Directive No. 51 was the last of Hitler's numbered Directives. As the tone of that Directive sufficiently indicates, Hitler had lost the initiative, and general strategic control was slipping from his hands. Whether consciously for this reason or not, he now ceased to issue Weisungen, and his Orders to the various theatres take the form of Special Orders on particular subjects. Nevertheless, the substance of these Orders remains similar to those of the Directives, and continue to illustrate Hitler's attempts to control the course of the war.

                Directive No. 51 was followed by several Supplementary Orders concerning the same problem: the expected landings in the west. On 12th December Hitler ordered Keitel to issue a list of general conclusions drawn from previous experience of fighting against the Anglosaxons, and on 27th December, believing that the troop concentrations in southern England were nearing completion, so that landings might take place as early as mid February, he ordered troops to concentrate on the front held by 15th Army and the right flank of 7th Army (the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy), where he expected the main attack. Next day he issued orders forbidding the withdrawal of personnel or material from the areas commanded by Commander In Chief West (that is, the whole area of France, Belgium, and Holland) and Commander Armed Forces Denmark. On 17th January, 1944, he empowered Commander In Chief West to declare any area he chose a battle area in which all civilian authorities were under his orders.

                The landing which Hitler so feared was indeed being prepared, though not so early as he supposed: the date chosen for the Angloamerican Operation Overlord was May, 1944. The immediate operational problem in western Europe was therefore still the problem of Italy, where fierce fighting was in progress. On 4th October, 1943, Hitler had decided not to withdraw to the positions originally envisaged in northern Italy, but, while fighting delaying actions in the south, to prepare a firm defence, the Winterstellung, along the line of the Garigliano and Rapido Rivers, below the monastery of Monte Cassino, in the west and the Sangro River, running into the Adriatic Sea near Ortona, in the east. By the end of the year the Allies had reached this line, which was strongly defended both by nature and by skill. They had occupied Ortona and crossed the Rapido River; but they were unable to make headway against the formidable German position at Monte Cassino. They therefore attempted to encircle it by making, on 21st January, 1944, a seaborne landing behind the German lines at Nettuno, near Anzio, south of Rome. By 25th January this position was consolidated and it seemed that the Winterstellung would be turned and the battle for Rome would begin. In these circumstances Hitler sent the following message to Field Marshal Kesselring to whom, on 19th January, he had given unlimited authority over all services, and the SS, in his area.