World War II was a dark period in world history. Countless soldiers gave their lives, and hatred developed between countries and cultures. However, some military units developed respect for their counterparts in different countries, and that respect led to joint reunion events consisting of veterans who once fought against each other during wartime. The Ohio State University at Newark Associate Professor Emeritus of History A. Harding Ganz recently wrote a book about a German armored division, its contribution to tank warfare doctrine, and the division’s relationship post-war with American veterans.
“I was a young kid during World War II growing up in New York City,” said Ganz. “There were blackouts on the east coast, and I really developed an interest in the war. When I got older, I enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as a tank platoon leader stationed in Germany with the 4th Armored Division. My interest grew from there.”
Ganz’s book is called Ghost Division: The 11th “Gespenster” Panzer Division and the German Armored Force in World War II. The 11th Panzer Division was acknowledged as one of the best formations in the armed forces of Nazi Germany. It was nicknamed the “Ghost Division” because of its speed and ability to turn up where it was least expected. Formed in 1940, the division adopted as its symbol a sword-wielding specter atop a charging half-track. That image was stenciled on all of its vehicles.
“The exploits and tactical expertise of the 11th contributed to the evolving doctrines of armored warfare,” said Ganz. “The ‘combined arms team’ concept, of tanks, mechanized infantry and mobile artillery, all working together, with close air support, became standard practice for modern mechanized forces.”
The German 11th Panzer Division had a strong impact in the east and west in World War II. The division played a pivotal role in some big engagements.
“The 11th gained the respect of its American opponents, which resulted in joint German-American reunions for the next half century,” said Ganz. “I attended many of those reunions to gather research for this book.”
Ganz received his bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University and his master’s degree from Columbia University. He got his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. Ganz started teaching history at Ohio State Newark in 1971. He has published studies on a range of military subjects, including armored warfare in World War II.
Ganz’s book was published by Stackpole Books. It can be found on the publisher’s website or through amazon.com.