The Nazi’s Winter Warfare on The Eastern Front 1941-1945 written by Ian Baxter and published by Pen & Sword Books – £14.99 – Softcover – Pages 157
Hitler’s shock decision to launch the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 was arguably the turning point of the Second World War. Spectacular early victories saw the Nazis close in on Moscow but the Soviet 1941/42 winter counter offensive changed the odds entirely.
Without doubt Russian winter conditions were a major factor compounded by the Germans’ woeful lack of preparedness.
As this fascinating book reveals, Wehrmacht and SS units only began to be issued with winter clothing in late 1941 and many had to improvise well into 1942.
In an attempt to restore morale adversely affected by the harsh conditions and military reversals ‘The Winter Warfare Handbook’ (Winter Buch) was produced in 1942 and extracts are quoted in this work.
Commanders had to adapt to the snow, freezing conditions and, almost worse, the impassable roads during the melt. With customary thoroughness and drastic measures the Germans largely mastered the climatic challenges but nothing could mask the reality of the ruthless and numerically superior enemy that they faced.
As usual this book contains some fantastic photography but when you see quite a few of them, the determination and strength of the soldiers in this particular part of the conflict showed how much guts and determination they had. The condition and scale of distance was so extreme, in some ways it’s not surprising how many men died for a cause. The book contains a large number of diagrams and drawings showing ways in which to survive better from the terrible weather and conditions and also fight the enemy. These were a fascinating insight into fighting in this arena of warfare, they certainly add another dimension to the book and learning. The book is split into chapters that concentrate on each year of winter, there is less text in this book which I suppose gives more scope for photography but I still think there was enough valuable text to support the photography. Another excellent book in the series.