The German
Northern Theater
of Operations

Earl F. Ziemke


Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20-271

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402

WASHINGTON 25, D.C., 15 December 1959

Department of the Army Pamphlet 20-271 is published for the information and use of all concerned.

[AG 385 (9 Jun 59)]

By Order of Wilber M. Bruckner, Secretary of the Army:

General, United States Army,
Chief of Staff.


Distribution:   OS Maj Comd (5) except
Active Army:     USAEUR (15)
  DCSPER (5)     Hist Div, USAEUR (5)
  ACSI (5)     USAR/J/SIXLOGCOM (15)
  DCSOPS (5)     Hist Div, USAR/J/SIXLOGCOM (5)
  DCSLOG (5)   MDW (5)
  ACSRC (5)   Armies (5)
  CA (2)   Corps (5)
  CoA (2)   Div (5)
  CUSARROTC (2)   Bde (2)
  CoF (2)   Rgt/Gp/Bg (5)
  CINFO (12)   Bn (4)
  CNGB (2)   USAWC (10)
  CLL (2)   USACGSC (10)
  CRD (2)   Br Svc Sch (2)
  CMH (25)   Joint Sch (2)
  TIG (2)   Specialist Sch (2)
  TJAG (2)   PMST Sr Div Units (1)
  TPMG (2)   PMST Jr Div Units (1)
  TAG (2)   PMST Mil Sch Div Units (1)
  CofCh (2)   MAAG (5)
  Tech Stf, DA (5)   Mil Msn (5)
  Tech Stf Hist Ofc (2)   ADGRU (NG) (1)
NG: State AG (3).
USAR: USAR Sch (2).
For explanation of abbreviations used, see AR 320-50.


Foreword iii
Preface v
Chapter 1. The Background of German Operations in Norway and Denmark 1
  The Scandinavian Dilemma 1
  A Siege of Britain 7
  The Hitler-Quisling Talks, December 1939 7
  The First Planning Phase 10
    Studie Nord 10
    The Krancke Staff 13
  The Decision to Occupy Norway 16
    The Appointment of Falkenhorst 16
    The Fuehrer Directive 17
    Hitler's Decision 19
  Allied Objectives and Intentions 22
2. The Plan WESERUEBUNG 26
  The Problem 26
  The Navy 27
  Group XXI 30
    The Command Organization 30
    The Ground Forces, Norway 32
    The Ground Forces, Denmark 35
  The Air Force 36
  Political Planning 38
3. The Landings 40
  Narvik and Trondheim 44
  Bergen, Stavanger, Egersund, Kristiansand, and Arendal 48
  Oslo 51
  The Return of the Warships 53
  Supply and Troop Transport 55
  Diplomatic and Political Moves 56
  The Occupation of Denmark 59
4. Operations in Southern and Central Norway 63
  The Command Crisis 63
  The Advance Northward from Oslo 65
    The Breakout 65
    To Trondheim 73
  Operations at Trondheim 77
  Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand 82
5. Operations in Northern Norway 87
  The Siege of Narvik 87
  The Advance of the 2d Mountain Division Toward Narvik 95
  Defeat and Victory 99
  Operation JUNO 104
6. The Campaign in Norway--Summary 109
7. Plans and Preparations 113
  The Change of Course in German-Finnish Relations 113
  Planning for Combined Operations 121
    The BARBAROSSA Directive (The Strategic Plan) 121
    The Army of Norway Staff Study SILBERFUCHS 124
    The Army Operation Order 125
    The Revised Army Operation Order 127
    The Army of Norway Operation Orders 128
  The German-Finnish Conversations, May-June 1941 132
8. Operation SILBERFUCHS (I) 137
  Concentration of Forces 137
  PLANTINFUCHS (Operations of Mountain Corps Norway) 140
    To the Litsa River 141
    Stalemate on the Litsa 144
    The Last Attempt 148
  Summary 154
9. Operation SILBERFUCHS (II) 157
  POLARFUCHS (Operations of XXXVI Corps and Finnish III Corps) 157
    Salla 158
    Stalemate at Kayrala 163
    Finnish III Corps Operations in July and August 1941 167
    Encirclement at Kayrala-Mikkola 170
    To the Verman Line 172
    Finish III Corps Final Operations 179
  The Army of Lapland 183
  SILBERFUCHS in Retrospect 184
10. Finland's War 188
  Operations in 1941 188
    Ladoga-Karelia 190
    The Karelian Isthmus 192
    Eastern Karelia 195
  Cobelligerents and Brothers-in-Arms 203
  A Thrust to Belomorsk 208
11. The Northern Theater in 1942 213
  Norway 213
    Falkenhorst Returns to Norway 213
    The Civil Administration 219
  Operations in Finland 221
    The Soviet Spring Offensive 223
    Abortive Plans 229
  Operations Against the Arctic Convoys 235
12. In the Backwater of War 242
  The Stagnant Front 242
  Norway, 1943 252
    The Problem of a Defensive Strategy for Scandinavia 252
    Internal Affairs and the Situation at the End of the Year 264
  The Arctic Convoys 267
13. Finland Leaves the War 272
  The Stagnant Front, January to June 1944 272
  BIRKE and TANNE 276
  The Soviet Summer Offensive 278
    The Attack 278
    Political Developments and German Aid 282
    The Last Phase 284
  Armistice 287
14. The Undefeated Army 292
  TANNE and BIRKE 292
  Norway and Surrender 310
15. Conclusion 315
Appendix A. Rank Designations of German and Finnish General And Flag Officers 318
B. Chronology of Events 319
C. List of Major Participants 325
Bibliographical Note 330
Glossary 331
Code Names 333


1. The Occupation of Narvik, 9 April 1940 47
2. The Landings in Norway, 9 April 1940 50
3. The Occupation of Denmark, 9-10 April 1940 61
4. Operations in Southern and Central Norway, 9 April-2 May 1940 67
5. The Zone of Operations of Group Trondheim, 9 April-4 May 1940 79
6. The Bergen-Stavanger-Kristiansand Zone of Operations, 9 April-1 May 1940 83
7. The Situation at Narvik, 7 May 1940 89
8. The Advance of 2d Mountain Division Toward Narvik, 5 May-13 June 1940 96
9. The Situation at Narvik, 17 May and 6 June 1940 100
10. The First Attack Across the Litsa, 13-17 July 1941 facing 143
11. The Second Attack Across the Litsa, 13-17 July 1941 facing 147
12. The Last Attack Across the Litsa, 8-20 September 1941 facing 151
13. Salla and the First Attack on Kayrala, 1-30 July 1941 161
14. Operations of Group F, Ukhkta, July-November 1941 facing 169
15. Group J and SS-"Nord", Loukhi, June-November 1941 facing 171
16. Encirclement at Kayrala and the Advance to the Verman Line, 19 August-15 September 1941 173
17. Finnish Operations, June-December 1941 facing 191
18. Soviet Offensive in the Kesten'ga-Loukhi Sector, 24 April-23 May 1942 facing 225
19. The Soviet Offensive on the Litsa, 27 April-14 May 1942 facing 227
20. Study for an Operation Against Sweden, 1943 259
21. The Soviet Summer Offensive Against Finland, June-July 1944 facing 281
22. The German Withdrawal from Finland, 6 September 1944-30 January 945 facing 297
23. The Soviet Offensive Against XIX Mountain Corps, 7-28 October 1944 305

Photographs are from captured German files
Mountain Troops Boarding the Cruiser Hipper 42
JU 52 Transports 52
Bandsmen Emplaning for Oslo 58
Improvised Armored Train 68
Infantry Advancing North of Oslo 71
Infantrymen Taking Cover 74
German Troops Clearing Fallen Rocks 76
Infantrymen Trudging up a Snow-Covered Slope 80
Mark II Tank 85
Waiting to Attack 98
Commanding General, Army of Norway 135
Tundra in the Pechenga-Litsa River Area 143
Engineer Using Jackhammer 151
Mountain Troops Picking Their Way through the Forest 160
Half-Tracked Motorcycles Pulling Antitank Guns 165
Motorcycle Stuck in the Thick Mud 175
German Submarine in a Northern Fiord 178
Finnish Letta on Aircraft Spotting Duty 189
Finnish Engineers Using Bangalore Torpedo 195
The President of Finland, Risto Ryti 197
German Railway Gun 215
Winter Position on the Verman Line 222
Snow-Covered Road in Northern Finland 224
The New Marshal of Finland, Baron Carl Gustaf Mannerheim 229
Troop Quarters on the Litsa Front 246
Snow Tunnel on Reichsstrasse 50 265
German Submarine on Arctic Patrol 269
Reindeer Patrol 277
German Ships at Nickel Ore Docks 301
Camouflaged Supply Trail 303
The Tirpitz in a Northern Fiord 311



The Office of the Chief of Military History of the Department of the Army is currently preparing a series of studies on German military operations in World War II against forces other than those of the United States. In addition to the volumes already published dealing with Poland and the Balkans and the present volume on Norway and Finland, these monographs will cover German operations in Russia, France and the Low Countries. These campaign studies are being made available to the General Staff and to the Army schools and colleges as reference works. They will also prove of value to all who are interested in military affairs.

The German campaigns in Norway and Finland established landmarks in the evolution of military science even though they failed in the long run to influence the outcome of the war. In the invasion of Norway the Germans executed the first large-scale amphibious (in fact triphibious) operation of World War II. The subsequent German operations out of Finland provided the first, and still unique, instance of major military forces operating in the Arctic and created a precedent, at least, for the inclusion of that region, once considered almost totally inaccessible, in strategic considerations. In these respects the operations in the German Northern Theater have a direct association with concepts of warfare which have not yet reached their final stage of development and are, therefore, of current and possible future interest.


[B L A N K]



This volume describes two campaigns that the Germans conducted in their Northern Theater of Operations. The first they launched, on 9 April 1940, against Denmark and Norway. The second they conducted out of Finland in partnership with the Finns against the Soviet Union. The latter campaign began on 22 June 1941 and ended in the winter of 1944-45 after the Finnish Government had sued for peace.

The scene of these campaigns by the end of 1941 stretched form the North Sea to the Arctic Ocean and from Bergen on the west coast of Norway, to Petrozavodsk, the former capital of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic. It faced east into the Soviet Union on a 700-mile-long front, and west on a 1,300-mile sea frontier. Hitler regarded this theater as the keystone of his empire, and, after 1941, maintained in it two armies totaling over a half million men.

In spite of its vast area and the effort and worry which Hitler lavished on it, the Northern Theater throughout most of the war constituted something of a military backwater. The major operations which took place in the theater were overshadowed by events on other fronts, and public attention focused on the theaters in which the strategically decisive operations were expected to take place. Remoteness, German security measures, and the Russians' well-known penchant for secrecy combined to keep information concerning the Northern Theater down to a mere trickle, much of that innacurate. Since the wear, through official and private publications, a great deal more has become known. The present volume is based in the main on the greatest remaining source of unexploited information, the captured German military and naval records. In addition a number of the participants on the German side have very generously contributed from their personal knowledge and experience.


Transcribed and formatted by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation