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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of too little, too late ...
"Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress)", by Steven Zaloga and illustrated by Adam Hook, is a book in Osprey Publishing's Fortress series. Each book in the Fortress series is 64 pages long and examines the military architecture and evolution of specific fortification systems, and includes maps, diagrams, photos, and illustrations.

With a cover picture...
Published 21 months ago by WryGuy2

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3 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
As a crewman on an American bomber that enoountered the defense of the Third Reich, I was expecting to read something about the successes and failures of German flak and fighter units. Mostly, this is an accounting of the methods used on the ground to protect German citizens from American and British bombing missions.
Published 20 months ago by flakhappy


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of too little, too late ..., November 2, 2012
By 
WryGuy2 (Out On Life's Journey) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress) (Paperback)
"Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress)", by Steven Zaloga and illustrated by Adam Hook, is a book in Osprey Publishing's Fortress series. Each book in the Fortress series is 64 pages long and examines the military architecture and evolution of specific fortification systems, and includes maps, diagrams, photos, and illustrations.

With a cover picture of a Berlin flak fire control tower on the book's cover, bristling with radars and searchlights on the roof while RAF flares drift down through the night sky, you could be forgiven if you thought this book would be a recounting of the day/night battles between the British and American air forces and the German flak and fighter defenses over Germany. But you would be wrong ... mostly. This book details the defenses built by the Third Reich, both active and passive, to defend against the Allied bombing campaign, not the waging of that campaign itself.

Mr Zaloga basically breaks the book into three parts. First, he discusses the integrated air defense system, to include both flak and Luftwaffe fighters. With regards to flak defenses, he doesn't discuss the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of flak, he describes how the overall flak defense evolved, details the typical flak battery operations, shows how they were physically located/protected, and covers how flak was controlled across Germany. Likewise, for the fighter types and the like, he describes how the fighter control system evolved, not actual air combat. He also shows how German radar developed and was integrated into the overall air defenses.

Second, Mr Zaloga provides an overview of the German civil defense system, and discusses the many types of air raid shelters, bunkers, covered "splinterproof" trenches, etc., and how they were employed. Outside of the Berlin Flak Towers and ordinary basement shelters, I really wasn't familiar with exactly how the Germans tried to protect their citizens from air attack, so I found this information very interesting. He also provides good summaries on the costs and materials used in constructing these facilities.

Finally, the author covers the Germans' desperate attempts to disperse and/or fortify their factories, to include massive tunnel, cave, and bunker complexes. Again, while I was aware that such efforts were taking place during the war, I was surprised at how many fortified and underground complexes were under construction and how large some of them really were. He also points out that many, if not most, of the projects utilized forced and slave labor, and tens of thousands these people died during construction from starvation, abuse, or neglect.

The book includes copious numbers of excellent maps, diagrams, and photographs, which fully support Mr Zaloga's text. The author also shows how costly the air defense efforts were to the Germans, forcing them to divert vast amounts of labor and resources away from war production, which they could ill afford.

Overall, this is an excellent book on a subject that is not well known nowadays. I'll be honest in that this book is probably not for everyone, in my opinion, as it's primarily a book on fortifications (to include flak emplacements), how the German air defense and civil defense systems came to be, and how all evolved over time. It's great stuff if you're a history buff or student of World War II, but it's not a book on the air battles over Germany, if that's what you're looking for. But to an old hand like myself, who has already read a great deal about the air war over Germany, this book taught me things I didn't know, and was a great find. Five stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good succinct introduction to the topic, November 3, 2012
By 
Yoda (Hadera, Israel) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress) (Paperback)
Any introduction to this book would have to start off with by emphasizing that the Osprey "fortress" series format is quite limiting. It limits coverage of its topic to only 64 pages, about a third of which consists of illustration. Hence these are not the type of books that a reader would read for an encyclopedic introduction to the topic. However, for those interested in getting up to speed in about an hour and a half or so they are quite book. This is especially the case with this particular one as its topic has not been well covered in the past, even in larger more detailed books on German WW2 fixed fortifications. The topic just has not been very covered in the past hence this book does fill a gap in the literature. Plus the book, like so many in the Osprey series written by Steve Zaloga, is particularly well written and illustrated.

The book primarily covers three broad ranges of fortifications used for protection and defense from British and US air raids (air raids were, pretty much, a non-existant threat from the Soviet side) by the Germans. The sets of fortifications were flak fortifications, air raid sheltors and underground manufacturing and production facilities. These are covered from the pre-war period through the end of the war albeit, as the book's title suggests, the emphasis is on the 1941 through 1945 period.

The book is well illustrated with contemporaneous photographs, line drawings and color drawings, including quite a few very good cut aways. The reader gets a feel not only for how these structures developed over the course of the war in terms of their physical characteristics but also how they typically looked and were built during the main periods of their use. The author also discusses the costs of these and their relative effectiveness.

All and all a very good introduction for a reader interested in getting up to speed in about an hour and a half or so.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flak Towers and Underground Factories, December 1, 2012
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This review is from: Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress) (Paperback)
Zaloga has done it again with this excellent study of the air defenses of the Third Reich. Most books which address this topic look at it mostly from the angle of active countermesures (interceptors), sometimes passive (antiaircraft artillery) and never from a civil defense standpoint. This book does not really address interceptors (which is not what the Osprey Fortress series really looks at, in any case) but it does look at the temporary and permanent structures built to house the antiaircraft guns of the Third Reich, structures which by war's end would loom over the ruins of the cities they defended. The book discusses the air raid shelter programs employed by Germany to protect their population from an ever-increasing torrent of Allied bombs, which included construction of large-scale above-ground shelters able to withstand anything the Allies threw at them... at least in the first years of the war. It also covers the dispersal program to protect industrial resources, as well as underground factories. The book is well-illustrated with original artwork (including the concept of a Wasserfall surface-to-air missile site), photographs and maps. An excellent resource and a fascinating read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief, but Detailed Look at a Somewhat Ignored Subject ..., November 28, 2012
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This review is from: Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress) (Paperback)
For a country that initially believed it would never see its cities bombed, Germany certainly did take great measures (in relatively short order) to protect citizens from the eventual aerial pounding they received. Steven Zaloga's DEFENSE OF THE THIRD REICH 1941-45 provides a captivating view of the ingenuity and bombast associated with systems and structures used to defend German cities from aerial attack. As part of the Osprey Publishing's extensive World War II series, this book deals more with the structures developed for city defense and not the air war campaign as a whole.

This book scratched an itch for me; I am fascinated that German defensive structures from World War represent the majority of intact World War II-related structures that still exist to this day. The book starts with Germany's need to develop a more extensive air-defense program in 1940. Zaloga details the implementation of anti-aircraft (flak) batteries in strategic locations throughout Germany and occupied territory to defend against the increasing intensity of the Allied bombing campaign. The book then shifts to illustrate the passive defense systems deployed throughout the Reich to protect citizens from air raids: robust structures that ranged from reinforced bunkers to the massive, towering and indestructible edifices that shrugged-off everything the allies threw at them. Zaloga also sheds light on the enormous sub-pens and underground factory bunkers.

The book is Informative and interesting with plenty of photographs to illustrate the effectiveness of these defensive structures/systems, despite the war's inevitable outcome. Seeing a picture of an ominous concrete structure standing untouched amid a pile of smoldering rubble that was once a thriving city effectively demonstrates the serious approach Germany took regarding air defense during the war. There is even a chapter discussing the legacy of the Reich's air defense structures and how their indestructible nature forced them to be used for post war/peacetime purposes. Like the Medieval castles that pepper the banks of the Rhine River, many of these World War II superstructures remain standing today.

An interesting book on a fascinating topic, DEFENSE OF THE THIRD REICH provides enough information to give readers a taste, but may leave them wanting more details. I found 64 pages adequate in providing more than a mere overview (the purpose of this Osprey series), but I wanted more details and (color) photos/illustrations. Considering the lack of publications on the subject matter, I still feel DEFENSE OF THE THIRD REICH is an excellent resource for those wanting to learn about an aspect of World War II that really doesn't get the attention it deserves.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you always wanted to know about the Third Reich's love affair with concrete, February 12, 2013
This review is from: Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress) (Paperback)
Osprey's Fortress series is winding down after more than one hundred volumes, but one of the latest entries is Steven Zaloga's Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45. To be honest, I thought that most of this book was going to focus on flak defenses and air defense radars and part of me wishes that it had. In fact, the author takes a broad view of "defense" and includes a wide variety of active and passive measures adopted by the Third Reich to defend its citizens, industry and key resources from Allied air attacks. About one-third of the volume is devoted to the air defense question, covering light, medium and heavy flak emplacements, radars and even the Wasserfall anti-aircraft missile that was due to enter service in late 1945. There are not that many books on German flak defenses in the Second World War and this volume provides a handy reference, although the information provided is only about the layout and characteristics of the flak emplacements, not how they performed in combat. This Fortress title lacks some of the structure of earlier volumes in the series, such as the sections on "life in X" and "Combat in X," so there is no first-person content herein. Instead, this volume is more of a survey or data dump, with some useful maps and illustrations.

The second one-third of the volume covers air raid fortifications and covers everything from individual shelters for air raid wardens to medium -size shelters to the massive flak towers. This section was a bit dry but the author did include useful insight into the cost of all this fortification work to the Third Reich's war effort; as he notes, the Germans developed a plan in 1940 to protect their cities from air raids, which required over 100 times the amount of concrete put into the French Maginot Line or 11 times the amount needed for the Atlantic Wall. I saw several things in this section that I had never heard of before, such as the Winkel towers (which included great photo showing two Winkel towers surviving intact amidst a sea of rubble). On the other hand, the details of basement shelters and air raid ditches got a bit tedious.

The final section was on fortified factories, much of which was material that hasn't been seen much before. As the author notes, the Third Reich moved its best factories underground in 1944-45, but this greatly reduced output and efficiency. Overall, this volume leaves the reader with the impression that the Third Reich wasted a great deal of effort and resources trying to encase everything and everyone in concrete, but that even the projects completed had no real impact on the outcome of the war. This would be a useful reference for any readers desiring greater background knowledge on Germany's responses to air attacks, the development of technologies to counter air raids and the wartime economy of the Third Reich.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent monograph on both structures and system, November 8, 2012
By 
David C. Isby (Alexandria, VA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress) (Paperback)
Anyone traveling in Germany has seen the strange concrete structures, both in cities and in the countryside. With evidence of post-war additions and wartime damage, the original purpose of these structures if often obscure, and historical context is certain not to be provided on site.
This book is in the Fortress series, so much of its emphasis is on the structures themselves, but the author emphasizes the role many on them played in the defense of the Reich, whether active defense (flak), passive defense (shelters), C4I (command bunkers) or offensive operations (V-2 sites).
Indeed, all of the German war effort was hardened. The book even gives a brief treatment of the underground factories, some of which, run by Himmler, were horrific even by the standards of the Third Reich. I would have liked to have seen some illustrations of the bunkers built around German machine tools on factory floors (they're in RG 243 in the US National Archives).
I have gone over many of the archival reports of the US Strategic Bombing Survey and those on the German air defenses done after V-E Day, and I can say I learned lots that was new to me from this book. But the book has a larger, implicit theme,, that of the continued importance of such hardened creations. We think a lot about airplanes, almost as much about bombs and missiles. But the reinforced concrete and caves that people like the Iranians and North Koreans are seeking to counter them with receive a lot less interest. Which is a shame for those that need to "think the unthinkable" about how the next war is going to turn out.
The structures in this book, and more importantly the thinking that led to their evolution and integration in a larger operational (and strategic) context is, alas, by no means only of historical interest. A future enemy is perhaps more likely to be in love with reinforced concrete than high technology and cyberwar. Think now about how to deal with it.
==30==
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview of German air defenses., February 14, 2013
By 
JAG 2.0 (IN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress) (Paperback)
This Osprey Fortress #107 title "Defense Of The Third Reich 1941-45" fills a gap in WWII air war history as it covers the German defenses against the allied air offensive during WWII. This book covers air defense systems such as flak and their emplacements, air defense systems using visual, sound and radar detection and hardened shelters for both military and civilian use.

The book begins at the beginning of the war with the complete unpreparedness of Germany to be on the receiving end of air attacks. The book covers the evolution of German defenses as the RAF's civilian terror bombing campaign ramped up in effectiveness in 1941-1942 and the advent of the American precision bombing campaign in 1943.

The book covers flak emplacements, concentrations within bomber "corridors" as well as around major cities and targets. Also covered is flak along the Atlantic Wall and the Dutch coast. The book does a good job of giving an overview of the integration of air defense in the form of "Himmelbett" combining radar and other detection methods, fighter interception and flak concentrations. It does a very good job of covering the evolution of air raid shelters from simple to complex in the case of late war reinforced concrete bunkers. Good coverage of flak towers as well as touching on late war attempts to build factories underground.

This Osprey title has the usual excellent photos and color artwork. If it has a weakness, it is the lack of any kind of evaluation on effectiveness: how many enemy bombers were shot down by flak as the war went on? How many bombers were shot down by night fighters or day interceptors and at what cost? In conclusion, it's a good overview of a little-studied topic. Four stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great history book, November 6, 2013
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This review is from: Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress) (Paperback)
This is a outstanding book. The author gives the reader a detail Description of German home defensive systems. I as a world war two buff I never knew of the different Fortifications used by the Germans. This book is good for any World War Two historian
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4.0 out of 5 stars INFO ON GERMANY'S FLAK TOWERS & BUNKERS, October 30, 2013
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This review is from: Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress) (Paperback)
An interesting short read. Good info on the flak towers Germany built. Amazing how they managed the resources to accomplish - along with everything else.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative!, October 26, 2013
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This review is from: Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress) (Paperback)
This book is worth purchasing if you want to know to what extents the Third Reich went to in order to shoot down Allied bombers/fighters as well as protecting the civilian populace. Contains tons of info that a historians do not often see.
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Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress)
Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45 (Fortress) by Steven Zaloga (Paperback - October 23, 2012)
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