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Excerpts from "The German Soldier," Infantry Journal

[The German Soldier, Infantry Journal]   Excerpts from "The German Soldier" by the Infantry Journal. The booklet was prepared as an adaptation of the training film strip The German Soldier produced by the Director of Military Training, Army Service Forces. The booklet emphasizes the experience of the German soldier and the necessity of hard work and training to defeat him.   


This American soldier is digging a mine up out of a road. It looks like a Teller mine No. 1—an antitank mine containing eleven pounds of TNT which explodes when anything heavy pushes down on its igniter. There are also antipersonnel mines, smaller and lighter, which explode when a man's weight presses down on them. And then there is the "Bouncing Betty" which jumps up about five feet before exploding into some 350 steel balls.

This soldier makes a careful search for booby traps which are often attached to mines. He also searches the ground around the mine to see if there may be other igniters. All igniters must be carefully unscrewed and lifted out, and the detonators below them removed. This soldier uses a mirror to assist him in his search beneath the mine.

The detecting, neutralizing and clearing of mines and booby traps is the job of every soldier who cares a hoot about his own life and the lives of his friends. This means you. It is no longer a job just for engineer troops. The Germans plant mines on the shoulders of roads and seemingly unused roads, tracks and trails. Any terrain suitable for vehicles and tanks are apt to be mined. Road craters and the approaches to by-passes around blown bridges are generally heavily mined. The German likes to mine soft and sandy fords, scattering metal fragments around them to throw off the detectors. Long stretches of road will have a few mines buried far apart—just enough to cause "mine fever." Watch your step—and watch where you drive.

And beware of booby traps. They are apt to be anywhere—doors, windows, steps, floors, pictures, furniture, cupboards, water taps, telephones, light switches, rugs, mats, documents, flashlights, cigarette cases, fountain pens and even the bodies of German dead. The list is endless—just remember to be suspicious about every movable thing.

Whenever you think the German is licked—whenever the going looks easy—that's when the German figures you'll be careless. And that's when you're liable to get yours.

[US soldier lifts German Teller mine]


This is the famous German 88mm gun which the newspapers played up as a "secret weapon"—a supposedly revolutionary "new" gun which knocked out tanks and planes with the greatest of ease. The truth is that this is a good gun but there is nothing either new, secret, or magic about it.

The 88mm is a tractor-drawn gun for fire on moving targets. Its rate of fire is about twenty-five rounds per minute. It is extremely accurate. When it shoots at tanks it uses a special armor-piercing projectile. It is a good gun and Rommel used it properly. He decoyed British tanks within range of the gun, using light German tanks for the purpose. Then something would streak along parallel to the flat desert and another tank would be out of the fight.

The British and Americans caught on to the trick. We also discovered the 88mm gun is a sucker for dive bombers. We also learned that a few American or British soldiers, well trained in scouting, could get in close and knock out the whole crew of the gun.

You will keep hearing about other German weapons of the "secret" and "magic" variety. The "Nebelwerfer 41" nicknamed by Americans the "Screaming Mimi" is another example. It is a six-barrel rocket weapon. It fires its six barrels successively one second apart. The concussion effect is terrific. The projectile is like a small torpedo, with a burster in the back that has its own time fuze.

There is nothing particularly new about this weapon. The Katusha of the Russians has done great work for quite some time. Our own artillery in Tunisia, using percussion shell, time shell and white phosphorus, shattered the nerves of the Germans. Prisoners came in wanting to know about our new "automatic artillery." As for the answer to the 88mm gun, our own 90mm is better in every important respect, with even better guns on the way.

[German 88mm]


Here is the workhorse of the German armored forces. It is also the race horse and the show horse. It is a Mark IV tank, smashed by an American artillery shell which pierced its armor and burst inside, killing its crew and exploding its ammunition. These American soldiers have probably formed a deep respect for this tank. If the Tunisian campaign did nothing else, it taught us that tanks can be stopped by skilled and fearless men.

The Mark IV is a medium tank of twenty-two tons. It carries a five-man crew. It is armed with one 75mm gun and two light machine guns. Its best speed is about thirty-one miles per hour. Note the shape and general detail—there are eight bogie wheels and four track-support rollers.

Tests made with captured Mark IV tanks prove that it is easily blinded. A Molotov cocktail or flamethrower may not penetrate to the inside of the tank, but it will soot up the lookout points including the telescopic sights of the gun. A blind tank is like a dead duck. Once it is blinded it is easily possible to chuck grenades into the bogies. Once it stands still it is duck soup for an antitank gun. Rifle and machine-gun bullets concentrating on the ports will also make sighting difficult, and good marksmen can often score killing hits. The main thing is never to run from a German tank—if you do those machine guns will mow you down. A foxhole or any other cover will usually protect you. If you can't stop the tank yourself, bazookas and other tank weapons behind you can and will.

The German's Mark VI tank has had a lot of headline space as a fortress on wheels. It's a tough number, all right—but the tank is too big and heavy to be fast and maneuverable. It has an 88mm gun and some four inches of armor in front. It weighs from fifty-six to sixty-two tons and can move only about twenty miles per hour. It is vulnerable to accurate artillery and bazooka fire.

[Destroyed German Panzer IV]


Here, side by side, you see the two most popular vehicles of the war—one, an American jeep; the other, the German Volkswagen. They answer many questions about the relative quality of German and American vehicles. Captured Volkswagens have been tested and they are nothing to brag about. They have a two-wheel drive and the jeep drive is four-wheel. Their top speed is thirty miles per hour and the jeep's is fifty. Their suspension and general construction doesn't permit the tough cross-country driving the jeep can take. What's true of these cars is pretty true of German and American trucks, personnel carriers and tractors. We make them better as well as faster.

German cars and motorcycles travel about thirty-eight miles an hour alone; in convoy speed drops to about twenty-two miles an hour under good conditions. Trucks travel twenty-five miles an hour alone and twenty-two in convoy. Tanks generally travel fifteen miles an hour alone and eleven in convoy.

For years Hitler has been promising the Germans a car in every garage, and has deducted vast funds from people's pay as advance payments on these cars. The German people never did get their cars—for the entire production was intended for the army from the very beginning. The German soldier, however, figures that the car is his, bought and paid for, so he takes very good care of it as well as any other vehicles entrusted to his care. German lubricants and gasolines are quite good. But the main reason for the success of German motorized equipment in campaigns ranging from the plains of Poland to the mountains of Greece is preventive maintenance by the German soldier.

[Jeep vs. Kubelwagen]


The Americans landed in North Africa on November 8, 1942, and closed the trap on Rommel's Afrika Korps. The battle of Tunisia followed. The Germans, licking their wounds in Russia and Libya, now hoped to chalk up a victory over our own green troops. But the British armies and ours won the fight; General von Arnim and his entire army surrendered. This time the German troops didn't wait for orders. This time they weren't without supplies, weapons and ammunition. This time they could have fought on and held up the invasion of Europe if they had wanted to. But they didn't. In the end they quit. They were well blitzed themselves. Strapping, well-trained, well-fed and well-equipped soldiers piled into motorcycles and trucks and drove to the nearest prison stockade to give themselves up.

But before that they made a fight of it—a fight which taught inexperienced American soldiers a few lessons of war. When the Tunisian battles were over the Americans knew that it was easy to forget to do the right thing, and that thorough training was necessary. This first fight of our troops with the Germans made such points as these sink in:

The most important single thing in infantry fighting is scouting and patrolling.

Learn your sneaking and peeking to perfection. And the same applies to map reading and use of the compass by day and night. You have to be an expert fighter at night as well as by day. Learn to report what you see—don't pass along your personal interpretations.

Learn to shoot swiftly and straight. There's no such thing as too many snipers. Learn to hold your fire until targets are within range. Learn concealment and camouflage. Use cover.

Learn these things whatever kind of combat soldier you are—air or ground; armored or unarmored. The air fighter has his special ways of fighting by day or night, and so does the armored fighter. But every combat soldier may have to fight—on the ground and without armor. So every soldier needs to know how.

[Luftwaffe motorcycle Tunisia]

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