Wehrmachtbericht
(Armed Forces Report)
Book Reviews (2013)
This section list the books that I have read along with a short synopsis of the book from my perspective. The date that is located above the book title is the date on which I finished reading the book.


The Leibstandarte Volume IV/1

1/27/2013

Continuing on with this magnificent divisional history of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Division is Volume IV/1.  Written this time around by Sturmbannfuhrer Ralf Tiemann, it continues where Volume III left off.   The book starts off with a detailed description of the LAH and the counterattacks that it launched in the Ukraine in November/December of 1943.  One really gets the feel for what it was like with the division committed peice-meal (as the units detrained, they were thrown right into the fighting).  Needless to say, this took the hitting power out of the division, as it took a week or more for it to coalesce into a cohesive unit again, at which time it counterattacked with other Panzer Divisions of the Heer and wrought some pretty good destruction on the Russians, attacking into their flank.  The book continues by describing the divisions transfer and actions to help the XI. and the XXXXII. Armee Korps get out of the Tscherkassy encirclement.  It was highly enlightening to see how far the divisions armor strength had sunk by the time of the Tsherkassy battles.  The LAH was already only a shadow of its former self.  The book ends the description of the divisions eastern front comat in this volume with a discussion of the divisions actions in Galacia, and their escape from the wandering "Hube's Pocket".  One thing that really stands out in day-by-day analysis within the book up to this point, was just how weak the division was most of the time.  They quite frequently were fighting with battalions numbering less than a 100 men.  Sometimes even entire regiments numbering less than a 100 men! 

The book continues with the description of the units transfer from the eastern front to the western front (Flanders).  The book then goes into a detailed (day-by-day) description of the divisions actions in Normandy.  Lots of first person accounts are sprinkled in with the detailed War Diary reports.  This is arguably the best portion of the book, as it really gives the reader a view to what Normandy was like from the German perspective.  The reader is then led through the fighting near Caen, then the Mortain counter attack and then eventually the escape from the Falaise Pocket, and the "Ruckmarsch" across France, and finally the fighting along the westwall.  The book ends with a discussion of the divisions elements that were tasked with helping to defend Aachen Germany.  This was truly interesting, as I had not read much at all about the fighting for Aachen.  There was a fair amount of detail in the book on the fighting around Aachen.  Again, by the this time, the units involved were only a shadow of their former selves, but they fought like madman, and more than showed themselves equal to the Americans.  Even driving them back on several occasions, even though they were assuradly outnumbered and underpowered in comparison to the "Amis". 

This book does not disappoint.  It is written in the same manner as the first three volumes, and it is a very decent book.  In terms of a divsional history, it is first class.  It is studded with first-person accounts throughout.  Nearly each and every day, the author has used the Archives to mine the primary information on the divisions actions/orders etc, and meld it into a smooth flowing narrative.  As with the previous three volumes, I would highly recommend this book!

********* (9.25 stars out of 10)

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The Leibstandarte Volume IV/2

3/29/2013

Finishing up this tremendous divisional history of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Division is Volume IV/2. The book is much the same as the first four volumes.  It covers in almost day to day detail the actions of the division in the last year of the war.  The text starts out by describing in extremely fine detail the combat actions of the division during the Ardennes Offensive.  The book describes all of the divisions actions during its time in the Ardennes.  It becomes quite clear that this offensive never had a chance, as the LAH, and all of the other division were never able to deploy their regiments/battalions side by side to good effect, do to the narrow roads and forested/hilly terrain.  Clearly the defender had a major advantage in this terrain, and the Americans made good use of it.  The book also describes the Malmady incident from the German perspective.  This probably won't sit well with western ametuer historians, but it is good to get all sides to a story.  The book then goes on and describes the actions of the division during the attack to reduce the Gran bridgehead, ill fated operation "Fruehlingserwachen", and then the divisions gradual withdrawl across Hungary and Austria.  Lots and lots of detailed information on all of battles/actions of the division during this time.  The book then ends by describing the experiences of the some of the divisions soldiers in the POW camps.  Especially enlightening is the experience of the soldiers took by the Russians!  Overall these books are a MUST have for the German WWII enthusiast!  There is a total of 5 volumes, and they are absolutely packed full of detailed (day by day) information on the actions of the LAH.  No library should be without these volumes!

********* (9.25 stars out of 10)

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Sniper on the Eastern Front (The Memoirs of Sepp Allerberger, Knights Cross)

4/6/2013

This book was recommended to me by a friend of mine (Gunter).  This was a book I have in my library, so it was just a matter of reading it after I was done with the LAH divisional history.  I had high hope for this book, and I was certainly not disappointed.  This book is absolutely NON-STOP action. It is a rather short book (146 pages), but it more than makes up for its short length in terms of incredible combat accounts.  The book is a memoir of Sepp Allerberger.  Sepp was a sniper in the 3. GJD on the Eastern Front during WWII.  He started out as a machine gunner, and then quickly realized that snipers were aiming at machine gunners.  After Sepp was slightly wounded and sent to the rear, he came across a Russian sniper rifle.  He tested it our, and found out he was a good shot.  His division gave him the chance to be a sniper when he returned to the front line, and needless to say, they made a good decision, for Sepp tallied up a lot of kills over the course of the war.  In fact, he ended up second in sniper kills for the entire war (on the German side), but as he himself claims, his actual kills were many times the official figure.  I could literally describe the combat accounts that he describes, but I would basically be retelling the entire book.  The descriptions of combat were beyond belief.  Sepp doesn't hold anything back.  He (and his fellow comrades) lived through hell, and he does not hold back on describing it.  many of his accounts deal with the inhumanity of the Russians.  It made me both mad and sorry for them.  Some of the rather graphic retelling of his time in combat was almost enough to make my stomach turn.  Some people who have read this book think that some of these accounts are made up, due to the fact that there were so many of them in the book.  I myself do not believe that to be the case.  I just feel that Mr. Allerberger told everything, whereas some of the other German vets were unwilling to relive many of the horrible episodes from the Eastern Front.  It goes without saying, that nearly every division on the Eastern Front witnessed the Russians killing the German wounded, but yet some of the first person accounts I have read do not mention this at all.  I belive some of this is just too difficult for some vets to relive.  Thank the Lord that Sepp is able to relive it, as it does the world good to know what the Germans (and the Russians) went through on the Eastern Front.  Many Westerners lived in a sort of fantasy world were we believe that most of WWII was a good war.  Certainly this is a totally false idea, especially in regards to the Eastern Front.  It was also reassuring that Mr. Allerberger to not have that false sense of shame that some German vets seem to have.  Mr. Allerberger was certainly no Nazi, but he certainly was not forced into feeling that sense shame for having served in the German Armed Forces during WWII (which is how many westerners believe that German War Vets should behave--which is a shame in and of itself.  German war vets have every right to feel proud of their service just as American, British, Russian war vets do.  Soldiers do not serve their leaders, they serve their Country).  This book was too good to put down.  I found myself looking forward to opening the book every night before bed.  This is an incredible book that must be read by anyone who wishes to really find out what combat on the Eastern Front was like!  This is a MUST have!!!

********* (9.50 stars out of 10)

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WN62

4/16/2013

WN62 is a memoir of a German soldier who was on "Omaha Beach" during the Allied Invasion.  Coming on the heels of my reading of the "Sniper on the Eastern Front", I was not expecting it to quite match that book.  It did not, but it was not too bad.  It is a fairly short book.  The author starts out by describing his enlistment into the German Army, and then his initial time on the Eastern Front.  It was here were he got really sick and was eventually evacuated to Germany.  He basically saw no action on the Eastern Front.  My hopes for this book were really diminishing at this point.  The author then describes his transfer to a German military base (after recuperating from his sickness).  He was then transferred to the Western Front, and eventually ended up with his old unit.  This unit was then transferred to the Normandy area (352nd Inf. Div.).  It was while serving with this division that the author was stationed in WN62 (Widerstandsnest 62), or resistance nest 62 (i.e. strongpoint).  The author manned a machine gun (MG 42) during the day of the invasion.  According to the author, it was he who was responsible for 100's (if not 1000's) of American casualties on Omaha beach.  This is impossible to verify, but he certainly caused many American casualties, as he fired his machine gun all day long (firing off around 12000 rounds).  He eventually retreated when he noticed he was almost completely surrounded by American troops.  A short while later he was captured by the Americans.  The last portion of his memoirs deals with his "fame" once the press discovered he was the "one" who caused so many casualties to the Allies on D-Day.  Overall an interesting book, especially since I  know of no other German D-Day memoir.  Well worth purchasing this one for your library.

******** (8 stars out of 10)


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Reinhard Heydrich: The Chilling Story of the Man who Masterminded the Death Camps

5/20/2013

Veering off from my usual military topics, I decided to read one of my many Nazi biographies.  This time I choose a biography of Mr. Heydrich.  I had never read a full biography of Reinhard before, so I was hoping for something enlightening.  The book is written by a former inmate in one of Nazi Germany's many concentration camps (knowing this ahead of time, I kept an open mind to the possibility of this biography being subjective in nature).  The author (Dr. Calic) does  a fair job of describing Reinhard's upbringing (and the possibility that he was partially Jewish--although the author never does say for sure he was, only that there was a possibility of it).  Much of what the author wrote in the first portions of the book were somewhat new to me (I did not realize that Reinhard served in the Frei Korps for a short time).  The book then moves into Reinhards service in the Navy (where he meets Whilhelm Canaris) and his Service in the SS.  All of these topics the author covers in moderate detail.  The descriptions of some of the covert actions by the SD were some of the most interesting portions of the book.  The book did have one major flaw, and that was the very limited amount of footnotes.  What footnotes there were in the book, were mostly interviews by the author, or some secondary source.  It seems the author did almost no research into the primary archives.  Another aspect of the book that got under my skin towards the end of the book, was the authors insistance that Hitler had plans to "conquer the world".  I think most serious historians would argue with that assertion.  Hitler's plans were never very solid in nature, but were always changing with the circumstances.  The only reason why Hitler attacked the West was due to the fact that the West had delared war on Germany after Germany invaded Poland.  All of Germany's actions in the West were directly attributable to the war against Englend, and not some idea of Hitler's to take over the world.  Hitler surely intended to take large portions of Russia, but the West was never seriously on his "agenda".  I would say that this book does only a fair job of describing the life of Reinhard Heydrich.  Do to the fact that he left out the German Archives, there is so much more that could have been revealed, but was not.  If you are looking for a good Heydrich biography, I would recommend Hitler's Hangman (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hitlers-hangman-robert-gerwarth/1100400304?ean=9780300187724).  Overall this book was fair.

****** (6 stars out of 10)

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Brandenburg Division:  Commandos of the Reich

6/13/2013

This book covers the Brandenburg Division and the units that preceeded the division.  The text of the book starts off with the early history of the pre-Brandenburger commando units (which eventually led to the Brandenburgers).  At times the book reads like a novel, with the conversation between two or more people literally word for word.  This made the book very interesting, and hard to put down, but one of the big drawbacks in the book was its lack of footnotes.  Nothing is footnoted in terms of where the information came from.  There are a few footnotes that deal with particular German terms, but there are no footnotes that lets the reader know where the information was attained.  This is a big drawback for me.  The text of the book flows nicely (like a novel).  It follows the early Brandenburger type of units, from company, to battalion to regiment and eventually to the Brandenburger division.  Because I had not read anything specifically on the Brandenburgers before, much of the information in this book was new to me.  The parts of the book that describe in detail the exploits of the individual Brandenburger units is most interesting.  I would certainly recommend this book if you are interested in German commando operations during the war.  The one big drawback is its lack of footnotes.

******* (7.25 stars out of 10)

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Hitler's Strategy 1940-1941, The Balkan Clue

7/7/2013

Rarely have I read a book that is as revealing as this book has been.  This is especially astonishing, given the fact that this book was written in 1973!  Written by Martin van Creveld, the book focuses on the war in the Balkans.  It starts out by describing the strategy of the Italians and the Germans in regards to Greece and Yugoslavia.  Especially important is the actions of the Italians in regards to Greece.  Mr. Creveld does an excellent job of showing the back and forth of the diplomacy between the Axis and the Balkan countries, and the Balkan countries attempts to stay out of the war.  My old ideas of Hitler's reaction in regards to Mussolini's invasion of Greece no longer hold true after reading this book.  I used to believe that Hitler did not know that Italy was going to invade Greece.  That was not so (according to this book).   After dealing with Musolini's blunder in Greece, the book then moves onto Germany's attempt to mediate between the Greeks and Italy (to no avail), then the German plans for attacking Greece from Bulgaria (a large portion of the book focuses on this situation).  Never did I imagine that the Germans had such a terrible time moving their troops across Hungary, Romania and into Bulgaria (all the while trying to appease the Turks and the Russians).  The final portion of the book deals with the military operations against Yugoslavia and Greece, and then the author discusses in depth the affect that the Balkan campaign had on the start of Barbarossa.  Again, Mr. Creveld does a very, very thorough job of debunking many myths about the start of Barbarossa.   The vast majority of this book was drawn from primary sources, whether they were the Diplomatic documents of the Germans, Italians, the British, or the War Diaries of the OKW, the OKM and the numerous sources of the OKH (the captured microfilmed records).  Martin did an astounding job in researching for this book.  He smashes one myth after another, and all the while he provides the reader a very engaging story!  This is an absolute first rate book!!  Few books will be able to touch this one!  Highly, Highly recommended!!!

******* (9.60 stars out of 10)

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German Air Force Operations in Support of the Army (Gen. Paul Deichmann)

7/28/2013

This book was written shortly after the end of WWII as part of the USAF Historical Studies.  There are around 30-35 of these studies (that I am aware of).  Only 10 were ever published (all in hardcover).  All of them are also available online here (http://www.afhra.af.mil/).  This book focuses on the German Luftwaffe in support of the Army.  Since it is written by a former Luftwaffe General, the reader gets a birds eye view to what Luftwaffe operations were like during the war.  The author goes into some detail explaining the existance of the Army Air Forces during WWI and then interwar history of the Luftwaffe, which segues into the the early chapters on the actual use of the Luftwaffe in support of the Army.  General Deichmann focuses a large portion of the first part of the book on the interwar developement of the Luftwaffe.  This includes:

*  Developement of the Command Organization
*  Luftwaffe Forces Allocated Permanently to the Army
*  Units for temporary assignment in Army Support Missions
*  Development and Procurement of Munitions for Ground Support
*  Training of Luftwaffe Personnnel for Army Support

Later chapters deal with Air Reconnaissance Operations, Operations of Combat Air Forces and The Ratio of Army Support to Overall Air Operations.  Every chapter is chalk full of good information.  Much of this information a reader will probably not be familiar with, as it give the strategy and tactics used by the Luftwaffe.  Much of the information for this book the author pulled from the Pre-War Luftwaffe field manual. 

It is always going to be the case where the authors personal opinions creek into the text.  We are humans, that cannot possibly be avoided.  This is what keeps many researchers away from these types of books.  They were written by the Germans, and they are seen as being full of personal opinions, and is hence less than objective.  That may be so, to some degree.  But would their opinions be any less objective than a book on the Luftwaffe written by an American, British, or Russian?  I doubt it.  These books are no less objective than any other WWII books.  I did find the Introduction to the Series written by Telford Taylor hard to swallow.  One needs not to look very far here to find a person who is not very objective.  His long diatribe against the Luftwaffe is tough to stomach.  Could Arno Press have chosen someone a little less abrasive?  Never the less, I would recommend this series as it gives the reader/researcher a very good insight into the strategy and tactics employed by the Luftwaffe.


******* (8.00 stars out of 10)

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Forgotten Battles of the German Soviet War (1941-1945) Volume I (Col. David Glantz)

8/4/2013

This is a short monograph produced by Col. David Glantz on the lesser known battles on the Eastern Front.  This is Volume I of 6 Volumes.  The first volume is quite small, only 111 pages.  A good portion of Volume I is taken up by the maps.  The maps are both a blessing and a curse at the same time.  It is nice to have an abundance of maps to follow what is being described in the text, but the maps are of terrible quality.  The maps are scans of the of the original maps on record, and they have photocopied very poorly, so that many of the maps are almost useless.  That being said, Col. Glantz does his normal solid job of describing many of the "counterstrokes" that the Russians launched trying to stem the German onslaught during the summer of 1941.  This includes counterattacks launched against Army Group North (the Sol'tsy Dno counterstroke--which was probalby the most dangerous of all of the counterstrokes that the Russians launched in the summer of 1941), Army Group Center and Army Group South.  Colonel Glantz describes each of the counter-attacks in some detail.   He usually includes at least one translated Russian original document with the description of each counter-attack.  Usually this document is the STAVKA order for the attack.  Colonel Glantz does not go into too much detail of whether or not he thinks all these counter attacks were benificial or not, but my guess is that wore the Russians down more than the Germans, and henced helped pave the way for the Germans later autum offensives (which were highly successful). Once interesting thing to note in reading one of the Russian original documents, is that the Stavka ordered the divisions of one of the counterstrokes agains AGN to hold their divisions advance to only 5 kilometers per day, as anything more than that usually resulted in the Germans going around the divisions flank and destroying the division.  It was early in the war, but the Russians were learning already!  One other item that I take exception with, is the lack of any mention of any German offensives/attacks/counterstrokes etc. in this volume.  Certainly he could have covered some of the less well known battles by the infantry armies during the summer of 1941, or even covered some of the battles that took place on the flank of AGC during the Summer.  He choose not to, as it seems his focus is on the conduct of the Soviets.

Overall this is not a bad "monograph", especially since few people think of the Russians as launching many counter-attacks during the summer of 1941.  In fact, they launched 11 (according to Col. Glantz).  All 11 of these counter-attacks are covered in this first monograph.


******* (8.10 stars out of 10)

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Forgotten Battles of the German Soviet War (1941-1945) Volume II (Col. David Glantz)

8/21/2013

This is volume II in this series of "forgotten battle" on the Eastern Front.  The volume is arranged identically as Volume I, except that it picks up where Volume I left off.  This volume again focuses mainly on the Russian counterattacks launched against the Germans.  Volume II covers these areas; The Moscow Counteroffensive.  Three different offensives were covered in this section.  They were the Obioan-Kursk Offensive Operation, the Orel-Bolkhov Offensive Operation, the Bolkhov Offensive Operation. The Bolkhov operation was probably the most interesting.  All of them were complete failures, and the Russians suffered incredibly massive losses.  The next section of the monograph was The Demiansk Counteroffensive.  This included the Initial Operations at Demiansk and the Demiansk Offensive Operation.  This operation was interesting, as it included the first use of Russian airborne troops.  Again, these offensives were complete failures, and the Russians again suffered grievous losses.  The third section of the monograph dealt with The Leningrad Counteroffensive.  This included the Initial Offensive Operations, the Liuban Offensive Operation and the Operations to Withdraw the 2nd Shock Army from Encirclement.  This is the section that I found the most interesting, as it directly related to our ongoing Wolchow Kessel project.  I will add more info about the Liuban Offensive Operation at a later date on the home page of this website, and how it relates to our current project.  Suffice to say, I learned alot about this operation from the Russian perspective.  The final section of this monograph dealt with the Crimean Offensive Operations.  Again, these were a total and very costly failure.   According to Col. Glantz the Russians lost 2,352,000 from January to April 1942.  No nation could sustain those kinds of losses over time.  This were truly catostrophic losses.  One must keep in mind that Russia was not even technically twice in large as population as the 3rd Reich, and yet she was suffering losses at anywhere from a low of 3-1 to even as high as 8-1 or higher.  These losses could not continue, or Russia would be bled dry.  Colonel Glantz does an excellent job of providing the Russian view, using translated original Russian reports.  One gets to read the translated Russian orders from their High Command for these offensives.  Truly interesting stuff!  Recommended.


******* (8.30 stars out of 10)

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Forgotten Battles of the German Soviet War (1941-1945) Volume III (Col. David Glantz)

9/8/2013

This is the third volume in the series on the "forgotten battles" of the German-Soviet war by Col. David Glantz.  This volume picks up where volume II left off. Included in this volume are the battles around Voronezh during the German "Blau" offensive.  There were a total of 5 large counterattacks launched by the Soviets on the left wing of Army Group South (Army Group Weichs) during the summer/fall of 1942.  All of the offensives were unsuccesful.  Col. Glantz then moves on to the Soviet offensives around Zhizdra and Bolkhov during the summer of 1942.  There were two offensives and both were failures.  The author then covers the offensives around the Rzhev salient.  There were a total of 3 very large offensives launched by the Soviets during the summer/fall of 1942 against the Rzhev salient, and all of them were failures (even though they did gain some ground).  The author ends of the book with a discussion of the Soviet offensives around Demiansk.  There were a total of 4 such operational attacks against the Demiansk pocket and all of them failed miserably.  The author did include three lesser known German attacks in this particular volume.  The first one was Operation Wirbelwind (launched in August of 1942 against the Kirov-Sukhinichi bulge).  This attack gained some ground in the south, but was a failure (way too few troops committed and the terrain was swampy and wet).  The Soviets later launched a very vigerous counterstroke in this same area a little later, and drove the Germans back a little ways, but this counterstroke also petered out after a short while.  The next German operation Col. Glantz covers was Operation Seydlitz around Belyy.  This offensive was launched by the German 9th Army, and was meant to destroy the Soviet units which had penetrated deep into the German rear during the previous winter.  The offensive was a success, although many Russians did manage to escape the encirclement.  The last German offensive which Col. Glantz covers is Operation Winkelried (which was designed to enlargen the Ramushevo corridor in the Demiansk pocket).  The offensive took place in late September, early October 1942 and was a big success.  This was probably due to the fact that the Russian units in this area were bled white from all of the fruitless attacks that they had been launching against the Germans during the summer.  The author follows the same method of presenting each battle as the previous two volumes.  There are lots of primary translated STAVKA reports that cover the Soviet side.  This is excellent information, as one really gets a feel for what the Russians were trying to accomplish.  One thing I have taken away from these first three volumes is just how poor the Soviet military was in 1941/1942.  The only successful Soviet counterstroke was the large winter offensive in December of 1941.  Beyond that, almost none of their offensives were successful, even though they always had 2, 3, or even 4 times as many troops, tanks, artillery then the Germans, but yet the Germans were able to hold their ground time and again.  It really tells you how well disciplined and trained the Germans were (and how poorly the Russians were trained and led).  The Germans still had a chance to do some major strategic damage in 1942, but were it not for some incompetance at the top of the German high command, 1942 might have ended differently for the Germans.  Recommended.


******* (8.50 stars out of 10)

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Forgotten Battles of the German Soviet War (1941-1945) Volume IV (Col. David Glantz)

10/10/2013

This is the fourth volume in the series on the "forgotten battles" of the German-Soviet war by Col. David Glantz.  This volume picks up where volume III left off. This Volume focuses on the Winter battles of late 1942 into early 1943.  The operations covered in this volume include:

Soviet Operations within the context of the Stalingrad Counteroffensive
Soviet Offensive operations in the Donbas Region
Soviet Offensive operations against Orel, Briansk and Smolensk
Soviet Offensive Operations along the Northwestern Axis and Operation Polar Star.

As with all the previous volumes, Col. Glantz covers these battles in thorough detail from the Soviet perspective, which includes many translated original reports.  The translated reports makes these volumes worth the purchase.  This volume was also jam packed full of maps.  Most of them useful, but it had a scattering of maps which were impossible to see, and hence are quite useless.   It is fascinating to see throughout this volume that the Stavka was again overreaching on nearly every offensive operation.  They just simply did not realize what their units were capable of.  And it is quite interesting to note that many of these forgotten offensives by the Soviets were again failures (much like 1941/1942).    Without going into detail and describing each and every battle covered in this volume, suffice it to say, this volume is again worth the price.  Recommended.


******* (8.50 stars out of 10)

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Forgotten Battles of the German Soviet War (1941-1945) Volume V (Col. David Glantz)

11/24/2013

This is the fifth volume in the series on the "forgotten battles" of the Eastern Front.  This volume contains the unknown battles between the Germans and the Soviets during the Summer/Fall campaign of 1943.  Col. Glantz starts out by discussing the Donbas Offensive (17 July to 2 August) and then the Izium-Barvenkovo Offensive (17-27 July 1943).  Both offensive were launched with overwhelming odds (against the Germans), but both offensives were complete failures.  Col. Glantz does a very able job of describing the edd and flow of both of these offensives, using primary Soviet reports and primary German information as well.  The Donbas Offensive (Mius River Offensive) held the most promise, and indeed the Soviets initially burst through the German lines and drove into the depths of the German defenses, only to be slowly stopped and then counterattacked.  The Soviets lost around 2-3 rifle divisions during this counterattack.  The Germans drove this huge attacking force back to the jumping off postions.  This offensive was a complete disaster, even though the Soviets initially had overwhelming odds.  During the final stages of the German counter-attack, the Germans had 5 Panzer Divisions counterattacking, and actually slightly outnumbered the Soviets in tanks.  The counteroffensive was a big success, even if the Totemkopf had some difficulties during the counteroffensive.
Col. Glantz then moves on to the Soviet offensives in the Caucasus.  Here the Soviets again outnumbered their German opponents by a huge number in infantry divisions, tanks and artillery.  Col. Glantz discusses the Krasdodar offensive of 8 Feb. to 16 March 1943 which forced the Germans to retreat back to shorter lines.  The author then moves onto the Taman Offensive of 4-17 Arpil, and 29 April to 10 May 1943.  Both of these offensives gained little ground, even though the Russians had a large numerical superiority, both offensives were failures.  The author continues to deal with offensives launched in the Caucuses by the Soviets, before moving onto the relatively unknown offensives launched by the Soviets on the central part of the front.  The offensives had two key features...the Soviets had large numerical advantages, but yet they were all failures, and quite frequently the Soviets did not even reach operational depths.  One of the unknown offensives that I found the most interesting in this volume was the Polotsk Offensive. Here the Soviets had amassed a truly overwhelming superiority on the Germans. They did manage to break through the German front (the neck of the breakthrough was only around 5-10 km wide), and the Soviets even managed to breakthrough into the operational depths, but the offensive finally petered out without the Soviets gaining any decisive victory.  When the fighting died down, the front looked like it had a large "mushroom" sticking out into the German side of the front.  The Soviets had tried to go to the north and the south, instead of focusing on one direction only.  They then ended up achieving neither operational goal, even though they had a crushing superiority on the Germans. 
Overall, this volume again shows just how poor the Soviets were in handling their units in comparison to the Germans.  The Germans were frequently able to stop the Soviets even though they were massively outnumbered.  Col. Glantz does a supurb job of bringing this unknown battles to life!  Recommended!

******* (8.65 stars out of 10)

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Forgotten Battles of the German Soviet War (1941-1945) Volume V (Part 2) (Col. David Glantz)

12/13/2013

The second part of Volume 5 covers the unknown battles during the Summer-Fall campaign of 1943.  Some of the battles covered are:

The Belorussian Front's Gomel-Rechitsa Offensive
The 1st Baltic and Western Front's Vitebsk (Gorodok) Offensive
The 2nd Baltic Front's Idritsa-Opochka Offensive
The Belorussian Front's Kalinkovichi (Bobruisk) Offensive
Battle for the Dnepr:
The Kiev Strategic Offensive
The Central Fronts Chernobyl-Radomyshl Offensive
The Voronezh Fronts Liutezh Offensive
the Voronezh  Fronts Bukrin Offensive
The Battle for the Dnepr:  Operationas along the Southern Axis
The Lower Dnepr Strategic Offensive
2nd, 3rd and 4th Unkrainian Fronts Krivoi Rog Offensive

Colonel Glantz does an exceptional job of covering these battles, as in the previous volumes.  The majority of these battles were unsuccesful (on the operational/strategic scale), but most (if not all) gained some limited ground.  It was interesting to see how many German counterattacks were launched against the spearheads, often inflicting stunning defeats on the Soviets.  Again, it was the case of the Germans having too few units on the Eastern front to effectively launch counterattacks.  Had the Germans not kept nearly 1/3 of the Heer in the West, then the German counterattacks may have achieved much more than they did.  Nearly all these battles were "new" to me, since the vast majority of historians continue to highlight the successful German and Soviet offensives, but pay no attention of the unsuccessful ones.  Clearly the Soviets had many, many unsuccessful offensives, and Col. Glantz lays these bare.  A job well done!

Recommended!

******* (8.65 stars out of 10)

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