COMMANDERS AND LEADERS
20th Mountain Army
* 2nd Mountain Division * 6th Mountain Division
CASUALTIES AND LOSSES
SOVIET UNION: 6,084 killed or missing 15,149 wounded NORWAY: 10 killed 14 captured 1 corvette sunk 6 fishing vessels destroyed Unknown
Over 300 civilians died while evacuating Finnmark
* v * t * e
Nordic countries in
World War II
* Denmark in
World War II
* v * t * e
Norwegian Campaigns (1941–45)
* Claymore * Anklet * Archery * Musketoon * Oslo raid * Checkmate * Cartoon
* Attacks on Tirpitz
* Source * Tungsten * Mascot * Goodwood * Paravane * Obviate * Catechism
* Leader * Finnmark * Provident * 28 January 1945 * Black Friday * 9 February 1945 * Judgement * Doomsday
The LIBERATION OF FINNMARK was a military operation, lasting from 23
October 1944 until 26 April 1945, in which Soviet and Norwegian forces
wrestled away control of
Finnmark , the northernmost county of Norway,
from Germany . It started with a major Soviet offensive that liberated
* 1 Background
* 2 Liberation
* 2.1 Recapture of
* 3 Aftermath * 4 Legacy * 5 Notes * 6 Citations * 7 References * 8 External links
Finnmark, in red
Stavka decided to move against the German forces in the Arctic in
late 1944. The operation was to be undertaken jointly by the Karelian
Front under the command of General
Soviet Air Forces
Soviet preparations, which had lasted for two months, had not gone
unnoticed by the Germans. The highly capable General
The Soviets attacked on 7 October. They captured Petsamo on 15
October, but due to supply problems, then had to halt the offensive
for three days. Resuming on the 18th, they advanced down the
Petsamo-Tarnet road, reaching the Norwegian border on the evening of
19 October. From here the Soviets would continue towards
RECAPTURE OF KIRKENES
See also: Petsamo-
The fight for
On 24 October the 45th Rifle Division met little resistance as it
advanced to the edge of Bøkfjord , just across from Kirkenes. The
14th Rifle Division had more trouble at Elvenes , where the Germans
destroyed the local bridge to prevent them from crossing the fjord.
Two companies were able to cross the fjord further south, where the
gap was only 150–200 meters wide. The 10th Guards Division had
advanced within 10 kilometers south of
The Soviet forces at Elvenes attempted once again to cross the
Bøkfjord at around 05:00. The Germans withstood the assault for about
an hour before being forced to retreat by direct attack and heavy
artillery bombardment. Using amphibious
Supported by tanks and artillery, the 10th , 65th, and 14th Rifle Divisions cleared out the last of the German rearguard from Kirkenes by midday 25 October.
FINAL SOVIET OPERATIONS
On 26 October the 10th Rifle Division captured a German airfield 15 kilometers west of Kirkenes. The 28th Rifle Regiment arrived at Highway 50 in Munkelv that morning, only to find German units were still retreating through the area. Fighting ensued, and the Soviets summarily blocked off the road, forcing the Germans to evacuate to the north where they were extracted by boat. By evening, the entirety of the Munkelv area was secured and the Soviets were pushing up the Neiden river .
The German rearguard had hastily prepared a defense in Neiden on a ridge line. With the help of local fisherman, the Soviets were able to cross the river on 27 October and capture the ridge. Fighting was fierce, and the Germans managed to burn every building in the village, save for the local church, before withdrawing.
Faced with rugged terrain and increasingly cold temperatures, the 14th Army forces in the area were ordered to halt their advance and assume a defensive posture. Only a reconnaissance force from the 114th Rifle Division continued west. It went 116 kilometers northwest of Neiden before halting on 13 November in Tana .
DEPLOYMENT OF NORWEGIAN FORCES
Colonel A.D. Dahl (left) in conversation with Peder Holt (right), the interim Governor of Finnmark, in Vadsø , in late 1944
On 25 October 1944, upon hearing that the Soviets were now entering
The Soviet commander at the front, Lieutenant General Shcherbakov,
wished for the Norwegians to be deployed to the front lines as soon as
possible. Too small to cover the front themselves, the Norwegians
enlisted local volunteers, putting them into hastily formed "guard
companies" armed with Soviet weaponry, pending the arrival of
reinforcements from Britain . Approximately 1,500 men from the
Norwegian Rikspoliti (police troops)—who for two years had been
training secretly in
One of the first undertakings of the Norwegian force was reconnaissance at the front lines. This was to monitor German troop movements and to investigate the whereabouts of the local population. Reports from Porsanger showed that the Germans were in the process of withdrawing, but were busy laying mines and torching buildings. Few civilians were left. Norwegian officers examine skis left behind by retreating German troops in Finnmark
During this time some locals who had been hiding in the area began to return to their destroyed settlements. In Gamvik , about 300 civilians who had avoided evacuation built temporary shacks out of wreckage to shelter in. On 19 December 1944, German E-boats deployed landing parties to destroy the town a second time. Some townspeople managed to arm themselves and hold off the Germans long enough for the bulk of the population to escape. 17 people were captured and forced to evacuate.
The Norwegian troops sent rescue parties under Colonel Gunnar Johnson to assist civilians left stranded in scorched western Finnmark. By Christmas 1944, nearly 900 people had been successfully evacuated to liberated territory. In January 1945 he began making plans for a rescue operation on the island of Sørøya . On 15 February, in the only direct military action undertaken by the Western Allies (other than Norway) during the campaign, one Canadian and three British destroyers rescued 502 men, women, and children from the island.
By 1945 a group of Norwegian militiamen began operating on the island, ambushing German patrols while trying to avoid destruction. Various skirmishes and raids between February and March result in the deaths of six militiamen, and the capture of 14 more. Six fishing vessels employed by the militia were destroyed in a German air attack. Several Germans were also killed on the island.
Elsewhere the Norwegians assisted the locals and dealt with the
occasional German raid. Bergkompani 2 lost four men while retaking
Finnmark. On 26 April 1945 the Norwegians declared
Finnmark to be
free. By the time of the German general surrender in Europe on May 8,
the 1st Varanger battalion was poised on the Finnmark-
The Germans in the rest of
The civilian population was the group most affected by the campaign.
The Germans, in pursuance of their scorched earth strategy, destroyed
thousands of houses, barns, sheds, and businesses, along with much of
Finnmark's infrastructure. Almost all of
In July, the Norwegians hosted a dinner with the Soviets in Kirkenes to celebrate their victory. Among those in attendance were Norwegian Crown Prince Olav , Oberst Dahl , and Lieutenant General Shcherbakov.
As the Norwegians began to restore their own administration throughout their country, fears grew that the Soviets would refuse to leave. These concerns turned out to be unfounded, however, as the last of the Soviets pulled out by 25 September 1945.
On 25 October 2014
* ^ Statistics are from the entire Petsamo-
* ^ A B Voksø 1984 "Polititropper til Finnmark" p. 492
* ^ "Tidsperiode Dahl". Tysklandsbrigaden - Veteranforeining for
Voss og Omland (in Norwegian). Retrieved 31 December 2009.
* ^ Glantz, David M.; House, Jonathan (1995). When Titans Clashed:
How the Red Army Stopped Hitler. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of
Kansas. p. 229. ISBN 0-7006-0899-0 .
* ^ A B Dagsavisen Nettavisen Oslo, "Fikk medalje 70 år etter
krigen," Hanne Mauno. (in Norwegian)
* ^ A B C Norske tenåringssoldater kjempet mot tyskerne nrk.no
* ^ A B C D E Simon Orchard, "THE EVACUATION OF FINNMARK & THE
RE-ENTRY OF NORWEGIAN FORCES INTO NORWAY, OCT 1944-MAY 1945."
* ^ A B C D "
Finnmark Celebrates Liberation from Nazi Occupation
* Mann, Chris (2012). British Policy and Strategy Towards Norway, 1941-45 (illustrated ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780230210226 .