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"Notes on German Divisional Intelligence" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report on German divisional intelligence and handling of PWs in WWII, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 24, May 6, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The system used by the Germans in training those selected for intelligence work at one particular Division headquarters, as well as the organization and scope of the work of this branch of the service, is described in the following report based on German sources.

The 10 weeks' course of training in the instance cited was given at what is known as the Interpreters' Training Depot. This was organized on military lines, and trainees generally held the rank of corporal.

The Depot did not give courses which lasted a specific time. Trainees remained there until they had passed the necessary tests and were then assigned. Three grades of proficiency were established; 3d class or Sprachkundig (conversant with the language), 2d class or Sprachmittler (translator), and 1st class or Dolmetscher (interpreter).

Training consisted chiefly of language study, especially translation of documents. Lectures were given on British army organization, but trainees were not expected to have a comprehensive knowledge of the subject, and no handbooks or pamphlets were used. It does not appear, for example, that British tank recognition was included in the studies.

The Intelligence Section at this Division (light) headquarters consisted of one officer, one interpreter, a corporal, and a clerk. It was housed in tents and had no motor transport. It did not issue an Intelligence Summary, but received the army intelligence summary (Feindlagebericht). Intelligence information was passed on to Division and unit commanders at the commanders' conference. The Division intelligence officer did not visit forward troops or battalion headquarters.

Intercepts were not seen by the Divisional Intelligence Staff, but information from this source was included in army intelligence summaries. An enemy order-of-battle map was kept, but no card-index system was used. The German handbook on the British Army (Taschenbuch des Engl. Heeres) was used for reference. No liaison was maintained with adjacent Italian units.

The work of one man consisted in the preliminary interrogation and identification of prisoners. He was employed as liaison officer between the intelligence branch of Panzer Army and Division Intelligence section when necessary. In quiet periods, he was responsible for the welfare and comfort of Divisional troops.

PWs were brought directly to Division headquarters and were interrogated in one of the tents belonging to the Intelligence section. The interrogator did not use the printed form for interrogation of PWs, but listed their personalia (effects). No selection of PWs was made, and documents were forwarded without the name of the PW from whom they were taken. Army Intelligence was then informed by telephone, and occasionally asked for PWs to be sent up to army headquarters.

Normally, PWs were sent to a designated cage; officer PWs were interrogated and sent to the cage in the same way. The interrogator in the report in question never went forward to interrogate, (e.g. to the brigade headquarters when a patrol was sent out) and never worked at the cage.

PWs taken by Italian units remained in Italian hands and were not interrogated by the Germans.

Great importance was attached to captured documents. These were studied by Divisional Intelligence and then forwarded to the army.


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