Victory Was Beyond Their Grasp

With the 272nd Volks-Grenadier Division from the Huertgen Forest to the Heart of the Reich

Douglas E. Nash Sr.

In response of the changing fortunes of the Wehrmacht in 1944, one of the many expedients 9t fielded was the Volks-Grenadier Division (VGD). Envisioned as a reserve of troops that would spearhead offensives, VGDs incorporated new weapons such as the MP-44 assault rifle, and new organizations that allowed the Wehrmacht to get the most out of its las
Date Published :
September 2021
Publisher :
Illustration :
photos throughout
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781636240541
Pages : 416
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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"…this is a must-read." — NYMAS Review

As the Allies were approaching the German frontier at the beginning of September 1944, the German Armed Forces responded with a variety of initiatives designed to regain the strategic initiative. While the "Wonder Weapons" such as the V-1 flying bomb, the V-2 missile and the Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighter are widely recognized as being the most prominent of these initiatives upon which Germany pinned so much hope, the Volks-Grenadier Divisions (VGDs) are practically unknown. Often confused with the Volkssturm, the Home Guard militia, VGDs have suffered an undeserved reputation as second-rate formations, filled with young boys and old men suited to serve only as cannon fodder. This groundbreaking book, now reappearing as a new edition, shows that VGDs were actually conceived as a new, elite corps loyal to the National Socialist Party composed of men from all branches of Hitler's Wehrmacht and equipped with the finest ground combat weapons available.

Whether fighting from defensive positions or spearheading offensives such as the Battle of the Bulge, VGDs initially gave a good account of themselves in battle. Using previously unpublished unit records, Allied intelligence and interrogation reports and above all interviews with survivors, the author has crafted an in-depth look at a late-war German infantry company, including many photographs from the veterans themselves. In this book we follow along with the men of the 272nd VGD's Fusilier Company from their first battles in the Huertgen Forest to their final defeat in the Harz Mountains. Along the way we learn the enormous potential of VGDs . . . and feel their soldiers' heartbreak at their failure.

Among Douglas Nash’s previous works is Hell’s Gate: The Battle for the Cherkassy Pocket, January-February 1944, a work unsurpassed for insight into the other side of the hill in WWII.

About The Author

Douglas E. Nash Sr. is a West Point Class of 1980 graduate and a retired U.S. Army colonel with 32 years of service with various assignments including Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Cuba, and Uzbekistan. He served in a variety of units, specializing in Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations. He recently retired after serving as the Senior Historian of Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia. His works include Hell’s Gate: The Battle of the Cherkassy Pocket January to February 1944, Kampfgruppe Mühlenkamp, Unternehmen Ilse, and his recent trilogy about the IV SS-Panzer Corps, From the Realm of a Dying Sun.


Guide to Tactical Symbols

1. The Story of a Suitcase
2. The Volks-Grenadier Division
3. Origins and Lineage of Füsilier Company 272
4. Of Mortal Coil—The Men of Füsilier Company 272
5. Arrival in the Hürtgen Forest
6. The Battle for Bergstein
7. Fight for Control of the Kall River Gorge: The Assault on “Castle Hill”
8. Two Divisions Collide at Kesternich
9. The Defense of Kesternich
10. The Interlude of January 1945
11. The Americans Drive on the Dams
12. Withdrawal Beyond the Roer
13. The Retreat to the Rhine
14. The Battle for Hönningen
15. Last Stand on the Wied Defense Line
16. From the Hürtgen Forest to the Heart of the Reich


A. Command and Staff, 272nd Volks-Grenadier Division
B. Volks-Grenadier Division Crew-Served Weapons
C. Standard Organization of a Volks-Grenadier Division and a Füsilier Company
D. Volks-Grenadier Division Numbering
E. Higher Headquarters of the 272nd Volks-Grenadier Division from 2 November 1944 to 12 April 1945
F. Table of German Rank Equivalents
G. Knight’s Cross and German Cross in Gold Holders, 272nd Volks-Grenadier Division
H. Füsilier Company 272 Casualties and Replacements, September 1944–March 1945



"In this new edition of his text, author Douglas E. Nash investigates the contribution of the Volks-Grenadier Divisions (VGDs) of the German army to the Nazi war effort throughout World War II. Beginning with their first battles in the Hürtgen Forest and culminating in their final defeat at the hands of United States forces in the Harz Mountains, the author reveals the true nature of the VGDs as elite ground forces selected from all branches of the Wehrmact to serve the interests of the National Socialist Party. The author is a retired U.S. Army Colonel currently employed by the U.S. Navy’s Marine Corps University in Virginia."

- ProtoView

“Nash illustrates clearly the late 1944 situation of the German Army in the west in ways not always considered… To be sure, the book does assume that the reader is familiar with the 1944 campaign in the west. Even the novice, however, would profit from Nash’s knowledge of the German Army, its men and equipment at that stage of the war. Thus, for both students of the German Army in World War II as well as those interested in the late 1944 campaign, this is a must-read.”

- The NYMAS Review

“Nash has an excellent eye for tactical situations and the ability to describe and analyze them clearly… For students of the German army in World War II, as well as students interested in the late 1944 campaign, Victory Was beyond Their Grasp is a must read.”

- Richard L. Dinardo, Professor of National Security Affairs, US Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Parameters

"This book is the product of a unique set of documents acquired by the author soon after the Cold War ended. Extensive records of the unit, its members, and its actions reveal much about the Volks-Grenadier divisions and their operations. The author's further research filled in additional details, making the book an interesting study of a small German unit in combat."

- WWII History Magazine

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