Obedient Unto Death (Paperback)
A Panzer-Grenadier of the Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler Reports
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Drafted into the SS-Totenkopf in 1939, Werner Kindler served with a motorised unit in Poland before, in May 1941, he was selected for the elite Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler. It was with the Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler that he participated in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union from June 1941.
Werner’s unit converted to a Panzer Grenadier formation in 1942, and he went on to fight at Kharkov and Kursk on the Eastern Front. Having transferred to the Western Front in 1944, Werner later fought in Belgium and France, in the Ardennes campaign, in Hungary and, finally, in Austria,
Between 1941 and 1944 Waffen-SS Oberscharführer Werner Kindler took part in eighty-four days of close combat. As a result, he was awarded the Close Combat Clasp in Gold (for participation in more than fifty battles) on 1 April 1945 – being one of only 631 men who received this decoration. He was also awarded the German Cross in Gold, the Iron Cross First and Second Class, the Eastern Front Medal and the Gold Wound Badge, having been wounded six times in action. At the end of the war in Europe, Werner was one of the last men of the Leibstandarte-SS to surrender to the Americans.
Obedient Unto Death is one of the most dramatic first-hand accounts to come out of the Second World War. It provides is an unparalleled insight into the reality of close combat on the Eastern Front, where infantrymen attacked tanks with hand grenades and limpet mines, as well as the creation and evolution of armoured forces during the Second World War.
[Contains] useful information on the tactical deployment of half-tracks, various descriptions of the tactical prowess of Joachim Peiper (the battalion’s initial commander), and a few interesting accounts of combat, notably the rescue of the 320th Infantry Division at Krassnaya Polyana during the Kharkov counter-attack and episodes from the battles of Kursk and Normandy.War Books Review
In addition to providing a colourful account of his experiences, Kindler also provides a very valuable insight into the social experiences and politics that brought the Nazis to power.reviews.firetrench.com
Rather like waiting for a bus, along come three books to the review desk that focus on the SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler (LAH).Michael McCarthy
The three are ‘Peiper’s War’ which details the wartime actions of Jochen Peiper the renowned leader, and the other two are personal memoirs by Werner Kindler (Obedient unto Death) and Herbert Maeger (Lost Honour, Betrayed Loyalty). I read all three concurrently with the intention of checking accounts and hopefully gaining an insight into those events from different perspectives. I therefore, with apologies to each author and the publishers, have combined the reviews as each book is mutually supporting and the added value of all three books is certainly greater than the sum of the parts. I would suggest that anybody seriously interested in knowing more about the LAH should buy all three books.
The biography of Peiper between 1941-44 concentrates on the Eastern Front and the incredible performance of the LAH on the battlefield against overwhelming odds. Their superior training, tactics, equipment and morale consistently outperformed the Soviet Army, which by and large was a poorly trained militia. Casualty reports underline the toe to toe superiority of the LAH and the development of the Panzer Grenadier tactics. Intrinsic to the success of the LAH was its leadership and Peiper emerges as a soldier’s soldier; a man who led by example, who quickly grasped changing situations and formed them to his advantage, who protected his soldiers through his efficient use of them and who in return enjoyed their total loyalty. This was particularly evident in the actions around Kharkov and Kursk in 1943.
Obedient unto Death and Lost Honour, Betrayed Loyalty give the soldiers view and really add value to the Peiper biography. Both of the authors portray the gritty reality of fighting on the Eastern Front and place the war as a matter of the survival of Germany rather than the pursuit of the political objectives of its national Socialist leadership. Sustained by the purported war aims of the Allies and the evidence of Soviet atrocities (which of course were matched by some German elements) the German soldier expected to have to fight to the death as surrender was very unattractive. Both authors deliver a clear narrative of their and the LAH’s exploits and whilst at times (particularly with Kindler) it seems a daily list of battlefield actions and close order fighting, it must be so as that was the intensity of their experience.
All three books are recommended. Read separately they stand as excellent accounts, and read together they are even better.
Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide