I have done some reading regarding the recently posted Tiger II pics from Pariser Strasse in Wilmersdorf, Berlin . This area should not be confused with the more well-known Pariser Platz which is near on the immediate eastern side of Brandenburg Gate. These were posted on 27 April on this DG in the weekly Ebay photo roundup so graciously summaraized for us by Eric Reist most every Friday.
As many of you may be aware I am always most especially interested in the events occurring in Berlin in March/April/Mai 1945.
These new pictures were very exciting to me and they provided me with a tangible view of the Wilmersdorf area which motivated me to delve deeper into these events to identify the units involved.
I consulted the many of my books but found the following two books to be most illuminating in identifying the units in these pictures: "Tigers in Combat II" , by Wolfgang Schneider, and "Bloody Streets: The Russian Assault on Berlin" bei A. Stephan Hamilton.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that I feel that the Tiger II pictured on Pariser Strasse was almost certainly one of those from Schw SS Pz Abt 503. This unit arrived in the Berlin area early March 1945.
In late March the unit's few remaining Tiger II's were deployed in various parts of Berlin to provide heavy anti armour support to various units involved in the chaotic defense of Berlin. I'm not sure from my reading just how many Tiger -IIs were involved, but it may have been as few as 7-12 available and scattered throughout the city at any given time.
A couple of Tiger IIs were deployed in the southwest/south central part of Berlin and had previously distinguished themselves in the futile attempt to slow the tide of Russian armour wheeling around in this direction after the decimation of the remainder of the german armies attempting to defend the Halbe area and link up with Wencks army west of Berlin.
Most interestingly for me was the Tiger II pictured in the opening of Eric's latest post. These are pictures taken by residents of Pariser Strasse (just to the south of the Kurfurstendamm) of a vehicle deployed on their street. They are in an album which most interestingly shows the residents' street before and after it was touched by the war first from the Allied Bomber Campaign and later by the ground assault by the Russians. They show a Tiger II parked on their street that has it's hull and turret sides completely covered / draped with what must be very large tarps or cloths of some sort. On the turret, these are underneath the spare tracks which are normally hung on the turret side hooks.
This correlates with the deployment referenced in " Tigers in Combat II" which shows that at least one, if not two Tiger II's were deployed in the Wilmersdorf area in support of elements from the "Chalemagne" and "Nordland" SS divisions. Perhaps the Jgd Pz IV and Pz IV also pictured in Pariserstrasse albums are from these units.
I intially thought of another SS Schw Pz Abt 503 tank deployed in the area of Potsdamer Platz commanded by Obstf Turk, which is by far the most previously well known and photographed Tiger II of this period in Berlin. Turk's Tiger shows the remains of what have previously been (atypiciclly for German armour) thought to be camouflage nets on its turret sides. These new Pariser Strasse pictures look more like solid cloth drapes.
Another most interesting feature of the Pariser Strasse Tiger II is the apparent damage to the barrel and muzzle brake. There is an account in " Tigers In Combat II " describing an incident on 23 April in which A Tiger II commanded by the very sucessful ObSchf Koerner lost it's gunner who was killed by what is described as a freak hit inside the gun tube. This vehicle was then withdrawn to the last known maintainence unit in the area which at that time was stationed on Uhlandstrasse which is a cross street of Pariser Strasse. Interesting!
Do any of our other esteemed members have any thoughts on this vehicle?
Thanks for bearing with me;
Recently finished reading, "For Europe". Now these photos. I cannot really add much to your post William. However, I know the area well. I was there when the Wall came down. Great City and great history.
Stephen J. Pringle