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Dr. Stephen Fritz receives inaugural Collins Book Prize for ‘Ostkrieg’

Stephen Fritz

JOHNSON CITY (Nov. 21, 2013) – Dr. Stephen Fritz has been named the recipient of a new military history book award for his latest book, “Ostkrieg: Hitler’s War of Extermination in the East.”

Fritz accepted the inaugural Brig. Gen. James L. Collins Jr. Book Prize in Military History on Saturday, Nov. 16, during the annual meeting of the U.S. Commission on Military History (USCMH) in Washington, D.C.  This award, accompanied by a $1,000 prize, is given by the USCMH for the best book written in English on military history published during 2009, 2010 or 2011.

The award’s namesake was a decorated veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as the longtime chief of military history for the U.S. Army.  Collins was also a founding member of the U.S. Commission on Military History and has been called a “pillar” of the international military history community.

The Collins Book Prize Selection Committee consists of three noted military historians: Dr. Edward J. Marolda, a lecturer at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., and former senior historian at the Naval Historical Center; Dr. Jeffrey Clarke, who retired in 2010 as director of the U.S. Army Center of Military History; and Kelly DeVries, professor of History at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore.

These scholars concluded that “Ostkrieg,” which was published in 2011 by the University Press of Kentucky in Lexington, was a “major, comprehensive work on the German-Soviet campaign of World War II that takes a new interpretive approach to the conflict.  In contrast to past historical efforts, this one does not focus solely on Germany’s military operations or its extermination policies against Jews and the Russian populations.  The author combines both aspects of the war.

“The work is a broad, multi-faceted interpretation of Germany’s war effort against the USSR,” the selection committee continued.  “Fritz convincingly debunks a widely held perception that the German armed forces waged a ‘clean’ war separate from Hitler’s campaign to exterminate the Jews and Communists of Eastern Europe and enslave the non-Jewish populations to serve Germany’s economic and political dreams. … Another innovative interpretation by Fritz is that from the start, Germany never had the resources or was prepared to wage a successful war against the Soviet Union.”

“I’m very honored, of course, to receive this award, but also a bit humbled,” Fritz said.  “General Collins was not only a military hero – in his long career, he not only landed on Normandy as part of the D-Day invasion, but won the Distinguished Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart – but was also a significant figure in writing and promoting military history in this country, and this is the award named for him.

“At the same time,” he continued, “it covers a three-year period, so my book was deemed the outstanding book in military history in English over that entire time.  I find this very humbling, but at the same time hope that people who read ‘Ostkrieg’ will find it worthy of the honor.”

The membership of the USCMH includes academic, public and service historians, as well as museum professionals and others.  Affiliated with the International Commission of Military History, the organization provides a link between the U.S. historical community and historians from other nations around the world.