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on 5 March 2017
EXCELLENT BUT SHORT ACCOUNT OF THE OPENING STAGES OF THE 1940 German blitzkrieg , quite informative but a bit too impersonal and rushed , recommended though!
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on 23 July 2013
This is a really interesting book. As the author makes clear in his introduction, war is a very nasty business indeed, and never more so than when the world is fighting against a truly evil oppressor like the Nazi regime that sparked the Second World War. Nevertheless, history needs to be considered from both sides and perspectives and it is in this spirit that Peter Von Bleichert has taken an original work, written by his grandfather in 1942, and later translated into English by his father and given it an editorial make over. This is the story of the German mechanised advance which broke through the Maginot line allowing the Panzer divisions to overrun France and give Hitler mastery of Europe from the Black sea to the Atlantic. The Maginot was supposed to be impossible to breach, but artillery and tanks managed the job all the same and this is that story, as told by one of the victorious combatants.

The book is very detailed, with full descriptions of the military capability (both real and potential) of both sides and with helpful maps so that you know the dispositions of troops, artillery and tanks. There are also diagrams showing, amongst other things, a cross section of the Maginot line fortification showing the subterranean communications and hospital facilities. The Line was so much more than just a string of bunkers and fortifications. You also come to realise that the inhabitants of the area traversed by the line had a history of changing nationality as the border line moved time and time again over the preceding hundred years.

I loved Von Bleichart's `Battle for Taiwan' which was a fictional work, albeit laced with an excellent knowledge of the military capacities of the protagonists, but this is an altogether different work, being almost a historical record, but one we might never had seen had not the Von Bleichert family committed it to paper. It reads well, and it makes a fascinating to read about this war from the German point of view, something I've never done before. There is no commentary on the politics of the war, just the military details and some descriptions of the countryside which are almost curiously out of place. A really worthwhile read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 October 2013
Von Bleichert has produced a first hand account of his experience as an artillery observer in the May 1940 campaign in the West, from the section of the Maginot line his unit started at to the coast and French surrender. While the memoirs are relatively short (around 100 pages), the account is still very much worthwhile reading, bringing with it some interesting perspectives.

The book apparently did first appear during the war already but seems to be - at least in the version here - not written with primarily a propaganda agenda in mind. The French are portrayed as fair enemies and the treatment of prisoners both from a practical as well as the ideological point of view is quite normal and balanced. The German forces - clearly the more successful ones - are also not portrayed as superhuman - and the author displays great humility towards his parent's generation who fought in WW1, and in the author's view sacrificed much more, even if they were not as successful.

While the author describes the action as well as the downtime in between, the book cannot be said to be a firefight a minute page turner. While this may be a detriment for some readers, it also portrays war in a more realistic manner, with securing supplies, somewhere to sleep and a bite to eat occupying much more time than fighting. What was also surprising is that the German supply situation was not as secure as one would assume (for all but ammunition, it appears). The fact that a friendly fire episode (a Ju-87 destroying a bunker occupied by German infantry) was also covered was a further surprise.

Overall a very solid, if short war diary that can really be recommended for people interested in WW2. It will not have you reading late into the night to find out what happens next but will give you an overview of the early conduct of the war from the front line perspective. While it perhaps does not develop to the same extent as Eastern Inferno: The Journals of a German Panzerjager on the Eastern Front, 1941-43: The Journals of a German Panzerjäger on the Eastern Front, 1941-43, the author also starts with a more neutral attitude (and this is less likely to change in a month long campaign than over years on the Eastern Front).
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on 8 March 2014
One could almost call this book an antidote to war books. While the writer diligently persues his duties of furthering the war, he shows his humanity when confronted by his enemy, in his regrets at causing personal injury and in purchasing, not looting from a local shop. Yet he continues to direct his artillery to rain destruction on distant targets while being horrified when seeing the results There is much detail of the everyday life of the individual soldiers managing life as best they can as part of the great war machine. There are some typographical errors that look as though they are the result of predictive spelling during transfer to e-book status, but still a good short read.
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on 13 March 2014
It makes a change to read an account from the German perspective. Interesting to read about the blue on blue, (the Luftwaffe weren't infallable!). And also interesting what was said about the French, military & civilian. No mention of the British though as far as I recall. But I guess thats logical as our forces weren't on the Maginot Line.
All in all quite a good read, written by someone who was there.
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on 28 June 2013
Very interesting to read of the start of the war in france from the german prospective pity there are not a few more books like this around
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on 3 September 2015
the view from the german side
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on 9 March 2014
This story of a dramatic time, is the report of a soldier who doesn't see what is happening in the Grand Plan - so it's - we went here, I told them to shoot , they shot - reportage.

At the same time, interesting looking back on that time in European history
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on 13 January 2014
An interesting topic but not much detail of actual activity, more of a general view of actions the author was involved in. All in all a good quick read that gives a sense of the atmosphere surrounding these events.
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