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Synopsis

Dutch SS accounts are very rare, particularly ones such as this, covering recruitment, training, and front-line service first with 5th SS Panzer Division 'Wiking', then later with SS Regiment Besslein. He not only informs and illustrates the general politics of the time, but also explains how Dutch views of the Third Reich changed so radically, discusses the founding of the Waffen-SS, the recruitment of Dutch volunteers into it and why so many non-German Europeans volunteered to fight and risk their lives for Germany. His discussion of the intensity of the SS's training is also noteworthy. Of course, the core of the book lies in Hendrik's recollections of his service on the Eastern Front between 1941 and 1945, initially with the 5th SS Panzer Division 'Wiking'. He offers the reader an impressive and fluid account, whether it be describing the midst of battle, surviving 50 degrees below zero, frosts and frozen ground, or traversing quagmired roads. Of particular historical interest are his later recollections of service during 1944-45 with SS Regiment Besslein on the Eastern Front, focusing on his participation in the epic defense of Breslau - this siege remains little-known in the West, and first-hand accounts such as Hendrik's are even scarcer, making this title a worthy addition to the literature on the Second World War.

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