During the

Cover: Military Improvisations During the Russian Campaign

*CMH Pub 104-1

*This publication replaces DA Pam 20-201, August 1951.

Facsimile Edition, 1983, 1986

Center of Military History
United States Army
Washington, D.C.


This study was prepared for the Historical Division, European Command, by a group of former German generals and general staff officers. The names of the contributors are not announced at this time. The principal author, who by the end of the war had attained the rank of full general (Generaloberst), served on the Eastern Front throughout the Russian campaign and the subsequent retreat into the northern plains of Germany. He was successively commander of an infantry brigade, of a panzer division from November 1941 to February 1943, and of two different corps in the battles for Kharkov and Belgorod during 1943. Appointed commander of a panzer army on 1 December 1943, he participated in the withdrawal in the south until the Germans reached the Carpathians. In August 1944 he was transferred to Army Group Center, and his last assignment was with Army Group Weichsel. During this final phase of his military career he played an important part in the retreat from Lithuania, East Prussia, and Pomerania.

The reader is reminded that all publications in the GERMAN REPORT SERIES were written by Germans from the German point of view and that the procedures of the German Army differed considerably from those of the United States Army. Authorized German tables of organization and equipment, official German combat doctrine, or standard German staff methods form the basis for improvisations throughout this study. As prepared by the authors, this study consisted of a collection of 157 examples of improvisations which were screened by the editors for pertinence, clarity, and interest to the American reader. Moreover, an attempt was made to establish common denominators for the great variety of examples. Although the manuscript was completely reorganized during this editorial process, every effort was made to retain the point of view, the expressions, and even the prejudices of the authors.


Chapter 1. The Offensive  
I. The Elimination of Russian Forces in a German Rear Area  
1. The Blitzkrieg Bogged Down in Mud 3
2. Desperate Improvisations 4
3. The Snail Offensive 7
4. The Scorpion Offensive 10
5. Cavalry Brigade Model in Operation SEYDLITZ 11
II. Some Improvisations Used during Operation ZITADELLE  
1. The Crossing of Russian Mine Fields 17
2. A Flak Division Serves as Corps Artillery 19
Chapter 2. The Defensive  
I. Improvised Hedgehog Defenses 22
II. Defensive Improvisations in Extreme Cold 23
III. A Moving Pocket Regains the German Lines 26
IV. Zone Defense Tactics 27
V. Improvised Fortresses 36
VI. Defensive Improvisations in East Prussia 38
Chapter 3. Troop Movements  
I. Furlough and Troop Trains under Partisan Attacks 40
II. The Commitment of Furlough Battalions 41
Chapter 4. Combat Arms  
I. Infantry 43
II. Artillery 44
III. Combat Engineers as Infantry 48
Chapter 5. Indispensable Expedients  
I. The Panje Column 51
II. The Corduroy Road 53
Chapter 6. Other Expedients  
I. Improvisations in the Construction of Bridges 56
II. Improvised Road Maintenance 56
III. Deceptive Supply Movements 57
IV. Invasion Barges as Means of Transportation 57
V. Transportation over Frozen Waterways 57
VI. Fuel Conservation Expedients 58
VII. Railroad Tank Cars Towed across the Baltic 58
Chapter 7. Supply by Airlift and by Aerial Delivery Containers  
I. The First German Experiments 60
II. The Stalingrad Airlift 61
Chapter 8. Supply and Transportation Problems in the Arctic 63
Chapter 9. Clothing and Equipment 65
Chapter 10. Shelter 67
Chapter 11. Weapons 68
Chapter 12. Technical Training for Arctic Conditions 70
Chapter 13. Improvised Front-Line Propaganda 72
Chapter 14. The Manpower Problem  
I. The Situation at the Outbreak of War 75
II. The Luftwaffe Field Divisions 76
III. Maintenance of Combat Efficiency 77
IV. The Employment of Women in the Armed Forces 80
Chapter 15. The Organization of Special Units  
I. Staffs 82
II. Special Formations 86
III. Last-Ditch Improvisations  
1. The LEUTHEN Project 90
2. Other Desperate Measures 91
Chapter 16. Political Measures Introduced by the National Socialist Party  
I. Civilian Labor Procurement 93
II. The Volkssturm 93
III. Paramilitary Units During the Last Stage of the War 97
Chapter 17. Are Improvisations Inevitable?  
I. Avoidable Improvisations 99
II. Unavoidable Improvisations and their Minimization 101
III. Improvisations in Extreme Emergency 102
Chapter 18. The Relative Value of Improvisations 103


Reference Map Frontispiece
Note. Numbered maps are in sequence after page 104.
1. 6th Panzer Division (22 June 1941-20 January 1942).
2. The Snail Offensive (End of January to Beginning of April 1942).
3. Operation SEYDLITZ (Situation on 3 July 1942, the Second Day of the Attack).
4. Improvisations in East Prussia.
5. Corduroy Roads in the Leningrad Area.
6. The Withdrawal Across the Dnepr.

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