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Red Storm on the Reich: The Soviet March on Germany, 1945

de Christopher Duffy

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The Eastern Front witnessed the critical battles between the German and Russian armies which won and lost the Second World War. In Red Storm on the Reich, Christopher Duffy uncovers a military campaign of unprecedented scale and ferocity during which thirty million lives were lost - a deadly harvest in which the slaughter and suffering of German civilians reached unfathomable dimensions. By quoting extensively from the memoirs of Soviet and German commanders and the diaries of infantrymen, Red Storm on the Reich brings to life not only the Russian military assault on the lands of Germany, but also the human drama behind what can only be called epic seiges of the fortress cities of Danzig, Kolberg and Breslau. Christopher Duffy's gripping narrative of this unexplored offensive and the psyches behind it makes for essential reading for all those interested in the Second World War and European history.… (més)
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Outdated and obsolete. So much knowledge about the Eastern Front has come out in since the fall of the USSR. Alot of Western versions of World War II in the east is not accurate. ( )
  clarkland | Jun 2, 2016 |
As 1945 opened, the Third Reich was crumbling under crushing body blows from the east and west. The Soviets, who had spent three and a half years fighting the Germans on their own territory, had managed to push the German lines back to the Vistula River in Poland. By early January, the Soviet Army was preparing a massive assault from three bridgeheads on the west bank of the Vistula.

Winter was a favorable time for the Soviets to launch their offensive. The land west of the Vistula is flat, open farm land and the ground was frozen hard enough to bear the weight of T-34 tanks. In places, even the rivers were frozen deeply enough to bear the weight of trucks and other machinery. In a few more months, the spring thaw would arrive, the rivers would flow freely and the ground would become too soft to carry the weight of an army. When the weather warmed, the tanks and trucks would be forced to travel by road, funneled into tight corridors where they would lose the advantage of their maneuverability. Yes, winter favored the Russians.

In Red Storm on the Reich, Christopher Duffy provides an operational level history of the Russian campaign which saw the Red Army sweep victoriously from the Vistula to the Oder River, setting the stage for the final assault on Berlin. Arrayed against them was the remnants of the once mighty German army, now reduced to a shadow of its former glory, unable to hold back the rising tide from the east.

After several months of preparation, the Soviets were well prepared for their new offensive. Detailed maps of the German lines were prepared. Massive quantities of supplies had been moved up to ensure that troops would have sufficient supplies to fully exploit the breakthrough and penetrate deep into the German rear.

Unable to resist the Red Army across the entire front, Hitler's plan was to turn every major city into a fortress that would resist to the last man. It's difficult to shake the notion that, in Hitler's mind, each fortress city was meant to become the German equivalent of Stalingrad, a mighty wall on which the tide of the Russian military would break and shatter. But the desired effect was not to emerge. German forces were encircled and destroyed by Russian armies at the peak of their power and thirsting for vengeance.

The confident, and competent, Soviet Generals stand in sharp contrast to the strutting, political martinets now doing Hitler's bidding. Heinrich Himmler, an inexperienced and worthless General, is given command of the German army along the Oder River, but having no idea or interest in commanding troops, he spends his time with doctors tending to his cold and avoiding responsibility for defense.

At the Oder, the Russians are now positioned for a final attack on Berlin. However, before they can launch that final thrust, the pause to secure their flanks. In the north, the Russians turn right to crush Pomerania, in a brutal campaign. The local German Gauleiter refused to allow civilians to escape the approaching onslaught, so they are trapped in the midst of battle. When, too late, they attempt to evacuate by sea, the Soviets are unable to distinguish between fleeing civilians and escaping soldiers. The result is wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians held essentially as hostages by the Nazi government.

In contrast, in the south, the Soviets turn left to seize the rich industrial area of Upper Silesia. Thinking towards the future, Stalin declares the region "Gold" and wants it taken intact as the spoils of war. Here, the Soviets use a different tactic. Instead of simply encircling and reducing the region by direct assault, they threaten encirclement, but then deliberately fail to close the ring. Instead they apply pressure to the threatened German forces and allow them to escape through the remaining gap, leaving the industrial region relatively unharmed.

Duffy provides an excellent history of this penultimate moment in the destruction of Nazi Germany. The leadership of both sides are sketched with an acid pen. There are few honorable men at high levels on the Russo-German front. At times his personal distaste for some of the characters involved bleeds through a little too harshly, especially in the conclusion. All in all, this is an excellent reference for those interested in the history of WWII and Eastern Europe. ( )
3 vota fredbacon | Mar 15, 2009 |
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The Eastern Front witnessed the critical battles between the German and Russian armies which won and lost the Second World War. In Red Storm on the Reich, Christopher Duffy uncovers a military campaign of unprecedented scale and ferocity during which thirty million lives were lost - a deadly harvest in which the slaughter and suffering of German civilians reached unfathomable dimensions. By quoting extensively from the memoirs of Soviet and German commanders and the diaries of infantrymen, Red Storm on the Reich brings to life not only the Russian military assault on the lands of Germany, but also the human drama behind what can only be called epic seiges of the fortress cities of Danzig, Kolberg and Breslau. Christopher Duffy's gripping narrative of this unexplored offensive and the psyches behind it makes for essential reading for all those interested in the Second World War and European history.

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