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Like a Cliff in the Ocean: History of the 3.SS-Panzer-division Totenkopf Hardcover – Dec 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Fedorowicz (J.J.),Canada (Dec. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 092199169X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0921991694
  • Product Dimensions: 30.7 x 23.1 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,694,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. Nicolai Olsen on 25 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Pretty decent divisional history, probably the best one currently available in English (Vopersal's multi-volume series is most likely superior, but it's in German and will cost you a small fortune).

The book achieves a nice balance between divisional history and first hand accounts from veterans (which are included in full, not just a snippet here and a snippet there). Various photos, maps and relevant documents are scattered throughout the book.

Two complaints:
*JJF might have been a tad too eager in blowing up some of the photos, making them rather fuzzy. I don't know if the source material or the photo reproduction is to blame, but they should probably stick to two or more photos per page.
*The more controversial aspects of the division are pretty much glossed over. Don't expect any in-depth discussion of the Le Paradis massacre or the concentration camp connection. ("prison guards"?)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Highly-recommended reference for military professionals and historians... 1 Oct. 2005
By I. J. Schillinger - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A significant primary source for students of maneuver warfare. The subject division experiences a steep learning curve from 1939 to 1943. During the last two years of the war it survives under strategic doctrines misaligned with its hard-won maneuver skills. The author's insights are not to be found in any other work on the subject. The book includes many diary entries, dispatches, newpaper clippings, and photographs in parallel with the official history. Across the later chapters, the interested reader will discover one of the best montages of the Russian soldier during WWII; in this regard, the work is particularly commendable for its independence from the contemporary political biases. Interested readers should familiarize themselves with the role of the Waffen-SS and its struggle for a worthy reputation alongside the regular army before tackling this piece; a 'cold' reading from the present would be confusing. For context, v.Manstein's "Lost Victories" [English] (Presidio, 1982) is probably best.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
A Good History of one of Germany's Elite Formations in WWII 27 Mar. 2007
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is the English translation of "Wie ein Fels im Meer" by Karl Ullrich and this version is published by JJ Fedorowicz. As a side note to the curious, the original "Wie ein Fels im Meer" came in two volumes, a photo book with German/English text (which I own also) and the divisional history in German text only. "Like a Cliff in the Ocean" is the English translation of the divisional history. As with all JJ Fedorowicz books, the book is physically of very high quality and is well translated.

The book is a detailed but overall general history of the division from its inception in 1939 until its demise in 1945, and the book's strength is that it was written by a man who was there. The author was part of 3. SS Panzer Division "Totenkopf" from the beginning and commanded a combat engineer company and later the combat egineer battalion. He later became commander of 5. SS Panzer Division "Wiking", earning the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves.

Also contained in the text are many personal accounts by various soldiers; and these definately give a better feeling of what an average soldier in the division experienced. The 127 photos are all very clear and well reproduced. Included throughout are 23 nice b&w maps detailing the where the division fought and an appendix of 27 very detailed colored military maps. Interspersed are numerous photos and the traslations of documents pertaining to the division; ranging from corps orders to commanding generals praise, like von Manstein, for the division's combat record. The appendices have some nice tidbits of info too: Knight's Cross and other medal recipients, divisional organizational tables, command/staff positions, etc.

As the two other reviewers have mentioned, the author does not go into the wider context of the division and its role in the Waffen-SS and National Socialist Germany. Other authors have done this if you're looking for that. As said, this book is a factual divisional history. If you are looking for more personal accounts of the "Totenkopf" division I recommend "Soldaten, Kampfer, Kameraden" by Vopersal, however it is in German.

Overall I recommend this book for those interested in the "Totenkopf" division in particular and those with a general interest in the Waffen-SS as well.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The Truth 7 Sept. 2011
By Gretchen - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are always two sides to any position. It is a welcome relief to see the German Waffen SS (weapons) presented fairly in the field of action.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It is chock full of some of the best first person accounts in any of the many German ... 18 July 2015
By lynG - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a VG book, written by a highly decorated former officer of the SSTK division. Charles Sydnor wrote a book 30+ years ago on this unit that was also VG, but his bias against the officers & men of the Totenkopf worked against him in his work, as well as his adding only a few first person accounts of the fighting. Not so here, in Karl Ullrich's volume. It is chock full of some of the best first person accounts in any of the many German divisional histories. The photos are VG, with a full page of what I consider the best photo of the second world war, where grunts from the SSTK are lying in the snow in defense of a field, covered with Red Army corpses. The only reason I didn't give this work a five-star rating was because of its brevity. I felt much more material could have been added to fill this book out, as it's not cheap as is.
17 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Disjointed collection of documents and PK photographs 31 Oct. 2006
By Philip W. Logan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Considering the author was an officer and probably one of the better soldiers in the SSTK division this book is a huge disapointment. Ullrich's book consists of nothing more than a collection of maps, documents, and Propaganda Kompanie photographs that do little to explain history of probably one of the most remarkable and controversial divisions of the Waffen-SS. Karl Ullrich was with the division during its most critical engagements but provides the reader with no useful information or insite into the fighting qualities, organization or personalities of the 3 SS Panzer Division.

I would recommend this book if you are only interested in pictures of SS men and SS equipment. As a historical document it leaves much to be desired.
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