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on 8 June 2015
This book is probably the definitive account of the last few months of the Second World War on the northern sector of the eastern front. Following the Russian advance towards, through and beyond Prussia, it gives an almost day to day account of the conflict. It was the point at which the Russians finally threw the Germans off Russian soil, and started to push into German territory. The military campaigns are well explained, and backed up by many first hand accounts. The impact on the civilian population is also explored - in some graphic detail - showing how the Russians treated the German populations they encountered. It's not a happy story, but it's context is explored, and whilst there is no excuse for the brutality which was widespread, the reasons for it are outlined and discussed.
The book is clearly written, has an abundance of maps - which are a little small on the kindle - and a few photos. For the general reader, it may be a little too detailed; I had some difficulty following all the units and commanders mentioned and tracked, but the author handles all this information well, without it becoming boring. He includes many first hand accounts form both sides, both soldiers and civilians.
For those interested in military history, there are many books on the western front to choose from; books on the eastern front - especially at the end of the war - are rarer in English. This one is definitely worth reading.
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on 27 April 2017
For those who know little of the conflict in Prussia and the east of Germany this book is the one to read . Extremely detailed account of the battle against soviet forces , as the British and American forces fought in the west towards the end of the war.Sometimes heavy going but because of its content and detail I give it 5 stars and feel I have a much better understanding of this period of the war , an educated and and well researched book .
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on 25 May 2017
A comprehensive account of a little known aspect of WW2. A must read for WW2 enthusiasts.
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on 14 February 2016
If you like 20th Century history a good read
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on 3 March 2011
This is a good book from a new author; Prit Buttar, a former army surgeon, he explores the details of the German collapse along the Baltic coast in the last 4 months of the War. Largely unknowen to readers in Britain these battles involved fighting on a massive scale; the German casualties were probably greater than those sustained by the British and Commonwealth forces in the whole of the War; include a sea evacuation much larger than Dunkirk and you begin to understand the immensity of the battle.

Prit Buttar has approached his subject well; taking researched military details and combining them with the testimonials of eye witness accounts he wealds together a coherent record of the fighting and tells a story at the same time.

Interesting anecdotes crop up like Montgomery's insistance that the weapons of captured Germans be stacked close by in case he needed to mobilize the POW's against the Red Army; also Montgomery's concession to the surrendering German generals to continue to allow the ongoing naval evacuation from the East.

I particularly enjoyed the final chapter in which he describes the fate of all the main characters in his book.

My only criticism is that the book becomes a little disloged and longwinded in places ; this is because of the need to fit eye witness accounts into the larger military picture.

In many ways the stile resembles Christopher Duffy; and in this respect I look forwards to his next book.
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on 14 May 2011
Having read nearly every book on the 'Ostfront' Prit's book stands head and shoulders above the rest. Meticulously researched and peppered with first hand accounts, not only is this a fascinating and addictive narrative but an oustanding reference source.

It captures and explains the complex array of social, political, military and geographical factors that contributed to the unique ferocity of the East Prussian 'battle space' from late 1944 to 1945.

Be warned, some sections of the book are harrowing and quite distressing. Perhaps its due to the authors medical background but Prit Buttar's work is novel in that it is one of the few books about the Eastern Front that truly captures and conveys the unimaginable suffering and privation of the East Prussian civilian population.

With the scarcity of English language books on Rokossovky's 2nd Belorussian front's East Prussia campaign, its great to see an author pick up the reigns and describe what happened in great detail from both the Soviet and German perspectives.

My only criticism is the campaign mapping is both scarce and rather poorly done. Otherwise spot on!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 September 2010
For any who find the final period of the war fascinating, this is the book for you. Chock full of stories from soldiers, civilians and navy men - from both sides - Battleground Prussia shows how the Germans put up stubborn resistance against the Soviets as they crept onto German soil. Although the first 150 pages are a bit slow, as if the author was getting used to writing his first book, which it is, the last 300 pages more than make up for it, as the reader marvels at the achievements of the Kriegsmarine, during the evacuations from Memel, Hela and Windau. In short this is a worthy book, as it documents a period not normally covered in more general histories of the war. The film Joy Division [DVD] [2006] also covers the German flight from the east, and may prove an interesting companion to this book for the historically aware.
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on 20 April 2011
I bought this book as I have been trying for years to find a good history covering the battles around East Prussia towards the end of the war. I was not disappointed by this book! The author has put in a lot of groundwork to detail the movements of divisions, corps and armies at this time (I suspect this may not have been too easy given the chaos that reigned over that period). The excellent use of first hand stories interspersed with the more technical side of battles made this book very difficult to put down. This, for me, is the strength of this book..the ability to bring the human stories behind battles into the narrative. The human stories quite rightly include the fate of civilians caught up in this disaster.

The book is very well organised (again, no mean feat given the amount that was going on at any one time) and I did not feel lost as I was led through the events and the stories of specific individuals caught up in it all. I only have a few moans, but these should not take away from buying this book. The maps could have been better, as, at times, I could not find where some places were that were mentioned in the text..I did not need more battle lines (these would have been very fluid anyway) but better maps would have helped in places. The other one was the end where the fate of some of the individuals mentioned in the text was maybe not always followed through in as much detail as I would have liked. Finally, whilst some Russian personal stories were included, I would have liked more, to better balance the whole history (however, this is a common 'failing' amongst books covering this time and may be more down to finding it hard to find good sources). As I say, these are minor moans!

I was interested to see that the author had not quoted from Guy Sajer's 'The Forgotten Soldier', as his book covers many of the events mentioned in this book. Why not? (the old debate about this book obviously comes to mind)..perhaps the author himself does not believe that Sajer's story can be 100% verified (I personally believe that it is based upon actual experiences).

At any rate, I'd totally recommend this book to anyone interested in this period. It may leave you exhausted and shocked at times, but if it didn't, the book would not have got its story across. An excellent history of the battles (and I have read lots of war books!) and a must for the bookshelf of anyone who wants to know more about this period.
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on 29 May 2011
The author has written an eminently satisfying read, blending good tactical battle coverage, commentary and appraisal of that coverage, many anecdotal experiences of soldiers trying to stay alive and civilians trying to escape the ravages of battle as well as background history on the country, people, towns and ships. There is also some coverage of the assault on Pomerania between the Oder and Vistula Rivers but the main focus is on East Prussia.

Before the battle coverage begins, the first two chapters present background history that help support the reader's understanding of the coming battle. In the first chapter, a brief history of East Prussia is given reflecting its military past as well as its relationships with Poland and Russia. There has been some turbulent times between these neighbors. Chapter two discusses Germany's war doctrine, having the Panzer Blitzkrieg at its center. The strengths and weaknesses as well as the organization of the Panzer Arm is discussed. The author makes special mention of the German economy being unable to fulfill all the needs of this doctrine. Too few quality panzers and transport vehicles drastically limited the German potential.
A very brief synopsis of the early war that includes the Grand Alliance and culminating with Operation Bagration is also included in this chapter. Other background info is presented throughout the book.

Battle coverage begins in late 1944 with Bagramian's drive toward Memel on the coast, attempting to isolate and destroy AGN. The Baltic Front did separate AGN from AGC but was unable to destroy AGN. You will also read about the massacre at Nemmersdorf and Cherniakhovsky's 3rd Baltic Front's first attempt to enter Prussia which ended in little progress.
The main battle doesn't begin until January when Cherniakhovsky tries again to enter East Prussia and head for Konigsberg. This time he'll have help from Rokossovky's 2nd BRF heading toward Elbing, not far from Danzig. At this same time Konev breaks out of the Sandomierz bridgehead with his powerful 1st UF, adding further weight to the Soviet offensive. The Germans put up a desperate struggle, inflicting heavy casualties but it will be futile against the superior Soviet forces. Tactical coverage is provided down to the division level on the German side while on the Soviet side its either Army level or division level. This book is German driven but the Soviet side is still represented but to a lesser degree. This may be a stumbling block for some but it can easily be seen that the author has devoted a lot of time to this book and is not heavy handed for the German side and still worthy of a high rating.

This comprehensive battle coverage will describe the important sieges of the fortress cities that Hitler demands to be held to the last man like Konigsberg, Elbing, Danzig, Gotenhafen, Heilgenbeil, Lotzen, Kolberg, Konitz, Bromberg, Fischhausen, Samland, Pillau and Peyse plus a dozen smaller sites like Tilsit, Rozan, Serock, Thorn. In addition to the battles, the author provide brief profiles on Reinhardt, Hossbach, Lasch, Koch, Muller, Nerhing, Himmler and others. Its also shown how Hitler's erratic orders cost lives and when Reinhardt, von Saucken disobeyed them were dismissed. To add further interest and energize the narrative, hundreds of personal experiences are presented. This anecdotal coverage clearly shows the brutal struggle the soldiers were in, confirming this was indeed a war of annihilation. Civilians trying to escape the reprisal of the Russian soldier is also clearly shown.
In addition to the land war, the importance of controlling the Baltic Sea is presented. It was the life line of the isolated Germans in Prussia and in the Baltic countries and the Russians would try to close that avenue. The sinkings of Wilhelm Gustloff, the Steuben and Goya among dozens of other vessels costing thousands of lives is discussed. Quite a bit of time is spent on the evacuations that took place right up to the end of the war.
The closing chapter discusses the last few weeks of war as well as post war politics including the Potsdam conference, the forced relocation of Germans living outside of Germany back to Germany. The beginnings of the Cold War is lightly touched. A few key personalities, like General Rokossovsky and Admiral Donitz are also mentioned post war.

There were 14 black and white maps of the different engagements which were helpful but I could envision having a few more maps. A small gallery of interesting photos is included. There is also a decent Notes section and Bibliography (English and German books) and Index but no Appendix with an Order of Battle or Tables of Statistics but there are some statistics running throughout the book. The author frequently discusses panzer divisions and the contribution they make in stopping the Red Army. Working panzers and new panzers added to the Front keep the reader up to current battle levels.

From my perspective, this book was most engaging and informative, covering an important battle sector near the end of the war that's not that well covered in the English world. It's a "must have" book that not only provides the "dry" battle facts but also the important personal aspects that brings the book to life. If you're a WWII fan, this should seriously be considered on your buy list. Its highly recommended.
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on 28 March 2013
This book tells you the history of the Russian Campaign against the Pomerania and the Eastern Prussia since September 1944 till the end of war.
The book is a precious one because includes really a lot of first-hand accounts from the soldiers and the civilians involved in this crusade; i use this word because for the Germans was a crusade against the Slavs that were invading their own territories and for the Russians it was a crusade against the enemies that brought so much destruction to their homeland.
All the campaign is followed with great accuracy and even with great attention to the atrocities committed by the second line troops (occupation troops) of the Red Army in Prussia. This aspect has been strongly neglected in the old historiographie, but now it's coming out.
A separate complete order of battle is missing, but telling the history, the author is able to give a very detailed composition of the units involved; with this and with the detailed maps included PRIT BUTTAR is able to make you follow very easily all the very confused fightings that happened in this region. It is to appreciate the cure posed to describe the fightings around and at Konigsberg and Danzig.
This book is a must for all the people interested to know the last free days of this region so important historically.
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