Carius, Otto.

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Carius, Otto, born 27-05-1922 in Zweibrücken was a German tank ace within the German Army who fought during the war and was credited with destroying more than 150 tanks. He was a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

.     Carius’ younger brother Wolfgang was first a tank gunner in World War II. R. in a tank regiment in Italy. His father, the head teacher Otto Carius (among other things with the wound badge in black and the War Merit Cross, 1st class with swords), was an officer in France in 1940 and most recently (1944/45) major in the reserve and battalion commander of the army in Russia. The mother was a housewife.

World War II broke out soon after Carius graduated from school. He enlisted in the army and was only accepted after twice being rejected as unfit for military service for being underweight. He first served in the infantry before volunteering for the Panzer branch; his father referred to tanks as “metal deathtraps.

Early in the war, the slightly built Carius was rejected twice for military service for being underweight. However, he was eventually enlisted and initially served in the infantry, before volunteering for the Panzer branch of the army. In May 1940, Carius volunteered to join the 104th Infantry Placement Battalion. He received training in the infantry before being assigned to the 21st Panzer Regiment, of the 20th Panzer Division  under command of Oberst Georg von Bismarck.  and here with Erwin Rommel Oberst Bismarck was killed by a mine while leading the 21st Panzer Division in the Battle of Alam el Halfa, 31-08-1942, age 51. He saw his first combat action in June 1941, during Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union.

In 1943, Carius transferred to the 502nd Heavy Panzer Battalion, the schwere Panzer-Abteilung 502. On 24-07-1944, Carius dashed ahead of his tanks in a motorcycle and sidecar on a reconnaissance mission, as he often did prior to a mission. No sooner had he got out of his motorcyle than he and his driver were ambushed by Soviet troops, suffering shots through the leg and arm, as well as four bullets in the back. Carius tried to draw his weapon with his one healthy arm, but was stopped by a Russian officer who was aiming his pistol at Carius’ head. Just as the Russian pulled the trigger, Carius, here with his crew,

turned his head and the shot went into his neck. As Carius faced death, the Tiger tanks from Carius’ company stormed onto the scene in a sort of Hollywood-style rescue operation. The Russians were scared off and Tigers stopped to help Carius. They bandaged him up and stopped the bleeding from his leg using Carius’ elastic suspenders. They put him on the back of one of the Tigers and Carius clung to the turret for dear life. Suddenly, the Russians opened fire again. Carius stood up on his good leg and yelled at the tank commander, telling him were the fire was coming from. However, as the turret turned, Carius’ foot was jammed in between the turret and the hull. Now completely exhausted and only one functional limb, Carius was taken to a field hospital where he was treated and made a full recovery after cheating death. Until that day, he was unofficially running the 2nd Company of the 502nd. He officially became the commander of 2nd Company; on the same day, he was shot through the leg and arm, received four bullets in the back and one through the neck. He subsequently became the commander of a Jagdtiger company of the 512th Heavy Antitank Battalion at the beginning of 1945.This 72-ton tank hunter was armed with a 128mm Pak 44 L/55 gun. Despite its size and powerful gun, Carius hated it. He didn’t like that it was extremely slow, had poor maneuverability, and used a weak transmission. Since it was an assault gun, Carius also lamented the loss of a turret. Overall, Carius was not impressed.

The company was called into action in March 1945, without finishing its training. On 08-03-1945, 2nd Company was directed to the front line near Siegburg, where it took part in the defence of the River Rhine and eventually surrendered to the United States Army on 15-04-1945.

Death and burial ground of Carius, Otto.

 carius-tiger-crew   Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1979-064-06,_Otto_Carius   After the war he studied pharmacy at Heidelberg University. In 1956 he started his own pharmacy shop called Tiger Apotheke in Herschweiler-Pettersheim, Rhineland, named after the Tiger tank,  which he ran until 2011.

 He also wrote a book about his own experience in the war, entitled    Tigers in the Mud. Otto Carius died on 24-01-2015 at the old age of 92 and is buried on the local cemetery of Herschweiler-Pettersheim.

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