Hitler's directive for "Operation Green"
Prior to the "May Crisis", Hitler appeared to be in no hurry
to bring the crisis over Czechoslovakia to a conclusion. An earlier draft
memorandum on "Operation Green" (the code name for the invasion of
Czechoslovakia), dated 20 May 1938, indicated no immediate timetable for
the operation. The events of 19-22 May 1938, however, caused Hitler to
change his mind. He believed that Germany had suffered a loss of face in
climbing down - or appearing to climb down - when confronted with the
apparent resolution of Britain and France. An amendment to the plan was
issued within a week. An accompanying covering letter from General Keitel,
Chief of the Armed Forces, clearly sets a target date.
Berlin, 30 May, 1938
TOP SECRET, MILITARY
Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht
O.K.W. No. 42/38 Top Secret, Military. LI
ONLY TO BE HANDLED BY AN OFFICER
WRITTEN BY AN OFFICER
By order of the Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht, part 2, section II
of the directive on the combined preparations for war of the Wehrmacht of
June 24, 1937 (Supreme Headquarters No. 55/37, Top Secret, Mil. LIa). (War
on Two Fronts with Main Effort in the Southeast, Strategic Concentration
"Green") is to be replaced by the attached version. Its execution must be
assured by October 1, 1938, at the latest.
Alterations to other parts of the directive are to be expected during
the next few weeks.
Chief of the Supreme Headquarters
of the Wehrmacht
C.-in-C. Air Force
O.K.W. Section L
Copy of 4th version
TOP SECRET, MILITARY
Appendix to: Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht O.K.W.
Secret, Military, LIa, dated May 30, 1938.
ONLY TO BE HANDLED BY AN OFFICER
WRITTEN BY AN OFFICER
II. War on Two Fronts with Main Effort in Southeast
(Strategic Concentration "Green")
1) Political Assumptions.
It is my unalterable decision to smash Czechoslovakia by military
action in the near future. It is the business of the political leadership
to await or bring about the suitable moment from a political and military
point of view.
An unavoidable development of events within Czecho-slovakia, or other
political events in Europe providing a suddenly favourable opportunity
which may never recur, may cause me to take early action.
The proper choice and determined exploitation of a favourable moment is
the surest guarantee of success. To this end preparations are to be made
2) Political Possibilities for Commencing the Operation.
The following are necessary prerequisites for the intended attack:
a) A convenient apparent excuse and, with it,
b) Adequate political justification,
c) Action not expected by the enemy which will find him in the least
possible state of readiness.
Most favourable from a military as well as a political point of view
would be lightning action as a result of an incident which would subject
Germany to unbearable provocation, and which, in the eyes of at least a
part of world opinion, affords the moral justification for military
Moreover, any period of diplomatic tension prior to war must be
terminated by sudden action on our part, unexpected in both timing and
extent, before the enemy is so far advanced in his state of military
preparedness that he cannot be overtaken.
3) Conclusions for the Preparation of Operation "Green"
a) For the military operations it is essential to make the fullest use
of the surprise element as the most important factor contributing to
victory, by means of appropriate preparatory measures, already in
peacetime, and an unexpected swiftness of action.
Thus is it essential to create a situation within the first two or
there days which demonstrate to enemy states which wish to intervene the
hopelessness of the Czech military position, and also provides an
incentive to those states which have territorial claims upon
Czechoslovakia to join in immediately against her. In this case the
intervention of Hungary and Poland against Czechoslovakia can be expected,
particularly if France, as a result of Italy's unequivocal attitude on our
side, fears, or at least hesitates, to unleash an European war by
intervening against Germany. In all probability attempts by Russia to give
Czechoslovakia military support, particularly with her air force, are to
If concrete successes are not achieved in the first few days by land
operations, a European crisis will certainly arise. Realisation of this
ought to give commanders of all ranks an incentive to resolute and bold
b) Propaganda warfare must on the one hand intimidate the Czechs by
means of threats and wear down their power of resistance; and on the other
hand it must give the national racial groups indications as to how to
support our military operations and influence the neutrals in our favour.
Further instructions and determination of the appropriate moment are
reserved to me.
4) Tasks of the Wehrmacht.
Wehrmacht preparations are to be carried out on the following principles:
a) The whole weight of all forces must be employed against Czechoslovakia.
b) In the West, a minimum strength is to be provided as cover for our
rear, as may become necessary; the other frontiers in the East against
Poland and Lithuania are only to be held defensively; the southern
frontier to remain under observation.
c) The army formations capable of rapid employment must force the frontier
fortifications with speed and energy, and must break very boldly into
Czechoslovakia in the certainty that the bulk of the mobile army will be
brought up with all possible speed.
Preparations for this are to be made and timed in such a way that the
army formations most capable of rapid movement cross the frontier at the
appointed time simultaneously with the penetration by the Luftwaffe,
before the enemy can become aware of our mobilisation.
To this end a timetable is to be drawn up by the Army and Luftwaffe in
conjunction with O.K.W. and submitted to me for approval.
5) Tasks for the services of the Wehrmacht.
The basic principle of surprise attack on Czechoslovakia must not be
endangered by the time unavoidably needed for transporting the bulk of the
field army by rail, nor must the more rapid deployment of the Luftwaffe
fail to be exploited.
The first task for the Army is therefore to employ as many assault
columns as possible simultaneously with the attack by the Luftwaffe.
These assault columns organised in conformity with their tasks, must be
composed of troops which can be rapidly employed because of their
proximity to the frontier, their motorisation, and their special measures
It must be the purpose of these thrusts to break into the Czech
fortified lines at numerous points and in a strategically favourable
direction, in order to penetrate them or to take them from the rear. For
success, cooperation with the Sudeten German frontier population, with
deserters from the Czechoslovak Army, with parachutists or airborne
troops, and with units of the sabotage service is of importance.
The bulk of the Army has the task of frustrating the Czech defence
plan, preventing a withdrawal by the Czech Army into Slovakia, forcing it
to battle and defeating it, and swiftly occupying Bohemia and Moravia. To
this end a thrust into the heart of Czechoslovakia must be made with the
strongest possible mechanised and armoured units, exploiting the first
successes of the assault columns and the effects of the Luftwaffe action.
The rear cover provided for the West must be limited in quantity and
quality in accordance with the existing state of the fortifications.
Whether the formations assigned for this purpose will be at once
transferred to the western frontier, or held back for the time being, will
be decided by my special order.
Preparations must, however, be made to enable security detachments to
be brought up to the western frontier, even during the strategic
concentration "Green". Independently of this, a first security garrison
must be improvised from the engineers and formations of the Labour Corps
employed at the time on the construction of fortifications.
The remaining frontiers, as well as East Prussia, are only to be weakly
guarded. According to the political situation, however, the transport of a
part or the bulk of the active forces in East Prussia by sea to the Reich
must be envisaged.
While leaving a minimum force for a defensive role in the West, the
main strength of the Luftwaffe is to employed for a surprise attack
against Czechoslovakia. The frontier is to be crossed by aircraft at the
same time as it is crossed by the first units of the Army (see No. 5a).
The most important task of the Luftwaffe is the destruction of the Czech
Air Striking Force and its supply bases in the shortest possible time, to
prevent its employment and, should the case arise, that of the Russian and
French Air Forces, against the German Army during its deployment and
invasion and against the German Lebensraum.
The paralysing of mobilisation, of the conduct of civil affairs and the
direction of the armed forces, as well as delaying the deployment of the
Czech Army by attacks on its communications system and on centres of
mobilisation and government, will also be of vital importance for the
initial success of the Army. Where in the frontier region stronger Czech
Army formations or the depth of the defence system may render a speedy and
successful break-through of the German land attack doubtful, the
employment of adequate air formations must be ensured.
As far as the course of operations at all permits, Czechoslovak
industrial establishments are to be spared.
Reprisal attacks upon the population are subject to my approval.
Main centres for anti-aircraft defence are to be organised in Berlin,
the industrial region of Central Germany, and the Ruhr district, and are
to be gradually prepared from now in an inconspicuous fashion.
The Navy will take part in the operation of the Army by the employment
of the Danube flotilla. For this purpose the flotilla is placed under the
command of the Commander in Chief of the Army.
As regards the conduct of naval warfare, at first only such measures
are to be taken as seem necessary for securing the North See and the
Baltic against a surprise intervention by other states in the conflict.
These measures are to be limited to the absolute essentials. Their
concealment must be ensured. In this it is of decisive importance to avoid
all actions which might adversely affect the political attitude of the
European Great Powers.
6) Economic warfare tasks.
In economic warfare it is essential that in the sphere of the armament
industry a maximum deployment of forces should be made possible through
In the course of military operations it is important to help to
increase the total economic war effort by rapidly collecting information
about important factories and setting them going again as soon as
For this reason the sparing, as far as military operations permit, of
Czech industrial and engineering establishments may be of decisive
importance to us.
7) All preparations for sabotage and insurrection will be made by
O.K.W. They will be made in agreement with and according to the
requirements of the branches of the Wehrmacht so that their effects in
both time and place will harmonise with operations by the Army and
Certified true copy
Lieut. Colonel, General Staff
[Source: Documents on German Foreign Policy, (London, 1950),
series D, vol. II, no. 221, pp. 357-62.]