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Defense of the Rhine 1944–45

Defense of the Rhine 1944–45 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review May 2012 Title Defense of the Rhine 1944–45
Author Steven J. Zaloga Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2011 ISBN 9781849083874
Format 64 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $18.95


With reversals everywhere, Hitler’s western armies fled to protective positions along the Rhine River – Germany’s natural defensive barrier – in September 1944.

Steven Zaloga masterfully recaps these last-ditch West-Stellung efforts in Osprey’s superbly informative Defense of the Rhine 1944–45.

In illuminating introductory notes, the author reveals the term “Siegfried Line” as a British misnomer for prewar Westwall fortifications opposite the Maginot Line.  With France’s 1940 defeat, Germany cannibalized both for Atlantikwall defenses along the northern French coast.  Only when Allied breakouts from Overlord and Dragoon beachheads routed Nazi occupiers – and German manpower reserves withered to the young and elderly – did Hitler accept the need for a fortified West-Stellung belt.  This he finally dubbed “Siegfried”!

From “dragon’s teeth” to prefabricated concrete embrasures to bunkers disguised as dwellings, Zaloga outlines these desperate efforts.  Contents course from design and development, through defensive principles and organization, to site histories and analyses.  Closing sections proffer the March 1945 American attack on Steinfeld to assess the worth of Germany’s last-ditch Rhine defenses.

Informative illustrations, photos, sidebars, charts, and maps supplement Zaloga’s brilliant little book.  Coverage concludes with instructive bibliographic notes and helpful indices.  Add this vital overview to your World War II library.

Robustly recommended.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!