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German Army Field Fortifications
Fortifications as Defensive Multipliers
170 pages; 7 chapters and 1 appendix
If British, Israeli or American officers were asked to define, “field fortifications,” they
would talk about the different types of fighting positions, defense in depth, obstacles
and mines. They are confident that every military subject is a form of “technology” that
is guided by a how-to manual. As German Army Field Fortifications reveals, the
soldiers of the Third Reich would have laughed at such thinking. German Army field
fortifications were not technical artifacts or residue; they were part of a defensive
art that was based upon a framework of understanding formed from a combination of
disparate elements. At the epicenter of such thinking was the defensive
schwehrpunkt. Those German thought process and correlative methods are
described in German Army Field Fortifications so that the reader will more facilely
understand all the relative concepts of German Army field fortifications, and not
just be offered a picture book of German field fortifications drawings.
"The Germans in general adhere to the principle of "effect before cover" in determining priorities for constructing the
various installations in a defense position. First they build combat trenches; erect infantry obstacles such as barbed-wire
fences; and construct machine-gun positions, dugouts, foxholes, and antitank positions. They clear fields of fire by careful
cutting of underbrush but try to avoid cutting down trees in order to preserve concealment of the position. The underbrush
is left in front of the position as far as 1 to 3 yards. They organize observation posts for artillery and heavy infantry
weapons, increase the depth of the battle position, dig communication trenches and emplacements for the heavy infantry
weapons, and build command posts. Finally, they construct emplacements for the artillery, dig antitank ditches within the
battle position, and build dummy positions.
The Germans insist on thorough camouflage. Whenever practicable, trenches and wire obstacles are placed along natural
terrain lines such as rows of brush or edges of fields. Trenches are dug zigzag at obtuse angles, 330 to 660 yards long,
depending on the terrain. Machine-guns are emplaced in trenches 1 to 3 yards in length. To avoid silhouettes, the
Germans heap more earth behind the trenches than in front. Dugouts for riflemen and for machine-gun positions normally
provide sufficient protection against enemy artillery and mortar fire. Whenever possible, three layers of logs and earth are
used as cover."
Excerpt from German Army Field Fortifications
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