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"Some German Battle Observations on the Russian Front" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following translated German document discussing tactics on the Russian Front was printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 23, April 22, 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.]


Below appears a translation of a German document discussing in outline form one of their later Russian offensives.

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a. Preparation

Detailed preparation for the attacks was made possible through the constant collection of information dealing with previous actions, exchange of information between various headquarters and distribution of this information down to companies. Preparations included rehearsals over similar ground and under similar conditions; also, measures to deceive the enemy.

b. The Attack

The attack was carried out by surprise, with no artillery registration or preparation. The attack opened with coordinated fire on a narrow front from artillery and all smoke mortars and heavy weapons available. As success depends upon speedy removal of obstacles in depth, especially minefields, strong engineer elements were allotted to the leading elements. Cooperation with the air force was close. Flight schedules were arranged to leave sufficient time for refueling and resupply of ammunition. To avoid bombing of friendly troops, the air force was kept closely informed of the positions of troops on the ground by the aid of air-force liaison officers, and by ample supplies of cloth panels, etc.

c. Minefields

Minefields were quickly crossed by reconnaissance and by mine-detector sections, pushed well forward to mark the lanes. Mine-clearing sections rapidly widened the lanes through the fields from 5 to 10 meters. Two lanes were made for each company sector.

d. Observations

(1) Whenever strong tank attacks were launched, the Russians coordinated the fire of all available antitank guns, and antiaircraft guns in an antitank capacity.

(2) The Russians would often let our attack come so close that our artillery could not continue to fire. Heavy weapons were therefore pushed well forward for use against positions where such tactics were expected.

(3) Mass formations had to be avoided in favor of organization in depth.

(4) When signal communications had not been set up, traffic difficulties were encountered between responsible headquarters.

(5) The use of the Fieseler Storch (a small liaison and command plane capable of landing and taking off in a very small space) was necessary for commands responsible for observing battle situation and directing traffic.


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