|"Ortskampf mit Partisanen"|
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!