In his previous volume, Robert Michulec examined the role of “Das Reich” in the invasion of France. This latest work provides an invaluable partner as it looks at the participation of “Das Reich”, now established fully as a Waffen SS division, on the Eastern Front. The volume commences with a description of the “Das Reich” Division as it took part in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union from 22 June 1941 onwards. What followed was a stunning series of victories that swept “Das Reich” and other German units across the vast Russian steppes to the very gates of Moscow. However, stiffening Soviet resistance and frigid winter conditions brought the momentum of the assault to a grinding and deadly halt. After refitting in France, the division returned to the Eastern Front and participated in combat in places like Kharkov and in the momentous Battle of Kursk in July 1943. After this, “Das Reich” was involved in the bitter retreat back to the borders of the Fatherland, including episodes such as the effort to relieve the Korsun Pocket, as well as combat in Hungary.
The book documents the waxing and waning fortunes of “Das Reich” in a rich collection of black and white photographs. Pictures show troops in the lead-up to the invasion of Russia, as well as in combat in the vast Soviet interior. These photos show troops, equipment and vehicles in all sorts of conditions from the summer dust to autumn mud and winter snow. For example, motorcycles, cars, trucks, antitank weapons and tanks all find a place between the covers. In this book from Concord Publications’ Warrior series, the fighting man of “Das Reich” naturally remains the focus, and it gives some indication of the kind of hardships he endured on the Eastern Front.
In the center of the book, the artist Dmitriy Zgonnik displays four color plates showing typical soldiers resplendent in their combat uniforms and wielding a range of weapons. Throughout the book, the author has included detailed captions to keep readers informed about specific characteristics of “Das Reich,” its equipment and organization. This is a fitting second volume about this famous German division, and it traces in some illustrated detail its exploits on the Eastern Front.
In usual style for the series, the book also features 16 color plates prepared by Laurent Lecocq. These plates provide the perfect opportunity to highlight camouflage paint schemes and vehicle/tactical markings. The combination of a knowledgeable author and atmospheric wartime photographs represents an inspiring book for any interested in the wide-ranging topic of German halftracks.
The centerpiece of this book is a set of 16 color plates produced by Laurent Lecocq, these showing various camouflage schemes and tactical markings. This second book on the popular topic of Sturmartillerie is a treasure trove of information for the historically minded, plus a source of inspiration for model makers.