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Snipers Of The Wehrmacht
Material posted: Valetskiy OlegPublication date: 06-06-2013

In the First world war the job of sniper has grown and evolved into a separate branch of combat activities, in terms of the positional state; but the experience of 1918 made it possible to assess the sniper in the war field. The Germans, the inventors of snayping introduced in each easy-link machine-gun one arrow equipped with a rifle with telescopic sight.

German snipers, during the first period of trench warfare, disabling the British, all along the front, several hundred people a day that within a month gave a loss figure that is equal in number whole division. The British quickly responded to the threat by creating their own sniper school, and eventually completely suppressed enemy gunners. Almost all participants in world war II, especially in German parts of the front, had to deal with various manifestations of the work of the German sniper." I, personally, remember very well how heavy the atmosphere created in the regiments of the 71st infantry division, in the winter of 1916-1917 year, the German snipers (I think, 208th Germans. division), made, literally, "Paradise valley" from some sections of our trenches on the left Bank of the river Seret (in Romania). Being located in groups of trees on the opposite Bank of the river, even on the part of the tree (judging by the depth of the defeat of the trench), they are literally not allowed to show half a head, not only because of the parapet, but even in the hole disguised podbroshennogo machine-gun nests, not to mention the breaks in the trenches, PLANIROVANIJA with their positions. A high percentage of disabled officers in the first minutes of the battle, too, was struck, even then, the idea that someone has, what is called "the choice" — of course, it beat the snipers."(E. N. Sergeev). It is on the fronts of the First World war has determined the basic principles and specific methods of snayping (for example, a pair of sniper — shooter-fighter" and the observer-designator).

Create your own Russian sniper school, putting the training of shooters "on stream" was only later, in the red Army.

Despite the fact that during the First world war, the Germans first took the initiative to use specially trained soldiers and rifles with telescopic sights, active work in the sniping has begun in the Wehrmacht only after a collision with a Soviet tactic "sniper terror". In the winter of 1941-1942 on the Russian positions, the snipers appeared and began to actively develop the sniper movement supported by the political directorates of the fronts. German commanders remembered the need of training and their "sormadi shooters". The Wehrmacht started to organize sniper schools and front-line courses, gradually began to grow "specific weight" sniper rifles compared to other types of small arms and light weapons.

In the German army in 1930-1940-ies were used 7.92 mm Mauser rifle model 1935 (K98) with polutorakratnoe the gun model 1941 or fourfold sight of Zeiss. In its basic combat properties of the weapon was not particularly different from the Soviet Mosin rifle, so in the sense of weapons forces of the parties were approximately equal.

Sniper version 7.92-mm carbine Mauser 98K tested in 1939, but commercially, this version began to be produced only after the attack on the Soviet Union. In 1942, with 6% of all produced rifles had the scope mount, but throughout the war the German troops observed the lack of sniper weapons. For example, in April 1944, the Wehrmacht received 164525 rifles, but scopes had only 3276 of them, i.e. about 2%. However, according to post-war the German military experts, "equipped with standard optics, the carbines 98 in any case could not meet the requirements of the battle. Compared to Soviet sniper rifles... they differed significantly for the worse. Therefore, each captured as a trophy of Soviet sniper rifle immediately used by soldiers of the Wehrmacht" (R. Ledson, Vollert. "Small arms yesterday"). By the way, ZF41 optical sight with magnification of 1.5 x was attached to a specially machined pad on the sighting rail so that the distance from the shooter's eye up to the eyepiece, was about 22 cm German opticians is believed that this optical sight with a slight magnification, mounted at a considerable distance from the shooter's eye up to the eyepiece, must be quite effective because it allows you to direct the crosshairs on the target, without interrupting surveillance of the terrain. This small ratio of sight does not give significant differences in scale between the objects observed through the scope and on top of it. Furthermore, this accommodation option optics allows you to charge the rifle with clips, without losing sight of the target and the muzzle face of the barrel. But of course, that sniper rifle with such a low-power scope could be used for shooting at long distances. However, this device still was not popular among snipers of the Wehrmacht, often these rifles were simply abandoned on the battlefield in the hope of finding something better.


Arsenal German sniper: rifle "the Mauser 7,92", pistols "Walther PPK and the Walther P-38

German sniper scope with magnification of 2.5

The German and Finnish snipers on high-precision rifles "Mauser 7,92" the sights were increased only 2.5 times. The Germans (and they were smart people) believed that more is not necessary. Were the German snipers sight with a tenfold increase, but shot them only to virtuosos. This sight produced a trophy of Russian sniper Vassili Zaitsev in a duel with the chief of the Berlin school of snipers.

Hands with low and middle preparation level better get using the scopes with low magnification. The process of aiming with optical sight are very strict when aiming you have to be very focused and very attentive. The optical sight is not so much facilitates aiming, how much of mobilizing arrow trained on aiming and holding weapons. In this regard, the optical sight allows shooters with high training to implement their back-up capabilities. Optical sight is a tool of implementation of the training arrow. And the greater the degree of natrenirovannosti and the acquired stability has the arrows, the greater the increase in scope they can afford. Only the professional snipers with a well-organized production, gained resilience, and nervous system, balanced to the complete indifference, lack of pulsation and with infernal patience, can afford to work with a sight increase in 6 times and above. These shooters have a target in sight is relaxed and not trying to control the shot.(A. Potapov, "the Art of a sniper")

Since 1943, the Wehrmacht used a self-loading carbine system by Walter (1943 model), 7.92-mm self-loading rifle G43 (K43 or) had its sniper version with a 4x optical sight. However, because of low reliability and low accuracy "Walter" was not popular in the army – as well as the Tokarev SVT rifle in the red Army. The German military leadership demanded that all G43 rifles had a telescopic sight, but it was already impossible to perform. Nevertheless, 402703 released until March 1945, nearly 50 thousand had already mounted optical sight. In addition, all rifles had the mounting bracket for mounting optics, so theoretically any rifle can be used as a sniper weapon.

1944 was a turning point for art sniper in the German army. The role of snayping was finally appreciated by the high command: the numerous orders stressed the need for proper use of snipers, preferably in pairs "arrows plus the observer", was developed different kinds of camouflage uniforms and special equipment. It was assumed that during the second half of 1944 the number of sniper pairs in Grenadier and Grenadier parts will be doubled. Heinrich Himmler too was interested in sniping in the Waffen SS, they approved a program specialized in-depth training shooters-fighters. In the same year by order of the command of the Luftwaffe were filmed for use in training-ground parts of the educational films "the Invisible weapon: sniper in combat" and "Field training of snipers."

Both films are shot quite well and very efficiently, even with the height of the day today: here are the highlights of the special sniper training, the most important recommendations for action in the field, and all this in a popular form, with a combination of game elements. Widely replicated at this time, a memo titled "the Ten commandments sniper" read: — Fight selflessly. — Lead the fire calmly and prudently, concentrate on each shot. Remember that rapid fire has no effect. — Shoot only when sure that will not be detected. — Your main opponent is the enemy sniper, outsmart him. Don't forget that sapper shovel prolongs your life. — Always practice in determining distances. — Become a master in the use of terrain and camouflage. — Train constantly on the frontlines and in the rear. — Take care of your sniper rifle, don't let anyone in her hands. — Survival for the sniper on nine parts of the camouflage and only one shooting. In the German army snipers were used at various tactical levels. It is the experience of applying such a concept allowed in the postwar period E. Middeldorf in his book to offer the following practices: "No other question connected with the fighting of the infantry, there is no such big contradictions, as in the use of snipers. Some believe that it is necessary to have in each company, or at least in the regular battalion a platoon of snipers. Others predict that the greatest success will have snipers, operating in pairs. We will try to find a solution that meets the requirements of both points of view. First of all we must distinguish between "snipers-lovers" and "snipers-professionals". It is desirable that in each compartment there were two non-standard sniper-lover. They need to give to the assault rifle optical sight 4x magnification. They will remain the usual arrow, which received additional sniper training. If using them as snipers is not possible, then they will act as regular soldiers. As for snipers-professionals, they should have two in each Rota or six in the management group of the company. They should be armed with a special sniper rifle having a muzzle velocity over 1000 m/sec., with a telescopic sight, 6 × zoom high aperture. These snipers, as a rule, will conduct a "free hunt" at the site of the company. If and will occur depending on environment and terrain conditions the necessity of usage of a platoon of snipers, it will be easily feasible, because the company has a 24 sniper (18 snipers-lovers and 6 snipers-professionals), which in this case can be combined together". Note that a similar concept of a snayping is considered one of the most promising.(Oleg Ryazanov "Evermedia hands" of the Wehrmacht")

In the great Patriotic war the Russians outnumbered the Germans in the art of night fighting, combat in wooded and swampy terrain and the battle in winter, in the training of snipers, as well as in equipping the infantry with machine guns and mortars" (Eike middeldorf of "Tactics in the Russian campaign").

German snipers:

  • Erwin Konig 400/Heinz Thorvald
  • Matthаus Hetzenauer 345
  • Josef Sepp Allerberger257
  • Bruno Sutkus 209
  • Friedrich Pein 200
  • Gefreiter Meyer-180
  • Oleh Dir 120
  • Helmut Wirnsberger 64

Some idea about German shooters gives a very interesting interview with three former Wehrmacht snipers (sniper's Notebook):

This is a General interview with two of the most successful snipers Wehrmacht. To get a wider view of experience, added interview with the third, also a very good sniper.

The fact that these three soldiers had really good training and lots of experience to give accurate and informative answers to the questions.

During the interview they will be named A, B and C. During the war they were in all 3. Gebirgsdivision .

Short information about the respondents.

A: Matthaus H. from the Tyrol, on the Eastern front was from 1943 to end of war, the most successful in the Wehrmacht sniper with 345 confirmed destroyed.

B: Sepp A. from Salzburg, on the Eastern front was from December 1942 until the end of the war, the second in order of size with 257 confirmed.

C: Helmut W. from Styria, on the Eastern front was from September 1942 until the end of the war, with 64 confirmed destroyed. After he was wounded, he was an instructor.

- What weapon did You use?:

A: K98 with a 6x telescopic sight, G43 with 4x optical sight

B: Captured Russian sniper rifle with telescopic sight, K98 with a 6x

C: K98 with 1 1/2x and 4x scopes, G43 with a 4x optical sight.

- What sights did You use?

A: a 4x scope was used up to 400m, a 6x was good up to 1000m

B: had 2 years a Russian sniper rifle, and I do not remember exactly the type of sight, but it worked well. For the K98 I used 6x.

C: 1 1/2x was not effective enough and was replaced by the better working 6x.

- What do You think about high gain?

A, B: 6x - sufficient, was not necessary in the higher.

C: 4x is enough for most missions.

Limit the shooting distance where You could hit the next goal?

Head: A, B, C: up to 400m

Loophole: A: up to 600m

B, C: up to 400m

The human figure: A: 700m - 800m

B, C: about 600m

- Are these distances acceptable for You personally, typical only for the best or all snipers?

A, B: only for best snipers

C: For me personally, but also for most German snipers. Some struck targets and at greater distances.

B: Complements: really a 100% loss is only possible up to 600m.

- What is the most distant target You hit and what was it?

A: It was a soldier standing at a distance of about 1100m. At this distance is unlikely to fall, but we wanted to show the enemy that he was not safe at this distance. We also wanted to demonstrate our skills to officers.

B: 400m - 700m

C: 600m, if there was a target further away I waited until it reduces the distance because it was easier to shoot, and it was easier to do the confirmation. G43 had insufficient ballistic capabilities, so I fired her up to 500m.

- How many second shots were necessary?

A: Almost never needed a second shot.

B: 1 or 2. The second shot was very dangerous because of enemy snipers .

C: 1 or 2 at the most.

- If You could choose which rifle would You prefer?

(a) a rifle with a manually operated, like the K98:

A: K98 because of the high precision

B: K98

C: K98

b) self-loading rifle like G43:

A: No G43 because it is only good up to 400m and does not have sufficient precision.

B: G43 Not too heavy.

C: Yes, because it was reliable and not much worse than the K98.

-If You could choose between a self-loading rifle with the same accuracy as in K98 and K98, which would You choose?

A: I would choose the K98, because the sniper is used as a sniper, needs no self-loading rifle.

B: If it has the same weight.... self-loading.

C: semi-Automatic can shoot faster when attacking.

- How were You attached to your units?

All of them belonged to snipergroup Btl.; C was the commander of this unit. This unit consisted of up to 22 soldiers, six of whom were constantly with Btl., the rest were attached to the battalions. The results of observation, on the use of munitions and destroyed the targets were reported daily to the headquarters of the Btl.

In the beginning of the mission was ordered Btl. During the war when good snipers became smaller, they sometimes ordered the staff of the division.

In each company some of the soldiers were ekipirovka rifles with optical sights, but they had no special training. They shot reliably to 400m and did a very good job. These soldiers had served in their normal mode of service within your mouth and were not able to obtain the high "lethality" as real snipers.

- Tactics and goals?

a) Attack:

A, B, C: always in teams of two people. One shoots, the other monitors. The most common missions: to destroy enemy observers (heavy weapons), the commanders. Sometimes targets such as antitank guns, machine-gun crew and so on. The snipers followed the attacking forces and fought with the most fortified enemy positions (with calculations of heavy weapons, and so on).

A: I was supposed to get through enemy line of defense against our attack is to destroy the enemy commanders and rcchati during our artillery preparation.

b) Attack by night:

A, B, C: We did not fight during night because snipers were too precious.

c) Attack in winter:

A: I went behind the attacking forces in the winter kamuflirovannaya suit to combat the machine-gun and antitank positions, which opposed our attack.

B, C: a Good camouflage suit and warm clothing needed otherwise decrease the possibility of a prolonged observation.

(d) defense

A, B, C: mostly free hunting Rotom in the defence sector. Usually should have destroyed all targets or only the most important goals. When the enemy attacked their commanders was easy to identify because they had different equipment, camouflage uniforms and so on. So we shot them at large distances and so that the enemy's offensive stop. (In one day And remembers that he killed the commanders of the eight attacks).

As soon as there are enemy snipers, fighting with them to destruction. These duels against enemy snipers caused many casualties in our ranks.

Snipers take up their positions before sunrise and remain there until sunset.

Sometimes, if the path to their own positions was overlapped by the enemy, had to remain for two or three days in this position without support.

(e) defense by night

A, B, C: the Sniper was not used during the night. They were not allowed to security or anything of that kind. Sometimes during the night they created up their minds to be ready in the afternoon.

(f) You used when shooting the moon light?

A: Yes, if the moonlight was strong enough and I used 6x optical sight, it was possible.

B, C: No

g) hindering the fight:

A, C: usually 4 to 6 snipers shot at every enemy soldier that appeared. In the rear parts of these guns are not often used, so one or two shots of the sniper kept the enemy for a long time and private positions have not been unmasked.

B: No experience. In this situation, each shot at all.

- What tactics have You had most success?

A: the Success of the sniper is more than the people he destroyed, and the influence he had on the enemy. For example, if the enemy is losing commanders in the offensive, the offensive must be stopped. The highest we had destroyed, of course, in defensive battles, when the enemy attacked several times a day.

B: In defense because the other destroyed have not been confirmed.

C: biggest success in the long period of trench warfare because of the good opportunities of observation.

The percentage consumed for each distance:

400m: A: 65 %

C: 80 %

Up to 600m: A: 30 %

C: 20 %

800m: rest

A: 65 % to 400m were not because of the distance shooting, but because of the ability to identify the goal as "worth it". So, I often waited until he could not identify the target.

B: can't remember the percentage, but most of the targets were hit up to 600m.

C: did most of the damage to 400m, because it was a safe distance, and it was just to see if hit or not.

- How many shots did You do with the same position?

a) Attack:

A, B, C: as much as necessary

(b) defense on appointed positions:

A, B, C: from 1 to 3 at the most.

c) Enemy attack:

A, B, C: for each, worthwhile goal.

(d) Confrontation of the enemy snipers:

A, B, C: 1 or 2

e) delaying fight

A, B, C: 1 or 2 was enough, because the sniper was not alone.

B: supplements: during the attack or the enemy attacks are not confirmed dead.

- What else is important, besides all the shooting?

A: in Addition to the normal skills of a sniper, the mind always wins. "Little tactics" person wins the battle. To obtain a high frequency of murder, it is also important that the sniper was not used to carry other types of service, in addition to sniping.

B: Calmness, superiority, courage.

C: Patience and service life, excellent ability of observation.

- From whom were recruited the sniper?

A: Just born "soldiers-single", like hunters, poachers and so on.

B: I don't remember. I had 27 destroyed with my Russian rifle before I was admitted to sniper training.

C: Only soldiers with combat experience, with excellent shooting skills and two years of life were admitted to sniper training.

- Which courses were You a sniper?

A, B, C: the sniper course on Toepl Seetaleralpe.

C: I was there as a lecturer (instructor).

- Did you use Your binoculars and what gain?

A: It was a 6x30, but it was not enough for longer distances. Got 10x50 lateron and this was good.

B: the Binocular is as necessary as a Supplement to the optical sight on the rifle.

C: Each sniper had a pair of binoculars, and it was necessary. Up to 500m 6x30 was enough.

- Would you prefer out of the trench to observe through the periscope?

A: It was a good addition. We had one Russian.

B: No

C: If there are two or among the trophies, it was used.

- Whether there were scissor - telescopes in use?

A, C: Yes, sometimes we used it with the artillery observer.

B: No

- What kind of camouflage did You use?

A, B, C: Camouflage suits, painted face and hands, rifle camo in winter with blenket and colors.

B: I used a umbrella for two years. I painted it like the environment. In the beginning I was painting my hands and face very thoroughly, in the end less.

You used other things for the deception of the enemy?

A: Yes, for example rack and so on.

B: Yes, for example about the position with rifles that shoot with wired designs.

C: No

- You used some screen?

A, B, C: No

What do You think about tracer ammo?

A, B, C: should not be used in combat, because it is impossible to unmask their own position.

They were used in training and checking rifles. Also had a few of each sniper to check the distance.

You used the so-called sighting cartridges, which explode when hit the ground?

A, B, C: Yes, a little flame appears when they hit the target, so You can see if hit. We also used them to set fire to the wooden building to smoke an enemy of him. They were used at a distance of up to 600m.

- How did You work in a crosswind?

A: the Feeling and experience, sometimes check with tracer bullets. Training on Seetaleralpe was very good, because there very often there was a breeze.

B: the Feeling, if there was a strong wind, we didn't shoot.

C: We did not shoot, if the wind was.

- You remember the recommendations for firing at moving targets?

A, B, C: No, sense, experience, quick aiming and fast shooting.

- You used an anti-tank rifle?

A: Yes, disabling some of the gun crews through their screen. It was possible to shoot at targets up to 300m, because it was not accurate enough weapon. Very heavy and was not used by snipers. Not used it against light targets.

B, C: No

As You confirmed destroyed?

A, B, C: Either through an officer or two soldiers who watched the destruction.

So, the number of confirmed destroyed - much lower than the real number.


Sources used

  1. X. Hesketh-Pritchard: "Sniping in France" (SERVICE SORMEDIC FUSILIERS IN the WORLD WAR ON the WESTERN EUROPEAN FRONT). Translation from English under the editorship and with a Preface by E. N. SERGEEVA, 1925
  2. Oleg Ryazanov "the history of the sniper's art"
  3. A. Potapov, "the Art of the sniper", 2002


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