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Directive No. 50

The Fuehrer

Fueher Headquarters September 28, 1943 - 10 copies

Directive No. 50 Concerning the preparations for the withdrawal of 20th Mountain Army to Northern Finland and Northern Norway

1. The situation in the Army Group North sector is completely stabilized, and there is no prospect of a withdrawal on this front. The most dangerously threatened sector operationally, around Velikiye Luki, is being continually reinforced. Nevertheless, a secondary position is now being developed behind Lake Peipus and the Narva, in case of unfavorable developments, particularly in Finland itself.

2. It is our duty to bear in mind the possibility that Finland may drop out of the war or collapse.

3. In that case it will be the immediate task of 20th Mountain Army to continue to hold the Northern area, which is vital to our war industry, by moving back thc front to a line running through Karesuando, Ivalo, and thc scetor at present held by 19th Mountain Corps. 230th and 270th Infantry Divisions will come under its command in due course.

It would then be espccially important to defend against ground and air attack the Kolosjoki nickel mines, which would be particularly threatened.

It is impossible to say at present how long this task may be practical.

4. The exceptional difficulty of moving troops aud making war under these conditions entails early preparations, which are likely to be lengthy. They will cover the following points:

(a) Construction and maintenance of roads likely to be used for troop movements. Establishment of staging-posts.

(b) Preparation of supplies for the Army should it withdraw.

(c) Plans to destroy establishments of value to the enemy in the areas to be evacuated.

(d) Storage of supplies.

(e) Preparation for billeting troops after they have withdrawn to their future area of operations.

(f) Preparations for signals traffic.

The appropriate preparations to be made by 10th Mountain Army in immediate consultation with the Commander Armed Forces Norway must apply to all seasons of the year. They should assume the worst, i.e. that it may be impossible to move those troops not required for holding the Northern area by sea from Finnish ports.

5. If the measures ordered cannot be carried out inconspicuously, they are to be explained to our own troops, and to the Finns, as concerned exclusively with the development of communications between Norway and Finland. These communications will enable divisions to be moved from the Reserve of Commander Armed Forecs Norway to Finland, even in winter if necessary. The number of officers to be informed of the further reasons for these preparations will be restricted to a minimum. If exchange of correspondence or verbal exchange is necessary between Commander Armed Forces Norway and 20th Mountain Army, it must be routed via Germany, not via Sweden.

6. 20th Mountain Army is to submit to the High Command of the Armed Forces (Operations Staff) a short memorandum on the conduct of the proposed operation, with special reference to supplies.

The progress of preparations ordered in paragraph 4 will be reported by 20th Mountain Army and Commander Armed Forces Norway by December 1, 1943.

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