Genre = History, War
“In former times defeated states had been able to buy off their victors by making over frontier fortresses, trading concessions or other small coinage of the currency of international relations. Now the price of defeat could amount to the extinction of a regime or state.” – Christopher Duffy, page 4
“There was still a great deal of the atmosphere of craft industry weapons about the teams of designers and skilled workers who produced weapons which were superb in quality but rarely available in sufficient quantity to meet demands of the armed forces.” – Christopher Duffy, page 47
“What finally halted the Soviets on the Oder was not a brilliant manoeuvre, but the cumulative effect of logistic difficulties, frontal barrier, and the buildup of unengaged forces on the Pomeranian flank” – Christopher Duffy, page 368
Quotes with permission from publisher
This book discusses events that occurred at the end of WWII from the perspective of Soviet and Nazi operations and strategies on the eastern front. By 1945, German forces have been demoralized and under resourced for years, but the allies did not see that. In perpetration for a large operation in January, Russian troops were mobilized in secret with a campaign of disinformation about troop movements. When the operation began and broke through German front lines, they were able to gain long tracks of land without any battles due to the lack of German resources. Only at Berlin were the Soviets halted.
Over the course of the war, the Nazi command became more centralized. Strategies and decision were increasingly in the hands of Hitler all the while the armies were becoming fractured and disjointed. Generally, Hitler listened to military officials when the news was good such as a victory, but could never take a loss. Nazi military equipment was really powerful but only a fraction of the army was mechanized. The technology was superior up until the end of the war when the Allied technology started to catch up and supersede. The units that were mechanized tended to run out of resources such as ammunition and oil. Many tanks were abandoned not because they were destroyed, but because they did not have the oil to make them run.
Soviets entered the war with a deficiency in experienced army officials due to political purges. During the battles, Russians lost four units per every German one, which is partly why Russians lost the most people during the whole war. The only reason Russia was able to withstand the losses was because they were supplied with more people than they were losing. Resources available to the Russians were abundant, no matter how much ammunition was used.
The book presents information before and after the war which was very helpful to understand the situation in 1945, but most of the book deals with a few months in early 1945. Generally well written, but the war interactions lack depth into why the particular battles were important to the whole war. Most of the book is about the particular movement of troops but the way it is written does not facilitate an understanding of relevance to the whole situation. The maps shown do not aid much in showing what particular events are being described. Would have helped to add small map icons in pages describing movements to facilitate better understanding.
Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•How was WWII different from earlier wars?
•How was troop morale in Russia and Germany?
•Describe Soviet and Nazi leadership? Are there similarities? What are the differences?
•What weapons and vehicles were available to the Soviets and Germans? Were there enough to supply the troops?
•When Soviet armies entered Germany, how did people respond to their presence?
•What effect did German environment had on Soviet troop movement?
Pages to read: 385
1st Edition: 1991
Ratings out of 5: