What was Germany's Plan A in 1941?

In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soivet Union. The expectation was that the Red Army and Soviet government would quickly collapse and surrender. Official plans were that by wintertime, all of the German forces except 15 occupation divisions could be withdrawn.

Now obviously things didn’t go according to plan. But if they had, the Germans must have already been working on their next set of plans. What were they? Assuming the Soviets had surrendered, and the Germans occupied all of European Russia (we’ll throw in Egypt as well) I can see a few possiblities.

1 - Move on into the Middle East and India. The army is already in the area and this would secure more oil supplies as well as conquering British territory.

2 - Move into western Africa. One book I’ve read says Hitler had long term plans for occupying this area in order to secure bases for the naval war against Britain and an eventual move against the Americas.

3 - Mop up Europe. Occupy the remaining neutrals like Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, Spain, etc.

4 - Invade England. Build up a fleet or convince the Italians and Vichy French to use theirs. Dig up the Seelowe plans.

5 - Continue to attack the UK by air and via submarine blockade until they call it quits.

The reason I ask this in General Questions not Great Debates is because I don’t want to discuss what the Germans could have or should have done. I’m looking for information on what their actual plans were at the time.

I think Hitler’s plans were pretty well described in Mein Kampf. He wanted to:

Unify all German speaking people in one nation.

Restore the “Aryan race” to what he assumed was its previous exalted state by removing contaminating elements.

Get living room for the German population in the Slavic regions to the east.

I agree that those were Hitler’s long term political plans. But I’m looking more for the OKW’s short term military plans here.

Hitler’s ultimate goals were a good deal more ambitious than the ones cited above fromMein Kampf.

Prior to the adoption of the “Final Solution”, the Nazis envisioned exiling the world’s Jewish population to the island of Madagascar.
The Soviet Union was to be given to the SS for administration, with Himmler as dictator. A pact was signed with Japan dividing the United States, with Germany to control everything east of the Mississippi and Japan to have the rest.

In short, when they sang about “Today Europe, Tomorrow the World”, they weren’t speaking figuratively. At the same time, there does not seem to have been a coherant, detailed plan about how all of this was to be accomplished. Rather, there seemed to be an assumption that eventually nations around the world would capitulate after victory in Europe, having decided that it was futile to resist such incredibly cool guys.

But I think you gave those in your OP. The assumption, at least Hitler’s, was that the USSR would not be able to stop the army from taking Moscow at which point the USSR would give up.

I would like to hear more about the sources for information about the proposed division of the world as described above.

OKW didn’t have plans for all this. These invasions, including Poland and France, were carried out, in large part, over the military’s objections. So there was no overarching strategy.

Also, Hitler genuinely hoped he could make peace with the British, which would preclude a move into the Middle East. And North Africe would likely have been taken by Italy – Mussolini had tried, but was frustrated by the British. Would have been interesting to see, had the Germans and British made peace, how they both would have reacted to Italian moves west and southward from Libya.

  1. There was some genuine fear that Hitler would secure Egypt and then move troops through the Middle East into Russia. However, Hitler seems to have not given much importance to the battles in Egypt (Rommel repeatedly asked him for more troops and wanted to invade Malta to disrupt British supply lines/attacks, but Hitler refused). Eventually, Hitler may have come around to Rommel’s POV, but we’ll never know. While Hitler was preoccupied with acquiring oil, I don’t think he ever viewed the Mideast as a significant source of oil, but rather had his eyes fixed on Romania and USSR for oil sources.

  2. Hitler effectively controlled West Africa through the Vichy government. Towards the end of the war, he tried to get Spain to enter on the Axis’ side. Franco demanded France’s African colonies which Hitler refused. He never had qualms about moving troops into any Vichy area when it suited his purposes though.

  3. Switzerland was instrumental to the German economy. Switzerland basically laundered all the gold which Hitler plundered from the invaded countries gold reserves. I can’t see why Hitler would invade Switzerland when they were so beneficial to him. Sweden posed no threat to Hitler (although they were pretty stubborn about using their territory to resupply troops in Norway). But he was getting a lot of coal out of them. I supposed it’s possible that if they gave him too much trouble, he’d have invaded, but mostly he seemed happy with them. Hitler viewed Franco as a potential ally, so it’s doubtful he would have invaded Spain.

  4. As mentioned before, in 1941, Hitler still wanted a peace with England. He genuinely believed that they would sue for peace after enough bombing. The Vichy French fleet was supposed to be off-limits to Hitler per treaty. When Hitler tried to commandeer it towards the end of the war, it was scuttled by the French.

  5. This was Hitler’s plan. Too bad for him (and good for us) it never happened. He seriously underestimated the British resolve to fight the war.