In the early summer of 1941 German geologists under the command of General Eduard Dietl set out in northern Norway up through Finland to the Russian border. Operation Silberfuchs was underway. The northernmost section of the eastern front would ensure Hitler supplies of nickel from Finnish mines, and bring the strategically important port city of Murmansk under German control. The roadless quagmire terrain created major challenges for the German troop movements. Despite this Dietl’s men made quick gains on his Russian foe, and they came closer Murmansk. Despite repeated warnings of a German attack, Stalin had failed to mobilize, and the British hesitated to come to the rescue of the Red Army. But while the weather conditions steadily worsened, the Russians’ resistance increased. Three bloody efforts to force the river Litza were repulsed, and resulted in warfare by riverbeds. The offensive would develop into a nightmare for those inadequately equipped German soldiers, who soon were in the minority on the Litzafronten. In an exciting and authoritative narrative based on hitherto unknown material Alf Reidar Jacobsen tells about the prelude and the heavy fighting that would lead to Hitler’s first defeat on the Eastern Front. With firsthand accounts of the fighting on the front line,this is a dramatic new account of a forgotten but bloody episode of World War II.
MIRACLE AT THE LITZA Hitler’s First Defeat on the Eastern Front
In the early summer of 1941 a select unit of German mountain soldiers under the command of General Eduard Dietl set out in the far north of Scandinavia to attack Russia. Operation Silver Fox was a key part of the invasion of Russia. A diehard Nazi and one of Hitler’s closest comrades, Dietl, and his similarly fanatical officer’s had every expectation of winning glory and fame by conquering the strategically important city of Murmansk.The German–Finnish forces took some ground but Murmansk was neither cut off nor captured and operated as important destination for Allied convoys throughout the war.