Principles of the German Army
following was taken from the April 1944 issue of The
Intelligence Bulletin. This publication was
issued by the U.S. War Department to military
personnel with the intention of providing helpful
information concerning the enemy.
The following extracts
from a German Army field manual on military education
and training afford insight into the German military
mind and character. The principles contained in
this manual play an important part in the development
of the German soldier. Parts of the manual,
together with a document entitled "An
Introduction to Military Leadership," were
recently combined into a single booklet by the
commanding officer of the 3rd Panzer Grenadier
Division, who ordered that it be distributed to all
the officers of his command. The training
principles which follow should serve to give a much
clearer understanding of the German soldier's military
Organization of Training
a. Aside from experience
gained in previous wars, training programs in the
German Army are determined only by the requirements of
this present war. Theoretical peacetime
experiences are always misleading.
b. The goal of
training is absolute knowledge of essential subject
matter. The result of such training should be
the ability of the student to apply, on his own
initiative, the knowledge he has been taught.
Instruction does not cease
when a number of manual skills have been drilled to
mechanical perfection, but finds its end in
stimulating a true understanding of the nature and
purpose of the subject learned.
c. Every commander is
responsible for training the unit entrusted to him,
but the company commander's responsibility is the
greatest of all. His work creates the basis for
the preparedness and striking power of the German
Army. It is the duty of all superior officers to
support him in his difficult task without limiting his
field of action.
organization of training is necessary for an efficient
exploitation of the short time allotted. Every
hour is precious.
Training always advances from
easy to difficult tasks, from work of the individual
soldier to the combined effort of units.
In the training of individual
men, squads, and small units, an understanding of the
cooperation of all arms must be created and fostered
as early as possible.
e. The basic and
advance training of commissioned and noncommissioned
officers must run parallel to individual and group
Process of Training
a. It is more essential
that a German soldier be thorough than that he be
versatile. Commanders and subordinates alike
must remember that exactness in the performance of all
duties is a most important requirement.
Monotony, however, is harmful.
b. The basis for all
training with weapons is physical hardening. It
is provided by gymnastics, which steel the body,
promote agility and endurance, increase speed of
coordination, and make a soldier adaptable to sudden
changes in the course of events.
c. Drill accustoms the
individual to formations which are indispensable to
the proper appearance of an outfit. It teaches
orderliness and military bearing, and, if used
correctly, increases the self-confidence of the
troops. Nevertheless, drill should take up only
a limited amount of time.
d. Weapons training
conveys to the soldier the knowledge and skill that he
requires to put his weapons and equipment to the most
e. Combat training is
the most important phase of the whole training
program. It should mold the soldier into a
determined fighter capable of acting with initiative
in behalf of his unit. The purpose of combat
exercises is to give the soldier a lasting impression
of the proper movements on a battlefield, and the
correct use of his weapons in combat.
f. Subjects to be
taught and applied in practical exercises must first
be prepared and impressed on the minds of the students
in the classroom. An instructor must be
thoroughly familiar with his subject before he
attempts to teach it.
g. In unit training it
must always be kept in mind that our paramount aim is
to force our will upon the enemy.
Special training is required
for flexibility of command, mobility and speed of
units, surprise and deception, exploitation of
darkness or terrain features, and skillful camouflage.
h. Although troops
must at all times understand the principle of
coordination of all arms, the training schedule
embodying the actual practice of this principle should
develop progressively, beginning with the training of
the smallest units and ending with the training of the
Careful preparations for each
problem must be made. An exact understanding of
its purpose and a careful application of past
experiences are more valuable than too frequent and
too long-drawn-out problems.
i. In unit maneuvers
the success of the problems depends largely on the
simplicity of the situation. The clarity of the
combat orders, and the maximum approximation of actual
j. Carefully planned
and prudent organization of a unit's noncommissioned
officers and careful training and education of these
men, decisively influences the unit's appearance and
performance. One of the main duties of the
company commander is the constant improvement of his
k. The aim of
noncommissioned officer training is the development of
independent, efficient leaders for small units, and of
men who will prove good, self-reliant trainers in
their own right.
The development of leadership
qualities, intensification of general and special
knowledge, and supervision of instruction are of the
utmost importance. The self-assurance of
noncommissioned officers and their conduct as leaders
will be greatly improved if they are called out in
front of their units and entrusted with missions which
entail responsibility. The granting of enough
freedom of action for the execution of such missions
aids in preserving, in the long run, a soldier's alert
and cheerful view of his responsibility to the
Although an officer's
training as a leader, educator, and trainer is in the
hands of his commander, every officer must work
continuously on his own development.
An officer's career can be a
success only if he succeeds in stimulating in others
his keen and cheerful conception of duty, and if he
continuously succeeds in enlisting cooperation.
The only really successful
type of training is that which is not content with
mere criticism, but which conveys practical knowledge
by means of explicit instruction and concrete
m. The training of
officer replacements is one of the most exacting, and
at the same time one of the most rewarding duties of
the commanders responsible for them.
The course of training
through which an officer candidate must pass, and the
impressions which will remain in his mind, determine
his entire career. Only those who know from
their own experiences what the life and service of the
enlisted man is like, and who themselves have learned
to obey, can become acceptable commanders.
n. Almost all further
training of the younger officer takes place while he
is actually serving with his unit. Under the
supervision of his company or battery commander, he
must perfect himself in his handling of formations in
his ability to treat his subordinates appropriately
and in his efficiency in carrying out his regular
o. In his future
training, careful preparation for service with higher
echelons and with special branches of the service is
added to the ever-continuing process of training that
Tactical problems, planning
exercises, and other work which permits originality
will greatly enlarge his talent for leadership and his
understanding of logistics.
The longer he serves in the
German Army, the better qualified he should be to
evaluate character, and the more widely he should
expand his military and general education.
p. The actual quality
of a unit is determined by the over-all picture of its
state of training. It is more important for all
soldiers in one line of training to receive an equal
and well balanced amount than for a few individuals to
perform certain record achievements.