Armageddon Ost: The German Defeat on the Eastern Front 1944-45
Nik Cornish

One could say that Cornish’s book is a visualisation of the last years of the Second World War on the Eastern front. He describes the campaigns in large scale as well as in small scale, down to local conditions. From the major armoured battles in the northern and central parts of the front to the more limited battles and skirmishes, partisan- and cavalry warfare for example in the Carpathians and Yugoslavia. Descriptions of progress on the battlefield are mixed with reports on developments on the political and logistical fields, occasionally flavoured with eyewitness reports. The reader is given detailed information on casualty figures, force strengths and other data from both sides. The author also describes methods of assault, breaking through and urban warfare. Equipment, manning problems and policy changes from the respective Headquarters are mentioned as well. Much space is given to the fate of Germany’s allies in Eastern Europe which where to be incorporated in what later became the Warsaw Pact, some willingly, others after determined resistance.

If you are interested in specific units the book gives sufficient information in the matter. It can also be valuable to the reader of more common interest, as one can easily disregard the specifics and still have a good exchange of the book.

There are a great number of photographs in the book and also a few maps describing the major frontlines and decisive breakthroughs during the last years of fighting. Many of the photos are recently dug out of Soviet archives and have never been published before. The overall quality is high and descriptions of equipment, men and weaponry portrayed therein are very detailed. Regarding the maps the large-scale outlines of different campaigns are shown. However one could wish for a somewhat higher level of detail depicting the small-scale warfare. At least regarding the geographical locations that are mentioned in the text, as the average reader probably has limited knowledge of minor cities in for example Poland and Ukraine.

I would like to rank the overall quality as high, it’s interesting reading and a good source of overall information on these last years of war in the east. The intention of the author is however not to describe every aspect in detail. Already in the introduction he willingly refers to authors like Anthony Beevor and Cornelius Ryan for more specific information on for example the conditions in the captured provinces of Eastern Germany. To put it with the authors own words the “purpose of this book is to bring together a collection of mostly unseen images from both Russian and German sources and a straightforward narrative that covers the major actions of the period”. I think that the book serves this purpose well!

(Reviewed by P. Branthle)
Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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