Hitler's Boy Soldiers, The Hitlerjugend Story, Hans Seidler

Hitler's Boy Soldiers, The Hitlerjugend Story, Hans Seidler

This entry in the Images of War series looks at the role of the Hitler Youth in the German war machine. The book covers three different topics. The first chapter looks at the pre-war Hitler Youth and its role in preparing the German population for war. The second and third chapters focus on the Waffen-SS, with chapter two looking at recruitment and general service and chapter three focusing on the 12.SS Panzer Division 'Hitlerjugend', a unit that contained recent or older members of the Hitler Youth. Finally chapter four looks at the use of child soldiers during the final defensive battles in Germany, and shows some shocking young soldiers.

The pictures are of a high quality - interesting, varied and well reproduced. Most focus on the people involved rather than on the machinery of war, and the pictures of weaponry are normally relevant, showing the range of equipment used by the Hitler Youth in the later stages of the war.

My main problem with this book is the author's tendency to reuse text, with whole chunks of the chapter introductions later re-appearing word-for-word as a picture caption in the same caption. This really sticks out when you read through the book, as do certain stock phrases that are used repeatedly ('morale still remained high' being the worst offender, especially as it is used just before a series of pictures of really happy Hitlerjugend who had just been taken prisoner of war. The tone of many captions in the final chapter feels wrong, with plenty of praise for fanatical resistance or futile defensive battles and little acknowledgement of the appalling nature of a regime that threw untrained child soldiers into brutal defensive battles.

Most of the captions are accurate, although a picture of a RPzB anti-tank weapon had one error, with the popular nickname of Panzerschreck (Panzer Terror) given as the official name and the official name of Raketenpanzerbuchse (rocket tank rifle) as the nickname, and one omission - the failure to mention that the weapon was a copy of the American bazooka. Other than that I didn't notice any factual errors.

Chapters
1 - Training and Preparation for War
2 - Recruitment into the Waffen-SS
3 - The Baby-Division
4 - Final Battles of the Reich
Appendix One: 12.SS-Panzer-Division 'Hitlerjugend' Order of Battle
Appendix Two: 12th Army, April 1945

Author: Hans Seidler
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 112
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2013


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