|Title:||The Crushing of Army Group North 1944-1945|
|Publisher:||Pen & Sword|
The military history of Heeresgruppe Nord is extensive and possibly also one of the least well known of the German armies in their battle against Russia.Scene of the battlefield is the region around Leningrad, the Baltic States and Prussia. After an initial quick push, the front stabilised late 1941 - mid 1942. Leningrad was besieged, but not conquered. While at first instance the Germans tried to conquer the city, the Russian army counter attacked, which had devastating effects at both sides. It soon turned out that the repositioning of army troops by the German command caused weakening and let to unclarity. The army group repeatedly received changing commanders, each of them with a different outlook on how to conduct war. This situation, combined with the continuing attacks of the Russians, caused the German troops to retreat more often in 1943, although Hitler expressly had given the express command to not move back. The book of Ian Baxter covers the period 1944-1945 in which German command tried to survive the Russian hurricane with all means available. The fights were extremely bloody. Under extreme harsh weather conditions, whole units were completely wiped out, often in man-to-man fights. At that time, Heeresgruppe Nord was a true foreign legion consisting of SS volunteers from many different countries. From a Dutch point of view this is also an interesting army unit, because the vast majority of the Dutch SS volunteers (of the 4.SS-Freiwilligen-Panzer-Grenadier-Brigade ‘Nederland’, the 11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division ‘Nordland’ and the 5. SS-Division ‘Wiking’) were part of this army group. Especially the regiments ‘De Ruyter’ (49th Regiment) and ‘Seyffardt’ (48th Regiment) stood ground very well against the overwhelming Russian flows of attack. Heeresgruppe Nord was eventually forced to retreat to German ground, whilst still fighting, causing many German and Russian casualties. The pictures show the harshness of the landscape, the weather conditions and the attempts of the German army to keep going. In addition, Baxter briefly describes the extreme fights that took place at Narva, Tannenberg, Pillau and Koerland. Baxters’ book is filled with amazing pictures, most of them which have not been published before. At the back of the book, some tables can be found containing the numbers of affiliated army units.
Ian Baxter’s book tells the story of Heeresgruppe Nord not only in words, but also in pictures. The pictures are extraordinary beautiful and clearly show what the circumstances were. It is therefore mainly a picture book, so don’t expect too much in-depth information in writing. Baxter pictures a global overview and that is sufficient to inform the reader. It is a shame, however, that the book doesn’t contain any maps. Some geographical information about the different locations would have been nice. But in the end, this book is yet again a successful contribution by Baxter.
- Consisted mostly of two or more regiments. Could operate independently or as part of a division. Sometimes they were part of a corps instead of a division. In theory a brigade consisted of 5,000 to 7,000 men.
- Military unit, usually consisting of one upto four regiments and usually making up a corps. In theory a division consists of 10,000 to 20,000 men.
- foreign legion
- French army unit whose soldiers and officers were foreign mercenaries. Also in Spain a foreign legion is part of the military forces.
- Largest Soviet ground formation. It was attached to a certain area which gave its name to the units involved. For instance the Voronezh front.
- The largest German ground formation and was directly subordinate to the OKH. Mainly consisting of a number of “Armeen” with few directly subordinate other units. A Heeresgruppe operated in a large area and could number several 100,000 men.
- Military intelligence service.
- Part of a division. A division divided into a number of regiments. In the army traditionally the name of the major organised unit of one type of weapon.