Two theaters of conflict in WWII were particularly noted for their brutality and bloodletting on a terrible scale. The first were the apalling battles for the Pacific Islands, the other , the subject of this book, the Eastern Front. Fought in often sub-artic conditions with long lines of communication and between two adversaries who cared little for a massive loss of lives and even less for the 'rules' of war, there can truly be any experience more terrifying than the inferno which was the Eastern Front. By 1943, where this book begins, the German forces were at last beginning to turn onto the defensive. At last, the enormous industrial capacity of the Soviet Union had mobilized along with a resistance which had more to do with traditional Russian Nationalism than any political doctrine. The choice of 1943 is a significant choice to begin this book. In january 1943, the SS-Panzer-Korps
was formed, combining the Ist LiebstandarteSS 'Adolf Hitler'
with 2nd SS 'Das Reich'
. In january , the battle for Kharkov began.....
the book - headings and chapters...
SS Armor On The Eastern Front 1943-1945
is written by Velimir Vuksic
. The book is large-format, hardback and contains the following:
296 pages, 8 maps (2 in color), 403 photos, 12 organizational diagrams and 16 pages of color illustrations
The book is divided into TEN chapters with the following headings::
The Operational Chapters in Detail:
Zhitomir - Berdichew (December 1943 - January 1944)
The Cherkassy Pocket (1-18 February 1944)
Tarnopol - Kamenets/Podolsk (11-30 April 1944)
Breakthrough to Kovel (27 March - 1 April)
Warsaw (27 July - 7 August 1944)
Budapest - Operation 'Konrad' (1-26 January 1945)
9) Additional Photographs
10) Color Section
the book - review and opinion....
The book proper
... begins with a well written Foreword and Introduction. The foreword, takes a brief chronological overview of the principal dates of WWII, particularly related to the Waffen SS. The introduction consists entirely of seven pages of photos taken from various periods of the Waffen SS' operational history - with some tantalizing images of Waffen SS troops and equipment in the early-war period - could we be seeing a 'taster' of another book on SS armor?
Moving onto the real 'core' of the book, the Operations, this is where the photos really come into their own. Each section is presented with an operational map of the battle. This identifies the units involved superimposed onto a map of the region. In most cases, these occupy two full pages. Other 'bonuses' within these chapters are organizational diagrams covering particular units at 'Abteilung' (Battalion) or even Regimental level. These serve the function of putting the reader into the situation described in the maps and presented (graphically) within the photos.
For historians, researchers and (naturally enough) modellers, we are fortunate in having so much access to so many interesting photographs. WWII was truly the first 'totally' documented war in history. In this war, images were used as a powerful tool of propaganda (by all sides). In the case of Germany, everything was recorded as can be seen by the many hundreds of books covering every aspect of the Nazi Regime. SS Armor On The Eastern Front
is principally a compilation of photos taken by professional photographers. The photos in this book are frankly extraordinary in not just their quality, but the multitide of subjects covered in the book. For reasons of copyright, I can't reproduce images from the book, but as an idea of some of the incredible images here are some of the more 'intriguing' subjects covered:
1) A column of (whitewashed) M4s...
2) A Panzer 1 being used as part of a recconaissance company in 1945...
3) A 38(t) used as part of the defence on an Armored Train...
4) A column of Stugs with some extremely unusual stowage boxes on the back...
5) Many photos of captured Soviet equipment
The crispness of the photos is truly excellent. Good contrast and extremely well-chosen by the author. It may sound somewhat absurd (to many) but I am no fan of 'contemporary' color images. In some cases, they are useful, but I do tend to believe that they can be very deceiving regarding correct color matching. Black and white images, are in my opinion, preferable if they present detail.
The Color Plates:
The penultimate section is dedicated to a series of color plates of a variety of vehicles. The majority are of side views, althogh several are done with four views. The reason for this is primarily to show the different camouflage schemes in use at this point of the war. The color definition of these is simply stunning...
This is simply several full-page photos of images that the author couldn't fit in the various specific chapters. Once again some very useful images covering a variety of situations and locations with Infantry, Armored Vehicles and Artillery photos.
The Caption Controversy..
It would be remiss of me, not to mention, that, on another site, someone has published a correction of some of the captions. Principally this has been a clarification although some of the captions are claimed to be incorrect. Personally I feel unqualified to enter into this debate although there is one photograph (of a T34/85) which is captioned as knocked out, whereas with the markings it had obviously been captured some time before...
So just who would buy this book? Principally armor modellers is the obvious response, after all the title says it all... However,
the diorama builders are as likely to take as much (or more) from it as anyone. Figure modellers will also find many projects worth of inspiration in its pages. The enormous number of variations in types of uniform worn (particularly cold-weather gear) , non-regulation items such as Russian holsters or the LAH Infantry wearing SS badges on their fur hats will be an endless source of 'I wonder if....'
The price. It's doubtless an expensive book. Spending $85.00 on a reference book is not within everyone's grasp. However, this is not one of those books with endlessly recycled photographs. This book is as near as you can get to having your own private album. Frankly, it is difficult to imagine a book which comes close to this in depth of coverage, quality and information. For that, $85.00 seems a reasonable price to pay. Good reference doesn't come cheap. Yes, the 'net gives us access to hundreds of thousands of amazing image. Rarely, however, are they edited in such a professional and disciplined manner such as this. There again, there are modellers who spend vast sums on the latest kits, expensive AM and not a cent on reference material....
In conclusion, it's a serious book for serious students of the subject. It is not a book done as an introduction - some previous knowledge is assumed by the author. That said, I will put my neck on the line and say that everyone who has a serious interest in the subject should (very) seriously consider the purchase of this book....
VERY Highly Recommended
My copy was purchased (on-line) from Larry's Books
after a number of recommendations from satisfied customers. The book was sent swiftly, immaculately packaged with not a blemish - definitely a source to consider! Larry also offered me an excellent deal on shipping, something other booksellers were not....
The book is published by J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing Inc
whose site includes a good selection of images of the book.