- Paperback: 392 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; Updated edition with a New Preface edition (May 1, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691008531
- ISBN-13: 978-0691008530
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #686,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Soldiers of Destruction Updated edition with a New Preface Edition
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"Sydnor has managed to assemble a painstakingly detailed and annotated account that is at the same time an interest-holding horror story."--Publishers Weekly
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Dr. Syndor begins his story with a discussion of the development of the Totenkpfdivision as an outgrowth from the SS Totenkopfverbande (Deaths Head Division) and the concentration camp guard system. Central to this development was Theodor Eicke, who put his aggressive, fanatical NSADP stamp on the system. He organized the concentration camp guard system and from that the initial Totenkopfdivision, making this Waffen SS unit one with a particularly rabid Nazi makeup, at least at its inception. By bringing the formation of the Totenkopfdivision into focus provides important perspective for Syndor and the reader to assess the actions of the division in its military exploits, including charges of brutality. Simply put, are actions seemingly askew from other battle units, such as murder of POWs, ultimately unexpected given the personalities and ideological "training" of the division? Syndor does not use this analysis to excuse the actions but rather to provide clarity for greater understanding in a historical context.
The passages dealing with combat of the Totenkopfdivision (most of which occurred against the Soviets) are fascinating and highly enlightening. Syndor has does a great job brining to life these years of the division and balancing the highly effective and laudable (from a military perspective) battle actions of the Totenkpdivision with the criminal activities that followed the division. The reader can easily separate these issues and then place the latter in context given the introductory material. This is in fact what Syndor attempts to do (quite effectively I believe) in the last section of the book, entitled: Ideology, Personality, Criminality.
In the end this is a wonderful book, both from a mere historical and a reading enjoyment standpoint. Syndor conveys a clear history of a single element of the Waffen SS that is both significant and fair. Highly recommended reading - five stars!
While the book does mention a few examples of the crack Waffen SS fighting spirit on the Eastern Front, and mentions one example of an atrocity in France in 1940, this book spends most of its time on the development of the division, and its constant manuvering for supplies and replacements devasated by battle. I would not recommend this book to those looking for specific and vivid examples of SSTK battles and atrocities, as these have been somewhat glossed over and molded into a comprehensive overview of the interservice rivalries, development, training and ultimate retreat and surrender in the Balkans, and there is precious little information on this units ultimate fate after surrender. (Did any return from the Gulags?)
But, if the evolution of this crack fighting force interests you, then this is an absolute must read.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a carefully researched book with the accurate tracing of cross linkages between the Waffen-SS and the concentration camp system,...Read more