Germany – Third Reich: An excellent document and photograph group to ‘Konigstiger’ units member Oberleutnant Hermann Eschweiler, who during the war saw service with 6th Company, 11th Panzer Regiment, 1st light and 6th Panzer Division; HQ Company, ...

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Germany – Third Reich: An excellent document and photograph group to ‘Konigstiger’ units member Oberleutnant Hermann Eschweiler, who during the war saw service with 6th Company, 11th Panzer Regiment, 1st light and 6th Panzer Division; HQ Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Panzer Regiment, 19th Panzer Division; HQ Company 500th Panzer Replacement and Training Battalion; HQ 501st Heavy Panzer Battalion (Tiger), Army Troops and finally 1st Company, 424th Panzer Battalion (Tiger), XXIV Panzer Corps, being awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class for an act of gallantry during the closing stages of the Battle of Minsk, suffering a wound shortly afterwards, he almost certainly missed two years of the war recovering, before being posted to a specialist ‘Konigstiger’ during the closing year of the war where he saw action in Poland and Germany.

This is a good and rare bravery document group consisting of an original Soldbuch, 4 award certificates, 2 documents and an album of 185 photos with a further 13 loose photos to a former Germany Army Panzer Officer.

Award Certificates:

  1. The German Sports Badge in Bronze (Serial number 638485) awarded in Berlin on 21st March 1939 as a Gefreiter, 6/11th Panzer Regiment. (Paderborn/Westphalia).

    There is a good photo on page 2 of the document of Eschweiler as a Panzerschutze with the figure 11 on his shoulder straps.

  2. The Iron Cross 2nd Class awarded in the field on 13th July 1941 as a Leutnant, HQ Company, I/27th Panzer Regiment. Signed by von Knobelsdorff as Generalleutenant and General Officer Commanding 19th Panzer Division.

    von Knobelsdorff was awarded the Knights Cross on 17.9.1941 as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 19th Panzer Division, 322nd Oakleaves on 12.11.1943 as General of Panzer Troops and General Officer Commanding XXXXVIII Panzer Corps, 100th Swords on 21.9.1944 as General of Panzer Troops and General Officer Commanding XXX Panzer Corps and the German Cross in Gold on 16.2.1943 as General of Panzer Troops and General Office Commanding XXXXVIII Panzer Corps.

  3. The Black Wound Badge awarded in the field on 1st August 1944 for a wound received on 14th July 1941 as a Leutnant, HQ Company, 1/27th Panzer Regiment. Signed by a Hauptmann and acting Battalion Commander.

The Tank Combat Badge in Silver awarded in the field whilst serving with the 500th Panzer Replacement and Training Battalion. Signed by Mohling as Hauptmann and acting Commanding Officer 27th Panzer Regiment.

Mohling was awarded the German Cross in Gold on 20.1.1945 as Hauptmann and Commanding Officer II/27th Panzer Regiment.

Soldbuch:

This is Hermann Eschweiler’s very interesting and original Soldbuch issued to him as a Gefreiter on 15th August 1939 in 6th Company, 11th Panzer Regiment (1st Light Division). For some unknown reason this Regiment and 27th Panzer Regiment (19th Panzer Division) are not listed in the field unit section on page 4 – a strange omission! However his two Tiger Battalion to which he belonged are – HQ 501st Heavy Panzer Battalion and 1/424th Heavy Panzer Battalion. There are references to the 11th, Tiger units and their Replacement Battalion – 500th (to which he was posted) – in this Soldbuch. He was born on 2.2.1916 in Wuppertal-Elbefeld whose employment was noted as being an office worker prior to joining the German Army in 1937. There is a good photo of him on the inside cover as an Oberleutnant. He was wounded by a rifle bullet in the left ankle and evacuated by train to Germany.

Documents:

  1. Idstein (north of Wiesbaden), 22.10.1937. A certificate of good conduct issued to Arbeitsmann Hermann Eschweiler by the head of the RAD 7/257th Detachment covering his period of service with the RAD from 5th April 1937 to 23rd October 1937.

  2. Sorau, 31.1.1945 – A very interesting short telegram sent by Eschweiler to his mother’s address stating ‘arrived for the assembly in Sorau further details to follow.’ There is a further post WW2 handwritten note in biro on the telegram as follows ‘1945 back sick but safe from the East’ Note: Sorau was the location that the survivors of the 424th heavy Panzer Battaloin (Tiger) fought their way to after the Battalion had been shattered in the very heavy combat at the Weichsel (Vistula) River.

Photographs:

A very good official album (Meine Dienstzeit) with 185 photos as well as 13 loose photos including one of him in camouflage uniform. The album is well written up throughout and begins with a photo of the commanding officer of his Panzer Regiment (the 11th) – Oberst Phillips. The photographic record covers the period from when Hermann Eschweiler stats his basic training in 11th Panzer Regiment in late 1937, his training as a motorcyclist in February 1938, the Regiment’s parade on its arrival in Paderborn on 12.6.1938, on leave, official pictures of Senne Land, Paderborn, Potsdam and Berlin, loading of his Battalion for training, special cycle training, departure for training at Juterbog training area, the Berlin Olympic stadiums, honour parade to celebrate Hitler’s birthday on 20.4.1939, German tanks, entry into the Sudetenland and the capture of Czech armoured vehicles, training in the Teuterbergewald, a Regimental Sports Festival in summer 1939, Putlos 1939 and a visit to Kiel on 17.7.1939 and finally a photographic record (44 photos) of the Campaign against Poland from 1.9-24.10.1939 when Eschweiler’s 6th Company returns to Germany. Hermann Eschweiler can be seen throughout this fascinating photographic record.

Hermann Eschweiler was born on 2nd February 1916 in Wuppertal, and was employed as an office worker prior to joining the German Army in 1937.

Attaining the German Sports Badge in Bronze while a Gefreiter in March 1939, he would have gone on to see service in the Polish Campaign of 1939 as part of the 1st Light Division, probably the most powerful unit in the campaign fielding over 200 tanks.

Eschweiler appears to have missed the campaign in France being part of a Panzer School at the time. He was subsequently a member of the 27th Panzer Regiment, 19th Panzer Division for the invasion of the Soviet Union, which formed part of Army Group Centre. Initially seeing action at Minsk, his award of the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 13th July 1941 would have been for an act of gallantry during the Battle there. He was subsequently awarded the Black Wound Badge on 1st August 1941, for a wound he had received on 14th July 1941 in the opening stages of the Battle of Smolensk.

After his wound Eschweiler was posted to the German Replacement Army, and then saw service with the 500th Panzer Replacement and Training Battalion, which was involved in the training of ‘Tiger’ tank crews in Paderborn, Germany. It was towards the end of his time with this unit that he was to be awarded the Tank Combat Badge on 14th January 1944.

Later in the year in August 1944 he was posted to 501st Heavy Panzer Battalion, which fielded Panzer VIB ‘Konigstigers’ on the Eastern Front, and saw heavy combat at the Baranov Bridgehead and near the Radom area near the Vistula in Poland. The unit suffered heavy losses over the following few months, particularly during the Red Army’s breakthrough operations beginning on 12th January as part of the Vistula-Oder offensive which carried them to the Oder and the gates of Berlin. Eschweiler appears to have survived the near destruction of his unit at the outset of this offensive, and along with other members of his unit formed part of the 1st Battalion/424th Heavy Panzer Battalion (Tigers) which saw defensive fighting in the western part of Poland, and eventually survived the war.

An interesting and rare document group to a member of Heavy Panzer Battalions that operated the Panzer VIB ‘Konigstiger’.