This is the first in-depth study of the amazing series of events which took place during the last chaotic months of Adolf Hitler's "Thousand Year Reich".
The war was already lost for Germany before the idea of a "People's Army" gained any sanction. The six million old men and boys of the Volkssturm were initially equipped with shotguns, drillings, hunting rifles, military training rifles and handguns scrounged from the German populace. These few arms were bolstered by foreign rifles and carbines captured during Germany's early wartime advances, and many collectors and historians may be surprised to learn that the rifle issued in the greatest numbers-the "true Volksgewehr"-was the Italian Carcano, some numbers of which were converted to fire the powerful German 7.92x57mm rifle cartridge!
In addition, seven types of Volksgewehre were specifically designed for manufacture by German industry during the last months of the war. All are covered in detail, and the book includes many previously unpublished photographs of original Volkssturm weapons, including prototypes and rare presentation examples.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 anti-tank Panzerfaust ("tank fist"), a single-shot, rocket-propelled shaped-charge device capable of defeating any Allied tank then in existence, and numerous "clones" of the British Sten machine carbine, which were hastily manufactured by a considerable number of German firms (a memorandum speaks of "30 subcontractors and 14 assembly points"). Programs were also begun to develop special Volkspistolen, made largely from stamped sheet metal.
In summing up, the author notes that even if the Volkssturm had been fully trained, well equipped and armed with the best weapons in the world-which they decidedly were not-they could have done no more than delay the inevitable, which in many cases, documented here, they actually did.