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Panzer Operations: The Eastern Front Memoir of General Raus, 1941-1945 [Paperback]

4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 Jan 2005
German general Erhard Raus was one of the most talented commanders to fight on the Eastern Front in Russia, where he was eventually appointed to army group command in early 1945. By the time the war ended, Raus had established a reputation as one of the German army's foremost tacticians of armored warfare, which made him a prized capture by U.S. Army intelligence. In American captivity, Raus wrote a detailed memoir of his service in Russia. His battlefield experience and keen tactical eye makes his memoir especially valuable.The Raus memoir-now translated, compiled, and edited by prominent World War II historian Steven H. Newton-covers the Russian campaign from the first day of the war to his being relieved of his command at Hitler's order in the spring of 1945. It includes a detailed examination of Raus's 6th Panzer Division's drive to Leningrad, his experiences in the Soviet winter counteroffensive around Moscow, the unsuccessful attempt to relieve Stalingrad and the final desperate battles inside Germany at the end of the war.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: DaCapo Press; New Ed edition (12 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306814099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306814099
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 684,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Steven H. Newton is Professor of History at Delaware State University. His previous books on World War II include Kursk: The German View and Retreat from Leningrad.

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THE PREREQUISITE FOR A SUCCESSFUL WAR against the Soviet Union was a systematic preparation for the undertaking. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By R Heron
Panzer Operations by Erhard Raus is the memoir of one of Germany's leading panzer generals of World War Two. Confined to events on the Eastern Front, Panzer Operations follows Raus' career from command of a motorised brigade during the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 to his eventual dismissal as a panzer army commander in 1945. Raus' book is remarkable for the insight it provides into German armoured operations at a tactical, rather than operational or strategic, level. This provides Panzer Operations with a distinct point of difference to the classic memoirs of Guderian or Von Mellenthin. Raus' memoir highlights the narrow margin of superiority the German's enjoyed in 1941 and how attrition, lack of reserves and the fearsome Russian winter led to their defeat at the gates of Moscow. The way in which the campaign on the Eastern Front stretched the capabilities of the Wehrmacht to the utmost and the constant improvisation demanded of hard-fighting front line units is laid bare. More than any other book I've read, Panzer Operations illustrates the immense gamble Hitler took when he ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union. The Wehrmacht's proficiency and relative superiority at the tactical level could not make up for Russian advantages in material, manpower and, eventually, operational and strategic conduct of the war. Hitler's interference in military decision making, and its negative consequences for the Wehrmacht's fighting ability, is also illustrated by Raus.

Raus' memoirs are extremely clinical, seemingly written for a professional audience, and sometimes a little dry as a result.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Panzer Operations 26 Nov 2012
By Paulo
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent read and a must for anyone interested in the Eastern Front war. Plenty of insight into how tactics were employed and how mad some of the orders were to the front line from Headquarters as the war came to an end. An interesting insight into the bizarre world of Hitler too. I Highly Recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 17 Sep 2011
Thoroughly compelling account. From Raus's initial campaigns in the East during Barbarossa as a 'Kampfgruppen' commander, all the way through the major campaigns of the war and his subsequent promotions. I finished this book quicker than I have any other in a long time. One of my favourite 'Ostfront' reads.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful New Title on German Operations 29 Dec 2003
By T. P. S. - Published on
The name Erhard Raus will not register to many students of WWII, but the general saw as much action on the Eastern Front as any officer I know of.
Raus entered Operation Barbarossa in command of a brigade in the 6th Panzer Division, and ended the war as the head of an Army Group. He learned the art of tank tactics under fire. After he was captured he penned an extensive memoir (while the war was still fresh in his mind). Although pieces were used by American intelligence, they were often heavily edited and incomplete. Here, for the first time in print, is Raus's complete memoir. In a word, it is extraordinary.
The memoir was located, pieced together, and translated and edited from the original German by Steven Newton (Professor of History, Delaware State University). Raus was as good a writer as he was a tank commander. Simply put, this is extraordinarily well written, although it assumes at least a working knowledge of the war in the East and the structure of the German military.
Raus discusses the offensive battle in Army Group North during the drive for Leningrad, the offensive against Moscow, his role in Manstein's abortive effort to relieve Stalingrad (oddly, Manstein is not found in the index though is mentioned often), and the final defensive battles back into Germany, where Raus was relieved of command by Hitler in March 1945. Hasso von Manteuffel (who also is absent from the index) assumed his command, ending Raus's 40 years of military service. Raus's writing is often personal, always perceptive, and offers a hands-on knowledge that was obviously fresh in his mind when he wrote.
Newton provides an enlightening Introduction to this memoir and a date-oriented resume of Raus's career, which appears as an appendix. Thirteen maps are included (they are good but not great).
Panzer Operations should be read and owned by every WWII tank and East Front student everywhere. Run, don't walk, to your local book store (or order on line) and pick up a copy. With his work getting this manuscript into book form, Dr. Newton has proven once again why he is widely considered one America's foremost military historians.
31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, But... 7 July 2005
By Thomas Reiter - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a very good book on operations on the Russian Front. Raus was clearly a very gifted commander, and his descriptions of his numerous successful operations (both offensive and defensive) are very interesting, as he discusses the risks associated with the various courses of action he could take, why he chose a particular course of action, and the results.

Raus was involved in a very wide variety of actions, from the attack toward Leningrad, forcing a passage on a troop-train through partisan-infested forests, attacks attempting to relieve Stalingrad, the Kursk offensive, and the defense of East Prussia. Once the Germans shifted to the defensive, Raus' "trademark" tactic was the flexible defense, in which he was (at least according to his testimony) very successful and which probably explains the interest of the US Army in his writings after the war.

This book is very good, but I'll mention a few reasons why I only gave it four stars, so you can judge for yourself:
--Raus rose from a relatively junior officer at the outbreak of war with Russia to an Army commander by the end of the war. While I was very interested in his descriptions of the small unit actions in the first part of the book, my interest waned as he became more senior, and I found his accounts of his actions as an army commander fairly dull.

--While Raus was clearly a very gifted commander, the book makes it sound like his unit was always succesful--all failures occurred under other commanders on other parts of the front (note that Raus never says this, it is just an impression that arises from reading his accounts).

--Maps are pretty sparse.

--I didn't find Raus' descriptions of his Russian opponents very objective--he basically describes them as very brave, tough, clever (in a sneaky sort of way), and prone to atrocities, with only their massive numbers saving them. Maybe this is the way it was, but I don't think Raus gave the Russkis enough credit.

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating study of armor tactics in Eastern Front 20 April 2011
By J. Groen - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a fascinating study of armor tactics during World War II on the Eastern Front. The author was a colonel, major general up to a full general (what the Germans called a Colonel General) and served from June 22, 1941 (the start of Barbarossa) until March, 1945 (when Hitler relieved him from his post).

During that period, he served as a kampfgruppe (brigade) commander in the 6th Panzer Division, the commander of the 6th Panzer Division, an Infantry Corps commander and the commander of a number of different Armies. Since the author has better insight on small unit actions during the early part of the war, that part of the book is somewhat better than the later chapters.

The book is fascinating because of the tactical examples that it provides on battles fought on the Eastern Front. Here are a couple of examples. (1) The first time that the Germans met the 52 ton KV-1 tank, they had extreme difficulty destroying these heavy tanks. In one instance, he shares an example in July, 1941, when a single tank held up the movement of his kampfgruppe for more than day. Finally, the tank was destroyed by combined artillery and flak gun (German 88) fire. (2) During the first two months of the war, the German armor units were fighting on the edge. For example, he relates a story of the taking of a bridge over a major river right before Leningrad and the overwhelming Soviet forces that attacked the Germans until their help arrived. (3) The Germans at the start of the war didn't have the better tanks, but they attacked with hundreds of tanks at a spot at the beginning of the war and had overwhelming forces in a single area. He relates a story of a tank battle that occurred in the attempt to relieve Stalingrad in December, 1942. Although the Germans were outnumbered in tanks by 500 to 200, they attacked with all 200 of their tanks, single Soviet units of 50 tanks and destroyed each unit and until they beat the Soviets.

There are many more examples. One conclusion that I derived from this book is that the Germans had much better junior commanders (Lieutenant through Major) than the Russians throughout the war and themselves at the start of the war. As the war progressed, the Soviets used overwhelming numbers of artillery and tanks to defeat the Germans.

This is an excellent book that I highly recommend for any individual interested in the Eastern Front during World War II. In fact, this is the best book that I've ever read on this topic. One negative - there are some excellent maps in this book showing the ground that some of the major armor actions were fought on. On the Kindle as usual, these maps are difficult to read. Therefore, I suggest that you stay away from the Kindle version and purchase the paperback copy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raus: a good and dedicated commander 15 Oct 2010
By Dave Schranck - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Colonel Raus, at 42 years old, started Operation Barbarossa as a new Brigade commander in 6th PzD of 41st PzC. He'd been in service since WWI but in staff positions and had no real combat experience. His tactical abilities were quickly discovered and rose in rank and responsibility. As a Combat Group commander for 6th PzD, he led many spearhead assaults against superior Soviet forces and with his tactical abilities would often defeat his opponent. Mr Newton begins his work with an introduction of the abilities of General Raus and then a brief summary of the situation of the two opponents on the eve of the invasion.

A quick listing of his career includes the drive to Leningrad in 1941. He played an important role in the salvage of the Rzhev salient in 1942. The attempt to relieve Paulus at Stalingrad in late 1942 is also memorable. Raus played an important part in the drive for Prokhorovka in July 1943 and afterwards the defense of Kharkov. The disruptive counterattack against superior forces near Kiev as CO of 4th PzA in late 1943 was also impressive. The battles at Galicia, Lvov, Carpathian Mts, East Prussia and Pomerania are also part of his war experience. He would be relieved as CO of 3rd PzA in March 1945 by Hitler.

Steven Newton does an excellent job of compiling and translating the original work of Raus. The prose is tight and clear cut without awkward passages that you sometimes find in other translations. Raus was known for his tactical abilities and Newton emphasizes and highlights those abilities in the narrative. The description of the manuvers and assaults and sometime defenses are good and most people will probably appreciate the effort. As a memoir you receive for the most part the details of the local actions that Raus is involved in but with the occasional mention of other units that will impact Raus's decisions. For example, in the early drive toward Leningrad as part of 6th PzD, the 1st and 8th PzDs are mentioned for they were sometimes involved in coordinated attacks. While commanding as a Colonel, you won't see the "big picture" but as a General of an Army, you're afforded a larger viewing window of the battlefield and his leadership abilities.
The last chapter was interesting as well. General Raus believed that even after the Moscow counteroffensive and the loss at Stalingrad the German Army still had a chance to defeat the Soviets. With the new, better panzers and the better fighting skills Germany had a chance but when Hitler decided to attack the Kursk salient in July 1943, his Army had no chance after that. Raus believed it was a monumental mistake that couldn't be overcome. In fact Raus is critical of Hitler on many decisions made.
The book closes with a Chronology of Raus's life and career; it was a nice summary that allows the reader to survey Raus's career in a few minutes.
The author also provides 14 maps; some of the operations have two maps. The maps are simple but have value in depicting the narrative. (The map style is similar to Mr Newton's other books.) There are no photos.

Though it doesn't have anecdotal experiences, I liked this book; it provides the general tactics of an accomplished but underrated General but be warned the author doesn't always drill down to the detail level that you expect from a David Glantz book. The level of detail is sufficient in most cases and will make a good standalone book but it would also make a good supplement to David Glantz books (Leningrad, Stalingrad, Kursk) for Raus does present some of his personal thoughts and motivations that are relevant but missing in those other books.
If you like the tactical aspects of battle with some appraisal and commentary and don't mind the German bias then you should consider this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book 21 Jan 2012
By F. Carol Sabin - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is really one of the very good books about panzer operations. A helpful and necessary study about Eastern front battles.
Written by a talented German panzer commander this study covers his operations during the drive to the city of Leningrad, 1941-1942 Soviet winter counteroffensive, the attempt to reach Stalingrad and to help the encircled troops, Kursk and Belgorod operations, the Battles in Ukraine and finally, the battles inside Germany during late 1944- spring 1945.
Everything is depicted in a decent and personal way.
I couldn't find any photos, but only just a few and useful maps.
Great read, highly recommended!
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