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The Red Army Towards the Oder Then and Now

...from After the Battle, an imprint of Pen & Sword

Title: The Red Army Towards the Oder Then and Now
Editor: Daniel Taylor
Publisher: After the Battle
ISBN: 978-1-399059-03-9

A new book in the After the Battle Then and Now series, and another edited by Daniel Taylor. A 152-page hard-cover book.
This one combines three articles that were originally published in After the Battle magazine between May 2019 and August 2021. They are all written by Polish author Tomasz Zgoda, and his local knowledge of the locations featured across these articles is a clear advantage. In the final stages of WW2 the Russian armies were rapidly approaching Berlin, having managed to cross the Vistula, they drove across Poland at a fast pace, with the target of crossing the Oder, the next significant river barrier before the German capital. The first section deals with the siege of Festung Posen, an old fortified city which had been bypassed by the advancing Russian forces and surrounded. From January 1945 through to the end of February, it tells how the fighting went in the various parts of the city, before ending with the storming of the citadel. Part 2 moves on to the defence of the Oder, using an assortment of smaller and hastily assembled German units, including some SS units under Otto Skorzeny. They kept bridgeheads on the Eastern banks of the Oder, to delay the Soviet advance, before they were slowly forced back towards the western bank and the Russians created the Zehden Bridgehead. The final section is the story of another fortress, Festung Kustrin. All of the stories give a detailed chronological account of how the battles unfolded, and of course are all highly illustrated with the Then and Now photo content, for which After the Battle magazine was so well known.
The photo captions give lots more detail which supports the main text. Some of the present day comparisons are almost unrecognisable as so many of the old buildings/fortifications have been eradicated in post-war redevelopment, while some places have been restored to look very much as they once did. The ability to have various locations so well identified is a huge benefit of the author's local knowledge. Add the extra space offered by putting these 3 features together in a book rather than restricted by a magazine format, with the latest improvements in reproducing these older photos all go together with the work of the editor in tying the 3 separate features together into an integrated single volume. For any fans of these After the Battle books I am confident this one won't disappoint.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for the review copy.


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