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‘In the past the German General Staff had taken no interest in the military history of wars in the north and east of Europe. Nobody had ever taken into account the possibility that some day German divisions would have to fight and to winter in northern Karelia and on the Murmansk coast.’ (Lieutenant-General Waldemar Erfurth, German Army). Despite this statement, the German Army’s first campaign in the far north was a great success: between April and June 1940 German forces totalling less than 20,000 men seized Norway, a state of three million people, for minimal losses. Hitler’s Arctic War is a study of the campaign waged by the Germans on the northern periphery of Europe between 1940 and 1945.
As Hitler’s Arctic War makes clear, the emphasis was on small-unit actions, with soldiers carrying everything they needed – food, ammunition and medical supplies – on their backs. The terrain placed limitations on the use of tanks and heavy artillery, while lack of airfields restricted the employment of aircraft.
Hitler’s Arctic War also includes a chapter on the campaign fought by Luftwaffe aircraft and Kriegsmarine ships and submarines against the Allied convoys supplying the Soviet Union with aid. However, Wehrmacht resources committed to Norway and Finland were ultimately an unnecessary drain on the German war effort. Hitler’s Arctic War is a ground-breaking study of how war was waged in the far north and its effects on German strategy.
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