The following introduction us as provided by Pen and Sword:
In March 1940, Oberleutnant Wilhelm Walther transferred from Aufklärungs-Abteilung 5, an armoured reconnaissance unit, to Bau-Lehr-Bataillon z.b.V. 800 – forerunner of what would soon be known as the ‘Brandenburger’. Two months later, he led a commando action in the Netherlands and became the first of his unit to be awarded the Ritterkreuz (Knight’s Cross). By May 1944, Walther was an Oberstleutnant and an experienced regimental commander in what had evolved as the Division ‘Brandenburg’. He would eventually join Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny’s SS-Jagdverbände as Chief of Staff, before seeing out the last days of the war with the short-lived Schutzkorps Alpenland.
More than 200 images, together with the original German captions and English translations, portray the life and times of this career officer, from the German annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938, to operations in Russia, Greece and the Balkans during 1941–44.
In comparison with other units of the Second World War, relatively little has been published about Germany’s commando forces. This is hardly surprising, considering the paucity of source material available and the air of mystery and intrigue still surrounding this specialist formation. This unique collection of rare images was sourced from the photograph album of Wilhelm Walther and is sure to appeal to all with an interest in the war in the West and on the Eastern Front, as well as to militaria collectors, modellers and re-enactment groups.
This offering from Pen and Sword is produced under the Greenhill books name and authored by Anthony Rogers. This is a soft backed book offering with 160 pages of semi-gloss paper. The book begins with a well written introduction on the title and a little on how it came about; the book then continues to tell in brief the story of this man before moving into the pictorial sections. The contents of the book are presented as follows.
Introduction and Acknowledgements
Wilhelm Walther and the Brandenburger
1 – 1931-39
2 – 1940
3 – The Balkans 1941
4 – Russia 1941-42
5 – Russia 1942-43
6 – Greece 1943-44
7 – Albania and Yugoslavia 1944
8 – Comrades in Arms
9 – Hie guet Brandenburg allewege
Appendix – Wilhelm Walter’s Service Record
It is rare for an Images of War book to follow a specific person’s history and that aspect makes this book very noteworthy. Following a man’s war during a World War puts a different slant on things as regards how the viewer views the title and what they get from it. I remember spending many hours with my grandfather who saw the war as them and us, but titles such as this turn that perception on its head as you get to see a person in someone else’s army facing the same concerns and issues that affected everyone during this conflict.
Being an Images of War title, it is of course mostly photographic in its presentation, and being photographs from the one source make it so much more on an intrinsic value in itself. The photographs appear to be very well chosen and show a good mix in type but fighting itself is missing as he had other things on his mind during those events. The book due to following a career officer during the war does show the changes that took place to things such as uniform during that period. Another good aspect of this title are the images showing the changes in the surroundings as he moves from front to front. If I had a complaint it would be that many of the photographs have limited caption information and I wish effort had been put in gathering more information from the man himself.
This offering from Pen and Sword is not you typical Images of War title with it covering one mans war, but that in itself increases its appeal. The picture quality varies through the title but with all photographs having their own appealing prospects. When it comes to complaints I have only one and that is the length of the captions due to being short in many cases as they are direct translations from the original German caption.