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Hitler's Paratrooper - The Life and Battles of Rudolf Witzig, Gilberto Villahermosa


Hitler's Paratrooper - The Life and Battles of Rudolf Witzig, Gilberto Villahermosa

Hitler's Paratrooper - The Life and Battles of Rudolf Witzig, Gilberto Villahermosa

Rudolf Witzig began the Second World War as a junior officer in the German airborne forces, a fallschirmjäger or paratrooper engineer, and thus a member of Germany's elite airborne forces. He rose to fame in 1940 after planning the audacious airborne assault on Fort Eben Emael, then believed to be the strongest fort in Belgium's border fortifications, and a key element in the Allied plans at the outbreak of war.

Witzig actually missed the most important part of the attack because the aircraft towing his glider was forced to take evasive action, snapping the tow rope.

Witzig was lucky to survive the fighting on Crete. He was wounded during the initial attack and the only one of the ten men in his glider to survive, after being evacuated on one of the first German flights to leave the island. After the disaster on Crete the Germans never used their paratroopers again on large scale airborne operations, and so Witzig spent the rest of the war fighting as a normal (if rather better than average) infantryman.

A lucky encounter with Witzig's son means that the author had access to Rudolf's impressive archives, which included his own diary from the war, large part of his division's war diary, and published works with Witzig's own annotations. He was also able to conduct a number of interviews with Witzig's widow and his son. As one would expect the resulting book is very well sourced, and we get a good feel for the man.

What makes this book so valuable is the impressive range of Witzig's experiences. He moved from the dramatic airborne assaults of 1940 and 1941 to the campaign in Tunisia, the Eastern Front and the final fighting in Holland, rising in rank as he went. There is also an interesting postscript on his post-war career in the new German army, and the problems his past caused him in that new career.

Chapters
1 - A Child of War
2 - Fallschirmjäger
3 - Eben Emael
4 - Crete
5 - The Spearhead Shattered
6 - North Africa: First Battles
7 - North Africa: To the Last Man
8 - From Partisans to the Red Army
9 - Holland: 'No Longer War'
10 - Holland: Last Battles
11 - The New German Army and Retirement

Author: Gilberto Villahermosa
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 266
Publisher: Frontline
Year: 2010



Hitler's Paratrooper: The Life and Battles of Rudolf Witzig

"A valuable study . . . a must-read for everybody interested in the topic of German Fallschirmjäger in the Second World War" (Volker Griesser, author of The Lions of Carentan).

Rudolf Witzig entered the history books as the heroic captor of Belgium's supposedly impregnable fortress Eben Emael in May 1940—the first time that glider-borne troops were used in the war. To many people, he is also known as the commander of the battle group that fired the first shots of the Tunisian campaign.

Remarkably, next to nothing has been written about him as an individual. This biography, completed with the full support of Witzig's widow and son, is a comprehensive history of the man and also provides important new detail on the German parachute arm that he served.

In the course of his service, Witzig was awarded the coveted Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, even though he had not yet earned the Iron Crosses 2nd and 1st class. To resolve the problem, he was awarded all three on the spot.

Witzig was involved in Operation Mercury, the invasion of Crete, but was injured during the fighting. After his recovery, he was sent to Tunisia where he was credited with several successful defensive actions. He ended the war in captivity, surrendering to the Allies on May 8, 1945, the day after his name was placed on the Honour Roll of the Luftwaffe.

"A gripping biography, providing a tough, gritty and compelling study of a German soldier." —Firetrench

"A unique, well-written and impeccably researched account of the Third Reich's evolving fortunes as witnessed on numerous battlefronts by a highly decorated Fallschirmjäger officer." —Mark J. Reardon, author of Defending Fortress Europe


HITLER'S PARATROOPER: THE LIFE AND BATTLES OF RUDOLF WITZIG

Book Type: C
By Gilberto Villahermosa.
Rudolf Witzig entered the history books as the heroic captor of Belgium&rsquos supposedly impregnable fortress Eben Emael in May 1940 &ndash the first time that glider-borne troops were used in the war. To many people, he is also known as the commander of the battle group that fired the first shots of the Tunisian campaign. Remarkably, next to nothing has been written about him as an individual. This biography, completed with the full support of Witzig&rsquos widow and son, is a comprehensive history of the man and also provides important new detail on the German parachute arm that he served. In the course of his service, he was awarded the coveted Knight&rsquos Cross of the Iron Cross. He could not be awarded the decoration because he had not yet earned the Iron&rsquos Crosses 2nd and 1st class &ndash to resolve the problem he was awarded all three on the spot. Witzig was involved in Operation Mercury, the invasion of Crete, but was injured during the fighting. After his recovery, he was sent to Tunisia where he was credited with several successful defensive actions. He ended the war in captivity, surrendering to the Allies on 8 May 1945, the day after his name was placed on the Honor Roll of the Luftwaffe. 70 illustrations.