Steel Storm. Waffen-SS Panzer Battles on the Eastern Front 1943-1945. Book by Tim Ripley

Steel Storm. Waffen-SS Panzer Battles on the Eastern Front 1943-1945. Book by Tim Ripley


During the closing years of World War II, the panzer

divisions of the Waffen-SS fought a magnificent series

of battles on the Eastern Front. Few in number - only

seven divisions in total - they had an influence on the

war on the Eastern Front out of all proportion to their

size. Their excellent training, equipment,

commanders, and esprit de corps meant that they were

used as "fire brigades" plugging gaps and retrieving

seemingly hopeless causes. SS: Steel Storm is an

account of the battles of the Waffen-SS panzer

divisions in the East from the recapture of Kharkov in

early 1943, when I SS Panzer Corps prevented the

total collapse of Army Group South, to the last

desperate attempts to hold the Red Army before Berlin

in 1945. During this period the Waffen-SS panzer

divisions fought a string of battles that are arguably

the finest defensive actions of modern warfare. They

certainly bear comparison with Napoleon's campaign

of 1814 or the First Battle of the Marne in 1914.

SS: Steel Storm looks at the story from different

angles: the use of offensive tactics during defensive

battles; the development of German tank and armored

fighting vehicle technology; and Waffen-SS unit

flexibility that was able to exploit changing tactical

situations to the full. SS: Steel Storm also explodes a

number of myths that have sprung up since the end of

World War II, such as the claim that the Waffen-SS

panzer divisions were equipped with large quantities of

Germany's best tanks. In fact, as the narrative makes

clear, individual SS divisions often fought Red Army

units with only a handful of Panzer Ill and Panzer IV

tanks, rather than scores of the more potent Panther

and King Tiger models.

As SS: Steel Storm also shows, it was the leadership

of SS commanders such as Fritz Witt, "Panzer" Meyer,

Paul Hausser, Willi Bittrich, and Joachim Piper that

often gave understrength and ill -equipped Waffen-SS

units victory in the field over their Soviet adversaries.

With the aid of full-color maps that compliment the

exciting narrative, plus 170 photographs of Waffen-SS

soldiers and tanks in the field, SS: Steel Storm

presents a unique account of a little-known, but

crucially important, aspect of Germany's war on the

Eastern Front.


This book is dedicated to the heroes of the Red Army's XVIII and XXIX Tank

Corps, who first engaged II SS Panzer Corps at Prokhorovka in the titanic

tank battle on 12 July 1943. For the next two years, brave Soviet tank crews

of these two fine units would be in the vanguard of driving Hitler's Waffen-

SS panzer élite back into the heart of the Third Reich, so freeing Europe of

Nazi tyranny for good.

The author would like to thank the following people for their help during

the researching and writing of this study. Neil Tweedie of The Daily Telegraph,

for his unique insights into Nazi mentality; the Imperial War Museum

records staff in London for their help with research into German World War

I documents; the British Army Staff College, Camberley, for allowing me

access to rare German World War II records in their possession; Stewart

Frazer for proof-reading my text; Pete Darman, of Brown Partworks, for at

last giving me the opportunity to fulfil my long-held ambition to write about

the Eastern Front; and finally, Mr McAlpine, my history teacher, for begin-

ning my interest in World War Il history.

Tim Ripley