Killing Hitler's Reich: The Battle for Austria 1945

Killing Hitler's Reich: The Battle for Austria 1945

William Alan Webb
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
In the dying days of World War Two, when the fate of nations was being decided by the triumvirate of Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Josef Stalin, Hitler’s Austrian homeland provided a scenic backdrop for the last stand of Army Group South. Killing Hitler’s Reich, The Battle For Austria 1945, is the history of the bloody Battle for Austria in 1945. Austria’s fate held major ramifications for postwar Europe and the entire free world, yet there is no complete account of the campaign written in English. Given the scale of the fighting and the scope of the consequences, this book fills a major gap in the literature of World War Two. On VE Day Army Group South listed 450,000 men still under arms in four armies. It was this massive force that made General Dwight Eisenhower change the entire focus of American ground operations to cut off Germans from retreating into the National Redoubt. Moreover, it was Austria not Berlin, that proved to be the graveyard of the Waffen SS. No less than 15 of Himmler’s divisions ended the war there. And as the German war effort disintegrated into chaos, high ranking Nazis fled the dying Reich through Austria and into Italy. Some made it, many didn’t. Killing Hitler’s Reich follows the chase and capture of some of the most notorious, such as Himmler’s Second in Command, Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Long overlooked by historians, Killing Hitler’s Reich finally places this critical campaign in its proper historical place.

Right off let me say that this is a massive tome, to both in size and content; 589 pages including the index, no pictures but a few maps to help you out.

Researching, writing and publishing this story must have been a Herculean task for the author and he is to be applauded for it. A big picture review of the fall of the Reich and Austria in particular. I was absolutely amazed that the German Army managed this fighting retreat at all considering the complete disarray of the German High Command often promoting two commanders from differing services to try to dictate the terms of a battle whilst fighting among themselves, not necessarily focusing on the endgame but on trying to look the best to the German High Command. This lead to troops and resources being placed in the wrong places at the wrong time. God help the Russians if the Germans had being an effective Army .

The general tactics and units overviews are particularly absorbing; the book is laid out in diary form informing who was doing what on any given day.

A particularly poignant story was of the German general who hanged thousands of soldiers and civilians for their supposed desertions or defeatism who later left the battle zone in his PRIVATE airplane whilst still exhorting his troops to battle on !

Those of you who like books or battlefield tactic games will benefit from reading this highly instructional and exhilarating book. I would have given it five mushroom except for the fact that it is a thoroughly scholarly description and may well be a bit of a specialist offering.

I am so glad that I took the time to read it through. It's also possible to derive a great deal of knowledge by simply dipping in and out as well. If I could remember half of what I read I think that I should be entitled to a history degree. Well done Sir for your hard work and perseverance.

Four and a half mushrooms.
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