Review: To Battle (14th SS)

Book discussion and reviews related to the German military.

Moderator: sniper1shot

Post Reply
User avatar
sniper1shot
Moderator
Posts: 1438
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2004 10:56 pm
Location: Canada

Review: To Battle (14th SS)

Post by sniper1shot » Sat Feb 05, 2011 8:20 pm

Title: To Battle- the formation and history of the 14th SS Galician Waffen-SS Division
Authour: Michael James Melnyk
ISBN: 1 874622 41 8
Publisher: Helion & Company
Stars: 3.5
(out of 5)

I had this book sitting in my "To Read" pile for awhile and have finally got around to reading and finishing the book.
As there are 2 definative books on the 14thSS I had to chose one and this review is a review on this book and NOT a comparison.The authours' father was a member of the 14th which is why he researched and wrote on the unit. I found the book well written and well researched.
The beginning chapters tell of the reasoning behind the formation and training of the unit. The Germans and the Ukranians both had different reasons which makes for some interesting reading. The political wranglings and from where the unit was to be recruited from was also a surprise to me. The recruiting for the Division from various organisations and regions carried on through out the war. Even to which type of collar insignia or the name of the unit was continually debated and even changed.
The unit participated in various small scale battles but was fully committed in Brody where is was surrounded and decimated. There is some very good first person accounts (not a lot) describing the fighting and eventual escape of what was left of the unit. With the refomation of the unit and then the eventual capitulation of the German Armed Forces the Ukranian unit managed to avoid Soviet reparation and stayed on the Allied side after the war..The book even talks about the soldiers in the unit working with or deserting to the Ukranian underground movement.
There are some exceptionally good photos in the book and the political discussions on the unit makes for some very interesting reading. I would of liked to of seen more battle descriptions however it is a book on the unit......a unit history.
You do have to pay attention when reading, to fully understand who is who, and who is where to fully appreciate the book.
Only he is lost who gives himself up as lost.

John P. Moore
Author & Moderator
Posts: 1868
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 10:40 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon & France

Re: Review: To Battle (14th SS)

Post by John P. Moore » Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:03 am

Thanks for your review, but I would rate it a solid 5. It probably needs to be read more than once to fully appreciate what the author is saying about this complex unit. I read this book for the third time last summer. The politics of this division make it somewhat difficult to understand, but I believe the author does a good job in explaining all that and documenting his sources. You are correct when you say that the combat action is a little hard to follow, especially around July 1944. I also read the Logusz book again at the same time and constructed a time line by unit for officer battle deaths and MIAs which I compared to official casualty reports in the NARA SSO files. The author kindly cleared up the minor discrepancies through new eye-witness reports that have come into his possession. The abilities of the Ukrainian officers are under appreciated, largely owing to slanders by the incompetent German division commander, Fritz Freitag. I consider To Battle to be one of the best researched, objective and well-writen books about the Waffen-SS that I have read.

John

User avatar
sniper1shot
Moderator
Posts: 1438
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2004 10:56 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Review: To Battle (14th SS)

Post by sniper1shot » Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:33 am

Yes, I didn't want to get too deep in the review on the political depths for the forming of this unit.
As for reading it a second time you are probably correct. I did not read this in one sitting but over the course of a couple of weeks.

Having not read any other books or being able to reseach other sources I only have this book to go on.
Yes, I do agree on the Ukranian officers not being given their just due.

The authour has done a great job of researching this for sure.
Only he is lost who gives himself up as lost.

ghost
Supporter
Posts: 87
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2002 1:35 pm
Location: England

Re: Review: To Battle (14th SS)

Post by ghost » Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:45 am

Greetings and thank you for the review. I would just like to take this opportunity to clear up a few outstanding matters.

There are 3 main works concerning the 14 Galician Division and not 2.
My own, To Battle
Galicia Division by Michael Orest Logusz
On the Horns of a Dilema by Taras Hunczak.

My father was with the Divsion - he was conscripted in 1944. Logusz's father was also with the division and Hunczak although not strictly with the division, was a member of the 'Juniaky' or Ukrainian youth who served as anti-aircraft auxilliaries. So we all have a similar link.

Next, I welcome the criticisms that you have made. When I wrote the book my objective was to use as much previoulsy unpublished material as possible. Whilst I was very keen on using first hand accounts of veterans of the division, finding people willing to cooperate was a tall order, and when I did their memory was not always accurate. I also agree that the political aspect of this divsion is a fairly complex issue.

I have therefore decided to write a second book about the Divsion. This time I will limit the political aspect and the mechanations which took place prior to the Division's formation - and concentrate more on its combat engagements. I hope to use more and extended first hand accounts as well as new photos and illustrations of pesonal documents.

I learned a great deal from my first effort, and hope that I can put this to good use in my forthcoming project.

I always welcome comments and criticisms good or bad and am always happy to take advice from anyone who has anything useful to contribute

best wishes

Mike Melnyk

Rotanhäntäpistin
Supporter
Posts: 68
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:51 am

Re: Review: To Battle (14th SS)

Post by Rotanhäntäpistin » Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:26 pm

Melnyk's ook is first class apart from two issues affecting readability. First one is the publisher's decision to use very wide single column layout and the second is the decision to have the note apparatus at the end of the book. Since these notes have lost and lots of additional information, they should have been placed on the same page as the main text is. Apart from these two shortcomings, the book is magnificent!

Charles Trang
Supporter
Posts: 185
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 7:49 am
Location: France

Re: Review: To Battle (14th SS)

Post by Charles Trang » Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:13 pm

I totally agree with John : Mike Melnyk's book is one of the best ever written on a Waffen-SS division. But there are two other books worth having a look at though they are not as accurate and documented as Mike Melnyk's work :
- Major Wolf-Dietrich Heike : Sie wollten die Freiheit
- Richard Landwehr : Fighting for freedom
Heike's book of course is focused on the Div.-Ia's memoirs while Landwehr's book is more axed on the military aspects of the unit.

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

Re: Review: To Battle (14th SS)

Post by Marc Rikmenspoel » Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:23 am

By the way, the English translation of Heike's book is available again, for anyone interested. Tom at the Aberdeen Bookstore received a tip that the Ukrainian Veterans' Association in Canada had a batch in a warehouse, collecting dust. So he bought up the remaining copies from them, and has them for sale.

John P. Moore
Author & Moderator
Posts: 1868
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 10:40 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon & France

Re: Review: To Battle (14th SS)

Post by John P. Moore » Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:12 am

I would NOT recommend the publications of Richard Landwehr to anyone. I purchased some of his first publications back in the 1970s before I knew any better. This review on Amazon provides a good evaluation of Landwehr's typical work.

http://www.amazon.com/Britisches-Freiko ... ewpoints=1

Post Reply