5th SS Wiking at War 1941-1945...


...a History of the Division,more Images of War from Pen and Sword


Title: 5th SS Wiking at War 1941-194

Author: Ian Baxter

Publisher: Pen and Sword

ISBN: 978-1-52672-134-1

A recent addition to the extensive Images of War series is another from author Ian Baxter.  This one examines the story of 5th SS Wiking Division during WW2.  The division is slightly unusual as it was made up of troops from a number of Nordic countries, such as Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Estonia and others plus a cadre of officers from Germany.  The foreign troops were volunteers, though in many cases it was taken as an alternative to imprisonment, or possibly worse.  The division fought it's war on the Eastern Front.

The introduction gives the background to the formation of the division, when the SS were expanding and the use of foreign 'volunteers' allowed them to gather new troops without coming into conflict with the Wehrmacht as they would not have been eligible for conscription.  The book is split across four chapters.  The first looks at the Baptism of Fire in the East, when they became operational in 1941.  Next are their Battles in Southern Russia before the reverses for the German forces in Eastern Europe really started.  So chapter three deals with Kursk and Beyond before the final chapter covers the final stages of the war, in Fighting for Survival.  The end of the book has an Appendix which provides the Order of Battle of the division.

The photos are mostly unpublished before and give an excellent impression of Wiking at war.  We see a good variety of conditions over the 5 years of their war, from the height of summer to the depths of winter.  We see fine detail of their uniforms and personal equipment as well as the development of larger equipment from motor-cycles and early Panzer IVs, to the larger Panthers of the final period.  There is also good coverage of AA and anti-tank weapons as well as heavier artillery.  There is a good spread of detail in here which will interest the historian as well as the re-enactors, militaria collectors and modellers alike.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.