The author (1914-1968) was a German paratroop officer who was a battalion commander during the battle for the monastery at Monte Cassino. There have been many books, articles and references to the fight for Monte Cassino, but from the view point of the Allied Forces attempting to take the position. The author provides a German perspective. Well-written and authoritative, strongly recommended.
NAME: Monte Cassino, a German View
AUTHOR: Rudolf Bohmler
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Italian campaign, soft under-belly, paratroops, bombardment, aerial bombardment, Gustav Line, Mussolini, attrition
DESCRIPTION: The author (1914-1968) was a German paratroop officer who was a battalion commander during the battle for the monastery at Monte Cassino. There have been many books, articles and references to the fight for Monte Cassino, but from the view point of the Allied Forces attempting to take the position. The author provides a German perspective. Well-written and authoritative, strongly recommended.
The author writes with the passion and authority of one who was there. The text is well supported by maps and photo-plate section that conveys the hotly disputed battle.
It has become fashionable for historians to sneer at Churchill and his much quoted comment of Italy being the soft-underbelly and ideal place to take the land war to Germany. In reality, he had little option but to invade Sicily and Italy. Allied Forces had cleared the Germans and Italians out of North Africa in a decisive victory that was a turning point in their fortunes. They could hardly sit back and wait for the invasion of France or the advance of Russian forces from the east. Churchill knew that they were not ready to make the historic invasion of France and he knew that the Russians could be defeated if Germany was allowed to concentrate its land forces on the Eastern front, while it completed development of significant new weapons that might include a nuclear bomb and a delivery system that could not be countered.
The invasion of Sicily helped to persuade the Italians to depose Mussolini and switch sides. It was hoped that landings on the Italian mainland would allow a rapid advance north with Italians helping the process. The fatal flaw was that the Germans located Mussolini’s prison and mounted a successful rescue that gave hope to his supporters and allowed the Germans to portray themselves as loyal allies fighting the invader. The result was loss of momentum that enabled Hitler to send more troops into Italy and build a series of defensive lines that were hard fought, costing the Allies time and casualties. However, at the same time, this met some of Churchill’s original objectives. It kept Germany occupied on a second front and diverting troops that were badly needed on the Eastern Front. In the process, this gave the Russians some respite and allowed them to maintain momentum as they fought towards Germany. As the Russians moved forward, it denied the Rumanian oil fields to Hitler and limited both production and military action. It delayed the completion of new weapons and it left the Allies free to build up the resources in England that were needed to mount the most audacious amphibious assault in history in the D-Day landings in Normandy.
The battle for Monte Cassino was a disappointment for the Allies and it cost more resources than should have been required. It was a bitter fight where the German paratroops fought as light infantry with considerable courage and determination. The author has presented the German view and can draw pride from the performance of those serving under him, but the Allies also fought with courage and determination in what was a drawn out stalemate.