Generaloberst Eduard Dietl

Generaloberst Eduard Dietl was the longest-serving commander of the German army in Lapland during the Continuation War. Hitler appointed him as the new commander to replace Nikolaus von Falkenhorst in January 1942. Dietl was a true believer in the Nazi ideology and a staunch National Socialist. Despite this, according to his own words, he never would have even dreamed to attempt to preach this ideology in Finland. Unlike Germany, Dietl considered democracy to be a more suitable form of government for Finland. During his time in Finland, however, Dietl was a well-liked German officer and considered a friend of Finland. He was well-versed in Finnish history and, according to contemporaries, had a strong personality. Dietl possessed extraordinary skill in managing sensitive personal relationships. The townsfolk of Rovaniemi grew accustomed to his scrawny appearance, curious nature and lively eyes.

He was often seen walking in the town centre. Of all the German officers staying in Rovaniemi, it was Dietl's face and appearance that stood out the most to those who met him. An avid sports fan, Dietl was an accomplished mountaineer, and downhill as well as cross-country skier. Dietl was also popular among German soldiers. Numerous anecdotes have been passed down about him. On one occasion, Dietl was up north visiting the front lines, in the sector of the even sterner General Ferdinand Schörner. As a person, Schörner was the polar opposite of Dietl. Whenever he was travelling by car, Schörner always insisted that the road ahead be kept completely clear. Dietl's car broke down and he had to hitch a ride from a motorcycle courier. The courier didn't give enough space as he stopped on the side of the road, causing Dietl to remark jokingly: "Good man, drive a little more to the right please. If Schörner catches sight of me he'll throw me in the brig."

In June 1944, Dietl travelled to Hitler to discuss the situation in Finland. He then departed for home leave, but the plane carrying him crashed into the mountainside on 23 June 1944, killing everyone on board.
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