Review of Last Ride of the Valkyries The Rise and Fall of the Wehrmachthelferinnekorps During WWII

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Whenever I travel, I have a book in hand.  For me it is usually fiction, but sometimes I add in history, and you will love the book if interested in WWII history.  The book Last Ride of the Valkyries, The Rise and Fall of the Wehrmachthelferinnekorps During WWII is a treasure trove of women’s history..

This book is devoted to the uniforms, insignia, and history of the female auxiliaries that served in the German armed forces during WWII.  Last Ride of the Valkyries is written by Jimmy Pool and published by Schiffer Publishing.

I had no idea that the German army employed over 400,000 females during WWII.  Did you? The book is eye opening on women in WWII wartime.

Pool writes that women served in the Heer or Army, Kriegsmarine or Navy and the Luftwaffe or Air Force.  The Luftwaffe is the only word I was familiar with prior to picking up this book.

Last of the Valkyries
Cover of the book Last of the Valkyries.

In Chapter One, Pool shares the basis for women helping out during wartime had already been established.  The basis began with the Defense act of May 21 of 1935.  “In addition to military service every male and female German will be obligated to perform mandatory service for the Fatherland in time of war.”

Because many women were married and had families  work was restricted to their local areas.  While they were needed, Pool adds, “Generally women were considered ill-suited for office and other clerical jobs…”

Some of the jobs included seamstresses, tailors cooks etc.  As the war raged on greater opportunities for women to work in more professional positions opened up.  Soon both men and women were treated alike in most respects except for pay.  Men were paid more. Pool said that is still true today. By the end of the War, women were employed in almost all non-combat positions.

The book includes a ton of great photos.  Pictures include uniforms, insignia’s and history of the various jobs of the women.  Last Ride of the Valkyries covers women and  and their positions in both army and civilian positions.  The book is very detailed. While not a bedtime read, for those looking into the history of women in the war, it is a must.

This is not Jim Pool’s first book.  According to his bio on Schiffer Publishing, “Jim has had a lifelong interest in military history and started collecting German militarily in the 1970s. He is the coauthor of Rations of the German Wehrmacht in World War II and author of Rations of the German Wehrmacht in World War II, Volume 2.”