|J.J. FEDOROWICZ PUBLISHING|
by: Phil Monteith [ ]
Originally published on:
IntroductionPanzerkampfgruppe Strachwitz is a photographic study of the battles during WWII between Soviet and German forces around the port city of Narva in Estonia in 1944. The battles specifically featured in the book were three relatively small armored actions taken shortly after the German retreat on the Leningrad front. The scope of these actions were an effort by the Germans to achieve better defensive positions (those which could be held effectively by a relatively small amount of men) to frustrate any further Soviet advances in the region. Although the Soviet forces eventually broke through, the first two of the three operations were indeed considered a success by the Germans, allowing their forces to better stabilize the Narva front and hold out for a much longer period of time than would have been originally possible.
ReviewPanzerkampfgruppe Strachwitz (PKS) is a 120 page hard cover book, bound in the same high quality semi-gloss/textured material traditionally found with JJ Fedorowicz books. The book has been printed in landscape format well suited for a photo history. The book consists of mostly full page high quality black and white photographs which have not been previously published (and are said to have only been recently discovered). The photographs were said to have been taken by a German war photographer present during the battles, afterwards the film was archived and forgotten about, only later to be discovered as part of a private collection.
The book starts off with a brief foreword by Tiger tank ace Otto Carius (author of the well known book Tigers in the Mud and a participant in the actual battles), and then moves on to provide a short but solid background history for the three military operations which the book covers. These are known as Operation Strachwitz 1, 2, and 3, the naming of which came from the commander Graf Strachwitz who is featured in some detail in both PKS and in Carius' book Tigers in the Mud. The background info in PKS includes a large detailed map as well as a section providing some basic order of battle/unit information for the three armored units which took part in the battles (and therefore the main subject of most of the photos in PKS).
The three armored units are said to be the:
* Panzer-Grenadier-Division "Feldherrnhalle"
* Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 502 (Otto Carius' unit)
PKS will make an excellent inspiration/reference source for modelers, or even just as a companion book for those reading Tigers in the Mud itself. Not only are the photos wonderful but the included caption text is also very detailed and, from what I can tell, accurate. I was also pleasantly surprised by just how closely the photos matched the story as Carius recalled it in his book, down to even the small details (photos of the combat engineers bringing logs in an Sdkfz 251 to use for supporting the attacking tanks over tank obstacle ditches that Carius specifically wrote about, etc). It has been said by the books author that to find such good quality late war photographs is a rare thing in and of itself, but to add to that and also have the content of those photos so well documented in a survivors published memoirs, I feel this book really is a special treat.
ConclusionI found Panzerkampfgruppe Strachwitz to be of excellent quality, a great value for the price (priced at under 1/2 that of many other J.J. Fedorowicz books). This book will without a doubt make a wonderful addition to the bookshelf of any armor modeler or military history buff. Highly recommended to all.