A. From the wealth of practical experience gained during the Russian campaign and particularly from the foregoing examples a number of important lessons can be derived.
1. The employment of peaceful means clearly offers the best assurance for military security in an occupied area. Failing that solution the only alternative lies in an all-out program of active defense.
2. In the selection and organization of security forces, despite the usual difficulties, the main emphasis must be placed on the high quality of personnel and equipment. No partisan-infested area can be cleared and rendered permanently safe by a force composed of old men who are equipped with foreign weapons and a few rounds of ammunition. If such security units fail to accomplish their mission, they are likely to become the laughing-stock of an inherently antagonistic population and their ineffective operations will have the result of strengthening the resistance of the enemy.
3. Anyone charged with responsibility for planning and conducting military operations must take into account the size, danger, and proper significance of the front behind the front. Any disruption of German rear communications anywhere in the vast expanse of occupied Russian territory was sure to have immediate effects which could be felt by virtually every German headquarters, indeed by every single unit. No similar experience had been made in any of the previous campaigns, with the possible exception of the Balkan operations. The full implications of this new problem became particularly obvious whenever the German armies in Russia were confronted with the perfect teamwork between the enemy behind their lines and the Russian forces in front. What happened in the rear area frequently served as a clue to the enemy's intentions at the front. It might be mentioned that German troops harbored no illusions about the nature of this added theater of operations. It did not take long until word was passed among the divisions on the line that the fighting against the partisans for the protection of rear communications was often more severe and resulted in larger numbers of casualties than actual combat at the front. Many a division brought to the rear for rehabilitation and there, as a sideline so to speak, employed in antipartisan operations, requested after a short time to be relieved of such duties and permitted to return to the front. This reaction alone should well support the contention that the front-behind-the
front is a theater of operations in its own right. No longer is it appropriate to treat this zone as a stepchild or to regard it merely as the zone of communications in the traditional sense.
4. Any commander who is determined to conduct an active defense against partisan bands must of necessity accept the idea of committing regular combat forces in occasional mopping-up operations of partisan-infested areas. German experience during the Russian campaign clearly demonstrated that a passive defense based on scattered security strong points is not sufficient, no matter how well such a defense may be organized. (Ed.: See DA Pamphlet 20-230, Russian Combat Methods in World War II, pp. 107 ff.)
5. The greatest promise of success lies in carrying the fight against partisans beyond the immediate vicinity of threatened supply lines and right up to the enemy's strongholds and rallying points. Careful reconnaissance is a paramount requirement for such operations. Without adequate knowledge of the terrain any expedition into a partisan-infested area can be no more than a plunge in the dark and will only lead to excessive losses in men and equipment. Another prerequisite is the current maintenance of accurate maps which cover the pockets of resistance and the assembly areas of partisan groups. Data for these maps can be obtained from local sources if the occupying troops are able to gain the confidence of the indigenous population.
6. Constant patrolling activity must be maintained not only on the main highways but also along the side roads. Occupied areas are to be kept under close surveillance at all times through a regular network of interlocking patrol posts. But even such patrols will only serve their purpose if at least some of their personnel are acquainted with the country and able to obtain information and reports from the local inhabitants. Therefore the careful selection and judicious employment of men who are familiar with the terrain, the language of the people, and the enemy's military tactics are among the principal prerequisites for the success of an active defense.
7. Commanders of village strong points or of local security units are to be granted complete authority for local antipartisan operations. This will enable them to take aggressive and successful measures immediately at the appearance of partisan bands, and obviate any lengthy and time-consuming inquiries or requests to higher headquarters. Small motorized forces must be available for the rapid pursuit of the enemy. Partisans operate at great speed; they appear on the scene, complete their mission, and withdraw again to their hideouts. Once they have disappeared into the woods, it is practically impossible to pick up their tracks.
8. Of equal importance is the constant use of aircraft for the surveillance of areas that are suspected or known to be infested by partisans. This is especially true of large forest regions. Wherever local terrain conditions render any ground reconnaissance impossible, it is only from the air that a rough estimate can be obtained of the whereabouts and activities of partisan forces.
9. It is clear, nevertheless, that there must be another solution to the entire problem of rear area security. In modern warfare even an active defense based on the combined efforts of combat troops and security forces cannot assure the complete elimination of partisan activities. In the area of Army Group Center, for instance, there were 80,000 to l00,000 partisans, who tied down a security force conservatively estimated at 100,000 men. The use of front-line divisions in mopping-up operations on a large scale—such as the combing of the Bryansk forest in the spring of 1943—had no more than a temporary effect; in no instance did the result of such operations justify their cost.
10. The only all-inclusive solution to the problem of rear area security seems to lie in the actual pacification of occupied enemy territory. In every country under military occupation there are people in all walks of life whose most ardent desire is the return to peace and normalcy, not to speak of those among them who for personal reasons are willing to support the policies of the occupying power. Cultivating their friendship, assuring them of one's peaceful intentions, and restoring the safety of their homes, their work, and their subsistence are the best guarantees for real security in the rear of the fighting troops.
11. News of good treatment travels just as fast as reports of bad treatment, and most people will decide quickly and intelligently what kind of treatment they prefer. Generally speaking, the civilian population in Russia was quite willing to cooperate. Moreover, the villagers themselves were ready to defend not only their homes but also their places of work against native plunderers, Red Army stragglers, and raiding partisans. The reopening of places of worship and the revival of long-neglected church services contributed greatly toward the establishment of good will.
12. Many other examples pointed to the wisdom of a policy of pacification. Although friendly and cooperative in the beginning, the inhabitants of some areas were soon driven into the arms of the partisans by improper treatment or unwise occupation policies. German military commanders or their troops were always the least to be blamed for such developments. But whenever an area was turned over to a German civilian administration, it did not take long until the attitude of the population changed from collaboration to hostility.
B. What then are the methods by which the indigenous population can be won over ? What must be done to establish and maintain the security of rear areas ?
1. The first and foremost prerequisite is the full confidence of the population in the good faith, as well as in the military capabilities of the troops fighting at the front or occupying the rear areas. Such confidence can be created by a sound, straightforward, and factual propaganda prepared and disseminated by individuals who familiar with the Russian language, the population, and local living conditions. Extraneous ideas are to be avoided; whatever the people are told must be expressed in their own everyday language, on their own intellectual level, and concerned with their own immediate problems.
2. A thorough knowledge of Bolshevist doctrines and methods is indispensable, especially of those aspects which in the past have imposed hardships and suffering on the population. While being reminded of their unpleasant experiences, the people must be shown the road to freedom from Bolshevist oppression and communist ideology.
3. The Russian is a great believer in official papers. He is happiest when he has an official document, a stamped identification card, or an official pass in his hands. This propensity is to be cultivated, since it offers a fine medium of propaganda.
4. Typical Soviet propaganda methods, such as placards, bulletin boards, and oversize posters, should not be copied. If the Russian has little faith in Bolshevist propaganda, he will put even less in its imitation. He can be strongly influenced by pictures and statistical charts, provided that they are used to present clear and simple facts. At the same time an appeal to his emotions should be made in the wording and visual presentation of the propaganda material.
5. The Russian is not interested in pin-up girls. He wants to be told about western machinery, industrial operation, and farming; about the methods and profitableness of western private enterprise. He has toiled long enough for State and Party. Now he would like to know in what way and to what extent he may work for himself. In this respect he is looking for the help of the occupying power.
6. Propaganda, to be effective in Russia, must not operate with far distant goals, since Bolshevism presented the Soviet people with too many long-range promises in its Four Year Plans. The individual Russian wants to know:
What will I get from the next harvest?
May my children go to school?
May they freely choose any vocation ?
7. Russian youth want to have the right of choosing and freely practicing a profession. The Russian girl is not too domestically inclined; she is primarily interested in achieving an equal standing with men in all occupations.
8. Propaganda in occupied enemy territory must advocate measures which are practicable even in wartime and develop programs which can be put into operation prior to the termination of hostilities. The immediate aim must always be in the foreground; no more than a general outline should be given of the long-range goal.
9. The foremost propaganda agent is the individual member of the occupying forces, the mall who is able to talk and associate with the Russians everywhere and to tell them what they want to know. At the same time he must have full authority to issue local regulations since it is well known that the Russian waits for directives, orders, and permits, rather than doing anything on his own. Convinced that it will harm him in the end, he avoids independent action wherever possible. But whatever he is ordered to do, he does willingly and wholeheartedly. This is an outgrowth of Russia's historical evolution under both czarist and communist rule, as well as an inherent national characteristic.
10. Speeches at public rallies or in meetings of municipal councils are an effective medium of propaganda. By far the best results are achieved wherever propaganda can be disseminated by word of mouth.
11. It goes without saying that the actions of the occupying forces must be in strict accordance with their propaganda. The start or resumption of work by the civilian population is to be ordered, but no forced labor must be permitted. Civilian food requirements are to be assured at a minimum subsistence level. Arbitrary actions by either the occupying power or the local administrative agencies are to be avoided under any circumstances. The resumption of work in native crafts and trades is to be given all possible aid and encouragement. Spiritual activities and religious freedom are to be restored by reopening the churches and protecting public worship.
12. Prisoners of war are to be well treated and used for productive work only. Wherever their presence is not needed and they are not likely to jeopardize the security of the occupying forces, they are to be released as soon as possible. Experience has shown that the early release of prisoners of war contributes greatly to the pacification of occupied territory.
13. Although as a general rule the free movement of civilians must be confined to their local communities, exceptions should be made to permit securing of food, attendance at public worship, and necessary travel in the event of illness.
14. The importance of work for everyone, with the assurance of adequate pay and subsistence, cannot be overemphasized. Unemployed and discontented masses of people, lacking the bare necessities and perhaps exposed to arbitrary acts at the hands of the occupying troops, represent an enormous danger to rear areas and communication lines. This is all the more true in the vast territory of Russia, where such dissatisfied elements are offered innumerable opportunities to disappear in forests and swamps, in the wilderness, and on river islands. Here nature provides fertile soil for the rapid growth of partisan bands.
U. 5. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1951