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Title : Das Reich: The March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France, June 1944 (Pan Military Classics)
Author :
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ISBN : 9780330509985
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Das Reich: The March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France, June 1944 (Pan Military Classics) Reviews

  • Andrew
    2019-05-03 18:05

    World War II, like most significant events, has it's share of legends. There are heroes, such as the French Resistance, the British SAS, and the Allied SOE and Jedburgh teams. There are devious villains, such as the Waffen-SS men of the Das Reich division. There are daring missions behind German lines to blow up railways and gather intelligence, and there are infamous massacres in small French towns. Max Hasting's Das Reich tells the story behind these legends, or at least a very specific set of them, and the author does his best to peel back the layers of legend and simplification to present to the reader the nearest thing to the truth that his research can gather.The book covers a very specific topic, the march of the 2 SS Panzer Division from it's staging area in southern France to Normandy, following the Allied landings on D-Day. The book is also just as much about the French Resistance fighters and Allied soldiers and agents in the area of the march, and the interaction between the opposing sides and the French civilians caught in the middle of it all.One of the ways in which Hastings provides depth to the story is to explore the character of the main antagonists. The Das Reich division, at that time, had just been refitted and it's rosters refilled with new recruits and transfers. While many of the officers and NCOs were veterans, the bulk of the fighting men were novices, and many of them weren't even technically German. In short, they were not the stringently selected elite that they once were. The Resistance is also a more complex picture than is often portrayed. While doubtlessly courageous, were also rank amateurs when it came to combat and sabotage, and rife with factionalism. The two main groups, the Communist FTP and the Gaullist AS (Armee Secrete), would almost as much fight each other as the Germans. The Allied agents and special operations soldiers were also a mixed bag, coming from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of levels of competency.Hastings covers the actions of both sides in as great depth as possible, given sometimes difficult source material. The Allied side was pieced together from what official documents had been declassified (at least as of 1981) and interviews of survivors, and the German side likewise was composed from official documents and interviews. Hastings reconciles sources against each other were there are conflicts of information, and does his best to sift through the occasional aggrandizement or obfuscation in source accounts. As well as enumerating the atrocities committed along Das Reich's march to Normandy (Tulle and Oradour chief among them, though certainly not the only ones), Hastings also provides thoughtful strategic analysis of the operations of the Allied and German forces covered in the book. Hastings covers all of these topics in compelling, easy prose. He provides annotation and appendixes to provide references for those who aren't already familiar with the subject matter, although having a passing knowledge of World War II will help in understanding the narrative.

  • Jeff Dawson
    2019-05-16 22:26

    Das ReichMax Hastings does a very thorough job in describing the trek of the 2nd SS Panzer Division from Southern France in an effort to help stem the allied invasion of “Fortress Europa.” In many accounts, the effect of the Marquis is down played as an uncoordinated rabble. In this account, they are key in delaying the arrival of this battle hardened force. The destruction of the railways and communication centers aided the Allies as they scrapped and clawed to establish a strong foothold on the continent. The reader will be left with questioning what could have happened if they would have arrived in a timely fashion to face the invaders. Could they have helped destroy the tentative bridgehead or would their vehicles become just more smoldering hunks of iron littering the landscape from Allied Airpower? Excellent workFive stars!

  • carltheaker
    2019-04-22 17:07

    Great read and insight into the German perspective of the divisions marchfrom the south of France to the D-Day beaches. A sane handling ofthe Oradour-sur-Glane massacre, the whys and wheres of howthese things happen.

  • Davisklemavis
    2019-05-05 22:08

    Early Hastings, focused on a fairly small time period and event compared with his larger works. Important in painting a specific picture of German cruelty and the atrocious way of dealing with partisans that they'd brought with them from the eastern front.

  • Henri Moreaux
    2019-05-10 20:22

    This non-fiction account follows the elite Waffen-SS division 'Das Reich' (2nd SS Panzer Division) and their notorious 1944 journey from the southern French town of Montauban to the Normandy front.Das Reich had the ability to change the course of the war and prevent the Allies from establishing a beach head, however a combination of mismanagement, incompetence and Allied subterfuge led to Das Reich being held back in Montauban some 400+ miles away. Once orders were finally passed down to move Das Reich to Normandy to confront the Allied landings the division was in such disarray they could not immediately move out, this was to be a precursor of the weeks to follow. The Allies through OSS, SOE & support of the Resistance led a sabotage & delay campaign which tied up Das Reich for over two weeks on a journey which should have taken less than 3 days. This action also led to the massacres of Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane as Das Reich was diverted to suppress the uprisings supported by the Resistance. Both of these atrocities are covered fairly in the book.

  • Sandy Ferguson
    2019-05-17 18:19

    I first read this book many years ago, and have read it many times since then!This is one of Max Hastings early works, and it shows his willingness to engage in difficult topics and explore all of the angles. On the surface it should be an easy case of plucky heroic French resistance rising up against the evil SS committing atrocities. Hastings pulls no punches about the atrocities of the SS, but at the same time through his exploration of the politics of the Resistance, the SOE and the objectives of the Western allies, the picture is more complicated.Max Hastings has made a career of exploring the reality behind the comfortable myths that have arisen around the Second World War, particularly the involvement of the British Commonwealth and the United States, and his work is fundamentally important in exploring the truth of the Second World War. Das Reich is an excellent example of this work.

  • John
    2019-04-30 21:05

    Das Reich: the story may be full of inaccuracies, but Hastings ties it together so well. With so much History in detail you would expect some errors and omissions.I'd like to those who, through their own perceived intellect, find it able to sn negatively critique an excellent book. Try and write some useful yourself - useless tossers. This book is detailed, meaty and full of interestin little-known facts.

  • David
    2019-04-30 17:06

    One of the early books by Hastings and very hard to find. Almost a work of journalism, as much of the material came from personal interviews. On the plus side (at least for me), I learned lots, as the story is more obscure than much WW II western-front history because it takes place in southern and middle France, not in the main Normandy battles, and because all of the battle action involves either the resistance or special ops types air-dropped into France shortly before and after D-Day. And then there are the atrocities committed by the SS against civilians! Would be shocking, if one hadn't seen the same things occurring on the eastern front. Check that -- it IS "shocking," but not "surprising."I also learned lots about the military hierarchy's opinion of the value of special-ops -- not very high -- and about the many different types of resistance groups and their relatively low value, too. Not as effective as one would believe from the way the resistance is portrayed by Hollywood!On the minus side, the maps in the book are next-best to useless, as they are extremely small and not clearly marked. One would need to have a magnifying glass at hand -- as I sometimes did -- but it still was difficult to identify some points because the map was just plain BAD.Also, Hastings had not hit his historian stride yet . . . on occasion the exposition was a bit unclear, and the myriad unfamiliar names and code-names (occasionally he used both for the same person) sometimes were difficult to sort out.

  • Scott
    2019-05-16 21:17

    A very good read on the history of the German Panzer division sent to defend Normandy from the Allied invasion. The book also deals with a massacre of French Civilians during the movement to Normandy. This was in response to the actions of the French Resistance that attacked an advance element of the division.After the massacre the Division was defeated and forced to retreat by the advancing Allies. I recommend this book for anyone interested in D-Day history.

  • David
    2019-04-25 21:28

    Hastings does his usual: tells both sides of the story and busts some myths. Though he interviewed a lot of participants - oddly, he rarely quotes them directly - he has a tough time gaining insights on the atrocities. But he punctures special forces and the Resistance pretty thoroughly.

  • Dachokie
    2019-05-09 22:14

    a worthy read, July 14, 2009I originally read this book years ago, but my appreciation of Max Hastings' work after reading "Armageddon" and "Retribution" gave me the urge to re-read "Das Reich". In my opinion, Hastings is a brilliant writer with an incredible ability to convey a rare, non-linear view of history ... he paints a portrait, provides voluminous detail, but allows the reader to discern his or her opinion of the facts. This is the case with "Das Reich". The premise of the book is the journey of the 2nd SS "Das Reich" Panzer division from southern France to Normandy. The division, pulled from the hell of the Eastern Front to the French town of Montauban for rest and refitting, was ordered to travel north to stop the Allied advance from the Normandy beachheads. The division is harassed from the start of its journey by bands of French resistance groups aided by British SAS forces intent on disrupting the German timetable. The attacks are initially "shrugged off" by the division. However, mounting casualties and the eventual kidnapping of a much-respected commander, compels the Das Reich division to exact a terrible revenge on the villages/towns suspected of harboring resistance fighters. Hastings' book shines a light on just one of the myriad of atrocities that define the nature of the Second World War. While names like Nanking, Leningrad, Dresden, Hiroshima and Auschwitz are firmly entrenched in most peoples' minds as terrible events, iconic in the way they evoke thoughts of destruction and mass death of innocent people. "Das Reich" illuminates places like Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane, almost to serve as a reminder that the wide scale suffering, atrocity and destruction wasn't relegated to those places so well-documented in history volumes.

  • Seamus Mcduff
    2019-05-02 21:15

    I believe Hastings is a respected historian, this being one of his earlier works. I highly recommend another of his WWII histories, Inferno, which is an excellent grand sweep of the entire war in every theatre, including, in his customary style, many first hand observations from participants, which bring the dry facts to life.In this book here, he deals with an episode in the war which, while on quite a small scale in comparison with many other battles and campaigns, is nonetheless not insignificant, both in its bearing on the outcome of the war in western Europe, and also in bringing to light some of the brutalities of the Third Reich. It is quite clear that a countless number of similar atrocities perpetrated on Stalin's subjects in the east are unlikely to ever come fully to light.It surprised me that a large proportion of the book focuses on the inner machinations of the British Special Operations Executive, and the various groups of the resistance. In Hastings' intro he essentially admits he first set out to write an account of Resistence, and ended up writing about it in relation to the German Das Reich division. It is therefore not quite the history of the 2nd SS Panzer Division I was expecting; also it covers only the period from its redeployment from the east in 1944 up until it finally meets the Allies two weeks after D-Day. I had expected that the work would also follow the German unit as it retreated across France to the German border.A worthwhile read for anyone with an interest in the Waffen SS, Nazi atrocities, WWII special forces or the French Resistance.

  • John Nevola
    2019-04-28 00:21

    After the Allies landed in Normandy in June of 1994, the 2nd SS Panzer Division, stationed in southern France, was ordered to move its 15,000 men and 209 tanks and self-propelled artillery 450 miles north to assist in repelling the invaders. A journey that would have taken 3 days wound up taking 15 days.This book tells the story of the trail of horror and atrocities left in the wake of the "Das Reich" division's ruthless journey north. Assisted by Allied agents (SOE and OSS) dropped into France to assist them, the French Resistance (The Maquis) sabotaged the roads and rails and ambushed the column on numerous occasions. The Germans retaliated by hanging resistance men they captured and killing and burning men, women and children.This book provides great insight into Allied covert operations, the French Resistance and the mindset of the commanders in the 2nd SS Panzer. It certainly fills in some lesser-known aspects of the War.The book is fully indexed, liberally sourced with a robust bibliography and complete glossary. It also contains a full Table of Organization and Equipment of the 2nd SS Panzer and drawings of the principle weapons of the Maquis and primary vehicles/tanks of the 2nd SS Panzer Division.

  • R.M.F Brown
    2019-05-17 19:27

    An even handed review of a dark chapter of WW2When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. So said somebody in that great John Ford film - 'The man who shot Liberty Valence.'Almost as soon as the last shot of WW2 had been fired, a mythology had sprung up about the French resistance. Given that their country was occupied for four years, it is understandable that the French would respond to tales of the underdog facing down the Nazi war machine. Accounts vary widely, and Hasting's addition to the extensive canon of literature surrounding the resistance, is welcome. Rather than focusing on the movement as a whole, Hastings details the account of the 2nd SS Panzer Division, Das Reich. The story of this juggernaut heading from the south of France to the Normandy beaches, is a story of great courage, infamy, and war crimes perpetrated against French civilians. Hastings never condones the actions of the SS, but nor is he fully supportive of Allied planning, and the naivety (brave, though misguided) of the various resistance groups that stood in the way of this armoured juggernaut. Heroes, villains, and fools. This book has them all and is a welcome addition to the subject.

  • John
    2019-04-23 23:04

    I received this book as a Good Reads giveaway.Max Hastings has a way of portraying the personal side of history while keeping it in perspective of the larger events and this book does not disappoint. In this book he does a good job of representing both sides of the event which was the Das Reich’s march through France in June 1944. While we may never know all the facts surrounding the atrocity and the skirmishes the author went to great lengths to document as many eye witness accounts as possible and these give the reader a unique insight into the units and people involved. In addition to the personal side this book also gives good details into the reaction of the German’s to the Allies D-Day landing. If you are interested in the events surrounding the invasion of Normandy than this would be a must read book.

  • David Lowther
    2019-04-30 16:08

    Das Reich is a very well researched and fascinating story about a crack Panzer division's march from South West France to Normandy immediately after the D Day landings in June 1944. All the way they were harassed by the French resistance and Allied Special Forces, delaying their arrival at the front too late to influence the outcome. On they way north, they committed a number of atrocities as retribution for the actions of the resistance. The most infamous of these was the massacre at Oradour-Sur-Glane where the six hundred population was almost entirely killed.Hastings' book, which is as with all of his work extremely well written, pays tribute to those who harried the Nazis, usually against insurmountable odds. It's a military history which is easy to follow but chilling to readDavid Lowther. Author of The Blue Pencil (

  • Erik
    2019-05-05 19:14

    Excellent reissue of this classic book about the famed 2nd SS Panzer Division during one horrific month in June, 1944, when they were ordered to fortify the Normandy beachhead from the confines of south France and marched north and encountered heavy French resistance. What follows is the stuff of horror - two massive massacres on French civilians in the towns of Tulle and Oradour-Sur-Glane as a means of reprisal, the likes of which have haunted history books since. Hastings' new foreword is especially interesting, as it contextualizes this episode after so many years. Most chilling line (uttered when Hastings interviewed a Das Reich officer in the late 1970s): "In Russia, we did things like this every day." Horrifying.

  • Philip Whiteland
    2019-05-07 21:07

    I suspect that Max Hastings, from a purely military history point of view, has a sneaking regard for the German Army and that comes through in this account of the movement of 2nd SS Panzer Division from Paris to the Normandy beachhead. Having said that, Mr. Hastings does not gloss over the many atrocities that accompanied the transit as the Nazis were harassed and delayed by the various factions of the French Resistance. Nor does he gloss over the lack of communication and ineptitude of aspects of the Allied Undercover Agents, particularly the futile competition between different services. Overall, not a joyful read but a compelling one.

  • Simon
    2019-04-22 19:02

    I'm not saying Max Hastings is a Nazi-apologist, but he does write for the Daily Mail.And this, in a nutshell, was my problem. It's a perfectly okay historical account of the march of 2nd SS Panzer through France towards Normandy, but... There is that but word.He discusses the atrocities committed by the SS troopers and says well of course these cannot be justified, but.... and then goes on to justify them. Once during the body, and again quite strongly in the conclusion, several times. And that... well, he writes for the Daily Mail doesn't he.

  • Matt
    2019-05-07 23:05

    A very even-handed, first-class account of the march of the 2nd SS Panzer division through rural France towards the Normandy beaches in June 1944- and the efforts of the French Resistance, and a veritable alphabet soup of Allied secret agencies, to hinder their advance. This is a very informative, smartly-written, and graphic account of a little-known episode in the history of D-Day and WW2 overall.

  • David Hill
    2019-05-07 21:17

    This is the story of the French resistance in the days after the Normandy invasion. Particularly as it suffered at the hands of the Das Reich as the division moved to defend against the invaders. Das Reich was in southern France in early June 1944. Once the allies landed, they were directed to the north. The maquis took several actions to delay this move and the French people paid a heavy price, including the atrocities at Oradour-sur-Glane.Includes appendices, index, bibliography, and notes.

  • Cameron
    2019-05-03 18:04

    An interesting view on war as observed by the single most powerful military the world had seen, until their ultimate defeat by Allied Forces. I especially enjoyed reading about the Maquisards during the occupation of France in WWII and the small but integral role they played in blowing up tracks, smoking cigarettes and generally having a good time to the chagrin of the British.

  • Charlie
    2019-05-07 22:27

    Could have been a really good book. But, NOT. Uneven flow. Difficult to digest. Good info though.Went back to this book to try and understand what the author had to say. Still hard to follow but Still had good info about the 2nd SS Panzer Division that was going thru France at time of the Normandy landing. Did not get this book thru

  • Mark Singer
    2019-04-27 21:27

    An early and unevenly-written Max Hastings history about the brutal march of "Das Reich" 2nd SS Panzer division north through France in June 1944. The unit was sent to counter-attack the Allied invasion in Normandy, was slowed down by the SOE and Resistance fighters, and gained infamy for slaughtering 642 French civilians in the town of Oradour-sur-Glane.

  • Nat
    2019-04-23 00:25

    A microcosm of the gruesome tale: The Waffen-SS Major who ordered the massacre of the entire French village of Oradour was being considered for a court-martial until he was killed by a shell splinter during an artillery barrage.

  • Jesper Jorgensen
    2019-05-18 00:15

    In my humble opinion this is not the best of Hastings books. Can't put a finger on anything particularly, it may be the subject, I don't know. Actually I was a bit disappointed. A 'first' with Hastings though

  • Adam Johnson
    2019-05-08 16:07

    Good book, lots of insite into the happenings surrounding Oradour sur Glane, not just the where how and why, but the motivation behind what is an exceptional event in the west, but an everyday event in the brutal war in the east.For those looking for a interesting take on events , good read

  • Dominic
    2019-04-27 16:25

    Not just a catalogue of the events surrounding the Das Reich's march from Montauban but also an insight into the way men behave after four years of total war.

  • Nathan Jones
    2019-04-23 17:10

    Well researched and informative, but couldn't escape the feeling that Hastings is way more enamoured with the SS soldiers than he should be.

  • Charles
    2019-05-20 22:01

    The compelling story of an SS Division. I found it very interesting. Hastings has a good writing style that holds your interest as well as giving you information. I have the older edition of this.