The Germans have not failed to draw appropriate lessons from their
campaign experiences in Russia. These have sometimes resulted in the
re-emphasis of old doctrines; at other times, new or modified tactics have been
adopted to meet particular features of warfare on the Eastern Front. Some of
the combat lessons as stated in German documents are summarized below.
* * *
The practicing of attack tasks by individual companies, with heavy weapons
and an allotment of engineers and assault guns, is very important. Instruction in
close combat is to be extended. The importance of coordinating flat trajectory
and high-angle fire must be drilled into all officers, from section leaders up.
The success of attacks lies in using darkness and bad visibility to allow
one's forces to approach the enemy and prepare for the breakthrough.
Attacks should not always be made at the same time of day, but, like the
Russian practice, often at night, at dawn, in fog, or in snow storms.
Concentration of fire must be obtained by the allotment of heavy weapons to
companies in the assault. The urge to speed up the attack must not lead to
When a position is taken at dusk, all-around defense must be effected (hedgehog
fashion), and improvements made as soon as it is light.
The best riflemen should be equipped with automatic rifles with telescopic
sights, so that they can be used as snipers with best effect. Rocket weapons are to
be used when practicable, as they have a great effect against attacking forces and
those which have dug themselves in. Heavy infantry-gun shells with delay fuzes
often fail to explode on hard objects such as stony ground, stone walls, houses,
ice, etc., as the fuzes break off. When this is noticed, an immediate change-over
to instantaneous fuzes must be made.
The Russians are keen observers. All lights, smoke, etc., must be cut down to a
minimum. At night, listening posts manned by two men must be set up
and great stress laid on the importance of sentry duty. This must be practiced
for long periods at night and in all weather.
d. Town and Street Fighting
When a village is attacked, the enemy must be held down frontally and attacked from
the sides and rear. Strong assault units, armed with plenty of grenades, should
take the individual houses and nests. Large built-up areas must be attacked
systematically, section by section.
The defense of villages must combine aggressive reconnaissance of the
front and flanks with the neutralization by fire of known assembly points. The
Russians are adept at utilizing all available cover in order to approach villages
from the flanks. They aim at taking up enveloping positions in order to launch
an attack, often at night, for the systematic destruction of the village. If tanks
are used, they engage house after house with their guns and force out the defenders.
(1) On repeated occasions, high casualties have been produced by bunching, and by
failure to move forward by short bounds. (Over-fatigue and resultant
indifference were given as reasons.)
(2) In order to lessen the number of abdominal and chest wounds, strict instruction
must be given in short and skillful movement by bounds.
(3) It is most important that men dig in quickly and effectively to protect
against surprise fire from mortars and rocket guns. Every soldier must be
reminded that digging in and camouflage are his duty at all times. As soon as
troops are within enemy artillery range, slit trenches should be prepared (without
(4) Personnel of first-line transport should be instructed in the building
of cover for men, horses, and vehicles. All areas behind this front should be on
the alert for raids.