The Leader And Supreme Commander Of The Armed Forces.
The Leader's Headquarters. 4th April, 1941. 17 copies
Directive No. 27
1. The Yugoslav forces are in process of disintegration. This, with the elimination of the Greek Army in Thrace, and the occupation of the Salonika Basin and of the area around Florina, creates conditions which, after sufficient forces have been concentrated, will permit an attack on Greece with the aim of annihilating the Anglogreek forces there, occupying Greece, and thus finally driving the British from the Balkans.
2. I therefore give the following orders for the prosecution of operations in the Balkans:
The aim of the operation is to destroy the remaining Yugoslav forces and to clean up and occupy the country.
Formations of the German Army will be employed to occupy Old Serbia and the Banat. The protective area between the Morava River and Danube River, with its valuable copper mines, will be secured as swiftly as possible. The use for these purposes of formations not hitherto employed in Yugoslavia will be limited to the smallest possible extent.
The Airforce is to destroy what remains of the Yugoslav Airforce and will support ground operations so that any serious resistance which may still be encountered will be quickly overcome. If circumstances allow, air and antiaircraft units not required for action in Greece may, with the agreement of the High Command Of The Armed Forces, be withdrawn for employment elsewhere.
Any arrangements with the Italian Airforce which may be necessary as a result of the boundary between 2nd German Army and 2nd Italian Army are the responsibility of Commander In Chief Airforce.
The Italian 2nd Army is to clean up and occupy the area southwest of the road Karlovac-Bos Novi-Banja Luka-Sarajevo. It may, on occasion, be necessary for German mobile forces to thrust forward across this line in support of the Italian advance.
The Hungarian 3rd Army will clean up and occupy Yugoslav territory west of the Tisza as far as the Danube River and the Drave River. The participation of the two Hungarian motorised brigades in the further operations of the German 2nd Army has been requested and granted.
As soon as adequate forces have been concentrated in the area of Florina and the Salonika Basin, the decisive attack against Anglogreek forces in northern Greece will be launched. The object of this operation will be, by a quick breakthrough in the direction of Larissa, to encircle and annihilate the enemy forces there, and to prevent the establishment of a new defensive front.
At the same time the Italian breakthrough on the Greek front in Albania will be supported by a thrust in a southwesterly direction.
Operations will continue with a quick advance of mobile forces thrusting towards Athens with the aim of occupying the rest of the Greek mainland including the Peloponnese. At the same time the Italian Army Group in Albania will advance west of the line from Lake Prespansko to the crest of the Pindus Mountains in the direction of the Gulf Of Patras. If time and the state of the roads permit, any opportunity of blocking a withdrawal of the main Greek forces west of the Pindus must be exploited.
It will be the duty of the Airforce, apart from engaging the Greek and British Airforces, to support the new ground operations in all possible strength and to carry the German troops constantly forward. Later operations aimed at the occupation of the Cyclades will also be supported.
Operational boundaries between the German and Italian Airforces will be arranged through Commander In Chief Airforce.
The Army and Airforce will employ all means available to prevent a possible evacuation of the British forces. In particular an evacuation across the Mediterranean will be prevented, as far as possible, by constant air attack on Greek ports and particularly on concentrations of shipping, as also by mining approaches to ports.
3. Orders to carry out the proposed parachute operation against Lemnos and to occupy Thasos and Samothrace will be issued by me alone. They will be issued at the latest forty eight hours before the beginning of operations.
For this purpose the Army will leave one Division in Thrace, while the occupation of the rest of Thrace will be undertaken by the Bulgarians at a time which I shall determine.
4. After the conclusion of operations, most of the Army formations engaged will be withdrawn for new tasks. It is planned to leave:
one or two Divisions in Greece,
one further Division in Salonika,
two to three Divisions in Serbia.
For the Airforce (X Air Corps) the chief task at the conclusion of the operation will be to support the Afrika Corps. In the immediate future the laying of mines in the Suez Canal is of great importance in order to prevent, or at least to impede, the arrival of enemy reinforcements from East Africa.
Arrangements will be made for the air defence of conquered territory.
Coastal defence will, for the present, be organised on the assumption that the north coast of the Aegean Sea, including Salonika, will be taken over by the Bulgarians, the east coast of the Aegean Sea, from there to the Gulf Of Saros inclusive, will be taken over by us, and the remainder of the Greek coast will be in Italian hands.
Boundaries can only be finally laid down after the end of operations in the Balkans.
5. I expect Commanders In Chief to submit detailed reports of their plans.
Any requests by branches of the Armed Forces to our allies will be made in accordance with the principles laid down in Directive 26 of 3rd April, 1941.