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Directive No. 44

The Fuehrer

Fueher Headquarters July 21, 1942 - 8 copies

Directive No. 44 Operations in Northern Finland

11. The unexpectedly rapid and favorable development of the operations against the Timoshenko Army Group entitle us to assume that we may soon succeed in depriving Soviet Russia of the Caucasus, with her most important source of oil, and of a valuable line of communication for the delivery of English and American supplies.

This, coupled with the loss of the entire Donets industrial area, will strike a blow at the Soviet Union which would have immeasurable consequences.

2. We must now cut the northern supply route which links Soviet Russia with the Anglo-Saxon powers. This is principally the Murmansk railway, along which by far the largest proportion of supplies from America and England were delivered during the winter months. The importance of this supply route will increase further when the season and weather conditions prevent successful operations against northern convoys.

3. 20th Mountain Army therefore proposes, in cooperation with 5th Air Fleet, to prepare an offensive this autumn to seize the Murmansk railway near Kandalaksha.

For this, we can assume --

(a) Leningrad will be captured in September at the latest, and Finnish forces thereby released.

(b) 5th Mountain Division will have moved to Finland by the end of September.

The undertaking has been allotted the cover name of "Lachsfang" [Salmon-Trap]. Day of attack will be called "L-Day".

4. It is desirable that the attack by 20th Mountain Army should be coordinated with a Finnish advance on Belomorsk.

Liaison Staff North will ascertain the intentions of the Finnish Command for this attack, in conjunction with 20th Mountain Army.

5. The most important task of 20th Mountain Army remains the complete protection of the Finnish nickel production.

It must once again be stressed, with the greatest emphasis, that without deliveries of Finnish nickel Germany could probably no longer manufacture the high-grade steel necessary above all for aircraft and submarine engines. This could have decisive effects upon the outcome of the war.

20th Mountain Army must therefore be at all times ready to send reinforcements to Mountain Corps Norway as required for the fulfilment of these tasks.

Similarly, the Luftwaffe 5th Air Fleet will, in the event of an attack upon the nickel mines, renounce all other duties and concentrate on the defense of the area.

6. "Operation Meadowland [Wiesengrund]" will not take place this year. Preparations for this operation will, however, continue and be reinforced, so that it can be executed in the spring of 1943 at short notice (about eight weeks).

Particular attention will be paid to the development and strengthening of air and supply bases, because these are essential both for the success of "Meadowland" and for meeting a major enemy offensive in the north.

7. 20th Mountain Army and Commander-in-Chief Luftwaffe will inform me of their intentions as soon as possible.

Liaison Staffs North will report on Finnish plans for the attack on Belomorsk.

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