The German offensive started after the Schwerpunkt was identified and had four phases:

  • Break in phase
  • Break through phase
  • Break out phase
  • Pursuit phase


The break in phase had the following elements:

  • Preparatory artillery bombardment/bombing by the Luftwaffe
  • First wave of Panzers and Panzergrenadiere: they punched a hole in the enemy line, eliminated the enemy artillery positions and silenced enemy anti-tank guns


The breakthrough phase had the following elements:

  • A second wave of Panzers and Panzergrenadiere: they cleared pockets of resistance, maintained the breach, protected the flanks and communication lines
  • They cleared the way for the third wave of Panzers and Panzergrenadiere


The breakout phase with the following elements:

  • The third wave overpowered the enemy’s ‘C3I’ command structure – the brains - and what was left of the resistance
  • The resistance collapses because C3I capacity is destroyed, coordinated resistance is no longer possible
  • Panzer and Panzergrenadiere advanced deep into the enemy hinterland, leaving the infantry to deal with pockets of resistance that might remain behind the first waves of attack


The pursuit phase had the following elements:

  • This phase started the moment the enemy began to pull back in any numbers or simply retreated ‘en masse’
  • The regrouping of the enemy forces should be prevented by continuing to pursue them relentlessly
  • If possible the retreating enemy should be cut off by swift manoeuvres and by ever-deeper penetration into areas behind the front
  • The phase ended by encircling and mopping up of enemy forces (sometimes in very large numbers)


If all came together as was in the first years of the war you had Blitzkrieg with armoured colums that broke through the enemy line and penetrated deep in the enemy hinterland, leaving the enemy stunned behind. 


Read more about German tactics and the road to Blitzkrieg in my book 'The German Way of War. A lesson in tactical management' published by Pen & Sword.