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Book Review
SS Hitlerjugend
The Waffen SS Divisional Histories Series
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


_ORGINPUB:
Armorama

Introduction

Despite the atrocities carried out by the SS and so how they are thought of by many the SS and the men that served hold a fascination for many. Amber Books have released a series of soft backed books looking at the history of the SS Divisions. This book focusing on the SS Hitlerjugend has been written by Rupert Butler.

The following introduction is as provided on the Casemate UK website.
The divisions of the Waffen-SS were the elite of Hitlerís armies in WWII. SS-Hitlerjugend is an in-depth examination of the unit formed in 1943 from veterans of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler Division and members of the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth) organisation. The majority of the recruits were 17-years-old fanatically devoted volunteers. The book explores the background of the unitís formation, the type of young men it recruited, the key figures involved in the division, and its organisation. It also looks at the divisionís uniforms and insignia. SS-Hitlerjugend provides a full combat record of the division, which fought on both fronts in World War II. The book outlines the unitís involvement in the defence of Normandy, the battle for Caen and the slaughter of the Falaise Pocket, as well as its service on the Eastern Front at the end of the war and the fight to recapture Budapest. Illustrated with rare photographs, and with an authoritative text, SS-Hitlerjugend is a definitive history of one of Germanyís most fanatical fighting units of World War II.

Review

This soft back book written by Rupert Butler and covering the SS Hitlerjugend consists of 192 pages, these pages are bound with a card cover and are a good quality paper. The text in the book is in a clear font of a good size that even my old eyes never struggled with. The text is interspersed with a large number of black and white period photographs and maps. The photographs are all of a good quality being both in focus and of a good size. The books contents break down as follows;
Beginnings
Training
Organization
Normandy
Falaise
Ardennes
Hungary
Key Figures
Appendices
Index

Beginnings
This section of the book looks at the formation of the Hitler Youth and the subsequent power plays that took place for control over it. You are also given an insight in how those in the Hitler Youth were very quickly indoctrinated to accept all aspects of the Third Reich and devotion to the Fuhrer. This section also shows how the organization took children and began giving them the skills required in war.

Training
This section of the book looks specifically at how after war was declared the training within the Hitler Youth became more like basic training than anything else. There were SS officers continually dragging members of the Hitler Youth into the SS in an attempt to keep up the SS numbers, this practice became more and more desperate as the war progressed and the death rate increased; however no matter how successful the recruitment was, numbers could never make up for the loss of experience. The Hitler Youth were expected to man anti-aircraft defences and there were also large numbers of small arms around, the result of children with guns in these numbers resulted in accidents and suicides. The command structure was provided with instruction on how to handle these event right down to the size and design of cross to be used.

Organization
The formation of the Hitlerjugend was it seems to me a matter of need rather than want, large numbers of Hitler Youth providing the numbers and for the most part officer from the SS Liebstandarte AH. Despite the lack of experience this section of the book indicates that the Hitlerjugend conducted themselves well.

Normandy
With 1943 coming to an end and a realisation that the Allies would land somewhere in France, the drive to make up numbers was at its highest. This need for numbers was being thwarted by religious beliefs and anti SS feelings, mothers and fathers were also discouraging their sons after the losses at Kharkov becoming well known. Once the Allies land you get to read a few personal accounts from the young soldiers of the Hitlerjugend and the heavy price they paid in both blood and machines.

Falaise
The Falaise gap was a nightmare for all those caught there. Many years ago I was shown photographs from the area by an ex British soldier who had gone through there as the war progressed, those images I can still see in my head and no images I have seen since matches the images of carnage I saw in those pictures. I am well aware of the slaughter on the Eastern Front but those images really brought home to me the cost of war on men, animals and materials. One of my uncles was a navigator/engineer with bomber command and he said you could smell death flying over that area. Regardless of about how you feel about your enemy and the SS, that area robbed a lot of young men of their futures. Because of what I have seen and heard, I feel this area of the book should have been expanded, but I appreciate the efforts of the author to relay the situation of the Hitlerjugend in that god awful location.

Ardennes
Much has been written about the battle of the bulge, but until now I have not read anything about the part played by the Hitlerjugend in the Ardennes. The majority of the unit was by now made up of teenage children of 15 and 16 and SS training school recruits. The book does a surprisingly good job of explaining how at the beginning of the offensive everything went well. Facing off against weary Allied troops progress was steady, but as they came up against Allied troops that had been given a chance to prepare, the worm turned and the lack of experience told on the troops of the Hitlerjugend and the long retreat while being continually harassed by air and ground units. A picture of two children taken prisoner by US troops shows the state the German army was now in; I have included a scan of this image to help you visualise this.

Hungary
Hungary was the last push in which the Hitlerjugend participated. The plan was to capture oil fields for the German war machine and was the equivalent of a last hooray. The various units involved made good progress to begin with and caught the Soviets by surprise; however there was no way this folly could succeed and from then on it was retreat all the way and a desperate attempt to reach Allied lines in the West to surrender.

Key Figures
This area of the book does what it says on the tin and provides you with a whose who of the Hitlerjugend.

Conclusion

While the Hitlerjugend is not one of the SS units that I have paid much attention to previously, I did find this book an interesting read. There are a few grammatical errors present in the text, but not to an extent that it affects its readability. This series of books is not aimed at the modeller, but the images and to a slightly lesser extend the text could get the imagination fired up for a diorama setting. The size of the books limits what they can and cannot cover to a suitable depth, depending that is on your interest level; that said as a complete set it will provide you with a very good overview of the SS Divisions before and during WW2.
SUMMARY
Highs: The book does a reasonable job of giving a look into the SS Hitlerjugend, but as a series of books will provide a good reference.
Lows: Some grammatical errors are present.
Verdict: I do recommend this book to you in its own right and highly recommend it as part of the set.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781782742470
  Suggested Retail: £19.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Mar 12, 2015
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.04%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 80.00%

Our Thanks to Casemate Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM

I have been building model kits since the early 70ís starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2019 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.



Comments

Biggles I doubt there was an order, but having seen the carnage inflicted on troops hitting the beaches, many of them friends it is an understandable occurence.
MAR 23, 2015 - 12:26 AM
Well, shooting back and forth is one thing; people are bound to be killed. But lining up surrendered soldiers behind bunkers and shooting them is something else.
MAR 23, 2015 - 03:43 AM
Guys, moral relativism just doesn't work here. The SS at large and the 12th SS in particular murdered surrendered soldiers well away from the battlefield at headquarters under senior officer supervision. There is nothing equivalent in Western Allied actions. The German people at large and the SS in particular were indoctrinated to believe that they were a superior race. Much SS leadership flowed through the death camp system created by Theodor Eicke. These same men were then introduced to the Final Solution to the Jewish Question and the Slavic untermensch on the Eastern Front before being transferred into leadership roles in the 12th SS. The idea that western democracies were "just as bad" is absurd.
MAR 24, 2015 - 06:34 PM
Chris I understand what you are saying, but the SS were more than the crimes they commited. Finding information on that facet is easy, but other aspects are not so well known.
MAR 25, 2015 - 01:43 AM
Can you please provide more information on this? I have read many accounts of the D-Day landings by Canadians and have never heard of this account. I have read many accounts where the German in the sector preferred to caught by the Canadians as the Canadian treated the POW's better.
MAR 25, 2015 - 01:51 AM
In general, certainly, especially in the days following D-Day. But in the first hours following the landings there were no facilities or space for keeping POW's, so they were "disposed of". I understand the necessity for this, but still... I realize the SS units had a bad reputation on the Eastern Front, but so did the Soviet NKVD units. There was no Geneva Convention there! Sources from various video documentaries and interviews with vets.
MAR 25, 2015 - 08:46 PM
Although this does not under any circumstance take away from the monstrosity of war crimes committed by Waffen-SS units, they (or the Germans in general) certainly were not the only ones to commit them. Regarding D-Day for example, it is remarkable how some units never took any prisoners in the first days after the landings, as records and unit history show. This is well known in particular for paras, and while there might not have been any official "order", one can't deny some "systematic" approach there. Actually, if you go through the captions of the pictures in the review, "summary shootings" of SS-soldiers being taken prisoner are mentioned. If you want to look into the issue, I recommend starting with wikipedia and elaborating from there. IMHO, there is only one lesson to be taken from all of that: No matter how justified the intervention and how evil the opponent, war will always produce this kind of events on any side. War never has been and never will be clean. As regards the 12th SS, either we agree to look at it from a military perspective and discuss its fighting force etc. (without negating any of the crimes), or stop our hobby. The problem is not whether we focus on just the military aspects, but how much (undeserved) admiration we are willing to give to units known for their repeated crimes.
MAR 25, 2015 - 11:36 PM
The Geneva and Hague Conventions,(the first of which date from 1864 and 1899 respectively)are quite clear about what is allowed to be done to and by "people in war",States,Armed Forces and combatants.To cloud these fundamental principles with waffle about "war is hell" so anything goes, is an extremely dangerous and misguided path to take.On the basis of these conventions and confirmed by the 1949 ratifications it is, and since the 1800's has always been,a contravention of International Law to execute unarmed soldiers or civilians(disgracefully some exceptions exist for types of sabotage,spying and treason).Any departure from the principles of International Law in this area are not the actions of civilised societies or peoples.
APR 01, 2015 - 04:09 AM
Alan: I never said it was right or lawful, what I did mean is that when you throw armed forces against other armed forces, the force that wins will not always treat prisoners in a way someone in a court or comfy chair demands they do.
APR 01, 2015 - 04:20 AM
   

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