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Hitler's Armed SS (Hardback)

The Waffen-SS at War, 1939–1945

Military Photographic Books WWII > Hitler & the Third Reich

By Anthony Tucker-Jones
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 240
ISBN: 9781399006910
Published: 16th August 2022



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The Waffen-SS was one of the most formidable German military formations of the Second World War – feared for its tenacity and ruthlessness in battle, notorious for the atrocities it committed. As a distinct fighting force derived from the Nazi Party’s SS organization, it stood apart from the other units of the German army. Its origins, structure and operational role during the war are often misunderstood and the controversy still surrounding its conduct make it difficult today to get an accurate picture of its actions and its impact on the fighting. Anthony Tucker-Jones, in this concise and fluently written account, provides an absorbing and clear sighted introduction to it.

He traces its development under Himmler from modest beginnings in the early 1930s as Hitler’s personal protection squad of elite soldiers to a force which eventually amounted to thirty-eight divisions. Towards the end of the war many Waffen-SS units were formed from foreign volunteers and proved to be of poor quality, but its premier panzer divisions thoroughly deserved their reputation as tough fighters.

Through accounts of the Waffen-SS’s major battles on the Eastern Front, in Normandy and finally in defence of Germany, a detailed picture emerges of the contribution it made to the German war effort, especially when Hitler’s armies were in retreat. The parts played by the most famous Waffen-SS formations – Das Reich, Totenkopf, Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler among them – and their commanders – men like Dietrich and Hausser – can be seen in the wider context of the war and Germany’s defeat.

"Too many people are forgetful or simply ignorant about this dark chapter of history. This will never be an excuse, notably thanks to historians and experts like Anthony Tucker-Jones who contribute to our understanding."

Read the full review here


This book is a valuable addition and point of reference for anyone interested in Military History and the operation of the armed forces during the Second World War.

Jon Sandison

"You have essentially the most notable action each division took part in, from Poland and the ghettos to Normandy, the Eastern Front and even British sympathisers."

The Armourer, November 2022

An up-to-date history and assessment of Germany's once elite fighting force in the European theatre of World War II, "Hitler's Armed SS: The Waffen-SS at War, 1939-1945" is an extraordinarily informed and informative account that will prove to be a welcome and enduringly appreciated contribution to personal, professional, community, and academic library World War II history collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

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Midwest Book Review

As featured on Armorama


Overall, the author has produced an exceptionally good overview of the Waffen-SS. It is broad in its aspect as it considers many units and divisions rather than just one formation. It is well-written and exceptionally pleasant to read. It will appeal to many historians from SS “buffs” to those wishing to know more about for example, Normandy and Arnhem. This book comes highly recommended to
those seeking information of this famous and infamous organisation of Hitler’s Germany.

Dr Stuart C Blank, Military Archive Research

As featured in

The Armourer

A really good book especially if you are interested in reading about how the German army was run and operated.

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The History Fella

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The title of this book is a clue as to what the original title and meaning of the SS stood for and the gradual transformation by Himmler into the armed or Waffen SS. The armed SS started as an offshoot from Hitler’s personal guard in the 1920’s and gradually grew into the intimidation group that persecuted any opposition to his rise to power. Himmler assumed command of the SS in 1929 and started build an empire that was based on the belief they were the guardians of German racial purity. Gradually, the unarmed members of the SS usurped any opposition that stood in the way of Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933-35 and then grew rapidly as an elite organisation that e=was to be kept separate from the army but would provide the ‘fanatical’ spearhead in any future operations and would be controlled by Himmler.
The book traces the activities of the growth of the Waffen SS and its operations throughout WWll in detail and shows the tensions that existed between the army, the Wehrmacht, and the Waffen SS mainly because Himmler was not a military officer but a former poultry farmer who rose to incredibly power as a civilian wit the authority of Hitler behind him. Eventually he was to prove his incompetence towards the end, and he was sidelined.
The excellent book is another example of the ‘other side’ in WWll and goes a long way to explain that Germany lost the war more through incompetence by non-professionals than any other reason.

NetGalley, Sandra Miller

As featured in

The Bookseller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a overview of the many German SS units and their leaders as well as some of the battles they were in. This book gives examples of Hitlers disowning his elites after they lost in Hungary which I never new happened, If you are curious about the elite units of the German Army this book is a great place to learn.

NetGalley, Patrick Carmen

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I am grateful to Pen and Sword for providing me with an ARC of the soon to be released "Hitler's Armed SS: The Waffen SS at War 1939-1945," by Anthony Tucker-Jones. The SS has long fascinated historians (military and otherwise) and has provided, in recent years, fertile ground for attempts to understand the Third Reich. Unfortunately, the deliberate complexity of Hitler's SS (by design) makes it a very difficult organization to easily categorize. This is particularly true of the Waffen SS. I am pleased to report that this book does a good job of focusing on several key factors without getting lost in the weeds. For example, one thesis of the book is that the Waffen SS, as a whole, has been largely misunderstood as an elite military formation when in fact that characterization is really most aptly applied to a few elite Panzer Divisions rather than to the much more numerous supporting military formations which also received designations as SS formations of one type or another. It is also worth noting that Tucker-Jones is clear eyed in his understanding of SS crimes, unlike any number of works which seem intent on concentrating on SS military prowess to the exclusion of their equally well documented misconduct. One of the ways he gets at this is by paying particular attention to SS leaders at the tactical level with only mild digressions into Himmler's fantasy world. In this way, it becomes clear that Himmler and the highest SS leadership was both criminal and incompetent while at the army level and below, military competence was very much in evidence, accompanied by ideological fanaticism which often found expression in war crimes. There is no easy way through this morass of conflicting perspectives, but the author does a good job of trying to keep tightly focused on the military and organizational history of the Waffen SS without getting into so much tactical detail as to lose sight of the forest for the trees. This is no small accomplishment.

NetGalley, William Harris

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A good look at the history behind one of Germany’s elite units during WW2. While some fought honorably, others were known for their horrific actions during the war. The story is well told and contains many firsthand accounts from members of the units. This is a great read for the history enthusiast.

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

This is a good starter to understand the Waffen SS and its role on the battlefront. It describes each SS Division and its key actions and outcomes.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Anthony Tucker-Jones

Anthony Tucker-Jones, a former intelligence officer, is an author and commentator who specialises in military history, with more than 50 books to his name. His work has also been published in an array of magazines and online. He regularly appears on television and radio programmes commenting on current and historical military matters. His books include Armoured Warfare in the North African CampaignThe Battle for the MediterraneanThe Desert Air WarThe Devil’s BridgeHitler’s Winter and Churchill Master and Commander.

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