As a Sniper, these soldiers use specially equipped rifles by the targeted killing of enemy individuals as their military mission. Their constant mission is to fight enemy snipers. The target to be tackled is usually 300 to 600 m away, in special cases greater ranges. The snipers of the police are mostly called precision shooters.
The sniper works alone or together with an observer. He needs to know exactly what is going on around him, the glow of a cigarette or the flash of a metallic object from the reflection of a ray of sunshine could cost him his life a few hundred yards away from an enemy sniper. It takes a lot of training, perseverance and good nerves to stay in place even if the enemy troops are so close that you can smell them.
The lack of appreciation of the special task makes many of them good at what they which is why the soldier must have a strong and self-confident character. The regular troops often find the ambush attack unfair. Even the fear of enemy snipers sometimes increases the general discomfort even against their own sniper.
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Second World War
The German snipers were among the best in the world. Every firing as with the German fighter pilots had to be confirmed by witnesses. Many actual kills were therefore not scored. In comparison, for example, Soviet snipers independently set their kill rate without confirmation or retesting, with the number often being increased many times for propaganda reasons.
The sniper’s effect was recognized on the German side only in 1942, and the first official service provision of the Wehrmacht was from May 1943. Even with the service provision, the sniper actually did not exist until late in the Russian campaign and in the withdrawal battles on the Eastern Front meant that German troops knew how important and decisive a sniper could be. With the introduction of the sniper badge in 1944, the performance of the lone fighters was fully appreciated.
German snipers preferred the Mauser K98k with a 2- to 6-fold rifle scope of Zeiss and the Gewehr 43 of Walther This was also popular with Brandenburg and SS-Hunting Associations
After the Invasion or D-Day
After the Allies had captured and secured the beaches of Normandy in June 1944, they had to break out of their own bridgehead. The dense hedges of the country served as a perfect hiding place for the German snipers, so they could prove what they had learned in Stalingrad. The Allies had entered a snake pit, surrounded by snipers. The American troops were surprised that the Germans could come so close without being discovered and captured. In addition, the inexperienced American troops made the tactical mistake of throwing themselves at sniper raids on the ground and waiting for the fire to stop, which made it easier for the German snipers to shoot them down one by one.
The British troops were surprised that the German snipers could hit their targets over long distances even if these targets were behind hedges. Their snipers, on the other hand, tried to approach the German lines at night. In the dark, it was often possible to be guided by the scent of cologne, which many German officers use. The Germans reacted by preventing a sneaking in with mines on the hedges.
The German snipers spread fear and terror behind the lines of the Allies like the Finns in the winter war years before. Some British officers disguised themselves as simple soldiers to escape the sniper fire. They carried rifles instead of pistols and hid their maps and binoculars plus their badges of rank. However, they were not recognized by their own troops, especially as reinforcements arrived every day.
As long as the German line held, the snipers braked the advance of the Allies immensely. However, when the Allies had broken out of their bridgehead in Normandy and advanced faster, the snipers were difficult to use.
In September 1944, as the Allied front slowly approached the Rhine, the snipers regained their importance. The supply line of the Allies extended over 400 km along the coast of Normandy. Columns of trucks carrying fuel and ammunition had to pass through dangerous areas They were interspersed with German snipers and were called Indian country by American truck drivers.
In August 1944, the Wehrmacht introduced a special badge for snipers, which should serve as an incentive on the Western Front. There were three levels. Kills before the creation or entry into force on 1 September were not counted.
Most Successful German Precision Shooters
- Matthäus Hetzenauer, 1924-2004, 345 confirmed kills on the Eastern Front 1943-45.
- Sepp Allerberger, 1924-2010, 257 confirmed kills on the Eastern Front 1942-45.
- Bruno Sutkus, 1924-2003, 209 confirmed kills, on the Eastern Front 1944-45.
- Friedrich Pein, 1915-1975, 200+ confirmed kills, on the Eastern Front 1943-45.
- Gefreiter Meyer – 180 confirmed kills.
- Oleh Dir – 120 confirmed kills.
- Helmut Wirnsberger – 64 confirmed kills on the Eastern Front 1942-45.
There were snipers who used camouflage names and legends names, which is why it is impossible to acknowledge them today. These phantom shooters include Erwin König with 400+ kills and Heinz Thorvald with 300+ kills who for sure existed but no credit can be given to the real person.
For example, the High Command of the Wehrmacht gave the task of liquidating the Soviet marksman Vasili Zaitzev in Stalingrad to Major Erwin King. This was portrayed in the feature film Enemy at the Gates filmed in 2001, in which Ed Harris played the Major King. In the memoirs of the Russian General Vasily Chuikov on the Defense of Stalingrad is a report about the duels of the Soviet and German snipers. Chuikov describes that on the German side, the chief instructor of the snipers being a major was killed.