Das Reich I: 1934-1939
Otto Weidinger

This book, Das Reich I: 1934-1939, covers the history of the Das Reich division 1934-1939 (including the campaign in Poland), or rather the units know as the SS-Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT) that would become the SS-Verfügungsdivision after the campaign in Poland and later became the 2nd division of the Waffen-SS, Das Reich.

The book begins with a history of the SS Verfügungstruppe written by Generaloberst Paul Hausser, and the rest of the book is divided into five parts:

Part I - Formation of the SS-VT units
* SS Regiment Deutschland
* SS Regiment Germania
* SS Regiment Der Führer
* SS Battalion N
* SS Signal Battalion
* SS Pioneer Battalion
* SS Reconnaissance Battalion
* SS Anti-Tank Battalion
* SS Anti-Aircraft MG Battalion
* SS Cadet Schools (Bad Tölz and Braunschwig)
* SS Artillery Regiment
Part II - Formation of Panzer-Division Kempf
Part III - Campaign in Poland
Part IV - Formation of the SS-V Division
Part V - Documents, ranks and glossary

The first part covers the formation, training and peacetime activities (including the annexations of Austria, Sudetenland and Böhmen Mähren) of the SS-Verfügungstruppe in detail. Also covered in this section are the SS Cadet Schools (Junker Schule) in Bad Tölz and Braunschweig. The three pages (not counting the pages with photos) devoted to the schools include details on commanders, instructors, curriculum and examinations.

The second part covers the formation of Panzer-Division Kempf, the army unit commanded by Generalmajor Werner Kempf to which all of the SS-VT (except the Germania Regiment and the Pioneer Battalion) where assigned to July 1939, as well as the activities of the SS-VT units during Aug 1939.

The third part covers the combat history of the SS-VT units in Poland in great detail on over 150 pages, beginning with some basic info on the organisation of the Polish army (something that is very useful for those of us who know far to little about the Polish forces). This section also includes information on orders of battle, unit strength, commanders and losses. Apart from the military history of the campaign, it also includes an interesting comparison between the Wehrmacht reports of the campaign and what was reported in French and British media as well as a brief history of the inter-war relations between Germany and Poland.

The fourth part briefly covers the formation of the SS V Division in Oct 1939 following the campaign in Poland.
The final part of the book includes documents on various aspects of the pre-war history of the SS-VT, in particular in regard to its planned incorporation into the army in the event of a mobilization.

This book is a must for anyone interested in the peacetime development of the SS-Verfügungstruppe or its actions in Poland 1939 (that is the early history of the Waffen-SS). It is well written and contains a large amount of interesting facts and photos, so if you are interested in these units, buy it!

(Reviewed by Marcus Wendel)

Buy the book using the links below and you help support the site: