The Germans gained so much experience in street fighting while suppressing the
first general uprising of armed Polish forces in Warsaw that the official
German "Notes for Panzer Troops" takes cognizance of the lessons learned during
these operations. Employing the popular German Army training method of listing
incorrect and correct procedures in parallel columns, "Notes for Panzer Troops" sets
forth a number of German errors in the Warsaw fighting, and supplies official
comment on the methods which should have been employed in each case.
The observations in the "right" column take on an added significance, in view of a
statement by the Inspector General of Panzer Troops to the effect that the underlying
principles must be applied in all street fighting.
A large number of heavy support weapons (assault guns, heavy howitzers, assault
howitzers, self-propelled antitank guns, and infantry heavy weapons) were
used in an uncoordinated fashion, with a consequent lack of effect. The
fire of the support weapons was not used for immediate pushing forward.
All available support weapons, including artillery and aircraft, are
concentrated on approved targets. During the concentration the infantry
prepares to attack as soon as the last shell has fallen. Armored vehicles
accompanying the infantry, to keep down any hostile soldiers who are
still alive and who try to reappear.
Our troops mainly used streets. (In street fighting the enemy can
take advantage of innumerable hiding places. Absence of visible enemy
therefore by no means implies actual absence of enemy.)
Walls of adjoining houses are blasted, and troops move forward through
the houses. Mopping-up parties of infantry follow. (Making such covered
approaches facilitates evacuation of wounded and supply of ammunition and rations.)
Houses or blocks were not consolidated immediately after capture. Infantry lingered
around the entrances, doing nothing.
As soon as a building has been taken, it is consolidated; windows and other
openings are turned into firing ports. Since underground passages and sewers
provide the enemy with cover and means of communication, the entrances to
cellars, stairs, and so on are to be given special attention. If subterranean
passages cannot be mopped up immediately, the entrances must be barricaded, or
blown in and guarded. Troops will not stand around idly.
Completely ruined houses were regarded as being no longer of use to the enemy. (It was
found, however, that the enemy made considerable use of completely destroyed buildings.)
Even the most completely ruined houses must be occupied or covered by fire. Roving
patrols are detailed to deny access to them and to ferret out any hostile
stragglers who may have occupied them.
Many of the houses that we occupied had been almost completely destroyed by our own
fire, thus denying our attacking troops positions and cover.
As far as possible, random destruction of potential cover can be prevented by
strict discipline. Only outbuildings affording the enemy covered approach
to vital points should be destroyed.
Armored vehicles were used to knock down barricades and walls, to push
aside abandoned vehicles and guns, and to perform other tasks for which
they are not suited.
The fire power of the armored vehicles must be conserved by all means. In
street fighting they are very much exposed to close-range antitank
weapons. This makes them fundamentally unsuited for "bulldozer" tasks. The
accompanying infantry therefore protects them against surprise attack
of any kind. When attacking barricades and obstacles, the infantry
approaches first and forces passage through the obstacles. Squads of civilians
later are put to work to complete the clearing of debris.
Our troops failed to make sufficient use of their rifles. The enemy was not sufficiently harassed.
Rifle and machine-gun fire must be delivered promptly and steadily from all
newly captured buildings. Rifle fire is concentrated on group targets to
keep the enemy's heads down. The enemy is not given a moment's rest, but
feels himself perpetually observed and engaged. Rapid opening of fire is
especially important, to avoid giving the enemy time to withdraw to
The supposedly non-combatant and "harmless" population was not
kept under observation, and seldom was employed to clear debris.
All able-bodied civilians are employed to clear debris. The German Army
must enforce this point relentlessly, even when the work is performed
under fire. (In this case the whole population was more or less directly
assisting the insurgent Polish troops.)
Sufficient cunning was not employed to counter the enemy's tactics.
Tricks must be employed to draw fire and silence it. Our methods must
change constantly; feints and other tricks and imaginative tactics
must be devised.
The liaison between the various assault detachments was generally too
loose, and signal communications were inadequately used. Radio and telephone
conversations were practically always in the clear.
Assault detachments are instructed in methods of cooperation, use of fire, and
movement. Cooperation will be improved if the assault detachments are kept
constantly in the picture and if they report regularly on their position
The Inspector General of Panzer Troops adds a final comment of his own. He says, "When
tanks are used in street fighting, they should be employed like
the so-called 'tank-Infantry teams' used in Normandy—that is, small infantry
units will be detailed to cooperate directly with tanks. The tougher the fighting, the
greater our casualties will be if the following principles are not observed: (1) no
splitting of forces, (2) thorough and purposeful concentration of fire, (3) immediate
infantry exploitation of tank fire and (4) the closest mutual support throughout