The following notes were translated from a captured German document. They
are the commanding general's views on various phases of German Army
training. The section given here concerns tactics.
* * * *
When expecting contact with an enemy reported to be in approach march
formation, the troops should advance, depending upon the situation, either in
small columns or completely deployed. Whenever possible, supporting weapons
should be in position to render assistance. The approach march formation
develops into the attack formation when enemy fire demands such action.
Generally, division orders will assign one or more objectives for the
division as a whole, as well as final objectives for the infantry regiments. Only
in exceptional cases will intermediate objectives for the infantry regiments
be assigned by the division order.
In spite of my directives, almost without exception, a triangular formation
has been adopted for the purpose of constituting a "point of attack," although
it is clear to every one that an attack carried out by an infantry regiment whose
units advance in a triangular formation is, as a matter of fact, led merely by
the light machine gun of a single combat group, and, as a result, is subjected to
heavy enemy fire and doomed to failure. I invite your attention again to the
fact that the triangular formation must not become a fixed rule.
It is a rule that an infantry regiment should constitute several "points
of attack," particularly against a well-organized enemy defense.
Narrow and deep formations make it easier for the subordinates, and
especially for the battalion commander, to make use of his heavy infantry
weapons. The organization of the fire of these arms and the synchronizing of
their fire with the advance of the troops are the supreme test of the battalion
The lessons of the World War, confirmed by those of the campaign in
Poland and in the West, that widely deployed formations avoid severe infantry
losses, must always be borne in mind. They must be resorted to even on a
terrain that is not under the direct observation of the enemy (depressions, wooded
areas, etc.) but which can be brought under his fire.
The junior officers and noncommissioned officers of the infantry must realize
that the combat formation of their respective units will be subjected to
continual changes because of the terrain and enemy fire. The shaping of the
formation to meet the new situation rests with every subordinate commander.
Staffs forced to move on foot during an advance should avoid bare ridges or
open spaces. Should it be absolutely necessary to cross them, widely deployed
formations should be used.
The advantage fog affords to the attacker will be lost if the commander
does not require that it be fully utilized in moving against the enemy position.
In darkness, fog, or large wooded areas, a compass is the most simple
means for maintaining the direction of attack. It is frequently the case that
the direction of march is fixed by the battalion rather than higher headquarters.
To have the reserves follow at a prescribed distance is wrong; and to leave
them at a fixed point during the development of the action is frequently
The reserves should be moved from one point of the terrain to another
only when so ordered and, until the moment they are engaged, their commander
or the second-in-command should be with the commander at whose disposal
they have been placed.