PeKo Publishing- From Bessarabia to Belgrade
An Illustrated Study of the Soviet Conquest of Southeast Europe, March- October 1944
There seems to be quite an influx of Eastern Front books on the market as of late. It is hard to keep up with the growing pile of books on my bedside table. However, when this book showed up at my doorstep, it quickly rose to the top. PeKo books have always been amongst some of my favorites and two at the same time was Christmas a few weeks early. Look for a review of the other one soon from one of the many valued members of the review crew. In the meantime, you've got me.
Author: Kamen Nevenkin
Hardcover 8.5x12" , 152 pages with over 150 black and white photographs
What's Inside the Book
There are four chapters in the book that break down as:
- Into Rumania
- The Southeast
- The Belgrade Operation
From the publisher's website-
The Red Army reached northeastern Rumania in the last days of March 1944. Stalin had high hopes that the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts would be able to quickly conquer the Balkans. But those hopes were not to be fulfilled. Bulgarian researcher Kamen Nevenkin’s From Bessarabia to Belgrade covers the military history of the bloody fights in southeastern Europe from March to October 1944. This is a short study, illustrated with numerous never-before-published wartime photographs.
There is a wealth of textual history in the book- with ample amounts of interesting accounts from leaders and soldiers who waged the battles depicted in the book. I found the section on Bulgaria of particular interest in that it was an Axis state that managed to maintain relations with the USSR as well. In the end however, this duality caused chaos to ensue when Bulgaria found itself at war with nearly the entire world. This included the entire Anti-Nazi coalition of the USA, Great Britain and the USSR as well as the Axis camp of Germany, Japan, Hungary, et al. This excerpt from the book makes the point....
"Then almost immediately we hear that the Bulgars have entered the war on our side. There is a tendency to refer to them as Slav Brothers. But this goes against the grain with a good many people, for the atrocities committed by the Bulgars are still fresh in their minds. The Bulgars, for their part, do not seem to care very much which side they are on. Having hitherto fought for the Germans with efficiency and brutality, they now fight against them in exactly the same fashion, still wearing their German-type helmets and uniforms."
There are some great battle accounts in the book-- quite a bit based in armored operations with Panthers, Pz. IVs, Hummels, and StuGs matched up against IS-2s, T-34s, and Lend-Lease tanks such as Shermans and Valentines. There are also plenty of mentions of aircraft attacks on both sides, with Stukas and Shturmoviks raining hell from above. Photos in the book of these sorts of attacks make it very reminiscent of the Panzerwrecks books- plenty of them shows the after-effects of run-ins with these tank busting aircraft.
Carro Armato M15/42
The Southeast and Belgrade Operation chapters also were relevant to me, having visited Bosnia in Herzegovina years ago for a couple of weeks. This is definitely a theater of the war that doesn't have a whole lot written about it. The power struggles as each of these smaller countries in the Balkans shifted allegiances and encountered civil strife in their own rights make for interesting reading as well.
PeKo has released a couple of great books as we enter a new year and new opportunities for building something out of the ordinary. There are loads of excellent photos of some armor favorites and some unknowns inside and this volume should easily please anyone interested in the Eastern theater. While some of the details in some photos are a bit washed out, that can be blamed on age of the photos more than any issues with the publishing. Another great book in a growing collection of current books focused on the Eastern Front- you can't go wrong!
Highly Recommended for those interested in Soviet actions on the Eastern Front.
Thanks goes out to PeKo Publishing and Casemate Publishing for this review sample.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves
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