By Ian Baxter
Images of War Series
Published by Pen & Sword Books Ltd.
Copyright © Ian Baxter , 2014
MSRP – UK £14.99/US $24.95
From the invasion of Poland in 1939 to the final holdout at the gates of Belin, the Waffen-SS played a pivotal and yet most often, enigmatic roll in the German Nazi War machine. Historian and well published author Ian Baxter presents us with one of his latest works, Waffen-SS On the Eastern Front 1941-1945. This a 178 page pictographic view giving a in-depth look at the Waffen-SS and their military roles throughout the Second World War
Just as the title of Waffen-SS On the Eastern Front 1941-1945 suggests, there is a chronological look at the Waffen-SS during the Second World War outlined through the use of rare archival photographs and supporting text. There are three chapters and five appendixes contained within:
Chapter 1 – Poland and the Invasion of Russian, 1939-42
Chapter 2 – Battles, 1942-43
Chapter 3 – Last Years of the War
Appendix I – Waffen-SS Weapons and Equipment
Appendix II – Ranks
Appendex III – Waffen-SS: Kursk Order of Battle
Appendix IV – Waffen-SS Divisions: Order of Battle, 1943-1945
Appendix V – Combat Uniforms of the Waffen-SS, 1943-45
Chapter 1 is a collection of exceptional photographs covering the operational exploits of the Waffen-SS and while the title does mention “Poland and the Invasion of Russia”, the written prelude to this chapter briefly covers the role to which the Waffen-SS played at the outset of the War, the fifty-seven pages of photographs contained in this chapter mostly show the operation leading up to and including the invasion of Russia through until 1942.
Chapter 2, Battles, 1942-43, the author wrote a brief foreword covering the background of the activities of the Waffen-SS coming out of the horrible winter of 1941 leading through the stranding at the Demyansk Pocket, the battles for Kharkov and the failure of operation Zitadelle. This chapter is well supported with an abundance of detailed photographs up close and personal to the men in the field.
Chapter 3 shows us the operational history of the Waffen-SS and its role on the Eastern Front. With the onslaught of the Red Army, the men of the Waffen-SS pushed on. The photographs show us not only the fierce fighting that was at hand but a look at the small interludes of downtime between the fighting. The photographs give a us an idea to the human nature of the average fighting soldier within the Waffen-SS ranks as the slowly reseeding front beats back the German military machine closer and closer to the borders until finally to the heart of Germany itself.
The five Appendixes quickly list a specific defining of various key points to the Waffen-SS. Appendix I list the weapons and equipment used by the Waffen-SS while Appendix II defines the ranking system used comparably to the regulars German Heer and British Army. Appendix III covers the divisional unit participation of the Waffen-SS for the Battle of Kursk. Appendix IV lists each of the Waffen-SS Divisions along with dates and area of operation and finally Appendix V defines the uniforms as it pertains to their use within the Waffen-SS rsnks.
Front to back this book, Waffen-SS On the Eastern Front 1941-1945, is packed with hundreds of detailed black and white photos covering the expansive roles the Waffen-SS played on the Eastern Front. Each of the photographs presented in this book give the reader an incredible up close and personal look into the men and their equipment. The Images of War Series of books proven itself to be a valuable resource within the modelling community providing detailed information of a wide range of subjects and this book, Waffen-SS On the Eastern Front 1941-1945 from Pen & Sword Books Ltd. has proven just that; a valuable asset in regards to details surrounding the men, machines and operational history of the Waffen-SS.
The information, mostly pictures, is well presented and in a chronological layout. The accompanying captions to each photograph sheds light on not just the soldiers but often pointing out point of interests within the photographs; an unnoticed Deaths Head Insignia, model of assault rifle or simply pointing out various aspects of the uniforms, etc.; this book delivers a plateful of valued material on the subject of the Waffen-SS and I feel this book would fit well in to the collections of anyone interested in mid-twentieth century military actions, more specifically the German Military of the Second World War.