Saturday, 23 April 2011

Wochenbild #3

"Ortskampf mit Partisanen"
This week's photograph shows men of an unknown unit taking a pause from the "Ortskampf mit Partisanen" (Village fight with Partisans) - according to the note on the reverse.

The anti-Partisan war was a particularly savage and oft-forgotten aspect of the Ostfront.  To keep open the tenuous supply-lines, Germany was compelled to commit large forces to security duties.  These operations ranged from simple "policing" to all-out warfare against well-supplied paramilitaries.

To protect them from the cold the soldiers wear a variety of greatcoats - all of which proved entirely inadequate to deal with the severe Russian winters.  The man second from the left wears an especially long coat which may be either a special "sentry duty" pattern or alternatively a "liberated" item.

What makes this photo particularly interesting is the ersatz winter camouflage.  The soldiers sport bedsheets or (night)shirts worn over over the greatcoat in an attempt to break up their otherwise dark silhouettes.  Such measures were widespread during winter 1941/42 when troops had to improvise locally due to the High Command's failure to make provision for the Eastern conditions.

From his lack of winter kit, I assume the NCO in the centre of the picture has dashed out to get his photo taken before returning back to his billet!


  1. Ortskampf...a better literal translation would be "urban fighting /urban warfare the actual one being fighting in a built up area.
    This type of warfare was the one thing that really slowed and eventually stopped the germans. As you´ve written a lot of resources had to be put into keeping the ever lengthening supply lines open which sapped the front line...that and the weather.

  2. Absolutely correct PB - I had "Urban Warfare" in my original translation (posted this AM) but took the liberty of tweaking this to "village" as the setting was not really urban!

    Thanks for the comments.