"Hunters": the special forces of the Wehrmacht against partisans".Ivan Kovtun. "Brother."Room for February 2009.
One of the first orders of the Wehrmacht in carrying out military operations against the guerrillas appeared on July 19, 1941. It was required to support military units in alert, prohibited the movement of single soldiers, soldiers were instructed to always keep their weapons ready to open fire. Provision was made for the establishment of a special horse patrols to guard the roads, conduct sudden and repeated raids on settlements, searched the area, etc.
In process of strengthening of the partisan movement in the German orders began to appear guidance about new activities. In particular, since the end of August 1941 when motorized and infantry units of the Wehrmacht were formed mobile groups and mobile group security, sometimes armed with mortars.
Finding themselves unable to oppose the partisans of the effective ways of fighting, the Germans were forced to not only use punitive methods, but also to borrow for training its own army, many of the techniques of guerrilla warfare. A new impetus to improve the effectiveness of combating guerrillas, in the opinion of the German command had to give "Basic provisions on the fight against partisans", signed by the commander of land forces of German General field Marshal von Lead and put into effect from 25 October 1941.
In this document, sent to the commanders of all military units from divisions to battalions, was the analysis of the General nature of guerrilla warfare in the occupied territory, the number and arming of guerrilla groups, the techniques and methods of fighting them. One of the main provisions of this document stated that "the fight against partisans in any case should not be limited to retention of a portion of the terrain. The enemy must be imposed on its own initiative fight".
In an effort to develop effective tactics against the guerrillas in the fall of 1941, the Wehrmacht began to form in the composition of military units "hunter" or "fighter command" (jagdkommando, zerstorungskommando).
Thus, the order dated November 25, 1941, the 137-th AP operating on the Moscow direction, pointed to the need "to keep in readiness of fighter command, made up of specially selected people". Somewhat later approved the instruction according to which teams of "hunters" should have selected an experienced, well-trained and fearless soldiers and non-commissioned officers, able to act in any situation.
For the posts of commanders were encouraged to appoint a proactive, officers, familiar with the tactics of guerrilla warfare and are fond of sports hunting. However, the "hunting teams" that operated at the site of a dislocation of military connections of group of armies "North", soldiers were recruited for a "test" (or punitive) parts. Commanders were officers who had a disciplinary sanction. For example, when the 28th army corps fighting with the partisans led fighter command under the leadership of former chief Lieutenant of the Luftwaffe, transferred to the army for gross violations of the statutory order and military discipline. The German side does not reject the view that in jagdkommando served the penalty box. One former officer of the Wehrmacht after the war wrote that the selection in fighter command required "a completely different approach than the formation of combat units". The best fighters in the struggle against guerrillas often were the so-called "desperate" soldiers, in their characteristics, one could find the remark "not amenable to education". These people were not required good military training. In this case needed was the instinct, skills, a person close to nature, so the preference was given to servicemen who worked before the war, the huntsmen and foresters.
In addition fighter command of the Wehrmacht on the occupied territory of the USSR operated a special unit composed of former Soviet citizens, who agreed to cooperate with the Germans. For example, on the occupied territory of Smolensk region in the period from 10 to 15 July 1942 German military intelligence (the Abwehr) with the participation of the DM was formed a special part to combat the guerrillas, it was called "Military command of the hunters of the East". He commanded part of the Russian emigrant, Abwehr officer Vladimir Bichler. Under him there were about 600 people. "The team Bisleri" included a platoon of personal security, 6 rifle companies, a reconnaissance company, serves as the "hunting team", the division artillery and mortar office. In the occupied territory of Chemalsky area at the headquarters and field offices of the gendarmerie was organized squads ESA (Einwohnerkampfabteilung, "fighting local unit") is designed to combat guerrillas. Despite the fact that the functional units of the ESA was divided into two categories, security (Wachtkommando) and destructive, their main task was to take special measures against members of the Soviet resistance movement, that is, as the researchers note, they carried out the tasks inherent in "hunting teams".
In the numerical relation of jagdkommando does not exceed the Roth (about 80 people) and consisted usually of four platoons (groups) of 15-20 fighters. Each platoon was armed with three machine guns (MG-34, from mid 1942 — MG-42) and at least one sniper rifle. Team members also were armed with automatic rifles — automatic rifles (G-41 (W), then G-43 (W) and submachine guns (MP-38 and MP-40), including captured Soviet SVT-40 and PPSH-41. If you had the opportunity, "hunters" were given light (50 mm) grenade launchers.
The practice of anti-partisan actions showed that machine guns should be at least three in the case of the environment they provided perimeter defense platoon, and if necessary, the breakout from the encirclement — a concentrated machine gun fire was allowed to make a breach in the combat formations of partisans. Sniper was next to the platoon commander. Its task was to destroy machine-gun calculations of the enemy, the command structure of the guerrilla group, as well as those who first have time to recover in an unexpected attack and tried to organize resistance.
Once the instructions of the Wehrmacht, issued in early 1944, along with General recommendations to combat the guerrillas, he emphasized: "... Accomandi must be properly equipped. They should have camouflage coats, warm clothing, peasant carts and sledges, pack animals, skiing, field kitchen, mine detectors, tools, first aid kits, telephone equipment for the interception and transfer of command reports, radio. Accomandi should be armed with lots of machine guns, automatic carbines, light machine guns, light launchers, hand grenades. Accomandi should be able for a long time to conduct operations without replenishing supplies of food and ammunition."
In this case we are talking about team company structure. The terrain in each direction from the main base fighter division acting group of no more than platoon, otherwise not able to secure a stealth of movement and camouflage.
The Germans quickly learned the tactics of guerrilla warfare. She often came down to the fact, to avoid an open fight with the field parts of the Wehrmacht. Guerrillas attacked mainly of ambushes, small groups, destroyed the personnel undermined military equipment, and then moved away from the area where they did the surgery.
Accomandi used against the guerrillas with their own tactics. They covertly tracked down the partisans and suddenly attacked them at close range, shot or captured prisoners (languages) — in short, acted just as there are hunters. In case of meeting with superior forces partisan members of fighter command shied away from a fight.
Before going on a combat mission the personnel of the team, and most importantly — its commanders, studied the area of the forthcoming operation. Great attention was paid to the terrain, the commanding heights, roads, and clearings, forest edges, fields, entrances to ravines, hollows and outs of them, Gati, without stopping catwalk, rivers and wetlands, settlements and other places where the most likely ambush the enemy. The study of combat area was carried out in three ways: by map, by using data from aerial reconnaissance and by observation from high points. The main conditions for the success of any special event of accomandi was complete secrecy, masking and patience. On an initial boundary in the area of upcoming combat operations, the team could go on their own or she was taken to the car body, sealed with tarpaulin. Planting was usually done on the move, on the stretch of road that was closed from long-range observation in dense vegetation, terrain, dilapidated buildings, etc.
Battle groups team typically traveled at night and during the day the staff rested, carefully camouflaged their Parking lot. To prevent the sudden attack of the enemy, exhibited the combat Outpost, and observers. Members of the "hunting team" tried not to leave traces: no broken branches or trampled grass, no campfire. Empty cans usually have tapered and buried under rocks or under tree roots. During the combat mission the personnel of the team were forbidden to smoke, as the day in wooded and swampy areas smell of tobacco smoke can be captured at a distance of 800 metres; at night in open areas spark a burning cigarette visible from a distance of 3 kilometers. The most suitable areas for combat operation "hunters" were considered those where the guerrillas, making transitions, going out to the alleged sabotage of facilities (bridges, Railways and country roads), as well as to the settlements for supplies.
Fighters were carefully masked and conducted covert surveillance of everything that happened in their area of responsibility. Attention was paid to the smallest details, such as traces. We can use them to establish who, when, what of the village went into the forest, what was he doing there. So gradually you start to see the routes of underground communication and guerrilla reconnaissance and sabotage groups, commercial routes, there sasupevelshi the locations of the bases and "beacons". Identified approaches to them, the presence and location of secrets, the order of changing duty outfits on them, distributing routes, the frequency of passage of the wandering patrols around the base. Knowledge of the situation gave the opportunity to "hunters" to strike the partisans a very painful blows.
There are many cases when fighter command, moving the perimeter partisan a secret-posts silently removed the guerrilla commanders. Special groups were doing raids on guerrilla the warehouses and the supply base. There have even been attacks on large guerrilla headquarters, then in the hands of the Germans proved to be very valuable documents.
When conducting jagdkommando military operations, great attention was paid to the collection and production of intelligence information. Often the Germans wanted to take the language. This happened, for example, when proposing numerous guerrilla groups for exploration, a diversion or commercial fishing. In this case, exhibited an ambush. Prisoner took the one who usually went back — it was the easiest to trim from going ahead,while EN route to the head of the group, cut out with knives. All this was done quickly. Traces when capturing no.
The prisoner was interrogated immediately, using the most radical methods of physical and psychological exposure to either language was sent to the city, the local branch of the secret field police (HFP) or DM where him tightly "worked" specialists.
"Hunters" have struck on a large guerrilla columns.
The intent of these attacks was to disrupt the operation, for which the column was moved to the starting line — for example to destroy a well-guarded railway bridge. An ambush was prepared very carefully. For it was chosen a place where the movement of the guerrilla groups (especially the columns) with at least one of the parties was constrained by the terrain relief (slope or steep hill, a marsh, a ravine, etc.). Most often, an ambush was arranged where the road (trail) turned to the left facing the enemy. Themselves "hunters" were there and right on the side of the partisans. As a result going down the road the partisans was awkward to unfold in the chain face to the enemy. At the same time, this arrangement allowed the gunners to block the path of the partisans to retreat and provide space for their group runs. Of course, to expect the complete defeat of the guerrilla connection, several times superior fighter command with the quantity and composition of weapons, was not necessary. However, this goal has not been set. Unexpected fire attack from ambush (10-15 seconds) beat commanders and gunners, forced the guerrillas to drag back to camp wounded. Besides disappeared the element of surprise, as a result they had to abandon the planned operation. If ahead of a column of guerrillas was exploration (combat Outpost), it is usually missed and suddenly attacked in the narrow space to the back and sides. The bodies were immediately removed from the road, the traces of the fight is eliminated.
A guerrilla column jagdkommando the sighting was met with heavy fire from rifles and machine guns from a distance of 70-100 meters that did not allow the partisans to successfully use hand grenades. To increase the density and accuracy of fire "hunters" often drew hand guns and assault rifles strapped to the stumps or boughs of trees. Then the weapon jerked, it was possible to conduct aimed fire at a very high pace. Leaving after a fire RAID, accomandi studiously avoided the appearance of open space (glade, clearing, road). The route is usually chosen on the reverse slopes of hills, valleys, ravines. As a rule, been out two escape routes — primary and backup prepared in advance. The withdrawal was covered by heavy, which was located at the distance of 150-200 meters from primary firing position. My shooting it suppressed the sound of footsteps running away, "hunter", he was the last to leave. On the tracks of his departure "hunters" always put booby traps (usually in the form of hand grenades on extensions).
In case of a sudden meeting of the two groups on the forest trail, that is, head-on (less than 30-40 meters) have been successful in act one of the opponents who were psychologically ready for oncoming battle on a short distance. In such cases, no one on the orders of the commanders had hoped. All basically acted on the tuned circuit: some "hunters" threw themselves on the ground to the right, others to the left and immediately been farther and farther from the trail. One of the gunners opened fire, and several soldiers threw grenades. The purpose of these actions was to ensure to grab in battle the initiative and create the necessary conditions for making profitable maneuver.
The experience of the war showed that the vast majority of cases, the "hunters" in frontal collisions in the forest played much better than partisans. Primarily, this was due to the fact that the members of agcommand were better prepared.
As you know, men often tried to replace professionalism with a personal courage of the soldiers. But in battles with the "hunters" courage didn't help. The guerrillas lost tens of people killed and wounded. Commanders and fighters of fighter command has always acted as if they were equal in the skills of the opponent. Completing the task, they quickly ran back and away from the ambush site. In those cases, when the "hunters" still faced the threat of encirclement, they were divided into three and went in different directions. In this case, one of three periodically took up a good firing position and led on the pursuers aimed fire from a prone position, and the others tried to sleep on the flanks, with which they also fired on the enemy.
"Fighting three" were selected in advance, according to the principle of personal compatibility. In battle each soldier threes and platoons knew their combat mission and area of responsibility, options of actions in any theoretically possible combat episode. Therefore, great care was taken to ensure that each fighter of the team was able to see the battlefield as a whole, to intuitively sense the environment, to navigate freely in the forest (including at night and in bad weather), was able to shoot and be invisible.
"Hunters" avoided any contacts with the population. In case of detection of local residents, the team immediately left the area and stay either cease operation, or made a quick switch to another site, remote from the place where we got her, no less than 10-15 km, Only after some time (a day or two), she returned to the original area, but definitely in a roundabout way.
The instructions demanded that "hunters" ruthless "destruction of everyone who fell into the trap of", including any bystanders.
One of the fighters of accomandi recalled after the war: "Hunting the partisans lasted two or three days. We combed the area and everyone met in the woods, be it with weapons or without weapons, usually killed without investigation or trial".
Each jagdkommando was provided with a portable radio that worked only at the reception. Current operational information to HQ never aired. Sometimes the encrypted message was left in previously prepared for this purpose, the recesses ("mailboxes") or passed through reliable communication.
In the most exceptional cases, "the hunters" sought the help of agents recruited by German intelligence from among civilians which occurred at the points specified in the headquarters on the radio. Information about the location of guerrilla units of accomandi most often received by radio from mobile patrols and mobile security groups field of the gendarmerie, at least — from the agents from the local population.
Conducting special operations against the guerrillas, of course, forced German command to think carefully about the actions of the "hunters".
Experience has shown that fighter command are effective for two to three days, later the personnel involved in the operation, needs rest and replenishment of ammunition.
This problem was solved in the following way: for "hunting teams" in convenient locations in advance equipped with caches of ammunition and food, was determined possible bases of rest, usually disguised as commercial facilities, hospitals or secluded settlements.
Sometimes ammunition and supplies to the teams were transported by aircraft, for example of a single-engine razvedshkoly "Fieseler-Storch" (Fieseler Fi.156 Storch).
Martial activities fighter teams have always been built on a Foundation of strong interaction with the German occupation authorities responsible for maintaining order in the occupied territory, as well as collaborationist groups — "Eastern battalions" and auxiliary police units.
Accomandi had been in regular contact with army units that could quickly and timely to organize the operation, protitution . The most successful "hunters" acted in the spring and summer of 1944, during the largest anti-partisans actions ("Drizzle", "Rain", "spring Festival", "Cormorant", etc.) in Belarus, in which the partisans suffered the greatest losses during the war.
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