While the British, French, and later the Americans sought to solve the mystery of the penetration, the Germans gradually perfected their defenses against such a penetration. This evolution of German defensive doctrine was by no means rapid or easy, but the result was a system of flexible defense-in-depth that not only hindered attack but developed the capabilities of the German infantry.Это Хаус, известный нам больше как соавтор Гланца по Курску и Битве Титанов, но также имеющий и свои монографии. Немецкие штурмовые группы распиарены достаточно сильно, а вот об успехах немцев в тактике обороны мне было известно мало.
At the beginning of the war, senior commanders on both sides emphasized a rigid defense of forward trenches. As the cost of taking ground increased, it seemed treasonous to surrender voluntarily even one foot of precious soil to an enemy attack. Moreover, many commanders believed that creating defenses-in-depth and allowing units to withdraw under pressure would encourage cowardice, as troops expecting a retreat would defend their positions only half-heartedly. Only gradually did German leaders realize that massing their forces in the forward trenches was suicidal; the artillery bombardment before a French or British attack eliminated many of the defenders in those trenches, increasing the possibility of enemy penetration. This was most obvious at the battle of Neuve Chapelle, when the single line of German trenches disappeared under the weight of a British bombardment, leaving nothing but a string of concrete pillboxes behind the lines to block the British advance until reinforcements arrived.
Beginning with the shook of Neuve Chapelle, Germany gradually evolved a system that by 1917 included up to five successive defensive lines, one behind the other, in critical sectors. The first two or three lines were sited on reverse slopes wherever the terrain permitted. This not only complicated the task of adjusting enemy fire on those trenches, but meant that the attacking British and French infantry were out of sight and therefore out of communication with their own forces when they reached the German defenses. At the same time, if a German trench on a reverse slope were captured, it would be fully exposed to fire and counterattack from the German rear positions. The rearward trenches were beyond the range of enemy light and medium artillery, making them more difficult to reduce.
Quite apart from the choice of terrain, the German defensive system emphasized three principles: flexibility, decentralized control, and counterattack. In terms of flexibility, the forward German trenches most exposed to bombardment contained few troops, with perhaps one battalion out of every four in the first two trenches. By contrast, the French put two-thirds of every regiment in these forward lines, with orders to hold at all costs. By 1916, the Germans had gone even further and had decided that trench lines were useful shelters only during quiet periods. Once a bombardment began, the rearward German troops moved into deep bunkers, while the forward outposts moved out of the trenches, taking cover in nearby shellholes. The British and French artillery bombarded the deserted trenches until their barrage passed and their infantry began to advance. At that point the Germans would come out of the shelters and open fire from the shellholes or from the remains of the trenches.
The second aspect of the German system was decentralized control. Squad and platoon leaders had considerable independence and might defend or delay anywhere forward of the third, or main, defense line. The forward or "Front Battalion Commander" frequently directed the entire defense of a regimental sector. In the mature system of 1917-18, this battalion commander,had the authority to commit the remaining two or three battalions of his regiment in a counterattack at the moment he judged most appropriate. This only exaggerated the difference in decision cycles: while the British and French attackers had to seek orders and reinforcements from their corps or army commander located miles to the rear, the defending German battalion commander could direct a regimental counterattack on the spot.
This, in fact, pertains to the third element of the German defensive tactics: counterattacks at every echelon to retake lost ground before the attacker could consolidate. In those areas that seemed most vulnerable to attack, a second-echelon division was located behind every one or two front divisions, ready to counterattack if needed. Whenever a major offensive began, the German defenders sought to contain the flanks of the penetration by blocking positions; counterattacks would then eliminate the resulting salient.
Such tactics did not evolve overnight. Many German commanders bitterly opposed the flexibility and decentralized control of the elastic defense. For example, at Passchendaele in July-August 1917, the local commander ordered all outposts to hold in place while awaiting the counterattack. The result was disaster, with many outposts being out off. There is some evidence that the British incorrectly decided that this costly experiment was the real key to German defenses, leading to the rigid forward British defense that collapsed in March 1918.
The combination of flexibility, decentralized control, and counterattack at every echelon made the German defensive system almost invincible until attrition and demoralization gave the Allies an overwhelming numerical superiority.
The Allies, by contrast, received fewer attacks from the Germans and therefore took longer to arrive at the same conclusions. A French directive of 8 July 1915 did require commanders to hold the majority of their troops In the rear for counterattack, but this order was frequently ignored. Not until the five German offensives of 1918 did French field commanders learn to array their forces in depth and accept the loss of lightly defended forward positions.
Я глянул Полевой Устав РККА 1939 г, там полная противоположность немецкому опыту: нельзя отходить без приказа комдива, передний край на переднем скате высоты, и пр в том же духе. В общем, опыт окопной войны ПМВ прошел мимо нас.
Не удивительно так же, что слабейшим местом у РККА в ВОВ был прорыв подготовленной обороны немцев. Вот когда противник растянут, тогда пожалуйста, загоняем армаду танков и пехоты. А продолбить--тяжело получалось. Буксовали весь 1942й в Марсе, бесконечных Синявинских наступлениях под Ленинградом, и--против немцев-- под Сталинградом; буксовали в 1943м в Искре; буксовали в 1944м в Словакии; буксовали даже в 1945м в Курляндии и той же Словакии (да, там было еще одно наше наступление, начатое 30 янв, и тоже ничего не добились).