Into the Cauldron - Das Reich on the Eastern Front #6534 is a 52 page book from Robert Michulec & Dmitriy Zgonnik and is published by Concord Publications and has a 2010 copyright. The ISBN is 962-361-170-6. The book is a soft cover book and contains 134 black and white photographs, and 4 color artwork prints. The book begins with a 2 page history of the Das Reich Division from the June 22, 1941 invasion of Russia, Operation Barbarossa, to its final actions in Hungary and Austria at the end of the war. The remainder of the book dedicated to a wide array of photographs and the color artwork prints.
The SS Division Das Reich was a Waffen-SS division during World War II. It was considered to be The Elite formation among the thirty-eight divisions fielded by the Waffen-SS. It served during the invasion of France and took part in several major battles on the Eastern Front including in the Battle of Prokhorovka against the 5th Guards Tank Army at the Battle of Kursk. Afterwards, it was transferred to the West and took part in the fighting in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, ending the war with the last, desperate fighting in Hungary and Austria.
Shown throughout the book are a wide variety of Das Reich Division members. They include infantry, panzer grenadiers, artillery crews, panzer crews, anti-aircraft crews, anti-tank crews, etc. One photograph I really like is of a Das Reich pioneer using a mine detector. The various uniforms shown include some of the various camouflage patterns used by the SS as well as the various winter uniforms. The captions point out the various uniform types as well as identifying equipment items such as the M35 steel helmet. As well as focusing on uniforms there is a wide array of subjects focused on in the photographs such as equipment, small arms, vehicles, field guns and armor.
The photographs range from action scenes to troops in casual poses during various times of the year such as summer and winter. I haven’t seen a majority of the featured photographs before and I was pleased with this. Most of the photographs are nice and clear, however there are some that have a kind of blurry/fuzzy look to them. I don’t know if this is due to the original photographer or if it is from them being enlarged for the book. Then again I have seen several photographs from WWII that have this look to them so maybe that was just typical for the period. I do know that several WWII photographs are actually stills taken from video so that could be part of the reason as well. With all of that said the quality of the photographs is no fault of the author.
The color prints
Artist Dmitriy Zgonnik has provided four color prints. The color art work prints are done very well. They show nice representations of different uniforms and include detailed captions describing the represented uniforms, equipment, and weapons.
The four color prints are of:
- An SS-Obersturmfuher - Senior Assault (or Storm) Leader – 1942-43
- An SS-Sturmmann – Stormtrooper - 1943
- An SS-Oberscharfuhrer - Senior Squad Leader - 1944
- An SS-Untersturmfuher – Lieutenant - 1944
The captions that accompany the photographs are well written and go into great detail in regards to the divisions, regiments, soldiers, uniforms, weapons, and equipment that is shown. It is obvious that Robert Michulec has taken the time to study the photographs and research them so that they are well detailed and point out several items of interest. As I read through the captions I did notice a few spelling errors however they are very few. There is also a caption that ends in mid-sentence and therefore leaves the caption incomplete on page 49.
As with my other book reviews I like to mention certain things shown in the book that I hope will provide additional information and will be of interest to others.
Some of the German divisions/regiments shown and discussed in the book are the:
- LAH Division
- Totenkopf Division
- Der Fuhrer Regiment
- Langmarck Regiment
Some of the German armor and vehicles shown and discussed in the book include the:
- Sd.Kfz 250
- Sd.Kfz 250/10
- Sd.Kfz 251
- Panzer III Ausf J. with the L/42 gun
- Stug III Ausf G.
- Stug IV
- Panzer VI Tiger
- Fieseler Fi156 Storch
- Sd.Kfz.9 Prime Mover
Also covered is a wide variety of German weaponry. This includes:
- 7.5 CM LIG (leichte Infanteriegeschütz) 18 infantry gun
- 5cm leichter Granatenwerfer 36 (5 cm leGrW 36) mortar
- 3.7 CM Pak 36
- 7.5 CM Pak 40
- 21 cm Morser 18
- Nebelwerfer 41
- M41 flamethrower
Some of the Russian armor, vehicles and weapons shown and discussed in the book include the:
- ZiS-3 gun
- 47mm M1930 anti-tank gun
Another subject that is covered is captured/commandeered equipment and weapons. This has been a long time favourite subject of mine so I was very pleased to see that is was covered in this book.
Some of the captured/commandeered Russian items include:
- ZiS-3 gun
- 47mm M1930 anti-tank gun
- Maxim heavy machine gun
- SVT-40 rifle
- PPSH-41 submachine gun
Some of the Russian locations shown and discussed in the book include:
- Southern Ukraine
All in all I am very impressed with the book. The variety of subjects covered will appeal to the figure and diorama modelers and will be a welcome addition to one’s personal library. This is the fifth Concord Publications title that I have reviewed and I have been very impressed with all of them. I would have no hesitation to add other Concord titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others.
- Waffen SS in action
- Norman Harms
- Combat troops Number 3
- Squadron/Signal Publications.
- Waffen SS – the asphalt soldiers
Ballantine’s Illustrated History of World War II.
- SS – The Blood Soaked Soil – The Battles of the Waffen-SS
Motorbooks International Publishers & Wholesalers
- Fighting Elites – Waffen SS
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Worlds Tanks and Fighting Vehicles
Christopher F. Foss
Chartwell Books, Inc.
- The Military Book Club Encyclopedia of Infantry Weapons of WWII –
Ian V. Hogg
- German Automatic Weapons of World War II – Live Firing Classic Military Weapons in Colour Photographs
Window & Greene