February 20, 2015

1943. Horrific Booby Traps Left Behind in Nazi Retreat

A "Cute" Nazi Idea That Didn't Work
Three Waffen-SS soldiers playing with a kitten next to an egg grenade. The two on the right are of the 20th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, 1st Estonian, and the one on the left is an SS-Lance Corporal (source)
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

April 2, 1943

The present fighting in Russia has settled into local battles for Soviet rivers. In the Caucasus, it is a bitter, wet struggle to clear the Kuban River. Three inhabited points in the lower Kuban valley were captured last night as the Red Army continues its relentless push toward the Kerch Strait.

Further north, in the Ukraine, the Germans are making sporadic attacks on crossings of the Donets River. The latest big German attack came the other day when the Nazis threw in one full tank division and an infantry regiment against the Soviet position on the right bank of the river. During the several hours of fighting that followed, the Nazis suffered such severe losses that they were forced to break off the engagement. Since that time, the attacks on this sector have not been so violent.

The other river fighting is occurring in the Smolensk region west of Moscow. On this sector it is the Russians who face natural water barriers. The terrain is cut by small but difficult streams. The Germans have fortified themselves on the western banks of these streams. The going here is extremely difficult.

The editorial of Pravda, commemorating the decoration of 157 men and women guerillas from the Ukraine, made an interesting comment on what the German command is preparing in this important area west of the Donets. Calling for increased partisan activity in cutting the network of Ukrainian highways and railroads, Pravda said:

"Germans at the present time are using these highways and railroads to regroup their troops and to bring in reserves, equipment, and ammunition. The task of the partisans is at present time to destroy this traffic . . ."

Right now, the big events in Russia are occurring behind, and not at, the front.

The Red Army the other day turned up something new in booby traps. They entered one recaptured village and found that every house had been mined. Sappers cleared all of the houses but one. (The local inhabitants told the Russian soldiers that, before they left, the Germans spent a lot of time in this particular house.)

(The area was cleared and) a Red Army lieutenant (started looking for the mine. He) sounded the walls, the floor, and even the ceiling of the house. Still he could not locate the hidden explosives.

He was just about to give up when he heard cats meowing in the stove. He opened up the door and one cat jumped out. The second cat just started to leave the stove when the lieutenant pushed it back inside.

On investigation, he found that the second cat had a string attached to one of its rear paws. The other end of the string was attached to the fuse in 25 pounds of high explosive.

It was another of those cute Nazi ideas that didn't work.