on 9 January 2013
This book which was created from daily logs, diary entries, letters and other first hand accounts, begins with the activation and training of the division as well as a brief mention of the rise of the recognition for the need of armored divisions in the Wehrmacht starting in mid 1930s. The authors then describe the occupation of the Sudetenland, Chzechoslovakia before covering the invasion of Poland and then France. The invasion of Russia closes out this first volume. This first volume ends in Feb 1942 with a partial look of AGC defending itself against Zhukov's counter-offensive. Throughout the combat journey, you'll also learn about the junior and senior officers of the division and the impact they made; familiar names like Guderian, Model, Kempf, Schweppenburg, Nehring, Westhoven are covered plus a host of names that you may have never heard before. The authors also keep you apprised of the horrible attrition the division was suffering in men and equipment as the months roll by.
This was a very enjoyable read for it was a balanced account where the 3rd PzD was the primary focus but its history was woven within the bigger picture of the Army or Group it was fighting in. For example on the Eastern Front which consumes two-thirds of the book, exploits of the 24th PzC, 2nd PzG and AGC are provided alongside the division. This arrangement not only informs the reader of the history of the division but also gives a better understanding of the overall campaigns. I was able to learn many new things on the different campaigns including Operations Barbarossa and Typhoon and especially on the Soviet winter counteroffensive. Villages captured then defended, establishing bridgeheads over certain rivers, canals or the simple act of controlling key roads or hills are described.
There is approximately a dozen hand drawn black and white maps that will support some of the key engagements. The maps aren't sophisticated but are helpful; my favorite was the closing of the Kiev pocket. The book has some Notes, but no Bibliography or Index. It does have a small Appendix that will appeal to some. It contains a rank table, a command list up to 1942 and lists of recipients of different awards as well as a divisional chronology for the period.
There are also many interesting photos of key officers of all rankings as well as examples of their equipment and the severe terrain, road, weather conditions the men had to endure while fighting the enemy.
Overall, this was an interesting, informative read that balances many first hand accounts with a decent battle summary that many of us can learn from. Its recommended to all who have a specific interest in the division or an interest in a competent but select overview of the first two years of the war from a German perspective. (There is very little specific info on the Polish, French or Soviet perspectives.) I'm looking forward to volume two which should be out in a few months.