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Brandenburger (Paperback)

Wartime Photographs of Wilhelm Walther

Military > Greenhill Books > Greenhill: 20th Century Military > Greenhill Books > Greenhill: WWII Photographic Books WWII > Photographic Books

By Anthony Rogers
Greenhill Books
Series: Images of War
Pages: 160
Illustrations: 250 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781784387150
Published: 1st April 2022



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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 offering from Pen and Sword is not you typical Images of War title with it covering one mans war, but that in itself increases its appeal. The picture quality varies through the title but with all photographs having their own appealing prospects.

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Rating 5 out 5 stars

Oberleutnant (lieutenant) Wilhelm Walther transferred from an armoured reconnaissance unit in March 1940 to the Bau-Lehr- Bataillon z.b.V. This unit was a forerunner of the Brandenburger (commandos). This book is not a pictorial history of the Brandenburger but that of a career officer who took his camera everywhere with him. Anthony Rogers who edited and wrote the book had originally interviewed Walther for another book. He has selected pictures from the 600 photographic collection he had kept as a career officer, whose career ended abruptly due to the loss of the war.

Rogers has organised the book, so it is in chronological order, so that we see Walther’s military career beginning in 1931. Where we saw the young Walther in training, wearing his dress uniform. We also see him on the Czech border in 1938, and then ‘invading’ the border area as part of the great betrayal of the country. There are plenty of pictures from the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia and the ‘welcome’ some gave the Germans.

There are pictures from the Balkans in 1941 where the Brandenburgers gained their reputation as ruthless commandos. After the Balkans we see them moved to the eastern front between 1941 and 1942. They were some of the lucky soldiers who were moved from the eastern front to Greece. We also Walther’s comrades at arms, other officers. We also see Walther’s war record. The last picture shows him visiting his comrades’ graves in 1991.

An excellent book and giving us access to pictures that would probably remain hidden forever.

GoodReads, Paul Digget

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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The History Fella

The book is a unique insight into the regiment and its activities as it is formed of 200 photographs from Wilhelm Walters personal photo album.The books overs images from the prewar years, right up until 1944.

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Medieval Sword School

This is a marvellous set of archive images charting one man's life during WW2. He did survive the war, living to the great age of 100 when he passed away in 2010. It's rare we get to see a collection from one man that illustrate his WW2 story so this makes for a rare and fascinating collection of wartime photos. This one deserves to be popular I think.

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Military Model Scene
 Anthony Rogers

About Anthony Rogers

Anthony Rogers is a military historian and author, known for his books detailing events in and around the Mediterranean during the Second World War.

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