The Leader.

The Leader's Headquarters.   26th July, 1943.   17 copies

Directive No. 48 -- Command And Defence Measures In The Southeast

                I. The enemy's measures in the eastern Mediterranean Sea area, in conjunction with the attack on Sicily, indicate that he will shortly begin landing operations against our strong line in the Aegean Sea, Peloponnese-Crete-Rhodes, and against the west coast of Greece with offshore Ionian islands.

                Should the operations of the enemy extend from Sicily to the mainland of southern Italy, we must also reckon with an assault on the east coast of the Adriatic Sea, north of the Straits Of Otranto.

                The enemy's conduct of operations is also based on the bandit movement, which is increasingly organised by him in the interior of the southeast area.

                Turkey's neutrality is at present beyond question, but needs continuous watching.

                II. In view of this situation, the command in the southeastern area will be rearranged in agreement with our Italian allies on the following general lines:

                A. Army

                1. Commander In Chief Southeast will assume command of 11th Italian Army from 00.00 hours 27th July, 1943.

                2. German formations at present posted, or to be posted, in this Army area will come under tactical command of 11th Italian Army and of the Headquarters designated by it, with the proviso that uniform command of all German and Italian troops in the Peloponnese will be assumed by German LXVIII Army Corps, and that Italian VIII Army Corps will move to the area north of the Corinth Canal.

                German units directly employed in coastal defence will come under command of the responsible Italian Divisions in their sectors.

                3. German units temporarily committed in Albania, Montenegro, and those coastal areas of Croatia under Italian occupation, will come under the tactical command of Italian Army Group East or of 2nd Italian Army.

                B. Navy And Airforce

                The principles already laid down for exerting influence on our allies through the Navy and Airforce remain in operation. In this connection Admiral Aegean will ensure that all measures for coastal defence taken by the Navy in the coastal areas occupied by 11th Italian Army comply with German requirements.

                III. The most important task of Commander In Chief Southeast is to make defensive preparations for the coast of Greece, on the islands, and on the mainland. An essential preliminary is to destroy the bandit gangs in Greece, Serbia, and Croatia, and thus open up the supply lines, in particular the main railway lines, to ensure to our forces the necessary freedom of movement in rear areas.

                In matters of coastal defence, only German plans for manning and development are to be applied, even where Italian formations are concerned.

                To stiffen the Italians in the most threatened coastal sectors, German Fortification Battalions and, where these do not suffice, units of German Divisions held in reserve will be stationed on or near the coast. We must also demand that important Italian coastal batteries and other key points be reinforced by racial Germans.

                Where German formations are not strong enough to form an effective operational reserve, Italian units will be brought under German command and interspersed with German units.

                Airfields near the coast will be defended by German forces.

                In the siting and construction of all defensive positions, and in the reconnaissance for movement and concentration of troops, the likelihood of enemy air superiority will be borne in mind.

                In the rear areas the most urgent task of Commander In Chief Southeast is to destroy the bandits in Serbia and Croatia, with special emphasis on lines of communication to Greece.

                Through close cooperation with Italian Army Group East and the 2nd Italian Army, and by transferring German forces where necessary, we must ensure that operations against the bandits in their areas are also carried out with the utmost intensity; and, in particular, that gangs of bandits near the coast, who could be exceptionally dangerous in the event of an enemy landing, are annihilated. Moreover, the Army Group must be constantly prepared to intervene, with as strong German forces as possible, in order to defend the coast in the Italian area, should the situation so demand.

                IV. The disposition of forces proposed by Commander In Chief Southeast in his memo of 26th July, 1943, is approved in principle. Details will be the subject of special orders.

                Orders concerning Army reinforcements will follow.

                In addition, it is intended in the next few months to concentrate an operational Army along the Belgrade-Larissa railway line. It will consist of:

                Two Armoured or Armoured Grenadier Divisions,
                Two Mountain Divisions,
                Two Light Infantry Divisions,

which will be moved from the east.


                A. 1. Greek territory occupied by German forces and by the 7th Bulgarian Division, including the islands and the neutral zone in Thrace, will be an operational area. Commander In Chief Southeast will exercise full powers in this area, and is authorised to delegate his powers to Military Commander Greece.

                His powers will be defined by the Chief Of The High Command Of The Armed Forces in a special instruction, on the general principle that, as the military situation demands, all nonmilitary German authorities posted, or to be posted, in Greece will be subordinate to Commander In Chief Southeast and will be incorporated in the Staff Of Military Commander Greece. The authority of senior officials of the Ministries of the Reich for issuing technical instructions is not affected by this: but these instructions will be transmitted through the Military Commander.

                2. Pending a final settlement with the Foreign Office, the Plenipotentiary Of The Reich Accredited To The Greek Government is excluded from this arrangement, as is Minister Neubacher, whose special duties and powers remain for the present unchanged. Instructions to the Military Commander will ensure the closest cooperation between him and these authorities.

                3. Commander In Chief Southeast should influence the military administration of the Italian occupied areas only in so far as the military situation requires. If agreement cannot be reached with local Italian authorities, appropriate application is to be made to the High Command Of The Armed Forces.

                B. 1. In the Serbian and Croatian area of operations, Commander In Chief Southeast will delegate his executive powers to the Military Commander Southeast, who for this purpose, in Croatia, will make use of the Commander Of The German Troops In Croatia.

                2. The overwhelming importance of Serbia for the entire conduct of the war in the southeast requires that all German authorities should be coordinated. Nonmilitary authorities stationed in Serbia will therefore be subordinate to the Military Commander Southeast and incorporated in his Staff.

                The authority of senior officials of the Ministries of the Reich for issuing technical instructions is not affected by this, but these instructions will be transmitted through the Military Commander.

                The Chief Of The High Command Of The Armed Forces will issue orders on distribution of duties.

                3. The Commander Of German Troops In Croatia and the German General Plenipotentiary In Croatia will retain their command competences and duties as heretofore.

                VI. The Chief Of The High Command Of The Armed Forces will issue, on my behalf, the necessary instructions for the incorporation of Staffs and Headquarters, and for the provision of supplies.

                Regulations not conforming with this Directive are cancelled.

Adolf Hitler.