This pamphlet supersedes MS No. T-19, "Rear Area Security in Russia," published by the Office of the Chief of Military History, Special Staff, U. S. Army, in July 1950.
This study on the problems of rear area security is based on German experiences during the Russian campaign. Particularly striking examples have been selected which show most clearly the type of disturbances created by the Russians, the German countermeasures taken against them, and the lessons learned from experience. The same, similar, or different circumstances were encountered in other theaters of war. Accordingly, a variety of security measures became necessary and many new experiences were gathered. Yet, the fundamental questions remain the same everywhere.
Seen from the Russian point of view the problem might be stated as follows: "By what means or methods can I most effectively cut the lifeline of the enemy's fighting forces, either for a short time, or, if possible, for an extended period; where can I disrupt the line in such a manner that the effect will be felt at the front?" The answer is a definite combat method which has the typical characteristics of a blockade. It can be executed with relatively small forces and limited means; by allowing for the mobilization of the populace it represents a morale factor as well as an increase in fighting strength, while offering further advantages through the use of sabotage and espionage behind the enemy lines.
A country as vast as Russia, where many sparsely settled areas offer an abundance of shelter and concealment, naturally provides much greater possibilities for the use of this combat method than countries with different terrain. An additional factor is the strong natural inclination of the Slavs toward fighting from ambush and under cover of darkness.
From the German point of view, the problem might be approached in the following manner: "What active and passive measures of security must be employed in order to deprive such combat methods of their effectiveness or to reduce their effect to virtual insignificance?" Such considerations should not be confined to purely military aspects. In varying degree the politician, the public administrator, the military commander, and even the ordinary soldier have to deal with these questions. Uniformity in understanding
and in meeting the problem, from the highest to the lowest echelon is a fundamental prerequisite for success. Furthermore, one should never be caught unawares by combat methods of that type. By careful advance study, not only of the country itself but also of the people, their customs, cares, and needs, as well as their hopes and desires, one must be prepared to meet such methods and even to anticipate new tactics on the basis of current experiences.
It should be emphasized at this point that whoever makes use of this combat method constantly gains new experience which will enable him to improve and intensify his actions. Different methods are developed from day to day, and some of them are likely to be fundamentally new. The tremendous technical advance of the last 10 years has placed entirely new and undreamed-of means of great effectiveness at the disposal of mankind. Even if one disregards the practical application of atomic energy, rocket weapons alone constitute a substantial element of destruction. Further possibilities may lie in the harnessing of nature's own functions. Just as science has recently succeeded in producing man-made rain, it is conceivable that a way might be found of causing a coating of ice to form on switch tower installations, turntables, and switches, so that railroad traffic may be temporarily paralyzed. At the height of battle such measures could be of decisive importance in hampering strategic troop movements, as well as transportation of fuel and ammunition. It would be profitable, therefore, to employ at an early stage the most capable experts in technology, physics, and chemistry who are able to apply, as well as to counteract, such modern methods of warfare. This is one field where no limit is set to man's imagination. At any rate, to be prepared means to save lives and to limit the range of those incalculable factors which must be expected in any war.
It is a fact supported by many examples in military history that events and conditions behind the front lines have often failed to receive sufficient attention. In all but a few cases this has worked to the disadvantage of the front. Combat forces, while they are in contact with the enemy, should never have to concern themselves with security problems of areas that lie behind them. That should always be the responsibility of higher echelons.
Rear area communications are comparable to the blood vessels of the human body. The most capable brain, the strongest arm, the most powerful heart can no longer fully perform its functions if the blood cannot follow its prescribed course through the vital arteries. It was with these ideas in mind that the following study was prepared.
During the Russian campaign, the most significant and instructive examples presented themselves in the area of Army Group Center.
From the wealth of material available for this study, primarily based on the personal recollections of the contributors who had taken part in the Russian campaign, only those examples were selected which had been duplicated by experiences on other sectors of the front. To that extent the present report may be considered generally applicable.
The areas of Army Group South (Ukraine) and Army Group North (Baltic States) were not favorable to partisan activities. Reasons for this are to be found in the well-known political conditions. Army Group Center, however, entered old Russian territory at the very outset of operations.