siege is a prolonged military assault and blockade on a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by force or attrition.

  • 'Siege! Six Epic Eastern Front Assaults of World War II' by Patrick McTaggart

Land based military operations in World War II are usually associated with sweeping "Blitzkrieg type" battles that involved opposing forces in constant movement. However, many major battles reverted to the centuries old concept of static siege warfare – two of the most significant, and extensively covered, being the monumental sieges of Stalingrad and Leningrad.

With Siege!, the author, Pat McTaggart, has focused on six of the lesser-known sieges of WW II: The bitter defense of the Brest Litovsk Fortress by the Russians in 1941; the frozen Hell of Fortress Kholm – which held out against numerous Russian attacks; the complex operations to capture the highly fortified Sevastopol peninsula; the betrayal of the gallant Hungarian and German defenders of Budapest; the tragedy of Königsberg and the hard-fought, successful defense of Breslau which held out until after the official German surrender.

Utilizing both the latest military technology of the time and historical techniques of siege warfare, the attackers, in most cases successfully, attempted to overcome the fortifications of the defenders. However, in most instances the price of victory was a high one.

The author has produced a fascinating, well-researched book that is a great read. The text is supplemented by numerous excellent maps and many contemporary photographs.

Imprint: J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing Inc.| Pages: 240 | ISBN: 978-0921991854 | Published: March 2005

  1. 'The Siege of Brest 1941. A Legend of Red Army Resistance on the Eastern Front' by Rostislav Aliev

On 22 June 1941, soon after 3am, the first German shells smashed into the Soviet frontier fortress of Brest – Hitler's Operation Barbarossa had begun. Across a massive front stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea, the Wehrmacht advanced, taking the Red Army by surprise, brushing aside the first stunned resistance, breaking through and taking thousands of prisoners, but the isolated stronghold of Brest held out. The defenders, trapped and without hope of relief, put up a tenacious resistance against an entire German ​division as the Soviet front collapsed behind them. 

The heroic defence of Brest has become one of the legends of the Second World War on the Eastern Front, an example of selfless Soviet heroism in the face of Nazi aggression. Rostislav Aliev, in this gripping narrative, describes the fighting in vivid detail, hour by hour. In the process he strips away the myths and exaggerations that have grown up around this famous story. 

Using eyewitness testimony and fresh research, he reconstructs each stage of the siege – the shock and violence of the initial artillery barrage, the disorder among the defenders as they struggled to organize resistance, their doomed counter-attacks, the continuous, merciless pounding of the fabric of the fortress by German guns and bombs, the grim fate of the Soviet survivors, and the extraordinary aftermath – the suicidal resistance of small groups of Red Army soldiers operating underground in the passages and dungeons of the shattered fortress.

Imprint: Pen & Sword Military | Pages: 224 | ISBN: 978-1473826946 | Published: 1st October 2013

  1. 'Besieged the Epic Battle For Cholm' by Jason D. Mark 

Kampfgruppe Scherer's outstanding feat of arms was one of Germany's most famous military achievements during the Second World War. With only a few thousand men from all branches of the service, including mountain troopers, elderly reservists, police officers, navy drivers, SS partisan hunters and supply troops, Generalmajor Theodor Scherer was ordered to hold Cholm in the face of a superior enemy force. That Scherer and his men prevailed is now an historical fact but analysis of daily radio traffic and combat reports reveals that the pocket's survival was precarious; at times, even senior commanders doubted if it could be saved.

On several occasions the Soviet onslaught looked poised to inflict the death blow but somehow the exhausted men of Cholm grimly clung to a few resistance nests upon which a new line was anchored. General Scherer, a popular leader and inspiration to all his soldiers, despaired many times and was forced to continually plead for more men, more supplies and more aerial support. Urgent demands by other sectors meant Kampfgruppe Scherer was drip-fed just enough supplies and reinforcements to stay alive until, eventually, a relief force forged a permanent link and freed the exhausted survivors. After a catastrophic winter of setbacks and resounding defeats for the Wehrmacht, the General and his men were lauded as heroes and recognised with an arm shield that marked them as Cholmkämpfer, men of exceptional courage who had prevailed despite overwhelming odds.

Imprint: Leaping Horseman Books | Pages: 608 | ISBN: 978-0975107690 | Published: 5th October 2011

  1. 'Sevastopol 1942: Von Manstein's triumph' by Robert A. Forczyk

In late July 1941, Hitler ordered Army Group South to seize the Crimea as part of its operations to secure the Ukraine and the Donets Basin, in order to protect the vital Romanian oil refineries at Ploesti from Soviet air attack. After weeks of heavy fighting, the Germans breached the Soviet defenses and overran most of the Crimea. By November 1941 the only remaining Soviet foothold in the area was the heavily fortified naval base at Sevastopol. 

Operation Sturgeon Haul, the final assault on Sevastopol, was one of the very few joint service German operations of World War II, with two German corps and a Romanian corps supported by a huge artillery siege train, the Luftwaffe's crack VIII Flieger Korps and a flotilla of S-Boats provided by the Kriegsmarine. This volume closely examines the impact of logistics, weather and joint operational planning upon the last major German victory in World War II.

Imprint: Osprey Publishing | Pages: 96 | ISBN: 978-1846032219 1 Published: 5nd January 2008

  1. 'Battle for Budapest: 100 Days in World War II' by Krisztin Ungvry

The battle of Budapest in the bleak winter of 1944-45 was one of the longest and bloodiest city sieges of World War II. From the appearance of the first Soviet tanks on the outskirts of the capital to the capture of Buda Castle, 102 days elapsed. In terms of human trauma, it comes second only to Stalingrad, comparisons to which were even being made by soldiers, both German and Soviet, fighting at the time. This definitive history covers their experiences, and those of the 800,000 non-combatants around whom the battle raged.

Imprint: I. B. Tauris & Company | Pages: 384 | ISBN: 978-1848859739 | Published: 1st June 2011

  1. 'The Battle of Konigsberg: The Struggle for the East Prussian Capital, October 1944 to April 1945' by Mr Brian Taylor 

From October 1944 to April 1945 the Red Army fought a bloody campaign to destroy the German Army in East Prussia, and capture the capital of the province, Konigsberg. This book follows the course of one of historys forgotten battles, the fall of the city of Konigsberg. It covers in detail the desperate battles the Germans fought to hold off the Red Army, from the Soviet Memel and Gumbinnen Offensives of October 1944, which saw Russian soldiers break into the frontier districts of East Prussia, to the final stand of the German defenders of Konigsberg in April 1945.

The German generals, Erhard Raus of the Third Panzer Army and Otto Lasch of Fortress Konigsberg were faced by enemies both external and internal. Their struggle to defend the city after the great Soviet offensive of January 1945 was hampered by the activities of the malevolent Gauleiter Erich Koch, and the obstinate refusal of Hitler to countenance any operation flexibility.

Drawing on primary sources, The Battle of Konigsberg recounts the terrible story of these campaigns both German and Soviet perspectives. Referring to the records of the commanders who fought these battles, it provides a unique in-depth study of the forgotten last stand, of the fall of Fortress Konigsberg.

Imprint: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform | Pages: 266 | ISBN: 978-1477676295 | Published: 24th June 2012

  1. 'Hitler's Final Fortress Breslau 1945' by Richard Hargreaves 

In January 1945, the Red Army unleashed its long-awaited thrust into Germany with terrible fury. One by one the provinces and great cities of the German East were captured by the Soviet troops. Breslau, capital of Silesia, a city of 600,000 people, stood firm and was declared a fortress by Hitler.A bitter struggle raged as the Red Army encircled Breslau, then tried to pummel it into submission while the city's Nazi leadership used brutal methods to keep the scratch German troops fighting and maintain order. Aided by supplies flown in nightly and building improvised weapons from torpedoes mounted on trolleys to an armoured train, the men of Fortress Breslau held out against superior Soviet forces for four months.

The price was fearful. By the time Breslau surrendered on May 6, 1945, four days after Berlin had fallen, the city was a wasteland and 25,000 soldiers and civilians had died.Savage retribution was visited on the survivors by the Russian conquerors. What was left of the city was pillaged, its womenraped and every German inhabitant driven out of the city which became Wroclaw in post-war Soviet-occupied Poland. Hitler's Final Fortress is the first full length account of the notorious siege of Breslau in English, is based on painstaking research of official documents, newspapers, letters, diaries and personal testimonies.

Imprint: Pen & Sword Books | Pages: 268 | ISBN: 978-1848845152 | Published: 1st february 2012

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