TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — 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.]



1. General

The fundamental principle of German offensive doctrine is to encircle and destroy the enemy. The objective of the combined arms in attack is to bring the armored forces and the infantry into decisive action against the enemy with sufficient fire power and shock. Superiority in force and fire power, the employment of armored forces, as well as the surprise element, play a great part in the offensive.

Coordination between the combined arms under a strong unified command is, the Germans emphasize, an absolute requisite to the success of these shock tactics. This has become more and more true as the Allies have developed effective antitank weapons and have adopted deeper defenses, limiting the self-sufficiency of German tanks. To counter these measures, the Germans have increased the mobility and armor protection of their motor-borne infantry, and have mounted a large proportion of both their direct and indirect heavy support weapons on self-propelled carriages.

In attempting thoroughly to paralyze the defender up to the moment of the tank-infantry assault, the Germans realize that even the most formidable forces are never sufficient for overwhelming superiority on the entire front. They therefore select a point of main effort (Schwerpunkt) for a breakthrough, allotting narrow sectors of attack (Gefechtsstreifen) to the troops committed at the decisive locality. There they also mass the bulk of their heavy weapons and reserves. The other sectors of the front are engaged by weaker, diversionary forces. In selecting the point of main effort, the Germans consider weaknesses in the enemy's defensive position; suitability of the terrain, especially for tanks and for cooperation of all arms; approach routes; and possibilities for supporting fire, especially artillery. Although the Germans select a point of main effort in all attacks, they usually also make plans for shifting their main effort if they meet unexpected success elsewhere. To allow such shifts, sufficient reserves and a strong, unified command are organized.

An attack on a narrow front, according to German doctrine, must have sufficient forces at its disposal to widen the penetration while maintaining its impetus, and to protect the flanks of the penetration. Once the attack is launched, it must drive straight to its objective, regardless of opposition.


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