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on 19 November 2013
This is a thorough account of the way that the Second World War affected the three Baltic countries.

Buttar notes that the Nazis planned to deport to Siberia 85 per cent of Poles and Lithuanians, 75 per cent of Belorussians, 65 per cent of Ukrainians, and 50 per cent of Russians, Latvians and Estonians.

He points out that all too many Lithuanians, Estonians and Latvians collaborated with the Nazis. The Lithuanian Activist Front started an uprising against Soviet forces on the first day of the Nazi invasion. Estonian guerrillas also operated at once against the Red Army. The Estonian Legion in 1944 became part of the new 20th SS Waffen Grenadier Division (First Estonian). All too many Latvians joined the 19th SS Waffen Grenadier Division (2nd Latvian).

These bodies were not just anti-Soviet. They were anti-Semitic, and killed Jews in what Buttar rightly calls the Baltic Holocaust. Lithuanian police battalions killed 78,000 people, mostly Jews. The Latvian Arjas Kommando killed at least 26,000 Jews, gypsies and other `undesirables'.

But not all Lithuanians, Estonians and Latvians sided with Hitler's genocidal reaction. In 1942 the Red Army raised the 16th Latvian Rifle Division, the 130th Lithuanian Rifle Corps and the 8th Estonian Rifle Corps, which all played their part in driving the Nazis out of the Baltics.

After the war, each country had to defeat a US-backed counter-revolutionary terrorist organisation. In 1947 the Armed Resistance League was formed in Estonia, and was active until 1951. The Latvian Central Council, founded in 1943, operated until 1948. In 1944, the Nazis created the `Lithuanian Defense Force', which was active until 1949.
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on 16 July 2014
This is a very good study of what took place in the Baltic countries during WWII. Prit Buttar is an excellent writer of these kind of books and the presentation is very readable and full of facts that are hard to find in other books.

The Strength of the book is how he manages to bring in the various Baltic peoples efforts and suffering in the overall struggle between Germany and the Soviet Union. There are numerous facts about small resistance movements and all kinds of personal stories that might have little impact on the war but gives us a Baltic approach to what took place.

Some of the facts are quite surprising and need further study. The Most surprising for me was finding out that Jews in some cases helped the Soviets arrest and deport nationals from these republics. If true, and the book is not clear on this, it is something that I guess few have heard about before. An other surprising fact was the Poles efforts to conquer Vilnius before the Soviets got there.

The Chapters on the German and Soviet murders of the civilians in these countries is a hard read but necessary in order to understand what took place. It is quite surprising to read Soviet commanders comments that they were liberating their homeland when they were actually invading these countries again. Few were sorry to get rid of the Germans but few were also happy about receiving the Soviets.

The Tactical and Operational presentation of the fighting between Germany and the USSR are fairly easy to follow and supported by some maps. But it is as always easier if you are familiar with the geography in advance. I was actually reading the book while traveling through Estonia and that improved understanding a lot.

While the ground war is presented in detail the case is not the same with the air and naval operations. There are bits and pieces but not a complete picture. Did the Soviets bomb Baltic cities or were they concentration their efforts on military targets? How was the Kriegsmarine deployed in the area and later the Red Fleet?

As far as I can tell there are few factual mistakes. One is the number of T-34 produced.The actual production figure is twice what he states.

But overall it is a very good book and it is one that I will recommend to anyone interested in the Eastern Front.
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on 26 August 2015
This book is partly a political history of the Baltic States in the 'thirties and 'forties, partly a military history of the conflict in the region in 1941 and in 1944/45, and partly an account of the trials and tribulations of the people of the region caught, as the title suggests, between pernicious giants. The endemic homicidal anti-Semitism of the region that manifested itself in the opening weeks of the war is given a somewhat light touch by Buttar, much of it being explained away as the unfortunate result of pre-war Soviet policies and subsequent manipulative German propaganda. The account of the military conflict in the region in 1941 is somewhat patchy; the opening week or two of the war being described in considerable detail, but the subsequent two months through July and August, during which the Germans gained control over the entire region, being covered rather sketchily. The narrative tends to jump from the end of 1941 to the beginning of 1944 with only limited mention being made of events in 1942 and 1943, though the participation of various Baltic police units in the massacre of civilians, both in their home states and in other German occupied areas of the Soviet Union during this period, is described. In addition to Buttar's extensive portrayal of the wartime political and military personalities of the Baltic States, the book's main strength is its heavily anecdotal account of the German defence of the region during the Red Army's advance of 1944; though in the absence of any orders-of-battle, Buttar's reference to various combat units often lacked meaningful context. Additionally and unfortunately Buttar's detailed description of the Soviet breakout from Leningrad towards Narva in January 1944 was, in the absence of any relevant battle map, difficult to follow. A similar criticism could be applied to Buttar's account of Third Belorussian Front's attempts to break into East Prussia from southern Lithuaniain the autumn of that year. There are also a number of errors, such as Buttar confusing the Soviet First Guards Army (which fought in the Ukraine and the Carpathians) with First Shock Army.
The concluding chapter describes the regional aftermath of the war; the active resistance to Soviet rule that continued for many years, the varied fates of a number of the most prominent pro-Nazi and other anti-Soviet personalities from the war era, and the eventual realisation of independence for the Baltic States during the break-up of the Soviet Union. This book is something of a mixed bag that seems a little uncertain of its target readership. It is, nonetheless, by virtue of its breadth and targeted detail, worth reading.
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on 23 May 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed Mr Buttar's "Battleground Prussia" and was anxious to read this sequel. Like the first book this book is highly researched and is packed with lots of details regarding the giants' prewar history, the combatant's organization, the evolution of Blitzkrieg, operational experience, weapons and their victims under occupation.

The author begins his saga with background information of the key players not exclusively but mostly during the interwar period. During this prewar period the author explains why the Soviets did so poorly during the first year of war and includes the military purges that destroyed the command structure, poor training of the troops and the use of obsolete planes, tanks, other weaponry and lack of communication equipment. Several reasons why Germany attacked its larger economic partner deals with defeating Communism and creating a new larger living space for the German people as well as controlling Russia's natural resources. Germany also sported several military advantages that would temporarily overwhelm the Soviets. It also includes practices and ideologies as well as relationships between Germany, Prussia, Soviet Union, the Baltic countries and to a lesser degree Poland.
While the book contains a lot of material and insight of this period, it doesn't provide a complete look at the operations for Army Group North for the entire 1941-45 period for it doesn't provide coverage of the siege of Leningrad. It does cover the planning of Operation Barbarossa and the German advance up through Aug/Sept 1941 period when AGN captures the three Baltic countries. Mr Buttar then provides good coverage of what it was like for the citizens of those countries under German rule, especially for the Jewish community which saw many thousands of its people executed.

Military coverage resumes in January 1944 when the Soviets break out of the Leningrad encirclement and begin to push the Germans back. The determined Narva River defense as well as the repeated attempts to penetrate the Courland defenses are prominent in the second half of the book as the Baltic and Belorussian Fronts try to drive Army Group Courland into the sea. Late in the book Mr Buttar links the connection between the fighting in Prussia and Courland. In "Endgame", a summary is delivered of why AG Courland was able to hold off the superior Soviet forces as well as the evacuation attempts of German forces in Prussia and Courland at war's end to escape Soviet post war retaliation.
The author has done another fine job of providing a lot of battle information on the individual corps and divisions as well as pertinent events while still making the book interesting and easy to follow. While building mini profiles on individual commanders and their divisions, the overall advantages and disadvantages that each side processed is shown as is the depths of the struggle both sides endured. Some German commanders that are highlighted include Model, Lindemann and Hansen while for the Soviets Bagramian, Yeremenko, Chistiakov, Govorov are frequently presented. For the Germans the 4th PzD and 12th PzD are also presented often for their extraordinary efforts in keeping the superior Soviet forces at bay.

There are 14 B&W maps; they're simple but useful. I personally would have liked a little more detail. A photo gallery presents some of the key officers of each side as well as including some battlefield scenes. There is a small appendix but no Order of Battle. A decent Notes Section and an impressive Bibliography is included if further study is desired.

From his many sources, Mr Buttar has accumulated, choreograph and presented an eminently satisfying summary on the rise and fall of Army Group North. For any reader interested in the fighting of this place and time or in the occupation of the Baltics this book is worthy of your consideration.
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on 6 January 2014
It is better to explain immediately that this book tells you much more than the battle for the Baltics in WW2, indeed it tells you a complete history of the Baltic States since the Russian Revolution until the end of WW2, including also the history of the persecutions against the Jews there, during WW2, and the history of the Baltic partisans that fought against the Soviet Union after the end of WW2
To be more detailed these are the main contents:
a) History of the origins of the Baltic populations and history of the Baltic States 1918-1939.
b)Consequences of the Moltov-Ribbentrop Pact.
c) German preparations for Operation Barbarossa and the subsequent administration of the occupied territories.
d) Operation Barbarossa in the Baltic States on 1941.
e) The persecutions of the Jews in the Baltic States.
f) The fightings in the Baltic States : from Narva on January 1944, to Curland until the end of WW2.
g) The complete history of the Baltic partisans that often fought against the Germans during WW2 and after the Russians after WW2.
Prit Buttar's style is wonderful , every chapter of the book is full of first hand accounts and the reader feels to be with the German Panzergrenadieren running for thier lives or with the lithuanian jews hiding in the weapon factories.
If you read the previous books written by Brit Puttar or you are interested to know almost everything about the fights in the Baltic States on WW2, you can't miss this book.
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on 14 July 2013
The historical context for the Baltic nations is well described. Each of the countries is thoroughly examined as the stages of the approach to war develop. There is lots of interesting detail and the prose style is that of a good writer.
The military detail is copious but never mechanical, never just a list of army units and locations. A very wide range of sources is cited for each chapter and this makes it a very authoritative account.
The war in the Baltics has not had much airtime in the literature of WW2 and this book does a good job to fill the gap. I would have liked a few more maps,though.
I thoroughly recommend this book to all those wishing to gain a better understanding of these events.
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on 30 December 2014
Most people from the "west"....like myself, know VERY little about the second world war in the Baltic states. This book is a true accurate account of the conflict that transpired here. The Russians tried to "re-write"the history of the Baltic states. My wife never even had an idea of how big of a"MONSTER" , Stalin was ( in ALL actuality...WORSE than Hitler !!!)
I feel....and the ones here in Latvia who have been through the book....feel that this book SHOULD be required reading in ALL high schools, and discussed, so people here can understand just how rotten the Russians REALLY were. !
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on 10 November 2017
Maps poor and so difficult following detailed movement of troop formations
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on 23 December 2017
only half way so far
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on 8 March 2017
Bought this book as a present. The recipient highly rated this book
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