From Bessarabia to Belgrade

...an Illustrated Study of the Soviet Conquest of South East Europe, from Peko Publishing

Title: From Bessarabia to Belgrade
Author: Kamen Nevenkin
Publisher: Peko
ISBN: 978-615-5583-28-5

A landscape format hard-cover book of 152-pages, this is an illustrated study of the Soviet conquest of Southeast Europe, during the period March-October 1944. I am sure I'm not the only one, but a period when perhaps many of us focus on events in NW Europe and D-Day, but there were still important events taking place on the Eastern front and this new book does play a part in redressing that imbalance.
The content is split across 4 chapters, Into Rumania: Bulgaria: The South East: and The Belgrade Operation. Things had not quite gone as the Soviet leader had expected, when Rumania did not give in when put under pressure, and the Soviet armies had to change their battle plans accordingly. Soviet generals Zhukov, Konev and Malinovsky all had to readjust. Early on the German 1st Panzer Army were caught in a pocket of some 200,000 men, but most were able to escape, although leaving large quantities of equipment behind. The subsequent story is told with the chronological events, with personal accounts from both sides, commanders and ordinary soldiers alike. The book is perhaps just under half text, while the rest is filled with some marvellous archive photos, most of which I hadn't seen before and most presented in full page format.
The details of the fighting is well presented in the text, while it is also well illustrated in the photos that show not only the conditions that the fighting took place in, but a wide selection of equipment that was in use by both sides. The variety among the vehicles used by German forces, and their allies, shows where even late in the war they were still using things like the Pz 35(t) and 38(t), the Pz II and plenty of Italian AFVs. I think one of my favourite photos features the primitive looking Italian Pavesi P40 artillery tractor but there is so much more. I learnt a lot from this one about this period of the war on the Eastern Front and was pleased to see the use of archive photos from the Bulgarian archives, content hidden away from so many of us during the Cold War but now, thankfully, accessible for publications. Lots of interesting material with older equipment still in use without the Panthers and Tigers that get so much attention, here we see older AFVs still in operational use in the later stages of the war. I am sure that the modellers among us will find a lot of super references for colours and markings, plus plenty of diorama inspiration.
Thanks to Panzerwrecks for our review copy, who are the distributor for the publisher Peko Publishing.

Robin