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Osprey's second title examining the events of Operation Barbarossa. Of the German Army Groups that attacked Soviet Russia, Von Leeb's Army Group North, tasked with seizing the Baltic States and Leningrad, was the smallest and weakest. General Kuznetzov's Northwestern Front, however, was in an even weaker state. Despite brave counterattacks and defense by the Soviet forces, the Germans smashed through the Dvina Line, then the Stalin Line, flooded into Latvia and pressed on to encircle Leningrad. This ...
Osprey's second title examining the events of Operation Barbarossa. Of the German Army Groups that attacked Soviet Russia, Von Leeb's Army Group North, tasked with seizing the Baltic States and Leningrad, was the smallest and weakest. General Kuznetzov's Northwestern Front, however, was in an even weaker state. Despite brave counterattacks and defense by the Soviet forces, the Germans smashed through the Dvina Line, then the Stalin Line, flooded into Latvia and pressed on to encircle Leningrad. This book examines the German offensive and also the courageous Soviet attempts to halt the German spearhead, defending every possible line against overwhelming odds.
Posted November 5, 2007
Colonel Kirchubel has done an outstanding job of synthesizing the extremely complex German invasion of the USSR. His latest book for Osprey, Army Group North, builds upon the success of the earlier Army Group South. Thousands of pages have been written on Barbarossa, so covering the massive assault in three books of 100 pages each is ambitious. One can only assume that with the anticipated completion of the trilogy we will have a good overview of the entire campaign. Kirchubel gives valuable introductory information on the geo-political background, each side's plans, commanders and armies. However, where other authors have wasted space on generals like Wilhelm Keitel 'a staff politico who didn't command anybody', Kirchubel describes in human terms the various leaders actually involved. In the heart of the volume, the actual campaign, he adroitly works within Osprey's size constraints to present a good mix of operational and tactical combat and maneuver. I found the anecdotes of small-unit actions, for example the Germans' initial difficulty defeating new Soviet armor or fighting in the land of the midnight sun, very representative. Of course Osprey is known for its graphics and Army Group North does not disappoint. Kirchubel provides a good selection of German and Soviet point-of-view photographs, artwork and maps. My favorite is the battlescene depicting Stuka ace Hans-Ulrich Rudel sinking the battleship Murat: artist Howard Gerrard brings to life a scene I'd only read about in Rudel's memoirs. One of Army Group North's strengths is its treatment of the fighting in Finland. This is a theater often neglected in other Barbarossa histories which act like the Russian front terminated at Leningrad. Also interesting was the description of the German's joint operation against the Baltic islands-a little-known action. It is clear, however, that Kirchubel's main interest is the command and control aspect of Barbarossa. Military history amateurs 'and some professionals' are guilty of idolizing German military leadership. However, among other things, Army Group North makes it clear Hitler failed to keep a tight rein on his generals, Halder was a behind-the-scenes schemer and Leeb was totally unsuited for high leadership during Barbarossa. A caveat: Readers uncomfortable with an author squarely giving credit or criticism of a general's conduct of operations my find Kirchubel a bit too willing to call a spade a spade. With so many Osprey Campaign Series books dealing only with battles and engagements it's good to read about a real campaign. I for one look forward to Kirchubel tying together the story of Barbarossa with the final volume on Army Group Center. Army Group North¬, meant to supplement, not supplant, the 'hallowed texts' of Glantz, Ziemke, et al, is a necessary addition to the library of historian and hobbyist alike.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.