Unit History Reviews

Book discussion and reviews related to the German military.

Moderator: sniper1shot

User avatar
Richard Hargreaves
Author
Posts: 2079
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2003 11:30 pm
Location: Gosport, England

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:16 am

Hans Schäufler, So lebten und so starben sie: Das Buch vom Panzerregiment 35, Eigenverlag, 2nd edition, 1983

Not so much a unit history as a unit anthology. Being a big fan of Schäufler's two other books, 1945: Panzer an der Weichsel. Soldaten der letzten Stunde and Der Weg War Weit, I've been eager to get my hands on his much rarer history of the regiment. You will be very lucky to find a copy out there for under £100, which is a real shame because it's an absolute gem of a book. Page after page of first-hand accounts, battle reports, letter, diaries from the first day of the war to the very last which you won't find in many (or in most cases any) other books. To his enormous credit, Schäufler collected accounts from all ranks from Heinrich Eberbach down to Gefreiter and Obergefreiter, PK reporters, plus a smattering of newspaper cuttings, orders and the like. There must be upwards of 100 different accounts of the unit's actions. It is a far, far more interesting read than the history of its parent unit, 4 Panzer Division. If you can afford it, or you spot a copy on sale for under £100, buy it. :[]
No-one who speaks German could be an evil man

User avatar
Jason Long
Contributor
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2002 4:27 pm

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Jason Long » Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:14 pm

I've got the first edition; I wonder what the differences are between the two editions?

Jason

User avatar
Richard Hargreaves
Author
Posts: 2079
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2003 11:30 pm
Location: Gosport, England

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:46 am

I think it's a straight re-print; there's nothing within which suggests anything was added or altered, although I may be wrong. :[]
No-one who speaks German could be an evil man

User avatar
Richard Hargreaves
Author
Posts: 2079
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2003 11:30 pm
Location: Gosport, England

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:31 pm

Kevin Fish, Panzer Regiment 8 in World War II: Poland, France, North Africa, Schiffer, 2008

When I saw this on the shelf of a bookshop in London, I thought: Ah, another picture book, and picked it up not expecting much. Oh, how wrong I was. This is simply one of the very best unit histories I've ever seen. Lots of pictures. Which is good. Lots and lots and lots of text. Which is good. Lots and lots and lots of first-hand accounts. Which is excellent.
It's up there with von Plato, Löser's Bittere Pflicht, 1 SS, 3 SS, 12 SS, for the sheer quality of the research and the value to fellow historians. If anyone writes a book about the North African campaign (which I hope to do one day...) and they don't use this book, they deserve to be strung up. :D

It's not cheap (c.£50 in the UK, but better value in the US...) but it is worth the money (particularly compared with the two very disappointing Michaelis SS Division histories which Schiffer have produced recently). I can't remember whether Kevin's a member here or at AHF, but it doesn't matter. He's set the benchmark for English-language histories of German units. I just wish I'd had it to hand when writing my Poland book...
No-one who speaks German could be an evil man

User avatar
Richard Hargreaves
Author
Posts: 2079
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2003 11:30 pm
Location: Gosport, England

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:05 pm

Ewald Klapdor, Mit den Panzerregiment 5 Wiking im Osten, Selbstverlag, 1981

What you get, as with all Klapdor's books - Die Entscheidung: Invasion 1944 and Der Ostfeldzug, this is a unit history mixed with memoir (there's more of the former than the latter). And it's first rate. Klapdor obviously spent a lot of time tracking down veterans for their diaries, memoirs and battle reports. He also spent considerable time digging out maps, war diaries and other material at BA-MA.

The net result is one of the very best unit histories and, for a privately-published affair, it's very nicely produced (colour maps in some cases, no less; I actually like the contemporary maps being reproduced, but that's a 'me thing').

For anyone writing about the Caucasus (me), Cherkassy pocket, Warsaw 1944 and Hungary and Austria 1945 (me too one day...), it's a must have. Such a shame that copies are so few and far between and when they do appear they they cost a fortune. :(
No-one who speaks German could be an evil man

User avatar
Richard Hargreaves
Author
Posts: 2079
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2003 11:30 pm
Location: Gosport, England

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:19 am

And the hits just keep on coming... :D

Dietwart Asmus, Die 20. Inf.Div.(mot) (später 20. Pz.Gren.Div.) Chronik und Geschichte, Band 9, VI. Abschnitt 1945, Selbstverlag, 2009.

The very final volume of this monumental divisional history is finally out (hoorah!). I don't have a complete set , sadly :( but I do have volumes 2 and 3 and now 9. Asmus died part-way through compiling the history and this volume was completed by his comrades in the same vein.

The final volume covers the Baranow Bridgehead, fighting on the Oder and Berlin with a concise day-by-day breakdown of the division's movements and actions. But what makes this volume far better than the earlier works is the human nature of it. There aren't too many first-hand accounts in the two other volumes I have. Not so the concluding work. Two-thirds of Band 9 are devoted to diaries, Erlebnisberichte etc. There is a shortage of unit accounts covering the Baranow fighting in particular, so this book and especially the Anlagen is a godsend.

The picture reproduction isn't great, but this is a text history far more than a photo history (which is fine by me :D)

As a collection, this is a monumental work of scholarship - 900 or so pages on a Heer division, lifting it to the Pantheon of divisional histories. The complete set will cost an arm and a leg, but you can easily 'dip in and dip out' of each volume. I must say I'm tempted now to finish what I started...
No-one who speaks German could be an evil man

User avatar
Richard Hargreaves
Author
Posts: 2079
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2003 11:30 pm
Location: Gosport, England

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:34 am

Helmut Breymayer, Das Wiesel: Geschichte der 125 Infanterie Division 1940-1944, Selbstverlag, 1983

A book long-since sought and now finally in my hands. Das Wiesel doesn't often come on the market (the sole copy on Bookfinder at the moment will set you back 100 Euros :shock:). So is it any good? Yes, but with reservations.

In many respects it's like Klapdor's work - it's a mix of memoir and unit history. The difference is that Klapdor makes it clear what is his opinion/experiences quite clearly. Breymayer mingles his with the body text of the history which makes it a bit harder to separate dispassionate unit history from author's experiences. The author does include some first-hand accounts from comrades although it's not bristling with them.

It is, however, incredibly detailed - particularly for the fighting of 1941/42 which take up the bulk of the 350 or so pages, with an almost daily breakdown of actions so to that end it's extremely useful. It's also very nicely produced on fine paper; there are plenty of maps and images (although the latter are often quite small).

So there you have it. Definitely in the upper tier of unit histories (and much better than a lot of the Podzun Pallas output which I find dreadfully dry), but not quite top draw as far as I'm concerned. :[]
No-one who speaks German could be an evil man

User avatar
Jason Long
Contributor
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2002 4:27 pm

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Jason Long » Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:35 pm

Richard,
Have you seen the 2000-odd pages of the 16th Mot. ID's history?

Jason

Marc Rikmenspoel
Enthusiast
Posts: 488
Joined: Fri Sep 27, 2002 8:33 pm
Location: Denver, Colorado USA

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Marc Rikmenspoel » Sun Mar 15, 2009 9:46 am

I have Klapdor's Mit dem Panzer Reg. 5 Wiking and Entscheidung books. I'm glad to have them, but I have to admit that I find his German quite tough to read, compared to some other books. For example, Dutchman Paul Oosterling (who used to post in English here at Feldgrau as "Tom Stein") has written a two volume set that's a combined biography of Johannes Rudolf Muhlenkamp and a study of SS-PR 5. He has lengthy sections quoted from Klapdor's SS-PR 5 book, and Oosterling's own German is much easier for me to read than the Klapdor excerpts. I do think the two projects complement each other, along with the Munin photobook Verweht sind die Spuren, to give in in-depth view of SS-PR 5 in words and pictures.

User avatar
Richard Hargreaves
Author
Posts: 2079
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2003 11:30 pm
Location: Gosport, England

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Sun Mar 15, 2009 9:50 am

Jason Long wrote:Richard,
Have you seen the 2000-odd pages of the 16th Mot. ID's history?

Jason
Sadly not. I know people speak highly of it, but the cost has rather ruled out me adding it to my collection. :(
No-one who speaks German could be an evil man

User avatar
Semenov
Member
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2007 9:06 am
Location: Russia
Contact:

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Semenov » Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:36 am

Hello!
Sorry for offtop, but I have one question.
Does it exist KTB of Brandenburgers?

Best wishes!

User avatar
Richard Hargreaves
Author
Posts: 2079
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2003 11:30 pm
Location: Gosport, England

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Tue Apr 07, 2009 1:32 am

Heinrich Boucsein, Halten oder Sterben: Die hessisch-thüringische 129 Infanterie Division im Russlandfeldzug und Ostpreussen 1941-45, Kurt Vowinckel Verlag, Potsdam, 1999

A very comprehensive, beautifully-produced history of one of the perhaps forgotten units which marched on Moscow and spent the war on the central front. The author provides a day-by-day account of the division's actions, interspersed with first-person accounts, diaries, official documents et al. It's also finely illustrated from the author's personal collection of images and some excellent full-colour maps at the back, as well as some contemporary images as the author retraced his route in 1941 five decades later (particularly sad is the German cemetery at Rzhew built over by shabby garages).

The only downside is that the book leans heavily towards the first year of the war (the first 12 months of the Ostfront consume well over half the book; the last 12 months are dealt with in a mere 30). For that reason, it just falls short of the very best Heer histories. But for the first 12 months of Barbarossa, it's top notch. Copies will cost you around 70 Euros which is a pretty fair price. :[]
No-one who speaks German could be an evil man

User avatar
Richard Hargreaves
Author
Posts: 2079
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2003 11:30 pm
Location: Gosport, England

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:50 am

A couple of real heavy hitters today...

Geschichte der 3 Panzer Division Berlin-Brandenburg 1935-1945, Verlag der Buchhandlung Günter Richter, Berlin, 1967

First the bare bones. 500-plus pages of text, 80 or so pages of images and an excellent map section at the back. Expect to pay, if you're lucky, about 80 Euros, but some copies are going for upwards of 200 Euros and beyond. :shock:

So what do you get for your money? Well, a very detailed history of the division, normally down to company level, mixed with Tagesbefehl, orders, personal and unit diary entries (although there are rather fewer than I would have liked, the body text is at least written with a bit of panache rather than the more typical rather dry unit history narratives).

Anyone researching the drive on Moscow or the Caucasus campaign in particular really couldn't do so with referring to this book.

There's a 'but' coming.

The book is rather imbalanced - I'm guessing because it was written by committee or different authors, and it shows, because the quality of chapters vary. Poland, France, Barbarossa, Caucasus are all very well covered, but then we get to Kharkow 1943 (seven pages), Zitadelle (15 pages; the Caucasus campaign, by comparison, takes up more than 80 pages). In fact, the last two and a half years of war devour little more than 120 pages in toto; Presumably part of that is down to the lack of records in the later stages of the war. Still, the history ends well with good accounts of the final fighting in Austria and Hungary.

I am, perhaps, being a bit nit-picky, for this is an excellently-researched and very-well-written history and among the best, a very worthy addition to your library if you can stomach the hefty price tag. :[]
No-one who speaks German could be an evil man

User avatar
Richard Hargreaves
Author
Posts: 2079
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2003 11:30 pm
Location: Gosport, England

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Tue Apr 21, 2009 11:04 am

Hasso von Manteuffel, Die 7 Panzer Division im Zweiten Weltkrieg: Einsatz und Kampf der 'Gespenster Division' 1939-1945, Selbstverlag, 1965

This shares many of the characteristics of the 3rd Panzer history - well-researched, well-written, very expensive (around 250 Euros presently :shock:, although I didn't pay half that mercifully) and somewhat imbalanced.

It is very nicely produced on quality paper, copiously illustrated and packed with first-hand accounts through its 450-plus pages. And like 3 Pz's history, it's an essential history for anyone studying the 1931-41 campaigns. By far the bulk of the book - two-thirds - is devoted to the early years, which makes it first-rate; the last ten months of battle are covered in just 32 pages - its demise is rather hurriedly dealt with, presumably the result of a shortage of material. And that's a shame because for 2/3 of this book it's up there with the very best unit histories. It just lets itself down at the end, so recommended but with that caveat (and the very hefty price tag). :[]

And with that I have the histories of the first seven panzer divisions. Which is nice. :D Only cost around £600. :shock:
No-one who speaks German could be an evil man

User avatar
Jason Long
Contributor
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2002 4:27 pm

Re: Unit History Reviews

Post by Jason Long » Thu Apr 23, 2009 1:32 pm

Richard,
So why are you stopping with the first 7? Haupt's book on 8 is pretty cheap, and you could always spring for the 2 volume history that goes for 200 Euros or so! I'm not sure that I really count the history of Panzerjäger-Abt. 38 of 2. PzD. as a history of the division. And I'd never consider any of the photohistories either.

I probably paid about as much for my set of unit histories since I bought the original edition of the 1. PzD. history because the Nebel-Verlag cheap edition hadn't been released yet.

Jason

Post Reply