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1.l )fHl' 51







SECUt~' 7'(· H'iFOl~M/\ T10N



# B-266 .




Experiences of German Tactical and Logistical Units in Russia








SE(~'Ln\i TY' 'I NF~~\I'~f\/I/~~ ~t((;t\f
"" 'F:O'

R"' E:'T·GN ·-lvI" I,L, 1,'1'





U. D .I".E, S.

Hi~torica1 Division

. He:adquarters'Ew."o:pean Comnand .

April 1952













. ..





I. Russian GeogTaphy and Natural Resom"ces...
2. 'The Soviet Armed- Forces;. • .. " .. • • .. :
3. The Influence of Russia:n Terrain on
, stra ~_egy .. .. .'. • .. .. ".. • .• • • . • ."

4. ' 'Political Fact.ors.' • .. •






• .. • "

. . ..
An Irtfantr;tDivisiol1 in
.. .
German Defense Tactics at the Division







the Attack

Level. .. • • .. '.. " • .. • •• • .. • " • -.-

Retrograde ~oYement$ ~ Infantry. • • . • ~
'Winter 'Warfare • .. .. .. .. .. .. . .. •


.. ..




9. 'Attacks; During Mobile Warfare.




Foreign Military Studies. PrBpared nonperiodica11y 'by the Historical
Division,' Headquarter's, European
Command, f'o4,'" the "purpose
of increas­
L~g the availability of selected special stUdies and monographs pre­
pared by 'or undel~ tho' supervision of this Division and in coordina­
tion vTith other staff divisions of this headquai'>ters as appropriate.
The material'· presented' herein' does not necessarily roflect official
Department 'of the Army doctrine 'or aCCelJted practices, but is for
information only. Local 'reproduction may be authorized upon speci­
fic request to this headquarters. A limited number of additional


copies Day be obtained from the Historical Division, EUCOM


APO 403,

Phone Control Officer, Karlsruhe Military 2614.


UNCLASS fFIE.~:~,"':,Y":';':.'
H'il"· \..jx\\1/'\·I'~JN










Attacks Against Fortified Positions •••
Al"'r"lor in the Defense.. • •
• •.• • • •
Armored Forces in Wi thdrawa.1s • • I. • • •

• • •

Terrain Intelligence.
Rivel" Or ossings., , •
Road Construction • •
Land MineS. .• • • • •

... .

• • •


• .. • • •






• • •

• '.' • • • ~. • "
.' • • • • • •
I.. • "





. . . . ... . . .,


17. Signal Unit Or'ganization. • • " • " , , "



18. The Mission of Signal Troops in'
Conlbat. ,
Signal :I:ntelligence • • '. . . ' . • '.' • •





Oomposition and Chain of. C'oL1.r:land. • • ••
21. Missions..
22. i Duties of Various Medical 'Units " • • • •
23. Conclusions • • • • • • • • ••
. •








• •






Basic and General Criteria. • • • • • ••


25. Railroads ... " " • • • • • 0 . ' " • • • •
26. Roads ~ • • • • • • • • • ~ • • • • • ~.~



Riv~ts. •





Motor Venlc1es.


Rations • • • '
• ., • • • •
Ammunition. ~ '; • ­ .. • • • • • •

• • • • • •


Supply Bases. • . ' .


Military Government • • • • • •

33,. ,Prisoners of

• ,. •

(reir • •••.• "

34•. 00llr,lunications ~ • • • • • • • •

.....- s'dbi~:.Lc;:C··FP
.. --:r"\T~


"""~. l . . , , . L.-

~ ~


• • ' . . . , 92

• .. • •.•

• • ;0 • •
•• '.
~ ••.••


• • • " •

-.11 ..




.SFC:U t< rr·1' '!~tF ~~ l~}\ill\ t'lC;t~


__.,......·-Polltical Boundaries 1939
•••••••• • .German Military Government

Boundaries ·1943
Only main railroads7and no high/#'ays7 are








BY n14 ENGR. INl1L GIlOUP 17M 3{52


,- ",', ','"







,I, "

,,' ':"~~";

"Il\.jt;~\,L), .. iji,,' rK~,'J',
1'4" vl\rt1/"rtt.Vl"l


, Introduction' ,


Russian Geogl",a,phy' aild' Natural Resources

Because of its geographic' characteristics ~ 11us5ia is, on~ - of' the
fe'w European countries still possessing exceilent opportunities fat'
defense against :even'the latest offensive viea-pons ~ Ge ag.raphic
considerations therefore playa paramount role in all military
planning aimed at the USSR, 'particularly 'a~ regards strategy and,
operations. An froI:Il'the ,vest' or the sou.thwest
must give seri9u'S'consideration to the initiai commftment of his,'
forces. Hussia' s west'ern border,S alonear~ of such great length
that' eve11 ti.1e huge' armies of the Axis Povlerswere, in 1941, unable
to cover them ad.equately. As an army tl:trusts' fUrther eastward,
the space on both flanks widens out very rapidly. ~1 offensive
supported on,both flanks and advancing: dh.'a broad front requires
such immense 'forces, as' no' army ,in 'the world can raise , unless it
roreg6es"'all strength' in' depth; ,commits all its rese.r.ves, and Elans
the front itself '
. .., ..


The way 'to the heart' 'of' 11U:ssii3. f s W$l" potential is a long ~ ont?
Even'the loss: ' 'of the Dnj epr and' Donetsindus.!G.t'~al regions, as
shown by' histor Ji ; did'nol, gravel;;r r~duce the Soviet's war industry,
the he'aviest concenti"atlonof whic'h is 'located : on both sides of the
U:'al :Mountains, and the Caspian Sea. lnvlew of tb.e immense distances
and the Vlidedisper~al::qffac,tortef?,' as cbmparediilith all ot:1e,r
European states,' ~tU:ssiats'vulnerabi~i~y to air attacks is reduced
to a."minimwn _:..: unless this faCtoX" :iiere to,' be equa.lized by the
results of' new' atom~c're:s'e,arch.
Another aspect to be consi,dered is t1.18 clime.te. Although
nussia, especially SO,uthern HU$sia, o,ffers unexpectedlj- good con­
ditions' for ve~i'cU1ar, tr~ffic'during":the' swnmer ~ the mUddy season

in the sprirtg and autwiln and the severe winter pose tasks which

cannoJ, be easil~r solved by alien t.roops.

The Russians are well aware of these advantages derived from

tlle. n~tUj?eof their countrNand of its climate. After losing

battles 'at the frontiers ,streng leade!'S have, as a rule, X'uth­

le~sly'sacrificed'large weste:.rn areas tempora:rily, often afte.t­

tenacious delaying action, in or cler to launch a

Ylith newly <3.ctivated forces from the rear 'areas after the invade!"

could no longer cope fii th the increasing difficulties 'which faced

him. Du.ring the past war this strategJT was best exemplified in

the summer of 1942 when the German armies Ylere lured to Stalingl"ad

and the, Caucasus ,'there tO~Je split up in piecemeal fashion without

having acl-devedany really '.7orthvJhilesuccesses.

The Russians have fougi1twi th less success when compelled by

their enemies to give battle in massed strength at t:le periphery

or outside of their national bd~ders. Napoleon and Hitler, 6n the'

on~hand, and the Crimean 1:7ar andhTorld' v~Ta.i"'. I, on the other, are

perhaps the best historical examples. It may thus be concluded

that Russia ill the future will repeat the strategy of .sacrificing

territory or Uoutpost areas i1 Wllen facing strong adversaries.

It is therefore likely ,-qhat Russia \'lill create the required
outpost area to the southb:i a lightening a;ttackbeyond its borde~"s,
,in order to forestall an invasioh anchored on Asia :','1 in
where' the
s1tua tion is less favora"01e because the vi tal 'oil fields, wIlien must
be defended at all costs, .~re located near ,the frontiers on both
shores of the Caspian S8a.


Although a17al"e of Russia's immense material 'and manp0rJ~l'"
resou..rces for y!aging war, the Axis Por/ers vlel"e undoubtedly sur- ,
prls,edby the e:xtra.ox'dinary poners of resistance "\!it.J:i ";::llich they
had to contend.' As experience has shown, t::lis, is 'primaril;y~due to
the· Soviet-propagated c:onceptof a" Communist order and type of
govertune'nt.' ; !sldefroffi,the previously..meritioned,favorabl~106ation
ofindus-b:y, Russia Q"Jles 'ordefly' to its inc1ust.rialol." gartization 'and
lab OJ.'' system, the fact that the huge material losses, suffe1;ed in
the summer o~f 194~ could not only be replaced but even exceeded. '
Up to a certain degree, the fQodproduction problem proved

to be a soft spo,t. ;'Evena~sq.Jping:that intl1e future the Soviets

should cnl ti vD.te the la.nd stretching in 'the ,direction 'of the Ural

, Mountains more intensively it is hardly pos,sible that they could
sUl"vive ·in th3 long run ·~7ithoutthe southern agricult.ural areas,
especially thbsein the Ukra.ine _,



As' the !"8sult ',of ll1anpOYler control 80S ruthless as it· is

systematic, drafted female labol" ~ transfer of inhabitants from



areasthreatene4by ihvas16n,the' ~lirriinati6n of pri:vate bllS'i?6SS,
etc., the Soviet's were a:lways"in ii', p:osition to' make up for war
casualties and also to keep on tap lab?rreserves as needed~'
Because the cou~tryr erailways 'were'few and' far betv1een they

were highly vulnerable to air attacks .. In spite of many diffi...,

culties, the Sovietgoyernment nevertheless mastered the t.tans­

portation problem. 'A'va:st program for prcducing fnodel"n tl"'ucks,
.', commenced during Ylorld War II,; will proba.bly remed;y this situatioh

completely in the future.'


The Sovi(,?tArmed. Forc~s

'With regard to the Soviet Armed Forces it may be stated that,
at the beginning of the '~lar, the Army was in all branches, fully .
on. the YJay to becoming the most mod;3rnfighting force in the Horld.
AlthQugh it 1l9,d not let reached the;: climax '.of its development in '
1941, the fact th~t it was o.blet6 recuperatQ from the frightful
19sses suffered during,the s~~~er qf that year and make such rapid
progress in l~o.dersb;ip and equi'pmont is only explained by the
existence of long-range planning and an adva.nced degree' of militai-y
preparedness at the ou:tbr0a.k of war.
It may be. stated thc..t Senior Soviet Army command~rs were
ac1apta'jle and:cq.pable or leaJ."ning quickly. They were 'past masters
of ruthless improvizat:i,.on in ci crisis~:, When launchingmctjor 'attacks,
d1l.ting pursuits~ .'and in the, organization of defense they matched,. in
every way their counterpar·ts in any other 1110dern Europeanqrmy.- ,
Their techniques proved superior during retreats. They barrowed
hoavily from ·German doctrine., Tht$ir ,strategy' 'Jvas based on the U;Se
of armor. Thei~" emploYl1lent of artillery improved continuously a:.riq
bocame mar~ destructive.
The subordinate,commanders and the soldiers are courag0~~s)
tenacious: and ) . n,urod.tocomba-t"and ha.j."d.ships. TF!hen a.ttacking t)1eY
lack inftiatiye and'8 re,adinessto make decisions. tt may ,there;fore
be conclud~d. th~tiJverl supor'io:L~ Russiancommandor,s are handicapped·
by tho limited initiativG V;,rilich- characterizGs their tr'oops"
Sovio'tsoldiprs, Sh01N true talent in t,acbnicai matters and al"'e
well trained b8cause. ,of. the gr,,)at progress in civilian technological
developments. ,IVi9tori~ation.,st~nds in the forefront9f all their
planning for th0. future.
In spit.e 9f tl~e ~n:t~"'Gpid couraLe ;Jvidel1ced bJr . every individual
flyer, li.u$siaJis Air FOl""ce lagg0d far behind : the Army' until tho 'end
of thG war.• 'r;rt~e: strategiccommartd of Air Force units rGvealed
···'glD.l:".ing d0foct?l an~l t,l1o. moderization of ai:c.e,r'o.ft types \'V'as, slow a'nd
unso.tisf:J.ctory. It -,'las only due to th0 imiJot8llce of tho Luftwuffe ­




which wa.s not the. result of'SovietAir.Force

latter's weaknesses did not; d,E?cisive:;Ly
the war~


that the
outcome of

The Soyiet Navy played.. e, seG(;md9.ry·r<ol~' but displayed .courage
and pr9ficiency dL~ing min~r ~anding operat~ons.












The Influence of ,Russian Terrain on

The more one de'als:viith the fa~tor~:'or .. b~¢)ic :. stra tegy previouslJr
only alluded to J t~le more becomes appal"'ent 'the extent t9 which
strategic and grand tactical space problem:? outranked all others in
importance. In any oth:3r Em-'opean state it may TJell be possible to
reduce i~s pO'd03l" of resistance to th~point of collapse by o~cupying
or by destrOying ti:uoough air attacks. ce~t9-in circwnscr·ib~d parts' of
the c·ountry. In Russ~a;' 'hcnvever, .?on ·:invader cCSluld n0t simultaneously
try to occupy key areas, ~om;mit his air :.f<;).'cce against the ,ind1,.lstrial
regions and, in addi~ion, ,YJage ':larv~ct(j)riousl.y against Soviet armed
might.':lidely .overest.imating· the valu(;?:Qfoccupiedterri tory, Hitler
primaril;ycallle to grief d.u.~
the pro"'J],.em, of space. He c'auld not
free hiraself 0.1' prcco1.1C?eptions "98.sed, q~ ,th? d.e~aclent. Russi;a of World
War I. Moreover, since his pex's.opa'l,experi.ence in combat d.uririg
World VIal" I had prejudiced him in favor of the concept of position
warfa.r8, he deliberately ?urrenderBd the, :1,.1)itiativeand left the .
final decision to be ':;on qythe. preponderance of materiel and man­
pOiiiTe!'. .As the :resi.:,:.l·c' ,of· a rigidaq.nerenc.e. to outworn ideas, the
front lines 17ere extended to.incr,e.dible lengtils :y,rhile the formati:Ql1
of strong points and'local .iL"?$erVes ~v~sneglected.
The 5e-called
defense positions '.7.e,:['e in r.eali;ty :r...othing but thin security lines •.
In spite. of al1.arguments, Hitler- c~tri.ed. 'on a "strand of 'pearls
s~rategy,Ii W~liGh. gradUally YJhi t~~?d ;8WaJ th~ ot.;ltstanding and
successful 1'Vellrmacht of 1941 and brought abQut i'nevitable defeat.




Nowhere else has practical exp8r;i~nqE? again...s.o.clea1~lyand

the ol¢Lmaxim' ~pplicable. tp all, good',

" . '..43trate€$Y;, nameJ~>T tl~t-the ..d~.p..~.£r~P~: i£f:!EUs!:£es.~8Jld~

,,",E.r:e.§el~V~~t'l&Jor ..fJ;::1;e""ndl~., forc~,~s.wi~~~;.f~E'~t;!l?S~,_v>C?~~J~,~:y'e •. , ,Vlith--­
out the fLJ~fillment of .tlles8 t-Jo, ,basic prereq ui~ites, no decisive,
conquest'6f terri toX'y'an3. t'hus'
control of the enemy's production
potential is possible., .Tho .s-trategic planning, o:r~llbranc,hes of
the armed forces, . of· the'J..r equi.pl1ieht and must aim at
thiS,. Not·tt.ei-i~1g,·but the, concentFp..~i.oP.of.J!is. for,ce~ ffitlS:






vat-iabl, 1"e"sul tiii;"'in~~~~~~s""t"e<Ti~:r:ror''t~'~'i=:Ej;aif:~#''irn(r~l'r~GK'~~oi""r'es'erve


be found the .only t,nea:ter of. pperations :in. Eurppe' Where tpe, high ..
art of' g(~nerai.ship.:c.~n still' 'be e~(erpis~.4:·~n. the' pw:-e, manner '
.cu~~0!llary before' :the· creation of mass.armi.os... Th$ fi~ld' c:ommCinderf s












SECUlx';J"r y.': "}NF01~ij/\'7 t3N:









mind must be so well· famili:ar with.the area that he can make it

serve· his purpose,s,butitmustnot lure 111m to become entangled

in the fette:rs of; i tsdemonic, forces.' The secret of. success VJi11
fOlJrld in. st~ong a~miese.'hd. army g~pups, wI~1L.~~pce. .!~~~~~L
Dg.t a.ll . ~tt,.?-.9!ftqc~r~il~t_,~~dX' combat tactl.cs Y(~~h a..
-;t;;t~ ;;-~f~&"an;rhii~mn·an'lThtrrooJe-c~ive·:=~'~~="'~·~~:~-"~~~~~~.,~~
tl#""".,,,,mCIZ'ii'Xil1:4j~9-~iii.l""""'''~'''"ll<'_,,,,.~,,'''''~~.m<~-r:~'''ffl\_j\','''''i;'''i!""'~I@I""'_~_~~~' ,



With theprevious-ly described, traditional Russian strategy .
in mind, t11e invader IS plan. of operations must aim at destroying
large pa..l:·ts of the ,Russian armed forces right at, the beginning and
at preventing .their es~ape. 'The operations must ti.1erefore be
rapidly c~'ried out on a' largescale by b~ilding up strong points
of main effort~ if possible. ·~7ith-d01.lble envelopments. The air '.
force rilust be fUlly emplo~Ted for.the same purpose. The German
command, which by a:YJ.d large had folloY/ed these precepts, learned
in the summer of 1941 that tlIe Russians, in s'pite of encirclements
which .cost ti:10m ·bitterlosse.s,· still knew how to save such forces
as "liTere needed for delaying' action as well as for the organization
of battle-tested cadres for armies which ':'Jere being activated in
the zone of the interior. -The immedia·te and- de$perate attempts to
break out of such pockets. could only be countered by foresight
l)l"'eparations that required. the speedy moving up of reserves from
t'l16 rear ... The German troopsvrho r.ushe4for~7aI'd intoxicated by ,
victory claimed to' have inflicted losses which should have been
carefully andori tically scrutinized by senior general staff
officers, who rJere 13el1 acquainted iJJi th the implications .of Russian
size. Lack of realism inj udging enemy 108s8$ caused the German
Supreme Command.' to commit.. blunders' which decisively influenced
the c se of the \Val;'.
It ':Tas furt~1er sh.own that the Russians VIere soon' able --to
organize partisan warfare. Fugitives from the battles· of encircle;...
ment, as -.lel1 as elemcnts.whohad been newly flaVin in at..· had in­
filt!-ated, quickly. fo:cmed behind 'the Germans' backs into effective·
battalions whichmainta:Lnedcontact ~:7i tho the Supreme GOlhm and in
It is therefore of great importance to organize strong
points 'withunits brought in from rea.rechelons;and to prot,8ct
communication lines . by specialsecurity tr.oops.
As s:10vln .'by exp~riGnce, .the time. chosen .for' beginning t,he·
offonsive in, 1941. was' t·oo late. It must be selected ea:..-:-ly in" the
warm soason, that is to say, about the second half· of May. The"
more time is available for the opening battles, the more opportuni­
tios b0come available,for:eliminating decisive· portions of·the
Soviet f01".geS •.' .
Whena\Jtumh app:coaches and .the enemy .has not yot collapsed,
the sec9ndpart of the'stratogicmaxini comes to :the fOl:'e.The
preseryation. of fr;i,endlyforces requires in the .Russiantheater the

- 5- .


most meticulous ca:,:'e~anc1: forc;sight.' Germanoxperienc'e in the 17inter
of 1941·' indicated !thatUi1wary·troops~mustunder,J.1o.circumstal1ce.s .be
exposed to' climati'c· pardshi~ps ·of-·,ti,1e: c ~untry, p~t;icula,r ly the l1ilJddy
season, while'bhoy' Ell':';o·in. a·. ~~jea.kened ;CQndi tion' and .:\lidely scattered.
To do 'so ':'Ionld iie·,offeririga·, fq:vot'tqRussira t s ,traditional ~tra,-0egy.
Losse~ which could hardly .<3verber·ocol.1ped·WGt':$ tho ,i~1evitable.
l"osul t.. Tl10 concentr8:~ionof 'f01"'C88 in a:ceas \"lhic11 can be oasily
defended, a st:torl[~ echel.onment, in "depthi-' the' pr,o~e:ction ,:of air force
installatiohsand 'of 'c'ommunications, .-al"O also 01. ca~dinal ill).portance
. during the. intorim·seasons.• '., If necessarY'dterJ,"'i tQr·y .oCctJ.pj,ed dLlring
the SUilliDior must -oGevacl1:a't·edrdthout fLu"! thor.· 'ado to .. fulfill ·this
demand •. (Compare HindenbUt',gls :retr<:at f~9m the Somme Riyer bend in
1916•.) Actiony;ill bc' deoisivel,Y" influGnced . b y th30stii11S,toof
on~ t sonn successosascompared' ';!ith ':tho .:r~;So.l"..t'C~;S:J~0ft to: the
enemy.·Tt. shou.ld bo oinp.hasizC:ld :ti1a'c those ;.l~.:p$ources must noyer be
underestirEiated. It is during tho mudd;y" $e.~son, sevorely ".
,c6~d 'r!Oath8r ·tha t .tho Russians •. ~l1gage in. unoxpected activi ti\.3~ all
their· onn.. Thoy. t'jG.liZG . that such .71eathGX:'. eonditionsar.e. 88-:.
pociall~T offocti v0a.ids·.
The-y' tak$ delight in ·.for~ing through.
'.iIi th great ener-gyc al1Ci against ;·all expe.ctations the type' .of .under­
taking that other troops '. oons:lder,·.unfeasi ble.. The Russians. 8.I'.e .
masters ofc'amouflage and>infilttation oil any scale. ;To 'gua:c'd'
against su:C'prise ·.:cequires. continuous reconnaissance b:t the'. air .
forcoover large ope,J.'ational, al"8q;sa.nden.eniy communications and by
specially equipped, selec'tedand: trained .elements in t.he inter­
mediate and outpost ar:3as~

No·, inforIne,tion· is ava·ilable on'large,.;..s.cale offensive operations
during the depth of winter. If de.cisive successes have not heen
obtained during the preceding summer, and if, moreDv~r, winter
equipment and supplies are not. in excellent· condition,it d0<?snot
aiJpear. pra.cticable fo:c,t:roops::withbut···;·local exp.eri.enb8 to t:r;:sr to
accomplish· more than a-de'l.. ensive operation. -or .a:. ·tactical
of Ihinor opportunities. ,In general' it will:.. be· better, to. keep. coo~,
to make goed u~fe of the time aVSJ,i.lableto refr.eshen aJ,ld .-4t'ain the
troops and to:complete, repairs .on a11.1tia.ter-i.el:•. Of' paramou,nt
importance is the ability to' .hle·et.;a.·,pur.suing :enemy- during winter,
battles on fa'7orableterms and'-e certain .pJ."ospects.qf
SUCcesS at the return of the ,,:rla~cmer season.· The possibili t~T must
be takenii:lto account tha't the' war may ·last; sev.eral years as.·a
rosul t of 'the ·de'tc;rrnination .'andfeqoluteness of the RUB.pian govern­
ment and- high:comr~la.l1d.·
" I e : '

. The 'N'artilne·o::." gatlizatfon, of· unIts;" the. table·s,:of equipment,:

the preparation and execution of logistical plans which'a .war .',.,'

against Russia l~equiras, are not rrithin the scope of this study.

It :hard1y needs spe'cial; mention.· that·· .. their·impo.'l:,ttanc6' 'is far more

decisive ···he~e· than in any' other Eur.op$:an. :thea.ter. ·,of·openations.

Since the Hussi-ans 'prefer .'to. ';operat'e~~and: at.tack ·during. t.he winter,

··v i .> ;



UMe;l AS"·S..i ·t~ ;,,'~,~,

' . " . ',,·'·.ll

I~' 'I~" .... ~I~ I."__•..... ,'·I,··:·..·.~ ·.·.· .··.

the foremost problem is to procure ,the type of equipment which

insLu"8s winter nlcbili ty and '.7hich protects meu,? animals and in-­

stx'uments on la~ld. a,no. in the air against c0ld~ Ni th rega'C'd to

strategy an3. operations, the following reeluires mention;

.18 rIelS demonstr.ated during the summer of 19Lj-}., the above- .
mentioned missions of a proper stl'>ategycould only be fulfilled

through the continued maintenance of a high degree of mobility ..

rJi tJ.lout strong mot0rized or mechanized units, Vii thout a good

motcrized .supply A.nd l'llQintenance organization and de~')endable

railviB.y transpo:l t9.tion; the outcome of such a war is ve:cydoubt­

This should not imply that marching infantry divisions

are obsolete. ruring bad weather , in large f'o:r:>est and sYJamp

are2.S, t~ley often proved more useful than ~i1otorized divisions.

DUl" ing a Llalt in operations, the infantry rJas indispensable for

releasing the mechanized combat units for other assignments.

The creation of a strong air force capable of handling all

technical and weather problems and so nwnerically large as to

. abs.olutel;y guars.ntee domination overall essential areas is as
important as are tile motorized and mechanized units. Bearing
in mind the lessons learned by the German Wetrcmacht on the
capabilit~- of the Russian armament industry, one should hot
COlli~t on the Soviet Air Force continuing for any length of time
to remain as -backward as it was during the 1941 -45 campaign.


Political Factors

In conclus:Lon it should be mentioned how German statesman­
ship might have aided the armed forces. WI~n German troops
marched L'1to Russia they met a population nhich at first was in
a peaceful, cooperative and even partly expectant mood;, Communism
had not yet s.6 far taken hold. of their 'boelies a..l1d minds tha.t it
had 84tinguished all desll"e for property and religion. Aided by
good pr.opaganda, the initial lw:::ast.J.res of the German military
administration· to meet these desil"'es were quite successful.
Impressed by German mili tar~T successes, the number of Russian
deserters and undercover collaborators increased considerably.
The Gel"man government failed to draYl the logical con~lusions from
this and to puttllem ahead of all other considerations. If tl18
recommendations of the German theater commanders had peen heeded
to a larger degree, the conciliatory measw.."'es suggested by them
Ilould undoubtedly have exerted steadily greater influence upon
the morale and attitude of the Soviet troops and the population
beyond the Russian lines. l'his in tl1rn would have contributed
considerably to the weakening of over-all enemy resistance.






SECUI~iTY H\lF0\~M/,T}8N

Combat Experiences of the' Infantry


An Infantr;X- Division ,in the Attack.
. . Time;

Gr odno - Smolensk

.Vyazma - Vilna;


1941 and 1943) .

a. German Tactic,s in ,th(3 original, Attack.:, The ?8.lllpaign in the
summer and~ autumn of 1941 vIas C), struggle' bE;}t1:veen two 'forces in the
vast Soviet Union in whicl~ the. Russians>were superior on the ground
in nwnber s , materie1 and '. motor i zati,on.:,: while ·th~ fierrmans ~xce lIed
in leadership techniques and in a,i,r, power.. The ca.mpaign took the
form ofa \ war of movement in Vlhicp st?3...~iRraJ:'jr fronts existed onljr
at a feYl places ,and for ~,l1or:t periods·•. ,The att?-cks 17ere not
carried out aftel" long and cal~ef~~planning ap.d, .huge accur:tulation
of matel"'j.el'but were c.onceived on~he s,pot and executed tvith the
materiel on hand~. The Germans:, ,~trove f:c,>r: yi~tory thx-ough enveloping;
attacks by tanks and motorized ,cl,ivision;s" .frpntal atta.cks by in-:- ..
fantry' divisions ,and vertical atta~ks: .1:?Y..;the. Lu~twaffe. The lessons
learned in, combat by infantry,.divisi·ons. ~eip,Gomplete,as concerns
the support activities.. of armored,. mot.ol--ized:,:, .and. ·Lu.ft;vaffewii ts
as ';Jell as the' st.rength 'andplan:s· of::t4e enen~y,. about vvhich ,the
authorhaa no material or data. ·;on .hand~.,·

':Cheinfantry carried out the att~cl<s'v~,.it1i,~~~11e;y support •.
It was generally recognized that infantry should also 'be supported .
by tanks andassaul"t guns, bqt p.l;"oduqtiQn i ter+,!s .did not
keep up vlith .the. demand. T~e t.anl~s. anq~om.<$.assa.ult g'nri batter'ie~.
':vere assigned .to the armoredandmote:rize,ddi visions, ..l:vhile only
a few ·were assigned to the',' so. that theii .
employment was ·restricted to -yhe ·..m<zst . important points. On 'the
basis' of its experience in the, .Polish and ':frenc~.;ca~pa.;igl1s, the
High Command customarily made g~eat dema:r.tc1s;,?~ . ·~he.infantry',s ' .







and initia.tive while attacking.



Since it

on a

brief campaign in 1941, the problem of conserving strength was


The maps ,available on Russia proper ,(as distinguished from
the former border states) proved to be of po OJ:' qua.lity. They were
mainly reproductions with German overprint of the Russian
1 : 125,000 maps already obsolete in Wqrld War I,which gave an

ina.dequate pictuce of terrain features. Roads, vegetation and

localities had undergone great changes since their original

publication. Aerial photographs, Yihieh were only rarely issued

to ti.le troops, proved 'very useful, partictilarlJ' in .f·orest and

syV'amp areas.

The infantry divisions. had to adva,n.ce and attack quickly

to support the al"nlored and ~~lotoriZed ·divis:i,on·s· sent to th~· 'en011lY

flar.ks and rear, for after rea.ching their, obj 0ctivos tile latter

were usually engaged in-heavy .fi'ghting vlith' i~(:str'Ongerenemy.

Tho infantry divisions ->Jere assigned sedtors. "eight to ten kilo­

meters. wide,. in J711ich thoy h4dt,omove,reconn' (;1nd" asa

rule.., also fight. To.ctida'I'reeor'.J.1a:iss·ance gene.l"a1Iy provided

no infbrElation about, thelocation'and the Stl\1ugth 'of the' ex­

pected resistance. The lqck ·;·of definite ipformation Vias typidal

for a war of' niovement. The divisi6n:t8COhnaissance battalion-­

consi.sting of one· cavan:-yt.roop, orie bicycle tr,)op and one hsClVy

. ~ileap6ns tt-oop 'I'1ith.he<J.vy:macnine· gUn'S, "..mortars, tight infantry
gu..'1S , antitank glt.I1S, one Be'out carplat"Oon and one'· engineol-" '
platoon -:--was i"requentli s0nt: ahoad' in order to seize important
terrain teatlw8s and hold th0m until the ·di'tiisioni·s· ari'ival~ For
this purpose it rlas reInforced by 'artillery, ihfantry moving in
trucks, anda.,nti tank vehicles'. In 'oth~r: '.caB';~S· it '~;{::lS ~mploY0d as
flank cover.' For modern conditidnsit: yjo:s' 'neitht3r fast nor s'Grong
enough. The previous campaighs "iil ,Poland: :fi.nd~··France denionstrated
that an infaritrjT division needs a, 'strAng' mobile' un:Ct~"" Becau$e of
per~onnel ,o.nd materie·l losses, the 'division rec'orinaissance
battalions were disbanded aft'8J:* ··the···w'inioror :I94i.~ 42·,·a1though,
as a. mobile division res.sTve, thOjr would' given a good account
of ·themselve.s in active 'defJiisee,':'
. ','



In Centra.l Russia the bi'cvole'ls :of littl.e use as amoD,hsof
locomotion' and rocorihaissance·. u. yiith ex;pert"l"iders', horses inured
to Ens'tern terrain conditions: 'are valUabie~> Armor'ed' 'scout Cars
require a high degi-·ee. oi'cros,s-cotiht!:i 'm·obi.litY,adhieved ·tbrough
four-wheel' drlve: or cate~pillar' ·trac~(s.Ali'ght',a.ll-'tvhee'.1 drive
ca~ with oversi-zetires,' such as t'ne' Rus:si~in-bllilt· cros6.... c'oun-try ..
Ford or the GernlQn Volkswagen, "proved best· for 'thcpurpose' of' .
mobility and liaison.

Et·, .'U· 1,.)·lf·.·._T
.. V.., .IN'
F·"~ .}51··1·,·_\',:-r:,J "':N'
1 .•- v "'-l\:. :,r:tv

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two, ini'ant!'yrGgiment.~ 7ihich.had ,bQOh re.inforeed 'by ar.tillor;T,­
enginee~ and.antitank Up.its~: lea.pfrog formq.tion
was qO~i()red. by t.he a,rt41lerytl '. Horse-drawn artil10ry provoq. t·oo
slow f~r, thispm"'pose.. ,Horee;.oQro..wn medium artiller:rbatto.iicms
p:roved so lacking in mbbility'in Russiatha ttho divisions rlou.ld
motorize thc:mas soon as possible with, capttired materio.l. ,Soviot
air attacks rl(~e not f3ared, since tho Luftwaffe dominated tho
skiG~h It, also notl considered likely that enemy ta.nk~nd
motorized units could pen~.trate into German gaps or cover pur
marchingccolumns ~ith fire, although occasionally £uch amb~shes


The. German advance· vIaS hampered' by the poor road sy·stem and

the lack of suitabl~ crossings over the nl..1merOUS s~7ampy lowlands.

The infant?i yJith its light vehicles ~,-~as best· able /toinove fOl"Hard.

A.t tllebeginning of the campaign each company ',':l$.S equipped rJ'i th
three additional panje~~ cal."ts which pr oved invaluable. An excellent
light cart was developed in tae .Russian collective farms. Attached
to the. infantry regiment for 'march movements; the artillery ":,ras
given no mar-ell security supervisOry missions; its primary duty VJaS
to maintain ,contact- at e.ll times.

The enemy soreenedhis . positions -by 'means of advanced motorized
infantry units supported by artillery. If a German division's
advance elements met resistance , ~t.' usually not 'clear~J'hetl1er
the resistance was of a temporarynatUl~e or c:lhether' i t'wouldresult
in a dec~si veaction. rTi th one"infantryregiment fbr':lard" the ­
division' -:!asable to, secUJ."'e a larg~.r freedom of -action and m-ol~e
tactical mobility. " HO".7ever, if two regiments were engaged ·forwai'd,
it was possible to cla:l."ify the enemy situation more rapidly, ina.s­
much as' such in; could only be gained by action on 'a -broad



Soviet infantr JT un,its, 71hieh 'were always rJell camouflaged, -,
permitted 'the attackers' to approach within 300 mete:rs or less be.....
fore .opening fire.: 'Usually they,revealed no mOj.~e of their
positions. t.ha~ \'Jas considered necessary. ,They let patrols·either
approach very closely ol.~enter their positions, vfhereupon the '
.~Latter ~7ere destroyed. ,By means of personal ,conferences with the
f oX' VJsxd infantry regimental commanders and theartillerjr 'cOfi1:fi1andet-,s,
the division cOrnmancle-robtained <iatafor plannirigan attack, which
almost invariably'provedtc> be fxoontal.' The eneniycamouflaged soft
spots so, effi'ciently that theJ.~ Ylerenot ·1."ec,ognizedbyourr·sc.onnais-­
sance. patr,ols in time to 'permit the division to direct its;·advance
accordingly•.. Dl..l.rihg thetim.e required for moving up the third


F.;y:m c<?rt peculiar to ·Ea&ter.p Europe and Siberia.


infantry regimont and for, ,displaqil'lg ,the artillery forrlard, the
Russians had brougl~t up .motoJ;"ized:artil1,e~y' and i.nfantry on ,truc~\.s
to launch.a frpntal ·a, of own,_ ,Ea,rly, in the, War Soviet.
infantry units paid Ii ttl~ attent~ontos~curit1g,t!ieir flanks·;
later on they .Here more careful. 'Isolated elements attempted to
regain thqi~units at night.

Tl~e' att~clc bega-9 VI hen the was ~~ady. Until thep
the infantry r.Jmained inactive. Binoculars were m.ostly Usedfol'
reconnaissance. Only exceptionally ~.·la.s infol"matianavailable
concerning depth of enemy positions, tactlcal grouping,. and
artiller:.,Y'. Our own intentions a~d the terrain detoI'mined the
selection of the point of main·ef!ort and of the broakthrough
poixlts. For thclse the infantry Pl?eferred tho. type 'of. terrain'
17hioh,. 'by lJ.oansof.manysmall, wt~hes of cover ~acilitated
appr'oucn, oven though it did .perlilitthe enemy artiller;>T to observe
our movGuonts q.ndactions.Tact~Gal cooperation bet',teen ,adjoining
regiments' and ;)attaliol1s was sectit'ed by means of assignodzonos of
action and obj8 ytives. Thqse objbctives ':10re important features
inthi:;} terrain. orsectoX's in the 'o.epth. of ,onomy positions, ..
generally inth0 presumed enemy artillery area.. Their .occupation
insltrod a certain initial succes-s and rlas valuable i11 securing
a jump-off pOint for continuing. the 'attack.

At tho-sta.x:t of an action it'uasimpossihle to calculate
its .outCOl:l0. Thedivis'ion ,'comniander, 'had to koeD the forward
r,Ggiments in .. chec~·· •.. Despite/ their ~(3ckless imp~tuousness, they
had to l"cmember·to actasa,partofthoover":""all 'division plan.
:rho battles ifler i )soful1·'0,f su.t"prises that·i tconstantly 'proved
diqadvantageo\1s if tho regiJ:'lentalcommander, no more. reservos
on hand... Tho ·X'.)asons YJere: to be .found in Centr~l 'Russial s
terrainv;hich Ylasoftendifficul't ,:t,o keop under surveillance and.
intha fact that pa tr ols on horse ;;, or, foot here too slo·w.The
infantry la~ked efficient radio instrmnonts for patrols.
Th0 division a,l"'tillory· commander had to Dovetl1e. bulk of·
his·uni t in such, a marinor as .to allOW thG .division commandor­
as ulllch timoas possiblG for det;J;m~ning thtl main point of att;,).ck,
and qUickly put tho· al.~tillery in fl. po.sitio~1 to:. fire. The ex·tillery's
batta.l:i.onand. l"ogip,.8ntalcoJ?ill1a,nder$ rq.shed fo.trmrd and personally
infol"mod thoriselyes a bout the terr~in1 Daintaining. contact at
tho 'saqo time, ~7ith t~1Q commandors of forwal"'dinfantry r.egil:1~nts.
Th~ artille1;,Y ~ilas comr,1anded froQ the for"".7ard linGS, not from the
roar. A,11b().ttalions had forward observers with: the ·infantry.
Artiller3T ,liaison tGams kopt roady to go to the infantry comri1andors,
it necessary,:7henovor the battalion .commander 17as unable to dQ so
himself. It remainod standard op'orqting procodure tha.t, to promoto
r;lUtual sUPP9rt$ infantry and artill?ry commanders should .sat up
their cOrJ.Lland posts in closo proximity. Tho artillery gayo its



. ~. ': . ~:' ...,,:~./ :~"~'\~:~~ ::~~~~>~ __ ~." ,f~)'{~: :~V~" .


'S:!£CAJI{i<1 ~"'(:;'l~ F Ct~k1f~TlG,~





. '


'~~tr"l')M'--1 -- ··"·N
b EL--l~'l
L <jf~r"Jl'\.1.~,1
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. • ."


. ' , '

' .

full support to the -infantry rogir.lent, ":las making. the fJain
effort or' theattacl~. The '.other r~gil:1ent. retaine,d~ts battalion
and was, if necessary, .reinforced by ~ tle9-.i:umbattery~ The
artiller Jt QOfiu:nander" had' to :keep in Ill:Lnd, pgwever ,.that 8nJT successes
gained by the regiQent which'was,not attacking at the. point of wain
effort might necessitate J shiftihg of ~tillery fire •


·,available,for· the kind
.Neither targets nor 'aIl~Llt,i.nitioh·
concentl"atedartillerYfire' that preced,ed a prepared attack 'in
positionv\Tarfare. The artillery fired ...onpredeterriined targets
'wi th observed, concel1trated 'fir-e.. ' . Throu,gh.· constant"-c,ontact vii th
infantry cOfJJ:1anders, the artillery comm~nder.s· promptly' cor:iplied
wi ththe f,Q;... . tlers' reques.ts regarding choic.e. ,of· targets, the beg:Lnning
and .dur-ation of fire, expehditure .of 9ol:1auni tion'and change of posi~ .
tions, and thus they guaranteed proper'.artiller5-Tsupport for t1.1e
infantry attack. This close collaporation bet':leen· both at'r:ls ',vas
the basis of victory.


The infaptry attack was preceded by a sudden ·artillery·con-"
centration of' a few minutes duration;, -vyhich ',had .t·o'be 'p~olonged if
unexpected. eneray reinforc8nents or obstacles (rJines) inpeded the'
infantry's advance. In this 'war of 1:1.0Venent ne;itherthe infantry
nor the artillery could expecttq ca..rry·otlt. :a' fixed plan 6f 'attack
which noves like ·clock.:....vfork.. The division's n'ormal·aufn.urii'ti-on
supplies usually sufficed the ar·tillery...:Econ'omical use of ari111U­
nition in hitting the main 'targe~, .or" t;he· attack". accurate··8..1"'tille:.."'y·
fire, no e}ccessiveJ:'equest~:bythe J.nfa.ntry,· all were necessary.
The supply of snoke ammunition Vlas inadeqIJate.' '.Smoke shells t7e~e
useful for ,rapid :adjustment because~·~o large·,am6unts'ofar:.lm,t:L.lJ.itiob.
could be directed on ,the target. .
,-, '. " '.

The infantr;( regir\e'nt¢us.t6rnarily.-.~t:tackedwith triO batt:alions
forward, the battalion with one ortvfo)."ifle·:companies.-' 'D~sr'e~
garding of the official organization', th~".cOr:lpal1Y wasorgani~zed
into four assa.ult detachL1~nts·YJ'hich, i'v~re.led: by: three plato'on .
leaders and - the.' compan;y whose: . le~ders-hip and mili tar~1""
skill provided the driving 'f'orqe l?{. ~l1e._~ttack.;'I41i:1ediately after ~ .­
the artillery preparation, narrow~, de.~p .i,nfg,ntr;y'" spearheads pene.;.;. .
trated -the ,eneuy' s pos:i tions.· The assault groups "vlereclosely
foJ:-lo'.7.ed by the infantry :heavy ,wea:po~s.... ·. As the ~~:estilt 'of ·-L1uttial·
support and well-coordinated collaborat,ion-:with . infantr'yl1eav7 .
v\feapons, it ",laS possible to overpower e}lBniy er~pla.ceqel1ts 'and'
strongpoints, 'or else to by--pass' 'thei:lthr,-ot:tg,h sll1."evrd utilizcvcion
of terrain. The Russian- was' a tepacious: put-not '0.' 'flexible:' . .
adv\)l' sary ~ He ~"!ascrafty, pe.rI;d. t'teq' 'h~L1l:?eJfto beoverr.un' and then
fired fron the rear on' the attackers ..... ,He,rare1;ycoU?terattaqlted.


The, battalion C0t11;1ander- tol16~vied 'hisforvJard ',cOD1"oanies . with

the battalion reserves,' 'to provide flank protection and contact·"

.... 12­




. . . . . ..J


with adjacent units. He .macle sure :that,· in the h<3at ,of ba.ttl~,

the tl'"OOpS did, not;Lose their senseo! directiQ.p, a,pd that there

. ':-rere no gaps ~n,rltline.' 'By persona.l 4-ea<l~.rship he kept
the attack movmg ;7hen i t~ momen'tum appea1·ed dim~nished as the
result of losses.
The regimentalcornmandeX' ' intermittently shifted his command post
so as tp keepitdir8ctlybehindth~'adv:ancingba'ttalions. Clos~
contact with them enabled him to give t~mely.information to the
artillery and division qomm~nders aboutllielplans"the situation,
and initial successes or difficulties, and thus to provide. the
basis forcon"binuing theat,tack. He was responsible for providing.
continq.ous a.rtil1ery, anti tank a.nd engin,e~r support to his a.ttacking
battalions and that they vlould not be unprepared· when meeting
strong enem.rresistance. .The better hes\J,cceeded in providing
support the .less likely our troops. weret6?ncounte~ any s\li....prises
which would impede the for "v1ar d movement.. .The ~nfantry was trained
to thrust- ahead regardless of- enemy el<3ments remaining on its
flanks. If the attack came to, a. halt,' it could . only be continued
with strongartiller,y, s:upport., ' A,', too r~pid aclvanc~ was ther~fore.

At dusk ~h.e .infantry usuallY';disco~tinued the attack, be­

causeo! physicalexh~ustion,,' then$cess.i,ty.t9. supply, regl'"oup,­

and r,est the troops for 'a.c~ntinuationthe ne.xt day. In ,some

cases the infantry pursued the retr,eating en~my'at night. Thus,

in J:uly 194J., cturing the battle.:of-,Sm91e~sk:,.;a GerH1a.lf.:infan~r;{.

regimentptu"sued the ~leeing. en~m~r for. ':JUOl"e than ten kilometers

to important heights north of the· ci~y where ·he _.\'!asabout to

prepare' def:3nseposi tionswith tres!} ·~e.Se.t:ves. .A similar. night

advance was .unsuccessful in October 1941 in the battle of Vya,srna.

When the ihfant.t"y attack wa~ repuls~d, .. it"took-~pap -~ll-round

defensepbsition at. night, ~n whioh it wa~~t~ac.k~d at daybrealc by

numerous Soviet tanks. After, heavy,<;::a.,s,ualties the

German infantry wi thc1l"e'w into ,8. f.orest -wi ~llout' qeip.g pursued by

the tanks •. The decision to continueah._ 9-tta~kat night was, as

a rule, made by, cout"l;}geous ,forr!ard'.w.howantedto

exploit an apparently favoralJle. opportuni ty:~.. ,sll~h anf4ction will

usually be under .'Hay for quit~some ·til1f~be.+or.e,re.ports.abol.ltit .

reach superior commanders! rrhey rJ~ll, fi.r;td i t:d~ff~cult to qiake,

. decisions . because they :.lacka.dequat~informatiqnabout.
t he'
situation and flu.:-ther devel.Qpments •.. ttwill ,usua,l:i..y be oorrect
for. them toa.ppr-ove ·,·of" ,troops t·, aggress,~veness ·~nd:to do the-ir
best to further th~ progress;of, thE?a'ttac.k .... Gre·at· SUQC8q,(3. will
result from a planned ·continuationof·a.n~ghtattack. Fo~ thi,s
pur,pose thrytim~ly ~~pply of fr.esfl r<?,p:L:ac~inents, ,tanks, . engineer
troops, as well as signal and illumination equipment is essential.
In night combat, the. ,profic~'encjr of ;the-,tro.ops is of.utmost

"In 1941: the Russian$' emp.lo;:oed: tpnks; aga1rist Oe~ni¢!.ri
arm·ored. and motol",ized 'divisions: sp', that OtP::~;·.iMai)tr1·di Vi$;LO,nS
rai~ely encount.ered them.. Eighty percent;: of.' the di Y:i~:lon' antitank
unit equipment qon$.is,t~d. of 37;"'mm. guns,' the' l"$S.t.. ·ot: 507mnl. guns •.
The infantry carried au,titanl): rifl~s. and. ·r8Ji~d i1;1 close ,c:ombat,.
on antitank mines and ·concentrated charges.If.:· . Xl1ese,·wef,l.pons,.w.ere
ei'fective, only.: aga.inst. the .weak tahks:':·whi:ahthe Sovie.ts still,..
used :in lal"'ge· ·num:bet.s,.in:. the '.surrune-t anG], a.utumn..' J~f:1941· •. Many
revers'eswould. havebe·en·.suff.'e:red:.witho\rlt: the:.suppott,: of, the'
Luft':raffe, 'a11d. of. advanced.· art~lIer¥. and ~ antiair.craft ,batteries
and assault guns.', N'oto;nly the'ctf-e.ctivene,s.s but ·alsothe mobility
of om.. antitank ·weapons,.was insufficient. ,Ant.itank guns~ drawn' :by
tractors, especially tractors with wheels, are unsuitable f.o)J,I march:
security and for supporting attacks.




.In October 1941 during. the "battle; 'of Vyasma; .. un attacking
division l'iO.S. opposed by tanks on a broad front '\/hich" the 'l1ussians
had set 'up and se'cured by .,infantry·through a'shrewd:8xploitation
of such features in the<tei'rain ·as . the: edges. o~ 'woods, hodges and·
the tops of hills~ According. to' standard, Russia11.·.. proc.edure, .. their
tanks )'eE1ained silent during the infantry's:. advance. Assault guns,
br ought up' in support of ow .infantry',.' 1;'1er0:'. soon: destroyed.
Artillery fire concentrations proveClinl$ffective.:since neither'
accurate reconnaissance information 1101" ··large· ammunition stocks
were available. The di viSiotil.... t.emporarily had,,· to, discontinue' the:
a.ttack and Haitu:.1til the pressure.: had· "'be~n;reli8ved by action at'
adjacent u...?J.i ts.
~he attackei.. ·faced" grea.t~,' ;dealing withsucn a
defensive '. position composed,: of·· ·tahks ··"oecuase. its ·.gl.;.eat,; fr'c11tal
fire po-r.ver, made. reconnaissance ':difficult and, ·because .ii· VIas hardly: .
vulnel"·the'· fire.
light,androeditml:caliber','guns ,nor '~"(Ten~
to that of heavy ones. It had the advantage.: over 'thE:) "attacker ,of"::
utilizihgcover and camouflage and it perm;i..tted the defender to
shift 'forces .f'apidly·and 's~;,itcn':to; the offensive·..·The'··a:ttacker
will try. to en"{elop&uch' a;. defens€;l·'line :.,by·" means·' .of .8,; ·frontal·· '.
contain111ent,. "All·. v~eap0ns may· be; used, ~,such as:.large-calibei" bombs;
fireeonoent,rations' Qf'.heavy batteries· ViTi til ·,la.rge 8Jqjendi tm"e: of', :
ammunition,,·and :'atta9ks <by heavy·.>tanks'" under,smoke'·:'screens .. '





Froffitheyear1944 Qnward"'the'~Rus·sians'·also"·formeddefensive
fronts with the a'ia.:- of 7.6:.2....mni:· antitank gUhs:~· TheY"possessed·:·:
heaVj'" -frontal fire p01ver but·:were.';relatively':inflexible, ahd: .:.
'vulnerable," to 'bombs . and :·a.r.tillery, fire.:·' ,·Their. imJ.il6bi.1i ty' faeili tated
our flahk attaoks·.·
. ; :':. ',..
.. . ' .
. , . . . . . : :: ':
;, .

Combat in· woocls··was·.;rare,sin¢e·:th~German command tried,to'
bypass large wooded area's·. . A pr~pared:de:tehse .'in V/OGds :\vasdiffi....·:· ;.
cult to ove'rcome •. ::The .,at-tacking ·infant:r.y.. lacked tank· support.' ,,·The;·

- 14



occasionally expressed" opinio'n that·· tanks': ha.d.· no', business in v'loods
. was refutedoy the· Russians" fre:quentandadroit tis'e :of-,them. To
d:Civ'e a tank through Russiab- forests proved to' bE3,'an'art :that had
to be lea.~ned~ ,Infantry protectio:n"was'needed~', 'During' sudden
clashes,- the more aggressive side' usually:'woh.···'i'11e: tri£a.ntl"y was
deployed in the usual attack formatio.l:ls~ ,.'. Reconnaissance' patrols·
and covering ,par'ties hadtopr,cvidea;l).~·ar'ou.nd":secltt'ity
•. Ainong
heavy infanttj7 weapons the' lO-nlin infantr-y -gu!i··andlO-mm anti tanl~ ,

gun were especially valuable.: . In lar'ge forests 1 t proved useful

to employ' II orientation teams" equippe-dvlith·com.pass,aerial photos

and so ,forth.. Even ·;:rithout,enc.Ountering··.€ x :tta . ordinary obstacles,

the' rate of march' generally- did· not' exceed one '.to tV10 kilometers

pet hout':. .
, .... ,

The German attacks in 1943 and later - aside from those in
the Kursk area, about '~7hich' no d~ata is available -. -. ~vere attacks
wi th limited ooject:i:ves 'for: the rd.guiriirig of lost terri tory or
for the purpose of closing gaps, in. the:' front;~ . '" Very carefl,.u pre­
parations and sec t.:U: ity wetie the prerequisites' of' success. Security
wa.s hampered less by ·Russfan,aii reconnaissance than byreconnais­
,sanee patrols stati"oned . be. hind ,the front. where . they cOhtinua.lly
observed· railway and;r-oad ,'tra.ffi~,,:mon.itored telephone conversa­
tionsand co.ptUl"'edserv~cetroops·.whous'tially.knew·more. about the
situation than front line sQldiers.·Ta'c~tical':proceduresand·
. doctrines remained as the~'-, Vlero in,1941~ : In. view of increased
Russiah'defensive strength, our. attackiX).gforces had to be heavily

. German attacks' were ,carriedout6.ccording to' the following

rules : Short, intense· ar,tiller'y.· preparation which ;neutralized

the SOViet infantry:. Neutralization· of\-the.Ru'Ssia.n .artiil~ry by

counterbattery fire or Luftwaffe·::attacks.·' ::Infahtry.a-ttacks 'V1it~1'

assault guns or tank s u p p o r . t . "

/", .

"' .. :{ :­

It was more important. to:' have e,ffective ;,c~6pel:"ationamong

the various a:rms thanspecia,.llY large.numbe.r.s.,· of;o.tta.cking in­
,fantrymen. Thecloself tho :o'Qjective the, vie.akerthe.::,infantry: .
could be. The more':accura,tely i:t.helocation of enemy,positions
was knoufn~ the -more .dot.ailed ',cQuld .,the·:~ger:s":be,:·;}' were' . '.'
issued to the assault troops, such us the taking of certain parts
of. pos.itions, piv:ot~ng- ~~Qr. .;e.nve,lQpmen't,:and us~;: of. flank protection •.
Th$ forw~rd assatJ.lttro.aps hud.:to:r,cGtch':.t,he··-objectiv.e:as soon as'
possibl:e, . ui thout :rogard for flanks.·,;.o!':rc'ar:', , at.!d ,,·to .prepa:r-e, for
·defense. ·The .Russian.pos'itiona ·ha<;1:,:as,;a,rule·,"an .outpost 'area .'

some 500 - gOO meters deep which 1HtlS occupied, at.strong points,"

by combat outposts. 'The positions th8ffiselves.consisted of

numerous tr.onches-and. stro,ng' points,.\in·:gr.;oat·depth.:'.The in-.-'

dividualpositi'ons ·,'loll ,.cS:fIlouf+aged .a.nd-· adapted to the

terrain but :noiLstr.6ng. :, Ivlany: -positions: were ,-mined.': -~:';.:

The 'attack, when 'he~vily~gpported bi ·t,anks,usue.lly proceeded
,at a fast pace.' As, long as, it kept moving, our'troops had little
tosliffer from Russian artil:Lery., , ':Che ass,ault ar~il1ery 'flaS ,given
a precise fire' 'plan which was a¢iapted to t'he planned course ,of the
infantry attack. ,The ,a.rtill~ryprepara~ionra.relylasted mOl"e
than thirty minutes. ,Then the v~!'ious .. phases of the' attack;:Jere
supported OJ' observed fire,_ Fi~a.l1y" "the largest possible number
of gWlS '.las concentrated for defensive fire fl;om the captured
Theneutrali~ation of the RUss~~~' artillery. 'Jas more importCUlt
after than during the attack. ,Success depended op. ',';hether i,t TlaS
pos'sible to 'repel the "strong c:ounterattacks 7Jhich \-,ere carried, out larger numbers of tanks and increased artillery support.
Large-scale mot0rizati'on perlni,tted 'the'Russians to rapidly COl1­
centrate at menaced positions ,numerous: batteries with large stocks
of aillmlli~itioh and heavy tank units. Often the Russ~ahs'did not
give up for days and repeated t£leir day a11d"nigl~t .attacks ruthlessly.
In preparing the initial attack it Has therefore, nBcessa,ry to
calculate requirements of replacements, weap'o~slamm-unition and so for defense against counterattacks. This defet:J,se often re~
qtured more strength tha11the ini tialattacl~. There "'!Iq.S particularlJT
great need for st~ong antitqnk'd~fens~.

b. Teprain PI·obl.ems in the Att.ack.. ,1n consequ~nce of unfavor....
able terrain, deep sno~'i.T,' .fa.r~reachi,X,lg Soviet superiority in materiel,
and inadequate friendly tanlc support, many German attacks '.'ierepo~rt­
poned until night. This was advisable., hO\1ever, only at· tirnes.. ':Jhen
the attacks' were not planned tq advance too far forward but Dere
to be carried out ~according tq p~-a.n~,. :,' .
Combat 'in the centralsectOl;," of. '"the Eastern Front, be,cause
of its primitiveness and few r9a~s" mad,€} higher demands on engineer
troops and labor forces than did an? 'central Elu.. opean'w.··.. ea. ' The
difficu~tieswe~e aggravated .byUJ;lpq.~table equipment.Th(~ mastering
of such difficulties with, the siIIlple .. mate+"ials to be found in the
~ country is an art, that' must' .1??~'learn.ed,. Friendl;YT support by the·
indigenous' population prov?d.,.; ;..
Du.ring advances the engineers tver~ respori~ible for building,

bridges, lajtingand clearing !uines and ,.build:i:ng rO,ads) the first

task being ·the 'mgst impor:tant' al'idextensi'y·e;ol1e. 'The follorring

experionces concern the "crossing .,of;

(1) Crossing of the 'N:fe~eri; "north of Gr'odno"iriJuly

1941. The faJ.'" side of tho river 'm3.$ occupied 'by weak enemy -forces

while more ','Jere, a.r:c:lving on truoks., PrQ~octed by a.ssault guns and

artille:cy, th8fitstinfantry wave, consisting of about 200 men,

swam the rive!" vhich was, some 150' meters' "jido, drove 'out the' shoro·







SECU)~-lTY lNF~)"I~'Mj~TI3N

defo'ndersaftei" abr'ief'oattle" a:hd"forin~¢l'a' bri.dgehead~ The
follm1~ng,infantrr \fa·~cs' wfth 'h~~vJr 'infantty v,e,·~·p.9ns: Cros,ped with
the' aid of' fiBld eXPedients.: , Altho'ughexp~:ise.Ci.:, . to"· i.ncreasing 84emy
resistal1c~, the.' b~idg;el'l~ad. ,:.Jas ~'ri1.a.;rg~"d, d~iii.g' the. 'night'and the'
building' of 'pohtonoric1ges' cbmmehced~C,a.sualties durlrig' tho
cr:osslng ':161"8' ~mall-e,.· Ne,fther' 16hg rec9nnaissahc~!
-:;-}ere·nrJc.essar;y-fOi" s'o:l:-diel"sto $,1;'l:lm''•. ';·The '§ueuiy. \J8S caught
by su.rpr1se·. Durirtg ·th"e· co"urse 'ofth.;). ~'!ar the RussIans also made
USG of this ~ype of crossing.



(2) The Bor,~sina.· ~l}d iJniGp~ YJere' ~r'Ossed \7~ thout
meeting rO$istarce in,'~uly 194.1~··'.',Dl~~ing'·thG.,:cr.ossin~ of tho
BeresinathG building.of api:)j:>oach and.. e~it r6adsacr'oss the
sVlampy shores required more t;i.mG.:·:than th.8:.bridgG constrl~ction 1~
self. At tho Dnieper th0 infantry diq. not, >:1ait" fbi- the arrival
of t.ho cro~sing ?nd' 1Jridge equipfl1ent;' :deiayed'~o~ause 6f. bad roads,
but improvisod the o:i:,'ossing.·
. · .
. .


(3)' . A: surprise' attack, .fila de ~t.·i)os.s~ble~~ocaptUr~ a
·t.l~o Vobz inta~t"in bctob~r·'1941.·,.


On tho roads over which th3 div~siqn,,;'las to advance., tl1<3

enginoers aiso had to repair and ro:i..nfbrce,a. largO nuxribor of bridges
spanning depressions and sm,all'rlatur~1ay~~,T:Lmbe;c, from the nearest
forests: a.nd villages liaS use<l .as rC3.'!Nmaterial •.: More . difficult' than
the construction Ylork itselftiSual3;.y·'.:,~S the trans,portatioll of
materials since the engineer \roqps':,iacked adeque;te' numbers, of
cross-country trucks. .
. '" .... , .;: .
..... '.'

Roads could only be:; t-epa,ired 'in :~xc·eptlohalcases. Rains
unpavJddirtroads into bogs." .I,"!?·.ras 4P"t. prac:tica,l to c?n­
tinue ,tho' march until bad rOad ·sec·tioh'S: "had :be'ell rGpa;ir0d •... ~Jo '
time' was saved by a pre·~ipita.rit ·a4Yad~c. '~7h~c'h 'n!erq~y: r.csul-toct in
overstraining\ horsos, .o4giries.
vehic;res~ .,.. '. ,-. .
' <,,'
.'. '


The Russi,ans sho~;ied ·ing0n'U.1;ty.·.·and.crai.t~i:ie':~siri·rrdnG·i~Ying.,
Places nhich the Gei"mahs pr~su.m"ably>rioul(1 ei1tQ.l--ll1··ordqr ·to avoid
obstacles or to t"int.L protection 'ag·~ihs·t;'inc·leinent·vieathcr .01" 'enemy'
fire. werG minod, as wolles weapons, tanlcs, Gex:man
corpses, 'bU:l1ker's and,~so fort~~ "
. '-, . . .": . . '."
Tile :t,ype'ot±hst,·wh~oh eng~n<?~r'" equipm011t
for forcing 1"las required YICre 'f6t1nd" onlY-at'· tho 'frontier. Those
reinforced concrete tVlo-storJt ,. Qunkors vV'ere .often. defonded ;for davs
Yiith utmost ·tonacity" ahd-'coulq. only' '0'0:.' t.a.ken ~!i t.'h.. ·tho;-m·ost· nl0der~1 .
engine"or equiplllent'~···
'. ,
. :'




" . ..

The tremendous' amount' o'f·"w.orkt6:'b0: dono" '~~iil a"l\vays.· offer
great temptation to f.t:t ttbr· awaJT the efforts ot the' engineers.

Units of all armored brancJ;1es, including the,' supply services, should
be required to carr.y'out simple construction work for which trained
officers, noncommissioned officers and enlisted men should al~vays
be available~' Such work comprises road imiJrovements, repair or
strengthening Of,bridges across small,watetways, mihe laying and
cleai"al1ce, the; bhilding of~rtjbcden !futs; etd~ )/irlbl"'der ,that ,the
eng~noer' troops may remain available for the big tasks.
c. Evaluation of German ,Offense Doctr.~. ,.In con'clusion it
may be said of the infantry divisions' attack procedure that it waq
bd~eq. on sound t~.ctical principles, compliance to which produced
tL.8 best possible results through mutual, collaboration between the
infantry with its heavy weapons and the artillery. The infantry's
tena'cious aggressiv?ness ,and defiance of death formed the basis of
success. HO'.'Jever,. the atta,cks were prepared and carried out too
S10\"11y, which would have' permitteda more highl;r mot01:'izedadversary
to move 11is resel"ves to the menaced point in time or to evade action.
In the battles of encirclement in 1941 this-:;!as 'not so much the·
case, ;7£lich should-De ta.ken into' account ',lb3n evaluating the
su.ccesses ti)en 'achieved by the, ,German .infantry divisions. This
fa.ult vJas especially serious in the pur sui t, ,becuase the infantry
had tq depend on slow-moving artillery maiteriel.The anerilY could
tllusb:"ace himself for nev" resistanGe which the infantry had to
break daJT afte!' day, and for 17hich lit had to. pay a :high price in
losses~ j\;Iotorized pursuit viTould. have prevented this, and successes
could, have been obtained quicl{Br and. more ,cheaply:. ' Night pu.rsuit,
which is very effective and Ylhich mod'ern;i.llqminationtechniques
vlil1 also make possible away from the highwaJrs, deserves -ca..:c'eful

Russian commanders have learned a great deal..N~netheless"

their character .offers good 6pportunitiesofsiiccess to' flexible

and resoLu."'ceful attackers.. In spite of numerous GQinmunist efforts

to enliven the charactel'" of the Russia.n people, a certain degree

of passivi tjr 'and ponderousness will remain. The e~{Pel"ience of the

Soviet command is toa-certain extent:, one-Sided, for' it, never had

to face up-to-date armo:r-ed and air'fol~'ces comparable' to those that'

operated in western Europe in 1944 ~45.

Tt proved a sound measure to organize the German'",,;bJ;l"f;,etfi~yO,~!"F'

~i vision ':ai til three regim8lits,.. :7 ..ether _ther~g,im8'n:t's'~shou:Ld t'l$.ve

trIO 01'" three battalions remain -£11d~~~'d~~th'(; m~re fu.l~y, the

air forOG" arm,ot' and artillery 'support tho, infantrythe'.LQss ,
nUlIlG\:eous the lattel" neeclstobe. If the' in.fantry regim~nts have
tH? rifle oattal,iOnS, .thG,-: d.iViS, ion, ,should :,l,1avea seventhbatt~~li,
on ,/
at its disposal. Organizing the infantry diVision Yli t1+ two re .­
,mente 0:( ,:three 'r,ifle,battalions each has ,'not 'proved sound., ."


The; division artillery Y\]a~ tqoweak. Itshou).d ,have consisted
of tHO regiments, one lightand
~het3.vy. "Events "demonstrated that
assaultguns belong ·to the~aftil1ery: ··T.~1e di vi~ion' n?eds~, its' own
assault gun battery.


I· ­

For antitank defel'ise, ·which··yjill a~vatsJ?lay" a.n :~mportant
r,ole inan;)istruggloagairist;theJ1us'stan'~Arm:y',tank: destroyers and
self.... pr opelled guns .are needed, " the ":f-ormerassigned tn" divisions ~ .
~he l:tter ~o reg~.~0n::, .I:.beli~.~e.;~~~tth? .artil~er~r sho~ldhavG
~ ts Ov1n ant~tank d.efen~es.. _".... , ,...... .. ..: . ,..
", ,.'
. -. .

~n gin~er

u~~~ ;be··.·str.Chgth~·ried:bjr: one

. . The .
tattal.ion shOo
~a~slng tho tOl,al fr om three to four.·



'. '..





OOnlrahY' .••• / /



For defense against low-flying planes.'tli0·· di vi~i6n should .. ',. j /
possess one light antiaircraft artillery ta.'ttalion,· 'and each r~gi.L-./,...
mont onoautomatio'I'JErapons company.'· .




German D3fcnso



at the 'Di vision' Lovel

(Gzhatsk .- Smolensk-...;.. .vitebsk Areas in' Contral'Russia)

a. Soviet Offensive: Ta.ctic$.- .' In" Noveniber 1942 :the s6viot High
Command' issued now fi.:ald \reg1,l.lations· ,fo;r·: t.he a.ttack, .in' essence
prescribing .tho foIl o"Hin g.:'
{I) Attacking infantry will advance inclose formation with'
strong tank support. It~vill ·advance. vlith large ~riumbel'"s of heavy


(2) The advance of the troops will b,e stronglJT concentrated
against. ,t~1e .plal1ned.pepetr·ation ·points.•. : A'divi"S:iOIl';':will att;.ac·k over
a 'Nidth of about threekilometars" ,,~, .

. .(3)

The artill:er,yprpparatiqn w}ll be: brief ,and intense.


\ /







(4) Local. res.e.rY6$ .iv-i:llbe kept -smsll; .'Strong· rcfservGs
will be held, several.; ki:Loffiet?;t"s to ·ther.'C,;·ar·.···,'·: .'.:',

/1'.'with motorized
'. (5)







As soon as t~1ebreakthroughdevelops,armored units
.infantr.y 'will. :be.·.~O!)imitte.d:,.aga'i:nst:S'tratogieob-

~u;,txa'!~::r~, ~~~~~y~ga~,., .

All preparations, for,

]:\\l::lsian. attack wer·c':well:cg.mouflagod.

!faw\lll;its,mo:,ed up only at night, and

.7J?-S nprmal1y o.m],. tted

. d~o silGn~~ 1,'1as'

art~l:l:.ory adJ.ustr~8nt f~r.0





; ... ' , '



.. :.



~ ~.)

,.",., ." i ' '.'" "'.', •
$ECOJ~lT"r "ttr:l~M'\T t2N

, . , '



.," ,,"' '.

...., ,



. "





...". ~

began weeks bef~:r¢ ,., ,ito .d.~;te.rInin~ w~ak ,spot's a.nd se'ctorboundaJ."ies ..
and .army1;>owidaries ~ver'e 'preferred objectives.

/' . '





(2) . J.:p:c~ea$ed entrenc'· forward lines.'t.o

~ provide cover for: the assault troops..

(3) ,,' M.r~ at,ta~kson supply base,s, railways, and head....

qtiarte:r-s commenced several days before ·the assault.,




(4) ~ncreased use of, smoke ,either fired by the artillery
or sprayed by planes to blind enemy. observation a.nd to screen their

own moveme.p.ts~.

They at·tempted to a.chieve·, surpr,ise 'not only in the time of

attack i)ut also in its minor tactical details by .the introdj1.cti:on

1 ,.astor instance:'



Artillery preparation against 'one sector while'

the infal1trjT attacked another •. Opening up ot pene­
.tration points during ~epar:a.tor.y artillery fire by

concentrating artillery oarrages on them, whereupon.

the infantry, screened by smoke, advanced toward the

enemy positions~ Omission of 'artillery barrages, in~

stead of which many ~harpshoote.rswere .moved, 'forw~d

at n~ght~' At daVIn, attacl~s by tanks with infantry

mounted On them. The shai."pshooters picked of£ every

target that became visible.


The manner in which the tank support 1;Jas carried out also

changed frequently. At times the tanks led 'whilethe infantry

folloY/ed; on other,ocq:a~ions they stopped 800 to 1,000· meters be­

. fo!"e thG enomy positions, observed. ~he infantry penetration, and

then followed.
Wi th, the s'tl'"engtheningof the Russian Air Force, the- attacking
forces ~7i3r0given ip.creasing. support bystrbng units of. close support
pla.nes, .'which attacked the enemy infantry and a.rtillery.
c. DevelopmGnt of German Defens:ive Doctrine. A:ft0r~ho
wintorof 1941. -' 42 and the, failUl"'o of ' the Stalingrad ofrensi ve, .
tho German forces WG!"e faced wi·th the difficult problem of defending

- 20­


S.E(~tJl?rT.y· H~F,)f:~i.I\Tf~~_

-areas witil',sma,11 'forces,:"andresources. The divisions' ~a,d to
efendsectors twenty andmo:r-e kj..16m{3tel,~S 'in Ylidth. After, 19;~2
they had only si~~,and,in ra:re 'ca.s~s:"seV'eri,' infantry battalions,
which together hal"dlynurnbered2,OOO comba.t soldier's; ,.,
The defensive'ta,otitos "i'vere· governed' by orders from the
Webrmacht High qormnand "detnanding ·-that all 'Positions be held. The
field ,com.mand attempted to carry out these orders by the~ followil1g
prOCedlll"'eS,eaoh of vvhich is discussed in detail below:'

The careful building of strong defense positions.
A systematic organization of defense.
Mobileta.otics, :insofar as these were possible
within the limitations of orders from higher
headquar ter s •
d.. BUilding, Defense. Pos!~i'ons. In accordance with available
time", forces ,and t!'ansp'qrt~t~on',i" the.. positions ,VJere built on .
apprm:iraa"tely the . fqlloli'ving pattern:

The forward or fil"st trench served siniultane'ously as the main'
line· of resistance. 'Forla'ckof manpower, . no outpost area vms
.. sed. Eighty to one hundred meters to the rear vJasthe second
trench· most of the living quax-tars; 600· - 800 metors further
was the third tl"enoh. TviT0 toth:r:-ee kilometersrearrlard 'was the
, artiilel"Y defense position, followed by the 'artillery area VIi th
me,st of the gun positions.



In the intermediate areas were trenches and strong poiXlts' for
cavy ·v7eapons as needed. ComrnQnd posts up to and including those
of divisions, as well as a+l artillery fire positions, were built
up as strong points. The qua.rters of supply and· X"E3ar. s60!'v:i.oe per....
sonnel vvere also p.t'·eparedfol" defense.

The main defensive area ilvas located between the main linG of
resistance and the ,rear boundary .of the artillery are'o.;
When pr~paring -the positions, COver and concealmotlt were
. /considered of g110ater importance than strength. . For pU'l."Iposes of
~ommand anC:~ supply it "Vias impossible to do rlithou.t continuous
trenches in the ;Co.t''\7a.t'd part of the main defensi va al"ea.




of the main line -of r0sistance' had to beadupted

'jth.e.'rOquire",.~. 'nen"ts ,6:i.:.... '.an. tit..!lnk .def . .:€ .'n, S',6 . a.·.nd a.. ."I .,. eL. . . y . O..•,b.. s.6l"'Va...t ion.
Pos~tions on reverse slopes were chosen when the forwal"d slopos of
:. ~ h~ll could A)8 :observed from the _rBWhW.i~flS'sx' For\la~d,

tion and


·.ere avoided ,because theY'Yie,reexpose to enemy, observa-·
re and because of the difficulties encountered in
- 21



S~EC'(1't~fTY, ·fN"FC>i~M/{rt;N.
upPol.. ting and supply; the tX',O,bps~,,,>:F'orest, positions ,- requil~ed a

great dea:f.. 01\ labor and' J",t:rong :;tnran,tr;r., f6rc,e·$'~'·~.' F.or 1iei th,er, of

t41ese pUl'pOSeSWel'e sufficient German' troops.a.vailable~ Woods

close in front of the ,main :L,ih,~',of~-r?sis~anc~ p~'o:ved disadvantageous

because they concealed>enemy preparations "for ~ttack.,' \7hile \"loods

close to the rear of the main .line of resistanpe, W,e3;'e ~ preferred by

the ~ussians as points of penetration.




It was considered 'advisable.· to include
,:the main defens:tve
,area th8 ·bl.. . oqk~· and small streams which ,r:an p~r~llel tq, the front.
The'y, \'1ere' usuallY- cut deeply into the terrain.:, ,ui th very winqing
courses 'and :bush-c6vered "'banks.: When lo.cated close. to the f1;;':ont, ,
st.lcha:cQas 'i;vere used' the. Russians as assembly points befo+4e
attacks., By exploiting "8 river'bend the Russian,s: usually es~ablished
a bridgehea.d 'and brought ta.nks over to tho' other shore. ' The '-enemy'valle.ys i'unhihg'perpendicularly' :G()·,·the frcint'~s break-,,'
tht'ough points.'" The' valleys therefore. had. to beeffo.ctively' blocked
not only at' tl1.e main' line .of resistance, but aI,S 0 in depth a,hd.
covered by fix'e ?s~1e·11. The enemy made a deep:peJ;1etration' .pollth,
of 01rsha on a stormy 'night in January 1944' on the ice of a ,s.inall
river, leading into 'Out' posi tions~The defende:;rspadnot ,sufficic,:1l'itly
blocked the frozen river. Observation and artillerjTwere 'hampered
by bad wea t:1er and lovi ~i ~ i bili ty •
The defensive-artillery POf;l;i.ti'on gained in importance as it

became more diff:icul t. to stop enemy, attack.sbetore or in the £oX''liifard

part of theinain defensive area~ It was essential that it +,omained

'concealed to enemy ail'" obsel"vation,bymaking the best 1..1Se of terrain
features 'and effGC'tive camouflage.: No continuous trench \1<;1S there....:,
fore dug. Protection provided bJT ,.natural' tank obstacles '(;l8.S oon­
sidered desirable.'
. .'....;



If the situation and available labor permitted, it was co~

sidcroCi vitd.l to build real'" posi'tions·. ' Spec~al cons~lluctJ.,on gal';

~1ere d'etail,ed for, ,this pw."pose.
The 'front-linodivi,sionsvlGr'e,

,cus~omax~ily'J:!'t~sp6nsible for inuintCtining their po'Sit~ons, a task;;,:

causing considet'able difficulty ,owing ,to ,lack of manpower. Un­

occupied positions detoriorated at a, retn~;rko.bly rapid rate.



Orgo.nizat~on.01 the Defense .consisted of tho f,ollorriri g ,

8:lCh of ,"r;lhich is described in d'etc~il below:


, CemIni tment of trooEs.

firofor all armp 0:)fors
" nnd":V7ithintheposi tiona ,

(3) 'Tho'antitank defenses.
(4) Tho r0c~:dssance and observation sel'vico$of
. all arms.




.- '.


'SEC'U-:J~I'T¥ ",·N,F'Ct~MI\TtJN
"", !".

. . , '.~.'~

I ••

(5) The (s:LgnalcOrnrnAAi,cation:,s~ .... .... . .'
(6) The' 9.reatioitof· an: ei'i~icient':.tact~cal,road net
'behin<i the ·po'sit.ion~•.. "
'(7) Prepax·atj.~oJ;ls' f"qr, 'shifting··Of·forces. from other
;, parts, .ofthefront·for:. the's~ppo~.t·,of mena'ced'
; " ,






(1)" Commitmen.t of T~OOPel! Because
the size of the .
frontal sectors:, the div'1sions 11e:ce compe1ledtocommi t'" all '. .
battalions in the forward' lines. "~~,21~0,,9f?t,it~,:t,;kCl~_had,,"""~md§,t~nd.,,J~~i~~



'"'''H'aaTJo hold a frontage of from ~~~.9,£,"(.~,e,;.',(*,~,,2.9:g:,".m~t~.~,§.. '. Al~l.fle:,

company. l1ev~r. hadm.ore. than, sevenuymen:rl' the. trenches,; often les~.
The main line of. resis t,ance and the s6?ond' ' ,y~r~ .b.t3~cl . ~.~~~., ";.,
strong poInts_. The heavy -il1f~!l~Y Y{~ElP?ns"v1~r~'pla:c~d~n:th~·~thir~ .
trench, in thes.trong poii21~,,~",:~nd'inthe·fra.:gm~11~a.r;r,·~~~11~~~e~~ ,­
tions in ·t?e intermediate area~, This c:r;ea~ea "a.~~~~t .pr·gency~,


weak reserves. ,The' men holding the main line''of resi,stanceW6l"6 on
the alel"t all 'night. They CQu.ld ·rest. 01;1ly atter the, early morning,
hours. .

, Thus the infantr7m,~n we'~e,under sxtra:ordina.ry They
hadt'o build extensive pos~tions.il1. the wid~ sec'tors, had to .st~\nd
guard and be on the, alert for rnany .hours~ bur~ngthesix months of
vwinter 'the men had to strindguai"d inf,4e trenches f.oreight to nine .
ho~s ,;a:ncl could 'only :sle.~p si~ Ito seven' ,hour'S in t~~roor three shifts •
. ~.z,he.".. rest O.f.''.', .t.h~il:' ti. me. was s. pent.. o. p. a~\1r,t,,·a.t. wor. k",. at rna.i n. ta.ining ..
'.' ~.·ao.,ponIi, at tr. .a.nd i.n .· i~g:.·.,.Tl..J.e .. oVel:":..all SitUat.ion o~· the
V- Eastern Fl~ont made the relief ofd:l~llS~O.nS for .rest pqssibleln
exceptioi1alcases (rehabil!tatibn of decimated div;lsions)'. on~y.


. tight l11achine guns, sUbmach.ine guns,

alld.~.· ;=ei'rTe.reth~

prefer+"led ,rreapons for tl"e~lCh warfare~ Jl}lagaz:L.n~~'i'rI8i.were 003:1­
sider ad, Obsolete.· The se'miaut6matic rifle ·vlithe 'h:t'gh-poHered
telescopic ~'ight 'was the sna;cpShooterf'sweapion. ,We11~trained snipers

inflicted substantial casualties ·in·.?,ll' combat s1tuatioiH3 by picking
oft commandelois,.. obse1.'vers, .and the'..cre:ris·(,9f antitank guns a-n.dheavy
machine ·guns. The assault rifle which was issued' to-the ipi'an'try ,
in 1944, IVl'odel 43, 'ci'i th a rear sightrangeup:to'800me.ters, proved
to be'a specially effective and eff~cierit".weapori.

In close cOfrlbat anc.t trench war~ar8, the· infantry, bas
superiol" to the Soviet infant3:Y.· The Russ·fan.s preferred to employ.
penal battB,lions ,forattackf3 with limited.·objeotive and f.orre­
connaissancein forc,e.


- 23 - '

,'~.,.~.'!~,.,~ ~.~!,-.~..IJ:..
'j'~~EC,lHR Ff't .If\l F':~: 1~tv11\ T J0N



Iran att'ack was ,lnipending; the weak' trench cre'vvs had to: b$
strengthe'ned and ,organiz~d~hdepth.. Vf:LdelydistribLltedill the'
trench and str6ngpo'int system squatted sms-II groups of f'J:iom fottr
to six Germans who were on thE;) receIving end of theehemy artillery
preparation. vlhoever, s,uryly~d 1. t cefile to g~ips with the tank­
supported masses of RusSiahs1vho 'poured' over' the main line of
resistal1ce~,' The,comman<l 'posts of company, battalion"and regimental
commanders, became the centers Of fighting. , Nevertheless, thanks to
. competent' and to 'the arrival of scanty' reinforoe­
'@ ments
including a few 'assault gun~,. thisl1nevenstru.ggle often· .
ended to ,thea.dvabtag<~of the German def~n,ders.
\ . DistUl"bing'the battalion Qrganizational set-up as little as
possible, the artilJ.erY'iJVa~ formed into detachments which were
atta.ched to the, indiyidual infantry regiments and were echeloned
in dep·th in such a manner that the maSS of the defensive povle;r was
placed be.hind the expected point of main, effort. The entire '
artillery vias' under the direct control of the division, the corps
retaining control of 0tlly ,certain batteries, suches for instance
those which by nF~ans of heavy flat trajectory or heavy hov/itzel-1 .
fir·e'had'to~rform· combat. missions in the sectors of seve'ral
To interfereviith enemy reconnaissance , positiona v/ere
c;lJ.ngedfrequent'1y and much'use, was made of roving gWlS a.nd
batteries. Whenever sufficient fo;rc'es were a'vailable, batteries
Viere advaneed into the .comba.tzone asc~ose-range batteries to pro­
tect important sectors of the froXl't; these batteries 1'101"8 to.t~3:ke
W1del" direqt fire the enemy forces who had penetr'ated., They pel'"­
formed excellently in tl1:i~srole. The ~x·tilleryobservationposts ~
were', oi... go.nized in depth ~nd ,reached back to the artillery area.
Reserves waiting at .~the .battalion and regimental headquarters
Ylere spo-edily moyod up 'incase of unexpected dovelopments, such
as a penetrati'on'in an adjacent tini t ~

(2) The plan of defensivef1re developed out of the
collabore,ti0l?- of infant~y and artill~ry. It comprised heavy fire
concentrations on all important targets, barrage fire, andharass$ng
fire on the enemy .rear areas."
Fire, .concentrationsViere the main means of combat. They Were
to strike the enemy decisivelJ7' during preparations for an attack;
particularly,by systematio counterbattery fire and bombardment to
disperse a'ssanltinfantry alld a'rmored· forces concentrated for ·,the
attack.,!'ies, ~no:iudit;lg"thos~ 01:' thead-jacent divisions,
partj.qipated in these fire missions. The main .mission:of' the' ,"
al·tiller J signa,l communication system w'as to make the, speedy and
flexible control ofpuchf~re concentrations possible. The corps
a.'t'tillery cOrIUn-ander had 'to,'~ake ,s~:e of the cpncentrated effect of
the divisions' artillery against the eneffiJ~ point of main effort.

St::CUl~tTY ff~ F ~I'<,vli\·TIG:N·
The resulting highexpenditm"e of afi¥Ilunition"iiTOul¢l only bejustifi....
a'Qle if really profitable targets were.. available. The laying of fi1'e
concentrations. on a:ceasnot d'efinit,elYknown to' ,be.. exielny....occupied
'was. ,:pr oh~ bi ted.
'. .
The salvoes',fired,' by the chemical. mortar batteries were, an
effective sUlPplement of the artillery in.area .fire.. Besid~s ,the
physical effect, the e.f;i~ect '01;1 morale was iner·a,ased ac~oI'ding to
the number' of'ch~mical mortar 'batter'ies, taking part inthe,.fit'e
concentrations •. ,For this l"eason, fire. wa.s not.tobe:,op8nedby \less "ft
bqtteries than 'those in'c;Ludep. in' a regiment, (two battalions). In
the last year of the i;val" this means of YJaS hampered for lack
of ammunition. Heavy infantry-vve.apons< t.aok little part in ,t,he
concentrations.. Their employznent
tl~e main line of resistance
suffered ¢luring hea.vy enemy artillery fire.; and ,w.a;s fri ttel"'ed atlD.y
in support of piecemeai infantry- a,ttacks. The 1.20mmo ffiOl."tat',
copied fl"om the Russians, 'had un a,pprqximate r.o,pge of 6,000 m~ters.
It could have aided the artiller;y' in m~ny. 'missions if -it had
arrived. in adeq'uate nwnbers
at thef:r.ont.





Fire. concentrations wet"'e'pl~nned 1n, advance against' important
points in the 'main line of, re·s'isty;nCg7,~l;t.which.the. enemy habi tuo.lly
attempted to penetrate ~' . Sinc~ the enemiconstantlY.increased the
speed and mobilityof hisatta~k,ot,U:·f.:lre'90ncent.rationsfrequently
came too late. The oatterjT co~mo~nder,wh9;,coulddirectly observe
the enemy·t s' advance, directed the f.i.'re mpst, effectively in such

Barrage 'fire was of .1ittle importance and ,did p.ot halt enemy
attacks. The main weapons used in 'the barrage fife ,Jere'hoavy
. machine guns. since not even reinforced artillery, sufficed i~ maj or
engD.gements to' cove:r the entire front.. The, Russian. tactic of
employing their a,ssault infantry in line rorinations with little
depth fa~ilitD.ted the advance through burrage. fi!'f3~'
To evad.e German fire, on t11eirtl"'OOP coneentr~tions before a
attack, the Russ~ans dispex'sedth0irprE?parations as ml.lchas
possible and moved mostly at night. Consequently, 0. direct tac·tical
success by means of I10rassing fire, could not be·.obtainE}d •. It ,was
therefore, 0.11 the more important· to inflic·t heo..vY',ca.sua1tie$ -on'thf,3
enemy; vlhich/ if it occurred on a~l secto:cf?ofthe. front, y!ould .be
bound to be felt in the long run. Aoctl.!'.ate . firipgwith'i?,v81'Ji- single
weaponfi"'om snipel"'s', ,rifles to canl.10n wa~ 'fj~ierefo.r:etpe rulG, and
given 'good taJ:'getr(~connaissance, it proved et:fectiv8,"in:spit? of,
10\7 nmmupitionSuppl:tes..

Thi3 artillery ammunition supply was' alwr.~ys critical •., . An "

attempt Vl,1S111Qde ',to $upply the, ~rtillerY' with 9n~ ,'and one 11;3.1£ to

25 ­
., .~,., 1:;':

.:J .

S·E(",UI~lry ~ INr~I~I\1l.\;T,t:,~N.




S€Gl;'I~ITY4Nr'Cl?MAT~2N ~
two units befor,e a ma'jo~ engagement.

Additional issues


were(jalcul~ted, for eachdayofcom·bat"Frequently thG~e quanti~ies

could, not be obtained vvhen partisans interfered with the supply
sel"vic;es., "As the ~.nfantrYf s fighting pOVIa'.!" decreased, , its demands,
for art'illery support J.ncreased.. Adequate artUnuni tion supplies
wereavaila,blp 'Qnly'as
result',of .the .higher commanders f COl1stant
admonishme,nts' :to,' the infaptry to, ge't 'a~L'ong as far, as posai ble YJith
its own weapons and through drastic curtailment of a~l unnecessary
,,' ,



The backbone' 'of German defense was the .artillery. But it, ViaS

not within i tspO\1er to make up for the lack of air~ and armored

support, n,ot:even if it Ijad. possessed r,lore guns and 'arnml+ni tion. In

the final phase o.(thewi:lr the art.illeryts e.ffectiVel1:6ss declined

bee,ause ,it c6u~d not be, a~equately protected against 'air, at,tuqks. ,

,(3 ).. The ~titank·De'fenses., After, tha '~Jinter of 1941 ~ 42

the antitanJ.t',defense, of Cerman infantry divisions had to be 'reOl":­

ganized because' 'of 'heavy'lossos and the appearance of the mediupl

Soviet T34 tank to the exclusion of almost all other t3r pes * The

tankrGmained the v~otor in the ~aCeb\?tvleen anti tSlnk~9fense and

tank. Although the Germans ~1erea.bleto$end a ,number of ,efficient

defensive weapons "to th~front" thej" failed' in the most importan~ "

point, to prod'lJ.ce. sufficient, quantities of er';f'ectivc' rleapons' which

could copa with ,the 'or,css-country inobilit~T al~d· speed, of. tanks. ' The

com'se of. the 'war ctearlyd.emons·~rat'ed that an immobile defense,

regardless,c;>f its quality, ien.e 'l~[lt,qh fot umajor tank attapk.

The. defenders trieo.. to makeupfor'the , Qfmobility by a' care­
fulcrganizationof'the s't~"~ionar~' def~nses.'
It Ylas_fnt~nded to" crea'te def~nsiv6zonos 'in the battle posi~"
tic!): by means of antitank, 1ire 'correlated with natu:c:'l.l and
aJ:'tificial, obstO;·cles. The forward defensive zone wa,s located
apP~.oximat~iy before' the third trench, tho r'ear, defcl1siv 3 z-on~, 'be­
for,o the ,proteotive tlrtil,18ry position. This tact;i.cul ,conc~pt 'YJ8.S
co.trGc,t, but 1- ts eX8cutio~ failed due to the laqk of anti taru<.: guns
,and tho difficulty of cr~ating enough artificial obstacl0s~ For
:thGll' tanl~~ attac~~s, 'the Rl1.Ssians selected thet;y-po ofterrail1
offoringfe\v natural obstacles., The' Gerlnnn infD.ritry' division ,con­
trolled .:four, 'antitan~tcompanief3~ .one
~'lhich operated d~.rectlY
Ul~d~l-- the, ',division,,' while', the"other~ YJe'l--e attached to info.p,try, , ,
re'giElcnts. ,~lt?ge~h~~,t:~0re. 11er,e;' s~mG, ,th,i~ty,tO'. forty, gUnp; >ihich :
could be ' towed~n a fash~o+J. by trucks'. or. ,l~ght tractors" Tlu"ee" ,>­
times 'as Elany guns lilQuld' 'ha~v!e,boen needed to" ,pl"'ovide the ne'cessary' (
' )
depth Qf~"l.ntitank defense.,













desirable tp set ,up antitank obstacles'in


defense '&"00. '~ oxcept vlh0re there were wide 'expans0s of ·ao.tC)l-- 01-­

swamps - in orde.t;to conceal them,from enemy observation a·nd pro­
tact -thamagainst measurespro,ccding the-attack. The ~nefi tderived
from antitank ditches ,wa.s.n;otcomJll~nsurate with the ~.vork requirod
to build' them, For antitank obstacles,. as for all 6tho!' bat.tle .
installations., camouflage ,and e,cheloru~1ent, in .dopt!:lproved Llore
\// ir.1portap.t· ._than13trength. With the protection afforded by his, air'
force and. artillery., tho attacker vras alwaY$ ablo to overCO;;'1G ;IJ.neU.'r
obstaclGsqui;ckly..Ga:ps·in tho linocando littlo harn1··if. the
enemy can r~1el"ely guess at the location and natlu"e of tho obstacles.
Such gaps woro ofton closod by Glectrically~exploded mih,es or by
dwnrny~ obsta.cles. The gaps w·-:;;renedde'd :C>yth0 'dbfendGrs 'to launch
tho,ir counter-thrusts. _ -No large contincious mine fi8lds rJGre pre­
'pared,. inasmuch as smaller oneS.'\7ero· considoredprcforo.ble·for
tactical purposes. Mine fi,jld-s·forwardof'thc front positions
'proved ineffoctive. It 'was alyv-u;ysdif'ficultto'mark r.lino fields
located' within the posltionsin 'suoharnannor that our own troops
would not ontoI' them at night or ·±:n. 'the: rush of a major battle I
while at the sane tine' conc~aling'tl1i:3;j againstpromaturo discovery
by the enopy.,

TJ;1e heavy T~ger proved·tb: :1;Je,thebes.t because of its
superiorit:y- to enemy tYP?·~q.nd.:itsinvulnerabili ty to prepara.tory
artille~y fire~ , Initially itwas,fe'ared· tfult its weight :would .
restI'ict El8,110uverabiIity,but this .proved ur;tfounded ¥{hen careful,
long--rangereconnaissancerva,s o~:cried, out ..first •. Every command~r
and driver of tapJ{$ needed' eyesstarpenedbyexperience to negotiate
th6 . Rttssian terrain. Tankunit,s,recently·arrived from the zone of
the inter-iorandfreshly thrownihto battle, inva,riably suffered
highlosses~ In spite of, i t;3 unwieldiness the 88mr.l." gun was'the
r.aostefficient arrtong the self-propelled antitank guns~ Thanks to
the ex.cellent optical sightingmechani$m,enerJytanks, could be
disabled at a 'distance of, three, to four ;kilometers. Enemy aircraft
were Dore dangerous than. tanks. to' the .s~lf-propelleq., antitank guns~
Tanks and assault guns ,were assembled in tl).e depth of the,bettttle '
position for, the '. counterthrut?t. which was carried out VIitha:ctille:ry'
support and, infatJ,wy protegtion.' Tile lack "of tanks preclud'e<;i
statio11a.:r:Y cOmfllitment in . strong pointsexc.eptdilring .periods of
deep snow and in the aut~,lh and. sprins; muddy~e~sons~ The sel~­
prope11ed,antitank guns fired frompl:'epared arJ.bushposi~ions..
, The au~hol1. possesses. 110, knOYlledge QQtlcernihg tho ,destroyurtanks'
used during tho f.inal PPClse ()f the War. " In 1944, ,the ·infant.'rY,at·
. last receiyed,' inthenpan~erfaustlf* an antita'nk weaponl1hich nO"

10ng(?r. .req~tired close approach' to the ,tacit. ., ·Thelack of high­

qualitY;l~lobile'antitank'woapons indiJ.O,ad . the' SUprGl:l8 Comriand to


RGcoilless and

<, .

,launcher, both ,Gxpendc.ble.

SECt), ~l T,VIN F'~ t~M/\T J~~J

~<"'i-{;,, ~'~:' ::,,~~;~t,,:~1~?/ 3y:~t~? ,'~tli: ,;~,~~> ~IJ~~':":
; ::::' .~:. ,~ -\<~ ,

5~CU4~l TY .8t1W\Tl3N
overestim'a.te th~va~ue9f cl.ose, csmbat Iile,thods against, tanks and,'

to naketoo grea tdemands oh the infantry ~, In the longrun it was

expecting, too 'much of ' the infantrYt1an ,to alloy} hi,nself to be ovei-­
run by tanks in the full'ktJ,oYJ'ledge that his fate was sealed if
the -antitank defense behind him failed t6 rep\llsethe attack.


(4) Reconnaissance and Observation. With the given
circUf.lstances one' could expect to counter a' strong -at'tack only if
,its scheduled :start, extent·and :ifpossible also its direction
cOQ.ld be deterrnip.ed.. intima. Minute 'oh?nges in the eneayt s dis":'
positions and'attitude,wererecbgni'zed' and kept under continlled
observatioh" by' means of very careful observation, collection and
evaluation 'ofall enemy information/especially the activities of
his artillery and assault troops. ", Such surveys were made at both
divisiQn ano. regimental levels. The observation battalion rendered
valuable services Vii th regard' to the reconnaissance ofanemy
Up till 1943, many'deserterscrossed over to our lines.
Later OD, the Russians did notI:1Qve thei.r a.ssault infantry into
position,before the night: preceding the attack, having even then
kept then und6.l."" close surveil1anc,e. ,Prisoners f~ron 'along the,'
regular line. troops knew li~tle of valueaboo.t the attack. A long
tine before the beginning' of the concentration for the.,offensive '
the Russicins,exyeptfor local front conmuni-'
catiOJ1'S. Il1c~ea~ing p~e~sur·e was exercised, by the Russian ,',
,Force aga:in.s"~ German, air,recopnaissance. In ?pitq of all dirri- "
culties', we :freqllentlysucceededin gaining information regarding
the place,,approximate extent of an j.mpend:ing attack.

(5} Signal Communications, are' discu$sed in Chapter V,

of this study (pages 61 ... 68}."

(6) The TacticalR~ad Net. ,The nw~ber, capacity and
geographic locatio:q.ofthe f,6Vl roads t-o,the rea.r of our positions
in Central Russia Yler,e .tactically i:nadequate. The bUilding of the
required tactical l:"oa,d' 'net was an important task for the engineer
cOlnmanders't A, !,oad building program was set up, with priorities
deterr.:dnedby the ta,ctico.l, situation; logi,stic needs and the avail­
able rosource$. At least one approach'roa.d~' ft-orn which all other
road,s branched off, vias pla.nned for each division sector. For
r,10vef.1ents:behind the ':tront, lateral i'oads Here constructed, one about
three behind the battle position, and one SOf.leten to
twelve kiloL1eters distant. They -were planned as all-weather" two­
'lane road,s ca.pable of supporting r~ledium, tvtenty-four-ton loa.ds.
The capacity was to'be increased to sixty tons on roads where
heavy tanks were expected. Local'inhabitants were employed for
road constr1ictiol;:+, find l:lail1.~~na.l'lg~,t,,:_~hey v.rorked willingly since




SECUt~JTY '1',JiF,8l,(~/tJ\T,)'~M"
. ;.,;





.:) •.


<#f*~f,g!(:;t)!'I~t~f'~~:~~'i·";'j:~~tt~ I ~N


they were used to do,in.:g:· thi:s'~ to 'a;':'tn\lch !gre~ter :.;~:ki~'tlt undar the
Soviet regime and because they were p,t'-operlyt):-eatedahd redby the
mi:Lital:ya,uthorities. Whenever' :possible, ·:th~;'r·9adnat wa~ supple­
mented byfield andnarrow....gauge .. railw~ys~ ::The'd:lsadvaritageof
frequent reloading. wa:s balanced by' 'the·:·'gr:eat.e.r- efficiency achieved.
The Russians did not.d·e~t~oy the .r.oada,:.'and "itnprdvementsthrough
systematic bombling,butf.reque.ntlyatta·cke'd';vehicle's. During the'
muddy season in th~' ~.p.ring traffic w8sc.t'ippled for a.t least four
~leeks •. The'unitshad,t,o" s.tOq~,'.,Jil;p,.Qn'.',~:Ll,,:stipplfes,·rorabout six
week~,since the Russians attacked :evend~ing' t'hisperi6d in the
hope of striking anlUllJre'pared :eriemy.', ' , . '


Shifting, of Forces .'~ The: army'c,Omniap.dercould· ,:
gener,allynot rel;r. ,onreceivlngs.Uffici:ent r:eserves in time to
counter ':S¥l impending attack. The .reser'iT-Bs.could orily be obtained
by' a drastic shifting lof troo~ps fr,om,: othex-: ,:front se,ctors,vvhich Y/ere
apparently ,less', threatened., Sin,u,e th~r,ewere'llo :celief. units it
was a difficult and time-consuming procedure ,to switch complete
divisions from othdX' areas. Every div:i.sion had to make, preparations
to detach infantry, al""til1~ry, antitank and engineer elements~
Gaps which ,developed were~~emporarily clo~:ied,:by forming supply and
rear ,~el"vice personnel, .forexamplefr:om,veteriria1'y"companies, into
improvised co!n.bat unit&- and 'bytha:' conunitmentof 'construction·
battalions. The employment' 'of re'serve:s:,ar:awn 'from assorted troop'
units ,had the disadva.ntage that"a greatilnt'ermirigling o£differe'nt
unitsoccU1'red at the battle. front ,w:t thil'i a»3hor't' ,time. No Ohe
knew anyone else»' J:nc,t~eased friction'resiUted<'from attempted
coordination ... 'The ,logistica"l:px'oblem bedame:dif:f.:i"c·ult•. 1'he
stre,ngth of the tro.opswassapped ata;, more ~apid 'rate. 'At :the
conclusion. of a ba.ttle' even thGdivrsiontf l niahn-ip:g, frori,ts whichvrere
not. att~~cked had suffered losses"since duri:n,g . if.' prolonged struggle
(the battle of Vite'bsk, for example, lasted from Decemb~r 1943 to
March19/t4). alT th$ir, t"egiments had, po,r.ti:cipated·,,'ii1, the defensive
,', ,'

f. Mobile Tactics.' As the. :;r,:esult'·,,,of',:i.nstri.1.c,ti,onsissued by
the wem"ma¢ht High Command :cohc$,rni11g the, d'efe',nse of-positions,
mobile tact.iqs withinthc' bat,tle,positioit':were~"only"possible:on ,a
l\ minor soale.' 'As, th0 posit-i on \vas 'thihly' 'tll.lXnned', ,the' 'en3my could" .
,.:\'i·j)l'~?~penetrate it easily. Arapidly'develpp'ed:" :c'buntert),tta'~k. I"epulsed .
\ \:t~:),·/ him again. Tho'more tenaciouslJr the' Cut off so:ctor:'sc(juld defend'
themselves, ~,he greator, \1Cl.s',·the counterd.ttu'ckf,s pt'l"ospeci/'of success ..
Consequont~ infantry,tr~~ihing -~uJ.'sgoverned.::py the,:t'~i[O mottoes:' ,':













( ,


.' even under,:the m0st~'dif.ricult':'condi~ionsn
"Hold out to the 'end ,tl




"~Se(,Ul<l T~i ',~rF81~M/\ rl~,N '




" ....,"

' , . '



It' '\'I~S due- to this ingrail)~d~ggt~ess~veness-,.which ,the
supporting armsa;lso madet4e:L1f ,ovin, ;that, t1.J.e ,dj,visions in tho ,'" .. ,' "

East, ;7hich wel~e stretc~od'"tt\r'-niqre,thi!lly t4ansound 'bo"' ' : c ,

doctrine Cli9tatGd" could ~~ilfttXin. thEllnselves :forso long, ", They "

collo.psedwhen'tho domands exoeed~d, humo,11, ;cnpacity '·of't· eildUt·a:qce.~,

The:Gcrmanartil1eryp~ote.ctedthearoain ,which tho OO'tlltG~-"

atta,ck ·t~ok place, and slowed down the .approo,c;h of' enemy reint'ox'ce"",'

monts'. ' It, could not intorvene, in 'th0tightdirHctly'bGoau9G~of

~ha pl-'oxi41li-c,y ·of .both opponents.
Under the protection of, tanks,

c;)spQcialJ.y hGavy ones, the countorattack'usuallybroughtspeedy ,

$uccess~ In cdses whero tho r3sistance, o-ftho infalYGry 1.aggod,

tho· eneniy ofton penetrated o.t several, more poit,lts. No real:

SUCCOSSWD.S assured a.nywhero<;/hen th0 'r8serves ymrc committed

piccemcal.T:o olean up tho p·qnotro.ti6n points successively'a.lso

pl"Oitod il1lpractic~ble~

Evon if "tho first t.h.rust -::J[~~S, successful it, was still

impossible to forecast wHen iD.nd~n wht:1,t cond,ition th\~ resorves

would again bGcomoavailablq. Drawing orr their Inrgo. p.Qol 'of',

reservo's, . the Russim0 moved lip strong forC0S lnto ov.,)rypenetra­
tion point~ The'dab.ger existed that the dented front would be

broken through if help Yvere,:',not immediately forthcoming. It\1s.s

therefore desiraqleto hold 'a portiql.l of the available ta.nks in

small groups behind 'the menaced points in order .to stop the erlemy'

advance im!nediatel~t. The ,command thus . gained time to lauilch the

mass of reserves aga;inst'theinost threaten<3d point and to

meas,u,t"es in support of 9thersector~. The Russians increasingly ~

learneq. to protect their attacl:cs'a,gainst counterattacks by, setting \­

up defenses rapidly,bybtinging up' reserves and by laying' a ,tight ,~

fire concentration on' the' conquered terrain. ~Jhenattacking they -;

preferred close terrain which would hamper the defender's fire

di.'l.~ection and prevent attacks by lOvl-fl JTi'ng planes. The Russian

tank attackrvas carried out not sO,ml,l.oh in the manner of a p.o~·lel~ful maSs thrust,simi1.,ar to those 'of former cavalry attacks, but'

more by means of anaq.roit and fast penetration by tank spearheads

into .the' terrain 'l;h1.1'6 exploi tingell natural cover und concee,l....

Such' tactics ·,Jere most dangerous to the Gorman defbnsG,

vrea.k 'as l-t·· in ,anti tank . defense~ and' res,erves,

If their attack' Viere ~~rrested,the Russian comma11der preferl~ed
. ito sYlitchthe point of main, effort qQ.tckly. The defondeJ:' then had
to regrouphis,yeak reser-yep just as qulckJ.y, . An error Goricernlng
the enemy's new point ' of main effort, or" the late arri'val of re­
serves; cOltld resul ~ ina lost battl€ h
The e.nemyairforoe failed
to Inak,s a concen~ated effort'to hamper the trapsfer of reserves.


Evaluatfon of German Def'enseMeasures. ltis impossible

to commel1t on 'the' soundness' of' German' tactical defense doctrine

SEC" Ui. -\'1 'T y' U\H :7"~;I~: 1\1;'\.


, because :i,t ~ims nevel: applied. The' iack ot" manpo\:ler'and modern equip....
ment caused overextended sectorvvidths ,.lack of depth, lack 0:( :roe­
"serves and' modern counterattack units, as we~l as tactical irnhiobili tty.
(\ German defen,ss' ~perations ,in the East clearly dernonstr-ated that an
/)immobile defender in the long'run has ,no .prospects of succeSs against
(a mobile attacker-. Thisapp.lies to strategic and tacti,cal situatio~s
alike. The defe'nder must be, strong enough' i'nthe air to' be able to ~
supply his troops and move his reserves in time., The importance, of
main battle positions has increa:s~d; the,points,ofdef0i1sive 'rnaip
effort become the battle area of~he oppo'sing armored units. trhe
defender tries to bala.ncehis numerical weakness by buildi,pg
positions an¢i throLlgh support'fr..onlall arIllS. The modern main,
battle posi tionmust be of much greater depth tha~ hitherto,: 'at
least fifteen or mO:Ce kilometers. :Itis crossed by ,a ne't 'of, strong
points and obstacles which impede the enemy's tanks. It' is ' ,
advantageous to have an outpost area two tot1u:'ee kilqmeters deep,
which is secured by the infantry, obstacles and mobile light weap":,,
ons •.. The stationary defenae r,elieson artillery and no lon'ger on
the'machine gun. As shown by .the R.ussian example, a, f:ron'~ con":
sisting of tanks has a great defensive value.-· It needs infantry'
, only for protection against close~ cOlnbat troops ex'eaping up in night
and fog~

A~ the battle of Kursk-atth(3 :Latest.(summer of 1943), the, time
arrived when rigid def0ns'e 'should have been discarded :£:01" fl~xible
defense. The front' shouldl1ave been pulled back, according to
plan, to' 1'""ear\7arc1posit:Lons bero~e the enemy could thrust forv/ard
-;:i th his supel"ior materiel. 'rhe' par suing enemy should have· been
met, by' artillery. and' his new cOncerltro.tiohs 'hampered by 'offensive
tll1"'usts.. In this manner the comma,nd'cou14 huyegained time to
bring upf'Llt'ther );"Gservesand secure4 the treedom to decide 'Ii/hen
it should accept' the decisive battle.

Even though: the breakt!n"·ough "jlaS local and minor at -the
begifuling, it immed1iJ,tely ·putthedefenders into a c.r.itical
position. B.y making use of poor visibility, ,artificial smoke or­
natural concealment, tho enomyadvanced viithsU!'prj~sihg speed( -'~'lith
strong to.l'il~anc1 motorized forces th1~,ough the ,smallest front gap'
,into the real" of th¥ German positions. Tho defender had to
strengthen thoshould8r's of the penetr~~tion, intercept the eneE1Y
:\ forces that had broken through "the lines and, :i,.fiat all possible,
\ destroy ~h~m after elosingthegap. The was only possible
'\if aJ:~10red tr90ps iIith strong ,9X,tillery /~nd'air support could. be
'con1Elit-tedinul1ediately for it cOLtnterattack. The' Russiansprotocted
the breo.kthrough' points by massed artillery, infantry and· ariti- .
tan.ktroops. At' first, the shoulders of th(~ penetration had to be
protected by-thO' artillery-,~:Jhj.letheloco.l"cor11!aand tried to set
up new defenses' there. In ca.seno tanks' or as S,8. ult, guns'ivere.



>. . .-



SECUl frY'tN'\Jt~'ivt/~rljN
ava.ilable, /th:,) antitank' defense \vas ~(~'strfcted to close-range'",

~ctiOl1,· since it ",;faS impossible' toS,hift heavy,' tracto~~dra-~Yn

antitank gl-1nS by da.y-light. 'l'he enemy soon realized. hO~;\T qiffio!:ll t

it ',vas for the G~rmall defenders to stren'gthen the 'shoulders or.-a

penetration quickly, so he immediately fanned out with a part of

his res~ves.Wh~never the defenders succeeded '~n preven~ing a

rur·therrol~iJ.1g u.p of the fron't." it was often due ·t.o the ,fact
tl1at the 'c6mm~nd posts of battalion, regiment and ba.~ttery com- S.

mandel~s, which had been built as ~strong points" 11~ld'fast .in .J

, bitter close combat.. Rear positionsto halt forc~s 'ivhich had
penetrated. were present at all fronts.·' The¥ ~1fere eff.ective only
if adequaotely manned intirne.. In'the final phase oftilG war: .the
Russians dropped airbornetroopsw'hich, together ~1ith tanks. . .
attacking' 'f~ontally,' destroyed the. l--earpositions..' tf th,e, defender
realized that ~1i.s countermeasUres were unsl,1.c·cessfUl, a speedy
wi'thdrawal was 'indicated. In ,case theWehrmacht High. Command's
permission came too late, it ~'.~iasoften just· those troops· who had
fought most bravely 'and defended .their .'pos:ttions most tenac:i.o~sly,
who "Here ov~rtak~n bycatastl"ophe.


According' *,0 We!~rmacht· High Command directiv~,', the fol:'ces in

politically and strategically important citleshq.d,to ,permit", .

themselves to be eDcircledand had to hold 'out after the f.t·'Ont

r1<'1.d boenrolledback. Thes~cities Vlere designa,ted as "fol"tified

places tl and tran$f'ormedinto fortified field posi"tions,. . In the

winter of 194J,.,- 1;2 this type of', defense 'was successful because

the Russians, -due to high losses of matciriei; l~cked adczquate

rosources for, attacking, "·Vlhi.lethe Germans were aple to relieve

the encircled places. After 1942 this situation changed. 'None of

the clties offer,ed particularly favorable'local def"-::n'se conditions.

They cou:ld n'ot ,pe def~:n.ded, for ,any length of "time agains·bthe.

, latest ofi"BnsJ. ve-,:leapOns.. ' They lacked Luftwaffe 'support. The
intended strategic effect did notrnaterialize sincl.? the'encir·cled
tl"OOpS rIel's unaple. to t1.a dovmsuch str.€>.ng enerilY forces that their.­
absence rlould influence Russian operations. elsey/hero.


Ret:vog:cade MoveIhents - Infantr.v
(Central Rl,l$sia.. Division movements from l;,;est of Moscow
to Gzhutskin January 1942; from Smolensk to Vit.ebsk in
/Atlgl;1St - September 194$)

Both of the' Jn~vemel;1ts dascr1.bed he-terosi:tl tedfxoom ,.tho strategic
situation' oft\t'my Group Centol"nnd could·not' have;,cbm0 as a, sLU:'prise .
to the enemJr. 'Long-before theil", commencement he attempted to,o~'
- tain an insight it! th,e aituationby mea,ns of loca~ntt8.cks ,f).nd
l''e in foX'''ce. '; Because of pl"e,v'ious 'heavy losses and.
unfavorable, w~ather? ,the, Soviet Air F.orce 'only e:ngaged in m~nor

- 32.­




activities during January ,1942,' and it. thus overlooked preparatiohs
for vlithdrawal.. 111 the' autt:llI1n, of 1943 it had'considerable superi....:
ority ~n:;ndp6s"Se$se~:Lful1fr~edomof movement since the
weathe.r: Y!$.S, generally favorable. The Soviet. Command undoubtedly
ordered vigor ouspux'suit in" both· cases to cut through .the,. ~e'-'
treating Gel.'>ma,n fo:cces, -,1ith th 3 ,aim, 'respectively~ of, re.~ccup;fing.
Vyazma by January 1942,' arid Vitebsk by the autumn of 1943. .The
German command. su.cceeded in prepC;j.rin;gand carrying through both
movements according to plans 'in spite ofdifficul~ies.The pre~
parations covered the following~

(1) Building of rear supply bases, whfch"had :tq be protected
respectively against attacks by, Russi,an' ski troops uuring' .the ·~!inter
of 1942, and against attacks'by partisans
in 1943.
. '

(2) ,Movement to the ',rear, o~ the new position of all \Tt3hicles,
weapons, trains and colUmns which :/1.0re non-essential and difficult
to move.

(3) Reconnaissance and const:ruction flork on roads, for move­

and s,ubsequent blocking and thqroconnoi tering'?f the pre>-.

jeoted lines o~resistance.


In19/:.3 reconnaj,.ssance activitfes were p.1cnaced by pa,rtisa.rts.

Th~y annihilated

an entire l"eo,oni'rais'sanoeho?dquarters, in addition'
to inflicting minor casualties her'e and'there.

In the winter of 1942, preparations we~0hampcre~ by snow
thirty to ror't,y inches deep.' Owing to ·the lack' ~f' stlc?w ploii7s.,
a sp\3cialorganization was needed. to direct toe i~dig(3nous'popu­
lation inclear~ngand maintaining the most vital roads. Each
divi,sion had o111y one road availq.blo sil1ce it was: impossible to
keep more than one free of snow. 'In 1943 a. nt:utlber ofsInaller
waterways had to be crossed by fll?D.ns ofemergencybridgesbc3cause
the lilili tary~idge, equipment ViaS used elsewhere ~ . "The: fear that
systemati'c Russial'l air a.ttacks might cause great difficulties prov~d "
groundless •.
German tactics \'18X'3 gUided by t.he principle of·-.lI delaying

action." ,Shortly before the "\Tar the regulations concerning this

. type of combat \'lerodeleted from th0manuals. The limy High
Command (OKH) espoused the.follo<:ling. viewpoint: uThe troops Jilust·
hold their posi tions~ the length of timi31ies vlithin thBdis'oration,.
of tho higher command."DUl~tng'tl:i(~w~ it :,··:vasproven that,this
principle ~.,as too narrO\l and' did not solve the of .cal~l"ying
on defensive action for' a de.f.initelength of time with';;;:oak ,forces.'
The difficulties of the defender in proportion to'tho
$UperiOl" mobility of ,'the attacker. Thede'fonder' must maintain his

freedom of, action and above ·all 'prevent'a 'breakthrough or a.n
envelopment, 'for 'this me'ensds.tiger ' of;'ahriihilation. To .Gloccomplish
this,' the defendej,"'ffiustbeable"to withdraw"in time. 'During
attack5 wi-t;.hmoderri v,roapons,dec'isions must bemade,t3orapidly
that e:ny waiting for order,s from superiors -iJould' entail a
;dangel"ous dela~r in'carrying'out necessary decisions. In the

cOLU"se of' the, Hussia;n campaign,. 'rllany s~ tu~-tions arose Y\There' an

inflexible deft3nSe fa.iled aUcr where '~:,timely changc3" to dGIayi11g

have prevented
catastrophe •
.. '


It' cannot be:denied tha;t thieltyp~'of' combat is likely to

tempt commander and;· troops 'alilte'
avoid' all risks and diffi':"

oulties by falling back~" Tnefear"thatmorale yvould suffer waS

the main reason ;WflY the Army Hi"gh 'Oommand 'deletedtha principle

. of (lelaJring action from the manuals. How'ever, this 'fear prov~d
unfounded -during the War. ' The German troopsfeii themselves to
be a match"foi" even a nt1.l11erical1y super10r enemy unless tri8 latter
wel"e also 'suppor:ted bye. preporidet'a.rl'c'e -of materiel. Cons'equently,
they did not evade batt.le' mor'a ,often 'thSJ1 v~as absolutely neC8?sa.t"y.
ThEd.l" confidence in' the con1marid "aiid ·th(;3,'ir fighiing s'piri t vIas. in~
cr<3ased .b~r the feeling '"that they did., nothav8 to carry out 'the .
kind of d~fense that was ri€S:td, und 'dif~icult, and .il1volved l1lany
casualties 'becausB of.' the8nemy~ s .s'Up~i'i~l~i ty in Ia(,;i.t8r,~el~


' . ,






. . . . . .

, "


_ 'On the' GI-3rnbn side thesyst~m.a:t~cally'con<lu~,t,ed r.etrogrnd,e·
movement· 'pl"e.sented 'u·'pictureof.'t\'·fl'8xible frOl'lt being1noved, ba,ck
in a: compa!'atively straight line'~ ':I;f:~:/as not nec.e,ssal'y .for 'ali
its uni is' to be' at ol1el'evei'at :tlll3:rr~orrt, ,Q,lth'oughit; \r~'as,. .' ' ..
necessary tha. t they all inai.n:t~iri d()nto.,et. with' one' anoth,er to 'pre­
vent the el1em~y' fr-oin finding 'a gap 'ahy-v{here through vrhich hecQuld .
penetrate. Both COl'ps ah~ div~r:dons e~pleyed specia.l officer,
patrols' 'to reconnoiter .importa'ht· 'point~· a.t thE}fro):l't'ln ord$~ ~o
~scel"tain wh8t11~r' t.his c···.re'ally :Jnp.:tnt~ined.',






.: ' , . .

I' • '.. . .,.. •







:, ,:




. .

'Succes's ·in-cofnbat depe:nded bn' whether :the 'command ' received·
timelJr rep6rtson the' 'itiform~ tionob'tdirt'~d ",by. ,'the'· rl~'conliaiss~nce
patrols vlith l"egard toth0 time and place";of impending atta·clcs·.
In the!-iC?f 1943 tL10 I:\uss.i~n~, shpw E3d greut skill in shifting
their 'pbint 'of' rria;in" effort.· '·The. a:itr'ec ql1ricifss~irice;,'un4 even .
mox's s~, ~hesignal :!'eCorl~aiss·an~~. ,"~ ge'nerf.l~lY: fu.rn~'sh~d .timely~ ?~ues
cOl1cel~'nil~g en.omy intenti9iu3'and,'h~a ,depl,oJrf1ient otf.orOcs .. ,; In
Jatlu~ry 19/+2 tl~eL,6ftwafte. '~~~s a,eri.o.,i;is:ly {nlp~ded by~tl~~effects : ',:
of 'cold weutht?r ,~,afid f9,:r:, W1krioYm.· 're.t1s9hs ':t{1~,' sign~l reool111t:ds,sanc!?;
failed ~eoobtaiJ.+ 'result,s~'v~h::tle ground, r~c9~ais$.anqe vro.s un0b1e " tllr9ugh' ·the' Sovi$t. sk~ .pattiii:j.,ons.'· 'The,' Get'iria.~1 . com- "
mal1d 1dasther\~fore,kept:j .. 11 the·.eta,l"1c ... ':!'twuJ?'j~$ly. to, 'the ,in­
flexibility or-'. 'the ., S6v:i(~'t'· c9t~uae.nd .'a:t ,thattifue thp.t "there were '. no
' , ' -'

-UI t l AS>Sifl Eg,,«~:::~g':':7\';',·;'.iJ·:· ,i,IiI"-.. ...;,
;., ;"~.I.~":",~~"~:'~~<J.)'"


;' SECLi·I~ITY'Nr-:l~M/\ 1,)N


The higher con~and directed th~. withdrawal movement by fixing
sectors designated for', marchi~ng, rec'onnais'sanee'andoombat for the
divisionS', and alsoe'stablishing',li'nesof re~~3is'tancewith addi t;ional
orders ppe'scribing the' time 'for r'~achfng and de.f'ending, therri~ The
command thus prov;Lded"a: long-range plan'for't'he '~ann~r in which it
desired the' mover.1ent to be carried o'ut~· sectors: and' lin'3s 'o£re.:...·
sistance did not form 'a rig~d pattern, fo~ they,were subject to
change according to' -the situation•.,:....



'. •



The location of the line
r'esfstance'and it·s".distance from
the eneny depended on the terrain 'and on the,plans of the command.
In cases where· the distance: was 'f?IAaJ;l; . there,,'vtTas reason to fear
iihat the enemy t1ight launch' an attack for., vih.'i6h th'f defens'e' VIaS
unprepared. The position could only be '-reconnoiteredas to its
detailedcha:cacteri:st1csand be' oceupied"'·a.fterda:ybreuk, an ex"",
tensiv~' missfon 'for which the ~xhd;usted,:iroops''required a good
deal of time. The line
resistance:·to be 'occupied should be
taken over in advance by a security· detachi:l'ent. to' receive the with­
drawing troops., Beco.tlse of lack' 'of ·trQops" hoy/ever', this Vias not­
,done. during .' the retreats just desoribed'. . The enemy' penetrated t,,-Jice
into the new defense, line' -ciithout' 'meeting' orgalfized' resistance~


If ,the 'distance. to, be ,coveredquring the retreat tlas too
great, the iines'ofresis~~i1ce'cou1.dnotpe·reachedunder cover
of da.j,"kness. The retreat in· daytilJ.o ,was then exposed to ~ttacks
by the ener.lyt·s. air :rorce, bjfafrborne 'tirqops."and'by· motorized
forces. In such circumstanoes retrea:t:-\las"·only feasible at all
unde~ the' protectionofa:strohg air,;'foroe. ,The ,ground ·troops
had to be raady at daybl"eakt6 defend themselves in all
directions and ,had to fight ·:·their· way to the rear •
The distance ofthe':line of "r'esb3tance frbm:the nearest one
held by the enertlywas 'most favorable when' it "v/'as' 'possible i?o make
full u,se of nighttime, for ',the'rearward,niar:ch 'arid'v'1hen it per­
mitted th(-j troops to ,occupy the nevv position shortly befo1.~e daYln.
This ca.p.hardly ,be 'accomplished,howe:ver ,.:, clllring the' shdrt .Juno
and .July,nights_ in RU$sia •.. :': ..,;:

,'In Janual"y,1942 .the condition of' ,the ·tt-oops and their' lack
of winter mobility made, i:b nocessary'·to "lnC-VO ',the,rri, 'as·rapidly as
possible into a fixed position •. ~Thevri:thdra·Nal -ilas'ther8foro
carried out. rapidly.•~ '. The. linGs .of resis:tan'ce v'vorefar· apart and, .
except f01"ono i,nstahce, vl1el~e.oCcupied in,·',then1:-orning and:0vacuated
the s,arne night,. 'In the autumn of,1943-;,ret:ro.grad:o ,m'Qvoments·took
the,f.orlJlo~ a piYotip.g·' of: the 0ntir~ ,fr'dnt: fror!i" a . line
facingnorthrITardto ~a,l.inefacingectst.,. \ThErdirecti'onsof'the lines
of resistanc~ now converged":on .ono: 'pivot pofritinthi'sTftOV0l:1ent,
~o that. those .forces YJ,hi'ch, v7erd:in position 'neares-& ,the pivdt ,point




s.t:C,U"i~.I,T·Y:. tMf~f,(~~i\ T.13N

nO·;1 ha.dli tt1e space. for operatibns.:tt·,:tss intended to ,'ca.rry
out the. 'entire; movement as .slowly ,as poss'ible in order to: gain
time,fox-the posltion ;then being,built'4i.t"ec'tlyeast of Vltebsk.
Both command and troops' realized, from' the. st~ttthat in siich 8P.
e,xtellsive retrograde movement hot evasion, bu"tc9.mbat viould bring
the des,i).1edresults, and that, the'amolirit, of be galned: cou.ld
be obtained, only by-repeatedly repelling the attacker '·;-d~th he~vy
losses. It ".vas the. task of the higher comma.nd to, seleot areas for
ccm;bat, offerin'gthe most adV'~ntag8S' flor'defense • There OUt" forces
would have to carry,onaslong,as our strengtht.'nd the risk oiran
enem;)r bre'akthrough This intention determined the
seleotionof the line6f r,esistance II
Orders for' bUilding ttintermediate lin,os'of res:Lstat?-ce rt w~re
issued in the c.ourse of'the retr'eat., Since, thq rec,onnaissal1¢~e
teams \vnich had at first" been assigned could nO.t be re'tJ,ched on
,their missions ,vlithout loss of time, . now teams 'had to be a.ctivated,
thus creating~a difficult situat;ion ,for the unit's in their
weakened state • It was dosirableto furnish such toams \1i th radio
equipment, but this could not bedonqdue to ~ack,of instruments.
By' January 1942 the division infantr~r oonsj.sted of onlyt'~lO'
or tlll."ee, battalions. The, artillory 'was fa.irly complete, but
suffel"ed f}.~om laok of· ~~unition, ,thq 'antitank defense was' in-.
. adequate and the eng~neer battalioh had the· strength of, ao·ompany.
This 'made' only a:loose's.nd thin manning of the line o{ resista.nce:'
possible. iJ:he R.ussictns; who. had'superiori tyand vlintermobili tt,"
cOl1:ld easily penetrate :tntothe ga.p~.' An attack column' .comprising
soveral battalions 'appeared by the in Qrning of the seoond ,day of
the retreat to the rear of the German artillery. At night the
column had crawlod through a fOflest whioh had scaroely :bc<;3n
guarded since reconnaissance had reported it impassable booausG
of' deep,snoY; and a. dense, jungle-like g:r.ovlth of,troes,.' The German
,o.rtil1erydemimatGd,th\3 -mass \"ofthe e!lc;}my moving "clumsil, in'the
d,eap ~noy{ wi th,short.-ra.nge fire,. arid' the survivOrs' ~urrQndored'. ','
Snchan initial success' raised the self -confiderlOoof the'defdl1der's
and cons:i.dero.blycooled the ardor of ,th(3 pursuers ; whose' p11opngo.hdo.
often somevlhat prema tu:rely spoke of tithe beginning of the end n a'ri:d,
about the "coup de, grace." After ,this reverse,' th;.3 l1.uS' p~sued




, In'August 1943, shortly before the beginning ,of, the' m~vemont,
for'cos \1ero dotached ,fr,omthe front forotherassignmel'1ts.' The
divisions, each with si:cinfantry battalions, were assigned secto!.'s
morethal'1, fort;;rkilometors' Wide. Their ,: dG£ohsi ve 'strongth vias' not
, commGns1..ll'ate Ylith their missions., On the, $ec,ond day of 'the, r6tl"'Oo.t
" .t',70 b:rec.ktbroughsoccurred .whiph could only, bocontil~n0d th.rodgh'
great eff'ol.. ts by the commitmont of troops fr",m hoJ.dqixartel~S and
signal and supply ~it~, Neither the divlsions nor tho corps had



U:N ct ASSlfl [D





any motorized reserv~s, much le~~ta.nksor assault guns. Under
thesecircumsta,nces the retreat took place, more ~ rapidly than
planned. The 'army felt it necespary to m'ove up ,a division rapidly.
Although battle-weary, its commitmeXltmade it possib~e 'to reduce' .
the widtih of the d:Lvj.sion sectors to about thirty kilometers.
Some time latel" six assault guns and 'one light infantry' battalion
carried in trucks a.'l;'rivedto increaSe the 'division l ,s fire power. '
Theinfantr:l was committed in the line of rE.lsistance in such

a manner .thattherifle comp~nies, reinforced by heavy 'machine guns

and light antitank guns \If;)replaced inyhe forward line. Behind

them, at important points, .were placed the morta.:c~s, infantry guns

and Y.eavy antitank guns., The light antit?-hk guns, Ylhich Yv6rein­

eff?~tiv.e against tanks, provedpo·vYerful weo.pons-iJhen firing high....

explosive shells against infantry troops.. The battalion a~1d com~

pany commandel"shad small reserves at. their disposal, whom they

led against such elements of the 'enemy as had pGnetrated. The'

regiment~1.1comtnandercreatedfrom his engineer and ,cava.lry platoons

a reserve .,-j'ilich ~~las moved on trucks.

In infantry fighting, preference ';lasshown fqr tei"rain that in-:­
cludedditches, hedges, bushes, and small ~'vooded areas,. bec~use' such
terrain impeded enemy . recol1naissancebut made the transfer of forces'
close behind the f,ront possible and faeili t~tedcounterthrusts and
disepgagement. T~s type ofterx'ain VIaS usually found in 10"~'!lands
which often haddrY.-ground right next' to marshy places so that tanks
could 0~11y operate with consid~l"9-blerisk.Long-rangeinfantry fire
was avoided.. The attacker was!permittedto approach as closely as
possfble tc? qe ambushed' by til"e;E~r,ommanY'direct~ons. The plan of
fire consisted of', such fire concentrations' before the most important
positions,!' ,
The al"tillery -~"1as organ'ized in' groups. and ordered to CQOpel"ute
with. the infantry r'egirnents. rrhe command posts of the artillery
group commanders and bf the infantrjT re:gimental commanders yiel"e
ioeated in close proJcimity. In most, ca.s.estha a3:'tillel"Y~7as not
attached to the infant1 Y. The ~uthori ty' of the division. artillery
c'o1llmander guul"anteEid a. more flexible employment of artillery and
.firecontrol, ! defensive succe'ss COLlld only be expected if the
artillery' succeed(~d in assembling the largest. possible quanti ties
of gW1S and ammunition at thedecisiv6 point at the right time.
The slo\1" horse-drawn artillery ';vas made more mobile 'by . loading
it on trucks. In the . type of tarX'eirt which th~infantry preferred,
the artil1ei~~Tmet difficult~e.s in proc.;nlringadequate reconnaissa.nce
information. The fact that,ffiGtny'infantry 'company commander.s had'
le,arned in the courseo;f the r/ar: of positionto control single
. batteries und,er simpleconditions' proved useful, The amrnuni t~~on
. supply permitted no wasteful' firing. .The hea.viest fire' concentration

was direotedat the destruction of enemy assembly areas.


the 'lineaf' resistance, the Russians rarely
offe:e8<iworthw·hile'ta.r gets:.' . Tliei.1'·:,nrtillery fire ,;'Jas' lesQ
systematica,nd'· p'6vl'erfulthart,it, had, been dl1ring prepa!'ator Jr attacks
in the war ot'-positions. Thejr··omitted systematic bombardment of
OtU' artillery': by their 'own artillery" and air force.

·Antitank·de·fens·e· ','las ·again,'.t}~e' mos't· critical part ·of the'
over-all situa·ti:Oth: Individual>ar-tillery. and antiai:C'craft guns .,
in' foJ:t\7ard . positions suppor·ted.: the>infantry: in a self-saari.fieing
mann'er. In the c'ou.t'se of .thase.::batt· the ,Russianscommitted '
their tanks in a· pi0cemeal... fashion. ·They displayed .:
vigila.nce while drIving·,.lowlands.,.. te:t'rain :wbich they,
disliked.' When repeating an attack that had previously been r~'
pulsed·, the;r'i!ere inclined to reuse' the: vary same 'lil"ac'ks.. Mines.,
which were laY'E}d under' the.s:e·:'tracks Uw,"ing:. lulls , oftetl producod ','
th3 results de'sired. ' : , ' , ".'

.. .


These battles made great demands on' the 'skill and, leadorship

of the German comrnandand on the and experience of tho
tr'oops.. Impro'vised tr oop units . with·8 bl:'ief period o£'training
are not' suita.b1e,foi~· this type:of'fightin.g. '
,The higher command had·to make, t4'e 'd f,3cisi,on for withdrawal

earl;y'enough to' ena·ble the: divis:top .to". is·pue . thr:::, war.ning .order .
during the early .'afternoQh,afJ "othel'tvise: 'it:fi1ightnothave:reached
allelementsintlme. ,occa;s:tona.lly.the~·fighting' 'became sO'oritical
between 1600 and 2400'hoUI S that:8.' 'col1apae df the,uld,·be
expected' that evening.' .'orcerit'a:ihly 'the<n6xt.·day•. Nevertheless" the
c:6mmand desisted: fr om ordering:a·t:c·eat .the· '·:same eveningb,ecause
a belatedly or'deredHithdra~.1al··ne.c·essarilywould: lead to gr;eat
conf0.sioh~· :., ·StJ~ch·al'f· order :i;Jbl.ild:· ili:,te'rfei-e with supplies 'Ilhich.~:;eJ:e
in the pr'ocess: of":ar,ri'ving;: ;the,r'eol1;ga-nizatioh of uni tsand
with the beginnin·g.::of the ,re~roUiFment p:res'cribed for: the,follo·.1ing,
morning~ ·It might als'C) lead . t-o'·.;:cpartialretreat· d·LU.~ing·.j:,heday~
Tlll'\Ollgh' local vJithdra'~iJ'a1s :a.nd,·reinforcement', of the front: by>'a1 ti1;lery,
antitank "~~leapons arid "inl'antr'jf ~scraped ·.:together. somehO'vJ .or· .other t
the command ':enc1eavored to:pr·epai."la for the ne~t day.



If theol'lder' arrived in .tim(:3; it ~:as possible to disengage
.from the' enemy ,even' 'if, the'::bpl)Osing 'li:nes .. were locIted.i in close
cornbat~ : In '-au-ch Cases ·,the ·ii1fi;l..titry disengaged. from, the. :enemy an'
l10U'L~ 01" ·'t1;10 after nightfall,: leaving :in the:.evacu.~ted positions'
woak:real-igue;rdsjconsistiuEf'bfr;one·e.nd a' half' to·;tvvo. squads pel" ,

company. A' r~vl"hours 'latel"", thd8e:~reax-guard$·i;lerG also ":iith~.,
drc.i!!1.· The' inf.intrY~:Jithdre\'J off ·n.;"~!id:Gfront :(ind. then, ,as' the rand
n~t and the sittk~tiotr'perthitted;,'assembledin~smdl1 march units of
roughly bo.tttilion ~ sf,:rength~' . Good ·r0Qonntiisso.r,' ctLreful' marldng













.,' _,: ' .~ f :~ :.

. 'f'

of the roads t7~re important for' the Bucoe'ss'of a night ·wi~hqravlal.
Road improvements could only' be carried out on a small scale. It
was impracticable to set uptime schedule,s;rorthe" various march
colum!l's.·Th~ diV"ision est~blished'control points where the com­
manders of m~ch groups reported when, .and vthere their units had
last been. The artillery' 'protected the disengagement from the, '
enemy. If the, situation, permitted, ,the medium artillery,which
frequently, had' to make' detour~, beeauseof ',transportation
difficulties, was withdrawn' from the position in the e~ly 'evening
and moved rearward. ,1 few light'a,rtillery guns' remained behind
for decepti'on' and the support ,of the rea.r,';';"guard~. , When engage.....
ments lasted until darkne'ss, losses in weapon's and equipment 'be....
came unavoidable., , The numbEir. of men. available, was inadequate
to move back all the materi;el in the position; ,nor could muoh
time be spent in search:ing for it becau:;;e of the enemy' s proximity.
The wounded. had tobs recove.'red. FOr 'this type of." comba.t a
division thereforeneedsadequate'stccks of weapdns, entrenching
tools and signal equipment.
The enemjr usually' commencedpursultat daVIn. The appe,arance
of. the first Russian' troops,' before the new p'osition was soon .
followed by' nutl1erous thrusts to' 'probewsak spots. The tirst
attacks generally ocourred toward, noon and vverethenrepeated in
thG aftarnoon. ,ThoRus~ians p:r'eferred "t,oinf:Lltrate into: holloVls
auci' small'wooded 'areas' hear the' Geru1anlines, which they felt
were, concealed from ,observation andfr'Oillwhichthey' launched
surpriseattacl~s~ If the penetration 'were successful, they moved
up rein.forcernents recklessly \and ':tr;i'ed .toi,71den the penetration
points Ylhatever the dost. If' ,the iIririedia,te German cotirltertf.J:"usts'
failed, it often'proved necessary to retreat a short distance
during'the night. For'1,ack of,'perS'bnneT· it' was imp6s'sible to
carry out counterattacks, vlhich 'also,prevente,d. the' realiz~tion
of the corrJiland's intentions to . harass andirlflict 'casualties on
the eneiny while' lie wa.s in'the ,pr cces's ' Ofpt cbing the new line of
/r'esistance. Armored forces are most:' suita.ble for this purpose.
: ./ Infantry troops lnustbe rested,' and must 'be givenopportunities to
V reconnoiter' the i'errain for-the: attack and the following with';" .
", "


PUrsuit 'by the 'enemy'couldbo ,thiivarted 'bY ni6ans
but this required coristru6ti'on Yior'k ;VJhi,6h had to be' planned in
time,' S'!nOGsuch 'constructionvlork, c'ould not be -c'oncealed from '
Russianreoonno.issance troops and partisans behind .our ,front, the
higher ,conimand had: 'to decide' on1lvhetherto ,'give· prtor,i ty to the
viork or to the maintenance of secrecy, ,The lcrt.ter; co~se wag'
chosen in the 'autumn of 1943 .'The prepar~:Coryconstructionw'ork .
wa.s permi ttedto begin ,only a. t ,tho:, 'las't-moL1en:ts, 'thus enabling
the' enemy 'to pursue us in: full ,force and at 'a rapid~ratG. It vvas
not until laterthattenaciousrGsistance on the part oltho German
_~:'f.,('...i';\i!;<?;~,' ,,';~~~~:':i,~;;~;:~~:;;~~gi':~;~I:\~~~~.~a'



troops provfdod; the time nceq.ed . to·constru.ct effectivG obstacles.
The 'work was impeq.0q..:.~y·.:th~ ·~·l~qk:.·of.,p~rs~nnel, e~p;Los;i vcs and

mines.. It VIas nocessary to concentra.te all efforts on a fev{

impox·tant 8trong,poin~s.· .O.r.d:e,rf? ·J;1adto, tGClGh the engineor comma.nder

as soon a,s possiblo.:His . . dis.po~itions·.vvith::regard to labor and

matori~l' had ~opo fleJCib~e'~.nough,~p a~low.~apid adjustmont if the

situa:tion chapgod~. Si~ce G,ngi1190rS011 f90t.:w?rQ' unfit for such

mo1;>ileoper.a:t;.ions, ;t~lC)Y werE} tr:an~PQrted :onslleh trucks as we~o", ·g·<1>nct,ttiQns,. this. uas an

emergency soluti9n. MOc:l~rnol1ginl?C!?r tr.Qbp-~ ".noe.d vehiclos h~V'ing'

~omplG:te, c~oss':""'countr.y,m<:>bllitJ-r • • : . ' , ' ;:. :: .: ~
~ .~ -. :.' '<.' :., ,-:

: . ' :. •.

Tho obstacles.. consi~t0d of· .bridge::and: :Clam demolitions, tho

mining' of,ain."
. laying ofscattcrod

minos' in .places p~oba.b~yUs~.qbyth~·'.onemyfor . opservation,.

mai"chiJ;lg. or a.ssembly ..There. w.a~ al;L.:w1.S~coessful atten1pt to spray·fuel

on; '~:ndignit~,~. :w:ood~d'.area which obstructed

the Gel:"manpos:is t.ions. Although·.:no: l:a:Ln lfa.d :"f':allen .for some time, .

the tree S11er,e $.t;i~ltoo~mois~ .•: .:It. ptoved' " b*e ' to ..o ons tr-uct

obstacles· at the.rnost:.impp;-.t-aJlt:;pI;ac~s..:.Ivlacadamiied, 'cobblestone

and , in~p.r Qved .1" oads: of·all.s·qr.1iawe.t'e. '..always' thor oughlJr .·~bloc~ed in,

great depth •..Unpaved .r·pads;.wr.cen:,,\1e-t;soori·,bec·ame . i mpassable for'

a large .yolumeof. .:tra.f,fiq,' ··and·\·.t-h~l;e$pre)iardly ,paid' to mine.' .

~hem.. The· ~bove appl~es:.:II\ai..nly:,'Ji9,j"lh~eleq. .. ·,v:ehicles •. 'Much ',materiel

. and time was requir~d :toh;i~d~:t~e:'JnOVeIilents of· infantry,andcros.s~
count~~y.motor 'vG·qiqles.. .v~r'y! .::eft.l?,otiye~,,: according: to Russian
reports, was the:,·d~mOJ,iti.Qn:..Qf·,a6aus~,way:acl:"oss, a ma,rshwhere·as:·.
much as 200 met~rs .of th~, r.Qa.q,.. ~nd ;its' .substructU!'e were. destl"oyed.
The, enemy :'Ghen ·-s.hi,.fted·.h:i.s.. p:qip.t Qfunai,n ,::attack".an action which·.
ga.ined .seyeral.4i:l.ysfo~:,.the. :,defense _ .'
'. .

.EXperie,nce· h~s pr·9:v9.d t.ha·t. t~1e.:,·C9mmand .must· ~a:r·efullyplan'.and.
coo~"Q.i.nat~ ~r9QP moyeme~t$·.and' ,in,t,611de,d demolitions, a~d should
bear inmiJ::l.g .tI;tat ,such movem$.n:t;.~. ,tarely:.:a·d,here .,t·o·.fixed schedules •.. ·
Infantry and antitank weapons mustpr'ot,ect·.the. 'engiuf;3ertroops who'
set up obstacles after the infantry has disengaged from the enemy.
During their ret:r··in,,·t:heat1t·umn.,of.19.41,.the RLissians seta .
large ~l1!l1ber .of,·qemolition'.. oharges on ·the~mainroad, :betwe.en
Smolens1\: .and Mqp'c:pVf·~<.the:.las.t, of.:whi·ch· theydtitonated byo.:remote. :.
contt"ol... Jn Fe:b.t'uary .1942..
. .'
, ..'


the Russ:La,nscrossed,. rivera: sp.eedily':~·They,!'uthlesslyimpressed
the popul~t:iqnwitb;in:.a··wide., radius:for:~.bridgebuildin:g, 'using tlinber
:from ~he·neat"est. villages •.. : Mines, laid'in randornpatter·n·i·nflict:ed·,.·
;Lossesbu:t gained 'n.o· :t:ime for~: .the., defenders.. .



.... ­

·.:aailway· ~li.;gineer~ tl:b.Ops· carried··.. iout .'r-ailroad demolitions' under
direc~:P9mmand of)Logi; headquar:ters..:· '.' THe: fastest :and 'most·:··· .

-.40.:'7. '.


Jjl-r:...v··· 1A,LC:·:",\·t,,\-ki,A,J' '1!!·'·'.'\N
. . ,\L, '..c~~1.J;··
f.1'··; ~.J;f;V-·~; ~'mJ J) .,:~ ..


efficient niethod 1,7asa: deVice' tor: ri})ping'Out raihvay ties. How­
ever, the llussia11s quickly, restored ell1~rgencJr tl~a.ffic" They stocked
up, rail~;"]ay equipment before.maJ o:c '?ffensl.'Tle.s,.....
The Besct"ibed tetr-,ograde"engagements' ,d·em\:m.strate the danger
of falling back inthihly~anhed lines Yli.tho.ut "depth and adequate
mobile l:'ese,rves., Perhaps. the' maj or 'reisd11'· wihy these movements
c.ould be carried out sct'cces'sfullv,vias the 'fact 'that·, the Soviet ail'"
and 'tank arms had not ';yet 'becorne~ a~' str()ng as about a year la,ter.
Becquse by its nature' 'itiin~ded' visibility,"'Cel1tral' Russian
terrain favored the rett-eat1n-gtrooJ?s ,pr'ovided,tha.t 'stern 'd:Lscipline
and unbroken lines were maintained,{ . Most tl~oO'p movemeJ.i.ts 'toole place
away from the road's and thus escaped observation by the Russian, Air
Forc~ '3ven dw.... ing 4a.;r1±ght hour's.' Had 'ft ,'sy'stematically attacked
crossin~~ ovel" rivers and~ilar'shy Ibwla,nds,; '6u;r x"etreat' due. to the
lack of 'ail" cover Vlould""not have been ,as'orderly as' it was •. IT_he
low ground ,favored the 'defe'nder's~' ,Th~'Russia.n :ai,tilleryfire was
quick and effective in open ter,r.·airi.'.,·The enemy ,advanced,:through '
forests only when: irifotmed:;' presumabl~;'by his··,~ntelligelice-'··'behind
the Germ~h lines, that he Y!oulc~notme~t;prepared!'r'esistancein
them.,' Such resistanceang large-'s'cale"construction of obstacles
were impossible. because the Germans,lacked<s.ufficientpers orinel.
The. RUffsians concentrated . OIr themain'highHays, . and shifted' their
attacks' only.temporarily'eveu,wheu.'faced·by·tenacious German'
resistanc~. ' The local' point of·main'effort,-.7asfrequentiy· ehanged.,
The lTlain pressure was not directed 'at ·theroild" itself,. .but on
points a fe'\J.'kilometer'sto the right or left: of :it.'The German
mot:orized reserves did not htive adequate :ctOss-c'ountry mobility'
and the1"efoJ:'e 'often had to ta~~" time:"c·onsum1.ngdetoll:rs and' detruck
before 'reaching their destination~.' Entrucked' infantry troops were
not able to take their horses' and" vehicles' along because there
Viere not enough trucks.. At the detrucking point theywete issued
some vehicles, , kitchens, a.ndammunition.- . A modern mobile' reserve
unit must be'a unit made up of ' elements 'coI11pr'i'sil.i€( tank, antitank,
antiaircl:"'aft, signal, inf{3.ntty'· and" engineer 'troops and, must
complete cross",:,country

It ~7as surpr~s~n~ ·~hat.~' in spite"'of,o~ca$io~allyunfavorable
situ?- tions, a disengagement from 'the' enemy dm""ing'darkness vias
almost· al"l7aj':s successful~ .EitIler the':··H.ussian- Conuhand failed to'
order, night pursuits -- 11hich is unlikely'
Vie,:! of'its manifest
aggres~iveness -~ or else the Russ~an infantry had failed to comply
properly' with the orders to pursue' us. FbI' this reason tile lack of
posi tion~:covcringour wfth~rawal;from'action had 'no 'disadvantageous
c on~eq uen6~s • In' daJrtim.e ;., given favor a'bIe terraiii "and adeq ua. te
artillery prot~ction', 'th:e' dfiJengagellient of' s'mallei"':·units, also
.succeeded. Fll".st the heavy infantry weapons would move back by
echelons so that they 'collldstill-'::fire . on: the forward' ·onemy lines,
thus forming a. covering ·position., Then :'the ihfantry· wotild:folloYJ.


41.. ~.

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