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Synopsis

In April 1945 the American 71st Infantry Division exacted the final vestiges of life from the Reich's 6th SS Mountain Division in central Germany. On Easter weekend, the bypassed German division fought to the very end as they were first surrounded and then destroyed as a fighting force. Rusiecki argues that the battle demonstrates that the Wehrmacht’s last gasp on the Western Front was anything but a whimper as some historians charge. Instead, many of Germany’s final combat formations fought to the very end against a chaotic tableau of misery, destruction, and suffering to exact every last bit of pain upon their soon-to-be conquerors.

In recounting this final, desperate act of Germany’s once great Wehrmacht, In the Final Defense of the Reich follows the histories of both the German 6th SS Mountain Division and the American 71st Infantry Division from their inceptions until their ultimate and fateful confrontation in Germany in the wake of Patton’s advancing Third Army.

The history of this undiscovered and overlooked battle is not simply an archival chronicle of the action, but a testament to the human experience in war – both from the perspective of the soldiers involved and the civilians who must suffer the brunt of the fighting. The battle not only details one of Nazi Germany’s final military campaigns but also serves as a timeless and cautionary tale of the horrors of war and the price mankind pays for such demonstrations of national power.

This book is published in cooperation with the Association of the U.S. Army.

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