general Lotahr Rendulic was mainly responsible. He also
had the responsibility for the retreat of the 20th Mountain
Army from Finland which comprised of 170000 men, 13000
lorries, 40000 horses and thousands of Russian prisoners
Finnmark the Russians launched an attack and 19 army
corps was forced to retreat.
For the Wehrmacht, it was important that the military
retreat proceed without delays, without being encumbered
with an evacuation of a large number of civilians. However,
Terboven disagreed and put forward the proposal of forced
On the 25th October 1944, the Russian forces took Kirkenes.
town was nearly obliterated by Russian bomb attacks
and approximately 4000 of the population managed to
save themselves and seek refuge in the mines belonging
to the company A/S Sydvaranger. On the 28th October,
Hitler sent out a "Führer befehl" concerning
had his wish fullfilled. It was the 6th mountain Division
that was to be the German rear guard and the unit had
orders to destroy everything in their way. The German
troops bringing up the rear did their best to carry
out the "der Führer"s order.
They went to work methodically. Houses were lit one
after the other, windows were broken in to feed the
flames, and cattle and sheep were slaughtered. In many
places, the inhabitants had only a short time to prepare
themselves for evacuation, and some even refused to
be evacuated. In Tana, all the inhabitants of the children's
home (26 children) fled to avoid evacuation.
other parts, people fled to the mountains or to the
Finnmark plateau. People took refuge in cabins, caves
and turf huts. In Gamvik, 450 inhabitants fled to the
mountains and from this vantage point, watched their
homes go up in flames. Even though the Germans were
leaving one had to be careful. All along the coast German
patrol boats were on the look-out for people who had
escaped "der Führer"s order.
The burning of Finnmark