Book Review
Walther Model
Walther Model
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


German Generalfeldmarschall (Field Marshal) Otto Moritz Walther Model was born in January 1891. During World War One, he gained considerable combat, infantry and staff experience serving as an officer, was wounded on more than one occasion, and was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class. Likely due to Modelís exposure to the high casualty rate of World War One, he developed an indifference to casualties, which others characterized as being hard-hearted. However, throughout his military career, Model was a popular commander with his troops, and always maintained a connection with them by visiting them in their front line fighting positions as often as possible.

After World War One, Model served in the 100,000 man German Army (Reichswehr) from 1919 to 1935, where he was promoted several times and given his own units to command. After the rise of National Socialism, he rose in the ranks, and was on the staff of the 4th Corps during the invasion of Poland, and then the 16th Army during the campaign in France. By the time Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, he was commander of the 3rd Panzer Division. He fought his way across the Ukraine and Russian steppes with Guderian all the way to Moscow. During this time, he became a favorite of Hitler, who used him in Russia, and later after the Allied invasion in France and the low countries (Operation Market Garden). While doubting its chances of success, he obediently led the attack in the Ardennes known as "Watch on the Rhine" or the Battle of the Bulge.

Modelís slash & burn practices while in the Soviet Union led him to be labeled as a war criminal. At the close of the war, the Russians indicted him for war crimes, specifically for concentration camps set up in Latvia and the use of slave labor. This perhaps figured into his decision to shoot himself in April 1945 after the collapse of Army Group B.

Osprey Publications Ltd has released Walther Model by Robert Forczyk (illustrated by Adam Hook) as Number 15 in their ďCommandĒ series.

the book

The book comes in paperback with 64 pages. Included with the text are color and black & white photographs, color illustrations, color maps and detailed captions.


- Introduction
- The early years 1891 - 1913
- The military life 1914 - 41
- The hour of destiny 1942 - 45
- Opposing commanders
- Inside the mind
- A life in words
- Further reading
- Index

The text of the book is well-written and extremely detailed. Forczyk covers the military career of Walther Model very well, and itís obvious the author has conducted detailed research starting with Modelís service in World War I, his time spent serving in the Reichswehr between the wars, and his actions during World War II up until the time of his suicide. Also included is a military symbols key. Anyone interested in Walther Model and his career will find this book very informative and interesting.

THE PHOTOGRAPHS: There are a total of 47 black & white and 2 color photographs throughout the book. Most of the photos are nice and clear, however, there are some that have an out-of-focus look to them; others appear to be too dark. This seems typical with photos of this period. I do know that several are actually stills taken from films, so that could be one reason. With that said, the quality of the photographs is no fault of the author. Of the two color photographs, there is one of Walther Model himself. Given the limited amount of color photographs of the period, I was impressed by the book having any at all.

THE COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS: There are 3 color illustrations by Adam Hook, and theyíre well-done, nicely detailed and show:
- The Rzhev meatgrinder: Kampfgruppe Stieber repulses Soviet wave attacks during Operation Mars, 25 November 1942
- Model keeps the river Oka bridge open for his rearguard at Orel, 4 August 1943
- Model confers with the commanders of II SS-Panzerkorps in response to the British airborne landing at Arnhem, 1500hrs, 17 September 1944

THE COLOR MAPS: There are 5 color maps throughout the book and they cover:
- Modelís campaigns in the east, 1941 Ė 44
- Model stabilizes the AOK 9 front at Rzhev, January Ė February 1942
- Defence of the Rzhev salient, 25 November to 15 December 1942
- Modelís defence of the Orel salient, 18 August to 26 September 1944
- Modelís Operations in the West, 18 August to 26 September 1944

THE CAPTIONS: The captions are well-written, and are very detailed, explaining the accompanying photographs nicely. I didnít notice any spelling or grammar errors in them, which was true of the entire book.


All in all, I am very impressed with the book. It details the military career of Walther Model well, and I would have no hesitation adding other Osprey titles to my personal library, nor in recommending this book to others.

This review copy was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here on Armorama when you make your purchase.
Highs: Well researched, written, and detailed text. Good captions and nice photographs and artwork.
Lows: Some of the photographs have a blurry look to them. Some of the photographs appear to be too dark.
Verdict: This is a very nice reference book that is well researched and written. It contains many interesting photographs and well-detailed captions. It will make a nice addition to anyoneís personal library, and is a benefit to the military enthusiast.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-84908-357-7
  Suggested Retail: $18.95 US/£11.99 UK/$22.0
  PUBLISHED: Jul 05, 2011

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
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About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.


Hello Randy, First I have to say that I am little bit sick and tire of being told by foreign authors/publishers how great some German Generals/Marshals were. Sometimes it seems to me that the Propaganda of the Third Reich (and the Soviet Union) is not erased completely. I do not want to read another heroic legend about GFM XY. In particular about Model due to the sound knowledge about him. He was an anti-semite, anti-democratic and a true coward because he prefered to commit suicid instead of to share the fate of his men by following them as POW. What has your review got to do with it? I cannot say it. That is the point. Because the review does not provide if and how the author puts Model into a context with the Third Reich. That would tell much about a historical book's level of quality. I do not expect any kind of bashing. I would like to know something about the author's attitude and his position because that shows how he's dealing with the whole object. Therefore the review is actually not helpful to me. An example: Once I was thinking about to purchase a book named "Kampfkraft" ("Fighting Power") which compares the Wehrmacht and the U.S. Army. Oh no, another Hurra-Wehrmacht stuff. But then I was checking the author and his bio, the reason why he had wrote the book and everything was fine.
JUL 14, 2011 - 09:14 AM
I haven't built a Walter Model yet. This "Model"ing guide might come in handy. Sorry, Bill. I couldn't resist. I tend to agree with Marco about the fawning over German and Soviet military personalities. I have no respect for someone who takes the coward's path and offs himself.
JUL 14, 2011 - 09:25 AM
Let me first state that the suggestion by Marco, that it would be more helpful to know what subjects the author discusses, and how he approaches his subject is indeed a good one. It might also serve to make a review more attractive to readers. Then some points concerning the attitude towards Model. The simple fact that Model's decision to 'off himself' is seen as the coward's way out shows what little understanding there is/was about the attitude of the Prussian officer corps and how they thought how they should conduct themselves, what they deemed honourable and how their attitudes were towards others - within the army, people of different social classes - and how to respond to events around him, including the commission of war-crimes and genocide. Indeed, as far as the issue of being anti-democratic and him being anti-semitic (better would be racist, since his racist attitudes were not limited to Jews alone(!)), in those respects Model was no different than the vast majority of the officers in the Wehrmacht, and in many respects not even the worst. In many ways it might be Model's 'problem' that he was probably more open about about his attitudes than most senior officers, and could not engage in apologetic polemics after the war was over since he committed suicide. Also, his personality was a rather difficult one, and did cause a lot of friction (and probably also resentment) amongst other Werhmacht officers (and could thus have made an attractive scapegoat). As far as senior commanders organising and commanding defensive operations, Model was probably one of the best, if not the best commander the Germans had, and arguably the best of all the generals of all combattants in WW II in that respect. As such he deserves to be recognised and studied. Of course any decent modern study should, if applicable (which would be the case in a biography) pay sufficient attention to his attitude towards the Nazi-regime. In general, racism was wide-spread throughout most western militaries, indeed (western) society as whole - one only has to gloss at the attitude towards blacks within the American military or the attitude towards colonial soldiers serving in the various militaries as a well known example. Anti-democratic attitudes were also much wider spread throughout the world, also in the West! Also, Marco, I find it highly ironic that while highly critical of Model - and the 'veneration of German generals' in general - and to a considerable extent rightfully so, you have an image of von Manstein as your avatar. Von Manstein was little better, if any at all, than Model as far as his complicity in war-crimes, involvement in the Holocaust and crimes against humanity goes - indeed, most senior Wehrmacht (or German commanders in general - were. About the only difference is that von Manstein did not commit suicide.
JUL 14, 2011 - 10:20 AM
Harm, I wrote about what I demand from a book's review in general. Walter Model's story and bio is also interesting to me thus I feel like to read something more. But when I do this I always know what kind of guy he was. "I find it highly ironic that while highly critical of Model - and the 'veneration of German generals' in general - and to a considerable extent rightfully so, you have an image of von Manstein as your avatar. Von Manstein was little better, if any at all, than Model as far as his complicity in war-crimes, involvement in the Holocaust and crimes against humanity goes - indeed, most senior Wehrmacht (or German commanders in general - were. About the only difference is that von Manstein did not commit suicide." That is right. I am very familiar with von Manstein. I have read and seen enough stuff about him. And he should be viewed very critically - in particular how dealed with the Reichenau order. But using him as an avatar does not mean sympathy or acceptance for his character, attitude or activities.
JUL 14, 2011 - 11:08 AM
I'm fully aware of the Prussian officer's perception of commiting suicide. That still doesn't instill a heroic or noble quality to the action. That an officer would rather commit suicide to spare himself and evading the inevitable fate which soldiers who were under his command will face is the coward's way. By killing himself, he allowed those lower in the chain to be scapegoats in post-war trials. Take responsibility for your actions; and, face the consequences for those actions. I have more respect for Kaltenbrunner, Jodl and Keitel for not taking the easy way out and facing the consequences. Referring to racist attitudes of the Americans and British is irrelevant and has a tinge of moral equivocation; the discussion is about Model, not societal issues and policies of Allied militaries and their respective countries. If, by bringing up these points, you are proposing that the Allies, on the whole, were no better than Model and the regime he supported, is disingenuous. .
JUL 14, 2011 - 11:51 AM
Gents, this is a very good discussion with some very valid points. Let's just be careful here about getting personal.... That having been said, modelers of German subjects walk a tightrope. On the one hand, we admire the tenacious fighting and great combat skill of the German fighting man. But many of them (not just the SS) were quick to commit all kinds of atrocities and other war crimes often without provocation. Look at the damage done to Florence in Italy by the retreating Wehrmacht, including dynamiting the bridges? It was senseless destruction with no justification whatsoever. While the Wehrmacht was not the only perpetrator of atrocities, the sheer number of them stands out. Regarding the German general staff, I think it's fair to say they were for the most part cowards. Many of them chose suicide rather than surrender, and the majority blindly followed Hitler even when his "strategy" was shown to be insane, destructive and costing Germany the war. By the time of Stalingrad's fall, it was clear that Germany could not hope to win, yet the July 20th Plot was a weak, pathetic attempt to correct the situation. Even though Hitler was not killed, any number of senior officers could have acted; most did nothing. There were, IMO, very few really outstanding German commanders. Rommel, Kesselring and Guderian come to mind, but Model and Manstein, along with the various Waffen-SS commanders strike me as nothing exceptional. Blindly following orders isn't a tactical mode, it's just stupidity.
JUL 14, 2011 - 11:55 AM
Thank you everyone for your replies. As I always try to state, I do appreciate any and all feedback as it always helps me to write better reviews. I can't always please everyone with them. All I try to do is discuss the subject of the book and the basic details of it. Thank you again, Randy
JUL 23, 2011 - 05:58 AM

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