Military Review

Wehrmacht eyes of the Red Army intelligence department

One of the Wehrmacht weaknesses of the 1941 model of the year was low discipline of personnel. This is the conclusion reached by analysts of the Soviet military intelligence, after analyzing the results of the first weeks of the war.

German Tanks in the region of Rzhev. 1941

By the middle of the summer of 1941, the reconnaissance headquarters of the Western direction noted that the enemy had airplanes attached to the tank units during the battle, which corrected the battle of the tanks with appropriate signals:

a) a “yellow rocket” - and a capsule with a report was thrown out, tank crews found this capsule, read and transmitted to the commander of their tank division the content of the report;
b) “red rocket” meant: “enemy tanks” and “we take measures of defense”;
c) “green rocket” - “the enemy is coming (and from where)” and “we are taking counter-attack measures” *.

The control inside the German tank divisions was carried out only by radio, and each tank had its own number, and the tasks were assigned by radio to both individual tanks and platoons and subunits **.

* TsAMO RF. 208 Foundation, Op. 2511, d. 184. Operational department headquarters of the Western Front. Intelligence and intelligence reports of the General Staff of the Red Army and the headquarters of the Western Front. L. 236 - 237.
** Ibid. L. 237.

Having studied by that moment documents captured from the enemy, testimonies of prisoners and observations of the Soviet commanding staff, the Western headquarters intelligence department noted that the enemy, as a rule, operated in small detachments of 15 to 30 tanks, using a motorized battalion, one or two artillery divisions, and a group motorcyclists from 10 to 15 people. On the main highways supported them aviation (from 3 to 10 aircraft). German tank units and subunits singled out the so-called strike groups as part of a tank platoon reinforced by sappers for reconnaissance of the defense line and combat guards, mastering the gorges and bridges that were important for the advance of tanks and motorized infantry, and also making passages in wire fences *.

The shock groups were followed by reconnaissance groups from various types of troops, mainly motor-mechanic units, the attack of which was preceded by a raid by bomber aircraft operating according to the combat formations of the Soviet infantry, artillery and tanks **.

* TsAMO RF. 208 Foundation, Op. 2511, d. 184. L. 243.
** Ibid. L. 243.

German tanks (from 10 to 15), taking possession of the abroad, were dispersed on 3 – 5, after which the enemy’s infantry occupied the line that tanks had already captured. At the same time, anti-tank artillery was advanced to firing positions to repel the attacks of Soviet tanks. German tanks were followed by motorcyclists and infantry units on armored trucks, and the German infantry itself was reinforced by sappers, artillery, and mainly mortars *.

At the frontiers of organized resistance, the enemy, after a short (from 15 to 45 min.) Aviation and artillery preparation with tanks, launched an offensive. Artillery fire was corrected from the aircraft by radio and signals, and cases of the use of balloons (in the area of ​​Kartuz-Berezy) were also noted. Artillery fire led across the square, combing the entire strip. From airplanes, the signal was applied by artillery impact objects - a “red rocket”, forming a smoky red stripe from top to bottom **.

Ahead of the enemy acted light tanks and wedges. The latter, entering the battle, revealed the defense system, artillery positions, machine-gun nests, after which a group from 5 to 10 medium tanks was advanced, which suppressed the fire system of the Soviet defense, and first of all anti-tank weapons. Light tanks followed the averages.

* TsAMO RF. 208 Foundation, Op. 2511, d. 184. L. 243.
** Ibid.
*** Ibid. L. 244.

German motorized infantry, hiding behind tanks from the front, as a rule, "drunk" went on the attack. Repeated cases were noted when enemy tanks and infantry, having met with well-organized resistance from Soviet units, retreated *.
It was repeatedly established that the German infantry, not covered by tanks, did not accept the battle and, as a rule, departed (in the area of ​​Lipovichi and others), causing aircraft to operate according to the Soviet order of battle **.

Wehrmacht eyes of the Red Army intelligence department

If the offensive succeeded, the German infantry would get on their cars and catch up with their tanks from the line to the line, fearing separation from the tanks and not taking the bayonet strike of the Soviet units ***.

To create false visibility about the number of tanks, there were cases when the enemy used tank dummies ****.

The enemy's artillery fired along roadsides on the sides of the road, extensively using mortars, which were often grouped and bombarded the area to a depth from 300 to 400 m, first acting with a diverging fan, and then moving on to a parallel and converging fan *****.

* TsAMO RF. 208 Foundation, Op. 2511, d. 184. L. 244.
** Ibid. L. 244.
*** Ibid. L. 244.
**** Ibid. L. 244.
***** ibid. L. 244.

It was noticed that the enemy additionally installed heavy machine guns on tanks and seated machine gunners. With the occupation of the line, machine guns were removed from the tanks and installed in firing positions, opening fire simultaneously with the fire of tank artillery and machine guns.
Tanks of the enemy sought to act on the flanks and center of the Soviet defense, using fire tanks (near Borkovichi).
There have been cases where the enemy used captured Soviet aircraft for action on Soviet units, bombarding and firing at a strafing flight. Separate enemy groups (saboteurs and amphibious groups) dressed in Red Army uniforms, in the uniform of the commanders of the Red Army and the NKVD, and penetrating the area of ​​the Soviet units, had the task of sowing panic and conducting reconnaissance *.

Killed German soldiers and broken anti-aircraft gun

In the process of examining captured documents to search for the weaknesses of units of the Wehrmacht, the intelligence department of the headquarters of the Western direction was noted in an extract from the orders on the 18-th tank division and the 47-th motorized corps of the enemy, which prohibited any shooting weapons and all shooting at chickens, dogs, cats and other animals, as well as orders, cases of robbery were noted. So, in the order for the 18 Tank Division from 03.07.41 it was said that the march discipline did not withstand any criticism **.

* TsAMO RF. 208 Foundation, Op. 2511, d. 184. L. 244.
** Ibid. L. 245.

The commander of the 47 tank corps required every officer to fight against violations of the march discipline and report to him about the guilty, thereby ensuring the rapid conduct of offensive operations, otherwise promotion of two divisions on the road will become impossible *.
In this regard, the intelligence department of the headquarters of the Western direction stated the fact that the discipline in some parts of the German army was low **.
Continuing to analyze the strengths of the units of the Wehrmacht, the intelligence department of the West Directorate emphasized that control in the enemy troops was characterized by widespread use of radio, in which plain text, encoding only settlements, reports should be provided hourly, containing information about the enemy, the German front line , about command post and information about the location.
22: 00 was required to provide a conditional code on the radio daily reports on the same issues, and 2: 00 provided reports that detail the course of the fighting for the whole day, but such reports were always provided in writing and on the radio ***.
The intelligence department of the Western Directorate noted cases when German tanks, having consumed fuel or met stubborn resistance, dug into the ground and acted as a firing point (in the area east of Beshenkovichi), as well as cases of the use of enemy liquid by the Soviet tanks ****.

* TsAMO RF. 208 Foundation, Op. 2511, d. 184. L. 245.
** Ibid. L. 245.
*** Ibid. L. 245.
**** Ibid. L. 245.

Thus, by the middle of July 1941, we see that the reconnaissance and operational departments of the headquarters of the fighting fronts and strategic directions were able to identify many of the strengths and weaknesses of the Wehrmacht units, but it took a lot of time and effort to completely neutralize the strengths of the German blitzkrieg ”, which happened not earlier than the summer of 1943, in the battles on the Kursk Bulge.
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  1. Altona
    Altona 24 November 2015 11: 31 New
    In war, as in war, apparently. It is difficult to judge discipline as such, because the same regiment has many auxiliary units, the discipline of which may differ by orders of magnitude. The enemy was still tenacious, cruel and trained. Properly used the capabilities of his weapons.
    1. Zoldat_A
      Zoldat_A 24 November 2015 12: 53 New
      Quote: Altona
      The enemy was still tenacious, cruel and trained. Properly used the capabilities of his weapons.

      Our soldiers also competently used their weapons. Any that was at hand. Therefore, we cannot be defeated.

      А lack of discipline in the Wehrmacht - this is another attempt to find the reasons for the defeat of Germany where they are not. Not in the discipline or its absence, not in the Russian winter or in the unreliability of the German allies, the reasons for the defeat of Germany.

      In such as the Red Army Ovcharenko, the reason for the defeat of Hitler. And we have millions of them ...
  2. guzik007
    guzik007 24 November 2015 11: 36 New
    Then how is it!? ...
  3. A-Sim
    A-Sim 24 November 2015 11: 41 New
    "... completely neutralize the strengths of the German" blitzkrieg ", which did not happen until the summer of 1943 ..."

    It is believed that the "blitzkrieg" ended in the battles near Rzhev and Vyazma.
    1. miv110
      miv110 24 November 2015 12: 55 New
      Blitzkrieg ended in 41 near Moscow, Leningrad and Sevastopol.
      1. A-Sim
        A-Sim 24 November 2015 13: 37 New
        Neither Leningrad nor Sevastopol for the Wehrmacht were strategic objectives of the initial stage of the war. The plan was to capture Moscow as soon as possible. This was the goal of the blitzkrieg. The Rzhev-Vyazemskaya operation - the complete elimination of the threat of a second offensive in the Moscow direction.
      2. moskowit
        moskowit 24 November 2015 21: 25 New
        Blitzkrieg ended even earlier. Near Smolensk and near Kiev.
        On August 21, it was decided to turn the Weichs 2 Army and Guderian's 2 Tank Group south against the South-Western Front. The battle for Kiev lasted until the 20 of September. Here the blitzkrieg was buried ...
  4. 020205
    020205 24 November 2015 11: 53 New
    One of the weaknesses of the Wehrmacht of the 1941 model was the low discipline of personnel. This conclusion was reached by analysts of Soviet military intelligence, having analyzed the results of the first weeks of the war
    That is, a non-disciplined German army was already near Moscow in the fall! M-yes !!!
    1. Uncle VasyaSayapin
      Uncle VasyaSayapin 24 November 2015 14: 50 New
      It is believed that about 1 million Ukrainians at the beginning of the war just ran home and the front collapsed or, on the contrary, the front collapsed and they fled. In 1944 they were again drafted into the army. So not a discipline is a relative concept.
  5. Bourgeois
    Bourgeois 24 November 2015 12: 46 New
    The issue of discipline is a very complex concept. Moreover, the assessment of discipline in the enemy units. The requirements for discipline are different in different armies.
    But in general, it must be admitted that the German soldier of that period was well prepared, well armed, well fed, relatively young and most importantly motivated, since at the beginning of the war fear, despair and disappointment had not yet fully come.
    The Germans had perfectly worked out the interaction and communication, even between individual individual tanks, both between units and between the arms of the army, which at the initial stage of the war, unfortunately, was not in our Red Army.
    All this in general and leveled their indiscipline.
    In general, any shooting at chickens, cats, dogs, robbery and other things - all this is characteristic of any occupiers. And each invader will eventually face retribution, but the Germans eventually waited for their own.
  6. nivander
    nivander 24 November 2015 13: 02 New
    in the order for the 17th field army of Colonel-General Stülpnagel (GA Yug) there are such lines "... when Soviet tanks appear, soldiers are strictly forbidden to scatter with plaintive cries to the sides, hide in ditches and behind bushes, throw weapons and equipment to steal transport means. When Soviet tanks appear, it is recommended to immediately put on a helmet, pick up rifles and follow the orders of officers and non-commissioned officers, it is recommended to encourage yourself and others with courageous exclamations of "HOX" or "Hurray" and only in very extreme cases is it allowed to save yourself individually "
  7. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 24 November 2015 16: 39 New
    "One of the weaknesses of the 1941 Wehrmacht was the low discipline of the personnel" ///

    Soviet intelligence confused the personal initiative of the Wehrmacht junior commanders
    with low discipline. In Wehrmacht, the company commander had more freedom
    hands in making tactical decisions than in the Red Army at the regiment commander.
    Therefore, they moved forward in the 41st at 50 km per day, which did not wait each time for an order
    on top "what to do next?"
  8. Ivan Tartugai
    Ivan Tartugai 24 November 2015 19: 34 New
    The intelligence department of the General Staff of the Red Army, headed by Lieutenant General Golikov, did not work well before the war. As a result, the troops of the main border districts of the Red Army PribOVO, ZAPOVO and KOVO were taken by surprise by the attack of the Wehrmacht and suffered huge losses from this both in people and in materiel. The judgment of the intelligence department of the General Staff of the Red Army about the poor discipline of the Wehrmacht soldiers at the beginning of the war is similar to the same series of "mistakes" or nonsense.
  9. Mikhail Zubkov
    Mikhail Zubkov 23 September 2017 00: 17 New
    Very good weak report from poor intelligence. Did the Germans fly en masse on our captured planes? It was their own work on the tip of their weak intelligence, and the report deliberately distorted such cases. According to the tactics of the Germans, observations were made for cooks who did not know that the company was divided into platoons, and it acted either as part of a company or now as a platoon — reconnaissance. What the Germans didn’t perceive the VET guns without reconnaissance - is this a discovery? I will not even post such an “analytical” opus for posterity. With all due respect to ALL those who fought there in the 41st. It is a shame for the state with such intelligence "drunken undisciplined Germans."
  10. nivander
    nivander 26 September 2017 10: 59 New
    "... it was noticed that the enemy actively crashes into telephone lines and actively listens to them, and even gives false orders. At the same time, the Germans blindly trust their orders and signals - it does not occur to them that we can figure out which missiles are launched in this or that setting .. "- from the memorandum of the deputy of the Special Division of the .6th Army of the SWF of the NKVD captain Dmitry Schukin (three times left the encirclement - Uman, Kiev, Kharkov - in 1945 p / colonel of the NKVD D. Schukin was appointed commandant