I enjoyed reading Raymond Bagdonas’ book “The Devil’s General: The Life of Hyazinth Strachwitz – The Panzer Graf”. If you are looking for a scholarly tome on the life of Hyazinth Strachwitz you will be disappointed. Against the backdrop of events in Germany and Europe from the early days of his education through the thirty-year period World War One, the interwar years, World War Two, and ending with his life after the war the author tells the story of Hyazinth Strachwitz and the units he served in and lead. I really liked the description of the post-First World War life of the aristocracy and their adaptability to the interwar and changes under Hitler.
While the conclusions drawn in some areas, like why he joined the SS, were general and without scholarly documentation, the author used sound logic based on available information in making these assumptions. The author takes the reader from Hyazinth Strachwitz’s early family history, education World War I, the interwar years to the invasion of Poland, to France and then Romania and Yugoslavia are just prelude to World War II on the Eastern Front.
Beginning with Operation Babarossa and continuing through the battles of Dubno, Uman, Nikolayev, Kiev, Kalach we see the leadership of Hyazinth Strachwitz in action with the Panzers. The journey continues down the road to Stalingrad, his promotion to Colonel and regimental commander in the Grossdeutschland Division. We see him in more battles at Kharkov, the plot to kill Adolph Hitler, Operations Citadel and Strachwitz and the battles of Kursk, Tukum and Germany. He surrendered to the US forces in May 1945.
We learned that Hyazinth Strachwitz was held as a prisoner June 1947. We learn his wife was run over and killed by an American truck. We see him move to Syria to work with the Syrian military, then go to Italy, and finally return to Germany in 1951 where he lived until dying of lung cancer in 1968.
While the book isn’t a scholarly treatment of Hyazinth Strachwitz, it is an important work that documents his actions and gives great insights into the use of the panzers on the eastern front.
“The Devil’s General: The Life of Hyazinth Strachwitz -The Panzer Graf” by Raymond Bagdonas. The publisher is Casemate Publishing.