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After the Battle Bound Volume No. 40

ISBN: 9 781870 067805

Code D040

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The 40th bound volume of After the Battle (issues 157-160) again presents a wide range of stories from all corners of the world.

 Yisrael Gutman opens the volume with an in-depth description of Auschwitz – the most infamous of all the Nazi concentration camps. Begun as a detention camp, primarily for Polish political prisoners, it grew to become the principal killing centre set up for the mass murder of the European Jews. Within five years a total of 1.1 million people perished in the camp complex.

 Two major battles from the war in Europe are recounted in full detail, one from the beginning of the conflict and one from the final phase of the fighting. Karel Margry describes the German siege and capture of Warsaw in September 1939 when, one week into the Nazi invasion of Poland, German armoured troops reached the gates of the Polish capital, beginning a siege that would last for three weeks. It was a hopeless battle that could only end in defeat for the Polish garrison.

 Colonel Charles P. Stacey describes the battle of the Reichswald Forest. On February 8, 1945, the First Canadian Army launched three British and two Canadian infantry divisions in a massive offensive designed to conquer the northern half of the German Rhineland. Prime obstacle to the advance was the Reichswald, an impenetrable area of dense woodland through which ran the northern spur of the daunted Siegfried Line. In two weeks of grim and costly fighting, the Allies battled their way through and past the forest, overcoming mud, rain, floods and fierce German resistance, and capturing the fortified towns of Kleve and Goch.

 Turning to the pre-war history of the Third Reich, Karel Margry describes the Reich Harvest Thanksgiving Festival, held each year on the Bückeberg hill near the town of Hameln. One of the largest annual mass events organised by the Nazi regime, comparable only to the Party Rallies at Nuremberg, it was expressly designed to draw the farmers and peasants of Germany closer to the regime.

 Two smaller stories come from Italy. Jeff Plowman tells the story of Campo di Prigionieri di Guerra 57, a POW camp in northern Italy mainly housing captured soldiers from Australia and New Zealand, and Dave Cooper describes his exploration of the crash site of Flight Lieutenant Ian Smith, later Prime Minister of Rhodesia, whose Spitfire came down in Italy in June 1944.

 Turning to the Pacific, David Mitchelhill-Green reveals the history of the Japanese Imperial Army’s top-secret poison gas arsenal on the small island of Okunoshima.

 Closer to home, Matthew Spicer recounts the Kingsclere Massacre, when a group of black US soldiers ran riot in a Berkshire pub in October 1944, killing two military policemen and the wife of a publican. Trevor Popple describes the making of the war movie The Victors, produced in 1962-63 and following the exploits of a group of US soldiers in Sicily, Italy and Western Europe.

 Other features describe the 70th anniversary of US Army newspaper Stars and Stripes; the work of the International Tracing Service at Arolsen in Germany, and the battleground explorations organised by Western Desert Battlefield Tours.

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