Where the Iron Crosses Grow - The Crimea 1941-44, Robert Forczyk

Where the Iron Crosses Grow - The Crimea 1941-44, Robert Forczyk

The main focus of this book is on the period between the first German attacks into the Crimea and the eventual Soviet Liberation. The book also includes a background section looking at the Tartar period, the Russian conquest and the Revolutionary war period, and finishes with a brief look at recent events. The epilogue was better than I'd feared, pointing out that the population of the Crimea is largely Russian before condemning Putin's approach.

The main text is also fairly even handed, with a good balance of German and Soviet material (the title had hinted at a German point of view but that isn’t the case).

This was a much more complex series of campaigns than I had realised. The Germans entered the Crimea in September 1941, but took two attempts to capture Sevastopol. The attack was interrupted by the first Soviet counterattack over the winter of 1941-42, and the city didn't fall until the summer of 1942. The Soviets launched a major amphibious invasion of the eastern Crimean in 1943, and finally re-conquered the area in 1944.

This constant fighting means that we can trace the gradual improvement in the Red Army and the decline in the German military, and thus the shifting balance of power that was also reflected along the entire front.

The text is supported by a series of good maps, including one showing the overall layout of the Crimea and plenty of detailed combat maps.

There is also a good section on German rule, including the inevitable atrocities and the ludicrous plans for the area, which was to become a German colony. The author also covers the post-war Soviet atrocities, once fairly obscure but now quite well known.

It is interesting to see how badly the famous massive siege guns actually performed, suffering both from limited accuracy and a tiny supply of shells.

There is good coverage of the Romanian involvement in the campaign, the limited naval campaign and the role of air power.

This is an excellent account of this brutal long-running campaign.

1 - The Crimea Under the Hammer and Sickle, 1920-41
2 - The Onset of War, June-August 1941
3 - Across the Tatar Wall, September 1941
4 - The Ring Closes Around Sevastopol, November-December 1941
5 - Winter War, December 1941-March 1942
6 - The German Conquest, May-July 1942
7 - The German Occupation of the Crimea, 1942-44
8 - The Red Army Returns to the Crimea, 1943
9 - German Defeat in the Crimea, 1944
10 - Postscript 2014

Author: Robert Forczyk
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 368
Publisher: Osprey
Year:  2014

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