This special issue comes in the usual format of the series with a soft cover and 114 pages full of period pictures either in color or black and white. Numerous color profiles mainly of German vehicles complement the pictures. To conclude with the graphics, some maps illustrate the advance of the Allied forces to the heart of Germany.
The text is divided into 4 chapters: "The Besieged Fortress", "First Fights at the Borders", "The Shell Cracks", "The Last Act". All the chapters have one or two annexes dedicated to accounts or to a specific topic.
The first chapter describes the mood of the Germans after the Normandy landing and the success of operation Bagration on the Eastern front. Understanding that the German armies could no longer hope a victory in the former occupied countries, Hitler decides to defend the German soil at all costs. Goebbels, recently appointed as ”minister of war effort”, gathers all the resources to provide Germany with the best defensive assets he can. Despite the Allies’ mass bombings, the industry manages to design and build some “wonder weapons”, i.e. the Me262 fighter, the V1 and V2 rockets… The male population of Germany is recruited in the Volksturm. The last forces are gathered before the final struggle for life.
The annex to chapter one presents the “armor units of the last chance”: the panzer-division “Müncheberg”, the panzer-division “Clausewitz” and the SS-panzer-brigade “ Westfalen”.
Chapter two starts with the victorious Soviet offensive and the subsequent rising concern in the civilian population. On the Western front, the Germans are still able to resist and to counter-attack as the operation in the Ardennes shows it. But this nearly is the last time. After a final offensive in Northern Alsace in January 1945, the German armies withdrew into the German territory in March. However Hitler still is persuaded that Germany will win. On the Eastern front, the Red Army manages to enter Germany and take Pomerania but has to make a pause in its advance. In turn the German population experiences a massive exodus.
The annex gives the account of the battle for Hatten in Alsace by both a German and an American soldier.
Chapter three describes how the Nazi regime hardens repression against its own population and administration members. The German morale is so low that Hitler and Himmler fear a general uprising. Executions for the example are ordered. So called traitors are hung with placard around their neck with the inscription “I’m a deserter”. At the head of the state, secret negotiations with the Allies are attempted. Hitler hides himself in his bunker. While on the Eastern front the Red Army reaches the Oder, on the Western front the Allies manage to cross the Rhine river. This chapter concludes with the contribution of the 1st French Army to the fight along the Rhine.
The annex is dedicated to an account by a British tank platoon leader of the fights at the Dutch-German border and another one by a German battalion commander of the fights against Staline tanks.
Chapter four describes the final thrust on both fronts until the victory. After the suicide of Hitler, Admiral Dönitz tries to negotiate a separate peace with the Anglo-Americans to continue the fight against the Soviets. General Eisenhower refuses until the complete capitulation. Meanwhile, a number of unit commanders willing to spare the lives of their soldiers decide on their own to surrender to the US or British troops, even those fighting the Red Army whenever they can. Admiral Dönitz has no other choice than a capitulation without condition. On the 7 May, at general Eisenhower’s HQ in Reims, Marshall Jodl signs the capitulation of Germany. The war was over.
Annex four gives accounts by French soldiers of the fights in Southern Germany and others by German soldiers of the battle of Berlin.
Annex five is a short history of the Tiger in service with the Panzer-Lehr division in March-April 1945.
Highs: More than 200 pictures and color profiles, a mix of historical text and veterans' accounts.Lows: Provided you can read French, there is not really any. Maybe it is not enough modeling oriented.Verdict: This volume is more useful for those interested in history. However the color profiles and many pictures can be inspiring for the modelers.
About Olivier Carneau (bison126) FROM: CORREZE, FRANCE
I have been in the hobby for years and I'm still learning.
As a modeler, I only build 1/35 modern military vehicles, mainly armored ones.
I also run a website where I share a lot of walkarounds. Just click on my banner to pay a visit to it.