Military historian David R. Dorondo examines the history of the German cavalry, a combat arm that survived World War I and rode to war again in 1939. He places the cavalry’s World War II actions within the larger context of the mounted arm’s development from the Franco-Prussian War to the Third Reich’s surrender. The author contends that politicized command decisions, technical insufficency, industrial bottlenecks, and wartime attrition forced Army leaders to rely on combat horsemen throughout World War II. He describes these horsemen as best represented by the 1st Cavalry Brigade/Division that saw combat in Poland, Holland, France, Russia, and Hungary, but whose service was dishonored by the 8th Waffen-SS Cavalry Division, a unit that killed more civilians than enemy soldiers. Drawing extensively on primary sources, Dorondo shows clearly how the cavalry’s tradition carried on in a world undergoing rapid military industrialization, a story not widely known until now.
David R. Dorondo is a military history professor at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC.
Praise for Riders of the Apocalpyse
"Dorondo has written a good book, and the chapters on World War II, in particular are well worth reading."
— German Studies Review
“I found this book to be very well researched, the author having a good command of the primary source material, much of it in German, and many with on-line references as well.”
— Starshell Magazine
“…a good addendum to my military library.”
— Army Magazine & Armchair General
"Dorondo’s obvious passion for horses and his thorough research make this a book that will be of considerable interest to specialists of the German army or of mounted combat."
— H-War, H-Net Reviews , November, 2012
“Dorondo’s book has several strengths. First, he shows a knowledge of horses that is both deep and nuanced. The research is meticulous, based on documents from the National Archives, as well as a wide array of secondary sources. The writing is engaging, and the work is enhanced by some excellent photos, many from the author’s personal collection. Although the cavalry only played a minor part in the German Army in the World Wars, its story was one that needed telling. Dorondo has succeeded most admirably in that endeavor.”
— Journal of Military History, October 2012
“The steadfast military horse, with its antecedents extending back into the mists of time, is the unsung hero of this compelling account of German cavalry engaged in close combat during three increasingly mechanized wars. David Dorondo’s lively narrative is enhanced by his masterful grasp of European military history and his personal passion for raising and nurturing horses. A fascinating story!”
—COL. JOSEPH H. ALEXANDER, USMC (RET.), author of Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa
“Dorondo is a historian who knows his horses and a horseman who knows his history. This book is a wide-ranging and often enthralling narrative of the distinguished but ultimately horrific role played by the German cavalry in combat from the age of Bismarck to the downfall of Hitler.”
—ANTHONY J. NICHOLLS, professor of modern German history (retired) at the University of Oxford; Emeritus Fellow, St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and author of Weimar and the Rise of Hitler
“This fascinating and long overdue book provides startling new information on German cavalry from 1870 till 1939. Dorondo combines brilliant, primary research techniques with a riveting writing style to present brand-new insights on an important subject. His coverage of these units during World War II is astounding!”
—COL. WALTER J. BOYNE, USAF (RET.), National Aviation Hall of Fame member and author of more than fifty books, including Messerschmitt Me 262: Arrow to the Future
“Minutely researched, this excellent work probes the development of the German cavalry from the mid-nineteenth century to its wide deployment in the field right up to 1945—a little-known fact. It contains astounding detail. A thoroughly absorbing work, it'll prove of great interest not only to the academic but to the lay reader being brought to life by its horseman author, whose knowledge of his subject lifts this from what might have been a dry tome to an utterly fascinating, richly composed one.”
—JEREMY JAMES, author of The Byerley Turk