BACKGROUND TO SACRIFICE: The men we are about to meet may have performed legendary feats, but they were in reality living, feeling human beings. They became part of postwar western mythology. They almost ceased to be real, harbor no illusions: These men were and are real! These men proved to be one of the most successful Panzer Aces the world has ever seen. The intense and uninterrupted armored fighting in which the Panzerwaffe engaged can’t be compared to any other armored force, nor can the toll exacted by the Panzerwaffe on its adversaries be matched. The German Panzer Aces accumulated an incredible record of destruction single-handedly. It should come as no surprise that the individual German Panzer Aces scores are enormous compared to those of the allies. The German Panzer Aces were a determined corps of soldiers. Defending their country was to them something more than a recruiter’s catch phrase. They were feared and respected by their foes. Germany’s Panzer crews did not create the Second World War, but they were caught up from first to last, in its remorseless grind as were the tankers of no other nation. History weighs the merit of men, and none so much merited honor as these German Panzer Aces, for which they must be credited with outstanding and often astonishing achievements, and helped give the Panzerwaffe its characteristic spirit and vigor. And all should recognize that the German Panzer men were brave and fair opponents in their devotion to their country in the armored battles with their seemingly unquenchable courage, tenacity, and skill in the face of overwhelming allied power. The Panzer men were unsurpassed by any of the great warriors of history. They fought against the allies to the final hour of the final day of which they have spent themselves to the limit of human endurance. They fought with surpassing valor through the entire conflict, and produced the most successful and highest-scoring individual armored aces of all time. An incredible story of courageous Panzer men in a dazzling ascendancy of armored fighting vehicles in a force to be reckoned with that would leave their mark on the world forever. These men had driven themselves to the limits of physical and mental endurance in defense of their country as soldiers. With all the will in the world on their part to rise to every challenge. On the Eastern Front, German tank kill totals rose more rapidly than at any other time in the history of armored warfare. Thus, in the Russian campaign, German tank men drank deeply the heady wine of victory. The Russian tank man, product of a system that sought to extinguish individuality, was unable to meet his German foe on equal terms. The superiority of the German tank men was not only technical, but psychological. Even after the Russians later redressed their technical disadvantage, the Germans retained their psychological edge. German tanks and their tank men who fought in Russia have much to teach the west. German tankers gained and retained the ascendancy over his Russian counterpart mainly because of his superior ego factor. All the qualities of individual intelligence, independence, initiative, and enterprise which fitted him temperamentally for the highly individualized art of armored combat were encouraged and developed in his training and battle experience. The Soviet system, with its leveling tendencies and opposition to individualism, was less than an ideal environment in which to breed successful tank crews. Russian representation in the Communist hierarchy produced brutish, low-caliber, crude, half-drunk soviet tank men (since communism is the end of all values). Even though they had the T-34 and the KV series of tanks, it was still poor tank performance and their crews still being even less than insignificant. Even as the Russians got steadily better with the passage of time, the individual German tank man never lost the inner conviction that he was a better man than his foes. Even when the Soviets enjoyed a staggering numerical superiority through their own production and massive lend-lease aid, German tank men continued to hurl themselves on their enemies with amazing and continued success. The capacity of the German tankers to sustain themselves in the battlefield under such adverse conditions shows that what tank men think of themselves will manifest themselves in what they achieve. On the Russian Front, the Panzer arm produced the highest-scoring Panzer Aces of all time. The scores are enormous by standards on the contemporary allied side. The important thing to remember is that in World War II the Panzertruppe accomplished everything that could conceivably have been asked of them, which won them armored supremacy even in the last days of the war. Overall, the German tank men had battled their hearts out and produced one of the most colorful of German Panzer Aces and folk heroes. The Panzerwaffe stands like the high-water mark of German hopes, all these unique Panzer Aces who had flirted with the Gods, from their first to their last fight for their Fatherland, the German Panzer Aces were heroes. A hero is “someone who acts with great courage” and on this score the German Panzer Aces eclipsed their fore bearers in armored warfare. They set standards of courage and achievement unlikely to be excelled by tankers of any other nation. Hatred of the National Socialist regime distorted a clear view of history. When we now know that the German Panzer Aces were impelled to their courageous feats by a more rational incentive. In the Panzertruppe 50 tank kills was commonplace, these brilliant fighting achievements contrast sharply with the performance of the allies. Honesty and competence, insight and strategic clarity, good judgement and superior technical knowledge were abundant in the German Panzer arm effort, and the bearers of these qualities were heavily engaged in making them effective on behalf of their nation. The Panzerwaffe boosted a number of Panzer Aces with over 100 tank kill victories against the Eastern and Western allies. In the twilight, the German Panzer Aces could look back on a sequence of events unlikely to be repeated in generations---if ever. These men were soldiers, powerless to remove the political regime but determined to avert or diminish the tragedy that they saw would engulf their Fatherland. They were the driving force behind the epic five-and-a-half year battle put up by the Panzerwaffe. In that battle, the Panzertruppe force reached the heights. As a breed, the German Panzer Aces lived by the traditional code of soldiers, testimony to the chivalry and good sportsmanship of the German Panzer Aces are legion from the allied tankers who fought against them. As a consequence, their soldierly conduct in wartime stands untarnished. They lost the war, but they did not lose their souls. The German Panzer Aces hands were clean, their hearts were pure, and their love for their country bright and burning, was free of all compromise. Through the epic of the armored battles of the Second World War, a few tank men among a hundred others, out there in their tanks…men lived. For in a period when nations had to look very hard to find real men, and they were that, to the very marrow of their bones, as you are going to see……
Panzer Aces & Ace Commanders
SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Michael Wittmann, Tiger I ace!
Oberleutnant Otto Carius, Tiger I / Jagdtiger ace!
Oberwachtmeister Hugo Primozic, Sturmgeschutz ace!
SS Oberscharfuhrer Ernst Barkmann, Panther ace!
Hauptmann Friedrich Luders, Jagdpanther ace!
SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Max Wunsche, Ace Commander! Panzer Regiment 12, SS Hitlerjugend
SS Standartenfuhrer Jochen Peiper, Ace Commander! Panzer Regiment SS Leibstandarte
SS Obersturmfuhrer Werner Wolff, Ace Commander! Regiment 1/ SS Kompanie 7 Leibstandarte
SS Sturmbannfuhrer Jupp Diefenthal, Ace Commander! Panzer Grenadier Regiment Leibstandarte
SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Heinz Kling, Ace Commander! 1st SS Schwere Panzer Korps Leibstandarte
SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Heinz Von Westernhagen, Ace Commander! SS 101/501 Leibstandarte
SS Unterscharfuhrer Franz Staudegger, Ace Commander! 1st SS Panzer Regiment Leibstandarte
SS Hauptscharfuhrer Kurt Sametreiter, Ace Commander! 1st SS Panzer Korps Regiment LSSAH
SS Untersturmfuhrer Fritz Langanke, Ace Commander! Panzer Regiment 2nd SS Das Reich
SS Standartenfuhrer Leon Degrelle, Ace Commander! SS Sturmbrigade Legion Wallonie
Hauptmann Walter Scherf, Ace Commander! Schwere Panzer Abteilung 503/ sPzJagAbt.512
Leutnant Freiherr Von Rosen, Ace Commander! Schwere Panzer Abteilung 503/ Feldherrnhalle
Hauptmann Johann Spielmann, Ace Commander! Sturmgeschutz Abteilung 197/ sPzJagAbt.653
Major Peter Frantz, Ace Commander! Sturmgeschutz Abteilung Grossdeutschland
Hauptmann Bodo Spranz, Ace Commander! Sturmgeschutz Abteilung 237
Major Gottfried Giessler, Ace Commander! Sturmgeschutz Abteilung 185
Tributo a la División Azul 250. de Infantería Española 1941-1944.
SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Rudolf Von Ribbentrop, Panzer IV ace! (New 3/22/04)
SS Sturmbannfuhrer Gerd Bremer, Ace Commander! Reconnaissance Leibstandarte/Hitlerjugend (New 3/22/04)