The following is a translation of a German pamphlet on Russian summer camouflage, printed
in the spring following the German invasion of Russia in June 1941. The Germans evidently
found Russian camouflage methods disconcerting, and some were apparently new to them. The
great care the Russians apparently devote to camouflage training is worthy of note; their
success in effective concealment seems to have resulted from ingenuity and strict
* * *
The following examples are taken from reports from the front and captured orders. They represent
only a part of Russian camouflage methods, but are in some cases new and worthy of imitation. They
can be used in improvised form by our own troops. A detailed knowledge of Russian camouflage and
methods helps our own troops to recognize the enemy and his tricks without delay. In this way
surprise is avoided and troops can operate with greater confidence.
b. Camouflage Material
The camouflage instinct is strongly developed in the Russian, and his inventive ability is
astounding. This gift is systematically encouraged by thorough camouflage training which
begins on the first day of military training and is continued throughout the whole
period. Camouflage discipline is good even among troops who otherwise might be well
below the average as regards weapon training. Infringements of camouflage discipline
are severely punished.
(1) Prepared Camouflage Material
(a) Summer Camouflage Suit
The suit consists of a jacket and hood of green-colored material in which tufts of
matting in various shades are woven. In appropriate surroundings, a man in a prone
position in this clothing cannot be seen more than a few paces away.
(b) Summer Camouflage Smock
This consists of colored material with patches in dark shades, and is suitable for
use with a broken background of woods and bushes.
(c) Camouflage Net for Rifleman
The net is about 5 by 2 1/2 feet and weighs about 1/3 pound. It is woven with natural camouflage
material taken from the immediate surroundings and can be used either as a covering or spread
out in front of the rifleman. By binding several nets together, rifle pits, machine guns, and
entrances to dugouts can be camouflaged.
(d) Camouflage Mask for Rifleman
This consists of a wire contraption divided into several pieces, covered with material. In it is a
hole through which the rifle can protrude. It represents a bush and is in use in three different
colors. It can be folded up and carried on the person in a bag. The rifleman lies in such a position
behind the mask that his body is fully hidden. In attacking he can move forward in a crouch and push
the mask in front of him. The mask is only visible to the naked eye at a distance of 150 to 200 paces.
(e) Camouflage Cover for Machine Gun
The cover consists of colored fabric in which tufts of colored matting are woven. When moving
forward, the cover will not be taken off. The machine gun with this cover can only be recognized
when within about 100 yards.
(f) Camouflage Fringe
The fringe consists of a band about 3 yards long, from which grass colored matting is hung. On
the ends are hooks for attaching the fringe on the object. The rifleman can fix the fringe on
the helmet or shoulders. Five of these fringes are used to camouflage a machine gun, and six
for an antitank gun.
For covering gun positions and trenches, nets of various sizes are issued. The net is woven with
shreds of matting or paper; when in use, additional natural camouflage is added, such as grass,
twigs, etc. These nets are also used by tanks, tractors, trucks, and trailers. The standard net
is about 12 feet square, and by joining several together, large surfaces can be camouflaged
against aerial observation (see figure 1).
(h) Camouflage Carpet
This consists of shreds of various sizes into which colored matting and tufts are woven. It is
used mostly for camouflaging earth works.
(2) Improvised Camouflage Material
(a) Observation and Sniper Posts
A tree stump is hollowed out and stakes are used as supports. Another method is to insert
periscopes into a frame made to look like wooden crosses in cemeteries (see figure 2). Imitation
hayricks are often used.
(b) Camouflage Against Observation from the Air
Shadows can be cast by fixing frameworks on the side of a house or on the roof so that the
object cannot be recognized. Branches fixed on wire strung over the object can make it
invisible from the air (see figure 3).
(c) Camouflaging Tanks and Tank Tracks
Tanks when being transported by rail or when on the road can be made to look
like roofed freight cars or ordinary trucks.
When there are groups of trees, camouflage can be quickly obtained by bending the tops
of the branches over the objects to be camouflaged (see figure 4). Nets can also be
spread over and attached to the trees, with natural material laid on top. Among low
bushes, tanks can be covered with grass, moss, or twigs. Freshly cut trees, one-and-a-half
times the height of the object to be camouflaged, complete the camouflage. Tanks on a
slope can be effectively and quickly camouflaged by the use of netting or other
covers. Tanks in hollows can be made invisible by covers and, even without natural
camouflage, nets or covers can completely alter the shape of tanks.
Tank tracks can be obliterated by dragging a fir tree behind the tank; rolls of barbed
wire with an iron rod through them can also be used for this purpose.
c. Use of Camouflage
(1) On the March
As equipment being transported by rail cannot be fully concealed, the
Russians attach particular importance to preventing the recognition of
the type of equipment by making guns, vehicles, tanks, fuel trucks, etc., look
like ordinary roofed freight cars. This is done by means of some sort of
superstructure. Loading and unloading generally take place at night, often
in open country.
Movement of large Russian units takes place either at night, with meticulous
attention being paid to blackout regulations, or by day in wooded country. If
the march must take place by day in country which offers only limited natural
concealment, movement takes place by bounds from cover to cover. Motor vehicles
are, where possible, diverted from main roads to side or wood roads. All bunching
of vehicles on bridges, defiles, etc., is strictly avoided. A group of vehicles
will halt under cover a distance from a defile; the movement through the defile
will be made only by single vehicles or in small groups.
On the approach of German aircraft, vehicles of all descriptions take cover
without delay. If single vehicles are forced to remain on the road, they
either remain stationary, or, failing any camouflage protection, they take
up positions diagonally on the road in order to look like broken-down vehicles.
Track discipline is carefully carried out. When tanks have to leave the
main road, they travel in single column as far as possible so as not to
give away their numbers by leaving many tracks.
(2) Quarters and Bivouacs
All evidence of the occupation of a village is avoided. Tanks, guns, and vehicles, if they
cannot be brought under cover, are placed in irregular formations and camouflaged
in yards and gardens, and against hedges, bushes, walls, and trees.
Special care is taken to see that movement from one place to another is limited to small
groups; this rule applies also when issuing food, gasoline, etc.
Destroyed villages and burned-down premises are preferred for quartering men, weapons, equipment,
and vehicles, as these areas lend themselves easily to camouflage.
Bivouacs are cleverly camouflaged against houses, hedges, gardens, etc. If possible, thick
woods are used, and use is made of branches. In open country, hollows and ditches are used
to the utmost, and bivouacs spread out in irregular formations. Tents are covered with
natural camouflage material; if this is lacking, no use is made of tents. Instead, holes
and pits are constructed. When bivouacs are taken up, tracks are obliterated in order to
give the enemy no indication as to strength.
Stress is laid on the necessity of being able to crawl for long distances
at a quick pace. Patrols are well equipped with camouflage suits, and make full
use of darkness and bad visibility.
When working forward, the Russian moves in short, quick bounds, and is capable of
moving through the thickest undergrowth in order to work his way close to the enemy
position. If the defense is on the alert, he is able to lie still for hours on end.
Russian tree snipers are particularly difficult to recognize. Tank-destroying sections
with Molotov cocktails, grenades, and mines, are distributed in wheat fields and at places
several yards from the edges of woods and fields.
In defending built-up areas, the Russians make use of positions outside the area. These
consist of many rifle pits, organized in depth and well camouflaged with fences and
bushes. When firing from houses, machine guns are placed well back from windows and
doorways to prevent the flash being seen, and also to smother the report.
When German aircraft appear, every movement ceases.
After firing, any discoloration in front of a gun is covered with suitable camouflage
material. When the gun remains for some time in one position, a board of sufficient
size, and colored to match the surroundings, can be laid in front of the muzzle.
As the presence of tanks leads to definite conclusions regarding the main effort of
the attack, the Russians are very careful to camouflage their armor.
(4) Layout of Defense Positions
Reconnaissance patrols are instructed not only to study the ground from the tactical
point of view but also as regards possibilities for camouflage. This includes shape
of the ground formations, the background, the coloring, the available natural camouflage, and
what suitable artificial camouflage material can be used. Positions are selected to conform
to the natural contours of the ground, and comfort is of secondary importance. As much use
as possible is made of reverse slope positions. Parapets are kept as low as possible and
are carefully camouflaged with grass, etc. Positions are often camouflaged with covers
made of boards, fir branches, or straw. If time does not allow, only single portions
of the trench system will be covered, so that to an observer they look like connecting
trenches. Provision is made to conceal vision slits. Antitank ditches are either entirely
covered, or partially covered in such a way that they look like narrow, easily passable
ditches (see figure 5). Pillboxes are carefully camouflaged with nets or
covers. The open walls are painted with a mixture of tar and asphalt, and covered with
earth or hay. Wire obstacles can be made invisible by passing them through hedges and fences.
In woods, thick undergrowth is preferred in selecting a position. Cutting
down trees to give fields of fire is avoided for reasons of camouflage.
Russian signalmen use telegraph poles, with the bark still on, and set
them up at irregular distances. The line of poles is laid to conform
with the country. Earth at the foot of the poles is carefully camouflaged, and
trampling of the earth along the line of the poles is strictly avoided. Wire is
also laid to conform with the general contouring.
Camouflage discipline in occupied positions is very good, and one seldom
hears talking, rattling of weapons, or sees the glimmer of a cigarette. In
order to prevent the enemy realizing that a position is weakly held, single
riflemen keep up strong fire activity at various points.
d. Dummy Positions
The Russians often use dummy positions.
Dummy trenches are of normal width, but are dug only to a depth of about 1 1/2 feet. The
bottom can be made dark with soot or pine needles. Dummy dugouts can be made by the use of
props, with the entrance made of cardboard or paper. Dummy loopholes and observation slits
can be made out of black paper or felt. Dummy gun positions can be arranged by turning over
grass, or burning it in order to imitate discoloration from muzzle blast. Dummy gun
positions must be at correct distances. The representation of dummy tracks leading to
the dummy positions must not be forgotten. The desired result is achieved by mowing
grass to the normal width of a track, and letting the mown grass remain, or rolling it. When
the ground is open, color must be used in order to make the tracks light and trenches dark.
Dummy obstacles can be erected by mowing grass and making little heaps out of the cut
grass. On a ploughed field, it is sufficient to plough at right angles to the furrows
to the width of the particular obstacle it is desired to represent. Dummy mine pits
can be made by taking out sods of turf and laying them down clumsily. The dummy minefields
should be two to four times as obvious as the normal. In dummy minefields 5 to 10 percent
of live mines are generally laid. Dummy light installations are used a great deal in order
to portray a station, industrial plant, or airfield. Lanterns, dummy bivouacs, and camp fires
are often arranged to give the impression of the presence of troops.