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“He masterly draws on all sources to provide an in depth account on why Operation Bagration and the involvement of the Soviet Union was so important to the success of the landings in Normandy and opened the door for an Allied victory. A superb military work tying the Eastern and Western Fronts together, rigorously researched and splendidly written.”
Anyone who believes in God — or any other higher power — has to be the victim of a serious willing suspension of disbelief after reading Kenneth C. Weiler’s “The European Theater Anthology of World War II (Ostfront Publications, Hanover, PA. ). To take just one number — 55 million — from a book subtitled “Unique, Unknown and Interesting Information for the Cognoscenti of the Second World War”: It’s the estimated number of dead in a war that probably could have been avoided if an art school in Vienna hadn’t insisted on a high school diploma from an aspiring student from Linz named Adolf Hitler.
This is the best book I’ve seen on the little known aspects of World War II, from the failure of the Germans to develop a strategic Air Force, to the lifesaving role of Lend-Lease Spam to the Willie and Joes of the Red Army on the Eastern Front, to the role of horses in transport: Germany relied on horses for up to 80 percent of its transport needs and the Russians relied on real horsepower too in a country with few hardsurfaced roads. In return for the untold misery of the Holocaust of Jews, Gypsies and people the Germans considered “untermenschen” we reaped the benefit of the microwave oven, among other scientific advances. Radar, vital to the air transport system, came out of World War II, as did jet engine airplanes and guided missiles.
Weiler, whose “Why Normandy Was Won: Operation Bagration and the War in the East 1941-1945” (Ostfront Publications, Hanover, PA, 488 pages, photos, maps, glossary, bibliography, index, $24.95, available from the publisher or Amazon.com) wrote that “Germany lost more than 300,000 men in twenty-two divisions in just five weeks; this was a blow from which the Ostheer (the German Army in Russia) never recovered. In order to stabilize the front, the German command was forced to transfer forty-six divisions and four brigades to Byelorussia from other sectors, taking some of the pressure off the British and American troops in France.”
Weiler says he put the technical details described in this new book in footnotes in “Why Normandy Was Won.” Transport and logistics played a major role in the defeat of the Axis in Europe, with the famed Red Ball Express — utilizing GMC 2 1/2 ton trucks — “Deuce and a Halfs” — only the most famous of a number of routes that supplied the troops advancing into Germany. While many books on the war refer briefly to the logistics, Weiler concentrates on the aspects of supplying troops under weather conditions ranging from sub-zero to well over 100 degrees fahrenheit.
You’ll learn that the much vaunted German technological edge was tarnished by the use of gasoline engines in German tanks, compared with the superior Diesel engines in the Russian T-34 tanks, which Weiler enthusiastically describes as a superior weapon to both the German and Allied tanks. Of course there’s the irony of the German developed Diesel engine, which was far more durable under warttime conditions than gasoline power plants. The Germans also used dart-like anti-tank devices that required the user to approach the tank very closely, exposing him to deadly fire from the tank.
The bigger picture of warfare must be kept in mind even in one single battle “Why Normandy Was Won: Operation Bagration and the War in the East 1941-1945: How Stalin and the Red Army Contributed to the Success of the Allies at Normandy” grants a picture on the contributions of the Soviet Union to the western front of the war allowed Britain and the United States to regain their foothold in continental Europe in more ways than splitting Germany’s forces. “Why Normandy Was Won” paints a picture of what made one of the most legendary assaults in history all the more successful.
“The war on the Eastern Front – a conflict of unparalleled breadth and ferocity – has rarely received the attention it deserves from English-language authors. While the Second World War in Europe had many facets and the defeat of the Third Reich ultimately came about as a result of collective effort, it was Hitler’s ill-advised campaign against the U.S.S.R., and the Soviet response to it, that decided the outcome of that war. One of the most crucial moments in that titanic contest was Operation Bagration, a crippling blow to the German military delivered by the Red Army barely two weeks after D-Day. Ken Weiler has produced an insightful work that brings badly needed attention to this operation and explains its importance within the context of the war. The author also provides vital background to the armies and societies of the combatants, and skillfully describes how this background influenced their conduct during 1941-1945. Weiler has contributed an evocative and invaluable addition to the scholarship of the war on the Eastern Front, a ‘must-have’ for students of World War Two.”
PLUS special Introductions and Q&As from Ken Weiler!