The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich... from Casemate Books

Title:  The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich

Author: Yves Buffetaut

Publisher:  Casemate Books

ISBN:  978-1-61200-5256

A new softcover book in the Casemate Illustrated series.  It is produced in cooperation with the French publisher, Histoire et Collections, who first published this in French language back in 2015.  This new version is an English translation published under licence by Casemate Books.  

The first Waffen SS Panzer Division to have been formed, the Das Reich served throughout the war, from the start in Poland to the end in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.  There reputation was mixed because as well as tough fighting, they were also guilty of war crimes such as the infamous massacre at the French village of Oradour sur Glane as they made their way to the invasion front in Normandy.  The The five chapters start by covering the Creation of the Division and its' Baptism of Fire in Poland.  It moves on to the Campaigns in France and the Balkans before it gets to Operation Barbarossa.  In chapter 4 the division is still in Russia, and this deals with the 1943 Russian Campaign: Kharkov, Kursk and back to Kiev.  That leaves it to the last chapter to tackle the divisions involvement in Normandy, the Ardennes and Endgame in Hungary when the surviving troops surrendered to either the Russians or the Americans (if they could get to them).

The text of each chapter tells the historical story of sequential events while the heart of the book is held by the large number of archive photos which do indeed illustrate the story.  Interspersed with all this are separate factual notes giving profiles of various commanders, maps and some fine colour profiles of various tanks and trucks which modellers in particular will enjoy.  All in all a nice mix of material which holds your interest from beginning to end and very welcome to see this as an English language edition.

Thanks to Casemate Books, who kindly provided this review copy.