This special issue of the Batailles et Blindes series is dedicated to the elite units of the German armored troops of the WW2. Coming in the usual format with a soft cover, it is written in French only and covers successively the Panzer-Korps Grossdeutschland, the Fallschirm-Panzer-Korps Hermann Goring, the Panzer-Korps Feldherrnhalle and the SS-Panzer-Korps Leibstandarte. From their birth to their disbandment in the very late days of the war, the authors describe how from a small and highly politicized group dedicated to the close protection of the top ranking officials, each of these units ended as one of the most powerful unit in the German order of battle.
The volume is divided into 4 chapters of unequal importance, each one dealing with a different unit. In this 114 page book, the authors included 222 pictures and 20 color profiles.
The first chapter is 28 pages long and starts with the Panzer-Korps Grossdeutschland. Hitler’s personnel guard unit, the Grossdeutschland was rooted in the Wachtruppe Berlin created as a parade unit after the WW1. The name Grossdeutschland appeared on 12 June 1939 when the Infanterie-Regiment Grossdeutschland was created. Belonging to the Heer (Army), the regiment first saw action during the campaign in France in 1940 and was then nearly continuously involved in the fights on the Eastern front.
The second chapter covers the Fallschirm-Panzer-Korps Hermann Goring. With 54 pages, it’s the longest of the volume. Created as a police unit by Hermann Goring when he was minister of the interior, the unit was transferred to the Luftwaffe (Air Force) when Goring became head of the Luftwaffe. The transfer meant that the unit required getting a military training. While being mainly constituted by Flak units during the campaign of France, the HG regiment proved effective against tanks thanks to the 88mm guns. In the summer of 1942, Goring managed to turn the unit into an armored division. From then on it continuously grew up to being a Panzer-Korps. The Fallschirm-Panzer-Korps saw action in Tunisia, Italy and on the Eastern front. All these theaters of operation are covered by numerous pictures. In addition, the author provides the reader with a comprehensive series of the various sub-units symbols.
In 14 pages, the third chapter deals with the Feldhernnhalle which started as the parade unit of the Sturm Abteilung. After the “Night of the Long Knives”, the regiment was first transferred to the Luftwaffe and then from June 1940 to the Heer. After a first combat experience on the Eastern front, the regiment was sent in Southern France where it was transformed into a division. Sent on the Eastern Front again the division was transformed into a corps in July 1944. Till the end of the war, the Panzer-Korps Feldherrnhalle kept fighting against the Red Army.
The 13 page long chapter deals with the sole SS unit covered in the volume, the SS-Panzer-Korps Leibstandarte. Created as another personnel guard unit for Hitler, the SS-Stabwache Berlin became the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler in September 1933. After the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the unit became an infantry regiment under command of Sepp Dietrich. The regiment saw action in September 1939 during the invasion of Poland. If the regiment did not perform that well during this campaign, it was more effective during the assault against Holland, Belgium and France. However the unit committed its first war crime by executing British prisoners. After the short and brilliant campaign in Greece, the regiment was deployed to the Eastern front where it became a division. The SS-Panzer-Korps was finally created in July 1943 by grouping the SS-Leibstandarte-Division and the SS-Hitlerjugend-Division. The SS-Panzer-Korps took part in all the late campaigns of the war from Normandy to the Ardennes and finally Berlin. Despite the military successes this unit made, its reputation remains forever stained by the war crimes it is accountable for.
It is interesting to see how a personal competition between the highest ranking German officials ended into the building of the most powerful and effective units of the WW2. From a modeler’s perspective, this volume can prove useful for the ideas of dioramas or camouflage schemes the pictures offer. From a historical perspective, the volume misses some organizational charts which would help the reader further to understand the numerous evolutions those units went through.
Highs: The units' history being presented from their very beginning.
The numerous pictures and color profiles which can give great ideas to modelers.
Lows: The lack of organizational charts which could help understand the evolution within each unit throughout the war.Verdict: A good book to get an interesting historical overview of these famous Panzer units.
About Olivier Carneau (bison126) FROM: AUBE, FRANCE
I have been in the hobby for years and I'm still learning.
As a modeler, I only build 1/35 modern military vehicles, mainly armored ones.
I also run a website where I share a lot of walkarounds. Just click on my banner to pay a visit to it.