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Book Review
German Pionier 1939-45
German Pionier 1939–45 Combat Engineer of the Wehrmacht
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]


The German Army Blitzkrieg of World War II was spearheaded not only by German panzers and aircraft. The Wehrmacht’s various engineer units, collectively referred to as Pioniere (Pioneers), often paved the way for the panzers. These were the Combat Engineer of the Wehrmacht. First and foremost specialist assault troops, Pioniere destroyed natural obstacles and fortified positions with demolitions and flamethrowers, thus enabling the panzers to burst ahead and the infantry to consolidate. Pioniere were assault troops first and construction workers second. In defence they constructed fortifications and shelters, erected obstacles, laid minefields, planted booby traps, cleared fields of fire, erected camouflage, and maintained supply routes.


  • Introduction.
  • Recruitment.
  • Training. Rank.
  • Daily Life.
  • Appearance.
  • Belief & Belonging.
  • On Campaign.
  • Life in the Field.
  • Experience in Battle


In 64 pages author Gordon L Rottman reveals the life of the Pioniere to you in detailed text, photography, and outstanding artwork by illustrator Carlos Chagas. Mr. Rottman’s presentation of this branch of the Wehrmacht includes the background of community, culture, organization, and the specialized training and equipping of these shock troops. He does so with revealing photographs, detailed text and informational sidebars. The Pioniere organization included Pioniertruppen (Pioneer Troops), Bautruppen (Construction Troops), Eisenbahntruppen (Railway Troops), and Technische Truppen (Technical Troops). Mr. Rottman clarifies the difference between weiss (white) and schwarz (black) Pioniere, the former being Pioniere assigned to an infantry regiments while the latter were assigned to the specific Pioniere battalions. The color refers to the soldier's Waffenfarbe (branch of service color).

From recruitment through training (with details including descriptions of meals and closet organization), to combat tactics and other duties, the Pioniertruppen comes to life. While some of this information is dryly technical, Mr. Rottman enriches the information with words in German and English, slang as well as technical terms, and daily trivia. For instance, a table of Nazi holidays is presented as well as details of Pioniere expendable equipment and munitions, and popular card games.

After thoroughly acquainting you with the creation of a Pioniere unit, the writing brings you into a Pioniere unit’s three combat scenarios: the busting of a 1940 French bunker and roadblock, fording a Russian river near a demolished bridge under fire, and finally slowing the advance of the Allies in late 1944.

Finally, the sombre detail of the aftermath of battle, the laying to rest of a fallen Kamerad.


This is a short yet detail packed study of the Pioniertruppen of the Wehrmacht. Whether your interest is historical, archival, or modelling, Mr. Rottman offers you an in-depth and insightful resource for the topic of the Combat Engineer of the Wehrmacht.

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Highs: Excellent illustrations, engaging text, technical and personal detail.
Lows: None of significance. Perhaps include a table of Pionier units with their brief combat history?
Verdict: An excellent resource whether your interest is historical, archival, or modeling.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 9781846035784
  Suggested Retail: £11.99
  Related Link: Osprey German Pionier 1939–45
  PUBLISHED: Jun 30, 2010

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2020 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


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