- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Tattered Flag Press (15 March 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0955597757
- ISBN-13: 978-0955597756
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.7 x 23.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
Hitler's Rocket Soldiers: The Men Who Fired the V2s Against England Hardcover – Import, 15 Mar 2011
All in all I found this a marvellous book to read, and one which gives a fascinating insight to these soldiers. The two authors have done an excellent job in not only finding those prepared to talk about their experiences after all these years, but also to put it together in such a readable book. For anyone with an interest in the V weapons of WW2 I heartily recommend this one. --www.militarymodelling.com, October 2011
There has always been a degree of ambivalence surrounding the German rocket programme. Was it an exciting technological development, the legacy of which has benefited mankind, or was it a last ditch effort to save a desperate regime whose scarce resources would have been better employed producing more conventional weapons? --Britian at War Magazine, December 2011
About the Author
Michael Keuer was born in 1959 in Hannover, Germany and is a senior software developer in a veterinarian pharmaceutical supply company. He has always had a keen interest in historical technical developments and the personalities behind scientific advancement. Following the reunification of Germany, he was able to visit the previously restricted area of Peenemunde to see the remains of the development works from where the V-2 rocket was created and launched. During World War Two his grandfather worked as a technical skilled worker at Peenemunde and indeed Michael's father was born just 32 kilometres away from the cradle of modern space science. As his interest grew, he met Murray Barber and the two decided to research the reminiscences of the last few remaining men involved in the military development and employment of this extraordinary weapon of war. Murray R. Barber F.R.A.S., was born in 1956 and is married with two children. He lives in Devon, England where he pursues several business interests that are related to astronomy. He has developed and written curriculum support information for the teaching of astronomy and also on the history of ancient Egypt that is in use in planetariums worldwide. Since his schooldays he has always been interested in the history of World War Two and in particular its aviation. The V-2 rocket represents a crossover of his two main interests - the wartime V-2 being the very first man-made object to enter space and which was to lead, ultimately, to vehicles travelling beyond Pluto. Through the International V-2 Research Group he met Michael Keuer and, following visits to see the remains of the Peenemunde research and development establishment on the Baltic coast, they decided to research, together, the history of the V-2 rocket. It was to fill the void of first-hand accounts of the operational use of the weapon, that the idea for this book was born. Murray R. Barber is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.
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Through advertisements that Mssrs. Barber and Keuer placed in German newspapers, 11 former Wehrmacht rocket troops eventually contacted the authors and agreed to be interviewed--a process that took place over a period of seven years. These veterans' stories make up the bulk of "Hitler's Rocket Soldiers," 206 pages out of a total of 284. These are far more than traditional "oral histories," though. Each chapter features the story of one of the 11 soldiers, but goes far beyond simply relating their personal reminiscences by presenting their experiences in broader historical and technical contexts. These tales of life "in the trenches" are fascinating indeed.
But there's much more to "Hitler's Rocket Soldiers" than a bunch of bierstube banter. The first section of about 40 pages covers the V-2's genesis, development and testing at Peenemunde, a detailed description of the rocket, and the formation of the organizational infrastructure put into place to deploy the weapon. The "end matter" includes 11 appendices containing such things as V-2 technical specifications, a map of the August 1943 Allied bomber attack on Peenemünde, drawings of V-2 storage and firing positions, and much more. Plus there are several maps of V-2 operations in Europe and 97 black-and-white photos, many of which I've never before seen in print, in two inserts totaling 32 pages. The amount and quality of information in "Hitler's Rocket Soldiers" is remarkable. To my knowledge, this story has never before been told, and certainly not to the depth and breadth that authors Barber and Keuer do in this volume.
I offer only one caveat. The print in "Hitler's Rocket Soldiers" is small--very small. It looks to me like about a six-point font. I've posted a few photos to show this. The small text in no way detracts from the importance, value and appeal of the book, and you can fix the "problem" by positioning a strong light source over your shoulder. That minor nit aside, "Hitler's Rocket Soldiers" is one of the most fascinating, best-produced and interesting books I've read in many years. I enthusiastically give it my highest recommendation.
A better book on the history and development of the V-1 and V-2 is Dieter Holsken's "V-Missiles of the Third Reich."
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