The German Fallschirmtruppe or paratroops, were one of the most successful smaller units of the Second World War, playing a crucial part in the success of the German campaign in the west in 1940, and going on to capture Crete against strong opposition in 1941.
There are two sides to this book. The negative side is that the author tends to swallow much of the wartime German propaganda, so he mentions the nonsensical idea that Poland was preparing to invade Germany, claims that Denmark was invaded to 'protect her neutrality', which was never under threat from anyone else, and dismisses just about every accusation against the paratroops as false. This attitude becomes most annoying in the short section on the German war crimes in Crete. One can understand why the Germans did what they did on Crete, after they found the mutilated bodies of some of there colleagues, but one shouldn't try and justify the illegal murders of 200 innocent civilians that were carried out in response. To a certain extent this attitude probably comes about because the author was originally writing in German, with the help of many surviving paratroops, and with them as a large part of the audience, but it did rather grate.
The second, and more impressive side of the book, is the hugely detailed account of the main Fallschirmtruppe campaigns between the invasion of Poland and the campaign in Crete. Here the author is much more balanced, looking at their successes and failures (admittedly focusing more on the failure of the operational planning and senior leadership than on the troops themselves). If there is a criticism to be made of the combat histories it might be that they are verging on being too detailed, making it more of a research tool than a readable narrative. The detailed text is supported by equally useful detailed maps.
Overall this is a very valuable account of the campaigns of the Fallschirmtruppe that takes a impressively balanced approach to their combat missions, acknowledging the failures of planning that often saw them suffer heavier than expected casualties while almost always achieving their objectives.
Part I: The Genesis of the German Fallschirmtruppe 1936-39
Part II: The Fallschirmtruppe between the Campaign in Poland and the Offensive in the West
Part III: The employment of the Fallschirmtruppe during the Campaign in the West
Part IV: The Fallschirmtruppe during the time between operations in Holland and the Balkans Campaign
Part V: The Fallschirmtruppe in the battle for Crete
Author: Karl-Heinz Golla