Be there witnessing World War II . . . . . .
Red Army Into the Reich – The 1945 Russian Offensive, by Simon Forty, Patrick Hook, & Nik Cornish. Casemate Publishers; Sept, 2021, $37.95, 256 pages
By Don DeNevi
Publisher’s summary: For writers and historians who concentrate on the Western Allies and the battles in France and the Low Countries, the Eastern Front comes as a shock. The sheer size of both the territories and the forces involved; the savagery of both weather and the fighting; the appalling suffering of the civilian populations of all countries and the wreckage of towns and cities – it’s no wonder that words like Armageddon are used to describe the annihilation.
Red Army Into the Reich combines a narrative history, contemporary photographs, and maps with images of memorials, battlefield survivors, and then and now views, it may come as a surprise to the western reader to see how many memorials there are to Russia’s Great Patriotic War and those to the losses suffered by the countries who spent so long under the murderous Nazi regime.
Reviewed by Don DeNevi
The amazing speed of the Red Army advance across western Poland, then eastern Germany to the entrances of Berlin, was as much a surprise to the Western Allies as it was to the befuddled, weary German troops.
Even to this day, seventy-five years later, the ferocity of fighting by virtually every Soviet unit for every foot of earth on the Eastern Front confounds even the neophyte. In short, the Battle for Stalingrad over four and half months was stupefying enough, but how does one believe that in less than 10 months, Russians cleared the advanced enemy divisions out of their final strongholds in Finland and the Baltic states before advancing through Romania and Hungary to the Balkans, then Czechoslovakia, Austria, and over the Vistula-Order to the steps of the Fuhrer Bunker. Accurate books about the Red Army at war, whether written by historians, even Soviet, or by Russian commanders of their forces fighting in the hundreds, nay, thousands of battles, small or gargantuan, are rare.
With the publication this month of Red Army Into the Reich, all that has changed. Employing over 600 hitherto unpublished photos from distant, obscure archives, including 50 maps a dozen or so diagrams, coauthors Forth, Hook, and Cornish outline and examine via a brilliant, easy-to-digest narration the entire canvas of war at its worst from the Arctic Circle to the Reich Chancellery. The authors place us in unique, very different angled, positions to better eyewitness bombings, shelling, and bloodletting. Interviews with battlefield survivors and then-and-now views add to the tumultuous devastation.
In short, no better-illustrated text has yet been created to carefully, meticulously, carry us over the vast landscape of the most brutal, cruelest, total war the world had ever seen. At last, an accurate book about the Red Army Into the Reich. Whether simply perusing, or reading for depth, we are all witnesses. Page after page we stand on the same ground of the Russian soldier attacking so resolutely. We are present during the final act of World War II.
Readability . . . . . 5 stars
Historical accuracy . . . . .5 stars
Overall rating . . . . .5 stars
Overall % rating . . . . . 5 stars