Author(s): Remy Spezzano & Douglas E. Nash
Language(s): English text
Format: Hardcover, large format,12" x 12"
Pages: 328 pages
Photos: 256 Black & White wartime photos taken by Ernst Baumann,
Alois Jarolim, and Ernst Kurbjuhn
Maps: 4 tactical maps
Publisher: RZM Publishing
UNTERNEHMEN ILSE (Operation Ilse) is a visual account of one of the most photographed but least known battles on the Eastern Front. Conducted by the 56th Panzer Corps on 27 April 1944 in the area west and southwest of the Polish city of Kovel, which had been encircled by two Soviet armies for nearly a month before a combined Army and Waffen-SS relief force fought its way through and liberated the garrison. However, after its relief, Kovel was connected to the outside world by only a narrow strip of land continually threatened by the surrounding forces of the Red Army.
The purpose of Operation Ilse was to complete the relief of Kovel, destroy all Red Army forces west of the Turiya River and free up the north-south rail line connecting Army Group Center with Army Group North Ukraine. In addition to SS-Gruppenführer Gille’s battered Wiking Division, a number of other German Army units took part as well, including three infantry divisions (the 131st, 342nd, and 253rd), the 1st Ski-Jäger Brigade, Battle Group Lippert, and an elite assault battalion, Sturm-Bataillon AOK 2. Adding to the considerable combat power assembled for this operation were several Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber squadrons from the Luftwaffe. Expected to last several days, the operation was carried out with such force and determination, aided in no small part by the 5. SS-Panzer Division "Wiking", that Operation Ilse was able to achieve its objectives by midnight that same day ahead of schedule including the destruction of five Soviet rifle divisions encircling Kovel.
Through a fortuitous convergence of events, this offensive was recorded from start to finish by three photographers – two SS-Kriegsberichters (SS-KB, war correspondents) Ernst Kurbjuhn and Alois Jarolim acting in an official capacity and one acclaimed lensman Ernst Baumann.
"Unternehmen Ilse is another super publication by RZM Publishing. I am an avid World War Two photo enthusiast, and there has only been one book not to miss this year - Unternehmen Ilse. As with the other superb RZM offerings, images are finally put in their proper order, sites identified, and veterans honored."
- Aaron Starr
"Wonderful book. Beautiful and clear descriptions with even more beautiful photos. They are impressive large photos. Sometimes you just see the fears and uncertainty of the soldiers. I like this kind of book. It is an expensive book, but it is more than worth it. It retains its value, unlike many other books. Unique photos, penetrating and valuable."
- Drez Worth
"As someone who loves to get absorbed in rare snapshots of well documented military history this book was simply fascinating. I love that we have here entire rolls of film not just selected shots. Absolutely recommended! "