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German tanker about the war and the heroism of Russian soldiers
German tanker about the war and the heroism of Russian soldiers
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Otto Carius (German Otto Carius, 1922-27-05 - 2015-24-01) was a German tank ace during the Second World War. Destroyed more than 150 enemy tanks and self-propelled guns - one of the highest results of the Second World War, along with other German tank combat masters - Michael Wittmann and Kurt Knispel. He fought on Pz.38, Tiger tanks, and Jagdtiger self-propelled guns. Author of the book "Tigers in the Mud"

He began his career as a tanker on the Skoda Pz.38 light tank, and from 1942 he fought on the Pz.VI Tiger heavy tank on the Eastern Front. Together with Michael Wittmann, he became a Nazi military legend, and his name was widely used in the propaganda of the Third Reich during the war. He fought on the Eastern Front. In 1944 he was seriously wounded, after his recovery he fought on the Western Front, then, by order of the command, he surrendered to the American occupation forces, spent some time in a prisoner of war camp, after which he was released.

After the war he became a pharmacist, in June 1956 he acquired a pharmacy in the city of Herschweiler-Pettersheim, which he renamed "Tiger" (Tiger Apotheke). He headed the pharmacy until February 2011.

Interesting excerpts from the book "Tigers in the Mud"

On the offensive in the Baltics:

“It's not a bad thing to be at war here,” said NCO Dehler, our tank commander, with a chuckle, after once again pulling his head out of a bucket of water. There seemed to be no end to this washing. He had been in France a year before. The thought of this gave me confidence in myself, because for the first time I entered the hostilities, agitated, but also with some fear. Everywhere we were greeted with enthusiasm by the population of Lithuania. The local people saw us as liberators. We were shocked that before our arrival, Jewish shops were ravaged and destroyed everywhere."

On the attack on Moscow and the armament of the Red Army:

“The advance on Moscow was preferred over the capture of Leningrad. The attack was drowned in mud, when the capital of Russia, which opened in front of us, was a stone's throw away. What then happened in the infamous winter of 1941/42 cannot be conveyed in oral or written reports. The German soldier had to hold out in inhuman conditions against the winter-accustomed and extremely well-armed Russian divisions."

About T-34 tanks:

“Another event hit us like a ton of bricks: Russian T-34 tanks appeared for the first time! The amazement was complete. How could it happen that up there, they did not know about the existence of this excellent tank?"

The T-34, with its good armor, perfect shape and magnificent 76, 2-mm long-barreled gun, thrilled everyone, and all German tanks were afraid of it until the end of the war. What were we to do with these monsters thrown in multitude against us?"

About heavy tanks IS:

“We examined the Joseph Stalin tank, which to a certain extent was still intact. The 122mm long-barreled cannon earned our respect. The downside was that unitary rounds were not used in this tank. Instead, the projectile and powder charge had to be charged separately. The armor and shape were better than that of our "tiger", but we liked our weapons much more.

The Joseph Stalin tank played a cruel joke on me when it knocked out my right drive wheel. I didn’t notice it until I wanted to back up after an unexpected strong blow and explosion. Feldwebel Kerscher immediately recognized this shooter. He also hit him in the forehead, but our 88-mm cannon was unable to penetrate the heavy armor of "Joseph Stalin" at such an angle and from such a distance."

About the Tiger tank:

“Outwardly, he looked cute and pleasing to the eye. He was fat; almost all flat surfaces are horizontal, and only the front ramp is welded almost vertically. Thicker armor made up for the lack of rounded shapes. Ironically, just before the war, we supplied the Russians with a huge hydraulic press, with which they were able to produce their T-34s with such elegantly rounded surfaces. Our weapons experts did not find them valuable. In their opinion, such thick armor could never be needed. As a result, we had to put up with flat surfaces."

“Even if our 'tiger' was not handsome, its margin of safety inspired us. He really drove like a car.With literally two fingers, we could control a 60-ton giant with a capacity of 700 horsepower, drive at a speed of 45 kilometers per hour on the road and 20 kilometers per hour on rough terrain. However, taking into account additional equipment, we could only move along the road at a speed of 20-25 kilometers per hour and, accordingly, at an even lower speed off-road. The 22 liter engine performed best at 2600 rpm. At 3000 rpm, it quickly overheated."

On the successful operations of the Russians:

“With envy, we saw how well equipped the ivans were compared to us. We were really happy when a few resupply tanks finally arrived from deep behind."

“We found the commander of a Luftwaffe field division at the command post in a state of utter despair. He did not know where his units were. Russian tanks crushed everything around before the anti-tank guns could fire even one shot. The Ivans captured the latest equipment, and the division scattered in all directions."

“The Russians attacked there and took the city. The attack came so unexpectedly that some of our troops were caught on the move. Real panic began. It was only fair that Commandant Nevel had to answer before a military court for his flagrant disregard for security measures."

On drunkenness in the Wehrmacht:

“Shortly after midnight, cars appeared from the west. We recognized them as our own in time. It was a motorized infantry battalion, which did not have time to connect with the troops and moved towards the motorway late. As I learned later, the commander was sitting in the only tank at the head of the convoy. He was completely drunk. The misfortune happened with lightning speed. The whole unit had no idea what was happening, and moved openly through the space under Russian fire. A terrible panic arose when machine guns and mortars spoke. Many soldiers were hit by bullets. Left without a commander, everyone ran back onto the road instead of looking for cover south of it. All mutual assistance vanished. The only thing that mattered was every man for himself. The cars drove right over the wounded, and the freeway was a horror picture."

On the heroism of the Russians:

“When dawn began, our infantrymen approached the T-34 somewhat inadvertently. He was still standing next to von Schiller's tank. Except for a hole in the hull, no other damage was noticeable. Surprisingly, when they approached to open the hatch, he didn’t give in. Following this, a hand grenade flew out of the tank, and three soldiers were seriously injured. Von Schiller again opened fire on the enemy. However, until the third shot, the commander of the Russian tank did not leave his car. Then he, badly wounded, lost consciousness. The other Russians were dead. We brought the Soviet lieutenant to the division, but it was no longer possible to interrogate him. He died of his wounds on the way. This incident showed us how careful we must be. This Russian transmitted detailed reports to his unit about us. He only had to slowly turn his tower to shoot von Schiller point-blank. I remember how we resented the stubbornness of this Soviet lieutenant at the time. Today I have a different opinion about it …"

Comparison of Russians and Americans (after being wounded in 1944, the author was transferred to the western front):

“Among the blue sky, they created a curtain of fire that left no room for imagination. She covered the entire front of our bridgehead. Only Ivans could arrange such a barrage of fire. Even the Americans I later met in the West could not compare with them. The Russians fired multi-layered fire from all types of weapons, from incessantly firing light mortars to heavy artillery."

“Sappers were active everywhere. They even turned the warning signs in the opposite direction in the hope that the Russians would go in the wrong direction! Such a trick sometimes succeeded later on the Western Front in relation to the Americans, but did not work in any way with the Russians."

“If there were two or three tank commanders and crews from my company that fought in Russia with me, this rumor could well turn out to be true. All my comrades would not have hesitated to fire at those Yankees who were walking in "parade line". After all, five Russians were more dangerous than thirty Americans.We have already noticed this in the last few days of fighting in the west."

“The Russians would never have given us so much time! But how much it took the Americans to eliminate the "bag" in which there could be no question of any serious resistance."

“… We decided one evening to replenish our vehicle fleet at the expense of the American one. It never occurred to anyone to consider it a heroic act! The Yankees slept in the houses at night, as it should be for the "front-line soldiers". After all, who would want to disturb their peace! Outside, it was one hour at best, but only if the weather was fine. The war began in the evenings, only if our troops retreated, and they pursued them. If by chance a German machine gun suddenly opened fire, then they asked for support from the air force, but only the next day. At about midnight we set off with four soldiers and returned pretty soon with two jeeps. Conveniently, they didn't require keys. One had only to turn on the small toggle switch and the car was ready to go. It was only when we had already returned to our positions that the Yankees opened fire indiscriminately into the air, probably to calm their nerves. If the night was long enough, we could easily drive to Paris."

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