Rommel Prepares for the Allies
by Peter Margaritis
Oxford & Philadelphia: Casemate, 2019. Pp. xxxiv, 610+.
Illus., maps, table, appends., notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: 1612007694
Drawing upon an enormous mass of original documents and published material, Margaritis, author of Landing in Hell: The Pyrrhic Victory of the First Marine Division on Peleliu and several other works, has written what might best be described as a diary of the military developments in northwestern Europe from December of 1943 through D-Day, from the German side of the Channel.
The daily entries – some just a few lines, others running several pages – mostly focus on the activities of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, sent by Hitler in 1943 to inspect progress on the “Atlantic Wall”. We follow Rommel and a small staff as they tour the defenses, from Denmark to the Pyrenees. Finding little in good order, Rommel spent most of his time proposing or ordering significant increases in the construction effort, meeting – at times clashing – with various other senior officers. , Hitler shortly appointed him to command Army Group B, covering the coast of Europe from the Bay of Biscay to the North Sea, and we can see the intensification of defensive preparations along the Atlantic Wall during his tenure.
Margaritis gives us a lot of detail on the workings of the various staffs, the convoluted chain-of-command, problems with the supply of concrete and other materials and the construction of the defenses, and debates over plans. He also gives us little profiles of numerous officers, and a look at the rather posh lifestyle of senior commanders.
Countdown to D-Day: The German Perspective is a good read for anyone interested in D-Day, but an index would have greatly improved the book’s value.
Note: Countdown to D-Day: The German Perspective is also available in audio- and e-editions.
StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium