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From Bessarabia to Belgrade (March – October 1944)


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From Bessarabia to Belgrade (March – October 1944)

An Illustrated Study of the Soviet Conquest of Southeast Europe

ISBN: 9786155583285 Peko Publishing

 

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Once Operation Barbarossa had opened up the Nazi’s second front of WWII, their Blitzkrieg streamrolled the Soviet forces while Stalin vacillated, getting to within viewing distance of Moscow before the tide turned, thanks to a number of factors that stopped and then reversed their fortunes on the Eastern Front.  As the Soviets regained the offensive, they also benefitted from the winter conditions that they were used to and the Germans were not.  Their new T-34 and KV-1 tanks also began to reach the front line in numbers, having sloped armour, a powerful gun and a drivetrain that was capable of movement during the bitterly cold Russian winters, a task that often took up to 12 hours for the less robust German tanks.  Barbarossa had aimed to take control of the oil rich areas in Southern Europe, using their Rumanian allies to assist them, giving them valuable resources that they couldn’t find elsewhere.  As they were pushed back various battles ensued, and allies became foes, while some took advantage of the power vacuums left behind.

 

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The book is hard-bound in a landscape format, with 152 real pages and a few un-numbered blank pages at each end.  It is written by Kamen Nevenkin, and is an interesting combination of a military history book and a pictorial history, with plenty of reading in between numerous often page-sized photos.  From a Western European point of view we’re perhaps not as well-versed in the details of the conflict from an Eastern European standpoint, but this book goes through the history of the various parts of the battle, beginning with the initial conquest by the Nazis, what went on during the occupation, and how the area was cleared, ending with who remained in power at the end of the war.  The book is broken down as follows:

 

  • Chapter 1 – Into Rumania
    • Crisis in the Ukraine and Bessarabia
    • Konev StrikesMalinovsky Strikes, Too
    • The Failure of the Soviet Spring Offensive in Rumania
    • The German Counteroffensives
    • The Crimea
    • The Quiet Times
    • The Jassy-Kishinev Operation
  • Chapter 2 – Bulgaria
    • The End of the “Passive Alliance”
    • The Bulgarian Armed Forces
    • The Red Tide is Coming
  • Chapter 3 – The Southeast
    • The Balkan Resistance Movements
    • The Axis Occupation
    • The Withdrawal
    • The Soviet Air Strikes
  • Chapter 4 – The Belgrade Operation
    • The Soviet Offensive Preparations
    • The Attack
    • The Destruction of Group “Stettner”
    • The Assault on Belgrade
    • The Bulgarian Offensive
  • Sources

 

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The photographs are large enough to show the details that might be harder to see at a smaller size, with a lot of them showing the state of German and Russian hardware after the battle, much of which in a sorry state of repair after unexpected, sometimes explosive disassembly.  There are a few photos with victims of the conflict shown, and while it isn’t in detail and in black and white, they could be upsetting to the young or those easily upset.  One of the photos above that I took for the review showed one such page, so I have pixelated it as a precaution.

 

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Conclusion

There are some great photos and some interesting text within the book, and I have already learned more about the subject during my speed read for the review.  I’m hoping to go back and re-read it soon in the hope some of it will stick in my poorly wired brain.  Very much worth a look and a read.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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