When they were first formed the panzer armies were at the cutting of the blitzkrieg, controlling huge numbers of tanks and mobile infantry. This book follows the four panzer armies that fought on the Eastern Front, from their initial dramatic victories, through the years of defeat to the final defence of Germany.
Kirchubel has produced a 'unit history' on the largest scale. His work shares the strengths and weaknesses common to that genre. On the downside we only follow the events of a particular battle or campaign for as long as our unit is involved (although this is less pronounced here that is often the case, partly because the panzer armies tended to be involved in the entire duration of a battle). We don't often find out what is happening to neighbouring units. However Kirchubel does give more space to the Soviet side of the story than is sometimes the case in this sort of book.
On the positive side we get a coherent account of the activities of these four panzer armies, following our units when they leave the centre of events. We are taken into areas that are rarely covered, particularly the war against the Yugoslav partisans. The four panzer armies took part in most of the major battles on the Eastern Front, and so we get to see how the nature of the fighting changes as the Germans lost the initiative, and then the war.
We also get a good sense of the relationship between the army commanders, their superiors in the high command, and above them all Hitler.
This is a very useful piece of work and a valuable contribution to the literature on the Eastern Front.
Group von Kleist as Precursor
First Panzer Army
Second Panzer Army
Third Panzer Army
Fourth Panzer Army
Appendix I: Panzer Army Commanders
Appendix II: Panzer Army Orders of Battle
Author: Robert Kirchubel
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military