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Lake Ilmen, 1942 (Hardback)

The Wehrmacht Front to the Red Army

Military Photographic Books WWII > Battles & Campaigns > Russia & the Eastern Front WWII > Photographic Books

By Oscar Gonzalez, Pablo Sagarra
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 130
Illustrations: 100
ISBN: 9781526719935
Published: 11th February 2019



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In January 1942, south of Lake Ilmen (Russia), the 16th German Army clashed with Morozov’s 11th Soviet Army for possession of the strategic Russian city of Stelaia.

In this battle, which has gone almost unnoticed in studies of the Eastern Front, the Blue Division (Spanish volunteers) fought alongside the 250th Skier Company. The Spaniards, along with their German and Latvian comrades, endured hard fighting in extreme winter conditions.

In addition to providing a strategic framework of the battle itself, including the Soviet perspective, this book also looks at the human aspect of the battle by analysing a selection of the volunteers who fought in it.

The authors have done a splendid job in writing this volume and they should be congratulated on their efforts. They must have spent months and months doing the research behind this wonderful book and the reader will appreciate their extensive research.

Dr Stuart C Blank

The authors did thorough research and this book is an informative addition to historiography.

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Traces of War

An excellent expose capturing the significant contribution of the Spanish fighters of the 250th Ski Company that served in the German Wehrmacht at Lake Ilmen on the Russian Front during World War II. The book outlines the sacrifice and dedication of these soldiers and how they adapted to the harsh Russian winter conditions.

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This is an interesting book... the authors have created an insightful and comprehensive narrative about one specific action that the Spanish Blue Division participated in.

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Recollections of WWII

In early 1942, with the Wehrmacht struggling in the dreadful Russian winter conditions for which it was completely unprepared, the Red Army launched an offensive to relieve Moscow. Amongst the many desperate battles fought, this book focuses on a relatively small but important action near the communications hub of Staraya Russa where the beleaguered 290th Division were struggling to hold their ground. The 150-strong Ski Company of the Spanish Blue Division was ordered to relieve them, and in crossing the frozen Lake Ilmen were exposed to utterly horrendous Arctic conditions with temperatures reaching -50°C; the majority fell out with frostbite, but a few got through and fought courageously before the handful of survivors were forced to withdraw. Focusing in particular on individual stories, this is a beautifully presented book, brimming with photographs, maps and memorabilia, and is a fine tribute to this epic endeavour which, though famous in Spain, is barely noted elsewhere and has been lost amongst the wider story of the Russian front.

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Pegasus Archive

The authors are to be congratulated on a very thorough piece of research which has been articulated as a really compelling story complemented by a truly exceptional portfolio of photographs and maps.

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Walking the Battlefields, Phil Curme

As featured on The Old Barbed Wire Blog

Old Barbed Wire Blog

A fascinating if rather specialist look at a particular episode in the history of the Blue Division, a Spanish volunteer unit serving with the Axis forces of Germany in Russia, 1942

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Amazon Customer, Sebastian Palmer

A well researched and profound tribute to the Spanish soldiers of the 250th Ski Company that served in the Wehrmacht at Lake Ilmen on the Russian Front. The book charts the progress of these volunteers and how they coped with the dreadful winter conditions. Frostbite was the main contributor to their reduction. Written with empathy and a rare insight into the non-German contribution to the Russian Front.

Michael McCarthy, Battlefield Guide.

Michael McCarthy

It was also here that The Danish leader of the "Frikorps Danmark", Christian Frederik von Schalburg, of Russian decent, lost his life during a hopeless attack. As a Danish educated officer he was asked to become the leader of the Danish volunteers, fighting for Germany on the eastern front.

Finn Carl Bomholt Soerensen
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