Southern Russia loomed large in Hitler’s overall strategy to conquer Russia. After capturing Stalingrad as his linchpin, he planned to launch Operation Blau and cut off Russian oil supplies in the Caucasus. To do this he had formed two separate armies in Heeresgruppe Süd – Heeresgruppe A under General List, and Heeresgruppe B commanded by General Weich. This new volume authored by William Fowler examines in some detail this sector of the Eastern Front.
As with previous books in this popular Concord series, this volume consists of an impressive collection of black and white photos stemming from this area of Heeresgruppe Süd. The book is confined to the period from December 1942 to June 1943, which covers the Soviet plan codenamed Operation Little Saturn. This was a plan hatched in December 1942 by the Soviet General Malinovsky and his 2nd Guards Army to thwart German efforts to relieve encircled troops in Stalingrad. With the successful completion of this phase, the next stage began in January 1943. At this time, four Soviet armies from General Golikov’s Voronezh Front encircled and smashed through German and Hungarian defenses. Heeresgruppe Süd, trying to maintain some sort of cohesion against overwhelming Soviet superiority, was unrelentingly pushed back. In the end, Manstein launched a counteroffensive that recaptured Kharkov and finally ended the Soviet winter offensive. The bitter winter fighting of this period is captured vividly in photos. German soldiers endured harsh conditions against a resilient foe, and their experience is captured in the book’s photographs. Each photo is accompanied by a detailed caption that outlines pertinent points about units, uniforms, weapons or the state of the battle.
The book also contains four color plates as a centerpiece, these being created by Ramiro Bujeiro. These color plates illustrate typical uniform and weapon details of soldiers during this stage of the war, when the tide had truly begun to change against the Third Reich. For those wanting to learn about this significant and bitterly contested period of WWII, this volume will prove a goldmine of information and pictures.