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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Needed more German Perspective
This was originally published in 1981 via the Military Book Society. Judging by some of the typos in this version I suspect it is a scanned reprint with some obvious errors allowed to remain after scanning.

The book covers the activities of Allied forces and French resistance which delayed the ability of the division to approach and engaged the allied forces in...
Published on 4 Mar. 2011 by normngrey

versus
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of Hastings weaker works
I won't go into the quality or accuracy of the research as it seems clear here that almost every participant has an agenda to follow and inevitably that makes untangling the actual events and motivations quite a difficult task. I was a little disappointed with this book overall though because I felt it firstly failed to put Das Reich into perspective - what had it been...
Published on 10 Dec. 2012 by J. Bloss


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Needed more German Perspective, 4 Mar. 2011
This was originally published in 1981 via the Military Book Society. Judging by some of the typos in this version I suspect it is a scanned reprint with some obvious errors allowed to remain after scanning.

The book covers the activities of Allied forces and French resistance which delayed the ability of the division to approach and engaged the allied forces in Normandy. Whilst this information is good, it does not supply anything worthwhile from the German perspective be it personal or documentary which I consider to be an opportunity lost.

A good read but if you're looking for teh German perspective this book is a miss. For Allied and resistance activity against the movement of the division it is very good.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim and gripping, 31 Oct. 2009
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Dr. David Griffiths (Perth, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This is a superb book by one of Britain's foremost military historians. The author expressly states that he assumes the reader has a certain level of knowledge of Vichy, the Nazi empire and the SS and this enables him to concentrate on the events he describes rather than rehashing material available elsewhere. The title does scant justice to the scope of the book. While Das Reich itself is, of course, central to the narrative, the author deals in depth with the maquis and the other factions of the French Resistance, their politics, their bravery and their stupidity. His descriptions are not always flattering although he is always scrupulously objective. The SOE, the SAS and the OSS are similarly treated. The two seminal events, the massacres at Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane, are described and discussed at some length. The former may have had some slight justification; the latter - much the better known outside France - had none whatever. My blood ran cold when the the author quoted without comment a father's description of finding the partially charred body of one of his children in the smoking, burnt out church, and searching unsuccessfully for his other son among bullet-riddled prams and the bodies of at least twenty small children who had unsuccessfully sought safety behind the altar.

The paperback edition which I read suffers from sloppy proof-reading and irritating typographical errors: the surname of Major Kampfe (whose abduction was the catalyst for the events at Oradour) is rendered as "Kampie" in a couple of places, "farmers" is given as "fanners" and so on. It is this alone which stops me giving the book five stars.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of Hastings weaker works, 10 Dec. 2012
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J. Bloss "jethrox1" (Buckingham,UK) - See all my reviews
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I won't go into the quality or accuracy of the research as it seems clear here that almost every participant has an agenda to follow and inevitably that makes untangling the actual events and motivations quite a difficult task. I was a little disappointed with this book overall though because I felt it firstly failed to put Das Reich into perspective - what had it been involved with pre-June 1944 - and moreover why was it so important to delay its march to Normandy. It seems overall that theoretically the Das Reich could have been in Normandy in 4-5 days(ish) but it took so much longer but the book only covers what seem to be fairly short lived and minor engagements by the French Resistance and Allied agents, most of which seemed to last a few hours and can't explain the overall delay. The book does cover SS atrocities and Resistance politics and activities but overall I felt the narrative wasn't strong.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Adventures of the Resistance, 10 May 2014
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This review is from: Das Reich: The March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France, June 1944 (Pan Military Classics) (Kindle Edition)
The narrative of the Das Reich SS Panzer Division's journey from the south to the Normandy battlefields at once evokes admiration and revulsion. The bulk of the account focuses on the activities of various branches of the Resistance and Allied covert operations describing how they harrassed and delayed the movement of Das Reich. Hastings writes in a relatively non judgemental way, not allowing sentiment to get in the way of historical fact. The account of the ransacking of Oradour Sur Glane allows the reader to make their own judgements.
Overall, this account of one episode in World War II leaves you wanting to know more about the German Panzer Division, I felt. The exploits of the Resistance are amply covered. I read Hastings' 'All Hell Let Loose' before I read Das Reich, finding that a much more gripping and pacey.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thought-provoking read, 30 Jun. 2013
Das Reich (2nd SS Panzer)

The focus of the book is on delays to the move to Normandy of Das Reich. But Hastings covers a lot of ground. A number of issues caught my eye. The best I can do here is to list some of these in the hope that they give something of the character of the book.

Hastings gives good insight into the mentality of the SS. This is central to an understanding of what took place.

The SOE (Special Operations) had the job of providing resources for and motivation of the Resistance. Sceptics of the work of the SOE included Monty, MI6, and SHAEF. But SOE had powerful friends including the PM. In 1940-41 various 'private armies' were tolerated by service hierarchies as playthings of the Prime Minister and some irregularly minded generals. These criticisms carried some weight: the contribution of Special Forces of all kinds was always marginal. SHAEF had little time or enthusiasm for any force that threatened to divert attention or resources.

For SHAEF any dividend from the work of the Resistance was a seen as windfall but SHAEF did not plan on it. The organisation of the Resistance was always confused. There was no overall plan. Also SS retaliation on local populations for any attacks on their forces was so severe that this limited scope. When the Resistance did some damage (for example to railways) there was not enough emphasis on repetition - quick repairs were often possible.

The German decision to counterattack the Resistance in the south rather than immediately move north to support the forces in Normandy was profoundly foolish. No other major battlefield formation was permitted to waste as much time upon the Resistance as the 2nd SS Panzer. Das Reich (SS 2nd Panzer) was certainly slowed in its eventual journey north. The march to Normandy took 2 to 3 times as long as it should. It was Allied air forces that inflicted the most important delays on German forces approaching Normandy.

It is impossible to divide precisely the credit for the Allied victory in Normandy between Allied deception plans, the quality of the Allied troops and their commanders, the blunders of German High Command, the air forces, and the Resistance. French historians and former resistants have wildly exaggerated their material damage inflicted on Das Reich. It is probable that no more than 35 were killed in all out of some 15000 men. But material damage was not the key issue.

The highest ambition of the Allied commanders was that the Resistance might unbalance the German forces and divert strength from the Normandy battle and this was achieved. After Liberation General Eisenhower paid fulsome tribute to the contribution of the Resistance (though Montgomery never displayed interest or respect for them).

A thought-provoking read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars March to Normandy, 3 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Das Reich: The March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France, June 1944 (Pan Military Classics) (Kindle Edition)
The overall book could have been very interesting, however it turned into more a description of the Maquis and assocated political infighting than a description of the the overall progression of Das Reich to the Normany coast and the Allied invasion.
It could have been improved considerably (I think) if the author had dedicated more time to the activities and formation of the Gruppe in question.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Horrors of War, 27 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Das Reich: The March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France, June 1944 (Pan Military Classics) (Kindle Edition)
This is the story of a Panzer regiment's movement from the south of France to Normandy, and of the French Resistance. It tells of the strategically delays caused by the actions of the Resistance and the horrific consequences to the civilian population. Having the kindle edition, the maps are difficult to read and it is useful to have a decent scale map of the areas concerned to hand.
There is fascinating insight into the workings of the SOE and of the actions of the SOE agents in France.
The facts are extremely well researched and the text well written and easy to follow.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding., 19 Sept. 2009
By 
Mike France (SW France) - See all my reviews
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Extremely detailed and well researched, the book provides a fascinating insight into the events of the period, overturning many 'cherished' beliefs. Balanced, with input from both sides of the conflict, it provides a thorough understanding of all of the issues involved, including the 'bigger' picture often overlooked. Particularly interesting for me as someone living in this area, surrounded still by evidence and residual feelings of the campaign.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Das Reich, 8 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Das Reich: The March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France, June 1944 (Pan Military Classics) (Kindle Edition)
I've given this book only four stars because it has some serious flaws; however, these do not detract from the excellent and detailed scholarship of Sir Max Hastings. The book follows the progress of the 'Das Reich' division of the Waffen SS from southern France to Normandy, the two massacres committed en route in response to attacks by the fragmented French Resistance, and interviews with participants on both sides.

As others have mentioned, there are serious proof-reading errors: for instance, "pouring" over maps instead of "poring". Was I the only person to be irritated by the frequent use of the phrase "the Das Reich"? Most of us aware that 'das' in German = 'the'; 'the Das Reich division' is acceptable, if wordy, but 'the Das Reich' seemed tautologous. To be fair, had Sir Max referred simply to 'Das Reich' it could be misinterpreted, although the very title of the book should have made it plain what he was referring to.

More seriously, and I hope far less pedantically, a serious discussion of the morality of killing civilians in wartime was missing. Almost all occupyng forces, from the Romans to the Americans and British, will take some form of retribution against the surrounding civilain population when their troops are attacked and they cannot identify an enemy hiding among the local populace (which is, after all, why guerilla war is often so successful). Whether this is justifiable or not is one point, but it happens and will continue to happen. But if it can be justified, does this extend to burning women and children alive in a church? I read Hastings' excellent "Bomber Command" immediately following "Das Reich", and in the former there is a detailed discussion of the morality and ethics of bombing civilians - i.e. setting women and children on fire. In no way do I wish to compare the bestiaiities of the SS to the RAF, but I would hope that some distinction can be drawn between the two types of atrocity other than the simplistic one that burning people on the ground is not OK because it is face-to-face whereas bombing from several thousand feet is OK because one cannot see the victims. There are no easy answers to this question. Possibly - and Hastings' book should be read - bombing was justified in order to shorten the war (although Hastings argues persuasively that it was not), but the massacre by Das Reich cannot be justified. But why not? Hastings does include interviews with former SS, but as other reviewers have pointed out, they inevitably had an agenda at the time they were interviewed (late 1970s, when several war crimes trials took place in West Germany) and so the question is skirted over.

I was interested in the compositionof the Resistance and their motives, and also in the discussion of who actually made up the SS at this stage of the war. Overall, this is a 'good read' if lacking in serious analysis of the reasons for Das Reich's notoriety.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, 1 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Das Reich: The March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France, June 1944 (Pan Military Classics) (Kindle Edition)
Typical Hastings well researches and a good read but not enough breaks ie paragraphs you tend to go on reading and start to lose interest and concentration a fault with many Hastings works hence just four stars
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