German divisional histories - quality and availability

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Richard Hargreaves
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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by Richard Hargreaves » 23 Feb 2009 12:20

Hi Trollelite

Is this the volume by Knoblauch (or similar!)? It's been on my wishlist (alongside many, many other books...) for a long time. Shame there are not many Erlebnisbericht which is what I like to see in divisional histories. :(

I have a few Fleichsig books and they're generally produced to a very high quality, Franz K excepted. :)

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by trollelite » 23 Feb 2009 12:42

Well, I haven't read through that book yet. I said few personal experience, perhaps there is NONE. As I said it is based almost entirely on material from Freiburg.

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by trollelite » 23 Feb 2009 12:46

And I have ordered a copy of 29 infanterie division (original podzun edition from 1960 , with photos, but without DJ) at, 49 euro? But I ordered another one yesterday, the reprinted edition(without photos), and if any of you wanted to buy that 49 euro book, let me know, I send you the address of that antiquarit seller.

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by Richard Hargreaves » 04 Mar 2009 14:16

I've just had excellent news from Roger. The final volume of the outstanding 20 Pz Gren Div history, Band 9, is now out, priced 45 Euros. :)

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by Richard Hargreaves » 05 Mar 2009 20:46

Kevin Fish, Panzer Regiment 8 in World War II: Poland, France, North Africa, Schiffer, 2008

When I saw this on the shelf of a bookshop in London, I thought: Ah, another picture book, and picked it up not expecting much. Oh, how wrong I was. This is simply one of the very best unit histories I've ever seen. Lots of pictures. Which is good. Lots and lots and lots of text. Which is good. Lots and lots and lots of first-hand accounts. Which is excellent.
It's up there with von Plato, Löser's Bittere Pflicht, 1 SS, 3 SS, 12 SS, for the sheer quality of the research and the value to fellow historians. If anyone writes a book about the North African campaign (which I hope to do one day...) and they don't use this book, they deserve to be strung up. :D

It's not cheap (c.£50 in the UK, but better value in the US...) but it is worth the money (particularly compared with the two very disappointing Michaelis SS Division histories which Schiffer have produced recently).The author's set the benchmark for English-language histories of German units. I just wish I'd had it to hand when writing my Poland book...

Next up, when it arrives, Klapdor's Mit den Panzerregiment 5 Wiking im Osten. Better be good as it cost me a lot of money.

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by trollelite » 06 Mar 2009 18:05

That one is good, don"t worry... I like his writing style. Actually the only problem is the map, I don't like the style that they use the original Wehrmacht map instead of drawing Gefechtskizzen themselves.

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by Richard Hargreaves » 12 Mar 2009 20:03

Ewald Klapdor, Mit den Panzerregiment 5 Wiking im Osten, Selbstverlag, 1981

As I wrote in previous post this cost me a lot of money (120 Euros 8O). And as Trollelite pointed out "that one is good". Oh yes. Not, perhaps 120 Euros of goodness. But then how do you ever put a value on a good book... :D

Anyway, what you get, as with all Klapdor's books - Die Entscheidung: Invasion 1944 and Der Ostfeldzug - this is a unit history mixed with memoir (there's more of the former than the latter). And it's first rate. Klapdor obviously spent a lot of time tracking down veterans for their diaries, memoirs and battle reports. He also spent considerable time digging out maps, war diaries and other material at BA-MA.

The net result is one of the very best unit histories and, for a privately-published affair, it's very nicely produced (colour maps in some cases, no less; I actually like the contemporary maps being reproduced, but that's a 'me thing').

For anyone writing about the Caucasus (me), Cherkassy pocket, Warsaw 1944 and Hungary and Austria 1945 (me too one day...), it's a must have. Such a shame that copies are so few and far between and when they do appear they they cost a fortune. :(

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 13 Mar 2009 08:29

Congratulations, Richard :D
This one is still missing in my collection :cry:

Next week Karl knoblauch's one on 95.ID will arrive...

Jan-Hendrik

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by Richard Hargreaves » 13 Mar 2009 19:17

Jan-Hendrik wrote:Congratulations, Richard :D
This one is still missing in my collection :cry:

Next week Karl knoblauch's one on 95.ID will arrive...

Jan-Hendrik


I think it is Klapdor's best book, now I have all three (unless there are more...) Hopefully you can find a copy in a German library. :) Not an option in England. :(

And the hits just keep on coming... :D

Dietwart Asmus, Die 20. Inf.Div.(mot) (später 20. Pz.Gren.Div.) Chronik und Geschichte, Band 9, VI. Abschnitt 1945, Selbstverlag, 2009.

The very final volume of this monumental divisional history is finally out (hoorah!). I don't have a complete set , sadly :( but I do have volumes 2 and 3 and now 9. Asmus died part-way through compiling the history and this volume was completed by his comrades in the same vein.

The final volume covers the Baranow Bridgehead, fighting on the Oder and Berlin with a concise day-by-day breakdown of the division's movements and actions. But what makes this volume far better than the earlier works is the human nature of it. There aren't too many first-hand accounts in the two other volumes I have. Not so the concluding work. Two-thirds of Band 9 are devoted to diaries, Erlebnisberichte etc. There is a shortage of unit accounts covering the Baranow fighting in particular, so this book and especially the Anlagen is a godsend.

The picture reproduction isn't great, but this is a text history far more than a photo history (which is fine by me :))

As a collection, this is a monumental work of scholarship - 900 or so pages on a Heer division, lifting it to the Pantheon of divisional histories. The complete set will cost an arm and a leg, but you can easily 'dip in and dip out' of each volume. I must say I'm tempted now to finish what I started...

Anyway, a big 'thank-you' to Roger and his 20 Pz Gren colleagues for an outstanding effort.

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by Richard Hargreaves » 13 Mar 2009 19:34

Helmut Breymayer, Das Wiesel: Geschichte der 125 Infanterie Division 1940-1944, Selbstverlag, 1983

A book long-since sought and now finally in my hands. Das Wiesel doesn't often come on the market (the sole copy on Bookfinder at the moment will set you back 100 Euros :shock:). So is it any good? Yes, but with reservations.

In many respects it's like Klapdor's work - it's a mix of memoir and unit history. The difference is that Klapdor makes it clear what is his opinion/experiences quite clearly. Breymayer mingles his with the body text of the history which makes it a bit harder to separate dispassionate unit history from author's experiences. The author does include some first-hand accounts from comrades although it's not bristling with them.

It is, however, incredibly detailed - particularly for the fighting of 1941/42 which take up the bulk of the 350 or so pages, with an almost daily breakdown of actions so to that end it's extremely useful. It's also very nicely produced on fine paper; there are plenty of maps and images (although the latter are often quite small).

So there you have it. Definitely in the upper tier of unit histories (and much better than a lot of the Podzun Pallas output which I find dreadfully dry), but not quite top draw as far as I'm concerned.

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 13 Mar 2009 19:47

Well, sometimes your orders come quicker than you think, Knoblauch's Volume arrived today, together with Rudolf Witzel's Mit Mörsern, Haubitzen und Kanonen (one of the rare first hand accounts of an officer of the Heeresartilerie 8-) ), and my first impression: 95.ID is , after a first glance into it,quote better than I thought. OK , the passage on 1945 is, as expected, rather thin, but the rest looks fine :D

Jan-Hendrik

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by Richard Hargreaves » 13 Mar 2009 20:03

Jan-Hendrik wrote:Well, sometimes your orders come quicker than you think, Knoblauch's Volume arrived today, together with Rudolf Witzel's Mit Mörsern, Haubitzen und Kanonen (one of the rare first hand accounts of an officer of the Heeresartilerie 8-) )


Funnily, Witzel's book arrived here this week too. :D 500 pages! Excellent! Willi Kubik's book (13 Pz Div) also arrived. Very good diary for the Kaukasusfeldzug.

Flechsig produce some very good, high quality books (and cheap by comparison with UK publishers...). But they also publish some Franz K. 8O Oh someone show them the error of their ways. :D

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by trollelite » 14 Mar 2009 01:24

Witzel's is unexpected good. Bring much insight into the Artillerie of Wehrmacht. Especially the heavy artillery units, which was forbidden to exist by Versaille Treaty. So they had to be hurriedly formed up.

History of those units is scarce, because most unit histories on division an regiment level only deal with Feldartillerie. And there lacks a reference work such as Das Ehrenbuch der Deutschen Schweren Artillerie after WWI.

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by trollelite » 14 Mar 2009 01:29

I have read many of Fleichsig books (though most of only brief overview) . I could say, except for K's BS and those reprinted old works (not necessarily bad, just you can buy the used copy of original edition for a much lower price) every one of their newly printed titles is good or very good.

Those 5 books from Knoblauch and Henning are especially enthralling.

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Re: German divisional histories - quality and availability

Post by Richard Hargreaves » 07 Apr 2009 11:32

Heinrich Boucsein, Halten oder Sterben: Die hessisch-thüringische 129 Infanterie Division im Russlandfeldzug und Ostpreussen 1941-45, Kurt Vowinckel Verlag, Potsdam, 1999

A very comprehensive, beautifully-produced history of one of the perhaps forgotten units which marched on Moscow and spent the war on the central front. The author provides a day-by-day account of the division's actions, interspersed with first-person accounts, diaries, official documents et al. It's also finely illustrated from the author's personal collection of images and some excellent full-colour maps at the back, as well as some contemporary images as the author retraced his route in 1941 five decades later (particularly sad is the German cemetery at Rzhew built over by shabby garages).

The only downside is that the book leans heavily towards the first year of the war (the first 12 months of the Ostfront consume well over half the book; the last 12 months are dealt with in a mere 30). For that reason, it just falls short of the very best Heer histories. But for the first 12 months of Barbarossa, it's top notch. Copies will cost you around 70 Euros which is a pretty fair price.

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