Antonio J. (editor) The Last Levy: SS Officer Roster, March 1st,
1945. Bayside, New York: Axis Europa Books, 2001.
Reviewed by Ray A. K. Crawford
Given the title on the cover of this volume, indicating
that it is an SS
officers' list for March of 1945, I had high hopes for the answers to some
questions I have regarding SS actions and activities at the end of the war,
both relating to individuals and some last-ditch call-ups. It is, however,
of narrower scope than this. As is stated later on the title page, it
actually only covers the Waffen-SS. As it turns out, it apparently does not
even cover that group comprehensively, for it appears that the names of
numerous SS officers are missing.
Before any hue and cry is raised regarding whether the
men associated with
these missing names are indeed Waffen-SS members, or "only" Allgemeine-SS
or even "honorary" SS, the missing names include those of Himmler's
military (as in Waffen-SS) adjutants, one of whom had been in this
position since 1943, and who were with Himmler right to the day he died. As
one was a major, and the other a colonel, they certainly qualified for the
dienstalterliste found by Mr. Munoz. Another name prominently absent is
that of the commandant of Hitler's Reichskanzlei, an SS general. Certainly,
one would expect that the officers in Hitler's bodyguard would be
Waffen-SS, and not chosen from among the "golden pheasants" of the
As to the proposition that this list only contains
"fighting officers" of
the Waffen-SS, this would be untrue; it includes numerous HSSPF, staff of
the RSHA, and the ever-elusive Hans Kammler. In other places, Mr. Munoz has
missed the opportunity to give us a fuller picture of the objects of this
work; for instance, he takes the time, and a full line, to tell us that
Sturmbannfuhrer Eduard Strauch may have been Ic of 5th SS Mountain Corps.
But he does not take the opportunity to inform us that Strauch had also
been the commander of a subunit of Einsatzgruppe A. For those who would
complain that this information is not germane to a volume dealing with
1945, I would reply that Mr. Munoz himself inserts material dealing with
other periods of the war.
Though Mr. Munoz states that he "decided to cull all
using microfilm notes, copies of documents gathered through decades of
research, my very voluminous collection of foreign and English-language
books," I was able to come up with more than a handful of missing names in
the hour I spent glancing through a small number of common and readily
available books on the SS, including Reitlinger's, Ailsby's, and MacLean's
excellent works. Mr. Munoz declined to include a bibliography, and the only
published works I could find listed in his annotations were Lumans' work on
the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle, Silgailis' book on the Latvian Legion, and
Payer's Armati Hungarorum.
As Mr. Munoz does not even present us with a single
facsimile page of his
find, I have no way of knowing (short of digging through the NARA holdings
myself) what other material may be missing. To my knowledge, at least some
other dienstalterliste include the serial numbers, party numbers, and
awards of the officers listed, none of which are included here, save the
very occasional notation of a single award. This information may indeed not
be in the original list, but since none of the original material is
represented, and the editor is mute on the subject, it is impossible to say.
A book review is not the place to decide the "merits" of
versus Waffen-SS membership, or whether any real or perceived difference
even matters. Nor is it the reviewer's place to present evidence that the
Waffen-SS were not "soldiers, just like the others." MacLean's books have
finally laid to rest Hausser's protestations of innocence on the part of
the Waffen-SS once and for all. It is however the reviewer's duty to
upbraid an author for presenting incomplete or unfinished work as though it
were the "find" of the decade. There are also numerous problems with the
page layout, such as odd page breaks in the volume, as on page 9, where the
title for 4th SS Panzerkorps appears all by itself at the bottom of the page,
making things difficult for the reader. The annotations contain numerous
typos and other physical errors such as incomplete sentences. I am still
baffled by the occasional in-text notation "THIS SPACE LEFT BLANK," which I
haven't seen since the early days of computer manuals.
After his in-depth presentation in Forgotten
Legions, I expected far more
than this volume delivered. I would recommend this book as a starting
point, raw material if you will, for anyone who is interested in compiling
a history of many SS officers, and the units they belonged to, starting
backwards from near the end of the war. It is by no means exhaustive in
examining SS officers and their positions at this point in the war. Mr.
Munoz would have provided a far greater service to the scholarship of the
period had he simply presented facsimile pages of the dienstalterliste, as
Schiffer recently has with their presentation of the January 1942
dienstalterliste, and spent the obviously great amount of time and energy
he put into recompiling this list into a greater and more balanced breadth
of annotation of the careers of these men and their organization at this
point of the war.
Available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or
directly from Axis Europa Books.
Thanks to Axis Europa for providing this review copy.