Germany's special forces were intrinsically involved in the Second World War from before the outbreak of war in 1939 to the last days of conflict in 1945. Members of the Brandenburg force fired the first shots in Poland, two days early. Special Forces played a role in the victories in the west in 1940, rescued Mussolini after his fall from power and kept Hungary in the war on Germany's side.
Whiting's book focuses on the exploits of the various German special units rather than their development or structure. There is more on the background to the Abwehr's Brandenburg unit than on their SS equivalents but this isn't the main focus of the book.
Whiting's main strength lies in his use of first hand accounts provided by some of the surviving members of the units (including Skorzeny). Despite this reliance on the veterans Whiting covers a fair few failures, including the famous attempt to assassinate Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt at Tehran and less well known failures in Egypt and Wales.
There is some confusion over the title of this book - the SS Kommando of the cover is less accurate than the title given inside the test - Kommando, Hitler's Special Forces in the Second World War. Canaris and his Brandenburgers dominate the first third of the book, the SS and especially Otto Skorzeny the rest.
This is an often atmospheric account of some less familiar aspects of the Second World War and a reminder that bold, daring special forces operations were not limited to the Allied side.
1 - Father Christmas goes to War - 1939-40
2 - The Man with the Iron Heart - 1940-41
3 - Operation Condor - 1942
4 - The Most Dangerous Man in Europe - 1943
5 - Operation Long Jump - 1943
6 - Operation Rocket-Launcher - 1944
7 - The Great Deception - 1944
8 - The SS Kommandos - 1944
9 - Skorzeny's Last Attack - 1944
10 - Werewolves - 1945
11 - Death Comes to Father Christmas - 1945
Author: Charles Whiting
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2010 edition of 1995 original