Images of War, SS Totenkopf At War, A History of the Division, Rare Photographs From Wartime Archives

This new addition to the very popular Images of War series follows the established pattern of concise text, captions, extended captions and lavish illustration. Most books in this series use largely images from official archives. In this new book many images come from private albums of members of the Division – Very Highly Recommended.


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NAME: Images of War, SS Totenkopf At War, A History of the 
Division, Rare Photographs From Wartime Archives
FILE: R2617
AUTHOR: Ian Baxter
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES:  142
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War II, World War 2, Second World War, German 
Army, Waffen-SS, armour, Panther, Tiger, Royal Tiger, gun tank, 
tank killer, T-34, concentration camps, Russian Front, East Front

ISBN: 1-47389-093-4

IMAGE: B2617.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/y7f9hee3
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: This new addition to the very popular Images of War 
series follows the established pattern of concise text, captions, 
extended captions and lavish illustration. Most books in this 
series use largely images from official archives. In this new book 
many images come from private albums of members of the Division – 
Very Highly Recommended.

The Waffen SS was both responsible for war crimes, and an elite 
organization that fought ferociously with great courage on the 
battlefield. The SS Totenkopf was the most controversial of the 
Waffen SS Divisions. It was closely associated with the 
concentration camps and death camps which is not surprising seeing 
that SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Theodore Eike was its founder and 
commander. Eike was made commander of the Dachau concentration 
camp in June 1933. He was the architect and father of the Nazi 
camp system and its death camps. Initially, the prototype camp at 
Dachau was a prison for political prisoners and anyone considered 
undesirable by the Nazi. Many of the prisoners were released at 
some point in a similar manner to normal prisons. The main 
difference was that the guards were Nazi supporters and SS, who 
engaged in casual brutality. Eike considered that the SS should 
build its own army and eventually replace the German Army. In 
this, he considered the SA a rival that should be destroyed. As 
the camp system evolved into a slave labour system where prisoners 
were worked to death and into an industrial scale extermination 
system, the Waffen-SS evolved from another bunch of thugs competing 
with the SA into a disciplined and fanatic military force, equipped 
with the best weapons and determined to achieve all of the 
objectives set it, what ever the cost.

The Totenkopf was involved in war crimes from the start of WWII. 
It considered prisoners of war an inconvenience and was happy to 
murder them. Where other units involved in the invasion of France 
took British and French prisoners and treated them in accordance 
with international agreements, the Totenkopf did not.

As with the SS generally, many of the officers had University 
degrees and there were those with multiple doctorates and 
professorial chairs. They had to be supporters and members of 
the NSDP and be able to demonstrate Aryan heritage. They commonly 
accepted that anything ordered by the Fuhrer was a sacred duty. 
They became efficient warriors and were widely regarded by Germans 
as elite 'Guards' divisions. The Totenkopf was regarded by many 
Nazis as the premier Waffen-SS unit and were directly commanded 
by Eike until he was killed when his Fiesler Storch was shot down 
during the 3rd Battle of Kursk in February 1943.

The Totenkopf accepted very heavy casualties on the Eastern Front 
to reach the objectives set them. Some will argue that this showed 
their weaknesses as a military formation because they could have 
often achieved their tasks by more intelligent tactics, but 
whatever else the Totenkopf may have done, it was a determined 
and aggressive foe on the field of battle and continued fighting 
to the very end.

From the invasion of Poland onwards, the Totenkopf continued to 
commit atrocities against enemy soldiers and civilians. Their 
common practice was to either machine-gun groups of unarmed 
prisoners in the open, or to herd them into buildings, throw in 
grenades and set the buildings on fire, machine-gunning anyone 
who tried to escape. Surprisingly few of their officers and men 
ever faced war crime trials and this was mainly because the 
Western Allies rapidly concluded that the need for a stable West 
Germany was more important in the opening stages of the Cold War.

The author has provided a very good history of the Totenkopf and 
his text is fully supported by an outstanding selection of images 
from official and private archives.