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"German Views on Russian Tactics in Woods" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following extract from a German training pamphlet describes Russian tactics in forests on the Russian Front. The report was originally 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.]


Much thought has been devoted to the tactics employed by the Japanese in the close jungle country of the southwest Pacific areas. Of particular interest therefore is the following brief extract from a German training pamphlet.

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The terrain of the Eastern Front and Russian methods of fighting are both such that battles have often to be fought in thick, marshy, and extensive woods. To overcome their nervousness of woods, officers and men must be trained in forest fighting, a training which serves equally as training for fighting by night or in fog.

The following is an account of some lessons learned in fighting on the Russian Front.

When fighting in woody or marshy terrain, the Russians show their greatest powers of resistance. Here, their superiority of numbers, cunning and skill at camouflage stand them in good stead. They are adept in the use of ground, in the use of trees for observation and as sniping posts, and at erecting field fortifications in woods. They deliberately seek out woods for purposes of approach and defense; by holding their fire, they entice the enemy to approach within a short distance and come to grips in close-quarter fighting. Despite the thickness of the undergrowth and the density of the trees, they even strengthen their defense with tanks, and attack against them then becomes difficult and costly.

The Russians tend to make great use of the edges of woods, and in particular to concentrate heavy weapons and antitank guns at points where trails and roads enter the woods. The Russians do not surrender even when the woods may be surrounded. They must, therefore, be attacked and destroyed within the woods.

Lines of communication which run through woods, even when they may be behind the front, are particularly precarious. When they retreat, the Russians leave detachments behind in woods. These detachments, reinforced possibly by others dropped from planes, form partisan bands for the special task of harassing the enemy and of interfering with his rear communications. The mopping up of woods which may have been occupied by partisan or other dispersed groups of Russians demands much time and the planned use of sufficient forces. Merely to comb out roads that may run through woods is fruitless and costly, for the Russians disperse off the roads into the woods.


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