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French Volunteers of the Waffen-SS

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French Volunteers of the Waffen-SS
  • by Richard Landwehr
    • Merriam Press Waffen-SS Series
      • Third Edition 2012
      • 234 6x9-inch pages
      • Color cover painting by Ramiro Bujeiro
      • 12 color photos
      • 137 B&W photos
      • 4 drawings
      • 4 maps
History of the Frenchmen who volunteered to fight for the Waffen-SS against the communist forces of Soviet Russia. In their brief history the soldiers of the French Waffen-SS demonstrated their fiber as soldiers and human beings in a series of hopeless engagements on the Eastern Front against vastly superior enemy forces. Wherever they were deployed, they fought with maximum effectiveness and courage despite the odds against them. Almost two-thirds of French SS troops died on the battlefield or in captivity.
  • Foreword
  • Background to the French Waffen-SS: The L.V.F
  • The Formation of 8.SS-Sturmbrigade “Frankreich”
  • Battles in Galicia
  • Reformation of the Sturmbrigade and Creation of the “Charlemagne” Division
  • Training of the “Charlemagne” Division
  • At the Front in Pomerania
  • Observations on the 33rd SS Division “Charlemagne"
  • Reformation f the “Charlemagne” Division
  • The Battle for Kolberg
  • The Defense of Gotenhofen
  • Defeat in the Ruins: France’s Last Battle for Europe
  • Fighting for Berlin: A Battle Memoir
  • The French Waffen-SS in Bavaria and Italy
  • Death at Bad Reichenhall: The Karlstein Massacre
  • SS Kampfbataillon and the Retreat from Mecklenburg
  • Epilogue
  • AppendicesAddendum Select Bibliography
    • Personalities
    • 33.Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS “Charlemagne” (fran.Nr.1) Command Roster
    • 18.SS Freiwilligen-Panzer-Grenadier Division “Horst Wessel”
    • Counterintelligence Summary

    The French Volunteers of the Waffen-SS volume arrived. It is a work of art.
    —Robert Bingham

    French Volunteers of the Waffen-SS by Richard W. Landwehr Jr. is the story of what eventually becomes the Charlemagne Division. The remains of this unit defend the Reichstag and Furherbunker at Berlin nearly to the last from the Soviet attackers. Despite what appears to be a dashing, elite unit this book highlights the flaws in the Waffen SS. First, the Waffen SS was a new organization that incorporated various rightist paramilitaries in Western Europe-the Charlemagne Division was made up of French "Milice" a Vichy France anti-Resistance group as well as members of the L.V.F. or the Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism. The integration of these different units proved problematic. Additionally, the Division suffered from a lack of equipment, deployed to Pomerania with the promise of being equipped there, they run into much larger Russian forces and suffer terribly. Finally, the French Volunteers are unevenly led although the book only hints at this.
         Telling a story about a military unit larger than an infantry company or fighter aircraft squadron is often difficult. A Division is made up of more than infantry, whose mission is easily transcribed into a written story, but the artillery, heavy weapons companies, signals, and other units are much more difficult to put down on parchment. This book handles that by describing the specalty units in different chapters.
         The scholastic gem of this book is the glimpse of the vicious, polarized politics of the French Third Republic which carried over to the Vichy French Government. After the Division's surrender, twelve men are murdered on the orders of General LeClerc, an action that still mars his legacy.

    I enjoyed reading the book. Detailed information I was not aware of. Even after decades of reading/researching about Germany during WW2. I have not read any books specifically about the French Waffen-SS. Only books that had short details on the subject.
         Pros: Detailed information involving 30th SS, battles, and personalities involved with its formation and actions
        Cons: Seemed short. Some people may prefer that. Also was very biased towards any actions of the French volunteers. A lot of references towards French resistance fighters as communist. I'm sure there were French resistance that were communist but for the most part, they were trying to free their country from an enemy occupation. Did not enjoy the "jabs" at the Allied forces.
    —Shawn Testa

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