Barkmann, Ernst.

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Barkmann, Ernst (later Ernst Schmuck-Barkmann), born 25-08-1919 in Kisdorf, was a German tank commander in the Waffen-SS He is known for the actions undertaken at “Barkmann’s corner,” in which it was claimed he halted a major U.S. Army armoured advance in Normandy on 27-07-1944, for which action he received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross On a hill overlooking the fields of Normandie, Panther 424

prowls the woodshunting its prey. Barkmann, a hero of many battles in the East, prepares his brave crew to hunt the wolves from the West. Skilled mechanics work through the whole night to repair the damage inflicted by a wandering Jabo fighterbomber. By daybreak Panther 424  is once again fully operational and now rushes to rejoin its unit. Years later theywould call his great stand “Barkmann’s Corner”.

His father was a farmer, and after attending school, Barkmann followed in his father’s footsteps and began working on the family farm. He joined the Nazi Party on 01-09-1938 and served in the Reich Labour Service from November 1938 to March 1939. After this he joined the SS on 01-04-1939, and served during the occupation of Poland. He was posted for a time as an instructor of SS volunteers in the Netherlands. In winter 1942/43 he was posted to the SS Division Das Reich under command of SS-Obergruppenführer Georg Heinrich Keppler, on the Eastern Front, with which he took part in the Third Battle of Kharkov. Obergruppenführer Keppler survived the war and died age 62, on 16-06-1966 in Hamburg.

In February 1944, Das Reich was ordered to France to form a part of the 5th Panzer Army under command of General der Panzertruppe Karl Decker , the armoured reserve for the expected Allied invasion. Karl Decker survived the war and died 21-04-1945, age 47, in Braunschweig.  Following Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of June 1944, the division reached the front in early July and fought against the American forces near Saint-Lô. Barkmann was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.  Barkmann here with SS Standartenführer Joachim Peiper after the war,

participated in the Ardennes Offensive in December 1944 and the fighting on the Eastern Front in the spring of 1945.

In March 1945, Barkmann was near Stuhlweißenburg. There he destroyed four T-34s of the Soviet army. At that time, Das Reich was exhausted by the continuous fighting and the lack of replacement tanks. Barkmann’s unit had only nine fully operational vehicles, three of which were quickly eliminated by Russian Josef Stalin tanks.In April 1945, Barkmann took part in fighting south of Vienna. There his Panther  was accidentally hit by his own fire and he was wounded, just like most of his crew members. Barkmann’s Panther Ausf G (Nr 401) drove into the group of American tanks from the US 2nd Armored Division, under command of Ernest Nason. Harmon .  Later on, his Panther became disabled in a huge bomb crater and was destroyed by its crew.  Barkmann managed to reach the British combat zone, where he was made a prisoner of war. After the war, Barkmann settled in Kisdorf, where he worked as a fire chief. He was also mayor of the city.

Barkmann and his crew was credited with the destruction of at least 82 Soviet, British and US tanks, 136 miscellaneous armoured fighting vehicles and 43 anti-tank guns. The 2nd Armored Division had the next casualties during their European campaign. Total battle casualties: 5,864, killed in action: 981, wounded in action: 4,557, missing in action: 60, and prisoner of war: 266

Death and burial ground of Barkmann, Ernst.

Ernst Barkmann survived the war and died age 89, on 27-06-2009 in Kisdorf. and is buried on the cemetery of Kisdorf-Etzberg, Kisdorf, Kreis Segeberg, Holstein, last row left. Barkmann’s reputed actions in Normandy were challenged by the military historian Steven Zaloga in his 2015 work Armored Champion: The Top Tanks of World War II. In his book he asserts that he has analysed the Allied war records, and was unable to locate the losses claimed by Barkmann. He attributed the narrative of Barkmann’s corner to the “propaganda efforts of the Waffen-SS”.

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