The Rising Tide
Breakthrough at Nevel
Army Group North
In the summer of 1943 the Army Group North zone, by comparison with the other army group zones, was quiet. In a battle that flared up toward the end of July around Mga, Leningrad Front's performance fell far below that of the commands operating against Army Groups Center and South. The front-line strengths of the opposing forces in the Army Group North zone were almost equal. The army group had 710,000 men. Leningrad, Volkhov, Northwest, and Kalinin Fronts, the latter straddling the Army Group North-Army Group Center boundary, had 734,000 men. For the future, however, Army Group North also had to reckon with some half a million reserves echeloned in depth behind the northern fronts. In artillery the two sides were about equal, but again the Russians were known to have substantial reserves. In mid-July Army Group North had 49 tanks, 40 fit for combat. The Russians had 209 tanks at the front and an estimated 843 in reserve. By 15 September Army Group North had 7 tanks still serviceable.1 In the last six months of 1943, First Air Force, which was responsible for air operations in the army group zone, flew just half as many sorties as its Russian opponents.2
During August air reconnaissance detected increasing enemy activity off both Army Group North flanks. A rise in the number of boats making the short but extremely hazardous trip in the Gulf of Finland between Leningrad and the Oranienbaum pocket indicated that the Russians might soon attempt to break out and unite the pocket with the front around Leningrad. In the south Kalinin Front, under Yeremenko, began a build-up opposite the Army Group North-Army Group Center boundary. To meet those and other possible threats, the army group created a ready reserve by drawing five infantry divisions out of the front. In the first and second weeks of September the OKH ordered two of the reserve divisions transferred to Army Group South.
On 19 September, in conjunction with the Army Group Center withdrawal to the PANTHER position, Army Group North took over XXXXIII Corps, the northernmost corps of Army Group Center. That transfer brought the army group three divisions, forty-eight more miles of front, and responsibility for defending two important
Breakthrough at Nevel
6 October 1943-18 January 1944
railroad and road centers, Nevel and Novosokol'niki. (Map 18) By late September no one doubted that the Russians were preparing for an offensive in the vicinity of the North-Center boundary. That area of forests, lakes, and swamps, and of poor roads even by Russian standards, heavily infested by strong partisan bands, had long been one of the weakest links in the Eastern Front. During the 1941 winter offensive the Russians had there carved out the giant Toropets salient, and in the 1942-43 winter campaign they had encircled and captured Velikiye Luki and nearly taken
Novosokol'niki. Compared with the losses elsewhere, particularly after Stalingrad, these were mere pinpricks; but there always was a chance that the Stavka might one day try the big solution, a thrust between the flanks of the two army groups to the Gulf of Riga.
At the end of September and during the first few days of October the Germans lost track of Kalinin Front's troop movements. Bad weather prevented aerial reconnaissance, and the Russians first changed their radio traffic patterns and then maintained radio silence.
Early on 6 October four rifle divisions and two tank brigades of Third Shock Army attacked the 2d Air Force Field Division, the left flank division of Third Panzer Army, and ripped through. Probably somewhat startled by their success, for the 2d Air Force Field Division had not merely given way but had fallen apart under the first assault, the Russians hastily loaded a guards infantry division on trucks and tanks and dispatched it northwestward behind the Army Group North flank toward Nevel. Before the Germans could form a clear picture of what had happened at the front the Russians were in Nevel. The surprised garrison, after putting up scattered resistance, retreated out of the town early in the afternoon.
The Germans' first impression was that they had fumbled badly but not irrevocably. Kuechler ordered the three Army Group North reserve divisions into the breakthrough area; and Hitler, reverting to his sovereign remedy for such calamities, ordered the "corner posts" held at all costs. Late on the 6th a regiment of one of the reserve divisions arrived north of Nevel, and Kuechler told the whole division to counterattack the next day.
The next two days brought a rash of troubles. The division that was to counterattack could not bring its artillery up on time and had to wait another twenty-four hours. When it did get going on the 8th, it ran into a superior force attacking out of Nevel and was thrown back. At the end of the day the gap between the flanks of the army groups had opened to fifteen miles. Meanwhile, the partisans had so thoroughly disrupted the railroads that the other two reserve divisions had to be routed to Pskov, 130 miles north of Nevel, and there loaded in trucks, not enough of which were available. On 9 October Kuechler decided to wait until the reinforcements were assembled before trying again to close the gap.3
Besides creating tactical difficulties, the loss of Nevel brought down on Army Groups North and Center verbal thunderbolts from Fuehrer headquarters. In Fuehrer Order 10 Hitler condescendingly pointed out that the Russians had a habit of trying to break through at the unit boundaries and that such breakthroughs always took excessively long to clean up because each of the affected units attempted to saddle the other with most of the responsibility. He "demanded" that the armies and army groups "consider it a point of honor" to maintain contact with each other.4
Not satisfied with that indirect rebuke, he demanded explanations for the breakthrough and the loss of Nevel. Kluge replied that under heavy artillery and rocket
fire for the first time, the 2d Air Force Field Division had lost its nerve, and the tank attack had thrown it into a panic. What was needed, in Kluge's opinion, was awareness that the armies in the USSR were increasingly being forced to operate with troops who could not or would not withstand a determined attack. Army Group Center, he added, had recently received replacement battalions, one-third composed of Volksdeutsche (racial Germans from outside the original territory of the Reich) who said openly that they did not intend to fight for Germany.5 The Chief of Staff, Sixteenth Army, when he was asked why a well-fortified town like Nevel was lost so quickly, replied, "What good are the best positions when you have no troops to hold them?"6
On 10 October Hitler took another tack in giving vent to his annoyance. Army Group Center had asked to merge the remnants of the 2d Air Force Field Division with an Army division. Hitler refused, stating that he did not want to water down good Air Force troops with bad Army troops.7
To the army group commands Fuehrer Order 10 was offensive, particularly because it implied that the generals had to be instructed on one of the oldest and by then best known Russians tactical tricks. During the past year, in nearly every instance, the initial blows of Soviet offensives had come at unit boundaries. Possessing a vast and active intelligence network of partisans and agents, the Russians never had trouble locating the boundaries. From the point of view of the German commands, that such a crude and unimaginative tactical device often proved frustratingly effective was irksome enough. Nor could they find comfort in the knowledge that the reason why was to be found in the condition of the German forces, not in the Russians' skill. With the front undermanned and stretched taut in all sectors, it was almost inevitable that when an attack hit a boundary the units involved would wait to see which way the main effort would go, with each perhaps hoping its sector would be the least affected. Even when both were willing to act they usually had trouble making forces available at the same time, and almost always the first concern of each was not to close up but to prevent further damage in its own sector. In short, much as they might resent Hitler's reminding them of "points of honor," the army groups, armies, and lesser commands, burdened by defeats, lack of reserves, and chronic shortages of equipment and personnel replacements, had in fact fallen prey to the philosophy of every man for himself.
But in warfare combatants can occasionally have more good luck than convenient to handle, and apparently something of that sort befell Kalinin Front in the attack on Nevel. For a highly skilled, flexible leadership such an occurrence could be a pleasant challenge; for a Soviet front command, even in late 1943, it raised many distressing uncertainties. On 9 October, the day Kuechler postponed his counterattack, Yeremenko suddenly reined in on the offensive. During the several days' pause that followed, Army Groups North and Center threw a line around the western limits of the breakthrough and each moved in a
A GERMAN SOLDIER SURRENDERS
corps headquarters to command in the battle area. To take further advantage of the respite the two army groups planned a counterattack by three divisions, two from Army Group North and one from Center, timed for midmonth; but at the last minute, on 14 October, Hitler forbade it because he believed the force was not strong enough.
On the 15th the Russians became active again. However, their main effort was on the northeastern rim of the breakthrough--which indicated that Yeremenko, not yet ready to resume the offensive, was suffering a seizure of the old Russian malady, flank sensitivity. Army Group North had in the meantime become worried by the signs of a build-up east of Novosokol'niki and the possibility of another breakthrough there. When Army Group Center, on the 19th, proposed a joint effort to close the gap, Kuechler declared that he could not make troops available because of the danger at Novosokol'niki. Convinced that Yeremenko would soon be able to resume the offensive in earnest, Army Group Center wanted to go ahead alone, but, for the second time, Hitler intervened to cancel the army group plans. After 26 October, when Army Group Center was forced to transfer to Ninth Army the panzer division it had been holding in reserve for a counterattack, neither army group was able to mount an offensive around Nevel.8
A MOUNTED COSSACK
At the end of the month the Russians still had the initiative and showed they intended to exploit it soon. Since the middle of the month rail traffic through Toropets and Velikiye Luki from the east had been growing steadily. A sure sign of something big in the making was the appearance of the former Headquarters, Bryansk Front, which as Headquarters, Second Baltic Front, Popov commanding, took over the northern half of Kalinin Front (renamed First Baltic Front). In the Nevel bulge Fourth Shock Army moved in on the left of Third Shock Army.
In the light of those ominous portents, it was high time the Germans did something at least to reduce the partisan menace at their backs. The area due west of Nevel was probably the most thoroughly partisan infested on the whole Eastern Front. In a 2,000-square-mile rectangle of forests and swamps Army Group North had identified nineteen partisan brigades totaling some 25,000 men. At the approximate center of the rectangle, in the Rossono Rayon (fifty miles west of Nevel), the partisans had completely re-established Soviet rule, were operating collective farms, and even had occasional mail service to and from the unoccupied Soviet territory. To the north, west, and south partisans were scattered behind the fronts of Army Groups North and Center, some as roving bands and others in stationary concentrations like that around Rossono.
In the past neither army group had been
able to mount a thoroughgoing antipartisan campaign; and by the fall of 1943 there was no chance at all of their being able to do so. In October the larger part of Army Group North's antipartisan force, twelve battalions of Osttruppen (former Russian prisoners of war, mostly Cossacks, who had volunteered to fight on the German side) were transferred to Germany and France at Kuechler's request. They had become unreliable, and whole units were deserting to the partisans with their weapons and equipment. On 14 October Hitler ordered SS-Obergruppenfuehrer (Lt. Gen.) Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, who was responsible for antipartisan warfare in the area of Belorussia under civil administration, to stage an operation against the Rossono partisans. During the next two weeks von dem Bach moved in nineteen mixed battalions of police, Latvian volunteers, and security troops, and on 1 November he launched Operation HEINRICH, employing two approximately division-sized units in a converging attack toward Rossono from the north and south.9
Attack and Counterattack
In an early morning fog on 2 November the Third and Fourth Shock Armies penetrated the Third Panzer Army left flank southwest of Nevel. They had paved the way during the five previous days with heavy attacks that drove a deep dent in the Third Panzer Army line. After the breakthrough, which opened a 10-mile-wide gap, Third Shock Army turned north behind Sixteenth Army's flank, and Fourth Shock Army turned southwest behind Third Panzer Army.
Army Group Center shifted a panzer division north from Ninth Army. With that division it was able to strengthen the Third Panzer Army flank below the breakthrough and deflect Fourth Shock Army southwestward away from the panzer army's rear. Army Group North was less fortunate. Third Shock Army's more aggressive mode of operating indicated that it had been assigned the main effort in the renewed offensive. Kuechler transferred six infantry battalions from Eighteenth Army, and with these Sixteenth Army managed to bend its right flank around to the northwest. Both the army group and army expected the Russians to continue pressing around that flank.
On 4 November Hitler called Kuechler and Busch to Fuehrer headquarters. After characterizing the October Nevel battle as a Schweinerei (filthy mess) and blaming the subsequent failure to recoup the loss on the chief of staff of Army Group North's right flank corps, an officer whom he described as a defeatist to whom everything was impossible, Hitler declared that he intended to eliminate the new gap at once. Busch, whose headquarters had already proposed a joint counterattack by the two army groups, agreed. Kuechler objected. He did not want to risk a counterattack while his flank was exposed, and, as he revealed indirectly, he did not fully share Hitler's and Busch's feeling of urgency about the army groups' flanks. He was more worried by the signs of a build-up for an attempt to liberate Leningrad, and he
warned Hitler that since the temperature there had been well below freezing for the past several days, that offensive could come at any time. For those reasons Kuechler was reluctant to weaken the north by taking out troops for the flank. To try to gain troops by shortening the front, he maintained, would be particularly dangerous since it might set off a chain reaction. Brushing aside Kuechler's doubts, Hitler at the close of the conference ordered the two army groups to be ready on 8 November to counterattack from the north and south, close the gap, and cut off the two shock armies.10
At the end of the first week in November the Germans were still holding fast on the flanks of the breakthrough, but Fourth Shock Army had sent parts of two divisions probing as far west as Dretun, thirty miles behind the Third Panzer Army flank. To place at least token limits on the Russians' westward advance, the Germans stopped Operation HEINRICH before it was completed and turned von dem Bach's antipartisan units east to form a screening line behind the army groups' flanks.
Kuechler ordered four infantry divisions, two from Eighteenth Army and two from Sixteenth Army, to his right flank, but they had to be taken out of static positions and, in some instances, moved several hundred miles by truck and rail, which took time. On 7 November Third Shock Army gained more ground behind Army Group North. Yeremenko was pouring troops of the Sixth and Eleventh Guards Armies through the gap and by a process of rapid erosion carving out a pocket, elongated on its north-south axis, behind both army groups. He appeared still to be concentrating on the northern rim of the pocket. So far he had not shown much interest in directing his weight west, which was fortunate for the Germans since the army group commands had observed that the SS generals were conducting operations in their sector "in broad impressionistic strokes."
On 8 November two Third Panzer Army divisions, one infantry and one panzer, attacked north into the breakthrough area. Before the end of the day they gained nearly five miles. Army Group North was scheduled to attack from its side on the morning of the 9th, but Kuechler protested that all of his units were tied down. Army Group Center accused Army Group North of refusing to attack simply "because it did not want to." Hitler, apparently irked by Kuechler's lukewarmness at the conference four days earlier, refused to "accept any further excuses" and ordered Army Group North "as a matter of honor" to begin the counterattack in its sector no later than 10 November.11 The next day, while the Army Group Center force waited for Army Group North to make the next move, Kuechler hastily assembled a scratch force of seven battalions. When these units attacked as ordered on the 10th, they ran into heavy artillery fire and then were thrown back to their line of departure by a counterattack.
Meanwhile, the Russians had continued on the move behind the flanks of the army groups, extending the pocket to a length of fifty miles. In the south they were at the level of Polotsk and Gorodok, and in the north, south of Pustoshka, less than ten
miles from the railroad running west out of Novosokol'niki. Once again, this time with greater strength than before, they began turning east behind the right flank corps of Army Group North.
For a week Hitler and Kuechler debated the next move. Hitler demanded a counterattack and instructed Kuechler to strip Eighteenth Army if he had to. Kuechler insisted on getting rid of the threat to his flank first. Finally, on 18 November, after a trip to Fuehrer headquarters, Kuechler secured an order giving the army group the missions of first eliminating the bulge behind its flank and then mounting an attack into the gap south of Nevel. The next day Kuechler transferred another division from Eighteenth Army. On 21 November, the weight of nearly the whole Eleventh Guards Army forced Army Group Center to take its two divisions which had advanced into the gap back to their line of departure. How greatly that reduced the chances of closing the front was demonstrated by the increase in the number of Soviet units moving into the pocket; but Hitler insisted that Army Group North go ahead with both of its assigned missions.
After mid-November, following several weeks of below-freezing weather, the temperature began to rise, an unusual phenomenon for that time of the year in northern Russia and a disastrous one for the German plans. Since the temperature hovered just above freezing, the ground began to thaw. At the beginning of the last week in the month the roads were stretches of mud two feet deep. Supplies could only be moved to the front on tracked vehicles, and in some places Army Group North had to resort to airdrops.
The counterattack, set for 24 November, could not begin until 1 December, and then in rain and mud. The weather ruled out air support entirely. On the first day the two divisions, attacking due west across the northern quarter of the pocket, gained less than three miles before they were stopped. The self-propelled assault guns coming up behind stalled on the bank of a small river and stayed bogged down there for the next five days. On the 6th Kuechler reported that he intended to go ahead. He had another division coming from Eighteenth Army, and he believed the weather was giving the Russians trouble with their supplies; but Hitler, who was intent on closing the Nevel gap, refused to allow any more divisions to be committed on the west. On 8 December he called Kuechler to Fuehrer headquarters and ordered him to launch an attack into the gap before the end of the month.
The warm weather had also imposed a drag on the Russians' movements. In the third week of November Fourth Shock Army, which until then had been working its way south and west without giving any clear indication of its actual objective, had turned east behind Third Panzer Army toward Gorodok and Vitebsk. By 23 November it had pushed to within three miles of Gorodok, the road and rail center controlling the communications lines to the Third Panzer Army north flank, and had tank and cavalry spearheads standing ten miles northwest of Vitebsk. That confronted Third Panzer Army with a choice of either pulling back its flank, in which case it would be able to defend Vitebsk handily, or running the risks of having the flank smashed and losing Vitebsk as well. The Commanding General, Third Panzer
Army, Reinhardt, urged taking back the flank, but Busch refused, citing two of Hitler's favorite tactical principles which, valid as they were under the proper circumstances, had lately produced more than one disaster or near-disaster: shortening the front freed more Soviet than German troops, and flank insensitivity on the German side reduced the force of Soviet offensives. During the thaw Fourth Shock Army failed to carry its advance any farther toward Gorodok and was forced to draw back slightly northwest of Vitebsk.
After Army Group North's attempt to pinch off the north end of the bulge failed, the Russians had a free hand, in fact their opportunities exceeded their resources. They had paved the way for a deep, possibly even strategic, thrust to the west between Army Groups North and Center, but with its main forces committed in the south and a winter campaign in the offing the Stavka was not inclined to attempt anything of that magnitude. Large as they were, its reserves were not inexhaustible; during the fall the Stavka had frequently thrown green conscripts from the recently reoccupied territories into the assault waves to spare trained troops. On the south, Vitebsk afforded a lesser but tactically useful and propagandistically valuable prospect. Aside from being an important road and rail center, Vitebsk, together with Orsha, guarded the 50-mile-wide land bridge between the Dvina and the Dnepr, the historic gateway to the Russian heartland. Between October and the first week of December West Front had tried four times to take Orsha and had been beaten off in furious battles by Fourth Army.
On 13 December Eleventh Guards Army attacked the northern tip of the Third Panzer Army flank from the northeast, northwest, and southwest. In two days it cut in deeply and was clearly on the way toward forming two encirclements and trapping a German division in each. A request to take his front back brought Reinhardt a blunt refusal from Busch and a further admonition from the OKH that Hitler wanted the flank held under all circumstances because he was determined to close the gap from the north. In another day Reinhardt's northernmost division was encircled and the division southwest of it cut off from the road and railroad. Reinhardt then had no choice but to order the encircled division to break out, which it did on 16 December at a cost of 2,000 of its 7,000 troops, and all of its artillery, heavy weapons, and vehicles.
On the 16th Hitler at last conceded that to close the Nevel gap was no longer possible. But, as always, reluctant to permit any changes in the front, he told the army groups to deny the enemy any further successes. Between 17 and 23 December Reinhardt, harassed all the way by reminders from Hitler that withdrawals were not permitted except under overwhelming pressure, took his army's flank back to an irregular arc twenty miles north of Vitebsk.
The still unanswered question was what the Russians would do next. On the chance that they might turn west, Reinhardt strengthened his line on the west, and the OKH transferred two divisions from Army Group North to the Army Group Center left flank east of Polotsk. On 23 December Yeremenko gave the answer. Fourth Shock, Eleventh Guards, Thirty-ninth, and Forty-third Armies attacked around the Vitebsk perimeter. In the first two days they pushed the German line back several miles. Northwest and southeast of the city tanks and infantry drove
deep wedges into the Third Panzer Army front, cutting the Vitebsk-Polotsk rail line and threatening the Vitebsk-Orsha line. To prevent an encirclement Army Group Center moved in the two divisions recently received from Army Group North and on the 28th transferred a division each from the Ninth and Second Armies. Thereafter the front held even though Yeremenko kept punching away with rigid determination for another six weeks.
After Third Panzer Army retreated to the Vitebsk perimeter, the flank of Army Group North projecting toward Nevel became a useless appendage. Late on the night of 27 December Hitler decided to let Kuechler straighten his line and so gain enough troops to strengthen the west face of the Nevel bulge, which was still manned only by miscellaneous SS and security troops. After 29 December Sixteenth Army in six days drew back to an almost straight line south of Novosokol'niki.12
At the situation conference on the night of 27 December, Hitler blamed the Nevel breakthrough and the subsequent German setbacks entirely on the "petty egoism" of the two army group commanders.13 Although in so doing he conveniently overlooked occasions when he had intervened to stop projected counteroperations, his criticism had merit. Both army groups had been reluctant to do more than they conceived to be their fair share. Army Group North, in particular, had been unwilling to weaken its otherwise quiet front. Kuechler eventually did transfer six divisions to the breakthrough area--but too late for them to affect the outcome. On the other hand, as became fully evident later, Army Group North, weakened by the defensive battles around Leningrad and Nevel and by transfers to the other army groups, was in fact rapidly drifting into dangerous straits.
Looking at the Nevel battles in retrospect, Hitler was somewhat encouraged. He saw in the Stavka's failure to grasp the strategic opportunity a sign of weakness. It proved, he said, coining an inaccurate simile, that the Russians were not like "the giants of Antiquity who gained strength every time they fell down."14 Going on, he reiterated his old theory that the Soviet Union was approaching the limit of its strength and, therefore, a little more determination on the German side would be enough to turn the tables. The point he missed, of course, was that the Soviet weakness, as far as it existed, was psychological rather than actual, that the Stavka had not intended to reach for a strategic objective, but in the Nevel breakthrough and its companion piece, the fall offensive against the Army Group Center south flank, had adopted elaborate, strenuous, and probably in the long run superfluous, means of reassuring itself and preserving an initiative that it stood in no great danger of losing.
The German Allies
The winter battles of 1942-43 had ended Germany's prospects--never very great--of profiting militarily from the coalition of small nations that had joined in the war against the Soviet Union. At the same time, the governments of those countries had discovered that they stood in grave
danger of riding the German coattails straight into the jaws of disaster. In September 1943, when Italy dropped out of the war, Finland, Hungary, and Rumania would gladly have followed had they been able. Only Bulgaria, until then a noncombatant, was struck by a sudden, apparently irrational, fit of martial spirit and offered the Germans a corps for employment in the Southeastern Theater. The puppet government of Slovakia, on the other hand, had decided several months earlier that henceforth its two divisions were not to be employed by the Germans without approval of the Slovak Minister of War.15
Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain, no ally but an old if unreliable friend, dealt a particularly rude blow, which was the more painful because it was militarily not very significant and so could be taken as a gratuitous commentary on the German condition. He recalled the 250th Blue Division, which, as Spain's one tangible contribution to the Axis cause, had fought well on the Eastern Front, mostly in the vicinity of Leningrad. Later, to soothe the German feelings, he relented to the extent of allowing a thousand-man replacement battalion recently sent to the division to stay as a "Spanish Legion."16
In the fall the Operations Staff, OKW, worked on the problem of dealing with Hungary and Rumania if either or both should attempt to defect. Hungary, which in the past months had dissociated itself almost entirely from the Axis war effort, appeared the mostly likely candidate; and at the end of September the Operations Staff completed a preliminary plan for Operation MARGARETHE, the military occupation of Hungary. In November the transfer to the Eastern Front of the divisions allocated for MARGARETHE and intelligence reports that the Rumanians and Hungarians had secretly ironed out their differences and might try to desert the Axis in conjunction with an American-British invasion of the Balkans, complicated the problem. After reviewing its plans, the Operations Staff concluded that by mid-December it would again have enough forces to occupy Hungary but not Rumania as well.17
Finland--Fuehrer Directive 50
Most worrisome was the question of Finland. A resort to force there, as was contemplated in the cases of Hungary and Rumania, was impossible. On the other hand, although the Finns for a year and a half had limited themselves to a passive defense, they could not simply be written off as excess baggage. The Finnish Army tied down an estimated 180,000 Soviet troops and, more important, protected the southern flank of Twentieth Mountain Army and its rearward lines through the Finnish Baltic ports. Finland's quitting the war would deal a serious, if not fatal, blow to Twentieth Mountain Army and, possibly, to the entire German position in the Baltic and Scandinavian areas. The one potent trump left in the German hand was the
Finns' longstanding fear of the Soviet Union.
During the spring and early summer of 1943 Hitler had taken some tentative steps toward shoring up the northern bastion of his Fortress Europe. On his orders Army Group North had drafted a plan for the capture of Leningrad, which would have established overland contact between Germany and Finland and would have given the Finns security in their most vulnerable area, the Isthmus of Karelia. Army of Norway at that time had devised a defense plan for Norway which envisioned a possible occupation of Sweden. Between March and mid-July the OKW, under Hitler's constant prodding, had moved the equivalent of three infantry divisions to Norway and had converted the 25th Panzer Division, which would have been the main striking force in an attack on Sweden, into a strong armored force--by Scandinavian standards though not, as was later demonstrated, by the standards of the Eastern Front.
Had ZITADELLE succeeded, Hitler would very likely have set about tightening his grip on northern Europe. When ZITADELLE failed, the reverberations spread north like a shock wave. The ambitious defense plan for Norway had to be dismantled and the reserves recalled to the Continent. Sweden, long leaning away from the benevolent neutrality forced on it early in the war, abrogated the transit agreements that had put the Swedish railroads at German disposal for movement of most kinds of supplies and military equipment to Norway.
In July Finland had "unofficially" received an oral offer to discuss peace through the Soviet legation in Stockholm.18 The next month three members of the Finnish Parliament had delivered to Ryti, the President, a petition signed by thirty-three prominent men and calling on him to take steps toward restoring good relations with the United States and toward getting Finland out of the war.19 When the contents of the petition were published in a Swedish newspaper they touched off a press and public discussion in Finland which heavily favored a separate peace.
In that disturbed atmosphere Army Group North, in August, began work on the PANTHER position along the Narva River-Lake Peipus line 125 miles southwest of Leningrad. When, after the end of the month, it appeared that the army group might have to be taken back to the PANTHER position to release troops for the south, Twentieth Mountain Army replied to an OKW request for an opinion that Army Group North should not be pulled back under any circumstances. The Finns, the army memorandum stated, already felt betrayed because the capture of Leningrad had been repeatedly promised and never carried out, even in times when, in their opinion, it had been possible. If Army Group North went back to the PANTHER position the Finnish Aunus and Maaselkä Fronts would project into Soviet territory like spearheads and would have to be pulled back under circumstances which made establishment of a tenable line to the rear highly doubtful. More than likely, the army predicted, a government oriented toward the Soviet Union would be brought to power. If the Soviet Union then offered anywhere near bearable peace terms Finland
would leave the war, and Twentieth Mountain Army would have to leave Finland, an undertaking which in winter, over the roads of northern Finland and Norway, would be exceedingly hazardous.20 A week later the Finnish Government warned, both through the German Minister in Helsinki and its own Minister in Berlin, that a withdrawal south and west of Leningrad would have the most serious consequences for Finland.21
On 28 September, in Fuehrer Directive 50, Hitler told Twentieth Mountain Army to prepare for the worst. The Army Group North front was "completely stabilized," he said, and the danger point on the Army North-Army Group Center boundary (Nevel) was being reinforced, but for insurance the army group was fortifying the Narva River-Lake Peipus line. If Army Group North was forced to retreat to the PANTHER position, and as a result, Finland left the war, Twentieth Mountain Army's mission would be to swing its two right flank corps back to a line across northern Finland south of Ivalo and defend the Pechenga nickel-mining region as long as might be necessary. When the time came, the army would be given two additional divisions from Army of Norway. Construction and supply stockpiling were to begin in secret immediately.22
In the second week of October, after the breakthrough at Nevel, the Finnish commander in chief, Mannerheim, requested clearance to begin building a line behind Twentieth Mountain Army for the event of a German withdrawal. That signal mark of failing confidence led the German representative at Finnish Army headquarters to ask the OKW to send a top-level representative to Finland immediately.23 On 14 October Jodl flew to Helsinki and in two days of conferences with Mannerheim and the Finnish Minister of Defense gave them a picture of the war as the OKW professed to see it. The Italian surrender, he explained, was not important because Italy had never constituted an element of strength in the alliance. As far as an invasion of France was concerned, Germany would welcome it as an opportunity to deal Great Britain and the United States a resounding defeat, put an end to the second-front idea, and free troops for the Eastern Front. At Leningrad, he admitted, the balance was precarious, and a withdrawal on the northern flank had been considered; but, out of regard for Finland, Germany had abstained from taking that course. Germany, he let it be known, was aware of the Finnish efforts to get out of the war and took the attitude that no nation could ask another to risk destruction for its sake; but, he pointed out, Finland's future in the clutches of Stalin would not be bright.24
To add bite to what Jodl had to say, Hitler sent along a letter to the Finnish President which was an indirect but pointed reminder that Finland was economically and militarily dependent on Germany. He also took Ryti to task over the lack of discipline in Finnish internal policy and for the Finnish
press's hostility toward Germany.25 A week later the Finnish Minister of Defense, in an interview with Generaloberst Eduard Dietl, the Commanding General, Twentieth Mountain Army, promised the "truest brotherhood in arms" and declared that the newspaper talk of a separate peace was groundless. Jodl, he said, had explained everything "openly and completely."26 At the end of the month Ryti replied to Hitler in a letter which, while it contained no specific commitments, was taken to be positive in tone.27
As the year drew to a close, a measure of stability appeared to have been restored between Germany and Finland, and Hitler ordered that Fuehrer Directive 50 be held in abeyance for the time being. The balance was delicate, however. In late October Mannerheim renewed his request to lay out a defense line behind the German front, and in November Finland resumed its contact with the Soviet Union.28 On 20 November Kuechler proposed taking Sixteenth Army to the PANTHER position and using the divisions released to clean up the Nevel breakthrough.29 Hitler thought then that work on the PANTHER position had not progressed far enough, but a month later, when he needed troops for Army Group South, he returned to the idea.30 At the turn of the year, the OKW had drafted a letter to Mannerheim telling him that Army Group North would have to go back, but Keitel then decided to hold the letter while Hitler mulled over the decision.31
Leadership, Manpower, Strategy
Since 1939 Hitler had been fighting the war with a body of higher officers whom he mistrusted collectively and, for the most part, disliked individually. As victory drifted beyond his grasp, he convinced himself that the generals and the General Staff corps were at the root of his trouble. More and more he longed to rid himself of those cold-eyed technicians and surround himself instead with men like his old party stalwarts who, uncontaminated by intellectual doubts and unhampered by scruples, got things done by hook or by crook.
In November 1943, after a disastrous year, he returned to the idea he had outlined to his Army personnel chief, Schmundt, in October 1942, of overhauling the higher command echelons of the Army. Declaring that many senior generals would soon have to be relieved "because of illness or for other reasons," he instructed Schmundt to work up a list of junior generals and staff officers who would form a reservoir of potential army commanders. The aim was for every commanding general of an army to have a successor ready and,
as it were, waiting in the wings. The generals selected for advancement, Hitler specified, were to be those "who exude confidence" and who "have positive inner convictions favoring the National Socialist Weltanschauung."32 In the long run, that order would, in large part, be negated by the homogeneity of the German officer corps; however, it was useful to Hitler in that it lent an appearance of logic to his dismissal of officers in whom he had lost confidence but whom the Army and the public still held in high esteem.
The first of the generals to go was the Commanding General, Fourth Panzer Army, Hoth. In the past year Hoth's army had played a crucial part in most of Army Group South's battles. When given the chance, Hoth had proved his mastery of the mobile defense, but Hitler did not want mobility on the defensive, he wanted generals who would hold without giving an inch. In November Hoth was scheduled for a long leave "to unwind"; in December, after the Russian breakthrough at Kiev, Hitler ordered that he was not to return to his army or be given any other command.33 Speaking to Zeitzler and Jodl later in the month, Hitler described Hoth as "a bird of ill-omen" and "an instigator of defeatism of the worst sort."34
At the same time as Hoth, Model was also given an extended leave, with the expectation that when he returned it would be to replace Manstein in command of Army Group South.35 Of all the generals, Manstein, who in the past year had several times suggested that it was high time he be given a chance to try to extricate Germany from its military quagmire, was probably the one Hitler could stomach least. Only Manstein's tremendous reputation and undeniable skill as a tactician had saved him thus far.
The most important command shift in the second half of 1943 was the appointment in September of General der Flieger Guenther Korten as Chief of Staff, OKL. While the Air Force generals were somewhat farther removed from Hitler's scrutiny than their Army counterparts, when the time came to find a scapegoat the consequences were often more severe for the officer concerned because of Hitler's desire--not to mention Goering's--to protect Goering as Commander in Chief, OKL, and as Hitler's heir apparent.
From February 1939 to August 1943 Jeschonnek had been Chief of Staff, OKL. While Goering indulged his sybaritic inclinations and dabbled in a variety of interests outside the Air Force, Jeschonnek had developed the doctrine of close air support for the Army. Successful at first, that doctrine lost most of its effectiveness when the Army was forced to the defensive, and its last application, during ZITADELLE, was a complete failure. Concurrently, the fighter defense of Germany had been neglected; as a result, the Air Force's response to the big Allied bombing raids during the summer of 1943 was dismayingly feeble. The failure was in large measure Jeschonnek's responsibility, but Jeschonnek could, and in an August 1943 memorandum to Hitler did, cite numerous mistakes Goering had made. After that, in a stormy telephone conversation Hitler told Jeschonnek that he was
being held completely responsible for the failure of the Air Force and concluded with, "You know what is left for you to do now." Jeschonnek shot himself.
Korten was a believer in strategic bombing. He was also associated with the body of opinion in the Air Force that favored fighter defense. For the armies in the East, Korten's appointment was no gain. In September he took six fighter squadrons off the Eastern Front to strengthen the Reich defenses; and in November, when bad weather began to hamper flying, he started withdrawing bombers and crews from close support for retraining in strategic bombing. He predicted that by careful target selection 50 to 80 percent of Soviet tank and aircraft production could be eliminated.36 He promised Hitler 400 bombers for long-range missions by mid-February 1944, but the demands for troop support and air supply delayed the start of retraining until late March. By then many of the targets were beyond the reach of most of the German bombers.37 The net impact on the Eastern Front was a loss of six fighter squadrons, which were never replaced, and a substantial weakening of the close support bomber strength.
If Hitler's personnel troubles had been confined to the upper command echelons he could still have considered himself fortunate. By the fall of 1943 the manpower squeeze, which at midyear had been temporarily mitigated, was on again more strongly than ever. On 1 September, for the first time in the war, the Army strength on the Eastern Front (not including the Air Force field units and the Waffen-SS) fell below two and one-half million men.38 In the first three years of the war the total permanent losses on all fronts (dead, missing, and disabled) had been 922,000, or 14.3 percent of the total Army strength. In the thirteen months between 1 September 1942 and 20 November 1943 that number rose to 2,077,000, or 30 percent of the Army strength.39 Between 1 November 1942 and 1 December 1943, an OKH survey revealed, the number of German units on the Eastern Front stayed constant even though the actual strength declined--in short, the armies in the East were being gradually burned out.40
Furthermore, the Army was confronted with an almost complete drying up of its sources of new recruits. The 800,000-man draft ordered in January 1943 brought in about 580,000 men by September, when it was stopped. In July Hitler added a requirement for another 700,000 men but it ran into heavy resistance from industry and the civilian bureaucracy. In September, after 120,000 draft notices had been issued, the Army recruitment chief reported that he would hardly get 50,000 men all together.41
The Eastern Intelligence Branch, OKH, reckoned that between 1 September 1943
and 1 January 1944 the Soviet losses in killed, disabled, and prisoners of war amounted to 1,200,000 men. The German dead and missing for the same period were 243,743. The Germans estimated the front-line and front-line reserve strength of the Soviet forces in Europe on 1 January 1944 was 5.5 million men.42 (The estimate was apparently close: the Soviet official figures are 5,568,000 men in formations at the front and 419,000 in units in the Stavka reserves.)43 The encouragement to be found in the assumption that Soviet manpower was declining and Soviet losses were about five times their own was slight. The Eastern Intelligence Branch predicted that relatively the German strength would continue on the downgrade during the subsequent months for the following reasons:
- The Soviet numerical superiority was already great.
- The annual classes of recruits were about three times larger than those of the Germans.
- The Soviet Union was gaining and Germany losing manpower from the reoccupied territories (some 500,000 to 600,000 men between July and mid-October 1943).
- The Russians were more stringent and more successful in screening their deferred men.
The Eastern Intelligence Branch concluded that Germany was at a further disadvantage in that it had to divert at least 30 percent, and usually more, of its total strength to the OKW theaters while the Soviet Union diverted only 7 percent to its Far Eastern Theater.44
In early November the OKW considered making women between the ages of eighteen and forty-five liable for military service and began contingency planning for a levy in mass (letztes Aufgebot). The idea of drafting women had to be dropped because it conflicted with Hitler's philosophy concerning the roles of the sexes, and on 8 November, with a disconcerting jolt, Hitler set the OKW planners off in another direction. Speaking to the Nazi Party leaders in Munich, he criticized the unfavorable ratio of front-line to rear area troops in terms which came close to implying that the German Armed Forces had become a refuge for slackers.
During the next few weeks the OKW hastily initiated studies that culminated in Basic Order 22 of 5 December 1943. The order set a requirement for one million combat troops to be wrung out of the rear echelons. Besides directing the services and their subordinate commands to reduce and simplify their staff and support overhead and to restrict the so-called "paper war," it laid down several specific regulations: No men under thirty years of age and no able-bodied men were to remain in rear area assignments. The standards of physical fitness were lowered, and men with chronic but not acute ear, stomach, and lung complaints were to be considered fit for front duty. All rear and command staffs were automatically to reduce their strengths by 10 to 25 percent. To make certain that the
order was executed, the OKW created Feldjaeger (courier) battalions which were to comb the rear areas, conducting their visitations by surprise and dispatching the men they found to central collecting points without delay.45
That more economical employment of the men already in the service could contribute toward alleviating the manpower squeeze was certain. The OKH estimated that its forces on the Eastern Front consisted of 47 percent combatants and 53 percent noncombatants.46 If individual armies, corps, and divisions were considered, the disproportion was often even greater. Frequently, for instance, divisions reduced to combat strengths of a thousand men or less had three or four times as many men in their rear echelons. But to convert this apparently superfluous manpower to combat effectives was no easy matter. The German Army was accustomed to operating with extensive supply and support services. It could not, as the Soviet Army frequently did, rely on poorly equipped and scantily provisioned masses of men; and one of its continuing advantages over the Russians was its superiority in logistics, communications, and transportation in the rear areas. For those reasons unit commanders, even when the men in the rear outnumbered the troops at the front, were unwilling to risk losing valuable equipment and trained specialists for the sake of a temporary gain in front strength. Added to the natural reluctance of commanders to dismantle their support elements was the resistance of the rear area bureaucracy, particularly its members who were themselves candidates for reassignment. By 1943 the bureaucracy was firmly entrenched behind ramparts of paper and entanglements of red tape, and rear area personnel were past masters at avoiding assignments which by even the remotest mischance might bring them to a hero's grave; hence the Feldjaeger battalions. But whether even they would be completely successful was doubtful since General Unruh, the dreaded "hero snatcher," had been operating along similar lines for nearly two years with only middling success.
Along with anxiety over dwindling numbers went growing concern in the higher German command circles over the multiplying signs of a deterioration in troop quality among the armies of the East. Kluge and others had reported that the German soldiers were no longer as reliable as they had been. In the late summer and fall of 1943 a new term, Krisenfestigkeit (ability to withstand crises), was brought into use in judging the caliber of individual divisions. The best divisions were described as Krisenfest (able to stand up under a crisis) and the others, on a descending scale, as either Krisenfest to a limited extent or unreliable in various degrees. Dismayingly few German divisions qualified as Krisenfest. The allied troops (excepting the Spanish and the Finns) and the Russian collaborators stood at the bottom of the scale. Before the end of the year all of the Russians organized into units were transferred away from the Eastern Front to prevent their defecting to the partisans.
Hitler saw the apparent drop in the quality of the German troops as entirely a problem
of leadership. "The condition of the troops," he said, "is a reflection of the commander's disposition." Therefore, the solution, in his opinion, was simple--get better commanders. But he was forced to admit that at the battalion and regimental levels, where the officer losses ran high, that might not be easy.47
Guderian, in his capacity as Inspector General for Armor, proposed a different approach. He believed the time had come to rationalize the German defensive tactics. The infantry, he reported to Hitler on 20 October 1943, had lately lost some of its ability to withstand crises; on the other hand, the new model German tanks had just about overcome their breaking-in troubles and could be considered the best weapons of their kind in the world. What was needed was to create mobile tank reserves to backstop the infantry. Panzer divisions would have to be taken out of the front, rested, re-equipped, and then held back to form a powerful striking force for emergencies. The result, besides providing stiffening for the infantry, would, Guderian contended, be to restore the panzer divisions to their proper role as mobile offensive units.48
Guderian wanted to begin putting his proposal into effect with the five rebuilt panzer divisions he sent to Army Group South in October. The success at Krivoi Rog of the first two to arrive convinced him he was right. Subsequently he argued for employing all five of the divisions in the battle around Kiev, even if the Dnepr Bend and the Crimea were lost as a consequence.49 There his plan foundered, as others had before, when it encountered Hitler's unwillingness to sacrifice ground for the sake of creating a clear-cut main effort. The five divisions never did get into battle as a single force, and after the end of December, when the Soviet winter offensive started, all hope of reconstituting that strong a reserve vanished.
Fuehrer Directive 51
Ultimately, the conduct of the war on the Eastern Front was to be most greatly affected by a decision which Hitler elevated to the level of national strategy in Fuehrer Directive 51, issued 3 November 1943. The two-and-one-half-year campaign against Bolshevism, he asserted, had required full commitment of the greater part of Germany's military strength and effort. That was consistent with the extent of the danger and the total situation, but, in the meantime, the latter had changed. The Soviet danger was still there, but a greater danger had arisen in the West--the Anglo-American invasion. "In the most extreme instance" Germany could still sacrifice fairly extensive areas in the East without being fatally injured. Not so in the West, There, a breakthrough on a broad front would have "unforeseeable consequences in a short time." "Therefore," Hitler concluded, "I can no longer take the responsibility for allowing the Western Front to be weakened for the benefit of other theaters of war."50
In his directive Hitler completely took the side of the Operations Staff, OKW, which had all along contended that it was necessary to keep strong forces in France, Scandinavia, and the Balkans. In so doing he rejected the OKH argument that it was wrong to risk losing a battle already in progress by holding back troops to meet future threats. While it was probably too late for Manstein's radical strategy, namely, stripping the other fronts bare for an attempt to defeat the Soviet Union first, Hitler in the directive went almost to the other extreme, putting the Army on notice that for the near future at least the Eastern Front would have to get along on its own resources, come what might. He implied that he might consider trading space for time, but events were soon to prove he was constitutionally incapable of that exchange.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (IX) * Next Chapter (XI)
1. OKH, GenStdH, Org. Abt., Nr. 1105/43, Kraeftegegenueberstellung, Stand 20.7.43, H 1/527 file.
2. MS # P-114a, Der Feldzug gegen die Sowjetunion im Nordabschnitt der Ostfront (Generalleutnant a. D. Friedrich Sixt), Dritter Teil, Anhang C 19.
3. Ibid., pp. 425-30.
4. H. Gr. Nord, Ia, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-31.10.43, 7 Oct 43, H. Gr. Nord 75128/27 file.
5. H. Gr. Mitte, Ia, Kriegstagebuch, 1-31.10.43, 7 Oct 43, OCMH files.
6. H. Gr. Nord, Ia, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-31.10.43, 6 Oct 43, H. Gr. Nord 75128/27 file.
7. H. Gr. Mitte, Ia, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-31.10.43, 10 Oct 43, OCMH files.
8. MS # P-114a (Sixt), Teil III, pp. 430-34; MS # P-114b (Hofmann), Teil VI, pp. 88-93.
9. H. Gr. Nord, Ia, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-31.10.43, 19 Oct 4.3, H. Gr. Nord 75128/27 file. H. Gr. Mitte, Ia, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-31.10.43, 14.10.43, OCMH files; H. Gr. Nord. Ia, Nr. 13000/44, Der Feldzug gegen die Sowjetunion der Heeresgruppe Nord, Kriegsjahr 1943, 24.12.44, H. Gr. Nord 75884/1 file.
10. H. Gr. Nord, Ia, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-30.11.43, 4 Nov 43, H. Gr. Nord 75128/28 file; H. Gr. Mitte, Ia, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-30.11.43, 4 Nov 43, OCMH files.
11. H. Gr. Nord, Ia, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-30.11.43, 8 Nov 43, H. Gr. Nord 75128/28 file.
12. MS # P-114a (Sixt), Teil III, pp. 435-65; MS # P-114b (Hofmann), Teil VI, pp. 94-119.
13. Stenogr. Dienst im F.H.Qu., Besprechung des Fuehrers mit Generaloberst Zeitzler, 27.12.43, OCMH files.
15. OKW, Stellvertretende Chef des Wehrmachtfuehrungsstabes, Kriegstagebuch vom 1.10.-31.12.43, 25 Sept and 7 Nov 43, IMT Doc 1790-PS.
16. H. Gr. Nord, Ia, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-31.10.43, 5-18 Oct 43, H. Gr. Nord 75128/27 file.
17. OKW, Stellvertretende Chef des Wehrmachtfuehrungsstabes, Kriegstagebuch vom 1.10.-31.12.43, 7 Nov 43, IMT Doc 1790-PS.
18. Mannerheim, Erinnerungen, pp. 497-98.
19. Auswaertiges Amt. Nr. Pol. VI 1091, an das Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, 30.8.43, OKW/1040 file.
20. (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Nr. 12/43, an OKW, WFSt, z. Hd. Gen. d. Art. Jodl, 14.9.43. AOK 20 43871/10 file.
21. Auswaertiges Amt, Pol. VI 9259, an das Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, 22.9.43, OKW/1040 file.
22. OKW WFSt, Op. Nr. 662375/43, Weisung Nr. 50, 28.9.43, AOK 20 43871/10 file.
23. OKW, Stellvertretende Chef des Wehrmachtfuehrungsstabes, Kriegstagebuch vom 1.10.-31.12.43, 15 Oct 43, IMT Doc 1790-PS.
24. Mannerheim, Erinnerungen, pp. 498-99.
25. Gerda-Luise Dietl and Kurt Herrmann, General Dietl (Munich, 1951), p. 261.
26. (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia, Aktennotiz ueber die Besprechung mit dem finnishschen Verteidigungsminister, General der Infanterie Walden, 25.10.43, AOK 20 43871/5 file.
27. OKW, Stellvertretende Chef des Wehrmachtfuehrungsstabes, Kriegstagebuch vom 1.10.-31.12.43, 20 Nov 43, IMT Doc 1790-PS.
28. Ibid., 25 Oct, 16 Dec 43; Mannerheim, Erinnerungen, p. 500.
29. OKW, Stellvertretende Chef des Wehrmachtfuehrungsstabes, Kriegstagebuch vom 1.10.-13.12.43, 20 Nov 43, IMT Doc 1790-PS.
30. Stenogr. Dienst im F. H. Qu., Fragment Nr. 11, Besprechung mit Gen. Oberst Zeitzler vom 29.12.43, OCMH files.
31. OKW, Stellvertretende Chef des Wehrmachtfuehrungsstabes, Kriegstagebuch, vom 1.10.-31.12.43, 31 Dec 43, IMT Doc 1790-PS.
32. Taetigkeitsbericht des Chefs des Heerespersonalamts, 11 Nov 43, H 4/12 file.
33. Ibid., 10 Dec 43.
34. Stenogr. Dienst im F.H. Qu., Fragment Nr. 10, Besprechung mit Gen. Oberst Jodl und Gen. Oberst Zeitzler am 28.12.43, OCMH files.
35. Taetigkeitsbericht des Chefs des Heerespersonalamts, 4 Nov 43, H 4/12 file.
36. Air Ministry (British) Pamphlet No. 248, Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, pp. 236-40.
37. OKW, WFSt. K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Ostfront, Zufuehrung von Verbaenden fuer den Osten, 1.1.-31.3.44, p. 16, OKW/1929 file.
38. OKH, GenStdH, Org. Abt. Nr. 1/18941/44, Entwicklung der Iststaerke des Ostheeres, 7.9.44, OKH/Misc file.
39. OKH, GenStdH, Org. Abt. Nr. 1/5854/43, Notiz, 31.12.43, OKH/Misc file.
40. OKH, GenStdH, Org. Abt., Kriegstagebuch, 25.6.43-31.3.44, 12 Jan 44, H 1/204 file.
41. OKH. GenStdH, Org. Abt., Notiz Betr.: "800 000 Mann Plan and 700 000 Mann Plan," 9.9.43; OKH, GenStdH, Org. Abt., Persoenliche Ansicht General Olbricht, 9.9.43, OKH/Misc file.
42. OKW, WEST, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Ostfront, Zufuehrung von Verbaenden fuer den Osten, 1.1.-31.3.44, p. 4a, OKW/1929 file; OKW, AWA, WVW (V) Nr. 54, Anlage zu HDA, Kurierst, Hb. Nr. 390/45, H 17/207 file.
43. IVOV (R), IV, p. 20.
44. OKH, GenStdH, FHO Nr. 80/43, Bisherige Entwicklung des deutschsowjetrussischen Kraefteverhaeltnisses seit Kriegsbeginn and seine moegliche Weiterentwicklung bis Ende 1943, 17.10.43, H 3/185 file.
45. OKW, Stellvertretende Chef des Wehrmachtfuehrungsstabes, Kriegstagebuch vom 1.10.-31.12.43, 8, 12, 15, 22-27 Nov, 5 Dec 43, IMT Doc 1790-PS; OKH, GenStdH, Org. Abt. Nr. 1/5500/43, Grundlegender-Befehl Nr. 22, 5.12.43, OKH/Misc file.
46. OKH, GenStdH, Org. Abt. (I) Nr. 5170/43, Gliederung des Ostheeres, 1.10.43, file H 1/172.
47. Stenogr. Dienst im F. H. Qu., Besprechung des Fuehrers mit Generaloberst Zeitzler vom 27.12.43, OCMH files.
48. Der Generalinspekteur der Panzertruppen, Nr. 1301/43, Fuehrervortrag 20.10.43, H 16/1592 file.
49. Der Generalinspekteur der Panzer Truppen, Nr. 1830/43, Vortragsnotiz, 9.1.43, H 16/159a file.
50. Der Fuehrer, OKW, WFSt, Op. Nr. 662656/43, Weisung Nr. 51, 3 November 1943, OCMH files.