Offensives on Both Flanks--the North Flank
During the two years after the first Soviet winter offensive, Army Group North had by comparison with the other army groups occupied an almost stationary front. On the right Sixteenth Army had given up some ground but had kept its line anchored firmly on Lake Ilmen in the north. Below the lake the old Russian towns, Staraya Russa and Kholm, had lain directly in the front since the summer of 1941. Even the breakthrough at Nevel in October 1943 was more significant as a portent of a possible drive to outflank the army group in the south than for the loss of ground it involved. On the left Eighteenth Army had fought three battles south of Lake Ladoga to keep Leningrad under siege and had held the Russians to a token gain of a few miles along the lake shore. From the Volkhov River to the Gulf of Finland the front was reminiscent of World War I--a lacework of trenches and shell holes, the result of two and a half years' fighting in which the gains and losses on both sides could be measured in yards. Ranged along the coast west of the city, the heavy siege artillery transferred north in the summer of 1942 after Sevastopol could still bring all of Leningrad except the northeastern suburbs under fire.
For more than a year, however, the relative stability of the front had not reflected the actual state of the army group. In September and October 1943 Kuechler had had to give up three infantry divisions and the 250th Spanish "Blue" Division, at the same time taking over some sixty miles of inadequately manned front from Army Group Center. As replacements he had received three recently formed SS divisions with mostly non-German personnel and the Spanish Legion, the 1,000 men Franco had substituted for the Blue Division, many of them Loyalists who were looking for a chance to desert to the Russians.
By December the line around the Oranienbaum pocket was being held by two Air Force field divisions and two of the SS divisions, and, except for the critical sectors close to Leningrad and north of Nevel, the rest of the front was liberally sprinkled with Air Force field divisions and SS units newly recruited in the Baltic States. After the Nevel breakthrough the army group had weakened its left flank and center to strengthen the right. Tactically the army group's position had become very similar to that of Army Group South: it was forced to split its effort between the two extreme flanks, holding the one (Oranienbaum-Leningrad) mostly for political and prestige
reasons and the other to stave off what could become a military disaster.
In the second week of September 1943 Army Group North had begun work on the PANTHER position, its share of the East Wall. The north half of the PANTHER position was laid behind natural obstacles, the Narva River, Lake Peipus, and Lake Pskov. The south half was not so favorably situated. It had to be stretched east somewhat to cover two major road and rail centers, Pskov and Ostrov, and the tie-in to Army Group Center had to be moved west after the Nevel breakthrough. Nevertheless, when it was occupied it would reduce the army group frontage by 25 percent, and, unlike most of the East Wall, it had by late 1943 actually begun to take on the appearance of a fortified line. A 50,000-man construction force had improved the communications lines back to Riga and Dvinsk and had built 6,000 bunkers, 800 of them concrete, laid 125 miles of barbed wire entanglements, and dug 25 miles each of trenches and tank traps. During November and December building material rolled in at a rate of over 100 carloads a day.1
In September the army group staff had begun detailed planning for Operation BLAU, the withdrawal to the PANTHER position. The staff estimated that the million tons of grain and potatoes, half a million cattle and sheep, and military supplies and other material, including telephone wire and railroad track to be moved behind the PANTHER line, would amount to 4,000 trainloads. The withdrawal itself would be facilitated by the network of alternate positions that in the preceding two years had been built as far back as the Luga River. The 900,000 civilians living in the evacuation zone, particularly the men who could, if they were left behind, be drafted into the Soviet Army, raised problems. The first attempts, in early October, to march the civilians out in the customary treks produced so much confusion, misery, and hostility that Kuechler ordered the rear area commands to adopt less onerous methods. Thereafter they singled out the adults who would be useful to the Soviet Union as workers or soldiers and evacuated most of them by train.2 During the last three months of the year the shipments of goods and people went ahead while the armies worked at getting their artillery and heavy equipment, much of which was sited in permanent emplacements, ready to be moved. At the end of the year, having transported 250,000 civilians into Latvia and Lithuania, the army group could not find quarters for any more and called a halt to that part of the evacuation.3
The army group staff believed that logically BLAU should begin in mid-January and be completed shortly before the spring thaw, in about the same fashion as Army Group Center had executed BUEFFEL the year before, but on 22 December the chief of staff told the armies that Hitler would probably not order BLAU unless another
Soviet offensive forced him to. At the moment, Hitler's opinion was that the Russians had lost so many men in the fighting in the Ukraine that they might not try another big offensive anywhere before the spring of 1944.4
Toward the end of the month it appeared, in fact, that Hitler might be right. The bulge on the Army Group North right flank was worrisome, but the Stavka had shifted the weight of the offensive to Vitebsk, for the time being at least. In the Oranienbaum pocket and around Leningrad the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts had been ready to attack since November, but with the trouble at Nevel out of the way the army group was less concerned than it had been. Intelligence reports from Eighteenth Army indicated that the units in the Oranienbaum pocket, in particular, had been strengthened; and boat traffic between Leningrad and Oranienbaum had been usually heavy during the fall, continuing until some boats were trapped in ice. On the other hand, almost no new units had appeared, and Leningrad Front seemed to be depending for its reinforcements on the Leningrad population. While an offensive sometime in January appeared a near certainty, the longer Eighteenth Army's intelligence officers looked the closer they came to convincing themselves it would be cut in the modest pattern of the three earlier offensives around Leningrad.5
On 29 December the OKH ordered Kuechler to transfer to Army Group South one of his best divisions, the 1st Infantry Division which Eighteenth Army was depending on to backstop some of its less reliable units in the Oranienbaum-Leningrad sector. When Kuechler called to protest, Zeitzler told him he would not need the division; Hitler intended to execute Operation BLAU after all and would tell him so personally the next day. During the noon conference in the Fuehrer headquarters on 30 December, Kuechler, expecting to receive his orders, reported on the state of the PANTHER position and the time he would need to complete BLAU. In passing, he remarked that he had talked to Generaloberst Georg Lindemann, Commanding General, Eighteenth Army, who "naturally" had asked for his army to stay where it was even though he lost 1st Infantry Division. To a question from Hitler, Kuechler replied that the Eighteenth Army front was well fortified, almost too well, in fact, since the army did not have enough troops to man it completely. Hitler then terminated the conference without mentioning Operation BLAU.6
Kuechler did not fully realize what had happened until the next day, after an order had come in to transfer another good division to Army Group South. Zeitzler told the army group chief of staff that Hitler had begun to falter in his decision as soon as Kuechler made the remark about Lindemann's wanting to keep his army where it was. He thought it would take at least a week to talk Hitler around again.7 By day's end the chief of staff had a memorandum marshaling the arguments for BLAU ready for Kuechler to sign, but that was scarcely enough. Lindemann would
have to be persuaded to reverse himself, since in such instances if in almost no others Hitler always took the word of the man on the spot.
On 4 January--by then a third division was on its way to Army Group South--Kuechler went to Eighteenth Army headquarters and, citing the necessity to husband the army group's forces, almost pleaded with Lindemann to reconsider. Lindemann replied that his corps, division, and troop commanders in the most threatened sectors were confident they could weather the attack.8 After that, none of the army group's arguments counted for much. Hitler told Zeitzler he was only doing what Kuechler wanted. Nor could Kuechler and his staff draw any comfort from the knowledge that Lindemann was probably motivated mainly by a desire to draw attention to himself--as a senior army commander he had never had so good an opportunity to show what he could do directly under the eyes of the Fuehrer. No less disquieting for the army group was the knowledge that it was committed to repeating an error which had already been made too often in the Ukraine. To the operations chief at OKH the chief of staff said the army group was marching to disaster with its eyes open, putting forces into positions which in the long run could not be held.9
On 14 January 1944 the operation began. (Map 23) Leningrad Front, General Polkovnik L. A. Govorov commanding, mounted the main effort. Second Shock Army drove east out of the Oranienbaum pocket while Forty-second Army attempted to push west on the front below Leningrad.10 Against Forty-second Army, the stronger of the two, the corps artillery of L Corps reacted fast, laying down a well-placed barrage that stopped the attack before it got started. Second Shock Army did better; the 10th Air Force Field Division began to crumble the moment it was hit.
Not a real surprise but, still, only half expected, were the strong thrusts that General Polkovnik Kirill A. Meretskov's Volkhov Front launched the same day north and south of Novgorod on Eighteenth Army's right flank. Novgorod had been considered a danger point, but the army had not been convinced that the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts would have the strength to attempt simultaneous offensives on a major scale. Lindemann, on 10 January, had rated the build-ups--in the Oranienbaum pocket, southwest of Leningrad, and east of Novgorod--as relatively modest, particularly in terms of reserves. He had predicted that without more reserves the thrusts could not go very deep and that the attacks in the Oranienbaum-Leningrad sector and at Novgorod would "very likely" be staggered.11 In fact, the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts had Eighteenth Army outnumbered by at least 3:1 in divisions (55 rifle divisions, 9 rifle brigades, and 8 tank brigades to 20 German divisions), 3:1 in artillery, and 6:1 in tanks, self-propelled artillery, and aircraft.12
Army Group North
14 January-31 March 1944
The Soviet commands had chosen exactly the two places in which Eighteenth Army had the least room to maneuver. The loop of the front separating the Oranienbaum pocket from Leningrad was only twenty miles wide at its base. On the Eighteenth Army right flank an envelopment five to ten miles deep was enough to chop out Novgorod and break the tie-in to Lake Ilmen. The danger was, as Zeitzler warned at the end of the day, that minor slip-ups could have consequences similar to the Nevel debacle.
During the second and third days the battle seemed to be going about as the Germans hoped it would. Neither Govorov nor Meretskov put in any new units, which seemed to indicate that they were operating without much in the way of reserves, and it appeared that Leningrad Front did not intend to do more than open the Oranienbaum pocket. On 16 January Kuechler told his army commanders that the Russians had committed all their forces, and Army Group North could win the battle by taking some risks in the quiet sectors.
The next day his optimism started to fade. Lindemann had put in his entire reserve, the 61st Infantry Division, to stiffen the 10th Air Force Field Division, but it was barely managing to stave off a complete rupture. Before noon the army group informed the OKH that the fighting around Leningrad was taking a turn for the worse. Eighteenth Army would have to begin dismantling the siege artillery during the night, and if the army group wanted to see the battle through it would have to withdraw below Lake Ladoga to the ROLLBAHN position along the Leningrad-Chudovo road to shorten the front and gain two divisions. The army group had originally built the ROLLBAHN to provide just such insurance. In the afternoon the answer came from Hitler: he neither approved nor disapproved but thought it would be better to give up the hold on the Gulf of Finland and take back the front between Leningrad and Oranienbaum. Kuechler protested that to do that would give the Russians the victory and an opportunity to turn south with their strength intact.
On the morning of the 18th Lindemann reported that the fronts east of Oranienbaum and west of Leningrad were collapsing. The same was happening at Novgorod where the encirclement was nearly complete, and the few extra battalions the army had been able to throw in would not even be enough to hold open an escape route much longer. After seeing for himself how near complete exhaustion the troops at the front were, Kuechler asked and was denied permission to withdraw to the ROLLBAHN. In the afternoon Forty-second Army's spearhead drove into Krasnoye Selo, the former summer residence of the Czars, and cut the two main roads to the north. After that, Kuechler decided he had no choice but to take back the two divisions on the coast before they were completely cut off. He informed the OKH that he intended to give the order at the end of the day whether he had received permission by then or not. At the midnight situation conference Hitler approved, after Zeitzler told him the order had already been given.
Withdrawal to the ROLLBAHN
On 19 January the first stage, which plainly was only the prelude to the battle, ended. The difficult task was to get Hitler to accept the consequences. Kuechler's order had come too late to save the divisions
SEARCHING FOR MINES OUTSIDE DAMAGED TSARSKOYE SELO PALACE, PUSHKIN
on the coast; some elements escaped, others were trapped and destroyed as the Russians swept in from the east and west. Second Shock and Forty-second Armies then joined forces, and the appearance of several fresh divisions demonstrated that they had more than adequate reserves. At Novgorod eight Soviet divisions encircled five German battalions. Their one hope for escape was to elude the Russians in the swamps west of the city.
Shortly after nightfall, after Zeitzler had argued unsuccessfully for half an hour, Kuechler called Hitler and begged him to give the troops at Novgorod what would certainly be their last chance. Suddenly dropping the argument he had clung to stubbornly throughout the day, that Novgorod could not be given up because of its "extraordinary symbolic significance," Hitler agreed. On the subject of the ROLLBAHN, however, he merely read Kuechler a short lecture on the demoralizing effects of voluntary withdrawals. Fifteen minutes later he called back to give permission for that too. At midnight he changed his mind about the ROLLBAHN, but Zeitzler told him the orders had gone out to the divisions and could not be recalled.13
Hitler had also tried to extract from Zeitzler and Kuechler guarantees that the ROLLBAHN position would be held. On the 10th Kuechler, appraising the situation, declared
CIVILIANS IN LENINGRAD AFTER THE SIEGE
that the two recent tactical setbacks, at Novgorod and southwest of Leningrad, had resulted from lack of reserves and an overtaut front. The same conditions still existed. The withdrawal to the ROLLBAHN would free three divisions, two to go into the front below Leningrad, the other west of Novgorod. With that, the army group would have exhausted its resources for creating reserves. The three divisions would be used up in a short time, and an operational breakthrough could then be expected. He recommended that the pullback to the ROLLBAHN be made the first step in a continuous withdrawal to the PANTHER position, pointing out that the army group was already so weakened that it would have just enough troops to man the front when it reached there.14
Less than a day passed before Kuechler's forecast began to come true. On 21 January Forty-second Army attacked toward Krasnogvardeysk, the junction of the main rail lines and roads coming from the south and west. L Corps had not had time to sort out its battered units and start setting up a front.
That night Kuechler flew to Fuehrer headquarters where the next morning, shortly before his interview with Hitler, word reached him that Eighteenth Army could not hold Krasnogvardeysk unless it gave up Pushkin and Slutsk, also important junctions but farther north. Hitler was deaf to all his proposals. The Fuehrer brushed off everything said concerning
Pushkin and Slutsk, the PANTHER position, and possible new threats on the army group right flank with a statement that Army Group North was spoiled; it had not had a crisis for more than a year and, consequently, did not know what one was. "I am against all withdrawals," he went on. "We will have crises wherever we are. There is no guarantee we will not be broken through on the PANTHER. If we go back voluntarily he [the Russians] will not get there with only half his forces. He must bleed himself white on the way. The battle must be fought as far as possible from the German border." When Kuechler objected that the PANTHER position could not be held if the army group was too weak to fight when it got there, Hitler blamed all the gaps in the front on the egoism of the army groups and insisted that every square yard of ground be sold at the highest possible price in Russian blood. Finally, demanding that the ROLLBAHN be held, he dismissed the field marshal. Later Zeitzler said the time had been bad and Kuechler should try again in a few days; Hitler was worried about the landing that day by Allied troops at Anzio south of Rome and had not listened to what was said.
Meanwhile, Eighteenth Army was beginning to disintegrate. Fighting in mud and water, the troops were exhausted. Govorov and Meretskov, on the other hand, had managed, since the warm weather set in at midmonth, to give their divisions a day out of every three or four to rest and dry out. On the morning of 23 January, Lindemann gave the order to evacuate Pushkin and Slutsk and reported to the OKH that it could either accept his decision or send a general to replace him. During the day the army completed the withdrawal to the ROLLBAHN, which the Russians had already penetrated in several places.
On the 24th at Eighteenth Army headquarters Kuechler accused Lindemann of having submitted false estimates of Soviet reserves at the end of December. Lindemann admitted "mistakes" had been made. The belated revision of the army's past intelligence estimates was swiftly buried, however, under waves of bad news from the front. In the morning the Russians entered the outskirts of Krasnogvardeysk and rammed through to the bend of the Luga River southeast of Luga. The divisions in the ROLLBAHN position tried to patch the front by throwing in their rear echelon troops. At the end of the day Lindemann reported that his right flank had lost contact with Sixteenth Army and Krasnogvardeysk would fall within twenty-four hours.
Because losing Krasnogvardeysk would badly weaken the supply lines of the corps farther east, the army group asked to go back at least to the Luga River. In the evening Zeitzler replied that Hitler's orders were to hold the corner posts and make the troops fight to the last. Since there was nothing else to do for the time being, he advised the army group command to be "a little ruthless" for a while.15
On 27 January, Kuechler and the other army group and army commanders on the Eastern Front attended a National Socialist Leadership Conference at Koenigsberg. Hitler addressed the generals on the subject of faith as a guarantee of victory. He called for a strengthening of faith in himself,
in the National Socialist philosophy, and in the ultimate victory and suggested that the generals' faith needed strengthening as much as anyone else's.16 During one of the interludes, in a private talk with Hitler, Kuechler repeated a situation estimate he had sent in the day before: the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts were employing four strong attack forces to cut Eighteenth Army to pieces; they were going toward Narva from the east and toward Luga from the north and east; if the attack from the east carried through Luga it would cut the communications lines of six of Lindemann's eight corps. Hitler responded by prohibiting all voluntary withdrawals and reserving all decisions to withdraw to himself. When Kuechler remarked, probably with the subject of the day's meeting in mind, that Eighteenth Army had suffered 40,000 casualties and the troops had fought as hard as could be expected, Hitler replied that the latter statement was "not quite" true. He had heard the army group was not fighting everywhere with as much determination as it might.17
That interview destroyed Kuechler as an effective army group commander. When he returned to his headquarters he still seemed, as his chief of staff later put it, to realize that all he could do was retreat, but all he could talk about was showing more determination and attacking--with what, nobody knew. On the 28th the chief of staff, Generalleutnant Eberhard Kinzel, took matters into his own hands and told the Chief of Staff, Eighteenth Army, that the time had come. An order to retreat must be issued, but the army group was forbidden to do that. The army would, therefore, have to act as if it had been given, issuing its own implementing orders orally rather than in writing. He would see to it that the army was covered "in the General Staff channel." The next day Kinzel prevailed on Kuechler at least to submit a report pointing out to Hitler that Eighteenth Army was split into three parts and could not hold any kind of a front forward of the Luga River.18
On the 30th Kuechler went to Fuehrer headquarters where Hitler finally approved a retreat to the Luga River but directed that the front then be held, contact with Sixteenth Army regained, and all gaps in the front closed. When Kuechler passed this along to his operations officer the latter protested to the Operations Branch, OKH, that it was impossible to execute; one of the gaps was thirty miles wide, and at Staritza northwest of Luga the Russians were already across the Luga River. Later Zeitzler agreed to tell Hitler that the Luga line could not be held. In the meantime Kuechler had been told to report back to the Fuehrer headquarters on 31 January.
Model Takes Command
At the noon conference the next day Hitler informed Kuechler he was relieved of his command. Model, who had been waiting to replace Manstein, was given temporary command of the army group. Reacting quickly as always, Model telegraphed ahead, "Not a single step backward will be taken without my express permission. I am flying to Eighteenth Army
this afternoon. Tell General Lindemann that I beg his old trust in me. We have worked together before."19
During the last days of January the Eighteenth Army's attrition rate had spiraled steeply. On 27 January the army north front had lain about ten miles north of the line Narva-Chudovo over most of its length and forty miles northeast of Narva in its western quarter. By the 31st it had been pushed back nearly to the Narva River in the west and slightly below the Narva-Chudovo line in the east, by itself not a surprising loss of ground; but in the interval the front had virtually dissolved. On the situation maps of the 27th it had still appeared as a distinguishable, continuous line, albeit with several large gaps. By the 31st all that was left was a random scattering of dots where battalions and companies still held a mile or two of front. The only two divisions still worthy of the name were the 12th Panzer Division, which had come in during the last week in the month, and the 58th Infantry Division, moving in from the south by train. On 29 January the army group reported that as of the 10th Eighteenth Army had had an infantry combat strength of 57,936 men; it had lost since then 35,000 wounded and 14,000 killed and now had, including new arrivals, an infantry strength of 17,000.20
Model had never had a greater opportunity to display his talent as an improvisor, and he took it with a flamboyant zest which, though it did not change the tactical situation, quickly dispelled the sense of hopelessness and frustration that had been hanging over the army group. He also had the advantage of Hitler's tendency to give new appointees, particularly when they were also his favorites, greater latitude, at least temporarily, than he had allowed their predecessors.
Model's first moves were as much psychological as military. To dissipate what he called the PANTHER psychosis he forbade all references to the PANTHER position and abolished the designation. Past experience had shown that in times of adversity, named lines, particularly when the names suggested strength, had a powerful attraction for both troops and commands. On the other hand, the state of Eighteenth Army being what it was, Model could not attempt to enforce his original "no step backward" order. Instead, he introduced something new, the Schild und Schwert (shield and sword) theory, the central idea of which was that withdrawals were tolerable if one intended later to strike back in the same or a different direction in a kind of parry and thrust sequence. The theory was apparently Hitler's latest brain child, a remedy for--as he viewed it--the disease of falling back to gain troops to build a new defense line which in a short time would itself prove too weak to be held. That Model placed overly much faith in the theory may be doubted. He was enough of a realist to know that while the withdrawal was usually possible the counter-thrust was not. On the other hand, he was also well enough acquainted with Hitler to know that it was always advantageous to make a retreat look like the first stage of an advance.
Schild und Schwert
Model applied the Schild und Schwert theory in his first directive to Eighteenth
Army issued on 1 February. He ordered Lindemann to take his main force back to a short line north and east of Luga. After that was accomplished and the 12th Panzer Division had finished closing the gap to Sixteenth Army, as had been directed before the change in command, the 12th Panzer and the 58th Infantry Divisions plus as many more divisions as could be spared from the short line would be shifted west of Luga for a thrust along the Luga River to establish contact with the two corps on the Narva. The first part of the directive gave the army a chance to reduce its frontage by almost two-thirds, which was necessary, the second envisaged a gain of enough strength--which was highly doubtful--to open a counteroffensive and extend the front fifty miles to the west.
To apply the Schild und Schwert theory on the Eighteenth Army left flank was impossible. LIV Corps and III SS Panzer Corps, both under the command of General der Infanterie Otto Sponheimer, the Commanding General, LIV Corps, had fallen back along the Baltic coast from the Oranienbaum pocket. After 28 January they had been thrown back to the Luga River and then to the Narva River, the northern terminus of the PANTHER position. They could go no farther without endangering the entire PANTHER line and the important shale oil refineries near the coast about twenty miles west of the river.
On 2 February, when Model inspected Sponheimer's front, his divisions were crossing to the west bank of the river and pulling back into a small bridgehead around the city of Narva. South of Narva the Russians were probing across the river and before the end of the day had a small bridgehead of their own. Elements of the Panzer Grenadier Division Feldherrnhalle, coming from Army Group Center, and a regiment of the 58th Infantry Division were arriving to strengthen the front below Narva.
Everywhere Model heard the same complaint: the troops were worn out; and everywhere he gave the same order: they would have to see the battle through. The help the army group could give was small enough: an infantry adviser for III SS Panzer Corps; an artillery expert to match the skilled artillerists the Russians were using; requests to Himmler for some experienced SS replacements, to Doenitz for reinforcements for the coastal batteries, and to Goering for air force personnel to be used against the partisans.
Nevertheless, the near collapse of Eighteenth Army at the end of January had had the effect of a temporary disentanglement, at least in places, as on the Narva River. Model's decision to close up the front around Luga gave the army a chance to maneuver and to catch its breath. The next move was still the Russians', but it would be met on a coherent front. For a few days at the beginning of February the points of greatest pressure were in the Sixteenth Army area where the Second Baltic Front pushed into the front south of Staraya Russa and west of Novosokol'niki, tying down German troops which might be shifted north and, as a bonus, creating entering wedges which might be exploited for deep thrusts later.
By 4 February the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts had regrouped and were beginning to close in on Eighteenth Army again. Army Group North informed the OKH that Meretskov had massed one strong force and 200 tanks southwest of Novgorod, and Govorov was assembling another east of Samro Lake thirty miles off the Eighteenth
NARVA. Two medieval fortresses, Hermannsburg (left) and Ivangorod (right), flank the Narva River.
Army left flank. They obviously could try for an encirclement around Luga.
Model still intended to attack to the northwest, and he proposed a "large" and a "small" solution. The first would carry the front out to the length of the Luga River; the second would extend it diagonally to the northern tip of Lake Peipus. Kinzel, the Chief of staff, remarked later to the Chief Staff, Eighteenth Army, that it was gratifying just to be able to think about such bold strokes. Whether either would be carried out would depend on how the battle developed. In any event, nothing would be lost because the preliminary movements would be useful no matter what the army did next.21
Hitler, usually delighted by talk of an offensive, displayed no enthusiasm. In a rare personal directive to Model he cited the Narva area as most vulnerable and ordered it reinforced without delay. In the sector between Lake Peipus and Lake Ilmen he saw a danger of Eighteenth Army's being pushed east away from Lake Peipus and a threat of an encirclement, and he instructed Model to submit a request for a withdrawal to the PANTHER position as soon as either of those became imminent.22
Having appointed the kind of daring, iron-nerved general he wanted, Hitler himself became the advocate of caution. The change probably also resulted in part from Hitler's tendency to associate men with
events. Most likely, before dismissing Kuechler he had decided that a retreat to the PANTHER position was necessary, but he had not acted then because he could not bring himself to appear to mitigate what he considered to be Kuechler's responsibility for the defeat.
On 6 February the 12th Panzer Division finished closing the gap to Sixteenth Army. Its next mission was to assemble in Pskov and attack east of Pskov Lake and Lake Peipus. The 58th Infantry Division was standing by farther east, and Eighteenth Army had called for a withdrawal on the front around Luga which would free three divisions in two days. In the pause, short as it was, the Army's strength had begun to rise as stragglers, men recalled from leave, and those released from the hospitals were returned to their divisions. In addition, Model had ordered 5 percent of the rear echelon troops transferred to line duty.
At Headquarters, Eighteenth Army, Model on the 7th issued instructions for the first stage of the projected counteroffensive. By shifting divisions from the north and east the army would create a solid front between the southern tip of Lake Peipus and Luga. Having accomplished that, the army would apply the Schild und Schwert theory by employing two corps on the east defensively to stop the Russian advance from Samro Lake and one corps in the west in a thrust northward along the Lake Peipus shore.
During the next two days Eighteenth Army tried to jockey its divisions into position. Roadblocks laid by the partisans delayed 12th Panzer Division's advance toward Pskov. The 58th Infantry Division established a short front on the Plyussa River at about the center of the proposed new line, but the Russians filtered past on both sides, and the other divisions would have to attack to close up the front. That would not be easy since the divisions only had four understrength battalions each and the enemy strength was growing hourly as units moved in from the northwest. The swampy terrain also raised problems, but, on the other hand, it was probably the main reason why Leningrad Front could not bring its full force to bear more quickly.
By 10 February the 58th Infantry Division was split in two and one of its regiments was encircled. The 24th Infantry Division, trying to close the gap on the right of the 58th Division, got nowhere and for most of the day had trouble holding open the Luga-Pskov railroad. Although Eighteenth Army would try again the next day to regain contact with the 58th Division and close the gap the prospects were worsening rapidly. Air reconnaissance had spotted convoys of 800 to 900 trucks moving southeast from Samro Lake.
The next afternoon Eighteenth Army reported that the battle had taken a dangerous turn. The 24th Infantry Division was stopped. Soviet tanks had appeared. Both regiments of the 58th Infantry Division were surrounded and would have to fight their way back. That they could save their heavy weapons was doubtful. After nightfall Lindemann told Model that the only way he could get enough troops to close the gaps on the left flank was to take the entire front back to the shortest line between the southern tip of Lake Peipus and Lake Ilmen. Govorov had spread the right arm of the pincers out to the Peipus shore and was pushing south toward Pskov. He already had some units far enough south "to pinch the 12th Panzer Division in the backside." Reluctantly, Model agreed to let the army go back.
The next day brought more bad news.
At Narva the Russians expanded their bridgehead and created another north of the city. Between Lakes Peipus and Pskov, Govorov poured in enough troops to threaten a crossing into the PANTHER position. If Model were to establish a front between Lake Peipus and Lake Ilmen he would have to fight for it. On the evening of the 12th Model informed the OKH that he still planned to take and hold that line and wanted to know whether Hitler approved. The OKH response indicated that nobody there, including Hitler, liked the idea. The opinion was--for once--unanimous that it was too late to set up a front between the lakes and that, in any event, it was more important to free one division for Narva and another for the Peipus-Pskov narrows. The operations chief in the OKH added that Hitler was repeating every day that he did not want to risk any encirclements forward of the PANTHER position. An hour before midnight Sponheimer reported breakthroughs north and south of Narva. On the north III SS Panzer Corps had managed to close the front and even gain a little, but south of Narva the Feldherrnhalle Division did not have the strength even to offer effective resistance.
The PANTHER Position
In the morning on the 13th Model sent a situation report to Hitler. He said he would fight the battle around Narva to its end. If worst came to worst he would shorten the front by giving up the bend of the Narva River. He still believed it would be best to hold between Lake Peipus and Lake Ilmen until more work had been done on the PANTHER position. Hitler's answer would be strengthened with greatest speed. The army group would submit a plan and timetable for a prompt withdrawal to the PANTHER position.
For the moment it appeared that the decision to go back to the PANTHER position might have come too late to save the Narva front, for which, as a last resort, the army group that day released an Estonian brigade. The brigade was the product of a draft the SS, which was responsible for foreign recruitment, had been conducting in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania since early January. Because Hitler refused to offer the Baltic States even a promise of eventual autonomy, the draftees were dispirited and their only motivation was fear--of the Russians and the Germans. On the night of 13 February, Sponheimer reported that the Estonians had arrived in complete disorder verging on panic. Some had tried to desert on the way. That left Model no choice but to take troops from Eighteenth Army. He ordered the 58th Infantry Division transferred north after a three-day rest. The division had lost a third of its personnel and all of its heavy equipment in the encirclements.
On the morning of the 14th, after Sponheimer reported that he had no room to maneuver and no troops to close the gaps and was therefore helpless, Model asked to evacuate the small bridgehead still being held east of Narva, to gain three battalions. Zeitzler approved and offered in addition an infantry division from Norway. Then, shortly after daylight news came in that the Russians had staged a landing on the coast northwest of Narva. Later reports revealed that the landing force was not large, about 500 naval troops, supported only by several gun boats from Lavansaari Island in the Gulf of Finland. In the report sent to the
SOVIET SKI TROOPS ON THE NORTHERN FRONT
OKH Model stated that, nevertheless, the scene around Narva was "not pretty" and he had ordered the bridgehead given up immediately. During the day the landing parties were wiped out without much damage having been done except by the German Stukas that bombed a German division headquarters and knocked out several Tiger tanks.
More troublesome was the appearance of Soviet ski troops on the west shore of Lake Peipus north of the narrows. The security division responsible for the area reported that its Estonian troops were "going home." After that, Model told the OKH that he would begin the withdrawal to the PANTHER position on 17 February and complete it early on 1 March. He would mop up the west shore of Lake Peipus in the next few days and use the first two divisions freed to cover the lake shore. He expected that as soon as Eighteenth Army began to move Govorov and Meretskov would try for an encirclement around the army's "shoulders." They had strong forces in position north of Pskov and on the west shore of Lake Ilmen.
In the two days before the withdrawal began, the Russians did not try again to cross the lakes, and on 17 February Model gave a corps headquarters command of the lake sector and began shifting the 12th Panzer Division into the area. On the Narva the battle began to degenerate into a vicious stalemate in which the two sides stood toe to toe, neither giving nor gaining
an inch. Sponheimer could not close the gaps in his front, but that Govorov was less than satisfied with his own progress was confirmed in repeated radio messages offering the decoration Hero of the Soviet Union to the first commander whose troops reached the road running west out of Narva. As the Sixteenth and Eighteenth Armies began to move, the Soviet armies followed close. Through their networks of agents and partisans they knew exactly what was taking place.23
On 19 February Army Group North became suddenly and acutely aware of an old danger that had been lurking in the background throughout the last month of crises. On that day, for the first time in two months, the attacks on the Third Panzer Army perimeter around Vitebsk stopped; and air reconnaissance detected truck convoys of 2,000 or 3,000 trucks moving out, most of them heading north and northwest. Army Group North intelligence estimated that two armies could be shifted to the Sixteenth Army right flank in a few days. Model foresaw two possibilities. The first, and most likely, was that after adding to its already strong concentration in the Nevel-Pustoshka area, Second Baltic Front would attempt to break into the PANTHER position below Pustoshka and roll it up to the north before the Sixteenth and Eighteenth Armies could establish themselves there. The second, the "big solution" as the Germans had come to call it, was a thrust straight through to Dvinsk and on to Riga to cut off Army Group North in the Baltic States.24
Model also speculated that the activity on the Sixteenth Army right flank might be a sign that the Stavka was becoming discouraged with the attempts to encircle Eighteenth Army. If that was so, it did not result in any lessening of pressure on Eighteenth Army. As predicted, the Volkhov and Leningrad Fronts bore down heavily on the army's shoulders.
Meretskov tried for a breakthrough at Shimsk west of Lake Ilmen on 17 February. For three days, while the flank of Sixteenth Army came back from Staraya Russa, the battle to keep contact between the two armies swayed in the balance. On the 10th, when both began pulling away from Lake Ilmen, that crisis was passed.
Govorov reacted more slowly but more dangerously. Pskov, throughout the war the main communications center of Army Group North, was also the hinge on which the whole withdrawal to the PANTHER position turned. The army group could not afford to lose Pskov but scarcely had room around the city in which to maneuver. In the swamps and forests east of Pskov Lake, Leningrad Front had trouble bringing its forces to bear, but on 24 February it began laying on heavy pressure north of the city and launched probing attacks across the lake. According to intelligence reports, Stalin had called in Govorov and personally ordered him to take Pskov. By 26 February the threats at Pskov and on the Sixteenth Army right flank had made Hitler so nervous that he asked Model to try to speed up the withdrawal.
In the north, on the Narva front, the Germans toward the end of the month had gained only enough strength to tip the scales slightly in their favor. On 24 February General der Infanterie Johannes Friessner,
who had proved himself in the fighting on the Sixteenth Army-Eighteenth Army boundary, took over Sponheimer's command which was then redesignated Armeeabteilung Narva. By then troops of the 214th Infantry Division were beginning to arrive. They still needed seasoning, but they could be used to relieve experienced troops from the quiet parts of the line. Going over to what he called "mosaic work," Friessner cut into the extreme tip of the bridgehead south of Narva and pushed the enemy there into two small pockets. Although the Russians ignored the punishing artillery and small arms fire and kept pouring in troops through the open ends of the pockets, the danger of their reaching the coast was averted.25
On 1 March Army Group North took the last step back into the PANTHER position, and the Russians demonstrated that they were not going to let it come to rest there. North of Pustoshka two armies hit the VIII Corps front. South of the town two armies threw their weight against X Corps. Leningrad Front massed two armies south of Pskov and poured more troops across the Narva River, attacking out of the bridgehead to the north, northwest, and west. For a week the battle rippled up and down the whole army group front. Except for small local losses, the German line held. On 9 March Second Baltic Front stepped up its pressure against the Sixteenth Army right flank and began straining heavily for a breakthrough.
On the 10th the army group was confronted with a politically unpleasant and militarily insignificant consequence of the disastrous winter. The commanding officer of the Spanish Legion and the Spanish military attaché visited Model to tell him the legion was being called home. Franco, they said, was not turning away from Germany; he wanted to gather all his "matadors" about him to resist an Anglo-American invasion. Since the legion had proved as troublesome in the rear areas as it had been ineffectual at the front, the loss to the army group was not a painful one.
At midmonth Second Baltic Front was still battering the Sixteenth Army flank while Leningrad Front probed for openings around Pskov and Narva. But the weather had turned against the Russians. After a warm winter--for Russia--the spring thaw had set in early. A foot of water covered the ice on the lakes. Sixteenth Army reported that the Soviet tanks were sometimes sinking up to their turrets in mud. Against a weak front the Russians might have continued to advance, as they were doing in the Ukraine, but the PANTHER position, all that remained of the East Wall, was living up to German expectations.
On 28 March Hitler's chief adjutant, Schmundt, called on Model to tell him that in a few days Hitler would name him to replace Manstein as Commanding General, Army Group South. For Model the news came at an inconvenient moment. He had just completed a situation estimate in which he said that the army group "might" be able to give two divisions to Army Group South after the front settled down.26 Hastily he reworked the estimate and in the altered draft reached the conclusion that
SOVIET CAVALRY IN ACTION ON THE NORTHERN FRONT
Army Group North could give up five divisions and a corps staff immediately, and the 12th Panzer Division as soon as two self-propelled assault gun brigades and a battalion of tanks could be sent to replace it.27
On the 29th he went to the Fuehrer headquarters. Still officially the Commanding General, Army Group North, he attempted to use his authority to raid the army group for the benefit of his new command. In what Zeitzler later described as "unimaginable goings on" Model first told Hitler that the army group could give up five divisions and then raised the number to six. In a telegram to Army Group North headquarters he stated that the Fuehrer had ordered the six divisions transferred. By telephone he gave the chief of staff half an hour in which to report that the order was being carried out. Finally, Zeitzler was forced to intervene and instruct the army group not to act on any of Model's orders.
On 31 March, with Model safely installed as Commanding General, Army Group South, Zeitzler persuaded Hitler to reduce the proposed transfers to one division and that only in the near future. The next day, after the air had a chance to clear, Hitler agreed. In the meantime, Lindemann, the senior army commander, had been appointed acting commanding general of the army group.
An "Echo" in Finland
At the end of January 1944 the OKW took up the painful task of discussing the developments south of Leningrad with the Finns. Keitel wrote Mannerheim that Army Group North would hold the Luga River line and asked the Marshal to suggest how Germany might help strengthen the Finnish front to compensate for the increased Soviet threat. In reply, Mannerheim proposed that Twentieth Mountain Army extend its right flank south to take in the Ukhta sector, which would release one Finnish division.28 The Commanding General, Twentieth Mountain Army, Dietl, objected. He insisted that it was a waste of manpower to tie down more German troops on a secondary front in Finland and that Finland, "through greater efforts in the sense of total war," was capable of creating a reserve division out of its own resources "without laying claims on the German Army which is already carrying the entire burden." Irritated also by recent Finnish protests against even the smallest withdrawals of German troops from Finland, Dietl wanted to urge Mannerheim not to raise objections if Twentieth Mountain Army were to offer all the troops it could spare to Army Group North, "which is also fighting for Finland."29 But the OKW, remembering the warnings that had come from Finland in the fall of 1943, considered Mannerheim's response comparatively moderate and ordered Dietl to take over the Ukhta sector.
At the Tehran Conference (27 November-2 December 1943), Roosevelt and Churchill had told Stalin that they wished to see Finland out of the war before the invasion of Western Europe planned for the spring of 1944 and that they desired a peace which would leave Finland its independence. Roosevelt, representing the only one of the three countries not at war with Finland, had offered to help persuade Finland to ask for an armistice. Stalin had stated that, in the course of the current Finnish peace feelers, the Soviet Union had declared it had no designs on Finland's independence. He had added, however, that the Soviet Union would demand restoration of the 1940 border plus Pechenga and heavy reparations.30
During the night of 6 February 200 Soviet planes bombed Helsinki. The next day the United States Department of State dispatched a note warning the Finnish Government that the longer Finland stayed in the war the more unfavorable the terms of peace would become. On the 8th, in a long editorial, Izvestia took up the subject of a Soviet drive to Helsinki, pointing out that the Soviet Union had more than enough forces to spare for it. On the 10th the text of the United States note was released to the Finnish newspapers where it brought an almost unanimous editorial response in favor of investigating the possibilities of peace. That night 150 Russian bombers raided the Finnish port of Kotka.31 On the 12th the Finnish Government sent
the former Prime Minister and last Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Dr. Juho K. Paasikivi, to Stockholm to receive the Russian terms from the Soviet Minister to Sweden, Madame Alexandra M. Kollontay.
TANNE and BIRKE
The negotiations going on in Stockholm and the continuing desperate condition of Army Group North prompted the Germans to consider how to preserve their control of the Baltic Sea. The retreat to Narva had already loosened their blockade of the Soviet Baltic Fleet somewhat. A Finnish-Soviet armistice threatened to knock all of the remaining props out from under the German strategy in the Baltic. In neutral Finnish or Soviet hands Suursaari Island and Hanko would no longer serve as corks to keep the Soviet naval forces bottled up in the eastern end of the Gulf of Finland, and the Åland Islands could be used to block the iron ore traffic from Luleå. Once Soviet naval units were able to roam the Baltic at will, submarine training would have to cease and the fate of the submarine fleet would be sealed.
On 16 February Hitler ordered that in the event of a Finnish change of course the Åland Islands and Suursaari were to be occupied. Under the code names TANNE WEST (Åland Islands) and TANNE OST (Suursaari) the OKW took over the planning. (See Map 1.) The 416th Infantry Division, in Denmark, and a parachute regiment were earmarked for TANNE WEST, and the provision of troops for Suursaari was made a responsibility of Army Group North. Finnish resistance was not expected. Control of the TANNE operations remained in the hands of the OKW, which assigned the tactical direction to the OKM and OKL.32
Meanwhile, Twentieth Mountain Army had resurrected Fuehrer Directive 50 and worked out an implementing plan under the code name BIRKE. In executing the BIRKE plan, the army proposed to swing its right flank back to a line running roughly from Karesuando near the Swedish border to the Arctic Ocean Highway south of Ivalo. The maneuver was to be completed in two phases. In the first phase XXXVI Mountain Corps and XVIII Mountain Corps would pull out of the Kandalaksha, Loukhi, and Ukhta sectors and fall back to Rovaniemi, establishing a screening front east of Rovaniemi on the line Kemiyärvi-Autinkylä, which was to be held until the main force had safely passed northward through Rovaniemi. In the second phase XXXVI Mountain Corps would go north along the Arctic Ocean Highway to its new sector south of Ivalo and tie in with the right flank of XIX Mountain Corps holding the front east and south of Pechenga. XVIII Mountain Corps would withdraw northwestward over the Rovaniemi-Skibotten route and stop on a line northeast of the Swedish border in the vicinity of Karesuando. (See Map 34.)
A definitive plan for the second phase could not be made in advance because how it would be executed depended on the season. In summer it could be carried out as described, but in winter the Finnish end of the Rovaniemi-Skibotten route was impassable. In winter, therefore, both XXXVI Mountain Corps and XVIII Mountain Corps would have to go north over the
Arctic Ocean Highway, XVIII Mountain Corps continuing on into northern Norway and XXXVI Mountain Corps providing troops to man the Karesuando positions.33
To Twentieth Mountain Army the possibility of its having to carry out the terms of Fuehrer Directive 50 was a source of nagging concern. The army had pointed out when the Fuehrer directive was first issued that to try to hold northern Finland would almost certainly prove futile in the long run since the sea route around Norway could easily be cut, putting an end to both ore and supply shipments. The planning for BIRKE brought to light other dangers. Twentieth Mountain Army did not have enough manpower to construct suitable positions at Ivalo and Karesuando in advance and, in any event, could not start work at those places without revealing its intentions to the Finns. The withdrawal would be confined to a few roads, difficult to keep open in winter and exposed to round-the-clock air attack in summer; and in northern Finland the army would have to set up a front under the most unfavorable conditions of climate and terrain.
The Soviet Terms Rejected
For two weeks the Finnish-Soviet talks in Stockholm were conducted in secret. The Russians, meanwhile, continued their bombing raids on Finnish cities, hitting Helsinki on 27 February with a particularly heavy 300-plane raid. The Soviet terms had begun to leak out on the 26th, and on the 28th the Soviet Government published its demands in full: (1) internment of Twentieth Mountain Army, either by the Finns alone or with Soviet help; (2) restoration of the 1940 boundary; (3) return to the Soviet Union of all military and civilian prisoners; (4) demobilization of the Finnish Army--whether partial or complete to be determined by negotiation; (5) reparations to be determined later; (6) the ownership of Pechenga to be negotiated. Points 2 and 3, concerning the boundary and the prisoner exchange, the Soviet Government insisted, were to be met before the armistice. On 8 March, in a softly worded announcement, the Finnish Government declared that those two points were unacceptable as preconditions of the armistice. It also objected to the demand for internment of Twentieth Mountain Army, claiming it was a technical impossibility. When the Soviet Union set 18 March as the deadline for a final reply, the Finns, on the 17th, rejected the terms but expressed a strong desire to explore the matter further.34
The Soviet stipulations were in fact more stringent than those Stalin had outlined to Roosevelt and Churchill at Tehran.35 Coincident with the Finnish rejection, the Soviet Government began adopting a slightly milder tone, indicating that it had not yet made its best offer, and a few days later declared itself willing to clarify the terms. On 26 March Paasikivi and the former Foreign Minister, Carl Enckell, flew to Moscow where Foreign Minister Molotov restated the terms and brought them into approximate consonance with Stalin's commitment at the Tehran Conference. The Soviet Union dropped its demand that some of the terms be executed even before
the armistice. It also no longer insisted on internment but gave the Finns the alternative of expelling all the German troops from Finland by the end of April 1944--without the threat of "assistance" from Soviet troops. On two points the Soviet stand had hardened: it demanded $600 million in reparations and full ownership of Pechenga, for which it offered to exchange the leased base at Hanko, one of the spoils of the 1939-40 war.36
The Finns rejected the terms a second time on 18 April, giving as the reason the burden of reparations that would be laid upon the country. Still holding large stretches of Soviet territory and having an undefeated army in the field, they had obviously hoped to make a better bargain. Furthermore, the alarm and near panic which had motivated Paasikivi's trip to Stockholm in February had gradually subsided after Army Group North settled into the PANTHER position.
In the early stages of the negotiations the German Government adopted an attitude of restraint, on the assumption that Finland was not yet ready for peace at any price and, consequently, a look at the Soviet demands might be the best remedy for the peace fever. As the Army Group North situation improved and Finnish dismay at the terms grew, Hitler began to apply pressure. In March he reduced the flow of weapons to Finland, and in the first week of April he let Mannerheim be told that German weapons could not be given as long as a danger of their falling into enemy hands existed. On 13 April he halted all grain shipments to Finland, and on the 18th he stopped shipment of war matériel. That the embargo existed was not officially communicated to the Finns. Its effects, of course, were quickly felt.
At the end of the month the OKW invited Mannerheim's chief of staff to Fuehrer headquarters. There, after Keitel had taken him to task over recent Finnish policy, Jodl adopted a friendly tone and told him that an authoritative declaration was needed to the effect that German military equipment supplied to Finland would not one day be surrendered to the Soviet Union. Mannerheim attempted to meet the requirement by a personal letter to Hitler. But Hitler, who claimed the Mannerheim letter was too cautious and diplomatic, refused to relax the embargo beyond letting Finland have enough weapons and ammunition to prevent an outright decline in the army's combat capability.37
Throughout the winter, as for the past two years, the Finnish Army front was quiet; but in February Karelian Front began strengthening its forces opposite Twentieth Mountain Army. By early March the number of Soviet troops facing Twentieth Mountain Army had risen from about 100,000 to 163,000, and all the signs pointed to a full-scale offensive before the end of the month. The heaviest build-up was in the XXXVI Mountain Corps sector astride the route across the waist of Finland to the head of the Gulf of Bothnia. There the Russians brought up two new divisions and four brigades plus rocket launchers and artillery, and extended their right flank northwestward until they had a springboard behind the German forward line of fortifications. On 22 March Twentieth
Mountain Army concluded that the build-up was completed and the offensive might begin any time.38
As March drew to a close and the spring thaw approached, the danger of a Soviet offensive subsided. Dietl concluded that the Russians would have attacked if Finland had accepted an armistice. In April Dietl proposed an operation to eliminate the threat to the XXXVI Mountain Corps flank and asked Mannerheim's help. The marshal refused to employ Finnish troops offensively, and Twentieth Mountain Army, lacking the forces to go ahead alone, was forced to leave the Russians their tactical advantage. The winter thus ended with the barest visible changes but with a deep subsurface weakening of the German-Finnish relationship.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (XI) * Next Chapter (XIII)
1. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Nr. 13000/44. Der Feldzug gegen die Sowjet-Union der Heeresgruppe Nord Kriegsjahr 1943, 24.12.44, H. Gr. Nord 75884/1 file.
2. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Nr. 093/43, Raeumung, 9.12.43, H. Gr. Nord, Ia Nr. 119/43, Besprechungspunkte fuer den 15.9., 29.9.43; H. Gr. Nord, Ia Nr. 138/43, Evakuierung der Bevoelkerung. Both in H. Gr. Nord 75129/64 file.
3. H. Gr. Nord, Kriegstagebuch 1.-31.12.43, 28 Dec 43, H. Gr. Nord 75128/29 file.
4. Ibid., 22 Dec 43.
5. Ibid., 12, 15, 17 Dec 43; AOK 18, Fuehrungsabteilung Kriegstagebuch, Teil 4f, Textband III, 31 Dec 43, AOK 18 44911/20 file.
6. Stenogr. Dienst im F.H. Qu., Besprechung mit Gen Feldmarschall Kuechler vom 30.12.43, OCMH files.
7. H. Gr. Nord, Kriegstagebuch 1.-31.12.43, 31 Dec 43, H. Gr. Nord 75128/29 file.
8. H. Gr. Nord, von Negenborn, Rittmeister, Ord. Offz. O.B. Nord, Bericht ueber die Besprechung bei der 18. Armee am 4.1.44, H. Gr. Nord 75129/81 file.
9. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.-31.1.44, 1, 2, 6 Jan 44, H. Gr. Nord 75128/33 file.
10. IVOV (R), IV, 35.
11. AOK 18, Ia Kriegstagebuch, Teil 4g, Band I, 10 Jan 44, AOK 18 52614/2 file.
12. IVOV (R), IV, 34.
13. Ibid., 15-19 Jan 44.
14. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Nr. 15/44, an Chef GenStdH, 20.1.40, H 22/226 file.
15. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.-31-1.44, 20-25 Jan 44, H. Gr. Nord 75128/33 file.
16. Manstein, Verlorene Siege, pp. 579f; Taetigkeitsbericht des Chefs des Heerespersonalamts, 27 Jan 44, H 4/12 file.
17. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Nr. 20/44, Beurteilung der Lage, 26.1.44, H 22/226 file; H. Gr. Nord, O.B., Aktennotiz, 29.1.44, H. Gr. Nord 75129/81 file.
18. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Nr. 24/44, an Chef GenStdH, 29.1.44, H 22/226 file.
19. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.-31.1.44, 28-31 Jan 44, H. Gr. Nord 75128/33 file.
20. Ibid., 29 Jan 44.
21. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.-29.2.44, 1-6 Feb 44, H. Gr. Nord 75138/37 file.
22. OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. I/N Nr. 44063/44, an H. Gr. Nord, 6.2.44, II 22/226 file.
23. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.-29.2.44, 6-18 Feb 44, H. Gr. Nord 75138/37 file.
24. Obkdo. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Nr. 34/44, An den Fuehrer als Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres, H 22/226 file.
25. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.-29.2.44, 19-29 Feb 44, H. Gr. Nord 99138/37 file.
26. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.-31.3.44, 1-28 Mar 44, H. Gr. Nord 99128/40 file.
27. Obkdo H. Gr. Nord, Ia Nr. 51/44, Beurteilung der Lage vom 27.3.44, H 22/226 file.
28. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.1-31.3.44, p. 4, OKW/2040 file.
29. (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Nr. 5/44, an OKW, WFSt, 3.2.44, AOK 20 58629/10 file.
30. U.S. Department of State, "Foreign Relations of the United States," The Conferences at Cairo and Teheran, 1943 (Washington, 1961) pp. 590-93.
31. New York Times, February 6, 8, 10, 1944.
32. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.1.-31.3.44, pp. 7, 25, OKW/2040 file.
33. (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Op. Nr. 92/44, Armeebefehl Nr. 1 fuer die Durchfuehrung von "BIRKE," AOK 20 58629/10 file.
34. New York Times, February 16, 26, 27, 28, March 21, 1944.
35. U.S. Department of State, Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943, p. 592.
36. Bluecher, Gesandter zwischen Diktatur and Demokratie, pp. 351-56.
37. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.-31.12.44, pp. 5-11, IMT Doc 1795-PS.
38. (Geb.) AOK 20, Ic Nr. 1210/44, Taetigkeitsbericht der Abteilung Ic fuer die Zeit vom 1.1.-30.6.44, AOK 20 58631/1 file; (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Nr. 352/44, an XVIII A.K., XXXVI A.K., XIX A.K., 23.3.44, AOK 20 58629/4 file.