World-renowned British historian Sir Max Hastings recounts one of the most horrific months of World War II.
June 1944, the month of the D-Day landings carried out by Allied forces in Normandy, France. Germany’s 2nd SS Panzer Division, one of Adolf Hitler’s most elite armor units, had recently been pulled from the Eastern Front and relocated to France in order to regroup, recruit more troops, and restock equipment. With Allied forces suddenly on European ground, the division—Das Reich —was called up to counter the invasion. Its march northward to the shores of Normandy, 15,000 men strong, would become infamous as a tale of unparalleled brutality in World War II.
Das Reich is Sir Max Hastings’s narrative of the atrocities committed by the 2nd SS Panzer Division during June of 1944: first, the execution of 99 French civilians in the village of Tulle on June 9; and second, the massacre of 642 more in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10. Throughout the book, Hastings expertly shifts perspective between French resistance fighters, the British Secret Service (who helped coordinate the French resistance from afar and on the ground), and the German soldiers themselves. With its rare, unbiased approach to the ruthlessness of World War II, Das Reich explores the fragile moral fabric of wartime mentality.
About the Author
Sir Max Hastings is a famed British journalist and military historian who has served as a foreign correspondent for the Evening Standard and as editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph. Currently, he writes columns for the New York Review of Books, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, and the Sunday Times and is also the bestselling author of numerous history books on World War II, the Korean War, and the Falkland Islands.www.maxhastings.com
Table of Contents
Prologue: London and France, 5/6 June 1944
1. 2nd SS Panzer Division: Montauban, Tarn-et-Garonne, May 1944
2. SOE: Baker Street
3. SOE: Southern France
4. The Road
5. Tulle: The “Liberation”
6. Tulle: The Price
7. The Jeds
8. “Panzer divisions are too good for this . . .”
9. “. . . a rapid and lasting clean-up . . .”: Oradour
10. Excess of Zeal
11. The SAS: Bulbasket
2nd SS Panzer Divison’s memorandum on anti-guerilla operations, issued on 9 June 1944
Principal Weapons of the Maquis and the 2nd SS Panzer Division
Bibliography and A Note on Sources
Notes and References
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was an interesting story of an SS Panzer Division's travels through France to meet the Allied invasion at Normandy. I hadn't heard of Oradour before and it was terrible to read about what happened to the town and it's people. I was surprised that the book contained a lot of information on the French Resistance and their activities during the period around D-Day. Judging by the title of the book, I wasn't expecting so many chapters pertaining to the French and British resistance. The information on Das Reich was interesting and detailed but I found myself wanting more personal stories from members of the Division and less information about the maquisards. Still, all in all a good book.