The East Wall was where the final battles to protect the stricken Third Reich were fought. First begun at the end of World War I, building work accelerated as the wall became a pet project of Hitler’s. However, following a characteristically erratic change of heart by the Führer, the wall’s best defensive assets were stripped in order to bolster the Atlantic Wall. Late in the war, in the face of the mighty Soviet war machine’s advance, the defences were once again strengthened. This superbly illustrated volume analyses the different defensive elements of the east Wall, the phases of their construction, the shifting strategic focus, and what life was like for those manning the defences in the final days of the war.
Taken from the back cover of the book.
Osprey Publications Ltd
have released Germany’s East Wall In World War II as Number 108 in their Fortress series. It is a softcover book with 64 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs and color photographs, color illustrations, cut-away views, informational charts, color maps and detailed captions. It has a 2015 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-4728-0585-7. As the title states, the book details and discusses Germany’s East Wall during World War Two.
Design and Development
- German tradition of fortifications in the East
- World War I
- The interwar period
- The Nazi era
- World War II – the years of advance
- World War II – the years of retreat
The Principles of Defence
- Operational factors
- Tactical aspects
Tour of the Sites
- Water defences
- Passive defences
- Tobruk pit
- Koch pots
The Living Site
- Border guards
The Sites Today
- Travel advice
- Entry requirements
- Safety considerations
- Other sites of interest
Glossary and Abbreviations
The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed. Neil Short covers the German East Wall fortifications and their use during World War II in great detail as one can guess by the title. Discussed are the many types of fortifications and bunkers used along Germany’s East Wall. A detailed example of what the text contains can be obtained by reading the contents section above. The contents section is very accurate as to what is contained within the covers of this excellent volume covering some of Germany’s fixed fortifications during the 1900s. A portion of the volume which I found would be helpful to anyone reading this volume that have plans to visit the sites is a dedicated portion of the text which provides details to the sites today and provides information such as travel advice, accommodations, entry requirements, currency used and language spoken at the sites. That information will be very helpful to the tourist. As I read through the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on the German East Wall fortifications and their use during World War II to their personal library will be pleased with this very informative and interesting book.
There are a total of 33 black and white photographs and 18 color photographs. The photographs range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however a few have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and others appear too light but do not take anything away from the book. A few of the photographs are from historical archives but the majority of them appear to have been taken by the author and so they show the fortifications as they stand and appear today. Author Neil Short stuck to the title of the book and provided photographs that are specific to German East Wall fortifications and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to the military fortifications enthusiast and military modeler due to the details they contain.
Some of the photographs that I found to particularly interesting contain subjects such as:
- A German World War I pillbox
-A Polish bunker constructed between the wars
- A ‘Type 102v’ concrete shelter built near the rail tunnel at Stepina, Poland
- A front elevation view of a ‘Heinrichstand’ (Regelbau D5 MG Schartenstand)
- An MG08 similar to those installed in bunkers of the Oder-Warthe-Bogen
- A side view of the rotating bridge at Kurzig (Kursko)
- A Tobruk pit (Regelbau 58c) near Panzerwerk 717
- A photograph showing original chalk graffiti of a Jäger (hunter) inside of a bunker
- A Kampfraum, or fighting compartment, of Panzerwerk 717 with an MG08 machine gun covering the main entrance
- A Panzernest that was used extensively on the Eastern Front
- Two concrete pillboxes located near Panzerwerk 717 to cover the road between Kalau (Kalawa) and Hochwalde (Wysoka)
- A fully restored officer’s room in Panzerwerk 717
- A Panther turret used as an improvised fortification on the Eastern front
- A 38(t) Panzer turret that was mounted on a wooden shelter and installed on Kliestower Road in Frankfurt an der Oder
- One of the 19 massive concrete cigar shaped air raid shelters built at Zossen – the German Army headquarters
There are 7 color illustrations by illustrator Adam Hook. Of the illustrations five of them are cut-a-way views showing the internal layout of the defenses. The illustrations are of:
Werkgruppe Schill - Bunkers near the town of Kurzig protecting the railway line from Meseritz to Zielenzig.
B Werk – Panzerwerk 717 - Above and below ground view of Bunker B Werk 717.
Water Sluice And Retractable Bridge - Retractable bridge at the south-eastern corner of Lake Nischlitz.
Koch Bunker - Above and below ground view of an Erich Koch concrete tube bunker.
Geschützstellung With 75mm KWK51 L/24 - Above and below ground view of a trench and wooden bunker fighting positions employing a 75mm KwK 51 L/24 as an anti-tank gun.
Aerial View of Oder-Warthe-Bogen Defences in 1945 - A simple map illustration of the Oder-Warthe-Bogen Defences including a map key explaining the symbols.
Soviet Attack On The Central Section Of The Oder-Warthe-Bogen - Soviet tanks and crew members stopped at anti-tank barriers at the Central Section of the Oder-Warthe-Bogen. The narrative that accompanies this illustration includes a first-hand account written by Friedrich Helmigk, a member of a Volkssturm company.
There are 2 color maps included in this volume which are well done, nicely detailed and are of:
- The defences along the pre-war German border
¬- The pre-war eastern border defences in East Prussia
The Information Charts
There are 4 informational charts provided which provide information on:
- Table 1. The Instruction for Construction of Permanent Fortification Structures.
- Table 2. Inspektion der Ostbefestigungen (Inspectorate of Eastern Fortifications)
- Table 3. Eastern Border Protection 1939 (source: Kaufmann)
- Table 4. Directive 278/44 issued by the Party Chancellery on 27 September 1944
There are 6 notes included in this volume and they are:
- Artist’s Note
- The Woodland trust
- Author’s Note
The captions are well written and are greatly detailed and explain the accompanying photographs and illustration in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place in the accompanying photograph. The captions go into very specific detail as to the type of fortification shown, it’s location and purpose, interior details of the fortifications, the time frame that is was used, weapon types and other such pertinent information. I was very impressed by Neil Short’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail.
As with the other Osprey Publishing
fortress series titles I was impressed with this volume. This is a very nice reference book that contains many close-up detailed subject specific photographs and illustrations and well detailed captions. It details Germany’s East Wall during World War Two very well and I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey Publishing
titles to my personal library and I would I recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library.
This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd
. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.
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