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Images of war, SS Polizei at war 1940-45 (ISBN 978-1-47389-097-8)

Images of war, SS Polizei at war 1940-45 (ISBN 978-1-47389-097-8)

Ian Baxter
ARRSE Rating
3.5 Mushroom Heads
Although formed in 1939, the division was not initially considered an SS fighting unit. Blocked from recruiting from the general public by the Army (Heer), they were forced to recruit from the local police units. This meant an older and less amenable recruit to mould around the SS image. This status was emphasised with the quality of equipment issued to the division. Police Division were still using the MP28 Bergman while even the Wermacht were carrying the MP40!

After a reasonable amount of success in France, Greece and then Russia,it was not until 1942 the division was transferred to the Waffen-SS, and eventually upgraded to a Panzergrenadier division (4TH SS-Polizei-Panzergrenadier-Division).

This book describes how, after inception, the SS Police Division was frustrated by Corps and Army commanders, by being held in reserve. Unfortunately, when tasked with it's first combat task, the division was accused of apathy and failure to achieve objectives. However, deployment to the low countries and Russia followed before deploying to the Balkans and Greece. This is where the division gained a reputation for barbarism. On one occasion, 10 June 1944, soldiers of SS Polizei Division under command of SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Fritz Lautenbach; rounded up over 200 Greek civilians in Distomo and either hanged or shot them, including women and children. In other incidents, babies and a pregnant woman were murdered; they also beheaded a priest near Delphi; murdered 28 civilians in Ypatiand razed several villages to the ground in "anti-partisan" reprisals.

The book is an interesting insight into one of the infamous fighting machines in WWII. It is packed with excellent photos and information. 145 pages of well-written work by an historian who regularly writes about German twentieth century militaria.

I would have preferred a couple of colour plates to show uniforms etc, but all-in-all, this was a very interesting read.

Rating 3.5 out of five.

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