Defeat in the North
The Finnish Armistice
In the last two weeks of July 1944 the Finnish Army began to regain its equilibrium. On orders from the Stavka, Leningrad Front shifted to the defensive on the Isthmus of Karelia.1 In East Karelia only Thirty-second Army, on Seventh Army's right east of Ilomantsi, continued to advance, and it was not headed toward any strategic objective. The Stavka had apparently decided that to clinch the victory in Finland would take more troops and matériel than it was willing to spare from the offensives against Army Groups Center and North.
To the Finns the fate of Army Group North was almost as momentous as that of their own army. Once the Baltic coast was in Russian hands the sea routes to Germany, on which the Finns depended for foodstuffs and almost all of their military equipment and supplies, could be cut. The loss of Pskov on 23 July and of Narva four days later were staggering blows for them. The shock was intensified when, two days after Narva had fallen, Hitler ordered the 122d Infantry Division back to Army Group North. Mannerheim asked that the division depart through Hanko rather than Helsinki to avoid alarming the public. The OKW insisted that the decision to recall the division had only been made because the Finnish front was relatively quiet and assured Mannerheim that help would be sent if another crisis developed, but, under the circumstances, these explanations rang hollow.2
In a secret meeting on 28 July at Mannerheim's country house in Sairala the Finnish leaders decided that Ryti should resign as President of Finland. On 4 August the Finnish Parliament elevated Mannerheim to the presidency without the formality of an election. The stage was set for a repudiation of the Ryti-Ribbentrop agreement and a new approach to the Soviet Union.
The Germans suspected that the change was not to their advantage. That Mannerheim intended to rally the national resistance appeared far less likely than that he would assume the mantle of peacemaker. Powerless to exercise any substantial influence over Finnish policy, they nervously hastened to reassure Mannerheim. On 3 August, in response to a Finnish inquiry concerning the military situation in the Baltic States, the OKW sent
Schoerner to report to Mannerheim in person and announced that Keitel would follow in a few days.
To draw encouraging conclusions from the Army Group North situation required a man of Schoerner's zeal and determination. Fifth Guards Tank Army was just then standing on his army group's rearward communications lines west of Riga. The repercussions were being felt in Finland: the Lufthansa had suspended commercial air traffic between Germany and Finland and the direct telephone connections had been broken. Undaunted, Schoerner promised the Baltic littoral would be held, Army Group North would be supplied by air and sea, and armored forces from East Prussia would reopen the land lines. Ironically, his promises were kept--at least, long enough for the Finnish to get out of the war before they were completely isolated.
In August the Finnish military position was, if only temporarily, as favorable as even a confirmed optimist would have dared predict a month or so earlier. Third Panzer Army opened a corridor to Army Group North. Between mid-July and mid-August the Russians reduced their forces on the Isthmus of Karelia by ten rifle divisions and five tank brigades; on 9 August, in East Karelia, the Finnish Army ended its last major operation in World War II with a victory when the 14th Division, 21st Brigade, and Cavalry Brigade trapped and all but wiped out two of Thirty-second Army's divisions in a pocket east of Ilomantsi.3 It appeared that as in the Winter War of 1939-40, although the Soviet Union could claim a victory, its offensive fell short of the success it ought to have had, largely for the same reasons--underestimation of the Finnish capacity to resist and rigid, unimaginative Soviet tactical leadership.
Keitel went to Helsinki on 17 August, carrying an oak leaf cluster for Mannerheim and a Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for Mannerheim's chief of staff. To present an encouraging picture of the German total situation at that time was enough to strain even Keitel's indomitable optimism. The Allied breakout in Normandy had succeeded, and the liberation of Paris was only days away. In southern France a secondary offensive was developing rapidly. In Italy the Germans were driven back to the Gothic Line, and on the Eastern Front the Russians stood on the outskirts of Warsaw. The end for Germany suddenly seemed very close, much closer than it was.
Mannerheim took the Keitel visit as an opportunity to clear the air, possibly not so much for the Germans' benefit as to pave the way for an approach to Moscow. The 60,000 casualties incurred during the summer, he said, had been replaced, but Finland could not endure a second blood-letting on that scale. Turning to what was probably also uppermost in Keitel's mind, the status of the Ryti-Ribbentrop agreement, he stated that Ryti, in a desperate hour, had made a contract which had proved highly unpopular. Finland regarded that contract as nullifed by Ryti's resignation. Keitel's response, a lame refusal to accept the statement on the ground that he was not empowered to receive political communications, betrayed the Germans' impotence.
In Finland, after the middle of the month, peace sentiment increased daily, and rumors of all sorts gained currency. The report that Rumania had sued for an armistice injected a sense of urgency. On 25 August, through its legation in Stockholm, Finland asked whether the Soviet Government would accept a Finnish armistice delegation. An accompanying note stated that Mannerheim had told Keitel he did not consider himself bound by the Ryti-Ribbentrop agreement.4 A formal note repudiating the agreement was sent to Germany the following day.
In its reply on 29 August the Soviet Government made its willingness to receive a delegation contingent on prior fulfillment of two conditions: Finland had to break off relations with Germany immediately and must order all German troops to leave Finnish territory within two weeks, at the latest by 15 September, and in case the Germans failed to comply the Finns would take measures to intern them. The Parliament accepted the Soviet conditions on 2 September and on the same day approved a government motion to break relations with Germany.
The decision took the Germans by surprise. Although the German Minister in Helsinki had been informed on 31 August that the negotiations had been opened, the Germans more than half expected the terms would prove unacceptable. In the past a glance at the Soviet terms had been the best means of inhibiting Finnish peace sentiment. On 2 September, in a last-minute attempt to inspire a repetition of that pattern, Generaloberst Lothar Rendulic, who had replaced Dietl in command of Twentieth Mountain Army after the latter was killed in a plane crash on 23 June, had called on Mannerheim and emphasized that the Soviet demands might provoke a conflict between German and Finnish troops which, he maintained, would result in 90 percent losses on both sides since the best soldiers in Europe would be opposing each other.5
The Finnish leaders were already fully aware of the risks they ran in severing the ties with Germany. One of these, the danger of an economic collapse after German assistance stopped, they had temporarily averted in August when Sweden agreed to cover the Finnish requirements in grain and some other foodstuffs for six months. Another was the possibility that some elements, particularly in the Army, would refuse to acknowledge the surrender and create internal dissension or join the Germans. It raised alongside Rendulic's specter of a German-Finnish conflict that of a civil war.
During the summer the Germans had, in fact, toyed with various ideas for keeping Finnish resistance alive by extra-legal means. In June, when Ribbentrop went to Helsinki, he had proposed, somewhat wildly, that the German Minister find "a thousand reliable men to take over the Government."6 Hitler, shortly before Dietl was killed, had instructed him to draw Finnish troops into Twentieth Mountain Army in the event of a separate
peace.7 Later Rendulic envisioned the 122nd Infantry Division in southern Finland as a nucleus around which a Finnish resistance could be built and proposed one of the Finnish generals as a man who might be persuaded to take the lead.8 None of these projects got beyond the talking stage; and one which was tried after the armistice, reactivation of the traditional Finnish 27th Jaeger Battalion (a World War I German unit which had given the Finnish Army almost the whole of its officer corps), attracted only a scattering of volunteers.9 The overwhelming majority of the Finnish population was willing to follow its government; moreover, the Finnish Government had been careful throughout the war to prevent the emergence of potential Quislings.
After announcing their intention to meet the Soviet conditions, the Finns formed an armistice delegation--which, as it developed, would also have to negotiate the peace terms as well--under the leadership of Minister President Andi Hackzell. Mannerheim undertook to clarify the Finnish action in a personal letter to Hitler and explained that although Germany could never be completely destroyed, Finland, a small nation, could be, both as a people and a nation; therefore, Finland had to make peace to preserve its existence. In a second letter, to Stalin, he proposed a cease-fire to prevent further bloodshed while the negotiations were in progress. Both sides accepted 0700 on 4 September as the time; although the Finns stopped their operations as agreed, the Russians, either by mistake or to underscore their victory, let theirs run another twenty-four hours.10
The Finnish delegation arrived in Moscow on 7 September, but the Soviet Government delayed a week before presenting its terms. Restoration of the 1940 border was a foregone conclusion. In addition, the Soviet Union demanded the entire Pechenga region and a 50-year lease on Porkala, which would give it a base astride the main rail and road routes in southwestern Finland and within artillery range of the Finnish capital. The reparations were set at $300,000,000, to be paid in goods over a 5-year period.11 The Finnish Army was to withdraw to the 1940 border within five days and be reduced to peacetime strength within two and a half months. The Soviet Union was to be granted the right to use Finnish ports, airfields, and merchant shipping for the duration
of the war against Germany; and a Soviet commission would supervise the armistice, which was to become effective the day it was signed.12
On 18 September the Cabinet formally considered the terms but could not reach an agreement. The Soviet Union demanded that the signing be completed by the following afternoon. Early on the morning of the 19th Parliament gave its approval after being informed that, under the most favorable circumstances, Finland could not continue the war more than another three months. In Moscow the armistice was signed shortly before noon.13
Retreat From Northern Finland
Finland's appeal for an armistice left the Germans in a state of painful indecision regarding Twentieth Mountain Army, mainly because none of the possible courses of action gave more than a hope of avoiding a disaster. Although the army remained committed to the execution of Operation BIRKE, the withdrawal to a front in the extreme north of Finland, for the sake of the nickel mines, there was no assurance it would succeed in establishing a tenable front in the north, not to mention the near certainty that sooner or later its sea routes would be cut, making its downfall inevitable. On the other hand, the risks of a continuous withdrawal through the Finnish Arctic into Norway, with winter only weeks away, appeared equally great.
The TANNE operations, the occupation of the Åland Islands and Suursaari, also presented several formidable disadvantages. TANNE WEST had been in doubt since its inception because of Sweden's interest in the Åland Islands and the necessity for avoiding any provocation that might result in loss of the Swedish iron ore and ballbearings. On 3 September Hitler decided to abandon TANNE WEST because the division from Denmark assigned to the operation could not be spared.14 On the same day, the Navy, which was responsible for TANNE OST, reported that it could not be executed because no trained troops were available.15
On 6 September BIRKE began. (Map 34) The decision to hold Pechenga and the region surrounding it in northern Finland had not been revealed to the Finns. The operation was to be conducted at a deliberate pace that would allow enough time to transfer the army's supplies and keep the two southern corps, XXXVI Mountain Corps and XVIII Mountain Corps, in position to deal effectively with a Soviet or Finnish pursuit.
A serious concern for the army's open right flank was allayed when the Finnish 14th Division offered to keep contact on the right until XVIII Mountain Corps had withdrawn behind the border. What would happen thereafter was a question on which German and Finnish opinion differed sharply. The Finns maintained that the Russians would not go beyond the 1940 border. They contended that, therefore, once the Germans were behind the border the withdrawal would become
The German Withdrawal From Finland
6 September 1944-30 January 1945
GERMAN OUTPOST IN FINLAND
purely a routine troop and supply movement. Rendulic claimed the Finns had either lost touch with reality or were being deliberately dishonest. He thought it extremely unlikely that the Russians would respect the border and much more probable that they intended to find or create an excuse for occupying all of Finland north of the line Tornio-Suomussalmi, essentially the Twentieth Mountain Army zone.16 He was wrong, but as a prudent commander he could not well have assumed otherwise.
XVIII Mountain Corps accomplished its march back into Finland without a hitch. Elements of Twenty-sixth Army followed to the border and stopped. XXXVI Mountain Corps received two shocks: one, when the Nineteenth Army took advantage of the north flank extension it had made in the spring and cut the corps' main retreat route; the other, when T-34 tanks the Russians had somehow moved through the forests and swamps went into action deep in the corps' flank. But the corps had long ago built an alternate road south of the one that was cut, and the tanks' performance did not equal their initial psychological impact.
As 15 September approached, the last day of grace allowed under the armistice for a voluntary German evacuation, relations between Twentieth Mountain Army and the Finnish Army remained cordial.
Rendulic admonished his troops to behave "loyally" toward the Finns, and the Finnish liaison officer at army headquarters disclosed that his command was willing to "make compromises" but wanted to create the impression "outside" that it had broken with the Germans completely.17 On 13 September the Finns informed Twentieth Mountain Army that they would order all railroad rolling stock between Rovaniemi and Salla moved west of Rovaniemi on the 14th but would do nothing if the Germans took possession of the equipment. Twentieth Mountain Army, in return, agreed to turn the port of Oulu over to Finnish troops on the 15th.18
The first break in the spirit of mutual accommodation came from the German side. In the second week of September the Navy, after the naval liaison officer on Suursaari reported that the Finnish commandant on the island had said he would never fire on German troops, suddenly changed its estimate of the prospects for TANNE OST. Encouraged, Doenitz declared that so important a strategic point ought not be abandoned to the Soviet Union without a fight. When successive reports from the liaison officer indicated that the Finns might evacuate the island by the 12th, Hitler, on 11 September, ordered a landing to be executed within the week.
A naval task force embarked a regiment at Reval and began the landing on the morning of the 15th. After the first wave, 1,400 men, was ashore the Finnish garrison opened fire, and shortly after daylight the Russians joined in with heavy air strikes. The second wave could not be landed, and part of the first wave was left stranded on the beach. The Finns claimed 700 prisoners.19
Mannerheim retaliated with a demand that Twentieth Mountain Army immediately evacuate the area south of the line Oulu-Suomussalmi and give up the Baltic coast from Oulu to the Swedish border. Rendulic refused but offered to negotiate for a gradual withdrawal. That suited Mannerheim who, having given the Soviet Union a demonstration of good faith at Suursaari, apparently had no desire to become further embroiled with the Germans. By the 17th Rendulic's and Mannerheim's representatives had agreed on what the Finnish operations chief described as "fall maneuvers," a phased withdrawal that would let the Germans set their own pace, keep the two forces out of each other's way, and at the same time let the Finns report progress "of the advance" to the Russians. The one question that most bothered the Germans was how long the Finns could keep their side of the bargain. Rendulic observed that, although they did not want to fight the Germans, they were determined to have peace at any price and would therefore accept all Soviet demands.20
For ten days the "fall maneuvers" went exactly as planned. On 26 September Twentieth Mountain Army reported that the Finns were following from phase line to phase line according to the agreement and leaving so much no-man's-land between
the forces that exchanges of fire were scarcely possible. The Finnish panzer division was committed along the Oulu-Kemi road, the worst route that could have been chosen for an armored division because of the many river crossings, and the German troops were destroying the bridges and ferries as they passed, sometimes while the Finns stood by and watched.21
The picture changed suddenly on the morning of 28 September. A Finnish battalion opened fire at Pudasyärvi and during the day rejected several German offers to restore the truce. At midnight Rendulic sent Finnish Lapland Command an ultimatum demanding that it reaffirm the agreement or take the consequences of full hostilities. On 1 October fighting broke out in the ports of Kemi and Tornio, where Finnish troops who had been guarding industrial plants took possession of several road and railroad bridges. During the day the Finnish 3d Division, coming by sea from Oulu, began disembarking at Tornio. The incident of the bridges brought several excited messages from the OKW--Hitler apparently saw a tactical parallel with the Allied attack two weeks earlier on the Rhine bridges at Arnhem in Holland. Rendulic did not feel the bridges at Kemi and Tornio were that important, but to placate Hitler and because it might be worthwhile to keep the Finns from using the ports a while longer, he ordered counterattacks.
On 2 October the Finns rejected Rendulic's ultimatum, on the grounds that an agreement contrary to the Soviet-Finnish armistice terms could not have been made and that any exchanges of information which might have taken place between individuals were not binding on the Finnish command.22 The next day Rendulic declared that Twentieth Mountain Army would henceforth operate against the Finns "without restraint." Abandoning the policy, thus far scrupulously observed, of restricting property destruction to roads, railroads, and bridges, he ordered, "As of now, all cover, installations, and objects that can be used by an enemy are to be destroyed."23
The fighting in Kemi and Tornio lasted until 8 October. The one understrength division Rendulic was able to commit had only a small chance of success from the first and none at all after 6 October, when the Finnish 11th Division landed at Kemi. The last two days of the battle were taken up entirely with extricating part of the division from a Finnish encirclement. On the 8th the Germans retreated north, and by then the main forces of the XXXVI and XVIII Mountain Corps had passed through Rovaniemi. The Finns, satisfied with their successes at Tornio and Kemi (they had brought in foreign journalists to witness the fighting), followed close behind the Germans but did not attack again.24
In the meantime, the Operations Staff, OKW, had taken under review the whole German strategic position in Scandinavia and Finland. The review, concerned principally with the question of leaving Twentieth
Mountain Army in northern Finland, was tied also to the growing hostility of Sweden and to the increased strategic importance of the Norwegian submarine bases, owing to the recent loss of the French bases and the projected resumption of full-scale submarine warfare with improved U-boat types. The Operations Staff concluded that the British naval and air forces formerly committed against the French bases would be lured north by the Norwegian bases, Twentieth Mountain Army's vulnerable sea supply lines, and the desire to prevent the Soviet Union's getting a foothold in northern Scandinavia. It also found that to hold northern Finland was no longer worth the risk since the war production chief, Speer, had recently stated that the stockpiles of nickel in Germany were adequate. On the other hand, taking Twentieth Mountain Army into Norway offered a chance to strengthen the Norwegian defenses against the Allies and against Sweden. On 3 October, after seeing the Operations Staff's conclusions, Hitler approved a withdrawal into Norway to the Lyngen position, a potentially almost impregnable short line across northern Norway from the Lyngen Fiord to the northernmost tip of Sweden. In the next two days the preliminary orders were sent to Twentieth Mountain Army and the code name NORDLICHT was assigned.25
Tactically, NORDLICHT was an extension of BIRKE with the added problems of setting XIX Mountain Corps, east of Pechenga, in motion and evacuating the army's eight months' stockpile of supplies. As an expedition by a 200,000-man army with all its equipment and supplies across the Arctic in winter it had no parallel in military history. The season was already far advanced. Reichsstrasse 50, the German-built coastal road in northern Norway, was normally considered impassable between Kirkenes and Lakselv from early October to the first of June because of snow; therefore, even though the fall of 1944 was unusually mild, XIX Mountain Corps would need luck and would have to be west of Lakselv by 15 November at the latest. XXXVI Mountain Corps could use an all-weather road from Ivalo to Lakselv. The road XVIII Mountain Corps would use was about half completed between Skibotten and Muonio and unimproved between Muonio and Rovaniemi; its low-carrying capacity was at least in part compensated for by its being the most southerly and direct route to the Lyngen Fiord.
While the roads and weather posed unprecedented technical problems, the tactical situation was certain to be dangerous and could at any moment become catastrophic. The Finnish Army could, potentially, stage offensives with superior forces against both the XXXVI and XVIII Mountain Corps. The Russians could be trusted not to let XIX Mountain Corps escape without a fight and beyond that had a variety of choices. They could try to waylay XXXVI Mountain Corps at Ivalo; strike across the head of the Gulf of Bothnia and through northern Sweden to cut the army off at Narvik, demanding from Sweden, use of the Luleå-Narvik railroad as a quid pro quo for the Germans' use of the Swedish railroads in 1941; or they could carry the pursuit through northern Finland into Norway.
From all appearances British and American intervention was only slightly less certain
GERMAN TWENTIETH MOUNTAIN ARMY TROOPS WITH REINDEER AND SLEDS
than trouble with the Russians. Reichsstrasse 50, broken by numerous ferry crossings and, lying close to the coast for long stretches, was temptingly vulnerable to naval and air strikes. Not to be taken lightly either was the danger from Sweden, which having abrogated its trade agreements with Germany appeared to be veering toward a complete break. Twentieth Mountain Army was already under standing orders to avoid any incident that could be construed as a provocation, a difficult task since XVIII Mountain Corps' route of march took it directly along the Swedish border for several hundred miles.
The Battle in the Arctic
How the first phase of NORDLICHT would be executed was determined by the Russians who, after a build-up the Germans had watched apprehensively since mid-September, opened an offensive against XIX Mountain Corps on 7 October. (Map 35) XIX Mountain Corps stood in the line it had held since late summer 1941. On the left the 6th Mountain Division held the fortified front on the Litsa River, and on the right the 2d Mountain Division manned the strongpoint line stretching southwest toward Ivalo. The Divisionsgruppe
The Soviet Offensive Against XIX Mountain Corps
7-28 October 1944
van der Hoop held a front across the neck of the Rybatchiy Peninsula, and the 210th Infantry Division manned the coastal defenses between Pechenga Bay and Kirkenes. Opposite XIX Mountain Corps, Fourteenth Army had been brought up to a strength of five rifle corps, 97,000 men against the mountain corps' 53,000. On the Rybatchiy Peninsula the Northern Defense Area had two naval brigades.26 XIX Mountain Corps, nevertheless, had to make a stand to protect the corps retreating from the south and to safeguard the tremendous stockpiles of supplies and equipment which were beginning to be evacuated.27
On the morning of 7 October CXXXI Rifle Corps hit the 2d Mountain Division strongpoint line at the division boundary south of Chapr Lake. XCIX Rifle Corps joined in on the right. The two corps, supported by artillery, aircraft, and--to the Germans' surprise--tanks, swept over several of the German strongpoints and by noon had almost reached the Titovka River on the Finnish-Soviet border. The 2d Mountain Division, badly shaken, retreated toward Luostari along the Lan road. At Luostari the army's main artery, the Arctic Ocean Highway, was threatened. Rendulic ordered the 6th Mountain Division to evacuate the Litsa front and release troops to protect the highway.
On 9 November CXXVI Light Rifle Corps attacked around the 2d Mountain Division south flank toward the Arctic Ocean Highway. On the Lan road the division's north flank was driven back, and a gap opened between it and the flank of the 6th Mountain Division. Rendulic dispatched as reinforcements a regiment and two battalions from XXXVI Mountain Corps.
The 10th was a day of crises. At midnight the 12th Naval Brigade staged a landing on the mainland west of the Rybatchiy Peninsula and during the day turned the flank of Divisionsgruppe van der Hoop, forcing it back from the neck of the peninsula. Between the 2d and 6th Mountain Divisions CXXXI Rifle Corps sent two regiments due north through the gap to cut the Russian road, the 6th Mountain Division's main route west. Off the 2d Mountain Division's right flank CXXVI Light Rifle Corps made good its threat of the day before and cut the Arctic Ocean Highway five miles west of Luostari. Rendulic ordered the 6th Mountain Division to clear the Russian road and then withdraw to the line Pechenga-Luostari. He also dispatched the 163d Infantry Division north from Rovaniemi by forced marches and ordered the Kolosyoki Nickel Works destroyed. The latter was a demolitions job of major proportions.28
In the next two days the 6th Mountain Division reopened the Russian road and, together with Divisionsgruppe van der Hoop, withdrew toward Pechenga. The 2d Mountain Division managed to hold the road junction at Luostari. The Russians
by then held about five miles of the Arctic Ocean Highway. To prevent their expanding their hold west, Kampfgruppe Ruebel (two regiments of the 163d Infantry Division under the commanding general, Generalleutnant Karl Ruebel) set up a screening line straddling the highway.
On 13 October, while Kampfgruppe Ruebel and the 2d Mountain Division attacked north and south in an unsuccessful attempt to clear the highway, CXXVI Light Rifle Corps sent a force north between them and cut the Tarnet road, thereby effectively isolating the 2d and 6th Mountain Divisions and the Divisionsgruppe van der Hoop, since in the rocky tundra large units could not move off the roads. In one week Fourteenth Army had destroyed a front on which the Germans had lavished three years' labor. Rendulic ordered the divisions to give up Pechenga and Luostari and withdraw to the Norwegian border.
Even the Soviet troops, most of them specially trained, could not maintain a fast pace across the tundra for long. On the 14th they stopped to regroup. The three German divisions fought their way through on the Tarnet road during the next several days, but by the time they were out the 2d Mountain Division was in such poor condition that it had to be sent south to rest and refit behind Kampfgruppe Ruebel.
On the 18th, expecting the Russians to start moving again in a day or so, Rendulic ordered Kampfgruppe Ruebel to withdraw to Salmyärvi in three days and, since that would give the Russians access to the road that had been used to transport the nickel ore between Kolosyoki and Kirkenes, told the 6th Mountain Division to defend the southern approaches to Kirkenes. When these movements were completed XIX Mountain Corps and Kampfgruppe Ruebel would be separated and facing opposite directions.
On 18 October Fourteenth Army resumed the offensive, putting four of its corps into an attack on the Kampfgruppe Ruebel. The kampfgruppe escaped the full force of the frontal attack by drawing back along the Arctic Ocean Highway, but its position became precarious the next day when CXXVII Light Rifle Corps attacked around the flank and threatened to cut the highway behind it. To keep its line of retreat open it had to fall back to the Kaskama Lake narrows. Soviet pressure then slackened as the kampfgruppe continued its withdrawal to Ivalo.
CXXXI Corps attacked the 6th Mountain Division front screening Kirkenes, aiming its thrust at Tarnet, where the hydroelectric plant that supplied power to Kirkenes was located. By 22 October the plant was under fire, and Rendulic, informing the OKW that without electricity to operate dock facilities ships could not come into Kirkenes, requested permission to stop evacuating supplies and operate according to the tactical situation. After several hours' delay the permission was granted, and subsequently the troops east of Kirkenes fell back rapidly, the last passing west onto Reichsstrasse 50 on the 24th. After rearguard actions on the 27th and 28th the Soviet pursuit slowed down. Of the corps' supplies one-third (45,000 tons) had been saved.29
On 26 October the withdrawal from the Varanger Peninsula began. The Russians followed as far as Tana Fiord. Ahead of XIX Mountain Corps two Army of Norway divisions had moved in between Skibotten and Lakselv to defend the vulnerable points on Reichsstrasse 50 until Twentieth Mountain Army had passed. On orders from Hitler, intended to prevent either the Soviet Union or the free Norwegian Government from taking a foothold north of Lyngen Fiord, Rendulic instituted a scorched-earth policy. The civilian population (some 43,000 persons) was evacuated, mostly by small boats to avoid jamming the Reichsstrasse.30
In the XXXVI Mountain Corps zone, in mid-October, the 169th Infantry Division occupied the SCHUTZWALL position, which had been constructed south of Ivalo for BIRKE. On the east, in the direction of Lutto and Ristikent, it established a screening line. There on 21 October the corps experienced a brief alarm when radio monitors identified the Soviet Nineteenth Army headquarters and three divisions in the Lutto Valley. However, ground reconnaissance established that the radio traffic was a deception.31
After the units of the former Kampfgruppe Ruebel passed through Ivalo toward Lakselv, the Lutto front was abandoned on 30 October, and the withdrawal from the SCHUTZWALL position began the next day. On 2 November the 2d Mountain Division entered Reichsstrasse 50 at Lakselv to begin the final stage of the XIX and XXXVI Mountain Corps retreat. The next day the rear guard of the 169th Infantry Division left Ivalo.32
On 29 October, after holding Muonio until the large ammunition dump there had been evacuated, XVIII Mountain Corps began falling back to the STURMBOCK position west of Karesuando. There, in the fortifications constructed for BIRKE, the 7th Mountain Division stayed behind to hold the narrow strip of Finnish territory projecting northwestward between Sweden and Noway as a temporary flank protection for the Lyngen position and the units coming west on Reichsstrasse 50. On 18 December the rear guard on Reichsstrasse 50 passed Billefiord. The 7th Mountain Division stayed in the STURMBOCK position until 12 January 1945 when it began a leisurely march back to the Lyngen position, which in the meantime had been manned by the 6th Mountain Division.
At the end of January NORDLICHT was terminated. At the extreme northwestern tip of Finland a small slice of Finnish territory that had been included in the Lyngen position stayed in German hands until the last week of April 1945. East of Lyngen Fiord to the Varanger Peninsula, Norwegian Finnmark was empty except for small German detachments at Hammerfest and Alta that continued evacuating supplies until February 1945. In January the Norwegian Government sent a token police force from England and
Army Group North Retreat to Courland
14 September-23 October 1944
Sweden; and thereafter the Soviet forces gradually withdrew, leaving only a detachment at Kirkenes.33
Although Operation NORDLICHT constituted an outstanding display of skill and endurance, good fortune was possibly equally significant in its success. Of the most serious dangers and threats which had been anticipated none materialized. The weather was as favorable as could have been expected in the Arctic, and winter set in much later than usual. Most fortunately of all for Twentieth Mountain Army, NORDLICHT was executed exactly at the time when the resources of both the Soviet Union and the Allies were stretched to the limit on the main fronts, so that the Soviet effort was modest and the Allies put in no appearance at all.
Army Group North's Retreat to Courland
The Finnish armistice, Twentieth Mountain Army's withdrawal, and the failure to take Suursaari almost completely invalidated Hitler's long-standing rationale for holding the northward extension of the Eastern Front; and tactically Army Group North was, by mid-September 1944, in a most dangerous position. (Map 36) The front, from the latitude of Koenigsberg north, had been reduced to a serpentine coastal strip averaging 70 to 80 miles in width and somewhat over 400 miles long. It was pinched near the center, in the Tukums-Riga area, where Fifth Guards Tank Army had broken through to the coast at the end of July, to a width of less than 20 miles. Essentially, Army Group North and Third Panzer Army were committed in an elongated, meandering beachhead, vulnerable everywhere and dangerously shallow.
Vasilevskiy's September Offensive
In August, Vasilevskiy took in hand the planning and co-ordination for the three Baltic fronts. Govorov's Leningrad Front stayed under the direct control of the Stavka, and its left boundary was shifted south to give it the sector flanking Tartu between Lake Peipus and the Vortsjaerv. In September Govorov transferred Second Shock Army from the vicinity of Narva to south of Tartu for a thrust north behind Armeeabteilung Narva. The Baltic fronts deployed for converging thrusts toward Riga, each initially putting two armies into its main effort. That of General Armii I. I. Maslennikov's Third Baltic Front was to go southwest via Valga and Valmiera. Second Baltic Front, under Yeremenko, was to strike due west from Madona. Bagramyan's First Baltic Front had the shortest distance to go, thirty-five miles from Bauska to Riga.34
That Bagramyan had a possibility for a second, most crucial thrust--to the Baltic coast across the Tukums-Riga corridor--has been omitted from Soviet accounts of the planning. However, contemporary German intelligence reports show that in addition to the Fourth Shock and Forty-third Armies at Bauska, Bagramyan had a stronger force, the Fifth Guards Tank, Sixth Guards, and Fifty-first Armies, deployed
in the vicinity of Jelgava.35 If he and Vasilevskiy had not in fact planned to use those armies to cut the Tukums-Riga corridor, they committed, to say the least, a remarkable tactical oversight.
The Soviet build-up proceeded slowly enough for the Germans to be able to follow it in detail. Army Group North's problem was dismayingly simple. The prudent and obvious decision would have been to take the army group out of the Baltic States while the Tukums-Riga corridor was still open. Since, as was also obvious, there was almost no likelihood of that decision being made, the army group had constructed a network of rearward positions. The most important--as the only ones with a chance of being held--were the Wenden position, a quarter circle on a 60-mile radius from Riga; the Segewold position, ten miles inside the Wenden position; and the Mitau-East and Dvina positions, on an almost straight line beginning twenty miles south of Riga and connecting with the Segewold and Wenden positions on the east.
Even Schoerner could not bring himself seriously to contemplate holding Estonia and northern Latvia against a determined Soviet attack; the Russians were 35 miles from Riga on the south and 50 miles from the coast below the Vortsjaerv, while in Estonia Armeeabteilung Narva's left flank was 120 and its right flank 220 miles from Riga. The army group had prepared Map Exercise ASTER, which was called that because of Hitler's antipathy to planning for retreats, but was actually an advance directive to Armeeabteilung Narva and Eighteenth Army for a withdrawal to the Wenden position.36
The OKH, however, intent on holding the Tukums-Riga corridor, on 12 September instructed Third Panzer Army to reinforce its left flank corps for an attack from Auce into the rear of First Baltic Front's concentration around and west of Bauska.37 The chances of the army's being able to accomplish that feat vanished on the morning of 14 September when First, Second, and Third Baltic Fronts attacked and First Baltic Front made a dent four miles deep in the German line. The other two fronts did not do as well either that day or the next, but on the 15th Bagramyan's force, taking advantage of the foothold in the German line it had gained on the first day, drove a spearhead through to the Mitau-East position, twenty-five miles south of Riga.38 Schoerner asked for permission to evacuate Estonia, stating that it was "the last minute to get away from there at all."39 The next day he flew to Fuehrer headquarters to report in person.
As always, Hitler was reluctant to approve a retreat. With inverse logic, he argued that III SS Panzer Corps on the outer flank between Lake Peipus and the Gulf of Finland would not be able to get away in any event. He also claimed that the Soviet Union had peace feelers out, and he needed the Baltic territory to bargain with. He bemoaned, as in every previous discussion of the subject, the
Navy's loss of its Baltic training area. In the end he gave a conditional "yes," after being assured that under Exercise ASTER the withdrawal would not begin for another two days and could be canceled in the meantime.40
During the day on the 16th, Third Panzer Army started its attack. None of the three divisions committed found a soft spot in the Soviet front, and by day's end they were pushed out of the few places they had managed to penetrate. That night Guderian told Reinhardt that because "great things" were in progress in foreign policy (the alleged Soviet peace feelers?) Hitler "absolutely had to have a success either at Third Panzer Army or at Army Group North." The "instant" he could see that his attack was not going to succeed, Reinhardt was to report it to Hitler and get ready to transfer the divisions to Army Group North.41
On the 17th Second Shock Army struck north past Tartu, breaking Armeeabteilung Narva's hold between the Vortsjaerv and Lake Peipus. That night Schoerner drastically revised ASTER. He ordered III SS Panzer Corps to make the 120-mile march from the Narva River to Paernu on the Gulf of Riga by the 10th. Its baggage and supply trains were to be evacuated through Tallinn or shipped across the straits to the Baltic islands.42 The withdrawal therewith became a more or less controlled flight with very slender prospects of success. The corps might run away from one encirclement only to be caught in another; Eighteenth Army had reported that it could not hold on to the southern tip of the Vortsjaerv any longer.43
For several crisis-ridden days the fate of Army Group North hung by a thread that miraculously never quite broke. Schoerner gave Eighteenth Army a clutch of antiaircraft guns, antitank guns, and small motorized detachments from Armeeabteilung Narva and ordered it to keep its grip on the Vortsjaerv.44 Subsequently the army's line buckled but did not break.
On 17 and 18 September Third Panzer Army's attack picked up momentum and drove a 10-mile-deep wedge into Bagramyan's flank; but by the 18th the army was in the uncomfortable position of not being able to keep going, because Army Group North needed reinforcements, and of not being able to stop completely, because that would free too many Soviet troops. Reinhardt believed that he had, nevertheless, at a critical moment prevented Bagramyan from putting his reserves into the attack north of Bauska and from developing a second thrust across the Tukums-Riga corridor.45
On the 19th a spearhead from Bagramyan's First Baltic Front went past Baldone nearly to the Dvina ten miles south of Riga, but it did not have enough force to press farther. On the 10th III SS Panzer Corps reached Paernu, having disengaged on the Narva front with astounding ease. Meanwhile the other Armeeabteilung Narva corps, II Corps, had executed a
180-degree turn pivoting on the northern end of the Vortsjaerv.46
Hitler was still angling for a victory of some sort. On the 10th he transferred Third Panzer Army to Army Group North and authorized Schoerner to continue the ASTER withdrawal past the Wenden position to the Segewold position. The infantry divisions freed by taking Eighteenth Army and Armeeabteilung Narva into the shorter line were to be used to relieve several panzer divisions in the Third Panzer Army front on the Tukums-Riga corridor. Schoerner was to plan a counteroffensive using the panzer divisions to attack from west of Shaulyay and infantry divisions in a converging thrust from north of Bauska.47 The objective was to destroy Bagramyan's forces in the salient below Riga and push the front out to a straight line between the Segewold position and Shaulyay.
Between 20 and 24 September Vasilevskiy tried again to achieve his original objective of cutting up and destroying Army Group North. Using half a dozen divisions that no longer had to be held back after Third Panzer Army's offensive subsided on the 19th, Forty-third Army pushed closer to Riga. On the 22d Second Baltic Front, with massed tanks and infantry, smashed X Corps west of Madona, and Third Baltic Front broke through past Valga.
South of Riga the SS Panzer Grenadier Division Nordland, after forced marches that in four days brought it 250 miles from the outermost flank on the Gulf of Finland, arrived just in time on the 22d to prevent a catastrophe. Against X Corps Yeremenko failed to commit his mobile reserves in time to exploit the advantage.48 Third Baltic Front's thrust carried to Valmiera, but that was not deep enough to do more than complicate the German withdrawal somewhat. On the 25th Sixteenth Army reported that First Baltic Front had given up the attempt to reach Riga and had "sacrificed" the most advanced spearheads, which were then being cut off and destroyed.49 By the morning of 27 September the Germans were in the Segewold position, and the Second and Third Baltic Fronts also went over to the defensive.50
Bagramyan's Thrust to the Baltic
Tactically, the September offensive against Army Group North had had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of splitting the army group, it had reduced the German front north of Riga-Madona by better than two-thirds, from 240 miles to about 70 miles. Armeeabteilung Narva and the Eighteenth and Sixteenth Armies, their strength eroded but organizationally intact, had been compressed into a tight knot around Riga. For the Soviet forces, the breakthrough to Riga had, consequently, become both more difficult and less profitable. On 27 September Sixteenth Army reported heavy enemy truck traffic going southwest away from its front.51
The Stavka had decided on the 24th to
make a fresh start. In the last week of the month Bagramyan dispersed his concentration south and southeast of Riga and moved the Fourth Shock, Forty-third, Fifty-first, and Fifth Guards Tank Armies to the Shaulyay area for a thrust west to Memel (Klaypeda). The Second and Third Baltic Fronts retained their missions to attack on a broad front toward Riga and were, as the operation progressed, to pursue Army Group North into Courland.52 Leningrad Front was ordered to occupy the Baltic islands, Muhu, Saaremaa, and Hiiuma. On Bagramyan's left Third Belorussian Front prepared to commit an army in an attack toward Tilsit.53
At the end of the month Hitler was more than ever determined to have Army Group North attack. During a conference with Schoerner on the 28th he moved the jump-off point for Third Panzer Army to south of Shaulyay and that of Sixteenth Army to west of Riga. Two days later Schoerner told Hitler that the army group would first have to take its front east of Riga back, close to the city, start evacuating Riga as a precaution, absorb some 30,000 replacements (yet to be sent), and execute an extensive regroupment. He believed 3 November would be the earliest date on which the attack could start.54
On the 30th the Army Group North chief of staff told the operations officer, Third Panzer Army, that most likely there would be no offensive because the Russians would strike first, but the mission was "not unwelcome" because it gave the army group a chance to make some useful dispositions. Third Panzer Army had reported earlier in the day that the Headquarters, Fourth Shock Army, had been identified northwest of Shaulyay and the Soviet radio traffic in that whole area had suddenly stopped.55
Although the signs were clear, the Army Group North staff as late as the morning of 5 October did not believe First Baltic Front could finish redeploying its armies in less than ten days. It was therefore inclined to tailor its regroupment to the schedule for its own projected attack on the assumption that this would also bring enough forces into the right place in time to stop the Russians. Several panzer divisions had moved into the Shaulyay-Raseynyay area by the 5th, but Third Panzer Army was still woefully weak in infantry. The 551st Grenadier Division west of Shaulyay was holding a 24-mile line that it could man only at strongpoints. The first infantry reinforcement for the army was not expected until 16 October.56
On 5 October First Baltic Front attacked west of Shaulyay toward Memel. The next day Bagramyan put in Fifth Guards Tank Army to make a run for the coast, and Thirty-ninth Army on Third Belorussian Front's right flank began attacking toward Tilsit. During the day Leningrad Front, having occupied lightly defended Hiiumaa and Muhu several days earlier, staged a landing on Saaremaa.
In a day and a half the Russians took
SOVIET TROOPS CROSSING EAST PRUSSIAN BORDER IN AMERICAN-BUILT TRUCKS
all of Saaremaa except the Soerve Peninsula at the southwestern tip. Far more serious, the Third Panzer Army front broke open on the 7th. Fifth Guards Tank Army and Forty-third Army went through and two days later reached the coast north and south of Memel. The Third Panzer Army command post was overrun and the staff had to fight its way out to Memel, where XXVIII Corps, caught between the two Soviet armies, was being forced into a beachhead around the port.
Knowing what the Fuehrer would expect, Schoerner declared he would attack toward Memel. To get enough divisions and to defend the northern tip of Courland, where Leningrad Front would have less than twenty miles of water to cross after it took the Soerve Peninsula, he proposed giving up Riga. Soviet submarines were in the Gulf of Riga; the port was under artillery fire; the last convoy sailed on 10 October; the city was hardly worth holding. Still, Hitler protested and delayed a day before giving his approval.
Army Group North had the strength to hold its own in Courland and could probably have spared enough forces to mount a powerful counterattack, but the issue was to be decided elsewhere. On 10 October the OKH returned Third Panzer Army to Army Group Center. With a single corps--one corps was at Memel and one had been cut off with Army Group North--the army had to defend the Army Group Center flank against the strong thrust Thirty-ninth
Army was making toward Tilsit. What was happening to Army Group North was another military disaster of which there had been many. The threat to Army Group Center was something else, since a Russian advance onto German territory in East Prussia threatened the whole German outlook on the war. The Stavka had set its traps well, and the last was about to be sprung.
On 16 October two, later three, Soviet armies charged across the East Prussian border between Schirwindt and the Romintener Heide toward Gumbinnen. On the third day of the battle Hitler had to transfer armor from Third Panzer Army and let the army go behind the Neman. On the 21st, under the influence of two shocks--the loss of the first German city, Aachen, to the Allies and a report from Fourth Army that in another day Gumbinnen might be lost--he ordered Army Group North to go over to the defensive in Courland.57
The Soviet bid for a deep breakthrough into East Prussia failed two days later, and, although Third Panzer Army's retreat behind the Neman had substantially reduced its chances of success, Army Group North again proposed to attack south to restore contact. At the end of the month Hitler rejected this proposal as unfeasible and began withdrawing divisions from Courland.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (XVII) * Next Chapter (XIX)
1. IVOV (R), IV, 143.
2. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4-31.12.44, pp. 33-35 IMT Doc 1795-PS.
3. Eero Kuussaari and Vilho Niitemaa, Suomen Sota, 1941-1945 (Helsinki, 1948), pp. 249-53.
4. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.-31.12.44, p. 47, IMT Doc 1795-PS.
5. (Geb.) AOK 20, Der Oberbefehlshaber, Ia Nr. 356/44, an OKW, WFSt, 4.9.44, AOK 20 65635/12 file.
6. Bluecher, Gesandter zwischen Diktatur and Demokratie, p. 369.
7. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4-31.12.44, p. 43, IMT Doc 1795-PS.
8. (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Nr. 1010/44, Notiz fuer Besprechung O.B. mit Chef OKW, 14.8.44, AOK 20 65635/12 file.
9. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.-31.12.44, p. 54, IMT Doc 1795-PS.
10. Mannerheim, Erinnerungen, pp. 525, 529, 530.
11. The reduction from the earlier demand for $600,000,000 was probably in part brought about in spring of 1944 by a Finnish propaganda effort that had used the opinions of Swedish economists to demonstrate to world opinion that the first demand could not be met and in part by a concession to American and British objections in principle to reparations. The Finns later maintained that the Soviet Union had only given the appearance of relenting. By insisting on using the year 1938 as the price base and restricting the quantity of wood products it would accept, it nearly doubled the actual value of the reparations. The Soviet "take" was further increased at the 1945 Potsdam Conference by $600,000,000 as compensation for German property in Finland and property removed from the territory ceded to the Soviet Union. Later the reparations burden was eased somewhat, partly through British intercession, by extension of the payment period, first to six years and then to eight.
12. Mannerheim, Erinnerungen, pp. 531, 543ff.
13. Ibid., pp. 532-33.
14. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.-31.12.44, pp. 46, 52.
15. Office, Chief of Naval Operations, War Diary, German Naval Staff, Operations Divisions (1948) (hereafter cited as SKL, Naval War Diary), vol. 61, p. 58.
16. (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 6 Sep 44, AOK 20 63635/2 file.
17. (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 14 Sep 44, AOK 20 65635/2 file.
18. (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Nr. 1194/44, Fortsetzung der Besprechungen mit dem Sonderbeauftragten des Oberkommandos der finn. Wehrmacht am 12.9. abends, 13.9.44, AOK 20 65635/5 file.
19. SKL, Naval War Diary, vol. 61, pp. 156, 231, 255, 333, 393; Mannerheim, Erinnerungen, p. 531.
20. (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia, Besprechung des O.B. mit dem Sonderbeauftragten des finn. H.Q. Obstl. Haahti, 18.9.44; (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Nr. 1290/44, an OKW, WFSt, 20.9.44. Both in AOK 20 65635/6 file.
21. (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Nr. 1349/44, an OKW, WFSt, 26.9.44, AOK 20 65635/6 file.
22. Genlt. Siilasvuo, Befh. d. finnischen Gruppe Lappland an dem O.B. d 20. (Geb.) Armee, 2.10.44, AOK 20 65635/7 file.
23. (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 3 Oct 44, AOK 20 65635/2 file.
24. Ibid., 3-10 Oct 44.
25. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegssehauplatz, 1.4.-31.12.44, pp. 63-66, IMT Doc 1793-PS.
26. IVOV (R), IV, 368.
27. Anticipating that Twentieth Mountain Army might be isolated, Hitler in 1942 had ordered the army's supply reserves built up. By the time NORDLICHT was executed many of the items in the army depots had become, as one officer put it, "rare commodities" in Germany, and the chances of the army's being resupplied when it reached Norway were not good.
28. The Kolosyoki works had been completely bombproofed. Some of the installations were buried in bunkers deep underground; others, left on the surface, were protected by massive concrete "bells." Reputedly the works had stronger antiaircraft defenses than any other spot on the Eastern Front.
29. XIX (Geb.) A.K., Kurzbericht ueber die Kampfhandlungen im Petsamo und Varangerraum vom 7.10.44, 5.11.44, AOK 20 75034/1 file; (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 7-28 Oct 44, AOK 20 65635/2 file.
30. (Geb.) AOK 20, O. Qu./Qu. 1 Nr. 5001/44. Bericht ueber Evakuierung Nordwegens, 15.12.44, OKW/138.2 file.
31. (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Nr. 467/44, an Gen. Kdo. XXXVI (Geb.) A.K., 21.10.44, AOK 20 65635/12 file.
32. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.-31.12.44, p. 75, IMT Doc 1795-PS.
33. Ibid., p. 75; (Geb.) AOK 20, Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 24 Oct-18 Dec 44, AOK 20 65635/2 file; (Geb.) AOK 20, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 19.12.44-5.18.45, passim, AOK 20 75038/2 file.
34. IVOV (R), IV, 345-46; Platonov, Vtoraya, Mirovaya Voyna, 1939-45, p. 618.
35. OKH GenStdH, Op. Abt. IIIb, Pruef Nr. 12104, Lage Ost, Stand 11.9.44 abds.
36. Obkdo. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Nr. 200/44, Befehl fuer Durchfuehrung Planspiel "ASTER," 14.9.44, in MS # P-114a in (Sixt), Teil V. Anlagen.
37. Pz. AOK 3, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.-30.9.44, 12 Sep 44, Pz. AOK 4 64190/7 file.
38. Platonov, Vtoraya Mirovaya Voyna, 1939-45, p. 619.
39. MS # P-114a (Sixt), Teil V, p. 907.
40. Tagebuch Generaloberst Jodl, Chef des Wehrmachtfuehrungsstabes des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht (hereafter cited as Jodl Diary), 16 Sep 44, IMT Docs 1809-PS and 1811-PS.
41. Pz. AOK 3, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.-30.9.44, 16 Sep 44, Pz. AOK 3 64190/7 file.
42. Excerpt from H. Gr. Nord, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 18 Sep 44, in MS # P-114a (Sixt), Teil V, Anlagen.
43. AOK 18 Fuehrungsabteilung Kriegstagebuch, Teil 4h, 17 Sep 44, AOK 18 52614/3 file.
44. Ibid., 18 Sep 44.
45. Pz. AOK 3, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.-30.9.44, 18 Sep 44, Pz. AOK 3 64190/7 file.
46. MS # P-114a, (Sixt), Teil V, p. 912.
47. Excerpt from OKH order to Army Group North, 20 Sep 44, in MS # P-114a (Sixt), Teil V, Anlagen.
48. AOK 18, Fuehrungsabteilung Kriegstagebuch, Teil 4h, 20-24 Sep 44, AOK 18 53614/3 file.
49. AOK 16, Ia Kriegstagebuch 11, 25 Sep 44, AOK 16 60282/2 file.
50. MS # P-114a (Sixt), Teil V, pp. 914-19.
51. AOK 16, Ia Kriegstagebuch 11, 27 Sep 44, AOK 16 60282/2 file.
52. Courland, the westernmost province of Latvia and the historic Grand Duchy of Courland, is bounded on the west by the Baltic, on the northeast by the Gulf of Riga, and on the south by the Lithuanian border.
53. IVOV (R), IV, 354.
54. Excerpt from H. Gr. Nord, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 30 Sep 44, in MS # P-114a (Sixt), Teil V, Anlagen.
55. Pz. AOK 3, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 1.-30.9.44, 30 Sep 44, Pz. AOK 3 64190/7 file.
56. Excerpt from H. Gr. Nord, Ia Kriegstagebuch, 5 Oct 44, in MS # P-114a (Sixt), Teil V, Anlagen.
57. H. Gr. Nord, Ia Nr. 4587/44, 21.10.44, in MS # P-114a (Sixt), Teil V, Anlagen.