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on November 14, 2011
Casemate has turned out an excellent unit history of the German 6th Fallschirmjager Regiment (FJR 6). HBO Band of Brothers fans may note that the German paratroopers depicted in the film's Carentan attack, along with Waffen SS of 17th SS-Panzer Division "Gotz von Berlichingen" were those of FJR 6. Originally published in German, this English language translation is welcomed, but not flawless. Sprinkled with testimonies of Fallschirmjager veterans, and many extremely rare photographs, most from private collections, makes this a valuable addition to one's elite unit collection.

FJR 6 had a varied combat history. Organized in February 1943, the unit fought on several fronts, each operation making up a chapter in the book. After Italy's capitulation, FJR 6 were dropped outside Rome, and fought Italian troops to ensure the city remained in German hands. Lucky to receive a mere sentence in most World War II histories, this highly detailed chapter of this bitter struggle, that lasted nearly three months is enlightening.

Sent to the Russian Front during the winter of 1943/1944, FJR 6 plugged gaps, and held off hordes of attacking Russian infantry and tanks. Always short of supplies, especially ammunition, (a theme that permeates throughout) FJR 6 troopers suffered not only enormous battle casualties, but also the affects of the infamous Russian winter.

Reorganized again at Cologne-Wahn during the spring of 1944, FJR 6 was then sent to Normandy just in time to defend against the Allied invasion. Made-up of raw recruits and personnel from other branch services, many time saving and inventive training procedures were employed, making this chapter insightful to our understanding of Fallschirmjager training methods. Written from the German perspective, it is surprising to read stories of American paratroopers losing firefights among the treacherous hedgerows, being taken prisoner, or Fallschirmjager storming a building defended by American Airborne, and killing them all to the last man. Grounded down to near ineffectiveness after the Allied breakout from Normandy, FJR 6 troopers, sometimes in small groups, or individually, escaped or delayed the advancing Allies who were right on their heels.

Hastily rebuilt once again, the unit was sent to Holland, and engaged in multiple delaying actions against British XXX Corps along the infamous "Hell's Highway" during Operation Market Garden. Replenished still once again with young boys with no military training, FJR 6 was deployed to the Huertgen Forest region. The chapter devoted to FJR 6 commander Colonel Friedrich August Freiherr von der Heydte's mission to parachute behind American lines during The Battle of the Bulge offers rare insight, with many excerpts of von der Heydte's memoirs. In the shadow of the infamous Malmedy Massacre, it is interesting that on several occasions, von der Heydte's troopers captured groups of Americans, only to turn them loose, because they did not have the men to guard them. Included is the seriously injured von der Heydte's touching letter to a ranking American officer offering surrender and asking that his wounded Fallschirmjager be treated in the same humane way he had treated American prisoners. A last futile attempt to replenish FJR 6 with a wound convalescing battalion in March 1945, eventually resulted in FJR 6 entering captivity on April 17.

While the many rare photographs and veteran's testimonies provide the book's strengths, there are a few critiques. Although a map is provided for each operation, they are the over simplified, computer generated type, showing a general operational area, and very little troop movements. The total absence of an index, or any semblance of a bibliography or notes are unfortunate omissions, especially for a unit history containing this much detail, and personal interviews. Appendices containing extensive Rosters of staff officers and company commanders, Iron Cross recipients, and charts containing battle dates and locales, are to be expected. Lists of military postal codes, and Identification Tag (Dog Tag) numbers, however, would seem to be of interest to only a small select few family members or researchers. Lastly, the German to English translation is dry at best, and one will notice several instances where a better word choice could have been employed.

Despite these blemishes, this book comes highly recommended to anyone interested in the German Fallschirmjager of World War II.
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on November 25, 2012
There are few books dealing with actual German tactical combat operations from the German point of view published in English. This book is a great example of one that has been. The author used a different approach to what is in effect a written version of the personal history by the soldiers involved and backing up the verbage with photos covering the subject matter, often the actual soldiers themselfs. I have heard of their commander before and it appears that while he was a good commander he was also a honorable man which many Allied based books tend to ignore and often portray the German army as evil overall. As a historian I found it also very interesting that this regiment fought just about all the various Allied armies in North Africa, the Eastern and Western fronts and in particular their defense of Carentan and the escape from the Falise pocket. Another point I found informative was the number of times that the regiment lost battalions which in turn were turned into new regiments. Last, was how high the casualty rate was throughout combat operations and the size of most the battalions and companies were reduced to. I recommend this to anyone really interested in the war in North Africa and Europe from the German airborne point of view.
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on October 30, 2016
This is a solid account of the exploits of FJR 6 in Normandy and Holland during 1944-45. It makes extensive use of first-hand accounts from veterans and this is a valuable aspect of the book. There is an appropriate focus on the regimental commander, August von der Heydte and it is interesting to see just what an effective commander he was. He was also a very interesting and multi-talented man, whose humanity was recognized on both sides. The book has many interesting photos, though quite a few suffer from being too small. The narrative is easy to follow and the author describes battles and tactical moves clearly. My complaint about the book is the poor quality of the translation from German - it really is very clunky in places. The English translation has not been well copy-edited and this is a near constant feature of the text. It is a real pity that essentially good books are spoiled by such sloppy translation and editing work. That complaint aside, I commend the author on his research and on bringing to light the battles of one of the Third Reich's most effective combat units.
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on August 28, 2013
This was not a book I could not put down. I realize this is a translation, but the editing could have been much better. The time line was not very smooth, it bounced around a lot, often leaving me wondering just what was happening and where. The action was sugar-coated, the detail and emotion of combat often missing relative to other similar documentaries. The pictures were good and plentiful, with adequate explanations. I got the feeling that the author was shying away from the humiliation of his country's defeat, that this could have been a more interesting read if the true, honest feelings of the men involved had been explored.
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on March 2, 2014
This book brings out the human side, as well as the tactical movements in battle, of Fallschrimjager Regiment 6 (FJR6). You find great personal accounts of the one paratrooper who wanted to get married, but who was found to not be of pure "Aryan" bloodline, but had fought faithfully for Germany and FJR6; the encounter of paratroopers of FJR6 with a train with boxcars loaded Jews headed for a concentration camp and the ensuing confrontation with the SS guards; read the encounter of some of FJR6 and some American soldiers at a farmstead at Christmas time in 1944, as well as other great stories.

Not all Germans who fought in the war were Nazis and/or anti-Jew. FJR6 proves this point, as well as the fact they were an effective and dedicated group of paratroopers fighting in defense of their families and homes.
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on May 21, 2014
A Great book it certainly lets you know that " Saving Private Ryan" characters weren't the only people at Normandy. In fact I think they were certainly outclassed( general opinion and movie) by soldiers with far greater combat experience and certainly far fewer people and little resources. This is it seems is the way all and sundry should accept history from Hollywoods perspective.Don't for one minute think I am denigrating those of the Allied forces I hold them in the utmost esteem I just feel that by listening to the other side our general opinion may change ( ask the guys who fought against the paratroopers from Germany what respect they have for their foes -) They were all very brave and dedicated men fighting for their countries - we should take out the last 50 years of Hollywood and acknowledge all of them no matter which side they fought on, just for that. Not every German fighting man was a murderer.
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on February 17, 2012
Had I not known beforehand that this was a history of a German parachute regiment, the first-hand combat accounts could have just as well been written by American or British paratroopers. This book shows that the heroism, sacrifice, and courage exhibited by men engaged in combat, regardless of their nationalities, are universal. American airborne units are part of the Army, but German Fallschirmjäger (parachute) units were part of the Luftwaffe (Air Force). Fallschirmjäger Regiment 6, which became known as "The Lions of Carentan," was an elite unit that fought in Italy, Russia, France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany. They mostly fought as infantry units but also conducted airborne operations in Italy and the Ardennes. But despite their obvious courage, it became apparent that the Fallschirmjäger were eventually overwhelmed by the massive resources available to the Allies.

Fallschirmjäger Regiment 6 earned their "The Lions of Carentan" nickname during their fight for the town of Carentan, which is located on the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy. One of their primary opponents was the American 101st Airborne Division, a battle that was featured in a segment of the "Band of Brothers" TV mini-series. One of the first-hand accounts described how the Germans marveled over how well-equipped the captured or KIA American paratroopers were since all carried personal items (chocolate, cigarettes, etc.), a harbringer of what the future held.
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on January 4, 2013
Well, being a WWII buff I found some very interesting new facts about the Fallschirmjager (German Paratroopers,) seldom mentioned as it's own unit of the German Air-force. Except for the battle of Crete,where Fallschirmjager took horrendous loses these troops seemed to be used piece-meal there-after, Hitler was always fearful to use them in that role again.. One should not really attempt to compare the German paratroopers to those of the American or British Airborne even though, basically these units usually ended up fighting as assault infantry units. In the case of the German Paratrooper they were a branch of the German Luftwaffe (Air force,) and were highly trained and extremely motivated troopers who (except near the end) were all jump qualified. Now, I know from all my past reading experiences that even the allied generals were in agreement when they compared the fighting abilities of the Germans as against most Allied troops, finding the Germans in training, tactics, morale endurance, experience, spirit to be superior in most instances to their counterparts. From this book I get the idea that the average Fallschirmjager was not a highly indoctrinated Nazi and for the most part at least against the Western allies, fighting a relatively clean war. At least this book leads you to believe that, but that being said I recently viewed a U-Tube video taken in Greece during WWII where a company of Fallschirmjager's line up a group of about 200 civilians and shoot them down. The video does not offer any explanation of this action. This book gets it's title from the defensive battle fought by the Fallschirmjager's in the French town of Carentan which was being contested by the 101st U.S. Airborne unit as part of the D Day operations. The book and in fact historians agree that the Fallschirmjager's with the assistance of SS Units gave better than they received on a personal level. One must take into account that when the 101st Screaming Eagles and 82nd AA were dropped on D-Day, the troopers were spread all over the map and had to fight as they joined up and I'm sure many small units of the 101st and 82nd AA were picked off piece meal. This is not to take anything away from the Fallschirmjager who was quite surprised when they came across members of the 101st who had Mohawk hair cuts and war paint and put up a very fierce fight. I enjoyed the book, but I always get the impression that the German's go out of their way to sanitize all their actions. That's not to say that everything American troops did reached the history books in fact in one of the chapters one of the German's describes observing from a distance as a group of Screaming Eagles capture a Fallschirmjager and beat and kick him unmercifully. I found this book to be well written and it certainly held my interest. I personally would recommend this book to the die in the wool WWII buff, yes it's that type of book. Enjoy.
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on September 28, 2017
A travelogue of a brave paratroop unit through several fronts in WW II. Very detailed, technical and well researched, but the writing is tedious and devoid of emotional context. And invariably the German paratroops are undermanned, underarmed, noble, gallant and generous even to their enemies while the allies are feckless and prone to wanton destruction.It moves rather quickly but the scene switching is confusing.
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on August 28, 2013
I grew up on the words "Ike", "Patton", Mac Arthur", all American icons in the military and particularly WW2. That being said, I appreciate the other combatant's take and experiences in WW2, both from the Japanese and German points of view. I've yet to see anything similar from the Italians who were part of the axis.
This book brings home the day to day reality of this particular German fighting unit and does so in an honest, yet humble way, getting the reader's attention and letting them view Post D-Day fighting from the memoirs of a German Soldier. Very good book.
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