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Horses of the German Army in World War II
By Paul Louis Johnson

Price: $60 plus post

Postage: USA $10, Overseas cost will vary by country and may not be insured.

Size: 8.5 x11" (large format), 240 pages
Illustrations: over 500 b/w and color photographs
Availability: Now Available
Binding: Hard cover with dust jacket

Little has been written on the well-bred horses that made up 80 percent of the transportation of the German army in World War II. Horses pulled everything their army needed in the field by wagon or on its back; did you know that more horses were used in World War II than in any other war in history? 

The German military used the services of 37,000 farriers-think about that-and 236 companies of veterinarians. Their hospitals treated over 100,000 horses a day, with the remarkable success rate of 70 to 75% of sick and injured horses being sent back into service.

Something to think about: that the horses used in the German military came from the very state stud farms that today supply the world's greatest show jumpers and dressage horses: Oldenburg, Hannoverian, Trakehner, Holsteiner and other state "breeds" were elaborate remount stations before World War II. Each stud had precise training and breeding requirements for military horses ("remounts") and stringent riding requirements for officers who must be horsemen. They also used Irish horses and a lot from Lithuania

Photos also show Haflingers, camels, tiny ponies and the very tough Russian "panje" horses that the Germans found to be their best horses for the winter campaigns.

This book includes text from the U.S. Army Military History Institute publication MS #P-090. The participants of this study were prisoners of war who were among the most knowledgeable horse experts in the German army, and their conclusions constitute a critique of what probably was the last mass use of horses in warfare. These experts explained why the Germans mobilized over a million horses: they knew that a mechanized army could not survive in Russia, but that horses had a chance. Because of the "Cold War" tensions with the USSR after World War II, the US military was very interested in learning whatever they could about waging war in eastern Europe and Russia. The Germans were convinced that horses were crucial.

If one really means to understand the performance and tactics of the Germans fighting on multiple fronts on the ground in World War II, one must understand the horse and its logistic requirements. Also, this book presents one of the most comprehensive photo collections of the equipment of the horse-mounted troops, including horse-drawn soup kitchens, bread ovens and much more, especially of vehicles on runners in the snow.

This book ends in 1945 with the surrender of Germany to the Allies, but in a way, that is where the story begins. The breeding stock left at home in Germany was confiscated by the occupied forces. US General George S. Patton was especially keen to cull some of the best German bloodstock to ship home to US Army remount stations. (We sell another book that tells that story.)

The Germans started practically from scratch and rebuilt their stud farms and within forty years were back in dominance both in Olympic sports and in global horse marketing. The million horses they sent to the fronts did not come home. They rebuilt from what was left.

Horsemen may be shocked by the fine quality of the horses shown in the beginning of this book. Anyone would be shocked by the quality of the few left at the end of this book, especially after two Russian winters.

This book hints at stories we haven't heard yet; there were too few survivors to tell who the men and horses in these photos were.

INCLUDES: many photos of vets, farriers, and grooms, including the women who took over labor on the horse farms as the war wore on. Good color photos of shoes, studs, stud wrenches and spare shoe bags. The section on gas masks is fascinating and includes "gas gaiters" to protect lower legs.

Among the contributors are three leading german military horse veterinarians. A great deal of credit is given to Heinrich Jansen, a farrier on the eastern front.

I highly recommend this book for those who love history or want to understand more about German horse breeds, especially the heavy horses. It is rare to find this information in English.

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