Tigers in the Mud: The Combat Career of German Panzer Commander Otto Carius Language: English Pages: Format: PDF Size: 54 mb download. Tigers in the Mud - dokument [*.pdf] TIGERS IN THE MUD o 11 6 The IN THE MUD The Combat Career of German Panzer Commander Otto Carius Otto. Download PDF Tigers in the Mud: The Combat Career of German Panzer Commander Otto Carius (Stackpole Military History Series), PDF.
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medical-site.info: Tigers in the Mud: The Combat Career of German Panzer Commander Otto Carius (Stackpole Military History Series) (): Otto. No German tank better represents that thundering power than the infamous Tiger, and Otto Carius was one of the most successful commanders to ever take a. Tigers in the Mud: The Combat Career of German Panzer Commander Otto. Carius (Stackpole Military History Series) by Otto Carius pdf eBook. But I it is.
I quickly turned around and returned to the old position. Those great guys in the foxholes had held their nerves and had already repulsed the attack.
That experience still weighed heavily on my mind for many days afterwards. How easy it is to make such a hasty decision; how badly it could have ended! I should have stayed there of course, even if we weren't quite combat ready. That had become clear to me after a few minutes, but the mistake had already been made when we cranked up. This episode was a damned good lesson for me, and I always reminded myself of it, especially when I had to pass judgment on subordinates.
I was happy that I had the opportunity to wipe the slate clean before our unit's transfer to the area north of Orel. By doing that, I could at least wait for my promotion with a clearer conscience. Before I received my promotion, however, I was destined to get acquainted with a special area of operations.
I became the leader of the engineer platoon in the headquarters company for a short time. A Catastrophe We were in our bunkers far behind the front. One morning, the commander called to me excitedly, "Hey, Carius, take a look-just like in the movies! How is such a thing possible?! It took my breath away: Just like a fairy tale! From the bread bags to the cannons, everything was new. We saw weapons we had only heard rumors about: the MG42, the mm long-barreled Pak, and other amazing things.
Certainly nothing could happen here. We wanted to believe that we would finally be able to completely refit our units as well.
Everything that was rolling toward the front was a guarantee for a peaceful winter in this sector. Naturally our company commander was itching to be able to see all the nice things up close.
So we drove to the front lines to recon the situation. A dignified atmosphere prevailed. We thought we were in a training area. The noncommissioned officers wore their elegant visor caps; the troops were clueless and a bit bored in their positions. There were absolutely no signs of battle. Because of that, they had also packed away the MG42s, so nothing would get into them. The comrades simply couldn't be convinced to demonstrate these previously unknown wonder weapons to us just once.
An uncomfortable feeling crept over us. What would happen if Ivan were to attack there? Before these weapons were combat ready, the Russians would have already overrun the positions. Our fears would soon be justified. A dull rolling from the northeast woke us one morning.
We strained our ears for a few minutes, then nothing could keep us in our bunkers anyrnore. Outside, an icy snow storm practically took our breath away and almost blew us over. That was ideal attack weather for the Russians. Without waiting for the alarm, we woke up the company.
Our suspicions were confirmed. The report soon came that the Russians had broken through. We found the commander of the Luftwaffe division in a state of complete despair at his command post. He didn't know where his units 14 A Catastrophe 15 were.
The Russian tanks had rolled over everything before the Pak guns had fired a shot. Ivan had captured the brand new material, and the division had scattered to the four winds.
Fortunately, the enemy stood fast after his quick initial victory. He feared a trap. Thus, with some effort, our regiment was able to seal off the breakthrough. It was a complete madhouse!
When one infantry unit marched up to a village, men in Luftwaffe uniforms waved to it. Shortly afterwards, they opened fire with devastating effectiveness. The Russians were wearing the captured winter clothing. We thus received the order to shoot at every Luftwaffe uniform, since only Russians could be lurking in them. Unfortunately, a few of our own isolated assault groups also fell victim to this order.
Whenever we heard a MG42 hammer away in the next few days and weeks, we could bet our lives on it that the Russians were firing it. We still hadn't used one in action, and our foot soldiers usually had to be contented with captured Russian weapons.
We all became enraged whenever we thought about the failure of those responsible. They put the best weapons into the hands of completely inexperienced, poorly trained troops and threw them straight to the front. How well we could have used men and materiel-intelligently employed-in the following weeks in the offensive and defensive fighting south of Bjeloj-Koselsk-Sschinitschie! I survived a particularly nasty action as a newly baked lieutenant and engineer platoon leader.
We had the mission to clear the mines ahead of the tanks.
I was amazed that I got away with only a superficial flesh wound on the hand. I then started to appreciate the work that was demanded from our engineers. I was happy when I was transferred back to our old 1st Company. I saw August Dehler again , myoId tank commander. He had become a Feldwebel in the meantime, and, naturally, we rode together in the same platoon.
The operations we jointly participated in brought about the greatest losses to our battalion since the beginning of the campaign. The Russians employed great quantities of AT rifles, which penetrated our tanks with ease. Our losses were very high. Many of our comrades were mortally wounded in their tanks or could only be evacuated with serious wounds. We were completely helpless in night engagements. The Russians let us approach quite close.
The feeling of being practically defe nseless got to us. Fortunately, the first mm long-barreled Mark IVs and the more heavily armored, mm long-barreled Mark Ills started to arrive in small quantities from the home front. That was the silver lining on the horizon , a lining which so often let our hopes be revived in Russia. Mter practically giving up hope and losing all confidence in our own vehicles, we again gathered some courage and made it through the last unsuccessful attack through Ploskaja on Be ljajewa.
In the meantime, it had become January I was supposed to take my home-front leave before the upcoming leave cancellations. On the evening before my departure, August Dehler motioned his tank out of its "box.
Dehler slipped on the smooth, sloped ramp with his felt boots and slid in front of the left track of the vehicle. It grabbed him without his driver noticing it. The tank was immediately brought to a stop when the remainder of the crew yelled, but the track had already rolled up to Dehler's upper thigh. He was killed immediately, without ever having uttered a sound. I had lost one of my best friends. I was then really ready for leave and looked forward to home and my parents' house. But it seemed as if I were not supposed to enjoy my time there.
A telegram soon arrived announcing my transfer to the th Replacement Battalion. Disappointed, I kept on guessing why I could not return to myoid company. I reached Putlos with mixed feelings and with the certain expectation of having to go through another gunnery course. I would much rather have returned to myoid gang at the front. Not until I reported to headquarters did I discover that officers with front-line experience and a few companies from the Eastern Front were supposed to be trained there on a new type of tank, the "Tiger.
We got to view a few of its precursors from development, but we didn 't like them very much. Hauptmann von Liittichau was supposed to lead the training. I knew him from Russia and didn 't think it was very nice of him that he saddled me with the job of running the officers' club.
There was probably no more junior officer to be found. Therefore, I couldn't change anything-nitschewo! That this job would bring me luck was something I didn 't discover until later.
A Catastrophe 17 We went to Paderborn , the home of the th Replacement and Training Battalion , which was later responsible for all units with "Tigers. H e had come from Russia with his company for retraining. Von Luttichau had given me strict orders to accommodate Schober's every wish concerning the allocation of alcoholic drinks. They were both close friends. Schober liked to drink a drop or two now and then.
He showed up at my location almost daily, since I had to control the scarce supplies. We thus came to know and respect one another. I had the feeling that he liked m e, and not only because of his special allotment of French vermouth. We often sat together with the men of his company as well. I was especially happy when he asked me one day, "Carius, how would you like it, if you were to come to my company?
Only two companies were initially being organized. At most, only six men were required from the entire group of officers. And I was one of them! On my recommendation, Schober took Oberleutnant von Schiller for his executive officer. I knew him from the 21st Regiment. I was finally relieved of my post as the club officer soon after my transfer to the new company. Schober had consumed quite a bit. One must also consider that h e h ad also supplied his company with spirits in the process.
When a few bottles were demanded for the reception of some sort of "higher up ," I had to "respectfully" report there wasn't a single drop left. Oh, well-my successor didn't need to accept any stock. The transfer was easy! I could begin to devote myself entirely to the company. When Schober introduced me to them, I couldn't help but recall the comments made by my fellow travelers when I was called up.
I will never forget the eyes made by Hauptfeldwebel Rieger and Oberfeldwebel Delzeit. They later confessed their first impressions of me. It could be summed up in the following statement: "Man, Sepp, what kind of a little fart did the old man dredge up? But everything went well. Even before our departure to France where we were supposed to get our "Tigers," I had become very tight with those guys. It was as if I had always been with them.
Unfortunately, Hauptmann Schober was summoned to take over a battalion. He requested the men to show me the same trust as they did to him.
I dedicated myself with heart and soul to my duty. After a few months of training, we had surpassed the other companies in the battalion with regard to our successes. In the process, we had the least number of mechanical failures. I had not dared to hope for that when Schober handed over the company to Hauptmann Radtke.
Hauptmann Oehme led the 3rd Company. The 1st Company had been collecting experience as an experimental company in the northern sector of the Eastern Front since the autumn of After our activation, we were supposed to follow them into the area around Leningrad. In Brittany Initially, however, we headed west, to Ploermel in Brittany. The company was directed to an abandoned and neglected chateau. The company commander and the executive officer lived by themselves in the city.
I had preferred to live with the company. We had to get to know one another, if we were supposed to go into action together. The company never forgot what I did. I gladly took all the unpleasantness in stride that I had to accept in the small, musty room of our "castle. We had to put the old stables in order, before we could be expected to live there. There was neither a wooden floor nor wooden planks.
For the time being, I wanted to get hold of a few bails of straw for my men. But in the neigh boring farm, they refused to give me anything without a receipt from the local headquarters.
I thus drove to the headquarters in the city, but they had already closed up shop. I promptly filled out a certificate to the farmer myself, so h e could file a complaint with it. Just as promptly came the dressing down from the battalion. If we h adn't departed for the Eastern Front soon thereafter, they would have probably saddled me with proceedings for plundering or something similar.
Mter the war, I often had to think about that, whenever I saw how easily the French occupation troops simply covered their needs through us During this period, I also had to add a war crime to my conscience: an execution without trial or judgment.
I was the next one up during live firing at the edge of town, when the rooster of a neigh boring farm ran straight across the range. More than likely, it had been directed that farm animals were supposed to be penned in during the firing.
I had just taken aim when the rooster crossed between me and the target.
The commander yelled something out, but it was too late. I couldn't help myself. I gave up on the target rings to make the rooster a source of amusement for us all. It made a few somersaults, and then it became something scarcely edible.
Even with money she couldn't be calmed down , since the deceased had plainly been the best rooster far and wide.
Of course, the red wine was a part of our stay in France as well. The Austrians in the company were especially partial to it. There was hardly an evening where I didn't have to get up again and put my Austrians to bed.
The charge of quarters usually wasn't able to impose lights out, since more than half of the company were noncommissioned officers who pulled duty as drivers, gunners, and tank commanders. I almost always had to personally announce closing time. But usually that didn't happen until I had drained the glass offered to me and listened to a Viennese song.
We didn't take the obligatory drill and ceremonies too seriously. We simply went through the motions whenever a superior came into view, so we wouldn't stick out too noticeably.
Besides, I was happy to be able to experience a few carefree days before we went back to the front. Soon the transportation details were formed to fetch the "Tigers" from Germany.
One of these details was entrusted to me. I had a layover in Paris both coming and going. The city and its inhabitants were very interesting to me, although it was difficult to get a conversation going with them. I admired the attitude of the French. God knows, they had really lost the war, but not a word was said against their own soldiers. They also refrained from any type of criticism against us.
To dirty one's own name after losing a war seemed to remain a trait of the Germans. Our troops in Paris acted as if the war had already ended and been won. This behavior was unbelievable to me. I wasn 't able to forget that in a few weeks we would be slugging it out with the Russians again.
Portrait of the "Tiger" Naturally, our thoughts were occupied with the new tank on our return journey. Its outer form was anything but pretty and pleasing. It looked plump; almost all of the flat surfaces were horizontal, and only the front slope was welded obliquely. Thicker armor compensated for the elimination of rounded shapes. The irony isn't lost when one discovers that we had delivered the large hydraulic press to the Russians shortly before the war with which they could manufacture the so elegantly rounded-off surfaces of their T34s and T43s.
Our armament experts had placed no value in it. In their opinion, such thick armor would never be needed. As a result, we had to put up with flat surfaces. Even if our "Tiger" wasn't beautiful, its robustness could fill us with enthusiasm. It really drove just like a car. With two fingers, we could literally shift horsepower, steer 60 tons, drive 45 kilometers an hour on roads, and trek 20 kilometers an hour cross-country.
In consideration of the equipment, however, we only drove twenty to twenty-five kilometers on the roads and correspondingly slower cross-country. Obviously, the greatest responsibility for the readiness of the vehicle fell to the driver. The man really had to be top notch. He had to drive using his head and not his "rear end. The really good tank driver-and no other type was let loose on a "Tiger"-also had to have an instinctive feel for the terrain.
He had to move properly cross-country. He always had to keep the tank's best side facing the enemy without the tank commander giving him every move first. Only then was it possible for a tank commander to concentrate completely on the enemy.
And only then could a platoon leader or company commander properly direct his vehicles in an operation without having to pay constant attention to the terrain. The tank driver position also demanded a generous helping of guts. He was, after all, the only man in the vehicle who saw a lot yet had to remain completely passive whenever the tank was under fire and the rest of the crew slugged it out with the enemy.
In those instances, he helped by observing and had to rely completely on his comrades in the turret. For example, Kerscher and Linckto name only two commanders-had been drivers first. My "old reliable," Karl Baresch , also immediately took over my seat as tank commander after I was wounded in The reader must permit me to present some interesting information in order to show how the work was in no way through after the operation.
For all of us, especially for the driver, it really on ly began the n , so that we could be in shape the next day. The fuel tanks held liters. That's twenty-seven canisters of twenty liters or three barrels. With that quantity, we could travel exactly eighty kilometers cross-country. The maintenance of the batteries was important, especially in winter.
They had to be constantly charged up by letting the motor run whenever we didn't drive a lot.
Otherwise, the starter didn't turn over the engine any more. If that happened , two of the crew members had to climb out and crank over the engine with an inertial starter similar to those on old aircraft, only at the rear. It doesn 't take too much imagination to realize that doing that was no great thrill in the middle of a battle and in view of the enemy. Despite that, it sometimes happened that the ba tteries were too weak.
At the front, we soon found an elegant method to avoid having to climb out. A neigh boring tank was called over. It turned its cannon to the rear and slowly approached the rear of the front tank. The stranded tank was pushed, and the motor usually reported after the first few meters.
The radio equipment, the inner and outer lights, the ventilator, and the electrical ignition for the cannon were dependent upon the batteries. It was understandable then that their maintenance was of great importance. A water radiator with a liter capacity and four fans took care of cooling the e ngine.
The cooling grills on the rear deck, absolutely necessary so warm air could be extracted, were often the reason that tanks became disabled by otherwise harmless rounds or shrapnel. They damaged the radiators that were underneath. The motor held twenty-eight lirers of oil, the transmission thirty liters, the reduction gears twelve liters, the turret power system five liters, and the ventilation motors seven Iiters.
A pair of large air filters caught the dust. When one considers that on a move of only seven kilometers , Iiters of air were sucked into the engine while the dust of almost four acres of Portrait of the "Tiger" 23 land was stirred up--the quantity a person would breathe in ten days if he were to sit on the rear deck in the dustiest spot-then it is understandable that the cleaning of air filters was necessary before every move.
With a regularly cleaned filter, everyone could get 5, kilometers of operation on a single motor. If the filters were covered with dirt, we couldn't get Four dual carburetors fed the motor and controlled it through a governor. The sensitivity of the carburetors was the greatest disadvantage of the German gasoline motors in comparison with the robust diesel engines of the Russians.
On the other hand, a greater resilience was the advantage of the German tank engine. The transmission, which functioned semiautomatically, had eight forward and four rear gears.
The steering gears enabled the power taken away from the one track in steering to be transferred to the other. In turning in place, one track ran forward and the other backward. The "Tiger" driver sat at a steering wheel and could direct the 63 tons as easily as a car.
Up to then, a lot of strength had been necessary in steering a tank. The overlapping suspension had eight axles on each side. Each axle had three road wheels, which ran on the track and supported it at the same time. The lighter types of German tanks, on the other hand, had both road wheels and support rollers. Just imagine how many road wheels on the "Tiger" had to be removed whenever one of the inner ones had to be changed!
The twenty-two-liter motor performed best at 2, RPM. At 3,,it soon became too hot. Before loading the tanks on trains, the cross-country track had to be exchanged with a narrower one. Otherwise, it extended over the sides of the cars and would have endangered oncoming traffic.
Special six-axle cars had been constructed for rail transportation. They carried eighty tons and accompanied each battalion into the area of operations. In order not to endanger any raih:vay bridges, at least four other freight cars had to be placed between two "Tigers. The gunner's feet rested on a tilting platform. If he pressed the tip of his foot toward the front, the turret turned toward the right; if he pressed with his sole to the rear, it turned to the left.
The more he pressed in the corresponding direction, the faster the movement. At its slowest, a degree revolution of the weapons in the turret took sixty minutes. At its quickest, it took sixty seconds. Extreme aiming accuracy was thus ensured.
The practised gunner didn 't need to adjust afterwards with his hand. The unavoidable jumping, usually caused when pulling the trigger by mechanical methods, was thus avoided. Our most dangerous opponents in Russia were the T34 and the T43, which were equipped with long-barreled The tanks were dangerous to us from meters in the front, 1, meters in the sides, and as far as 1, meters in the rear.
If we hit these enemy tanks in the right place, we could still destroy them at meters with our 8S-mm cannon. The Stalin tank, which we first got to know in , was, at a very minimum , the equal of the "Tiger. I won't describe the KVI, the KV85 , the other, less frequently encountered types of enemy tanks, and the assault guns with their large caliber cannons in detail here.
A completely outfitted "Tiger" company had fourteen tanks. Its firepower was thus greater than that of an entire Flak battalion three batteries with four guns each. The production costs of one "Tiger" ran to not quite one million Reichsmarks. For that reason, only a few heavy tank battalions were organized. To be the commander of such a company meant carrying a considerable responsibility On an Express Train to the Leningrad Front After we were more or less acquainted with our "Tigers," we were shipped out to the east.
The little city of Ploermel was celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi. Our rail loading time had been announced to the city administration, so the parade of the faithful would already be gone whenever we rolled to the train station with our tanks. But what did the people there care if the German front near Leningrad needed reinforcements and that the troops there were waiting for us expectantly?
Cursing all the while, we had to wait nearly three hours before we could load. Our "Tigers" were being handled very secretively. They covered them with tarpaulins, not allowing a single screw to be seen. Despite that, we always had the hunch that our enemy already knew as much about the new tanks as we did. It really was an express train, as we soon noticed.
We only stopped shortly to change engines. From Metz, I telegrammed home. I doubted that any of my relatives would be able to go from Zweibrucken to Homburg on the Saar in such a short time. But a real soldier's mother can do everything! As our train pulled in, I was already expected on the platform. Besides that, I had some additional luck; right there was an engine change. I was thus able to introduce my mother to the guys I was riding to the front with. Besides, we had our new vehicles and were approaching the coming events with more calm than before any previous operation.
Occasionally, we looked at the monsters hidden under the tarpaulins with something approaching love. At least we could do something with these! The "Tiger" was the heavyweight of our fighting vehicles. The runt of the litter was the Panzer I, the "Krupp sports car" as our troops had christened it. It carried a two-man crew, barely weighed six tons, and was equipped with two machine guns.
Three men sat in a Panzer It was somewhat heavier than the Panzer I and also had a mm rapid fire cannon. By then, it was only employed for reconnaissance purposes in light platoons. Five men belonged to the crew of a Panzer Ill. It weighed exactly twenty tons and had a mm short-barreled cannon later long and two machine guns.
The Czech tank, the Panzer 38t, roughly corresponded to the Panzer Ill. Besides having a poorer quality of steel, it also had the disadvantage of only having four men in it.
The tank commander had to observe and fire sitnultaneously. One found the Panzer IV in the heavy company of every battalion. Five men also rode in it. The weight was between twenty-two and twentyeight tons. Until the end of , this fighting vehicle was equipped with a short-barreled mm cannon.
From then on, it had a long-barreled cannon of the same caliber. The Panzer V was known as the "Panther. Serviced by five men , it tipped the scales at forty-two tons and had a mm extra-long cannon, two machine guns, and a turret traversing system like the "Tiger. The mm cannon was the same one that had proven itself so magnificently in Flak units.
It was also used with an even longer barrel in the new antitank guns. Soon we were to put the tank through its acid test. Our railhead was near Gatschina. We experienced our first bad luck there.
The end ramp was missing, and one of the "Tigers" tipped over while offloading "over the side. The after-action reports of the 1st Company were also not exactly encouraging.
Our comrades had been dashing about in the area around Leningrad since September 4, In the first four weeks, they had participated in the first defensive battle south of Lake Ladoga. They were then involved in the positional fighting around Leningrad in the 11th Army sector. From January 12 to May 5,, they took part in the second defensive battle south of Lake Ladoga in the Pogosge pocket and south of Kolpino.
Casualties couldn't be avoided during these operations. It also became quite clear in the marshy operational area that tanks would have On an Express Train to the Leningrad Front 27 to be abandoned by their crews once in a while. While the order had been given that no "Tigers" were to fall into the hands of the Russians under any circumstances, a burned-out tank often had to be left behind with its weapons destroyed by its crew.
The wrecks and the ruins provided the Russians with enough information that we had something new. In the operations that followed, we promptly found superb descriptions by the Russians of our "Tigers. Since our own leadership still hadn't produced any training manuals, we were able to use the Russian publications for our training.
In this manner, we were also made aware of our own vulnerable spots. Our "Tiger" debut was supposed to begin on July 22, , with daily performances for e ight weeks.
It was the third battle for Ladoga. With all means available, the Russians were attempting to reopen the land connection with Leningrad for the third time. This would make possible the use of the Stalin Canal and the Wo1chow-Leningrad rail line. We were loaded on the trains onJuly We were not able to reach the planned destination at all. Only with a great deal of difficulty did we come to Sniigri, a small train station near Mga.
By the skin of our teeth, we got our "Tigers" off the cars. The Russian artillery had already shifted its fire to our vicinity, and we had to detrain once again without a ramp. The 3rd Company had been thrown straight into battle from the ramp. Hauptmann Oehme, the company commander, and Lieutenant Grunewald had already been killed before we arrived with our train.
Ivan had let loose great swarms of fighter planes on us-something we weren't used to. Swirling about and imitating our Stukas, they mowed down everything. Desolate clusters of decimated human and animal corpses and destroyed material were left on the Rollbahn. It was a scene that I only saw repeated in along the retreat routes in the west.
We were usually only able to drive along the Rollbahn at night. We too were then thrown into this inferno. We slugged it out with the Russians until the end of September. Neither side could register a success, on ly losses. Sinjawino, Hill X, the Masurian Road, and Bunker Village-for each survivor, these names once again bring back to life the memory of the severity of the operations.
The battles went back and forth, day-in and day-out. Important positions often changed hands several times daily. Once, we were employed with the company against Bunker Village. I moved from the southeast. After reaching the village, I was supposed to be relieved by an attack from a patch of woods southwest of me. We had to slug it out by ourselves with the antitank positions. We also got a glimpse of a few tanks, but soon we didn't even know ourselves where the front and rear were.
With a lot of luck, we got out of there but without having shook up the Russians at all. I was as happy as could be to have all my 'Tigers" collected together again. Who would have had time in such a mess to follow orders and ensure that no damaged "Tiger" was left behind!
Someone had "thoughtfully" provided every "Tiger" tank commander a demolition charge. It was fastened upright in a holder next to the tank commander's right hand beside the seat in the turret. With it, the gun could be destroyed effortlessly. In addition to the hand grenades laying around the tank commander, these were yet another novelty item. I could have gladly done without them. If one's tank got a proper dead-on hit, then it was a sure guarantee to the tank commander that it didn 't fall into Russian hands.
At least not so that it was recognizable any more. I finally used the aforementioned holder to secure a bottle of schnapps. For my five-man crew, it was more soothing than any demo charge! Sometimes we really believed that only alcohol would help us get through this damned operation. We were disappointed that the successes we had promised ourselves with our new vehicles didn't arrive. In addition, our battalion changed commanders almost as quickly as the hill near Sinjawino changed hands.
Many comrades were killed: the platoon leader of our 3rd platoon , then Unteroffizier Pfannstiel, and also Unteroffizier Kienzle. He was one of my humorous Austrians from the Chateau in Ploermel, a true Viennese in the good, old sense. The senselessness of many measures taken in the immediate vicinity of the front also spread vexation among us. For example, someone had come up with the idea of reinforcing the roads in the marsh in the area around Tossno.
They were to be anchored with wood and have asphalt surfaces. The roadway had already made it as far as Gatschina, and it was then approaching the front. The Russians certainly got a kick out of it when they had such great roads at their disposal for their advance in January We had had to put up with corduroy roads for nearly three years.
The corduroy roads were a chapter onto themselves! Anyone who rode on them can tell some stories. Despite the many cutouts, traffic On an Express Train to the Leningrad Front 29 jams could not be avoided. Driving off the roads was impossible, even far behind the front. The low-lying marshy woods started immediately to the right and left. It's very stilted and awkward in many places, and I can't help but think it reads better in the original.
Secondly, the authour obviously had a couple of axes to grind here. He spends a lot of time defending the regular German soldier against what he feels is persecution by everyone outside the armed forces.
I can only imagine the lot of a German soldier post war, and thus I understand a bit why he's doing it, but it doesn't read well. The authour also, quite honestly, comes across as a cold, arrogant know-it-all. Let me be clear here. If anybody has the claim to talk about WWII tank warfare with authority, this guy is it, period, end of discussion. His track record pun intended is almost without equal. On the other hand, he spends half the book talking about which commanders he liked, and which ones he ignored.
I can't help but think his level of independence would never be tolerated in almost any other situation. He mentions often how he always spent time with the men rather than off apart from them, but he mentions only a handful by name.
Apparently they all loved him, but it's hard to tell if it was reciprocated. Any officer mentioned gets much more press than the people I'm assuming he spent time with day in and out. The last tank loss he describes where he's commanding on foot and the tank is destroyed is so cold as to be inhuman. Many things, including pretty much every battle, are described very dryly, with no personal details.
We moved here, took this position, destroyed that many tanks. It's impossible to tell in many places whether the authour was even present at any given place in the recital. He's commanding, so the royal 'we' makes sense I suppose, but it ends up so distant it's not lifelike.
The spots where it becomes personal are the best parts of the book, and they are few and far between. There is a bunch of 'end matter' in this edition, over a third of the book is reproduced records of the time, often not written by the authour at all. It's also pretty dry, with a few exceptions.
The section written by the mechanics is fascinating when you read between the lines - you can picture those poor guys attempting to fix these behemoths under fire in the middle of nowhere and running into problems they can't control. The whole book is a fascinating glimpse into what happened, but I'm left wishing I could see more.
It tends to be dry at times, says nothing about any possible war crimes committed by the German Front, and generally gives a rather selective view of the battlefield. But as a historical source? This memoir is highly valuable.
Not many German panzer commanders wrote their memoirs. There is Hans von Luck and Friedrich von Mellenthin Carius's memoir gives people insight into the fighting on the Eastern Front from the point of view of a lower ranking officer who wasn't socialized in the German officer core. Moreover, the omission and bias that Carius's memoir has, actually turns out to be pretty valuable in discerning the German reaction to defeat in The memoir is also a good read in and by of itself.
He is strongly opinionated about the service of the German front soldier, but at the same time he's rather self-effacing, modest, and matter-of-fact about his role in the company.
These aspects of his personality make the memoir vary from matter-of-fact deliveries on battles and specifications of the Tiger and Jagtiger, to sarcastic and witty comments about his superiors and the situation at hand, to respectful references to the service of his comrades, and then to strong ideologues about his opinions.
All in all, the memoir is not only a good look into ground-level tank combat operations on the Eastern Front, it is an excellent and rather entertaining look into the military service of a charismatic officer in the German Army.