Written by James Lucas
Introduction by Robert Kershaw
From Frontline Books, London
An imprint of Pen & Sword Books Ltd.
MSRP – $21.65US (£12.99)
Hitler’s Commanders: German Action in the Field, 1939-1945, written by James Lucas a British infantry veteran of WWII and an acclaimed expert on the characteristics of German military conduct of the Second World War was first published in 2000. This book highlights fourteen of Hitler’s upper echelon; the illustrious commanders of the Wehrmacht and SS branches of the German war machine.
This two hundred thirty-three pages book is not broken down into chapters but rather fourteen brief biographies of Hitler’s fundamental commanders from several fronts throughout the war. This collection of stories of these men gives the read an insight into the men and minds of the German military of the time.
- Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen von Arnim – The last General Commanding Army Group Africa
- Generaloberst Eduard Dietl – The Hero of Narvik
- General der Panzertruppen Heinrich Eberbach – The Panzer specialist in the East and the West
- SS Grupenfuhrer and Generalmajor der Waffen SS Otto Hermann Fegelein – The commander of the SS Cavalry Division who became Hitler’s Brother-in-law
- General der Panzertruppen Werner Kempf – Germany’s Panzer fireman of the Eastern Front
- Oberstleutnant Walter Koch – Commander of the Para Assault Battalion in the Low Coutries and in Crete
- Brigadefuhrer and Generalmajor der Waffen SS Otto Kumm – Enforcer in the Balkans as commander of the 7th SS Gebirgs Division ‘Prinz Eugen’
- SS Brigadefuhrer and Generalmajor der Waffen SS Kurt Meyer – ‘Panzermeyer’, who as General Commanding the Hitler Youth Division was one of Germany’s youngest general officers
- Oberfeldwebel Heinrich Schaefer The defender of the Cactus Farm in Tunisia
- Generalmajor Theodor Scherer – The Hero of Cholm
- Generalfeldmarschall Ferdinand Schorner – The last commander of the Army Group Centre
- Leutnant Erich Johannes Schuster – The paratrooper par excellence
- SS Obergruppenfuhrer and General der Waffen SS Felix Steiner – The innovator who rose to command the ‘Wiking’ Division and the 11th Army
- General der Kavallerie Siegfried Westphal – Chief of staff to three senior commanders
James Lucas has laid out the lives of fourteen men under the command of Hitler during the Second World War in his book Hitler’s Commanders: German Action in the Field, 1939-1945. These dissimilar individuals did not share rank or even upbringing but rose in their statuses amongst the German military and were all highly decorated.
The book begins with the story of Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen von Arnim who began his career as an Ensign in 1908, would serve to his countries glory during the Great War being wounded three times. von Arnim would rise through the ranks to, commanding the 17th Panzer Division during operation Barbarossa and Kiev and would finish out his military career as Colonel General and would admirably refuse sheltered extradition at the behest of Hitler after the fall of Tunisia in North Africa to “share the fate of the men he commanded. Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen von Arnim would serve four years as a prisoner of the Americans. Upon release all that Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen von Arnim had owned was now confiscated by the Russians forcing him to make a new home in Bad Wildingen where he would later die in 1962 at the age of 73.
The story of Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen von Arnim is just one of fourteen short stories of if it not for a megalomaniac and undeniably delusional leader would have been considered exceptional soldiers in their own right. The excerpt I wrote on Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen von Arnim above is just part of the whole story for this field commander and there are thirteen more in depth stories after this.
Hitler’s Commanders: German Action in the Field, 1939-1945 is an easy to read, well written book furthering one’s historical knowledge of the personal lives and exploits of fourteen pivotal commanders within the Nazi War Machine throughout many battlefronts. James Lucas has used his expertise to put down in text these attention-grabbing and detailed oriented stories of these fourteen men collected in this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in World War II history, specifically German military history and its commanders.
Thank you to Pen & Sword Books for the review copy of this book.