Helion's Tank Battles: East Prussia and Poland 1944/45
|$89.95 MSRP from Casemate|
Hardcover, over 350
Every once in a while one runs across a heavily researched book about a part of WWII that is not all that well covered. So it is in the case of this edition. Most of us are aware of the Russian advances to Berlin as well as the Allied march across occupied Europe to the doorstep of Germany and the Rhine river. Indeed, much has been written about these two aspects of WWII in Europe.
What has not gotten all that much press is the efforts of the Soviet Army into East Prussia, Northern Poland and into the Baltic states (which resulted in decades of subjugation by the Soviet Union). This latter result was all part of the political agreements at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 over the fate of these areas post war.
By the time of August 1944, the Soviet Army had become pretty much a juggernaut. The German forces were insufficient in numbers, training, and equipment to do more than brief holding actions. However, they tried valiantly, but were ultimately unsuccessful.
The author has chosen four events during this period to illustrate the combat that took place during the months of August 1944 through February 1945. The first is the battles around the Wilkowyszki area in Northern Poland starting in August 1944. This was the first major intrusion after a brief rest, a period that was not long enough for the Germans as they had been unable to complete their defenses.
Next was the thrust into East Prussia itself by the 3rd Byelorussian Front during October 1944. Here the fighting was more intense as the Germans did have time to improve defenses. However, this was tempered by the loss of equipment and men in the previous battles.
The third example is the fighting in the Kielce-Lysow area with the fourth example being the advances of the Fourth Guards Army into East Prussia during Jan-Feb 1945.
The author relies heavily on combat reports from both the Soviet and German sources as well as the memoirs and interviews of a number of Soviet commanders. One should not be surprised that the perspective of the book is pretty much completely from the Soviet side of the various battles as the Germans are only called 'enemies'. Perhaps it would be a bit more well rounded had more been included from the German perspective, but then it is probable that not all that much survived from this time period, which was fairly chaotic for Germany as they were being pushed back during this time.
The end result is a book that covers this time period and these battles as none other that I have ever read. There are a ton of quality maps and photos, with the majority of the fairly small images being those of the various Soviet commanders. It is a book that provides an excellent look at the Soviet advances into this part of the war and one that I know will impress you.
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