The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich

Yves Buffetaut

The Das Reich Division was the most infamous units of the Waffen-SS. Hitler's Schutzstaffel (SS) units were originally paramilitary formations raised to protect the Nazi party, and the Waffen-SS (the armed SS) was founded in 1934 as the SS-Verfügungstruppe. In 1939 the SS-Verfügungstruppe was placed under the operational command of the OKH. During
Date Published :
April 2018
Publisher :
Series :
Casemate Illustrated
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781612005256
Pages : 128
Dimensions : 10 X 7 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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The 2nd SS Division, “Das Reich,” was a battlefront mainstay for Nazi Germany throughout WWII—from the invasion of Poland in 1939 to the final surrender in May 1945. In between it was switched back-and-forth between east and west depending on the crisis, and it fought in nearly every major campaign, from Barbarossa to Normandy, and from Kharkov to the Ardennes.

Das Reich was the first Waffen SS division created (though the title “1st” was reserved for Hitler’s Leibstandarte). Originally named the Verfügungs Division, its regiments fought through the campaigns in Poland, the Low Countries, and France, earning the respect of Wehrmacht leaders who originally doubted the efficacy of SS units. Renamed “Das Reich” after the French surrender, its elements served as a spearhead in the Balkans campaign, achieving a daring capture of Belgrade.

In Operation Barbarossa, Das Reich fought with Guderian’s Second Panzer Group, first in the drive on Moscow, then toward Kiev, then Moscow again. Pulled out of the line after gigantic casualties, it seized Toulon in France, then was sent back to Russia, as part of the SS Panzer Corps, to retrieve the German debacle after Stalingrad. At the titanic tank-battle of Kursk, Das Reich was at the forefront.

In June 1944, as a full SS-Panzer Division, Das Reich played an infamous role in its approach march to Normandy, as the French Resistance temporarily reached a high tide. On the Allied invasion front, Das Reich not only escaped from the Falaise Pocket but was sent back into it, to retrieve other German units struggling to get out.

Das Reich fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and was then transferred to Hungary, for Hitler’s last counteroffensive of the war. Failing to retake Budapest, elements of the division were able to mount a gallant defense of Prague. When the end came, some formations were forced to surrender to the Russians while others made it to American lines. Its reputation, for better or worse, had already been established.

This lavishly illustrated book by renowned French historian Yves Buffetaut lays out the full history of Das Reich in World War II, with rare photos, informative text, and true insights into a unique combat division in modern warfare.

About The Author

Yves Buffetaut is an internationally respected French military historian and editor of Histoire & Collections major magazine, Militaria. He lives in France.


The Creation of the Division and its Baptism by Fire
The Campaigns in France and the Balkans
Operation Barbarossa and its Aftermath
The 1943 Russian Campaign: Kharkov, Kursk, Back to Kiev
Normandy and the Ardennes, Endgame in Hungary


“I found this book fascinating and made me aware of a lot of information I have never read before… I recommend this book to everyone with a deep interest the war and the formation and use of German divisions.”


“Visually striking insights for military history buffs and inspirations for toy soldier and model figure hobbyists abound in the brand new “Casemate Illustrated” series of World War II-themed books… Filled with purportedly rare photos and designed with attractive graphics, these interesting books will arm any reader with illustrative and informative insights.”

- Toy Soldier & Model Figure

“The text of each chapter tells the historical story of sequential events while the heart of the book is held by the large number of archive photos which do indeed illustrate the story.  Interspersed with all this are separate factual notes giving profiles of various commanders, maps and some fine colour profiles of various tanks and trucks which modellers in particular will enjoy.”


“Quite an excellent publication squeezing a lot into its 128 pages. Recommended.”

- Scale Military Modeller International

“If you're interested in German Armoured Operations, and in particular the 2nd SS Panzer Regiment then this will be a good read.”

- Britmodeller, March 2018

“I happen to really like what Histoire & Collections and other publishers across the Channel have been doing and welcome the opportunity to see their books in English, especially when they cover French subjects.”

- War History Online

"This series does exactly what it says on the cover - lavishly illustrated, sfuffed with photos and biographies what else could you ask for? Certainly my first recourse from now on when looking at the SS panzer divisions. give yourself a treat and buy a copy asap if tanks are your thing.”

- Army Rumour Service

“And here is another fascinating piece of military history from the opposite point of view...this doesn't purport to be an illustrated history of the Reich, but it damn well is!”

- Books Monthly

“Casemate's Illustrated Series is a welcome addition to the available literature targeted at the general World War II enthusiast… Though the text is clearly targeted at the reader who is not an advanced specialist in the topics presented; the quality, diversity, and curation that went into the selection of the photographs would be of interest to even the professional historian… To find a book where time and effort went into selecting the illustrations with an eye toward bringing the chosen campaign, weapons, or units to life is something else entirely and well worth your time. Bsed upon what I have seen so far I have no problem recommending the new Casemate Illustrated Series.”

- Globe at War

“In one book  the reader will get the full history of this famous German division. Moreover, those photos contain rare material and might come handy for a modeling hobby as well.”

- DetailScaleView .com

“These twin books by the same author are high-quality…with excellent photographs and an endowment of full-colour pictures of typical equipment.”

- Miniature Wargames

"Originally published in French, each volume is profusely illustrated with vintage black-and-white photos and a few in color. Almost none of the images are commonly found in U.S. publications. The format is identical in each book: two-to-four page spreads with photos and drawings of the motorized weapons used in each situation. Individual pages are devoted to a photo and a short biography of the military leaders involved in the various campaigns. The layout can be a little irksome, as sentences are often interrupted by the images. Extra information is included in green or gray boxes with white print. The text font is small and the detailed captions are even smaller. Unfortunately, the small font and glossy paper on which it is printed does not allow for comfortable reading. 101st Airborne is the more fluid of the two, as the content is likely to be more familiar to readers; Panzer does feature a photo of three nude men examining a destroyed Russian tank. VERDICT Great titles for ardent military history readers."

- School Library Journal

"Readers with a keen interest in military history will appreciate the eight volumes in Casemate’s new World War II series. Translations of books by French military historian Buffetaut, who edits the French magazine Militaria, this series provides photographs and illustrations on every page, with background and details on the scope of specific conflicts. The 101st Airborne Division was instrumental in the Allied invasion on D-Day and included Easy Company, made famous by Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers. Coverage includes one-page bios of key commanders, illustrated looks at transport and guns, and rarely seen photos of soldiers suited up for parachute jumps. Coverage of the 2nd SS Panzer Division, known as “Das Reich,” is equally rich, with images that may be new to many readers, intricate tank illustrations, and a history of Das Reich and its memorable campaigns. VERDICT Small type, particularly on photo captions, demands concentration but should not discourage libraries from purchasing for their military history collections."

- Library Journal

"This lavishly illustrated book by renowned French historian Yves Buffetaut lays out the full history of Das Reich in World War II, with rare photos, informative text, and true insights into a unique combat division in modern warfare."

- Tank and AFV

“Casemate has done a splendid job of repackaging this French series for American audiences. New gamers will appreciate the timelines and maps, along with nicely done color side views of equipment. History buffs and grognards will enjoy the orders of battle and tables of organization. Both will find common ground with the highly readable text. I started out in the 70s with old Marshall Cavendish History of the Second World War specials that featured the wonderful John Bachelor illustrations. This series goes beyond them with their easy to follow presentations. I highly recommend them for any reader at any level who is interested in the Second World War”

- War Diary

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