Unit History Reviews

Book discussion and reviews related to the German military.

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Unit History Reviews

Post by sniper1shot » Mon Sep 01, 2008 8:23 am

This is for reviews of UNIT HISTORIES for all units of the German Armed Forces-Army,SS,Navy and Airforce.
This is not for Memoirs or personal recollections, as that can be posted in the normal way on a thread.
Please stick with the standard posting info:

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Richard Hargreaves
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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Sun Sep 07, 2008 2:51 am

Right, as I asked for this sticky, I suppose I ought to start filling it. :D

Jochen Löser, Bittere Pflicht: Kampf und Untergang der 76 Berlin Brandenburgischen Infanterie Division, Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück, 1986

Firstly, a warning. If you find a copy of this work for under 100 Euros, you're extremely lucky; it's either very rare, or much sought after. The latter it deserves to be for it is among the very best divisional histories. More than 500 pages charting the division's progress - France, Barbarossa, Stalingrad, re-formation and its final battles on the southern Eastern Front in 1944-1945. There's also a comprehensive section on the plight of the division's men in Soviet captivity.

I regularly bemoan the fact that too many divisional histories are too much of the division, too little of the men. The same cannot be said for Bittere Pflicht. It is crammed with first-hand accounts, diaries, Feldpostbriefe and the like, alongside a comprehensive narrative. There are also some good, well-reproduced photographic sections.

If you do have the chance/money to buy a copy, snap it up. :[]
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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:02 am

Gerhard Graser, Zwischen Kattegat und Kaukasus: Weg und Kämpfe der 198 Infanterie Division, privately published, third edition, 1988

It's taken me a long time to get hold of a copy of this pretty rare history (although the final asking price wasn't obscene, I'm pleased to say), but finally it is in my hands. And I'm glad it is. It's not quite in the "top draw" of divisional histories, but it's leagues, leagues ahead of those dreary Podzun volumes which seem to be little more than a list of dates and events.

Regular Feldgrauers know that I want the men to come through in histories and in this book they do. There are a lot of first-person accounts in the book - including, interestingly, Georg Grossjohann, who became an author in his own right - mainly from junior/middle-ranking officers, a few diary excerpts, and a few Tagesbefehl, and a rather dense narrative by Graser. Being privately published, the photo reproduction isn't great, but I've seen a lot worse from professional houses so...

The bulk of the book is devoted to the Ostfront, and especially the campaigns of 1942-43, so anyone studying the Caucasus campaign (such as me) will find it invaluable.

In short, it's a good investment. Not in the Bittere Pflicht/21ID/1SS/12SS league, but miles above the dreary 13 Pz (not the recent one, but the 1970s book...) :[]
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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Sat Sep 13, 2008 11:36 am

Rolf Hinze, 19 Infanterie und Panzer Division: Divisionsgeschichte aus der sicht eines Artilleristen, privately published, Meerbusch, fifth edition 1994.


Here's a divisional history with a difference... a divisional history with the emphasis on the unit's artillery (it was originally published under the title Hannoversche Artillerie). I haven't seen the official divisional history of 19th Panzer, but I'm reliably informed this is superior. It is certainly comprehensive: in excess of 800 pages. It is copiously illustrated. And there are maps aplenty.

All well and good, but what is at once best - and infuriating - about Hinze's book is the vast number of first-person accounts. There's one virtually every other page. Excellent stuff too, really useful for writers like me. There's a "but" coming... but none are referenced. Worse, none of the narrators are named. You'll get "ein Urlauber", "Ein Bericht", if you're lucky introducing a first-hand account! Which is a real shame, because it would be nice to follow the various narrators (or perhaps it's just one man although I don't think so) through the war. We will, of course, never know, because Herr Hinze is now no longer with us.

I'm not a massive fan of Hinze; he's somewhat inconsistent from very good to plain average (q.v. his history of 31 ID, for example). Perhaps it's because he was in the 19th Infantry/Panzer Division which makes the author put extra "oomph" (technical term :D) into this history. We should be glad he did. :[]
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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Jan-Hendrik » Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:15 pm

Richard, it is, together with the Volume on AR 267, Hinze's best work, in my opinion. Near to this quality is only his Rückzugskämpfe in der Ukraine 1943/44 :D

You may add here your translation of my reviews on 113.ID and 21.PD, my friend :wink:

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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Fri Sep 19, 2008 12:02 am

I wondered whether the 19th Panzer book was the same book as the Bug-Beresina under a different name. So they are entirely different books? Ach so, another book to add to my Wunschzettel. :D

I'll post the 21/113 ID reviews... if you can tell me where they are. I am getting old and forgetful! :roll:
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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Jan-Hendrik » Fri Sep 19, 2008 12:32 am

Yes, it is the contrast, the history of a total horse-drawn artillery till its end in 1944 (but the making of is similar to PAR 19, many maps, accounts, KTB-Reporst etc.!)

...you find them in "our" divisional history thread on AHF :D

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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:58 am

:up: :up:

Sadly, nicht billig :(
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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Jan-Hendrik » Fri Sep 19, 2008 2:02 am

Got mine for 50 Euros via booklooker.de...excellent outfit, even with letters from Dr.Hinze to the buyer in it, where Dr.Hinze explained what he does not like with the final edition that went into print (he had chosen other pics etc)...sadly I have seen that his private book collection is on its way to get verramscht at E-Bay...

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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Sun Sep 21, 2008 7:27 am

Veit Scherzer, 113 Infanterie Division: Kiew-Charkow-Stalingrad, Scherzers Militär Verlag, Jena, 2007

This is Jan-Hendrik's review from his Panzer Archiv site, hurriedly translated by me:
The long wait for the new edition of this divisional history from 1990 was worthwhile! Now 305 pages long in large format, Veit Scherzer describes in great detail the career of one of those 'workhorses' of the Feldheer which has received little recognition. And that's where its great deeds were precisely! Unlike motorized infantry and armored units, these formations had to move on foot, with the help of their equine comrades, with the wind and weather, the summer heat and winter cold.

Making use of the Bundesarchiv military archive's documents as well as diaries, Feldpost letters and experience reports, the fate of the division is recounted until its destruction at Stalingrad, which, of course, is the crux of this book, where naturally the emphasis of this elaboration lies, as well as its brief life after it was re-formed.

Many pictures are taken from private albums, instead of the well-worn PK images, there are extensive muster lists, in some cases down to company level, to complete the picture.

In all, a highly-readable and highly-informative book. In the realm of divisional histories, this ranks among the leading works.
I can only concur with his words. This is one of the very best divisional histories with some great first-hand accounts and some excellent images (although sadly they've not been produced on high-quality paper). The down-side is the price: circa £45 ($90). If you do bite the bullet, you'll be glad you did. :[]
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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by trollelite » Sun Sep 28, 2008 6:11 pm

Well? I think the price is 49,90 euro? You could buy those 2 titles and ask seller to ship them to Britain via hermes paket, it still only costs 116 euro, for BOTH TITLES.

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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Fri Oct 10, 2008 12:36 pm

Generalleutnant Anton Detlev von Plato, Die Geschichte der 5 Panzerdivision 1938 bis 1945, privately published, 1978

Having paid a small fortune for this (well over 100 Euros) I was a little nervous. I need not have been. This is a 500-page, large format Meisterwerk. Plato uses his expertise as a senior officer to give gravitas to the very detailed narrative. He has also, however, included many, many first-hand accounts, diaries and letters - and many from the ranks (divisional histories are notoriously officer-heavy...) Plato covers the Polish campaign, a sizeable section on the French campaign in Rommel's shadow (im Schatten Rommels), provides some good accounts from the Balkan campaign, before devoting more than 250 pages to the Ostfront. The book is profusely illustrated (although the images are scattered throughout the text and rather small), and there many excellent maps.

This is book which comes up on eBay, albeit rarely, so there are copies out there. It is well worth investing in, providing you do not mind your wallet taking a heavy hit. :[]
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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by trollelite » Sun Oct 12, 2008 6:11 pm

Oh...I hate you rob me this one. :D I now get another copy without dust jacket, of course also without those fancy signature, I would rather let you have that one plus 50 euro if I could have your copy... :D But the murderous post fee between the channel prevent this...

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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Sun Oct 12, 2008 11:49 pm

Sorry Trollelite. :( I can scan the signatures in for you, if you like though. They'll mean more to you than to me.
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Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by ericv » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:59 pm

its been a while: i was very busy, we moved to another place and we decided to do all the rebuilding etc ourselves.. but things settled down finally, so i can start adding the missing oob's to the other post ;)

I'll start off with a review though :

Geschichte der Hirschberger Jäger 1920 bis 1945
Bernhard Kranz
Herausgeber: Kameradschaft ehem. Hirschberger Jäger
H. Rauschenbusch, Bad Salzuflen
Copyright Bernhard Kranz 1975, Gesamtherstellung Diederichs KG, Düsseldorf

Well, it costed a Lot, but it's worth every penny. It's 783 pages cover literally every aspect of the 83. Infanterieregiment (later Jägerregiment) in detail.
From it's predecessors during the 20's (mainly III,/7 IR, but also partly 30 IR and others) right up until the history and actions of its replacement unit in 1945 (Ersatzbataillon 83).
It's got everything, Lists of commanders down to company-level and lower from the 20's onward. Some of the rarest photographs i've ever seen, including ones of most of the commanders up to batallion level. It's map section is decent enough, with most of them self-drawn, but very clear and detailed.
It's coverage of the batlles fought by the regiment and the attached couleur-abteilungen and other units is excellent.
A minor drawback could be that there are no first-person accounts in the text, if you're interested in those.

In short :
Prewar history: 10
Combat history: 10
Photo section : 10
Presence of Stellenbesetzungen or mentioning thereof in the text : 10
Map- section : 8.5 (mainly because i use the map section of Oskar Schaub's 12th Panzergrenadierregiment as standard)
Use of first-hand accounts : 0


Regards Eric

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