Friday, February 2, 2007

Last Laurels: The German Defence of Upper Silesia, January - May 1945 by Georg Gunter

This book is almost like Carell's works (Scorched Earth, Hitler Moves East, etc) in that unit histories are dispersed with person all accounts. Although sadly it also inherited Carell's biases. The Red Army troops are nothing but hordes who simply keep coming while the Germans are always victorious yet keep losing troops and ground, somehow that doesn't add up to being very 'victorious.'

While it is known that the Red Army was not very kind to the German civilian population, the number of accounts of Red Army troops rapping and pillaging are at times too much to take in. As if this Army had nothing better to do during an offensive or advance than to stop rape a little here and there, steal from every house, kill some people and then get pushed back by the Germans as they lounged on their plunder and amongst the dead. Please, while atrocities of course did happen that is not the same as what the German Army did in the East via their policies, which the Red Army had none of.

Advance after advance is covered and always the Germans are the brave men who are triumphant even though they are dwindling in numbers. Even more interesting is the fact that from Soviet POW's interrogations it is known that battalion strength at the beginning of a particular offensive was 400 men and at the end only around 120, yet still this is apparently ten fold superiority for Germans who in their own companies have 10-15 men (when already reduced by offensive actions) and in their battalions presumably at least 30-60 (since there are at least 3 companies in a battalion). Hundreds and thousands of Soviet tanks are destroyed by superior German fighting and weapons, but when 5 German tanks are lost, it is because of the bad terrain or rather no ammo or gas. (Interestingly enough the same thing happened in 1941 to thousands of Soviet tanks, but you wouldn't know that from the German accounts).

Something else to consider is the fact that most soldiers in 1944-45 were fighting in the East to keep back the "Red Hordes" so that civilians had a chance to flee, yet again and again it is shown that the administration didn't warn villages, towns, and cities to flee and civilians were caught up in the front line actions. Did these troops really go on believing such lies? Is it any wonder than when encountering stiff resistance the Red Army would loss hundreds and then take out their aggression on POW's or civilians? It is the midst of battle, the war is ALMOST over and yet innocent Red Army men are dying by their hundreds because these German invaders think they are doing the world a favor.

There is no excuse for some of the barbaric actions the Red Army undertook when it killed and rapped, but it understandable when you are try to put yourself in their shoes. All in all not worth the money unless you really want to hear repeated rehashes of German biases from the Eastern Front.

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