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German Coastal Defenses
Military Intelligence Service, Special Series No. 15, June 15, 1943
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Special Series publication. 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.]



Germany is at present committed to a strategic defensive on her Western Front, and in recent months she has had to spur herself to feverish activity to add new fortifications on that front. Despite this recent emphasis on fortifications, however, there is no factual basis for the popular belief that the German High Command is suffering from a "Maginot Complex."

The Germans well understand that fortifications are truly offensive in character when their employment is based on the military maxim of economy of force. They cannot defend adequately at all points, but by the use of permanent fortifications to maintain an effective defense with a minimum of man power, they hope to keep the bulk of their force in reserve for offensive action wherever a major attack appears.

Consequently, when a landing is made on the shores of Europe, the German High Command will make its major effort against the invading forces with swift, hard-hitting armored and motorized units. These ground organizations will be closely supported by the German Air Force, which now has more than enough well-equipped air bases on the Western Front to accommodate all its air fleets. The Germans would endeavor to bring to bear at any given point a preponderance of strength over the invader, and to employ the tactics of separation and defeat in detail.

The value and strength of coastal fortifications must not, however, be minimized. They constitute a formidable factor of defense, and the Germans will rely on them to hold the invading forces until reserves can be committed against the main threat and until larger forces can be deployed from interior positions in the occupied countries and from within Germany itself.

The underlying principles of German offensive and defensive tactics and strategy are now generally known, and they have been discussed in other publications of the Military Intelligence Service. Available material about types of German coastal installations is assembled in this study in order that it may serve as an informational supplement to the training documents which prescribe the tactics and technique for neutralizing fortifications. Thorough training in technique, and knowledge of the characteristics of fortifications, will enable an assault force to break through a system of fixed defenses with a minimum loss of men and material, thus conserving its strength for the main task of engaging and destroying the mobile enemy forces behind it.

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