SS Foreign Divisions & Volunteers
...of Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia 1941-1945, from Pen & Sword
Title: SS Foreign Divisions & Volunteers of Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia 1941-1945
Author: Ian Baxter
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Another addition to the ever popular Images of War series from author Ian Baxter. This one is a 119-page softcover book in the standard style for the series. It is a book which focuses very much on the troops and their campaign, rather then the vehicles which form the focus for many other books in the series.
The bulk of this one is split across 3 chapters, each with a few pages of background text plus a collection of archive images which all have even more information in the very full captions. There is a brief 4th chapter tackling 'The End', though this one is without any associated images. The 3 main chapters cover the Invasion in 1941, when the three Baltic states widely welcomed the German army, seeing them as liberators from a Soviet occupation. Once that initial period was over, the bad news then was the persecution of the Jewish population. The second chapter moves on to 1942/3 and a time when the German forces actively sourced recruits from these Baltic states, though there were different reactions to that from Lithuania in comparison to Latvia and Estonia. New units were formed, the 15th, 19th and 20th Waffen SS Panzer Grenadier Divisions, and these are detailed with others in the Appendices at the end of the book. The third chapter covers the final stages of the war, 1944/45. Despite fighting hard and inflicting heavy casualties on the Soviet attackers, these units were simply overwhelmed. The photos throughout the book show the terrain they fought in, the weather conditions, a lot with snow on the ground, and excellent detail of both infantry and AFV crew uniforms, insignia and equipment.
An interesting read and a high proportion of the photos I had not seen before. The story of the three Baltic states made for a different aspect of the war on the Eastern Front, and one that is often overlooked I think. It also highlighted for me some major flaws in the way Germany fought the war, alienating so many people who might have been more helpful if they hadn't been so badly treated. Another good addition to this popular series.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for the review copy.