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Books Pass-along and Discussion

Article about: Brian (Octavian) and I (drmessimer) want to start a thread that is essentially a round-robin book-read and book-discussion thread. The idea is that you send a Forum member a book that you ha

  1. #41

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    Thank you everyone for the appreciation of my review. I have a few more thoughts to what you've all written.

    Dwight, I fully agree that the outcome of the war wasnt decided on the battlefield alone, but mainly due to superior industrial capacity, geographic space and manpower. But if Hitler had played his cards well Germany might have had improved their chances substantially, as Germany never adapted to full-scale war economy instead they continued throughout the war to waste industrial capacity on manufacturing consumer goods even at the late stages of the war.
    Out of ideological reasons Hitler also refused to let women enter the industries on a large scale (unlike the Soviet where most factories were run by women) in order to free up essential manpower for the frontline.
    Again the nationalsocialistic ideology was responsible for the ill treatment of whole populations who would otherwise have fought for the Germans against the Soviet, even though many individuals did anyway. The German forces in Stalingrad (as everywhere along the ostfront) was however bolstered by massive amounts of Hiwis although exact figures remain unknown as Stalin issued orders that anyone even suspected of being a "traitor" was to be executed on spot right after their surrender.

    On the battlefield the Germans had the advantage of superior tactics as Mauser9 mentions, and by taking the initiative they forced the Stavka into reacting instead of acting, but the split of Armeegruppe Süd I agree with Brian halted the offensive towards the Volga and gave the Soviets the break they needed in order to regroup, redeploy and subsequently seizing the initiative.

    One has to remember that Operation Uranus wasnt a trap planned ahed by neither Stalin nor the Stavka in advance. It was simply a grand opportunity that emerged due to Hitlers frequent change of objectives, Zhukov and Vasilevsky quickly realised how fragile the German flanks were (guarded by Romanian, Hungarian and Italian armies) and with the support of Stalin they planned and mastered this massive operation that would change the strategical situation in the eastern front theatre decisively.

    Cheers, Mads

  2. #42

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    Mads: You are 100% correct on all points. It is often difficult for people to realize that as you say, Germany never adopted a total war economy, nor a total war effort. I think the reason is that Hitler was trying to avoid the social problems that plagued Germany in 1917 and 1918. It was a short-sighted view that produced an unattainable goal and seriously hurt the German war effort. That was a terrific review you wrote and an equally good follow up comment. I wish I could have had you in my Military History class. Dwight

  3. #43

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    Hi all, would it be ok to send books about einsatzgruppen etc. into circulation?

    btw. Anyone who wants to read "Stalingrad" next?

    Cheers, Mads

  4. #44

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion


    I just finished Charles W. Sydnor's book Soldiers of Destruction. The Totenkopfs unit history was one of constant combat. As i read, the accounts of TK soldiers, whom were often outnumbered, held their ground till death. The battle account of SS Sturmann Fritz Christen, who knocked out countless tanks and over 100 Russian Inf with his Anti-Tank gun, typifies the fighting nature of the unit. Surrendering was not a word in their active vocabulary. Their intensive training and loyalty to the Third Reich proved without any doubt the fanatical drive this division took into combat.

    The author portrays the Totenkopf with an unbiased view of this controversial division. He stuck to the facts. I did not know that the TK was bled dry more than once. The 1st destruction of the TK was in the Demyank Pocket. It was here that the TK took on multiple Russian Divisions and essentially destroyed them. However, the SSTK's fighting style, brutal and hardcore, cost the division dearly. When the SSTK's casualty rate soared to 80%, they were pulled back to rebuild in France. From this point onward the SSTK would be thrown into battle where ever the German High Command needed to check the Russians. Likewise, as time went on, the SSTK's constant combat checked many Russian offensive measures. At the second battle of Kharkov, the SSTK lived up to its brutal nature when the division routed multiple Russian Armies.

    The author also points out that most all in the SSTK assuredly knew of the war crimes that were happening all over. He brought up the subject of the arguement that many Waffen SS soldiers didn't know of the multiple war crimes, because they were only "soldiers". However, the author points out that many people, both civilian and military, knew of these crimes. How could not the regular SS man not know of these crimes? Especially SSTK soldiers! This is his argument for the ordinary SS soldier.

    Soldiers of Destruction is a must read for the organization and combat effectiveness of the SSTK. The author goes into great detail that are backed up by hundreds of references. I would say this is certainly a scholarly book covering a division who fought to the death.

  5. #45

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    Glad you enjoyed Soldiers of Destruction Octavian. Wish I would have posted this suggested read much earlier. Hope you read The Black March if you haven't already. These books are a bit dated but the good news is they can be had for cheap money off Amazon. P.S. Don't forget Ostkrieg as this is another fantastic read concerning the war in the East. Best Wishes.

  6. #46

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    Soldiers of Destruction is an excellent book. Great review Octavian!

    If anybody wants read Soldiers of Destruction let me know and I'll mail it off to you.


  7. #47

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    I just finished THE BLACK MARCH by Peter Neumann. I will consider this an intriguing read. Before i go into scope of this book, i have one question. What happened to Peter after the war (how long a prisoner)?

    Right out the gate i did not like Peter and still don't like him . Especially when his own Dad was sent away by the SD. His disappointment in his dad's "failed" life carried over throughout the book. It was as though Peter did not care one bit that his family would suffer. His sister was a winch who betrayed her father for the sake of revenge! What kind of messed up family does such things to one another? Let's not forget the youngest brother who had an eye for picking out Jews... That is just screwed up. The whole lot of them!

    The book goes into great detail about Bad Tolz. From the procedure of tattooing the armpit to his dangerous field exercises (surprised that many died in training), to the SS Lebensborn program, and the allure of the Black SS Uniform, i found the chapters packed full of information. I especially found valid references to the Psychological Training SS Officers undertook. One point being is how they were trained to think of the Russian as subhuman. Of course armies of the past have done the exact same thing in regards to their enemy, but the SS took it further to an extreme coldness. A sordid conditioning that went Genocidal. Once the war started,it as nothing to the SS to kill anyone deemed a threat (men, women, children).

    Another burning question i have is his relationship with his Jewish Girlfriend. When Peter came home on leave (1943) he was able to still find her at her home. First off i thought that German Jews were the first to be sent to the KZ's. How was she not deported? Did she survive the war? Any help would be grand!

    The systematic destruction of the Easter Front portrays the SS in a fanatical light. They stood their ground and would soon die than surrender. Countless times the SS Viking (6th SS) were mauled. Peter lost close buddies, but he was somehow not severely wounded till the last days of the war. The accounts of executions were particular gruesome (imagine the flamethrower scene). In all honesty, when i read that exact moment in the book i said, 'God Damn!'

    I will have more questions to bring up on this book. But for now this book is one that should be read for anyone interested in the daily life of a SS Officer. Even though i never liked Peter the historical value remains. Not many SS were left alive after the war, especially front line fighters. Peter was able to make it to the end. He seemed to just eek out an escape, countless times, under superior odds. Take the time to read The Black March. I am sure you will not be let down.

    - - Updated - -

    Anyone interested in THE BLACK MARCH let me know i can send it your way.

  8. #48

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    Hi Octavian, this sounds like an interesting book. I went ahead and ordered my own copy. I'll write my review once I read through it.

    Did Peter give a reason why he wrote this book? Was it his a confession? or for money/fame? Just wondering, thanks


  9. #49

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    I am afraid I cannot shed much light on author Peter Neumann myself Octavian. Only thing I could come up with when doing some research online was that the manuscript was turned over to a publisher by members of Neumann's family in the 50s I believe. I acquired the book in paperback in the early 70s and like The Forgotten Soldier I could not put it down. I believe it was also titled Other Mens Graves at one time.

  10. #50

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    Thanks Mauser. I will begin digging around to see if i can find any history pertaining to Neumann. Let the search begin!

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