A document from a dead unteroffizier, dated September 25th, 1941, captured in the region of Kiskino 4 days later, states:
"Order to the 489th infantry regiment, 269th division.
It has been found once again that, during offensives and defenses, infantry and machine gunners would not open fire at the enemy, in fear of being located by enemy artillery located nearby.
I must state that this behaviour is unacceptable, fake, and incompatible with the fighting spirit of a German soldier. This indicates a lack of bravery, cowardice, and poor morale.
A soldier that behaves this way stops being a warrior, feels inadequate, and demonstrates to the enemy that he is already beaten.
We must show the Russians the opposite, that we have absolute moral superiority. We cannot, especially now, at our goal, at the gates of Leningrad, feel weak. Our unit must fight with doubled efforts and self-sacrifice. We owe this to our wounded and dead comrades.
I demand that all soldiers, especially new reserves, must focus all of their will and skill, in order to complete the task we have been given in time.
I order to open fire at any Russian from 600 meters. The Russian must know that they have a focused enemy, from which he can expect no mercy. Only then will the enemy keep a respectful distance, and will not be in a condition to counterattack.
Artillery and grenadiers are only helpers, in an offensive or defensive operation, the most important and decisive factor is the infantryman, and this can only happen when every soldier shoots as long as possible.
Anyone found to hold their fire due to fear or indifference will be tried by a court-martial. We are in a battle where the question of "to be or not to be" is decided. Each one of you must know this, and express it in your relation to the enemy. Our slogan is the destruction of the enemy by all means, and this means shoot, and shoot more, it cannot be otherwise."
That regiment is not the only one having trouble with new recruits. The 40th Tank Corps had similar problems. CAMD RF 500-12462-135, dated February 18th, 1942, tells it in detail:
"In addition to the above document, the division reports: out of 1092 privates:
- 25 did not undergo basic training.
- 87 did not undergo line training, do not know how to throw grenades, did not undergo entrenchment training.
- 284 are only good for work battalions, and also did not finish basic training.
- 82 did not undergo line training.
- 132 cannot throw grenades.
- 36 did not finish entrenchment training.
- Heart, lungs, asthma: 71
- Flat feet: 95
- Internal illnesses: 58
- Other illnesses: 4
- When the first shots were fired, the recruits buried themselves in the snow and were useless for battle. When the officers tried to encourage them, they pretended to be dead. When the Russians brought in tanks, they got up and ran away.
- In another battle, recruits, upon hearing the first shots, hid behind cover and started firing their rifles in the air uselessly.
- Artillery: needs reinforcements, but untrained soldiers are a burden to the units.
- Self-propelled battalion: poor terrain training, poor technical training.
- Sapper battalion: frequently receives infantry with no sapper training. Basic infantry training is not enough.
- AT battalion: good quality, many volunteers, but are entirely untrained in the use of the 5 cm gun.
- Communication battalion: poorer training compared to old radio and telephone operators."
Those problems did not improve by 1944. CAMD RF 233-2309-162, states: "Since the beginning of the operation, a very large amount (hundreds of thousands) of anti-tank grenades "Faust" (large and small) and "Ofenrohr" was discovered. Their application is negligible, barely 3% of all knocked out tanks fell to them. This is explained by the weak morale of the German infantry, shocked by our rapid advances. They run when our tanks are within 200-300 meters (the range of "Faust" is 40-50 meters)."