German Strategy in the Mediterranean in late 1941

Hitler issued only two directives concerning the Mediterranean theatre from June 1941, Directive No. 32 and Directive No. 38. Directive 32 of 11 June 1941, little more than a week before the attack on the Soviet Union, contained the broad plans for the Mediterranean after the fall of the Soviet Union, starting with the capture of Egypt. It was an optimistic document, giving orders for the reshaping of the former Soviet space, and outlining how the British position in the Middle East would be attacked through Turkey and from Libya. It imagined a situation in which Germany would be able to control the whole Middle East, up to maybe Iran.

Directive 38 was a wholly different matter. When it was issued, Axis forces in North Africa were staring into the abyss of defeat, and the situation in the Soviet Union was about to turn violently against the Wehrmacht. The directive exposed for the first time the loss of initiative that had taken place, and the need to scrape around for resources, which would be commonplace in later years in the war.

I will, given time, make the text of Directive No. 32 available here as well, both in the original and in translation.

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