The Assault on Germany’s Eastern Front 1944-45
by Prit Buttar
Available from Osprey Publishing
The original publication date of this book is 2010, so copies will be available on eBay and the Amazon website. The author is not by profession a historian, but a medical doctor. He was assigned to British forces in Germany, where he was introduced to survivors of the horrors of the Soviet Army overrunning Prussia, beginning in 1944.
Up to that time the Party Bosses, the Gauliters, were in complete charge. They constantly reassured the German people that there was no worries, as the set-backs in Russia were only temporary.
This was the official Party Line from Berlin, and being fanatical Nazis, they had no reason to question it. As the Russian hordes got closer and closer to German territory, their positions hardened, although they made every effort to get their own families out of the way. In September 1944, the Russians crossed the frontier into Prussia itself. By this time the efforts of the Wehrmacht had few resources to throw into the battle. They has great difficulties in trying to present a cohesive front to the Russian onslaught.
People applied for travel permits to get out of the way of the Soviet juggernaut, but were turned away by Party Officials as being overly skittish and that was no need to worry, everything was well in hand. Rumors abounded of Russians raping women and seizing “anything not nailed down”. These rumors were played down, but the Gauliters strove mightily to get their families out of Prussia and danger.
As the situation became more critical scores of refugees crowded the roads away from the fighting. These refugees kept whatever fighting men that could be rounded up from reaching the fighting in a timely manner. The Volkstrum was called out to assist the Army, but only provided more bodies to be harvested by the Soviets. This is not to say that all resistance was in vain, by no means. The Russians were given several “bloody noses” by both the Army and the Volkstrum. The volume covers not only the fighting on land but also the escapes by sea from the ports being squeezed in. The German navy added their added their firepower where possible as floating field artillery to break-up some of the Soviet thrusts. The escapes by sea also led to one of the least known sinkings that of the Wilhelm Gustloff with some ten thousand souls aboard, by a Russian submarine.
I found this book to be fascinating and a must read for anyone who wants to be part of a great but futile adventure. This book is difficult to put down, it grabs the reader and holds him in thrall from start to finish, even though you know the ending. This book is an essential part of the literature of World War II, and should not be missed by historians and wargamers alike.