Its not difficult to find numerous books recounting the exploits of allied raiding forces of the second World War. Such units as the British Commandos, Long Range Desert Group, Special Air Service, C.O.P.P., U.S. Army Rangers, and U.S. Marine Corps Raiders are all well represented, many of those histories being first-hand accounts of those who participated. Many people who are generally well-read on the topic, however, are unaware that Germany and some of the Axis nations, also formed specialized units. In this gem of a volume, Mr. Lucas recounts the most notable missions of Germany's elite formations. The book is divided into four parts: ground, naval(Kriegsmarine), air(Luftwaffe), and political special forces. Ground Forces: You will read about the Brandenburg Division, a Wehrmacht army unit composed of troops having linguistic and cultural expertise from various regions of the world, mainly Europe and Africa. Their primary task was to infiltrate a targeted nation prior to invasion, disguised as foriegn civiilians or military personnel. They conducted sabotage, raids, and reconaissance for the invasion force. Otto Skorzeny's S.S. group is featured, with emphasis on the famed mission to rescue Mussolini, as well as their Brandenburg-like actions against allied forces in the Ardenne. Naval forces: Inspired by Prince Borghese's Italian naval commandos, the Kriegsmarine developed its own capability, featuring frogmen, mini-submarines, and explosive motor-boats. Luftwaffe: Most readers are probably familiar with the Fallschirmjaegers (paratroops). They possessed elite aviation units as well. Here we read about Sonderkommando Elbe and KG200. The Germans, in their last desperate defense, made their own attempts at the Kamikaze concept of their Japanese allies. Political forces: Lastly, The Werewolf and the Freikorps groups are featured. The Werewolf were primarily fanatical resistance-fighters and terrorists, who exerted a presence in occupied Germany for a few years even after 1945. Membership was composed of unrepentant National Socialists, most often former S.S. men. The Freikorps were generally composed of Nazi party loyalists of varied background and capability. Rarely were their members of the traditional special-operations type, but mostly civilians, carrying out local guerrilla operations against the invading allies.
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James Lucas fought with the British infantry in the Second World War. He has long since established a reputation as a popular historian with a particular interest in good soldiering.From School Library Journal:
YA The German special forces were units from a conventional branch grouped to form a unique fighting detachment. These Kommandos were successful in carrying out a border action touching off Hitler's invasion of Poland and in the capturing of Belgium's Ft. Eben Emael. Less successful was the infiltration of American lines during the Battle of the Bulge, the use of one-man torpedo-equipped submarines, and kamikaze attacks against American bombers. Lucas explains why these Kommando units could not be as successful as Allied forces. Over 50 well-captioned photos help maintain interest. Seven diagrams clearly show the agencies and chain of command in the Kommando units. Secondary readers, especially those interested in World War II history, will find this a worthwhile book to read and a good source for research papers. Mary Wadsworth Sucher, Baltimore County Reading Services
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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