The Leader's Headquarters. 23rd July, 1942. 6 copies
Directive No. 45 -- Continuation Of Operation Braunschweig <! this was the covername given to the caucasus offensive>
I. In a campaign which has lasted little more than three weeks, the broad objectives outlined by me for the southern flank of the Eastern Front have been largely achieved, Only weak enemy forces from the Timoshenko Army Group have succeeded in avoiding encirclement and reaching the further bank of the Don River. We must expect them to be reinforced from the Caucasus.
A further concentration of enemy forces is taking place in the Stalingrad area, which the enemy will probably defend tenaciously.
II. Aims Of Future Operations.
1. The next task of Army Group A is to encircle enemy forces which have escaped across the Don River in the area south and southeast of Rostov, and to destroy them.
For this purpose, strong, fast moving forces are to move from the bridgeheads which will be established in the Konstantinovskaia-Tsymlyanskaya area, in a general southwesterly direction towards Tikhoretsk. Infantry, Light Infantry, and Mountain Divisions will cross the Don River in the Rostov area.
In addition, the task of cutting the Tikhoretsk-Stalingrad railway line with advanced spearheads remains unchanged.
Two armoured formations of Army Group A (including 24th Armoured Division) will come under command of Army Group B for further operations southeastwards.
Infantry Division Grossdeutschland is not to advance beyond the Manych sector. <! this passage, and the previous sentence, were originally slightly different. they are here presented as amended on the following day> Preparations will be made to move it to the west.
2. After the destruction of enemy forces south of the Don River, the most important task of Army Group A will be to occupy the entire eastern coastline of the Black Sea, thereby eliminating the Black Sea ports and the enemy Black Sea fleet.
For this purpose the formations of 11th Army already designated (Romanian Mountain Corps) will be brought across the Kerch Straits as soon as the advance of the main body of Army Group A becomes effective, and will then push southeast along the Black Sea coastal road.
A further force composed of all remaining Mountain and Light Infantry Divisions will force a passage of the Kuban, and occupy the high ground around Maykop and Armavir.
In the further advance of this force, reinforced at a suitable time by mountain units, towards and across the western part of the Caucasus, all practical passes are to be used, so that the Black Sea coast may be occupied in conjunction with 11th Army.
3. At the same time a force composed chiefly of fast moving formations will give flank cover in the east and capture the Groznyy area. Detachments will block the military road between Osetia and Groznyy, if possible at the top of the passes.
Thereafter the Baku area will be occupied by a thrust along the Caspian Sea coast.
The Army Group may expect the subsequent arrival of the Italian Alpine Corps.
These operations by Army Group A will be known by the cover name Edelweiß. Security: Most Secret.
4. The task of Army Group B is, as previously laid down, to develop the Don River defences and, by a thrust forward to Stalingrad, to smash the enemy forces concentrated there, to occupy the town, and to block the land communications between the Don River and the Volga River as well as the Don River itself.
Closely connected with this, fast moving forces will advance along the Volga River with the task of thrusting through to Astrakhan and blocking the main course of the Volga River in the same way.
These operations by Army Group B will be known by the covername Heron. Security: Most Secret.
The task of the Airforce is, primarily, to give strong support to the land forces crossing the Don River, and to the advance of the eastern group along the railway to Tikhoretsk, and to concentrate its forces on the destruction of the Timoshenko Army Group.
In addition, the operations of Army Group B against Stalingrad and the western part of Astrakhan will be supported. The early destruction of the city of Stalingrad is especially important. Attacks will also be made, as opportunity affords, on Astrakhan. Shipping on the lower Volga River should be harassed by mine laying.
During further operations the Airforce is to concentrate on cooperating with the forces advancing on the Black Sea ports, and, apart from giving direct support to the Army, to assist the Navy in preventing enemy naval forces from interfering.
Secondly, sufficient forces must be allocated to cooperate with the thrust on Baku via Groznyy.
In view of the decisive importance of the Caucasus oil fields for the further prosecution of the war, air attacks against their refineries and storage tanks, and against ports used for oil shipments on the Black Sea, will only be carried out if the operations of the Army make them absolutely essential. But in order to block enemy supplies of oil from the Caucasus as soon as possible, it is especially important to cut the railways and pipelines still being used for this purpose and to harass shipping on the Caspian Sea at an early date.
It will be the task of the Navy, besides giving direct support to the Army in the crossing of the Kerch Straits, to harass enemy sea action against our coastal operations with all the forces available in the Black Sea.
To facilitate Army supply, some naval ferries will be brought through the Kerch Straits to the Don River, as soon as possible.
In addition, Commander In Chief Navy will make preparation for transferring light forces to the Caspian Sea to harass enemy shipping (oil tankers and communications with the Anglosaxons in Iran).
III. The local operations now being prepared in the Central and Northern Army Group areas should be carried out as far as possible in quick succession. Their result must be the maximum disruption and disintegration of enemy commands and forces.
Army Group North is preparing to capture Leningrad by the beginning of September. Covername: Fire Magic. <! on 31st july, 1942, this covername was changed to "northern light"> For this, they will be reinforced by five Divisions from 11th Army, by heavy and extraheavy artillery, and by such other Army troops as may be necessary.
Two German and two Romanian Divisions will remain in the Crimea for the present. 22nd Division, as already ordered, will revert to Commander Armed Forces Southeast.
IV. In handling and retransmitting this Directive and Orders arising from it, I draw particular attention to my Order on secrecy of 12th August.