Pen & Sword Books

Saturday, May 21, 2022


Brandenburger - Wartime Photographs of Wilhelm Walther written by Anthony

Rogers and published by Greenhill Books - £14.99 - Softcover - Pages 160

In March 1940, Oberleutnant Wilhelm Walther transferred from Aufklärungs-Abteilung 5, an

armoured reconnaissance unit, to Bau-Lehr-Bataillon z.b.V. 800 – forerunner of what would

soon be known as the ‘Brandenburger’. Two months later, he led a commando action in the

Netherlands and became the first of his unit to be awarded the Ritterkreuz (Knight’s Cross).

By May 1944, Walther was an Oberstleutnant and an experienced regimental commander

in what had evolved as the Division ‘Brandenburg’. He would eventually join

Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny’s SS-Jagdverbände as Chief of Staff, before seeing

out the last days of the war with the short-lived Schutzkorps Alpenland.

More than 200 images, together with the original German captions and English translations, portray the life and times of this career officer, from the German annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938, to operations in Russia, Greece and the Balkans during 1941–44.

In comparison with other units of the Second World War, relatively little has been published about Germany’s commando forces. This is hardly surprising, considering the paucity of source material available and the air of mystery and intrigue still surrounding this specialist formation. This unique collection of rare images was sourced from the photograph album of Wilhelm Walther and is sure to appeal to all with an interest in the war in the West and on the Eastern Front, as well as to militaria collectors, modellers and re-enactment groups.

This Images of War book is a little different to the others in the series in that it follows the military lifetime Wilhelm Walther in the Brandenburger, the German equivalent to the Allies' special forces. He would lead on special ops in the Holland region, where he would receive the Knight’s Cross or Ritterkreuz. The book contains about 200 images of Walther himself and his unit in action at the time and as he progressed up the ranks. Actually, a decent sized collection of photographs tell the story of one German officer in World War II. A really good read and it was nice to read about an individual rather than a weapon, operation region of conflict.

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