The following is a translation of an order in which a German officer criticizes
officers and men of his battalion for negligence in the construction of positions.
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1/129 PGR -- Bn HQ 18 Oct 43.
Subject: Construction of Positions
(1) In spite of my repeated instructions about the building of MG
positions, I found again today in the Bn sector positions which are testimony to the
laziness and lack of interest of those responsible. It is evident that the great
value of a well-built position is not yet appreciated. Some of the positions looked
like children's playgrounds rather than the work of responsible soldiers. At 1000
hrs I asked a section leader with a particularly badly-built position what he had
already done that day with his men (who were comfortably squatting under a tree). He
In another case I found a heavy machine gun with folder tripod left on
the ground without any sort of cover. The sentry told me in all seriousness that
this was the proper MG position. I am now no longer puzzled why some sections
of the line are unable to hold out; with positions so miserably constructed no sort
of attack can be repulsed.
Henceforth I order:
(a) Every weapon is to be dug in so that only the muzzle is showing;
(b) For every weapon an alternative position will be prepared behind or
to the side of the original position. It must be able to be approached under cover;
(c) Every weapon must be so covered in front that it fires through a
loophole, and so that the crew is protected from shell-splinters and enfilade fire;
(d) For every man, even during battle, there will be a position which he
(e) In every position hand grenades will be kept; the caps will be unscrewed during a battle and at night;
(f) Every sentry shall be able to make his report without taking his eyes off the enemy;
If in future I find out that this order is not being carried out to the minutest
detail, I shall punish on the spot the responsible section and platoon leaders.
(2) All other offences, such as abandonment of weapons, or evacuation of
a position before the order is given, I shall punish in the severest manner. Once
again I solemnly caution all soldiers against withdrawing from a position before
ordered to do so, or abandoning weapons or equipment when not absolutely compelled
to do so. In the future I shall demote offenders without regard to their rank or position.
Sgt Matzken with his section abandoned a position without sufficient reason,
and failed to prevent the section from running away. Steps have been taken to deprive
him of his rank.
Every soldier must realize that we must perform our present duty with
the slenderest forces; on this, much of the future conduct of the war depends. The
German army is up against unimaginably numerous and powerful enemy forces.
These forces are about to be thrown against us. Our job is to hold out and go on
This order is to be read out to ALL soldiers.