The Leader And Supreme Commander Of The Armed Forces.

The Leader's Headquarters.   9th June, 1941.   20 copies

Directive No. 31

                In order to establish a clear and unified system of command in the occupied areas of the Balkans I issue the following orders:

                1. As Commander Armed Forces Southeast, with headquarters in Salonika, I appoint Field Marshal List.

                Commander Armed Forces Southeast is the highest representative of the Armed Forces in the Balkans and has full powers in all areas occupied by German forces.

                Commander Armed Forces Southeast is, as such, directly subordinate to me.

                2. The following are under the command of the Commander Armed Forces Southeast:

                (a) Old Serbia area:

                Commanding General Serbia (General Of Antiaircraft Artillery von Schröder).

                (b) Salonika area and the islands of Lemnos, Mitylene, Chios and Skyros:

                Commanding General Salonika-Aegean (appointment to be filled by the High Command Of The Army).

                (c) Athens, Crete, Cythera, Anticythera, and Melos areas:

                Commanding General Southern Greece (appointment to be filled by Commander In Chief Airforce).

                3. The Commander Armed Forces Southeast will exercise central control over military problems (apart from offensive air operations) arising from the occupation, security, supply, transport, and intelligence of all three branches of the Armed Forces in the occupied southeast area. He will decide them within the framework of the general task to be performed by our forces in the southeast. This will ensure a simpler system of command, and will relieve the High Command Of The Armed Forces and the various branches of the Armed Forces from dealing with matters of detail and differences of opinion which are bound to arise between the Staffs of the various Armed Forces working in the same area.

                In particular Command Armed Forces Southeast will be responsible for:

                (a) Ensuring the coordinated defence against enemy attack or civil disturbance of those parts of Serbia and Greece, including the Greek islands, which are occupied by German troops.

                Apart from the above mentioned Commanders, who are responsible for the defence of their respective territories in accordance with his general instructions, Admiral Southeast and Airforce Commander Balkans are also subordinate to him. The Staffs of both these Officers will be incorporated in the Staff Of Commander Armed Forces Southeast. He himself will decide to what extent the Staffs of his subordinate Commanders in the Salonika-Aegean area and in southern Greece are to be incorporated in the Staffs of other branches of the Armed Forces.

                (b) Ensuring the unified command and protection of the extensive movements of sea transport to and from Crete which will be necessary in the near future.

                (c) Control of cooperation with the Italian and, as far as necessary, with the Bulgarian forces in the Balkans.

                (d) Arranging supplies by land and sea to all forces stationed in the Balkans, in accordance with their requirements and with the transport available at any given time.

                (e) Supervising the military administration of the Commanders in all areas occupied by German troops.

                4. The Commander Armed Forces Southeast has all the powers of a Territorial Commander in those parts of Serbia and Greece occupied by German forces, including the Greek islands.

                The areas extensively occupied by German forces will be operational areas. Here Command Armed Forces Southeast will exercise full powers through his subordinate Commanders.

                Where German troops are stationed in territories occupied by the Italians, he will exercise military command over all branches of the Armed Forces in so far as the military duties of the German forces require.

                For delimitation of the powers of Commander Armed Forces Southeast in relation to those of Plenipotentiary Of The Reich In Greece see Appendix.

                6. The island of Crete occupies a special position in the southeast area.

                It is an operational area from which the air war in the eastern Mediterranean is to be prosecuted in conjunction with operations in North Africa (see paragraph 7).

                The organisation and establishment of this base, its supply and protection, is at the moment the most urgent task confronting us in the southeast.

                As a base of operations for the Airforce, Crete will be placed as a fortress under the command of a special Airforce Commander as Commandant. He will exercise executive powers in accordance with general instructions of Commander Armed Forces Southeast as a Deputy Of Commanding General Southern Greece. He is responsible for the coordinated defence of the island with all forces stationed there and placed under his command for this purpose. He will also command the Army establishments necessary for administration.

                The Italian area of occupation is the eastern part of the island, up to a general line from the western edge of Merambelo Bay to the town of Hierapetra inclusive. In all tactical matters relating to the coordinated defence of the island, the Italians will be subordinate to the Commandant of the island.

                7. The air war in the eastern Mediterranean will be conducted according to the orders of Commander In Chief Airforce.

                The necessary arrangements will be made by him direct with the Italian Airforce.

                8. The transport of troops and the movement of supplies by sea and their protection by sea and air will be controlled by Commander Armed Forces Southeast through Admiral Southeast, in cooperation with the Italian Navy and X Air Corps.

                Cooperation between Admiral Southeast and the Romanian and Bulgarian navies, should they appear in the eastern Mediterranean, will be regulated by Commander In Chief Navy direct with Admiral Southeast.

                9. Directive 29 of 17th May, 1941, is cancelled, in so far as it is superseded by the above orders.

Adolf Hitler.