This account comes from the memoirs of Helmut Ritgen, who was the Regimental Adjutant of Panzer Regiment 11, part of the 6th Panzer Division. It describes the actions fought by his unit on 19 December 1942, the opening day of Operation Winter Storm - the attempt to break through to the encircled 6th Army in Stalingrad. From his viewpoint in the command tank of Generaloberst Erhard Raus he describes the initial clashes with the Soviet troops manning the frontline and the breakthrough into the open country beyond.
I Was There12 January 2015
In this account, Pfc Rudi Frühbeisser, 9th Infantry, 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division, describes the confused night fighting that followed the capture of Lanzerath on the opening day of the Battle of the Bulge. His unit had been pinned down for more than eight hours by a single platoon from the US 394th Infantry and now found themselves facing a well-prepared second line of defense.
I Was There3 December 2014
This account was written by the Russian historian Artem Drabkin based on his interviews with Arsenti Rodkin. Rodkin served as a T-34 commander in the 1st Tank Corps from 1943 to 1945, taking part in the advance through Lithuania and into East Prussia. This account provides a glimpse of what life was like for those who opposed the German War Machine in the east, fighting as part of the brave and determined – but sometimes chaotic – Red Army. It also illustrates the difficulties that faced crews of the T-34/85 tank, which was massively front-heavy and had a gun that protruded 6ft 6 inches (2m) past the front of the hull.
I Was There4 November 2014
This account comes from the memoirs of Helmut Ritgen, who was the Regimental Adjutant of Panzer Regiment 11, part of the 6th Panzer Division. Seated in his command tank on the night of 19 December 1942, he witnessed how strangely anticlimactic even an important victory can be. Operating well in advance of the main force, the biggest threat to the success of his unit’s mission was getting lost and running out of fuel in the featureless landscape of the Kuban Steppe. The poorly trained raw recruits of the Soviet 51st Army had probably never seen a German tank before, and so let them pass unharmed.
I Was There24 October 2014
On 25 October 1942, Joachim Stempel was seconded to the 103rd Panzergrenadier Regiment because most of the regiment’s officers had become casualties. He was to lead the 2nd company in a renewed offensive to force the Red Army back just a few hundred metres to reach the Volga. The first target was the so-called administration building of the “Bread Factory”. This was part of the key complex of factories (by now largely in ruins) that had by October become the focus of the infantry battle.
I Was There13 October 2014
Lieutenant Alfred Regenniter was the commander of a StuG III Ausf G assault gun, part of Assault Gun Brigade 276, Third Panzer Army. He was in almost constant action on the Eastern Front from the summer of 1944 to February 1945, when he was badly wounded and sent back to Germany. This extract from his journal is an example of a fairly typical day’s action for an experienced panzer commander on the eastern front in the later stages of the war. It describes the fighting for a small village in Northern Poland, close to the border with what was East Prussia.
I Was There20 August 2014
First-hand account from Alfred Regeniter, who as a raw lieutenant had just taken over command of a Stug III assault gun in Lithuania: