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Book Review
2nd SS Panzer Division
The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich
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by: Darren Baker

Introduction

The SS units and divisions are shunned and criticised by many, but they do hold a strange fascination that brings people back for more when it comes to their history. This offering from Casemate concentrating on the Das Reich Division can be considered a condensed history of the unit.

Review

This offering from Casemate Publishers is a soft backed book of 128 pages that are a little larger than A5. The card cover has a very glossy finish that draws your eyes to it and so it achieves what the publisher intended I believe, inside the pages feel like a good stock with a semi gloss finish that show off the photographs very well. The book is split into five sections which are as follows:
The Creation of the Division and its Baptism by Fire
The Campaign in France and the Balkans
Operation Barbarossa and its Aftermath
The 1943 Russian Campaign: Kharkov, Kursk and Back to Kiev
Normandy and the Ardennes, Endgame Hungary

The Creation of the Division and its Baptism by Fire
This section takes the early history of the SS as a whole and provides a very brief breakdown of the organization and also covers the formation of Das Reich as the unit became. The chapter finishes with the unit being withdrawn from battle after the invasion of Poland. There are a good number of period black and white photographs of very good quality. I am a little torn on this section as it is a little short for people with a high degree of interest and likely of little interest to modellers. I do like the timeline at the very start showing where the unit was and when.

The Campaign in France and the Balkans
This section of the book is where the modeller’s interest will start to sit up and pay attention as it offers some graphics of the vehicles in use by the unit and offers some great black and white images of the unit in the field. As you would expect the photographs of the men show them at rest rather than in action, and as we know units spent more time at rest than in action. This section is very good for taking a close look at uniform detail during the early stages of World War 2.

Operation Barbarossa and its Aftermath
This section of the title offer some great photographs of troops in action or more likely staged photographs for promotional value, but the expressions on the faces indicate signs of stress in most cases. The Soviets are also introduced in this stage of the book in some detail and I find this a particularly interesting section due to my interest in the Russian war machine during World War 2. Looking at the photographs I found images of the Soviet troops relaxing of great interest; a particularly unusual image depicts three naked SS troopers on the back of a KV-1 and giving it further inspection.

The 1943 Russian Campaign: Kharkov, Kursk and Back to Kiev
This area of the title could also be considered as a look at the lead up to the beginning of the end. In a short section it clearly shows how the German troops were fighting not just the soviets but also the weather, with the weather being shown as equal a killer as an enemy bullet. Photographs of German troops frozen to death and looking like frozen statues is clearly displayed here. The modeller who likes to produce dioramas will find a host of details that they may wish to replicate in miniature. In a surprisingly short amount of text the conditions and trials of fighting in the East are brought to light in text and images.

Normandy and the Ardennes, Endgame Hungary
The last section of this title clearly shows the real cost of war to nations. It is not buildings or ground that is lost; it is the lost generation of young men and the civilian populace around the areas of conflict that pay the highest price in suffering and blood. Some of the atrocities that were carried out are mentioned here and states how the regular German army was appalled at the actions of some units with Rommel demanding an inquiry in to some of them; as the author puts it “some elements brought the brutality of the Eastern Front to the West”.

Throughout the book the reader is offered brief profiles into the men at the head of the SS such as Himmler and moving onto the men in charge of the areas of conflict at specific times.

Conclusion

This is a difficult book to sum up as it depends on what you are after from a title as to its worth. As a brief insight and introduction to the Das Reich SS unit it does a fair job of providing the bare bones of the subject and then further improving the offering with excellent black and white photographs that provide a visual narrative of the content. The colour artworks covering the vehicles in use at various points are a handy reference to have for camouflage and the like. The profiles in the book I feel fail to provide anything like enough detail on the men in question, but they do provide pertinent information.
SUMMARY
Highs: I was pleased to see the men and woman of the Soviet Army covered as I do feel they are an important aspect of the unit’s history.
Lows: The profiles covering the men at the top of SS and areas of command need to be longer to provide enough information.
Verdict: This book will never satisfy those with a desire for in-depth analysis of the subject, but as an abridged offering it does a fair job for the modeller.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN : 9781612005256
  Suggested Retail: £19.99
  PUBLISHED: Apr 19, 2018
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 0.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 0.00%

Our Thanks to Casemate Publishers!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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Copyright ©2018 text by Darren Baker. All rights reserved.



Comments

Casemate publishes some great, authoritative books and I have always valued them in my collection as great reference books. I Look forward to seeing this one in person.
APR 19, 2018 - 09:05 PM
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