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Norway - 9/2/2004 8:57:24 AM   
a19999577

 

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Norway was of enough strategic importance for both Germany and the Allies to prepare invasions (Germany got the jump on its enemies, though). The Allies wished to close in the Germans, the Germans acquired important submarine bases for the Battle of the Atlantic and were able to challenge the Murmansk convoys. It has been mentioned previously that the German garrison in Norway from 1941 onwards was excessive.

Was the German garrison in Norway excessive?

What would the consequences of a reduction of the garrison have been?

Was Norway still a strategic objective for the Allies from 1941 onwards?

When should the Germans have evacuated Norway, if at all?
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RE: Norway - 9/2/2004 3:59:28 PM   
Error in 0


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There were 3-4reasons to control Norway.

Axcess to the North Atlantic. I believe Hitler in 1940 thought he would have a stronger naval fleet than what he got. The submarines did do alot of damage on the Murmansk convois. Battleships like Sharnhorst exerted substansiable control over the Norwegian sea.

Influence over the Swedish Iron. The brits dod have plans for an Norwegian invasion to secure Norway from a German attack, and to secure the swedish iron. Germany now controlled the Iron, and also they were allowed to transport troops in "neutral" sweden.

Control over the Norwegian nuclear research. Which was substansiable. Central here was the Heavy water plant atr Vemork/Rjukan. The commando raid on Vemork was deemed one of the wars most important and impressive by Churchil. In hindsight, the importance of the heavy water seems overexagerated, but it constituted a real fear among the allies during the war.

Access to Murmansk. Bind up russian forces.

Since it was clear to Hitler that GB did want control over Norway, had made plans for an invasion, and was working closely with the Norwegian government, it was not unreasonable to expect an invasion. And Norway was nothing like France. The germans would have to control Narvik, and everything south of that in order to sustain supplies. In addition, there were some very heavy fighting in Kirkenes/Murmansk against the russians, which required supply lines intact. So, in essence, germany needed to control and repulse an invasion along the whole of Norways coastline (21 900 km) (invasion at limited places of course).


JT

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RE: Norway - 9/2/2004 5:57:02 PM   
Belisarius


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From a German standpoint, I don't think there's any doubt that the invasion of Norway was a necessity. Was the garrison excessive? Easy to say with a 20/20 hindsight, but even at that time they should have realized that 12 divisions were far more than necessary to contain any allied threat. They would have been put to better use in Russia instead. Then again, in 1941 the question about Sweden was not resolved, and I think they meant to use 10 divisions if such an operation became necessary.

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RE: Norway - 9/2/2004 7:12:14 PM   
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One of the problems with hindsight is exactly that, we know what actually happened, to a good degree in regard to ww2. That being said after January 44 those troops in Norway would have been of real use in normandy or in pluging hole in the Eastern front
Can this even be argued???
yet
.. So many errors on the German side thus made allied victory inevitable, Norway does not really make a significant difference... other threads have covered these in great detail.

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RE: Norway - 9/2/2004 7:25:20 PM   
a19999577

 

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12 divisions make up a whole Army, don't they? When did time run out for the Kriegsmarine to try to transfer most, if not all, of these troops back to Central Europe? As far as I know, the Kriegsmarine was active in the Baltic up to pretty late in the war, evacuating isolated garrisons and civilians.

Plus, how seasoned were these troops? Had they been rotated during all those years?

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RE: Norway - 9/2/2004 10:41:00 PM   
Poopyhead

 

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I don't think that after 1942 it would matter where you sent them. In 1941, ten extra divisions in Russia gives you about 7% more German units. Ten more divisions in the Afrika Korps gives you the entire middle east!

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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 12:44:58 AM   
Belisarius


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quote:

ORIGINAL: a19999577

12 divisions make up a whole Army, don't they? When did time run out for the Kriegsmarine to try to transfer most, if not all, of these troops back to Central Europe? As far as I know, the Kriegsmarine was active in the Baltic up to pretty late in the war, evacuating isolated garrisons and civilians.

Plus, how seasoned were these troops? Had they been rotated during all those years?


Probably quite seasoned, but not too combat experienced since the situation was calm after May 1940 and onwards. For prioritizing, getting the AK home would have been a much better option.

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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 4:00:26 AM   
Kevinugly

 

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I've just been reading 'Why the Allies Won' by Richard Overy and I came across something I wasn't previously aware of. In 1944, as well as creating the illusion that the D-Day invasion would be at Pas-de-Calais the Allies also attempted to deceive the Germans that a British 4th Army, stationed in Scotland, would launch a diversionary assault on Norway. Apparently this part of the 'Fortitude' deception had only limited success (Noway wasn't reinforced) since German radio operaters were mainly listening to Soviet traffic.

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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 5:16:35 AM   
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According to Liddel-Hart, Hitler would have preferred to keep Norway neutral, but he was provoked by British moves to the point that he had to occupy it.

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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 9:36:16 AM   
Belisarius


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Rooster

According to Liddel-Hart, Hitler would have preferred to keep Norway neutral, but he was provoked by British moves to the point that he had to occupy it.


That would probably be correct. What supports it is the fact that the double invasion of Norway and Denmark was very hastily planned, and disrupted preparations for France. It had to be done fast and with a minimum of equipment which meant the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine would have to do most of the job.

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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 12:49:22 PM   
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Kevinugly

I've just been reading 'Why the Allies Won' by Richard Overy and I came across something I wasn't previously aware of. In 1944, as well as creating the illusion that the D-Day invasion would be at Pas-de-Calais the Allies also attempted to deceive the Germans that a British 4th Army, stationed in Scotland, would launch a diversionary assault on Norway. Apparently this part of the 'Fortitude' deception had only limited success (Noway wasn't reinforced) since German radio operaters were mainly listening to Soviet traffic.


I've read in D-Day by Stephen Ambrose that it was succesfull because the Germans did not take away forces from Norway either so if you look at it in this way, Fortitude was very succesfull.

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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 2:46:38 PM   
Belisarius


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quote:

ORIGINAL: The_MadMan

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kevinugly

I've just been reading 'Why the Allies Won' by Richard Overy and I came across something I wasn't previously aware of. In 1944, as well as creating the illusion that the D-Day invasion would be at Pas-de-Calais the Allies also attempted to deceive the Germans that a British 4th Army, stationed in Scotland, would launch a diversionary assault on Norway. Apparently this part of the 'Fortitude' deception had only limited success (Noway wasn't reinforced) since German radio operaters were mainly listening to Soviet traffic.


I've read in D-Day by Stephen Ambrose that it was succesfull because the Germans did not take away forces from Norway either so if you look at it in this way, Fortitude was very succesfull.


Hm, I wonder how deep that analysis by Ambrose was. If the forces at hand had been committed earlier the outcome would have been uncertain, too. No need to go to Norway to fish after additional troops. There were plenty at hand, they just weren't sent into the fray.

If he means that they could have used divisions from Norway to actually man the coastal fortifications, then maybe yes it'd had differed.

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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 3:39:39 PM   
Kevinugly

 

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It is difficult to measure the success of an operation like 'Fortitude North' since it led to no change in German dispositions. It can therefore be argued that it was a success (it 'pinned' twelve German divisions that could have been usefully deployed elsewhere) or a failure (The Germans weren't fooled and so did not commit any extra resources to Norway). Overy argues that given Hitler's obsessive belief that Norway was strategically important to the Allies, the fact that nothing changed can be interpreted as a failure.

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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 8:19:45 PM   
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You all speak of the german troops in Norway being there just to stop an invasion. There were heavy fighting in Kirkenes/murmansk, and that was infact another russian front. Surely many of the 12 div. was used there.

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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 8:22:25 PM   
a19999577

 

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Wasn't there a 20th Mountain Army deployed in Scandinavia with Murmansk as its objective during Operation Barbarossa?

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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 8:56:35 PM   
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When it became clear that germany was to attack Soviet, it was ordered that 40% of the wehrmacht in Norway was to be transferred to the east front. But 4.3.1941 the british raided Svolvær, and it became clear Norway was vulnurable for such events. The order was canceled, and instead Hitler (mostly) ordered a massive strengthening of Norway coastal defences. It was declared Norway was to be the most important part of the building of the "new Westwall", or "Atlantikwall" as it was changed to.

The resources and men put into Norway may or may not have been correct, but just to claim "they could be used on the eastern front" is too easy. German subs, warships and bombers did inflict alot of damage to the North Atlantic convois.


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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 8:59:25 PM   
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Belisarius

From a German standpoint, I don't think there's any doubt that the invasion of Norway was a necessity. Was the garrison excessive? Easy to say with a 20/20 hindsight, but even at that time they should have realized that 12 divisions were far more than necessary to contain any allied threat. They would have been put to better use in Russia instead. Then again, in 1941 the question about Sweden was not resolved, and I think they meant to use 10 divisions if such an operation became necessary.


Meaning 2 div was enough to have stationed in Norway? If you think you could defend Norway with 2 division, please explain how.



JT

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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 9:23:45 PM   
Kevinugly

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: a19999577

Wasn't there a 20th Mountain Army deployed in Scandinavia with Murmansk as its objective during Operation Barbarossa?


Operation 'Silver Fox' to give it its proper code name. Launched 29/6/41, abandoned 7/9/41. There appears to have been little activity from then until October 1944 when, following the peace treaty with Finland, the Soviets attacked into East Finnmark. Once this had ground to a halt there appears to have been only sporadic fighting, mostly involving German and Norwegian forces up to the end of the war.

http://www.nuav.net/soviet.html

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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 9:40:08 PM   
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quote:

ORIGINAL: a19999577

Wasn't there a 20th Mountain Army deployed in Scandinavia with Murmansk as its objective during Operation Barbarossa?


Days prior to the Soviet invasion, vonFalkenhorst (Wehrmachtbefehlshaber and Oberbefehlshaber Norwegen) organised "Befelstelle Finland" for the coming attack. It consisted of the XIX Gebirgs-Korps (commanded by Dietl) and XXXVI Armee-Korps, and was still part of Norwegen-Armee. In january 1942 it was reorganised as a seperate command called "Armee-Oberkommando Lappland", but in summer 1942 it change name to "Gebirgs-AOK 20 (Lappland Armee)", and then it consisted of both German and Finnish elements.

The reorganisation was a sign that Hitler was unpleased by vonFalkenhorst after the initial failure of the Murmansk offensive. The new organisation was commanded by Dietl, and later by Rendulic (Dietl died in an plane accident).

When the Finnish army surrendered, many of the finnish units joind russian units against the german, and Lappland Armee retreated to Lyngen in Norway. VonFalkenhorst's Norwegen-Armee was later in 1944 disbanded, and most of the troops put into Rendulic's Gebirgs-AOK 20.

Rendulich became 18.12.1944 Wehrmachtbefehlshaber in Norway, until he 18.01.1945 transferred to the East front (Jugoslavia I believe). He was replaced by Hanz Bøhme until the end of the war.


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RE: Norway - 9/3/2004 9:52:37 PM   
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A word on german forces in Norway. The number did varied during the war, and in november 1944 it consisted of 17 divisions and 4 regiments. At the end of the war was 11 divisions and 5 regiments organised into XIX., XXXVI, XXXIII., LXX. and LXXI Armee-Korps. Most of the units were understrength. In 1942-43 there was also a panzer div(?) in Norway, but very weak. During the winter 44-45 the main consern of Gebirgs-AOK 20 was to send troops to Germany, and they succseeded in sending 5 divisions in 5 months.


JT

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RE: Norway - 9/4/2004 1:59:38 AM   
IronDuke_slith

 

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I don't think they would have made much difference because of circumstance.

Taking as the average - 12 divisions, I think ensuring the supply of iron ore (if memory serves) was vital for the Reich war effort.

Although between the fall of France and early 1942, you might only need half that number, between mid 42 and mid 44 you get Torch, Husky, Salerno, Anzio and Overlord, so 12 is required as the Allies clearly like and have a big amphibious capability.

Churchill also had form when it came to bouncing around the edges, in smaller theatres.

By the time that threat no longer matters (mid-late 44, Bagration, Overlord and the Allies on their way to the German border) 12 divisions would have made little difference.

Hitler's problem was that to give up Norway, showed everyone he thought final victory was beyond him, but hanging onto it helped the Allies by removing a dozen divisions from his OOB. That said, I would still have pulled them out in late 44 together with the Army in Courland when cut off, and lined them all up along the Seelowe heights.

I'd have used the time they bought me to evacuate everyone to the west of the Elbe.

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RE: Norway - 9/4/2004 8:59:55 PM   
The_MadMan


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Belisarius

quote:

ORIGINAL: The_MadMan

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kevinugly

I've just been reading 'Why the Allies Won' by Richard Overy and I came across something I wasn't previously aware of. In 1944, as well as creating the illusion that the D-Day invasion would be at Pas-de-Calais the Allies also attempted to deceive the Germans that a British 4th Army, stationed in Scotland, would launch a diversionary assault on Norway. Apparently this part of the 'Fortitude' deception had only limited success (Noway wasn't reinforced) since German radio operaters were mainly listening to Soviet traffic.


I've read in D-Day by Stephen Ambrose that it was succesfull because the Germans did not take away forces from Norway either so if you look at it in this way, Fortitude was very succesfull.


Hm, I wonder how deep that analysis by Ambrose was. If the forces at hand had been committed earlier the outcome would have been uncertain, too. No need to go to Norway to fish after additional troops. There were plenty at hand, they just weren't sent into the fray.

If he means that they could have used divisions from Norway to actually man the coastal fortifications, then maybe yes it'd had differed.


It seems quite deep because he spent a lot of pages on it. He claims (and I quote page 82). You are spot on btw :)

quote:

The payoff was spectecular. By late spring, Hitler had 13 army divisions in Norway (along with 90.000 naval and 60.000 Luftwaffe personel). These where hardly high-quality troops, but still they could have filled in the trenches along the Atlantic Wall in France. In late May Rommel persuaded Hitler to move 5 infantry divisions from Norway to France. They had started to load up and move out when the Abwer passed on to Hitler a set of "intercepted" messages about the threat to Norway. He cancelled the movement order. To paraphrase Churchill, never in the history of warfare have so many been immobilized by so few.


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RE: Norway - 9/4/2004 9:25:54 PM   
Kevinugly

 

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Looking at JT's earlier post (5 divisions were eventually transferred from Norway) and given that the Abwehr messages appeared in late May 1944 one wonders how long it would have taken to actually ship the five divisions over (not several months obviously). One suspects that they would have arrived just in time to get chewed up in the debacle of 'Cobra', Falaise and the race across France. It's interesting though that two historians I highly respect (and I would hope that others do too) should come to diametrically opposed conclusions regarding the success of 'Fortitude North'

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RE: Norway - 9/5/2004 12:24:11 PM   
The_MadMan


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Kevinugly

Looking at JT's earlier post (5 divisions were eventually transferred from Norway) and given that the Abwehr messages appeared in late May 1944 one wonders how long it would have taken to actually ship the five divisions over (not several months obviously). One suspects that they would have arrived just in time to get chewed up in the debacle of 'Cobra', Falaise and the race across France. It's interesting though that two historians I highly respect (and I would hope that others do too) should come to diametrically opposed conclusions regarding the success of 'Fortitude North'


I was not aware of the timing of the Abwehr messages but if it is indeed late may then it would serve no perpous other then destruction.

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RE: Norway - 9/5/2004 1:34:26 PM   
Juba

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: JallaTryne
When the Finnish army surrendered, many of the finnish units joind russian units against the german, and Lappland Armee retreated to Lyngen in Norway. VonFalkenhorst's Norwegen-Armee was later in 1944 disbanded, and most of the troops put into Rendulic's Gebirgs-AOK 20.


Just a few points:

1. The Finnish army did not surrender.
2. The Finnish army pushed the Germany army out of Lapland. In the beginning there was no fighting as neither the Finns nor the Germans wanted to fight each other. The Soviets said that the German retreat was too slow and if the Finns did not make the Germans pick up their pace the Soviets would "help" Finland to drive out the Germans.
3. Russian units did not cooperate with Finnish units.
4. Some Finns did join the Germans so that they could continue to fight against the Soviets.

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RE: Norway - 9/5/2004 3:06:46 PM   
The_MadMan


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I always though the Fins joined the Axis...

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RE: Norway - 9/5/2004 3:29:25 PM   
Juba

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: The_MadMan

I always though the Fins joined the Axis...




Read the post I was quoting from.

I was talking about 1944 not 1941.

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RE: Norway - 9/5/2004 3:55:51 PM   
Kevinugly

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: The_MadMan

I always thought the Fins joined the Axis...


As far as I am aware, it was a 'marriage of convenience' directed at the Soviet Union only. But if someone would care to correct me ...........

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RE: Norway - 9/5/2004 6:23:47 PM   
JJKettunen


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quote:

ORIGINAL: JallaTryne

When the Finnish army surrendered,...


ARRGH! The Continuation War is really a forgotten one when these kind of myths still float around...

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RE: Norway - 9/5/2004 6:31:32 PM   
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Juba

3. Russian units did not cooperate with Finnish units.


One exception: Soviet air units tried to support Finnish forces defending Suursaari against the German attack (Operation Tanne Ost, at Baltic Sea), but it didn't quite work out, although the defense was succesful.

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