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MacLean, French L. Quiet Flows the Rhine: German General Officer Causalties in World War II. Winnipeg: J. J. Fedorowicz, 1996.
Dedication; credits; Preface; photos; maps; charts; glossary; sources and references; index.
Appendices: Alphabetical casualty list; Chronological casualty list.
This unusual little volume analyzes the loss of "approximately 150 division, corps, and army commanders who were killed in action or died of wounds received in action." In doing so, MacLean first describes the German Army organization and command structure and then discusses German doctrine with an emphasis on how German generals were expected to lead from the front.
The actual examination of deaths is done from multiple perspectives. One chapter discusses "Battlefield Mobility" and enumerates casualties in aircraft accidents, halftracks, tanks, and automobile accidents. Another chapter, "Battlefield Lethality", organizes losses according to air attack, minefields, partisan activity, artillery fire, etc. A separate section covers suicides of German generals. Another section provides data on deaths during various types of operations: attacks, breakthroughs, retreats, encirclements, and so on. The bulk of the book consists of a series of chapters reviewing every Wehrmacht campaign on a year-by-year basis and describing each death within its operational context. All of these sections are supported by photos, charts of losses, and maps that mark the location where each general died. One of the closing chapters discusses official obituaries (of which quite a few are reproduced), field burials of fallen generals, and state funerals. MacLean's epilogue even surveys the current status of the final resting places of many of the generals, from the well-tended gravesite of Rommel to the bulldozed cemeteries of many of his contemporaries.
In conclusion, the author raises some interesting points, from the unwillingness of most German generals to shed the highly recognizable symbols of rank and position on their uniforms and vehicles (which made them targets of choice for snipers and strafing aircraft alike), the apparent reluctance of most of the generals to wear steel helmets, and the aforementioned propensity for leading their troops from the front lines.
In searching for representative paragraphs to quote from Quiet Flows the Rhine, nothing struck me as quite so fitting as one of the wartime passages that MacLean uses for a chapter heading:
--Generalleutnant Alexander von Hartman at Stalingrad
Thanks to J. J. Fedorowicz for providing this review copy.
Reviewed 18 December 1996
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