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Munoz, Antonio J. Slovenian Axis Forces in World War II, 1941-1945. Bayside, NY: Axis Europa Books, 1998
The latest publication from Tony Munoz brings Axis Europa another step closer to matching the look and feel of an Osprey "Men-at-Arms" booklet with a glossy, attractive cover featuring the artwork of Vincent Wai.
Munoz -- who researches obscure Axis combat formations with boundless energy and enthusiasm -- this time around delivers the story of the armed forces of Slovenia. Orphaned by the disappearance of Austria-Hungary and treated as poor step-children under Serbian domination in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Slovenians were during the Second World War further divided, displaced, and disenfranchised. In April 1941, following the defeat of Yugoslavia, Slovenia was split by German, Italian, and lesser Hungarian annexation and occupation. In the northern districts, the Third Reich endeavored to systematically Germanicize its new territory with customary brutality. Italian rule was initially less heavy-handed. In both areas, first in the Italian Provincia di Lubiana, increasing levels of partisan activity brought about the gradual creation of local defense forces.
Slovenian Axis Forces divides itself into several main blocks.
The text section (totaling 25 pages) contains a general Introduction by Hans Werner Neulen who outlines Slovenian history from 1918 through 1945. "Indigenous Axis Forces in Yugoslavia" briefly surveys the local militias, police organizations, and auxiliary formations raised for local defense under Italian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, and German auspices after the defeat of Yugoslavia. "Slovenian Axis Forces in Italian Service, 1941-1943" describes in more detail the Slovene Legion, the Village Guards (aka the White Guards), local Chetniks, the "Anti-Communist Volunteer Militia", the National Legion, the Blue Guard, the Legion of Death, the Slovene National Army, and the Slovene Chetnik Army-- all armed and organized (and reorganized and reorganized) for use against the communist-led partisans. "Slovenian Axis Forces in German Service, 1943-1945" continues the tour of local forces as they came under German control following the surrender of Italy, necessitating additional rounds of reorganization; explanatory tables cover designations, redesignations, and locations of individual companies and battalions. By the end of the war six more-or-less "regular" battalions (apparently organized into three regiments) were in action against Tito's forces. Munoz also details service of ethnic Germans in their own Wehrmannschaft formations, a local Gestapo "combat" formation of Slovenian volunteers, and the SS-sponsored Slovenian National Security Force.
The photographic section (totaling 42 pages) presents an array of unusual and "never been printed before in the English language" photos of members of the various Slovenian forces. Some portray the more notable figures of the period, but most seem to have been selected to illustrate various Slovenian weapons, uniforms (Yugoslavian, Italian, German, Dutch), headgear, accouterments, and insignias (such as the Death's Head emblem of the Legion of Death, the triangular cockade, the oval cockade, and the nifty badge for Slovenian communications troops in German service). The captions are very informative, expanding and enhancing the textual section of the booklet.
The next section includes black and white illustrations of the various shields, badges, cockades, emblems, buckles, and so on with further explication.
Finally, two pages describe the uniforms and accessories pictured in Vincent Wai's color illustrations on the front and back covers of the booklet.
Unlike, for example, David Glantz's unabashedly amateurish production values in his desktop-published volumes of Russian Front materials mined from ex-Soviet archives, Axis Europa seems to aspire to a more professional level of presentation and production for the fruits of its research efforts. Given those aspirations -- and judging accordingly -- past reviews have criticized Axis Europa for sloppy editing, uninspired graphics and page layout, generally lackluster production values, and failure to include footnotes and a bibliography of sources for such obscure information. Happily, great strides have been made in all those areas. Slovenian Axis Forces includes a list of sources in the Acknowledgments as well as a few footnotes (although for such a specialized, little-known subject more would be better). The cover is an attractive "Men-at-Arms" look-alike and, while the paragraphs tend to run together, the page layout has improved. Munoz (like most other military researchers) is in no danger of winning a Pulitzer and his text could still benefit from tighter editing, but those interested in the information he has unearthed will not complain about the author's stylistic limitations.
Slovenian Axis Forces should be greeted with enthusiasm and gratitude by fans of esoteric military formations.
Available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from Axis Europa Books.
Thanks to Axis Europa for providing this review copy.
Reviewed 23 July 1998
Copyright © 1998 by Bill Stone
May not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Stone & Stone
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