By Alex Jones


RARE WARTIME photographs show the desperation and fear in the eyes of the combat-fatigued Nazis who were ultimately defeated by the Allied forces in World War II.

In 1944, it became apparent to many German soldiers that their defeat was all but inevitable.

Overstretched and undersupplied, the Nazi forces in western Europe – many of whom were inexperienced teenage conscripts – faced the onerous task of defending against the overwhelming strength of the allied forces.

EUROPE: A Wehrmacht recruit given a quick lesson in the use of the Panzerfaust. By 1945 there was a dramatic increase in the loss of Allied tanks to the Panzerfaust, and more than half of the tanks knocked out in combat were destroyed by Panzerfaust or Panzerschreck, despite an increasing shortage of experienced fighters. .Mediadrumimages/HansSeidler/PenandSwordBooks

Incredible images from the latter stages of the Second World War show an exhausted German soldier looking tormentedly to the camera, ranks of Nazi POWs being marched through the bomb-ravaged streets by their captors, and a young teenage soldier stretching out a Swastika in the forlorn hope the vastly diminished Luftwaffe would see them and provide aerial cover.

The striking images are included in Hans Seidler’s new book Images of War: Hitler’s Defeat on the Western Front 1944-1945, a compelling account of the Nazis’ ten-month struggle against the overwhelming Allied military might on the Western Front.

“The opening months of 1944 for the German soldier was an ominous prospect,” explained Seidler.

EUROPE: This Nazi motorcycle cab passenger looks harrowed by the things he’s seen and done. Mediadrumimages/HansSeidler/PenandSwordBooks

“Out on the Russian and Italian Fronts they had been fighting desperately to maintain cohesion and hold their meagre positions that often saw thousands perish.

“By May 1944 on the Eastern Front the Wehrmacht were holding a battle line more than 1,400 miles in overall length, which had been severely weakened by the overwhelming strength of the Soviet forces.

“To make matters worse, during the first half of 1944, troop units were no longer being refitted with replacements to compensate for the large losses sustained.

“Supplies of equipment and ammunition were so insufficient in some areas of the front that commanders were compelled to issue their men with rations.

EUROPE: Young grenadiers in their Wehrmacht greatcoats armed with the Panzerfaust anti-tank projectors march
through a German town during the defence of the Reich in 1945. Mediadrumimages/HansSeidler/PenandSwordBooks

“As a consequence, many soldiers had become increasingly aware that they were in the final stages of the war, and this included battle-hardened combatants.

“They had also realised that they were now fighting an enemy that was far superior to them.”

In Hitler’s Defeat on the Western Front 1944-1945, the reader witnesses the intensity of the fighting from the Normandy beaches, through France and the Low Countries and finally into Germany itself.

Despite demoralising defeats the Wehrmacht, Waffen-SS, Hitlerjugend, Volkssturm with many barely trained conscripts, continued to fight tenaciously inflicting significant losses on the advancing Allied forces as well as an audacious but ultimately futile counter attack during the Battle of the Bulge.

EUROPE: Book Cover. Mediadrumimages/HansSeidler/PenandSwordBooks

The graphic images clearly demonstrate the exhaustion on the faces of the Third Reich soldiers as defeat became increasingly inevitable.

For Seidler, the war was lost after the Allied Forces launched the D-Day assaults.

“[Already battling a huge Soviet force in the East], the German soldiers had the added worry of an imminent threat of invasion from the west, which would drain resources from an already depleted Eastern and Southern Front,” he explained.

“In a drastic attempt to pre-empt an invasion Hitler had ordered the defence of North-West Europe.

EUROPE: A gun crew preparing their weapon for a fire mission during defensive measures in the summer of 1944. Although German FlaK and field commanders were fully aware of the fruitless attempts by its forces to establish a cohesive defensive line, the troops followed instructions implicitly in a number of areas to halt the Allied drive. Again and again the FlaK units fought to stave off both ground and aerial attacks. However, the lack of fuel, spare parts, ammunition stocks and weapons, coupled with the lack of trained crews all played a major part in reducing the effectiveness of the FlaK and field divisions in the final year of the war. Mediadrumimages/HansSeidler/PenandSwordBooks

“During the first half of 1944 along the vast sandy beaches of northern France, beach obstacles and heavy fortifications were erected.

“By late May there were an estimated 600,000 beach obstacles laid in Normandy and Calais with thousands of troops moved to coastal areas, or what was known by the Germans as the ‘killing zone’.

“Yet, despite the build-up of forces, the Germans that arrived in these areas were either worn out and under strength from years of continuous battle or undertrained conscripts hastily drafted in.

“These men were now expected to defend northern France from the largest amphibious invasion in history.”


Hans Seidler’s Images of War: Hitler’s Defeat on the Western Front 1944-1945, published by Pen and Sword Books, is released at the end of the month. Pre-order here.