In the spring of 1941, having abandoned his plans to invade Great Britain, Hitler turned the might of his military forces on to Stalin's soviet Russia. The German army quickly advanced far into Russia as the Soviet forces suffered defeat after defeat. With brutality and savagery displayed on both sides, the Eastern front was literally a campaign in which no prisoners were taken and no quarter was given.Although Hitler's decision to launch 'Barbarossa' was one of the crucial turning points of the war, at first the early successes of the German army pointed to the continuing triumph of the Nazi state. As time wore on, however, the Eastern front became a byword for death for the Germans - to be transferred to the front was the fate feared most by any member of Germany's armed forces.In "War without Garlands", Robert Kershaw examines the campaign largely through the eyes of the German forces who were sent to fight and die for Hitler's grandiose plans.
He draws on German war diaries, post-combat reports and secret SS files, monitoring and serving German home-front perceptions and reactions to the course of the campaign, to provide an enthralling account of the campaign from the perspective of the ordinary soldier or junior officer.This original material, much of which has never before been published in English, sheds new light on operation 'Barbarossa', including the extent to which the German soldiers were genuinely surprised at the decision to attack Russia, given the well publicised non-aggression pact. The author also reveals hitherto unappreciated factors influencing the campaign's eventual outcome, including an analysis of the extent to which the Russian refusal to surrender if surrounded or out-manoeuvred broke the tempo of the German Blitzkrieg, mitigating the surprise tactics and the greater experience of the German forces. With interest in the Eastern Front at a new height, "War without Garlands" is a seminal account of the battle. It will be required reading for all historians of World War 2 and all those interested in the course of recent history.