Desperate Measures – The Last-Ditch Weapons of the Nazi Volkssturm
Desperate Measures – The Last-Ditch Weapons of the Nazi Volkssturm is the first in-depth study of the series of events that took place during the chaotic final months of Hitler’s ‘Thousand Year Reich’.
With the war all but lost, the 6,000,000 old men and boys of the Volkssturm were initially equipped with shotguns, drillings, hunting rifles, military training rifles and handguns taken from the German populace. These were augmented with foreign rifles and carbines captured during the early wartime successes, and many collectors and historians will be surprised to learn that the rifle issued in the most significant numbers – the ‘true Volksgewehr’ was the Italian Carcano, of which a number were converted to fire the German 7.92 x 57mm rifle cartridge.
Also, seven types of Volksgewehre were designed for manufacture by German industry in the final months of the war. All of these are covered in detail, and the book includes many previously unpublished photographs of original Volkssturm weapons, including prototypes and rare presentation examples.
Other Volkssturm weapons included the ‘Panzerfaust’, a single-shot, rocket-propelled shaped-charge device capable of defeating any Allied tank, and numerous ‘clones’ of the British Sten; hastily manufactured by a considerable number of German factories (a memorandum speaks of “30 subcontractors and 14 assembly points”). Programs were also begun to develop special Volkspistolen, primarily fabricated from stamped sheet metal.
The author notes that even if the Volkssturm had been fully trained, well equipped and armed with the best weapons in the world, they could have done no more than delay the inevitable, which in many cases, documented here, they actually did.
Author: W. Darrin Weaver
Physical: Hardcover, size 290x210mm, portrait