Here we take a look at SS Foreign Divisions of Volunteers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia 1941-1945 from Pen and Sword as part of their Images of War series.


The following introduction is taken from the Pen and Sword website:

Drawing on a superb collection of rare and unpublished photographs SS Foreign Divisions & Volunteers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia 1942 - 1945 describes how the occupying Nazis recruited Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian conscripts into the Waffen-SS. Unlike her Latvian neighbour, Lithuania had no plans to provide Germany with a National Legion. Although volunteers came forward, the majority did not. This was not the case for Latvia and Estonia, which undertook huge recruitment programmes, and thousands of men were drafted into their own foreign legion of Waffen-SS Grenadier divisions. After intensive training, these divisions saw action on the Eastern front, around Leningrad, in the Ukraine, before vicious defensive operations as the Red Army smashed its way through the Baltic States in 1944. Even in the last dying weeks of the war, what was left of the Baltic soldiers of the 15th, 19th and 20th Waffen-SS Grenadier Divisions, continued to fight alongside their Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS counterparts until they were either destroyed or surrendered.

The story of these divisions is graphically told with detailed captions and text together with many contemporary images in true Images of War style.


This offering from Pen and Sword is an addition to the Images of War series of books, and on this occasion is authored by Ian Baxter. Ian Baxter has authored a great many books in the Images of War series, covering various aspects of World War II, specifically covering German units and offensives. This book is a soft backed book, with a card cover protecting 128 pages of a semi matt paper. The contents of this offering are presented as follows:


Chapter 1   Invasion and Occupation, 1941-42

Chapter 2   Foreign Recruitment

Chapter 3   The Last Year, 1944-45

Chapter 4   The End

Appendix 1   Order of Battle

Appendix 3   Formation of Army Detachment Narva

When Germany first went to war the SS were made up of Germans, who met very specific requirements. However, as the war continued, the need to replace losses meant that foreign SS units were created, with an attempt to even create a British unit. This book gives a glimpse into the creation and set up of SS divisions covering volunteers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The men of the Balkin states, often joined up willingly, but not always and this book touches upon that aspect. 

Each chapter begins with a short written section, but obviously with this being an Images of War production from Pen and Sword, the majority of it is made up of period photographs, and it is these period photographs that are in most cases are personal photographs that gives the modeller an exceptional visual reference, and insight into the lives of these troops, and that may inspire you to try and replicate one of the scenes. The photographs themselves are of a good quality, and enable you to pick out details that may otherwise be missed. Each of the photographs is accompanied by a caption that adds detail to the images, that would otherwise be impossible to gain. 


The Images of War book series, usually appeal to me greatly and this offering is no different. The short written sections provide a background prior to the photographic sections, with the photographic sections and captions adding the meat to the bones. While the photographs are black and white, details such as uniforms, insignia and equipment are well highlighted, and it shows troops doing what they did most often, which was waiting and preparing for the next fight, rather than fighting all the time, which would have been the case in the last months of the war - where as a general rule it was a case of kill or be killed. 



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