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Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 10:37 am
by Frederick L Clemens
Richard Hargreaves a neutral observer flicking through this thread it seems that we've rather got bogged down debating the minutiae and rather missed the bigger picture...
Don't take this as an argument. I totally agree with your statement above - and that is the problem. It should be possible to debate minutiae without others butting in and killing a critique. Yes, sometimes people will have their toes stepped on in the process, but we should all be adult enough to handle a few bruises.

And it does work both ways. I have posted critiques where I later realized (or it was made clear to me) that I was wrong. So I learned from it.

At least that is what my ideal version of an author's thread would be.

Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:24 pm
by John W. Howard
Hello Gents:
I think part of the problem is the non-standard way reviews are written by our members. If each member was to review all of the various aspects of a publication instead of just some, guided by a common format, then I think we would have a truer picture of it. For instance some areas to be covered would include writing style, clarity, quality of research, quality of photographs, quality of maps, binding, paper quality, price, would you recommend the publication, etc. I know I am leaving a few things out, but a book is made up of all of these things, and at various times I have seen reviews mention some of the aspects I have listed above, but usually not all. A more complete review would guide our members as to whether they wish to invest in it or not. Some people, like Uncle Joe, pay much attention to the physical quality of a book. Others are less concerned with the physical quality, being more concerned with the research and information contained. It might be wise to start a post with a comment like: "I enjoyed the content of this book very much and recommend it, but the photos, paper, and binding are sub-par" and expand from there. Best wishes.

Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 5:30 am
by Frederick L Clemens
Hey John,

I understand what you are saying, but in the end the discussion would anyway focus down to specific elements with the resulting reaction from other people that there is "nit-picking" going on. Now if modelers can argue about the correct number of rivets on a Hetzer drive wheel, why can't we debate the minutiae of books? :[]

One man's nit-picking is another man's rigorous search for the truth.

Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:45 pm
by John W. Howard
Hi Fred:
I know what you mean, but it might be nice to let the author know you liked his book before getting to the details :wink: All in all Mr. Hamilton has been a trooper and handled himself well; when I gather enough cash I'll buy his book!! Take care and best wishes Fred.

Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:10 pm
by Stephan H.
Richard - thanks for the post and I hope you enjoy the book. I will say that there is still much more that can be written about Berlin, especially from the Soviet side. There are several newly declassified Soviet General Staff studies and other related documents only made available since 2001. Perhaps David Glantz will get around to focusing on this period in the near future and translate some of those documents. Even the accounts in the "Shturm Berlina", once translated, will shed even more light into the intense street fighting. Here is a snippet from p327 that was recently translated by a friend:

"On Kommand Strasse.

On the 29th of April our battalion, while fighting on the left bank of Spree, was advancing to Kommand Strasse. In the evening when we were approaching Jakob Strasse adversary met us with heavy fire from the five-story building on the corner. We would have suffered heavy losses if we were to get stuck here, since there was no adequate cover for defense. That is why major Romanenko, despite the heavy enemy machine gun fire and grenade throwing from the building, ordered to storm the building immediately."

Pretty interesting stuff from my perspective . . .

Fred and John’s comments (both Johns) are spot on. Most of the feedback here, while critical, tends to be correct. Some I’d chalk up to individual subjectiveness, as different people will like/dislike different things based on their preference. I have taken much of the feedback I’ve seen here into account in my next work.

Maybe Feldgrau might be able to offer a peer review service in the future? Different members might be on tap (voluntarily of course) to review certain books based on preference/theme and can be given a review copy. They read the book, provide feedback to the author, who in turn is given an opportunity to prepare a response and both are put out as a joint post? Stone & Stone offers a rating scheme and review component to their website, though I guess in the end is really no different then having a review posted on Amazon. Just some thoughts.


Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:02 pm
by Tom Houlihan
Stephan H. wrote:Maybe Feldgrau might be able to offer a peer review service in the future? Different members might be on tap (voluntarily of course) to review certain books based on preference/theme and can be given a review copy. They read the book, provide feedback to the author, who in turn is given an opportunity to prepare a response and both are put out as a joint post? Stone & Stone offers a rating scheme and review component to their website, though I guess in the end is really no different then having a review posted on Amazon. Just some thoughts.
That's not a bad idea. In truth, I've already sort of done that for a couple of people here and elsewhere. For my part, the initial intent was proofreading for the author, then throwing comments out where appropriate. It wouldn't be hard to shift focus to a proof and review. I'll make a new thread on this.

Re: Bloody Streets: The Soviet Assault on Berlin, April 1945

Posted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:01 am
by panzermahn
Jan-Hendrik wrote:
Writing about foreign militaries in a second language forces one to make decisions about translating rank, names, etc. There are a number of considerations to keep in mind, including accuracy, readability, authentic flavor, the expertise of your target audience, and the support of the publi
Translating unit designations is one of the major faults in most anglo-saxon military literature on German Army. Not only that those translations are often in the range between funny and ridicoulous they are often simply misleading, too.

Why is it so hard to use german terms, just add one page of explanation and everything is good. Have you ever tried to translate british army unit designations? Simply impossible. Please be so kind and don't do it for the Wehrmacht, too!

Eine Panzerabteilung ist eine Panzerabteilung, kein 'Tank Batallion' :shock:



Hi Jan-Hendrik

You can look at how Professor Evans' translation of German terms in his 2008 book, The Third Reich at War. It drives me nuts to trying to fathom his translations! :x


Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:08 am
by Nicolai
A question about a minor detail:

On page 211 of Bloody Streets you talk about Harry Schweizer's experiences as a tank hunter. The section starts like this:
The approach of Soviet tanks so close to the Zoo Bunker caused the call for volunteers to head out into the local streets and hunt down Russian armor. Harry Schweizer was a Luftwaffe flak gunner who took up the call. Schweizer was one of four soldiers that formed a tank destroyer team. These boys left the Zoo Flak Tower armed with a Panzerfaust, a glass bottle containing a milky fluid that when mixed with oxygen in the air would cause the tank engine to stop, and two escorts with Sturmgewehr assault rifles to shoot the tank's crew once they bailed out.

Schweizer is not that specific about his escorts' armament in the book you sourced his account from:
With Our Backs to Berlin by Tony Le Tissier - At the Zoo Flak-Tower wrote:On 26 April 1945, volunteers were called for the tank destroyer teams and many of my age group, among them myself, volunteered. We were quickly instructed and equipped for our new role. There were four men in a team, one with a Panzerfaust, one with a glass bottle containing a milky fluid which, when mixed with the oxygen in the air would cause a tank engine to stop, and two escorts armed with sub-machine guns to fire at the enemy as soon as they bailed out. Apart from this a Volkswagen jeep was put at our disposal to give us mobility, but was then taken away again the next day because of the shortage of fuel, and since we were only intended for deployment in the Zoo area.
Did you get the extra little detail from another source, or did you just figure that it was probably the weapon they used? (Seems likely, the French tank hunters in the Berlin area have used it a lot)

Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:21 am
by Frederick L Clemens
I would bet that the original source did say Sturmgewehr but LeTissier's publishers were not comfortable with using that term.

The milky fluid in a bottle sounds interesting. I think that it was mainly potassium nitrate with some kind of volatile igniter. The resulting oxidation, forming a smoke cloud, could theoretically starve the engine of oxygen.

Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:49 pm
by Nicolai
Yes, that is quite possible. Hamilton lists With Our Backs to Berlin as the source of the account (a number of extracts are scattered throughout the Assault on Berlin chapter), but I suppose that Tissier might have hooked him up with the original, untranslated version.

Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:24 pm
by Stephan H.
Nicolai - This is a good point. I did not have any contact with Tissier, so the account is derived directly from his book. Given that I was in the process of interpreting many of the accounts from the Ryan collection (most of which were in the 3rd person based on what was recorded by the interviewer) I believe I added the "Sturmgewehr" based on my knowledge of what they were more than likely using. I'd have to go back and cross-check my notes to be certain that I did not come across a related account that specified Sturmgewehrs being used by HJ dispatched from the Flak Bunker.
Frederick L Clemens wrote:The milky fluid in a bottle sounds interesting. I think that it was mainly potassium nitrate with some kind of volatile igniter. The resulting oxidation, forming a smoke cloud, could theoretically starve the engine of oxygen.

Frederick - I wasn't too sure myself when I read this, but this makes sense.


Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:15 pm
by Heinrich505
I just finished reading your amazing book, and I was really impressed. It is an excellent piece of work, and I enjoyed reading it. I hated to finish it, but was drawn from chapter to chapter, forcing myself to stop and save the next part for the next day. I have read many other books about the fight for Berlin, and I found some things that were familiar from your other sources, but there was also so much that I hadn't read about the struggle, and some things that it seems others were afraid to include, for a variety of reasons, such as the Soviets killing each other in the zeal of their commanders to please Stalin and beat each other to the Reichstag.

I agree with your premise that the attack was more of an assault than a battle. It was certainly an assault in many ways, from the sometimes chaotic small unit engagements, to the hand-to-hand fights to the death in alleys, back streets, and the inside of rubbled buildings. You could also use the word assault to describe the treatment of the civilian population during and after the conflict, and you'd be right on target. Your explanation that the defense of Berlin was only put together at the last moment, in a hodge-podge fashion, with all sorts of commanders, but thin on the actual fighters, was new to me. This explanation cleared up a great many questions I had about the battle, and why it progressed in the way it did.

Also, your detail of the impact of the panzerfaust hit home on many levels. It was a terrifying weapon, extremely versatile, able to be used by mere boys with a high degree of success, and its results were gruesome for the Soviet tankers. Your premise that it had a huge impact on the assault was very correct. You would have thought the Soviet high command would take into account the real possibility that this weapon would prove deadly in their attack, especially since they saw how successful they themselves were in the battle for Stalingrad, where they were able to neutralize the panzers of the Sixth Armee and didn't have panzerfausts, relying on stopgap measures and the courage of their individual fighting men.

Your account of the way Stalin played Zhukov and Koniev against one another was not new to me, but the details were. I'd always suspected that the rank and file Soviet soldiers fought against each other accidentally, but your accounts of the fratricide were the most extensive and detailed that I'd seen to this point. Koniev's assault through Chuikov's blocking attempt, ordered by Zhukov to prevent Koniev from beating Zhukov in the race for the Reichstag, was amazing to read about. The battle, with Soviet soldiers and tanks blasting away at each other, FOR HOURS, was terrible to realize, especially when you know that it was all because Stalin was playing his generals against each other in the race for the Reichstag.

There is so much more I could say, but I couldn't be more pleased with your efforts. I didn't find the page set-up to be all that difficult to adapt to. I hadn't planned to read through it fast, as I wanted to slowly savor the contents. I was more interested in what you were writing than how it was placed on the page. I did find the many spelling errors a little disconcerting at times, but it never detracted from the overall enjoyment. The photographs were quite helpful to keep the reader immersed in the action, and I really enjoyed the maps. It meant that you never really got lost, and could always drop back a page or two to see the map and regain your bearings, so to speak. Your photographs of actual locations greatly helped me get a visual of the key locations. The chapter breaks by day, and within by areas of defense were very well done, and gave an order to the battles and small unit engagements. It was really interesting to follow some of the single tanks and their commanders, and even see photos of their tanks after the battle.

I especially enjoyed the last section, where you took us on amazing journeys of the individuals we'd come to know in the battle, as they tried to break through to the west and freedom. It gave a sense of closure that many authors ignore. If I've been reading about a particular individual who is surviving battle after battle, I'd also like to see what actually happened to him. Did he make it out to the Elbe? Was he eventually captured? Did he survive the terrible war into peacetime, or did he die in captivity in some Soviet gulag? Or, in the case of Hans Henseler, did he make it all the way to the Elbe, only to sit on a "log" to rest for a moment, and find the "log" was a sleeping Soviet soldier with a subgun, who took him prisoner only a river's width from surrender to the Americans? Hans' story was amazing, as he was marched all the way back through Berlin, and then dodged out of the column and snuck back into Berlin, going underground until he was smuggled into the western sector and freedom.

I enjoyed your attention to detail, your research, and the manner of your presentation. This is a very important book about the battles in Berlin, and you have done a credible job. Thanks for an excellent presentation on the struggle for Berlin.
It has a position of honor on my bookshelf.


Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:27 pm
by Stephan H.

Thank you for that post, and I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

I really wanted to provide a final story for all those whose accounts I used as many of them made for good reading. Unfortunately I ran out of time and room and had to choose.


Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:50 pm
by Stephan H.
Thank you to all those who purchased a copy of Bloody Streets as I was notified by the publisher that it sold out last month. I greatly appreciate all the positive feedback and corrections I received both here on the forum and through the publisher. I have noted the feedback and plan to incorporate it when I sit down to work on a future revised and expanded edition at a later date. I have no plans to republish the current version of the book.

I also want to let those who might have been waiting for my second book to know that it will not be published this year. I am in the final stages of editing Oder Front 1945: Generaloberst Gotthard Heinrici, Heeresgruppe Weichsel, and Germany's Final Battle in the East, 20 March-4 May 1945. My hope was to have it out for the spring 2010, but it looks like the publication date might be pushed back to the fall. I will post some detail about the book once I release it to the publisher, but I thought I'd post the table of contents to provide some insight on what the book will cover.

I can tell you that the majority of the information in the book is from primary sources and first person interviews, and that most of the information has either never been translated into English, or published, or both.



PART I: Background to Battle
CHAPTER I: Germany’s Late War Strategy, June 1944-March 1945

CHAPTER II: Heeresgruppe Weichsel, January-March 1945

CHAPTER III: Gotthard Heinrici
World War I Experience and the Inter-War Years
Race, Ideology, and the War in the East
Strategy and Motivation
Scorched Earth, Berlin, and Plots against Hitler

PART II: Prelude to Battle, 20 March-12 April 1945
CHAPTER IV: Commander’s Intent

CHAPTER V: Background and Geographic Orientation

CHAPTER VI: Disposition of German Forces

CHAPTER VII: Objectives of Soviet Forces

CHAPTER VIII: Operation Bumerang and the Battle of Küstrin
Operation Bumerang
First Relief Attempt of Küstrin.
Second Relief Attempt of Küstrin
Third Relief Attempt on Küstrin / End of H.Gr. W. Offensive Operations
Soviet Attacks against German Bridgeheads

CHAPTER IX: The Fight Against Soviet Bridges

CHAPTER X: Operational Planning for the Oderfront’s Defense
German Defensive Doctrine: Hitler vs Heinrici
Defense in Depth along the Oderfront
The State of German Forces, Weapons, and Equipment
5-8 April: Führerbunker Meeting
8 April: Observations of Soviet Movement
10 April: Göring’s Convoy
11 April: Seydlitz Troops
12-13 April: Preparatory Soviet Attacks

PART III: The Battle, 14 April-3 May
CHAPTER XI: Overview of Battle
14 April
15 April
16 April
17 April
18 April
19 April
20 April
21 April
22 April
23 April
24 April
25 April
26 April
27 April
28 April
29 April
30 April
1-3 May

CHAPTER XII: Final Battles of Heeresgruppe Weichsel
Encirclement of the 9.Armee
Spremberg Pocket, Cottbus, and the Southern Flank of the 9.Armee
Relief Attempt of the 12.Armee
9.Armee Breakout
A Soviet Soldier’s View of the 9.Armee Breakout at Halbe
Busse’s Commentary on the Breakout
Across the Elbe to Salvation
Koniev’s Commentary on the Fighting South of Berlin
Eismann’s Commentary of the End of H.Gr. Weichsel Headquarters and 3.Panzer Armee
Manteuffel’s Final Order
Surrender of the 21.Armee
Busse’s Final Escape and Capture

CHAPTER XIII: Assessments
Defense of the Oderfront
Heinrici’s Commentary on Soviet Operations.
Heinrici’s Final Observation

APPENDIX A: Organization of Heeresgruppe Weichsel
APPENDIX B: Gotthard Heinrici
APPENDIX C: Hasso-Eccard Freiherr (Baron) von Manteuffel
APPENDIX D: Theodore Busse
APPENDIX E: Walther Wenck
APPENDIX F: Hans Georg Eismann
APPENDIX G: MS # R-69 The End of Heeresgruppe Weichsel and 12.Armee 27 April – 7 May 1945
APPENDIX H: MS # B-606 The Last Rally: Battles Fought by the 12.Armee in the Heart of Germany, between the West and the East (13 April-7 May 1945)
APPENDIX I: Soviet Soldier and Equipment Totals for the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation
APPENDIX J: H.Gr. Weichsel Replacements and Losses through 15 March 45
APPENDIX K: 9.Armee Infantry Fighting Strength, 17 March 1945
APPENDIX L: Operational Availability of Men and Equipment for SS-Freiw.Pz.Gren.Div. “Nordland,” SS-Freiw.Pz.Gren.Div. “Nederland,” 5.Jäger-Division, and 3.Marine-Division, 25 March 1945
APPENDIX M: 9.Armee Infantry Fighting Strength, 10 April 1945
APPENDIX N: H.Gr. Weichsel Panzer and Sturmgeschütze on 13 April 1945
APPENDIX O: Organization of III. (Germ.) SS-Pz.Korps, 23 April 1945
APPENDIX P: Heeresgruppe Weichsel Order of Battle, 25 April 1945
APPENDIX Q: Heeresgruppe Weichsel Heavy Weapons and Other Notes
APPENDIX R: German Order of Battle along the Oderfront, March-May 1945


Re: Feldgrau Author: Stephan Hamilton

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 3:16 am
by Frederick L Clemens
Congratulations - this looks like your Eichenlaubtat!