Sunday, April 20, 2014

Soviet pre-arranged form reports

The war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was the largest land campaign of WWII, with millions of troops fighting in the vast areas of Eastern Europe. In this conflict both sides used every weapon available to them, from various models of tanks and self propelled guns to fighter and bomber aircraft. However an aspect of the war that has not received a lot of attention from historians is the use of signals intelligence and codebreaking by the Germans and the Soviets.

Codebreaking and signals intelligence played a major role in the German war effort. The German Army had 3 signal intelligence regiments (KONA units) assigned to the three Army groups in the East (Army Group North, South and Centre). In addition from 1942 another one was added to monitor Partisan traffic. The Luftwaffe had similar units assigned to the 3 Air Fleets (Luftflotten) providing aerial support to the Army Groups. Both the Army and the Luftwaffe also established central cryptanalytic departments (Horchleitstelle Ost and LN Regt 353) for the Eastern front in East Prussia. During the war this effort paid off as the German codebreakers could solve Soviet low, mid and high level cryptosystems. They also intercepted the internal radio teletype network carrying economic and military traffic and used traffic analysis and direction finding in order to identify the Soviet order of battle.
An important source of information on the Soviet military was their pre-arranged form reports sent at regular intervals by all units to their higher headquarters. These messages used a pre-arranged format to communicate strength, serviceability and loss statistics. By reading these messages the Germans were able to monitor the strength, losses and reinforcements of Soviet formations.

Luftwaffe Chi Stelle effort
Several TICOM sources give information on the exploitation of these pre-arranged reports by the codebreakers of the Luftwaffe. According to IF-187 Seabourne Report, Vol. XII. ‘Technical Operations in the East, Luftwaffe SIS’ (available from site Ticom Archive) pages 5-8 the reports had information on the condition of Soviet airfields, stocks of planes, ammunition, rations and fuel.

TICOM report I-107 ‘Preliminary Interrogation Report on Obltn. Chlubek and Lt. Rasch, both of III/LN. RGT. 353’, p4 says that the pre-arranged reports were extremely valuable to the Luftwaffe.
Army’ s General der Nachrichten Aufklaerung effort
According to FMS P-038 'German Radio intelligence', p115-7 pre-arranged reports sent by Soviet Army units contained information on personnel strength, losses, number of vehicles, guns, ammunition gasoline supplies and similar statistical data.


By analyzing this information the Germans were not only able to monitor the strength and equipment situation of enemy units but also make deductions about overall Soviet strategy.

1 comment:

  1. If anyone was curious, ZI means manufacturer (zavod-izgotovitel, manufacturing plant)