The German Doctrine of Bewegungskrieg (Blitzkrieg)

By Christian Ankerstjerne

I hereby set forward the following guidelines as a working basis for the development of our motorized and mobile forces:

I. Tasks

A) The Tank Division

Must carry out the following tasks:

  1. At the beginning of the war, they are to assigned to areas the conquest of which are of operational importance for the outcome of the war. This is the prerequisite for them to continue to spearhead the army's most important operations, either independently or, if necessary, reinforced.
  2. Continue to fight as outlined in point 1.
  3. Expand and exploit the breakthroughs made by the infantry divisions in the enemy's defensive front.
  4. When part of the army reserve, to take participate in counter-attacks in large numbers.

B) The Other Motorized Forces

  1. The army tank brigades. The tank brigade is an army-level unit. They are to pave the way for the infantry divisions, or to be employed together with the motorized infantry division.
  2. In addition to the army tank brigades, some of the heaviest tank companies are to support the infantry's attack against fortifications.
  3. The motorized army reconnaissance battalion for operational reconnaissance, and possibly as combat support for tank divisions and motorized infantry divisions.
  4. The divisional reconnaissance battalion. Its task is to provide intelligence to support the divisional commander's dicision making, by condensing the information gathered from intercepted communication, aerial reconnaissance, and operational reconnaissance within its operational area. (Tactical reconnaissance).
  5. The corps-level mobile units. It is planned to assign a motorcycle infantry battalion to I. to XIII. and XVII. Armee-Korps. These are intended to be used as mobile corps units, for example capturing important points in advance of the marching soldiers, to strike at enemy lines in critical areas to allow intelligence gathering or to offer direct support for reconnaissance units, and as a mobile tactical reserve for the corps.
  6. In Eastern Prussia, 1. Kavallerie-Division is planned to function as a reconnaissance and combat unit specifically suited to the tasks specifically associated with the east.

C) The Motorized Infantry Division

The motorized infantry division is planned to function independantly, or when appropriate in association with tank divisions, as a highly mobile unit. They should be able to fight the enemy in the same way that infantry divisions are. They can also be used as quick reserves at critical areas.

D) The Army Transport Regiments

Their task is to make the infantry division independent of railroads by handling transportation and logistics. (No railroad dependency!)

II.

The following organizational considerations result from the items outlined in section I:

A) The Tank Division

A total of nine tank divisions are planned. In the spring of 1939, the four existing leichten Divisionen are to be converted to tank divisions. The final composition of the tank division is to be based on these specifications:

  1. High mobility, especially for the tanks.
  2. Great offensive strength.
  3. Maneuverability of the units and the unit commanders.
  4. Protection against enemy fire, especially for the tanks against the anti-tank weapons of the infantry (and to the greatest extent possible against 37 mm guns as well). The armored personnel carriers should be capable of withstanding rifle fire (and to the greatest extent possible also against rifle-caliber anti-tank rounds).
  5. Wide operational range for all the vehicles.
  6. Greatest possible readiness during peacetime.

The amount of infantry and artillery within the tank division must be based on the requirement of high mobility and high combat efficiency. One other possibility is try to to place the tank divisions at corps level, so that the corps has the supply duties for tank divisions in their areas.

B) The Other Motorized Forces

  1. The army tank brigades. The organization is to follow the that of the tank brigades of the tank divisions. Rather than maneuverability and action radius, however, emphasis is to be on firepower and armor (if possible against 47 mm anti-tank guns).
  2. When employed against fortifications, tank companies are to be equipped with the heaviest tanks available.
  3. The motorized army reconnaissance battalions. The organization is to allow the reconnaissance battalions to carry out their assignments and relay intelligence at long ranges. The goal is to simplify the organization to allow greater mobility for the battalion and its command. Furthermore, all vehicles are to have cross-country driving ability, and the towed anti-tank guns are to be replaced with self-propelled guns.
  4. The divisional reconnaissance battalion. During peacetime, it is available to the tank divisions, the motorized infantry divisions and the mountain divisions. The infantry divisions does not have these units during peacetime; instead, they are formed from the mounted battalion of the corps cavalry regiments. Their organization is to be designed to allow them to exclusive focus on their task of tactical reconnaissance within the area of their parent unit. The emphasis is on pure-bred, lean organization, full cross-country capability and thereby the greatest possible mobility.
  5. Mobile corps units. The II. (Bicycle) battalions of the corps cavalry regiments of the I. to XIII. and XVII. Armee-Korps are, beginning in the spring of 1939, to convert to motorcycle battalions.
  6. Kavallerie-Division Ostpreussen. 1. Kavallerie-Brigade is, beginning in the spring of 1939, to be enlarged to a cavalry division with four regiments. It is to be investigated whether this re-organization will improve its combat strength.

C) The Motorized Infantry Division

To improve mobility and flexibility of command, a final organization with six infantry battalions (instead of nine), along with the corresponding auxiliary weapons, is to be investigated.

D) The Army Transport Regiments

During peacetime, the equipment of the army transport regiments is to be kept in storage. The army transport regiment columns must be able to transport both personnel and vehicles, as well as towing artillery. It is required that all vehicles are commercial types, and that they have the greatest possible cross-country capability.

III.

The following items should be observed for the management and training of the personnel:

The armored forces must be a force that displays the greatest daring. It must be assured that they are developed into an elite group, with an aggressive spirit, impetus, internal and external dicipline, and dependability.

To achieve this, as well as the greatest possible readiness, or the tank divisions, a third (voluntary) service year should be considered for the personnel of the tank divisions.

Within the cavalry, an unconditional aggressive spirit, skill, and operational independence must be formed.

The officer corps of the cavalry, the motorized reconnaissance battalions and the infantry regiments of the tank divisions must be replaced.

IV.

During the development of the motorization of the army, the following requirements must be followed to the utmost:

  • Limitation in the number of different types of equipment,
  • Utilization of commercial vehicles types and parts,
  • Development of diesel engines; these must be modified to allow for use with columns over long distances,
  • Development of engines powered by coal dust,
  • Improvements of fuel logistics,
  • Simplification of the spare part procedure for all special-purpose vehicles,
  • Battlefield ammunition-, medical-, and tracked supply vehicles.

Signed, von Brauchitsch.

Sources

  1. von Brauchitsch. Arbeitsgrundlage für das planvolle Weiterentwickeln aller schnellen und beweglichen Truppen. Berlin : Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres, 1938. 4 p. AHA Ia B Nr. 4126/38 g.Kdos..