Infanterie Greift An
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Infanterie greift an (known in English as Infantry Attacks) is a classic book on military tactics written by Erwin Rommel about his experiences in World War I. Rommel describes his Stoßtruppen (shock troops) tactics, which used speed, deception, and deep penetration into enemy territory to surprise and overwhelm. Throughout the book, Rommel reports assigning small numbers of men to approach enemy lines from the direction in which attack was expected. The men would yell, throw hand grenades and otherwise simulate the anticipated attack from concealment, while attack squads and larger bodies of men sneaked to the flanks and rears of the defenders to take them by surprise. These tactics often intimidated enemies into surrendering, thus avoiding unnecessary exertion, expenditure of ammunition, and risk of injury.
Infanterie greift an was first published in 1937 and helped to persuade Adolf Hitler to give Rommel high command in World War II, although he was not from an old military family or the Prussian aristocracy, which had traditionally dominated the German officer corps. Infanterie greift an was printed in Germany until 1945. By then, about 500,000 copies had been published. In 1943, an abridged version titled, more simply, ATTACKS! was released by the US military for officers' tactical study.
Rommel's book, written as a day-to-day journal of his World War I exploits, was used throughout the West as a resource for infantry tactical movements. General George S. Patton was among the many influential military leaders reported to have read Infantry Attacks.
Rommel planned to write a successor called Panzer Greift An (in English: Tank attacks) about tank warfare, and gathered much material during the North Africa Campaign. However, he was forced to commit suicide before completing this work.
References in popular culture
In the 1970 film Patton, when it's clear to U.S. Lieutenant General George S. Patton that he's defeating forces he believes are commanded by German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel during a tank battle, Patton says to himself, "Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book!" However, in a previous scene in the film, Patton is wakened from sleep by his aides with news that an intercepted German radio message reveals that Rommel will attack Patton near El Guettar, Tunisia. Before Patton is wakened, the camera focuses on a book on Patton's nightstand—which, based on the book's open-faced, pages-down placement, appears to only have been read approximately forty percent of the way through—entitled The Tank in Attack, a book which Rommel had planned to write but never completed. So, it's clear that the unwritten book, The Tank in Attack, is what the line of dialogue later in the film is referring to, and not Infanterie Greift An/Infantry Attacks.
The first English translation was published in 1944 by The Infantry Journal in the United States. The translator was Lieutenant Colonel Gustave E. Kidde without permission from Rommel, according to the foreword to the 1995 edition published by Stackpole Books.
- Patton, G. S. : War As I Knew It, page 166. Mariner Books, 1995.
- "[Infanterie greift an.] Infantry Attacks Translated by G. E. Kiddé". OCLC Worldcat. Retrieved 18 October 2015.