Osprey's German Soldier vs Soviet Soldier
80 pages, Combat #28
This is one of Osprey's books in their Combat series. Like the duel series, it pits contemporaries against each other. Generally there are three battles that show how the course of events changes the combatants. In most editions, these combats are separated by a period of time. Not so in this one.
Each of the three examples is a continuation of events as the fortunes of war change. What makes this edition somewhat unique is that it looks at a chunk of time during the bitter struggle at Stalingrad in late 1942. Most historians will point to Stalingrad as the event in the war in Russia that finally stopped the German Army and began the long reversal of fortunes.
Indeed, by this time the German supply line was stretched and as more territory was taken, the more tenuous that line became. The same can be said for the German Army as they realistically could not totally occupy the entire front line. Germany simply did not have the manpower. However, manpower was one thing that the Soviets had, though it took time to get enough into place to really make a major difference. The Soviets also had the vary major plus of fighting on home turf.
However, Stalingrad was a different sort of battle. It evolved into intense urban warfare where gains were measured in blocks or even buildings. Neither side had trained for this and for the Germans, it was as much a battle of combat engineers as anything else. Indeed, this book covers the events of 13-14 October, when the combat engineers were paramount in the conquest of a tractor factory and those of 11 and 13 November, when the Germans were oh so close to completely pushing the Soviets off the west bank of the Volga, but simply ran out of troops and time.
As is the norm in this series, we start with a look at the opposing sides in terms of the strategic situation, the training of the troops, their leadership and the equipment that they used. It then goes into the three battles as mentioned earlier. This is followed by an analysis of events and to see what either side learned. All easy stuff when working in hindsight, but not so obvious to the parties involved at the time. The addition of superb art work, maps and period photos truly enhances this edition and gives us just a small taste of what it was like. A superb addition to this series and one that I know you will find as fascinating a read as did I.
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