Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East
Earl F. Ziemke & Magna E. Bauer

Earl F. Ziemke worked as a civilian historian at the US Army’s Centre for Military History, before becoming professor of history at Georgia University.  During and after his time with the US Army, he published major works and pamphlets based primarily on the German military archives which had been captured by the US forces at the end of the war.  These works are considered standard works describing the war from the German perspective, and depending on which particular area they address, they can also be very informative on the Allied/Soviet side of things.

Because Moscow to Stalingrad was published in 1986, before the Soviet archives were opened, Ziemke and Bauer had to rely on the extensive but often low-accuracy literature available from the Soviet era.  This has to be kept in mind when reading the books.

The book is an operational history of the Soviet-German war from the battle of Moscow to the end of the battle of Stalingrad.  It rarely bothers to discuss anything below Army/Army Corps level, and is more concerned with the analysis of the command decisions and the operational movements than with tactical details.  The book is organized on a geographical basis (e.g. Operations in the North), and within those on a timeline basis.  This breaks the operations into sectors pretty much based on the German understanding of the war, and may neglect that the Red Army did not view things in the same way.

The book (in the older edition I own) is liberally sprinkled with photographs which are unfortunately often of low quality, and contains numerous maps that make it possible to follow the combat operations easily.  It also contain a comprehensive index and bibliography, and a note on the sources used for it.

Ziemke and Bauer are quite critical of much of the German command performance, unlike many of the books published during the period, and the analysis going into the battles fought between OKW and the field commands is as interesting as that going into the battles fought between the Germans and the Soviets.

While the book does not intend to cover the period of the war leading up to the battle of Moscow in the same detail as that what followed up to Stalingrad, it does contain a section at the start describing the events that led to the start point of the in-depth narrative.  This enables the reader to follow the whole war up to this point by reading this book.

For anyone interested in the Soviet-German war, this is a must-have book together with Stalingrad to Berlin, and despite the caveats, it is well deserving of five stars, in my view.

(Reviewed by Andreas Biermann)

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