQ of the group was in Sengwarden, near Wilhelmshaven. In August 1940, the
Group transferred its HQ to Paris (Place de la Concorde, in the former French
Navy Ministry) and abandoned its control over operations in the North Sea to
concentrate on France and Belgium. Its first commander was General-Admiral
Alfred Saalwachter, who ceded his place in September 1942 to
General-Admiral Wilhelm Marschall, who had previously been
Kommandierender Admiral Frankreich. On 16 November, 1943 the post of
Kommandierender Admiral Frankreich was eliminated and its staff transferred
in full to Marinegruppenkommando West to form the large General Staff of
the Kriegsmarine in the West. As of this date, Marinegruppenkommando
West took charge of not only operations but also the administration of
personnel, supplies and all other tasks that had previously pertained to the
Kommandierender Admiral Frankreich.
General-Admiral Alfred Saalwachter
General-Admiral Wilhelm Marschall
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The third and last commander of Marinegruppenkommando West under this
title is much better known to the public, since he was much lauded in German
propaganda. This was General-Admiral Theodor Krancke, who took
over on 20 April 1943 and who held this command until 20 October 1944. His
promotion through the media was due to two factors: he benefited from the
presence of the big dignitaries during their visits to the French coast, notably
Rommel and Dönitz, and secondly, he was in charge of the Kriegsmarine
during the Allied landings in Normandy and in Provence, which gave him a high
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General-Admiral Theodor Krancke
During the whole war, Marinegruppenkommando West benefited from Chiefs
of Staff who stood in capably during the absences of the
Commanders-in-Chief. Successively there were Konteradmiral Otto Ciliax
(September 1939 - March 1941), Kapitän zur See Hans Meyer (May 1941 -
December 1942), Konteradmiral Wilhelm Meisel (December 1942 - February
1943), and finally Konteradmiral Karl Hoffmann (February 1943 - October
In addition, Marinegruppenkommando West delegated its officers to act as
liaison officers with the Oberbefehlshaber West at Saint-Germain
en Laye, where Fregattenkapitan Richard Konig was attached to
Feldmarschall von Rundstedt, and with Heeresgeuppe B, with Vize-Admiral
Friedrich Ruge, later replaced by Vize-Admiral Friedrich Rieve (September 1944 -
October 1944). In addition there was the general staff attached to
Marinegruppenkommando West following the dismantlement of Kommandierender
Admiral Frankreich, with Konteradmiral Otto Fricke (November 1942 -
March 1943) replaced by Kapitän zur See Johannes Hain (April 1943 -
October 1944) as Deputy Chiefs of Staff of Marinegruppenkommando West.
On October 20, 1944, Marinegruppenkommando West was dissolved, and its
general staff served to form the high command of the Kriegsmarine in the
West under the new name Marineoberkommando West.
The HQ had
several services for its own needs, as well as a multitude of units attached to
Marinegruppenkommando West was essentially in charge of
operations, personnel administration and supplies, for which it had an important
general staff made up of:
the Chief of Staff in charge of
coordinating the functions of the different staff officers to ensure an
efficient cooperation to achieve the set tasks. In the absence of the
commanding admiral, the Chief of Staff would fill in for him and take care
of day-to-day matters.
First Admiralty Officer: in
charge of preparing and executing operations.
Second Admiralty Officer: in
charge of armaments, supplies, equipment, dockyard programs, personnel and
Third Admiralty Officer: in
charge of security against torpedo attacks, mines and submarines, as well as
the escort service.
Fourth Admiralty Officer: in
charge of the intelligence and counter-intelligence service.
Fifth Admiralty Officer: in
charge of the war diary.
Sixth Admiralty Officer: a
specialist in radar.
Deputy Chief of Staff: in
charge of supplies.
Department Quartermaster I: in
charge of planning.
Department Quartermaster II:
responsible for questions of armaments and artillery.
Department Quartermaster III:
responsible for questions of navigation.
Department Quartermaster IV:
responsible for information.
3. DIRECT-REPORTING UNITS
The high command
of the Navy in Paris had a certain number of units or services directly
subordinated to it throughout France:
Directorate-General of Naval
Engineering, which later became the Staff of Coastal Fortifications, under
Generalmajor der Marinepionere Franz Habicht.
Directorate of Naval
Engineering in France, under Hafenbaudirektor Gerdes, then
Naval Intendant in Paris:
Konteradmiral Werner Lindenau, who himself had a direct authority over
Navigation Protection Service
for the Seine.
Navigation Protection Service
for the Saint-Quentin Canal.
Naval Signals Battalion West.
12th Naval Transport Group, in
3rd Naval Automobile Park
Group, in Fontainebleau.
4th Naval Automobile
Instruction Group, in Provins.
Torpedo Arsenal West, at
Artillery Repair Arsenal, in
Official representative of the
Deputy Admiral Commanding, North Sea.
Warehouse Company, in Paris.
School for the Application of
Measures for Gas and Smoke Protection, in Paris.
Command of Torpedo Arsenals
West, headed successively by:
-Konteradmiral Clamor von Trotha 7.16.42 - 2.25.43
-Konteradmiral Werner Lindenau 2.26.43 - 7.14.43
-Kapitän zur See Erich Heymann 7.15.43-11.2.44
4. DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR NAVAL SHIPYARDS IN
In Paris, at the HQ of the Kommandierender Admiral Frankreich , a special
service was created in June 1940. In fact, it was rapidly dissolved, in
accordance with Order of the Day No. 206 of the Admiral Commanding, North Sea,
dated 30 August 1940.
The head of the service, Kapitän zur See Rhein (serving from August -
October 1940), held the official title of Delegate to the Naval Shipyards in
France, which was shortly thereafter changed to Directorate-General for Naval
A new service was thus formed. It depended directly, for all questions
concerning technical responsibility, on the Department of Naval Construction of
the OKM, whilst from the strictly military point of view, it was subordinated to
the Kommandierender Admiral Frankreich which was succeeded by
Armeeoberkommando West (Secret Order of the Day No. 63 of the Admiral
Commanding, North Sea, dated 9 December 1942).
The Director of Naval Shipyards was in charge of the shipyards and naval
arsenals at Brest, Lorient, La Pallice, Saint-Nazaire, Bordeaux and Toulon, as
well as the naval armaments warehouses, repair facilities and supply depots.
In February 1943, the service in charge of maintenance of submarines, previously
under the auspices of the Lorient Arsenal, was integrated into the
Directorate-General for Naval Shipyards.
In October 1943, an armaments service was created, stationed at Brest, which was
charged with control over all the artillery depots, repair facilities and
arsenals in France.
As a result, the links between the Directorate-General for Naval Shipyards and
the armaments service were somewhat loose. The armaments service was placed
under the authority of the Director of the Naval Shipyard at Brest
The General Staff of the Directorate-General for Naval Shipyards was dissolved
in October 1944.
The position of Director-General was held successively by:
-Vize-Admiral Siegfried Massmann June - August 1940
-Kapitän zur See Wilhelm Rhein August - October 1940
-Vize-Admiral Walter Kinzel October 1940 - 13 March 1944
-Konteradmiral Max Schenitzki l4 March 1944 - October 1944