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Adolf Hitler Liveblogs World War II: May 17, 1941

From Adolf Hitler:

Führer Directive 29:

(1) The aim of German operations in the south-east, which was to drive the English from the Balkans and to widen the base for German air operations in the Eastern Mediterranean, has been achieved, and will be further improved by completion of 'Undertaking Mercury'. The defence of Greek territory will in future, with the exceptions mentioned below, be an Italian responsibility. Therefore German authorities must not intervene in general matters relating to the defence anc1. administration of the country. They will, in particular, refuse any Greek requests for mediation. For the delivery of supplies, an agreement is to be made with the Italian Armed Forces concerning supply routes and their protection.

(2) The following apply to the German Armed Forces:

Army: The only forces remaining in Greece will be those which are indispensable for the supply of 'Undertaking Mercury' (and which will be closely concentrated locally) and one division in Salonika (see paragraph 3) which will also be responsible for the security of Lemnos and for any other islands which may need to be occupied. However, until the conclusion of 'Undertaking Mercury' areas required as jumping-off points for German troops, including the islands designated for this purpose, must remain in German hands. All forces not required according to these instructions will be withdrawn as soon as possible. The Italian High Command will be notified that arrangements for a quick hand-over in Greece are to be made with Commander-in-Chief 12th Army. The latter will then transfer his headquarters to Salonika as 'Commander-in-Chief of German troops in the Balkans' as soon as the situation ('Undertaking Mercury') allows.

Air Force: X Air Corps, even after moving into Greece, will prosecute the war in the air independently under orders from Commander-in-Chief Air Force to whom it is directly subordinate. For the defence of the Balkan area it will co-operate with Commander-in-Chief 12th Army (Commander of German Troops in the Balkans) and for the war in North Africa with the Africa Corps. Orders concerning territorial matters which need co-ordinated ruling for the Balkan area will be given by Commander-in-Chief 12th Army to X Army Corps also. Ground organisations in Greece and the islands will be at the disposal of Commander-in-Chief Air Force for the prosecution of the air war in the Eastern Mediterranean. Airfields and installations which are not required will be handed over to the Italian forces.

After the occupation of Crete the defence of the island will be the responsibility of Commander-in-Chief Air Force (Airborne Corps) who will decide upon the moment at which these forces can be relieved. I reserve to myself the right to issue orders in this respect and for the future occupation of the island.

Navy: Apart from Salonika, the port of Athens and the coastal strip between the two ports, in so far as this is necessary for traffic along the coast, will remain in the hands of the German Navy. Commander-in-Chief Navy will make the necessary arrangements for this with the Italians. The defence of the coast of Crete will also be the responsibility of the Navy, if the island continues to be occupied by German troops. In territorial questions the same rules apply as to X Air Corps.

On the North Aegean coast the Bulgarian coastal defences must continue to be under firm German influence. Admiral South-east will be responsible for operations and the movement of shipping in the Aegean, under orders from Commander-in-Chief Navy, and employing the Italian naval forces placed at his disposal. In other matters, Admiral South-east will co-operate with the Italian authorities as required.

(3) For all military measures in the Salonika area the German Armed Forces have sole responsibility. The exact delimitation of this area will be a matter for proposals from the High Command of the Army (Commander-in-Chief of German troops in the Balkans).

(4) The administration of Greek territory occupied by German troops will be carried out by the High Command of the Army in agreement with the Plenipotentiary of the German Reich in Greece. As far as possible use will be made of the Greek administration and German military authorities will refrain from interference.

(5) In order that he may carry out the urgent economic duties assigned to him, the 'Military Commander Serbia' will be provided by the High Command of the Army with all necessary facilities and with the troops which he requires for security purposes, so that he may accomplish his task independently.

(6) I expect to be informed by Commanders-in-Chief about the measures which they propose to take on the basis of this directive and on agreements reached with the Italians.