German Mountain Troops, 1935–1945
The Gebirgsjäger were officially formed in 1935 following Hitler’s rejection of the Treaty of Versailles, although the required skills had been fostered in preparation through civilian climbing clubs. They were recruited predominantly from the southern mountainous parts of Germany – Wurtemburg and Bavaria – and from Austria, where Alpinism and mountain warfare had a long tradition. Rigorously trained in skiing, climbing and other demanding skills of mountain survival and combat, they formed an elite within the German army, distinguished by the distinctive Eidelweiss cap badge adopted in 1939.
Jean-Denis Lepage gives a concise history of the Gebirgsjäger’s employment, which saw them in action on every front, from Lapland in the North to Tunisia in the south, and throught the war, from the invasion of Poland to the final defence of Germany. He then gives a detailed description of their uniforms and insignia, equipment, organization, training and tactics. The book is clearly illustrated throughout with over 170 of the author’s own line drawings.
In the Nazi rise to power a key role was played by the Nazi storm troopers –the SA. This was a paramilitary organization designed for defence of Nazi Party meetings and attacks on its political opponents. It formed the workforce for Nazi political activity in the lead up to the takeover of power in 1933. Despite its pivotal role until 1934, when it was purged and rendered politically powerless by Hitler, the SA has been surprisingly understudied by historians. Wilfred von Oven's Nazism was linked with the career of Josef Goebbels, both as propaganda minister and as Nazi party regional leader…By Wilfred Von Oven
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