Achtung Minen or "A mine is a terrible thing to waste" by John T. Beyers
Explosives in use by the Whermacht were of four principal types:
Anti-Vehicle mines- The German armed forces used more than forty different types of anti-Vehicle mines (Minen) during the war, but certain types predominated. Most common was the series of mines known as the Tellermines (Tellerminen). These differed in detail but the general pattern remained relatively the same throughout the war. A flat cylindrical mine composed of metal with a spring lid, designed to explode when enough pressure was placed on the trigger from above. The charge was normally cast TNT or Amatol, and certain marks (models of the mines)linked with a "bridging bar" to increase their effectiveness. These mines, iniatally composed of zinc and then later steel, could be laid two - four inches underground at not less than seven feet apart (to avoid sympathetic detonation) or above ground at 13 to 14 foot intervals. They were effective (perhaps the best anti armor/ vehicle mine of the war) but being made of steel were highly susceptible to mine detectors. Two examples of these mines were the Teller 35 and 42.
Non ferrous- To make location more difficult, and to conserve metals, the German Armed forces from 1943 on developed a multitude of non ferrous mine housings, also relying on pressure detetination and using the explosive Amatol as the primary charge. The first ones were field improvised by Engineers "Pioneres" using wooden boxes. Eventually purposelly built wood cases were developed for the Holzminen (Wooden mines) and Riegelminen (bar-mines) series. These mines became very effective once the problems of water proofing was overcome, this made these mines extremely difficult to detect, even at close range. German Engineers would often sink these mines as deep as four feet underground, a wooden probe was then inserted up to ground level to act as an actuating device. A bakelite- like plastic mushroom shaped, the Topfminen, was developed and put to use later in the war.
Anti - Personnel Mines- The Germans early on developed a very effective series of anti - personnel mines that were heartily loathed by the allies. These, known as the S - Minen or Schutzenminen (Schu - Minen), worked on the principle of the shrapnel burst and could be fired in multiple ways. Commonly these were by pressure, a pull on a trip wire or an electrical charge. They were encased in metal at first (S - Minen 35) and later in wooden or glass cases (S - minen 42) and (Glassminen 43) or concrete cylinders (Stockminen 43). All except the latter , which was sited above ground , could be exposed or buried. A particulary nasty variant used in small quantities (affectionatley called the "Bouncing Betty" by the Americans.) but with devastating morale effect was designed to shoot upwards and then explode spraying shrapnel over a larger area.
Booby Trapping Minen- Pioneres were especially ingenious at booby trapping their own mines. A common tactic was to bury a mine directly below another, the result was an explosion when the upper mine was being defused.
German mine laying tactics varied throughout the war and depending on the battlefield conditions. It was not uncommon for the Engineers to lay belts 200- 1500 meters deep ( or deeper) employng an assortment of anti personnel and anti - Vehicle mines of all types. Some of these would be remote detonated, some set in tandem to explode when one was triggered. The mix of Anti - Personnel and Anti - Tank mines a tactic adopted by the quick to learn allies, resulted in casualties among the infantry and engineers sweeping ahead of the main assault. Furthermore German Artillary would often sight it's weapons on particular areas of the Mine field where deeply buried or shallow mines were laid. The resulting ordinance explosion combined with the mine field was an effective strategy. Other than the Russians the German armed forces employed more mines than the allied forces, a result of the changing fortunes of war.