Heist“Hitler’s great panzer heist” attempts to provide an insight in Nazi Germany’s use of foreign armored vehicles which were acquired either through occupation of countries which were their original owners or captured in combat. Fate of armored vehicles of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, France and the vast loot of British equipment abandoned during evacuation at Dunkirk is described in first couple of chapters. Next, the author moves on to Africa, Eastern Front and use of Western Allied equipment, mainly during the Ardennes offensive.

Somewhat surprisingly, intermingled with narrative of Germany’s direct use of its opponents’ equipment are chapters dedicated to armor of its allies and satellites – Italy, Romania, Finland, Hungary and Vichy France. Whether or not this equipment should be counted as ‘Hitler’s heist’ is questionable, but they provide filler material and several of those amusing anecdotes that students of military history are so delighted over.

Last couple of chapters provides an overall perspective on industrial aspects of war and the impact of Nazi Germany’s ability to acquire vast amounts of foreign war materials and perhaps even more importantly foreign manufacturing complexes, on its ability to conduct war.

Personally I am far from being impressed by this book. Author diverts consistently from the supposed topic of the book into side-stories and generic retelling of Germany’s fortunes during the war which in all probability are already memorized by most readers of this rather specialized book. In fact, I would go as far as saying that perhaps half of this book’s 153 pages (remainder being appendixes, comments and references) is something of a filler only mariginally having anything to do with supposed subject matter.

Perhaps even worse, the writing style of the author leaves in my opinion a lot to be wished for. Narrative of individual chapters and quite often even in single paragraph can switch not only between different nations and theatres of war, but also chronological order of events, causing temporary confusion and providing an overall choppy reading experience.

Finally, I can’t help but question the value of this book as historical work of reference. An analysis of reference section discloses that material used for this book consists of same old ‘usual suspects’ used in English books about World War II 'since times immemorial'. Memoirs of Guderian, Speer, Mellenthin, von Mainstein and couple of other German officers, written in fifties and sixties and which since then have managed to be translated into English seem to provide backbone of author's German perspective. They’re supported by a selection of English reference works written on the subject between sixties and nineties. Thus, the reader should not expect to find in this book much new material or insights. He may however count on finding couple of old tired myths which orginated from above-mentioned 'primary' sources and apparently were still not debunked in Great Britain in 2007. Ghasp...

Overall, I feel mostly disappointed and a little bit cheated by this book, content of which falls far short from expectations raised by its impressive title. The topic is quite fascinating and deserves a much better effort than what’s provided in this volume.

But what about wargamer’s perspective, is this book of any use in our hobby? I’d say mariginally. On one hand it will certainly provide a lot of ideas for ‘odd’ bits and pieces of material for Axis side. T34 vs. T34, anyone? But if you want detailed information for scenario design, you’ll have to look for other sources because of the ‘general overview’ character of this book.

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