Help with German

Need help with translating WW1, Inter-War or WW2 related documents or information?
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Jeff Leach
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Help with German

Postby Jeff Leach » 15 Jul 2017 09:18

came across the following paragraph, which is from a combat report from the 4th July 1941

16:00 Eintreffen der Spitze der Marschgruppe IR401 an Wegegabel südlich Ciulacu-Vechi. Sofortiges Eindrehen gegen Höhe 166. auf der sich starker Feind teilweise in geschlossenen Formationen befand (mindestans Btl.Stärke).

does someone know exactly what is meant by 'geschlossenen Formationen'? It translate as 'Close formation' or 'cohesive formation'. Were part of the enemy forces 'bunched up' or where they organized in a certain manner?

Reading further there was Another passage that was difficult to understand

Der Russekämpfte hartnäckig und hinterlistig, in einem Falle besonders grausam, aus unübersichtlichen Kornfeldern, aus Hecken Bäumen oft die eigenen angreifenden Truppen in Rücken beschiessen liegen gebliebene verwundete deutsche Soldaten totschlegend.

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Hohlladung
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Re: Help with German

Postby Hohlladung » 15 Jul 2017 13:50

Hi Jeff,

"closed formation" is ok for me. I would translate it as " in complete formation" meaning the opposite of deployed formation.

For the other passage, my proposal is:

The Russian fights stubborn and malicious, in one particular case cruel, from blind sighted corn fields, often hedges, trees, firing the own attacking forces into the back, slaining to death left behind wounded German soldiers.

Best Regards
"Ihr verfluchten Racker, wollt ihr denn ewig leben?" Friedrich, II. in der Schlacht von Kolin am 18.Juni 1757 zu seinen zurückgehenden Grenadieren.

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Jeff Leach
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Re: Help with German

Postby Jeff Leach » 16 Jul 2017 11:17

Thanks for the help.

Given your information:

geschlossenen Formationen - they mean the Soviet troops were 'bunched-up'. They were close together, making them an inviting target. This is a sign that the Soviet troops were poorly trained or inexperienced.

Der Russekämpfte hartnäckig und hinterlistig, in einem Falle besonders grausam, aus unübersichtlichen Kornfeldern, aus Hecken Bäumen oft die eigenen angreifenden Truppen in Rücken beschiessen liegen gebliebene verwundete deutsche Soldaten totschlegend.

I feel that unübersichtlichen Kornfeldern means 'unharvested cornfield' and that aus unübersichtlichen Kornfeldern, aus Hecken Bäumen is simply translated as 'from cover'. I settled on the translation,

The Soviets fight stubbornly and underhandedly. One case was especially barbaric, when Soviet soldiers fired from cover on wounded German soldiers. They were so eager to kill the wounded German soldiers that they even managed to shoot some of their own attacking soldiers in the back.

which should be about the same meaning. It is really a reference to the poor fire disipline of the Soviet troops, being an avoidable case of friendly fire.

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jpz4
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Re: Help with German

Postby jpz4 » 17 Jul 2017 12:46

I'm afraid I'm not so sure your interpreations are correct Jeff.

Personally I would not consider 'geschlossenen Formationen' (plural) to mean 'bunched up'. The term is used quite often in German records and is basically the opposite of units being split up and spread out. Considering the context I would interpret it as complete units being committed (in their entirety) to stage a determined, well organized defence. This interpretation is supported by the 'strong enemy'.
The sentence is used to describe a strong enemy holding the hill. It is not negative towards the enemy in any way.

The second sentence is poorly written. I think in this case 'eigene Truppen' refers to German troops being attacked from the rear. The text is written from the German perspective.
'unübersichtlich' is difficult to translate into English. It essentially means not having an clear overview. In this case the terrain does not allow it to easily spot where the enemy is located, hiding, moving, etc. (It is also frequently used to describe the Normandy bocage)
Here entire sentence is intended to describe the dirty way the Soviets fight against German troops: using the terrain to attack German troops from the rear and killing wounded soldiers who had stayed behind.

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Re: Help with German

Postby history1 » 17 Jul 2017 13:52

Jeff Leach wrote:[...]
Der Russekämpfte hartnäckig und hinterlistig, in einem Falle besonders grausam, aus unübersichtlichen Kornfeldern, aus Hecken Bäumen oft die eigenen angreifenden Truppen in Rücken beschiessen liegen gebliebene verwundete deutsche Soldaten totschlegend.


Der Russe kämpfte hartnäckig und hinterlistig, in einem Falle besonders grausam: aus unübersichtlichen Kornfeldern, aus Hecken, Bäumen, oft die eigenen angreifenden Truppen im Rücken beschiessend, liegen gebliebene verwundete deutsche Soldaten totschlagend

I wouldn´t translate "in einem Falle besonders grausam" with "in one particular case cruel " because the listing shows that it´s about the whole assault/ambush technique the Russians used and not a single case.

I also agree with jpz4 reg. your claim "geschlossenen Formationen - they mean the Soviet troops were 'bunched-up'". March columns are also closed formations and no one would call them bunched - up.
Last edited by history1 on 17 Jul 2017 14:12, edited 1 time in total.

history1
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Re: Help with German

Postby history1 » 17 Jul 2017 14:10

"They were so eager to kill the wounded German soldiers that they even managed to shoot some of their own attacking soldiers in the back."

Incorrect conclusion. The text reads "tot schlagen the German wounded soldiers = beat to death the wounded German soldiers.
The complain from the German writer was about using grop fields, hedges and trees as cover and the firing through the own rows of attacking Russian soldiers even hitting them.
I added some punctation and corrected spelling errors (in my last post) in your quotes to make the text better readable und understandable.
It is really a reference to the poor fire disipline of the Soviet troops, being an avoidable case of friendly fire

It´s not about poor fire discipline of the Russians which caused loss in their own rows but, IMHO, the forced attack of the Russians often threatened by their own officers and politruks and even killed when not willed to attack. Such cases are documented and were well known by the Germans. The "Russians" didn´t hesitate to shot their own soldiers when if was for a greater/bigger goal.
The latter we can also find in nowadays warfare by calling in deadly air strikes on the own position by surrounded troops and no chance to survive. Just that this is a volunteered death then contrary to the Russian soldiers.

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Jeff Leach
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Re: Help with German

Postby Jeff Leach » 17 Jul 2017 16:07

Many thanks for the help. Reading through the thread, hopefully I now have the correct interpretations.

geschlossenen Formationen = cohesive formation (organized for the mission they were given)

Der Russe kämpfte hartnäckig und hinterlistig, in einem Falle besonders grausam: aus unübersichtlichen Kornfeldern, aus Hecken, Bäumen, oft die eigenen angreifenden Truppen im Rücken beschiessend, liegen gebliebene verwundete deutsche Soldaten totschlagend

This is more difficult but I would like to write (not a direct translation but covers the points brought up in the German)

The Soviets fight stubbornly and underhandedly. They often hide in cover and fire on attacking German troops from the rear. Particularly cruel, is that they sometimes beat wounded German soldiers to death.

Note

1) Soviet troops hiding and then shooting the German attackers in the back - was a standard tactic. I have seen it mentioned in the divisional records of every German division I have looked at so far.

2) This is the second or third mention of the Soviet habit of beating wounded German soldiers to death.

history1
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Re: Help with German

Postby history1 » 18 Jul 2017 09:25

"Der Russe kämpfte hartnäckig und hinterlistig, in einem Falle besonders grausam: aus unübersichtlichen Kornfeldern, aus Hecken, Bäumen, oft die eigenen angreifenden Truppen im Rücken beschiessend, liegen gebliebene verwundete deutsche Soldaten totschlagend"

I would rather go with:
" The Soviets fought tenacious and perfidiously, a kind/sort of ferocious fight: From unclear grop fields, hedges, trees; often strafing his/their own rows of attacking soldiers, beat to death wounded German soldiers left on the battle field."

In this case it´s not about the standard tactic of an ambush on German troops, it´s about the firing through/in the back of the Russian lines by Russian soldiers towards the Germans what the author calls gruel/ferocious. That´s not part of any tactics contrary to the ambush which is tought in every army. Jm2c


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