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Infantry Aces of the Reich Hardcover – 7 Nov 1991

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld Military; Book Club Edition edition (7 Nov. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854090658
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854090652
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 510,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. W. Bradbury on 4 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Written by Gordon Williamson in 1990 as a follow-up to his earlier 'Aces of the Reich', the introduction to this fascinating volume begins with the words:- "In the fifty years which have elapsed since the outbreak of the Second World War, countless books have been written about the daring deeds of the war heros of all the participating nations. Those written during the war were, understandably, heavily biased to boost the morale of personnel on the home front; books written in more recent times have been more objective. As old hatreds have faded, virulent anti-German propaganda has all but disappeared and, while the excesses of a few are still abhorred, the magnificent fighting qualities of the German soldier during the war are now more widely acknowledged. On the German side, reluctance to discuss wartime experiences has faded, and as many former German soldiers become willing to open up and discuss their military careers, much important new photographic and documentary material has emerged.". This explains the book's purpose beautifully, and a little later in the same introduction the following quote summarizes it's content:- "The cases presented here are those which, had they been preformed by an Allied soldier, might well have attracted the award of the Victoria Cross for a British serviceman, or the Medal of Honor for an American. The fact that these German soldiers fought for a regime which is now held in abhorrence is irrelevant. Heroism must be considered objectively. A brave man is a brave man whatever cause he fights for. These are soldiers who, when the chips were down, put their lives on the line and in total contempt of personal danger, continued to fight when any lesser man would have considered the situation lost.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought this book following viewing the Blockbuster 'Fury' staring Brad Pitt.Good movie till the last quarter when Brad and co come up against a crack Waffen SS squad. I cannot believe battle hardened elite troops would have been decimated by the crew of a solitary disabled Sherman Tank.This book recommended by a friend puts the record straight.Forget all your preconceptions and get this book for a balanced appraisal of the fighting prowess of the German infantry soldier.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Great book, an absolute must read for German WWII buffs 2 Oct. 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
My biggest surprise is that this book has not been reviewed yet, as it has been out of print for 9 years now.
This small but interesting book starts with a review of combat awards given by the Germans, and what it took to earn them. This is one of the most straight forward simplest explanations I have seen, and would be good reading just for that.
The book then starts each year of the war as a chapter with a breif explanation on the war from the German stand point at that time. Then it contains within each chapter several short stories about men who won the Knights cross in that year. The book by no means covers all the winners, only a few, and the stories are short. On the other hand, the author picked some great stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat. You will not be able to put the book down. One story has a German officer driving into a French collum by mistake, and ordering THEM to surrender, the rest is in the book, I won't ruin it.
The stories are short, and keep your attention very well, you can read the book in a day if you let yourself.
I think there are two other books in the series, one about paratroopers, and one about SS, but I have only seen them once along time ago.
If you are interested in WW II from the German side, and want to see what bravery and leadership really are, this is the book for you. Just wish the book was thicker and had more stories, but I'm not complaining a bit, the ones in the book are probably the best you will see.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great book - really interesting 20 Feb. 2007
By Mark S. Hoffmann - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Book came in a solid box completely safe and intact. The book is a very interesting read since it discusses the biography of a number of the Knight's Cross winners in WWII - Wehrmacht, Paras and Waffen SS - really interesting to read more in depth on some of the people that are constantly referenced in other books. My 12 year old son who is very interested in military history found it easy to read and exciting. Highly recommended.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A nice quick read. 3 Dec. 2007
By B. V. Pope - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is a good read to have around to reference Knights Cross winners you will certainly come across in other books. The stories are short and direct about how they recieved their Knights Crosses with all the dull dry reading left out. It also goes a little in depth on the different types of medals that could be awarded and gives the criteria needed to recieve them which I have yet to see in any other readings. The author also took time to gather pictures of each soilder in the book so you have a face to go with the story. So if you are looking for a book that is direct and to the point and spans all years of the war all the way from the invasion of France to the collapse of the Third Reich. then this is a great read. My only negative review is I found some information to be not true which made me question the other stories and where the author received his information. The story of SS Unterscharfuhrer Remi Schrynen ends with his unit taking part in the battle of Berlin which he missed out because he was taken prisoner. This was not true Remi's unit continued to fight on until 2 days after the official surrender of the German armed forces where soon after they surrendered to the American forces never taken part in the battle for Berlin. Other then this I found it a good book and a heck of a read for how short it is.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Straightforward Account Of The Undeniable Bravery Of 32 Ordinary German Soldiers 26 Jun. 2012
By AvidOldiesCollector - Published on
Let me begin by saying I am not an apologist for the evils committed by The Third Reich both before and during World War II. To deny any aspect of that era, including and especially the Holocaust, would be utterly ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as thinking that all Germans (and their allies) who served (in the millions) were cut from the same mold as the bumblers portrayed in TV shows like Hogan's Heroes, or sinister black-clad automatons in movies like the Indiana Jones series. In the 67 years that have passed since the end of that conflict it seems that, either that has to be the general approach in dealing with the war in books and film or, if anyone in the German armed forces is to be portrayed in a positive way, it had to be larger-than-life personalities such as Erwin Rommel or Adolf Galland.

Studiously avoided, for the most part, was any suggestion that there were, undeniably, very brave soldiers serving under Hitler's regime - including the Waffen-SS. Until this 1992 154-page volume from Arms And Armour Press, written by Gordon Williamson, which highlights the exploits of 32 of the best, including their awarded decorations. As he says in the Introduction "Note. Although the term infantry has been used, this book includes paratroopers, pioneers, grenadiers, etc. In effect, these are the men who fought on the ground and were, when in combat, basically foot solders."

Twelves pages at the front are devoted to full descriptions of "Badges and Awards of the Combat Soldier" followed by 112 pages devoted to the individuals, broken down into these specific periods of the war chronicling their initial decoration (most were multiple award-winners and some went on to fight throughout all campaigns - some even joinmed the West German Army after the war): 1939-40 - Major Georg Michael, Major Rudolf Witzig, Major Michael Pössinger, SS-Sturmbannführer Fritz Vogt and SS-Sturmbanführer Ludwig Kepplinger; 1941 - Oberst Harry Herrmann, Oberstarzt Dr. Henrich Neumann; 1942 - SS-Oberführer Karl Ullrich, Leutnant Hans Sturm, Leutnant Bruno Sassen; 1943 - Oberst Martin Steglich, Hauptmann Gerd Mischke, Leutnant Wilhelm Wegener, SS-Unterscharführer Remi Schrynen, SS-Hauptsturmführer Georg Karck, SS-Untersturmführer Alfred Schneidereit; 1944 - Major Günther Hochgarz, Major Ferdinand Foltin, Major Siegfried Jamrowski, SS-Unterscharführer Emil Dürr, Oberleutnant Erich Lepkowski, Obergefreiter Franz Weber, Major Heinz Meyer, Obergefreiter Eduard Hug, Oberleutnant Wolfgang von Bostell, Major Heinrich Keese; 1945 - Oberleutnant Rudolf Donth, Oberstleutnant Paul Leibing, SS-Standatenjunker Willi Fey, SS-Sturmbannführer Freidrich Richter, SS-Obersturmführer Gustav-Peter Reber, SS-Sturmbannführer Hans Hauser.

Photographs of all the individuals as well as the various decorations appear in the middle of the book, and at the end are these Appendices: Appendix 1 - Comparative Ranks in four columns - British Army - German Army/Luftwaffe - Waffen-SS - U.S. Army; Appendix 2 - German unit structure. A Glossary explaining German terms follows, then a Bibliography, and finally a full alphabetical index.

As it says on the reverse cover, the decorations did not come lightly as "A full Colonel, three Generals and a Field Marshall had read and approved the recommendation before passing it to the Heerespersonalamt or Army Personnel Office where it would be signed and approved by a staff General before going to Hitler for final authority."

Just a great little volume for WW II buffs.
Delightful Tribute to Wartime Heroism 9 April 2015
By Arnold E. Bjorn - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In our day, it is seemingly more than ever the fashion to view the history of World War II through the "Allies Good, Germans Bad" filter of the mass media, with little attention paid to the subtleties and nuances of the actual war. Anyone who fought for the German side is automatically assumed to have been a villain, or at best a morally suspect individual. Even academic history has become increasingly blinkered and biased; the much-lauded official histories of the German Militärgeschichtliche Forschungsamt are one good (or rather, bad) example of this unfortunate trend. Fortunately, there are still serious and sober historians active who resist this trend, and are not afraid to offer credit and praise (as well as condemnation) to whom it is due.

In this book by military historian Gordon Williamson, the reader is treated to an all too brief but exceedingly readable cavalcade of biographical sketches, outlining the careers of a selection of German infantrymen highly decorated for personal bravery and gallantry (specifically, holders of Germany's prestigious Knights' Cross medal). Part oral history, part documentary research, Williamson's chronicle records the remarkable achievements of such German war heroes as Lieutenant Witzig, who led the capture of the Belgian fortress of Eben Emael, and a host of others of like stature. We read of brilliant bluffs, small units capturing far larger enemy forces, and desperate charges and defenses that just, barely, by a hair sometimes saved whole regiments from certain disaster. Yet by upholding a careful balance, the author does not allow the tales he recounts to assume the air of ridiculous Hollywood fantasy common to many tellers of war stories left too unrestrained by credulous editors. Fantastic many of the feats we learn of may be, but they never cross the line to becoming actually unbelievable. This is a credit both to the author and his sources.

Williamson is aware of the hatred of anything even vaguely associated with Nazi Germany which taints many perceptions of this era. He knows that not everyone will appreciate his honoring German veterans in this manner. But he has a clear and simple answer to these detractors:

"The fact that these German soldiers fought for a regime which is now held in abhorrence is irrelevant. Heroism must be considered objectively. A brave man is a brave man whatever cause he fights for." (p12)

Indeed; it is a mean little man who cannot respect the bravery and skill of an opponent -- Especially a defeated opponent, a lifetime after his cause was ground into the dust. Further, to slight the ability of the German soldier is to slight at least as much the ability of the Allied soldier who fought him. Without recognizing the talent and tenacity of countless Germans like the ones described herein, it becomes impossible to understand how American and British forces could have such difficulties facing them in the field. For surely, "our side" were not themselves military pygmies.

Taken altogether, Williamson's book, which also includes as appendices brief introductions to World War II German military organization and badges and awards, is a delightful tribute to wartime heroism, which in these instances happened to be German heroism. Like feats on the other side of the hill (which were performed) earned their originators the Silver Star or the Medal of Honor; here, they were awarded the Knights' Cross and the German Cross in Gold. Their deeds were such as any fair-minded man not of the unconditionally pacifistic inclination is bound to admire, regardless of political differences; further, they also make for riveting reading.
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