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The Journey of a Dying Breed
on 5 December 2000
Das Reich chronicles the journey of the infamous 2nd SS panzer division (Das Reich) on it's journey through France to help bolster the defences against the allied landings in Normandy in June 1944. Their route North ran with the blood of many brave French men and women who attempted to delay them, most notably Violet Zsabo whose life was immortalised in "Carve Her Name With Pride". Many a roadside memorial in the Dordogne and Loire to this day bear testament to the indiscriminate murders that took place. On 10th June 1944 the "Der Fuhrer" regiment of the 2nd SS panzer division reached Oradour-sur-Glane in the Limousin. The massacre of 642 men women and children will go down in history as one of the most evil and barbaric acts that man has ever inflicted on human kind. The ruins of the village remain today as it was left on that fatal day in June 1944 and stands as monument to the memory of all who died there.
In his book Max Hastings has brought to life a part of recent French history with his flowing narrative style. He has brought to light many unsung heroes of the French Resistance who deserve their story to be told. For me personally he has awoken a new understanding of my surroundings and a desire to learn more of its history. Anyone who may drive along the leafy lanes of the Dordogne or Limousin after reading this book will know what I mean.