- Lawrence Paterson
- ARRSE Rating
- 4.5 Mushroom Heads
The author has written a very in-depth history of the Fallschirm Panzer Division Hermann Goering. His research is very extensive, even down in some parts to the company level. The author takes the reader from the earliest days of the Division which started out as a police formation raised and controlled by Hermann Goering. As was usual with the machinations of the Third Reich, their senior people on the level of Goering and Himmler wanted formations loyal to them. Goering imbued into the division an adherence and spirit as embodied in support of or devotion to the Nazi party.
With Goering slowly losing control of policing functions, he managed to bring the formation in as a field unit of the Luftwaffe much as the Fallschirmjager were, whilst keeping it away from Army control. The unit also provided security for the HQ of the Luftwaffe in Berlin, Goering's estate at Carinhall plus the Reich hunting lodge in East Prussia. Goering even towards the end of the war still influenced how the Division was deployed, despite his personal fall from grace following Stalingrad.
The Division saw initial combat in Norway, then moved on to the Balkans and onwards to take part in the invasion of Russia. Next, they were deployed into the deserts of North Africa in a fighting retreat through Sicily and Italy. In these campaigns, they sustained heavy losses against superior forces. Many of the division formations were close to being 'wiped out' and reformed and re-designated within the Division. Whilst in Italy, they 'assisted' with the removals of treasures and artefacts from the Monastery at Monte Cassino, ostensibly to the Vatican.
After leaving Italy, they re-deployed to the Arnhem area and were there at the time of Operation Market Garden and fought British forces and Dutch resistance fighters. With the situation deteriorating for the Germans, again the Division was reformed and expanded into a Corps level formation. Moving to Poland they again faced the Russians, but this was following the suppression of the '44 Warsaw Rising as the unit had to move through the city as the rebellion commenced. They then commenced a fighting retreat back to Germany. During their retreat, they lost many men in what was a hopeless situation, but their only other option was to be a prisoner of the Russians, who regarded this formation on a par with the SS or Geheime Field police (GFP) and were treated accordingly.
It was rare that all the units of this Division fought together, with many being part fragmented to other places. The author documents that this unit took part in war crimes against the civil populations in Italy, Holland, and Poland during its periods of operations.
This is an interesting book and for anybody with an interest in particular of the war in Italy and Sicily, I would recommend this book as another view of the campaign.