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 Totenkopf has been written by Chris Mann.
The following introduction is as provided on the Casemate UK website. The Waffen-SS was the elite of Hitlerís armies in WWII. SS-Totenkopf, is an in-depth examination of one of the most infamous of the Waffen-SSís divisions Ė the ĎDeathís Headí division. The book explores the background of the unitís formation, the men it recruited and the level of brutalisation to which they became accustomed; the key figures involved in its history, such as Theodor Eicke, its founding commanding officer; and the divisionís organisation. It looks at the training regimen of the Waffen-SS, and the uniforms and insignia that the members of the divisions wore. SS-Totenkopf also provides a full combat record of the division, which fought on both fronts in World War II, increasingly serving as a Ďfire brigadeí unit as the war turned against Germany, plugging gaps wherever they appeared in the front. The book outlines the unitís involvement of the invasion of Poland, the fall of France, the invasion of Russia, the battle of Kharkov, the defence of Warsaw, and the final fruitless attempt to relieve Budapest in the last days of the Reich. Illustrated with rare photographs, and featuring an authoritative text, SS-Totenkopf is a definitive history of one of Germanyís premiere fighting units of World War II.
This soft back book written by Chris Mann and covering the SS Totenkopf 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 110 black and white period photographs and maps. The photographs are a mix of quality but with most being both in focus and of a good size. The books contents break down as follows;
This book begins by providing a history of the NSDAP, the demise of the SA and then the formation and growth of the SS proper. These early sections also look at the rise of Himmler and Eicke and the demise of Rohm. This takes up a considerable amount of the title and provided information that I found interesting due to covering a lot of history I just didnít know. It then provides information on the growth or if your prefer the expansion of the SS. This title covering the SS Totenkopf, looks closely at the symbolism of this SS unit and how the deaths head symbol came about and why.
The battles that the Totenkopf took part in as you would expect get coverage in the title and it is this aspect of the book that will appeal to the modeller. the photographs that adorn this area of the book are great for modellers regardless of if it is figures or vehicles that are of interest to you. I particularly like that the photographs cover this unit in peace and war time, and where war is concerned they cover troops both at rest and in the thick of it. One aspect that comes through clearly is how this particular unit was considered by their foes, the Totenkopf quickly earned respect as a professional and hard fighting unit that was a match for everyone they came up against.
This book is a fair to good book on the SS Totenkopf, but becomes a much better reference when combined with other books in the series. When taken as a whole, judging by the two titles I have looked at, the appeal is much greater as the first section of the books seem to be about the rise of SS generally, and the last section about aspects of the SS generally and that is why I feel as I do about the titles as a whole. The sections in the middle that does concentrate on the Totenkopf specifically are interesting and well written, but they are limited by the book size. Because of this I would highly recommend the titles as a set and only recommend as a standalone title.
Highs: The book is well written and I did not pick up any text issues while reading.Lows: I cannot help feeling that this book could be so much more than it is, and should be promoted as a series rather than a standalone title.Verdict: Well worth seeking out if you intend to purchase the series, but does still have merit in its own right.
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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...