fter more than half a century since the end of the Second World War, the writing of the history of PanzerRegiment 5 and Panzer-Ableilung 5 was a difficult undertaking, especially with regard to the detail in which it is presented. The author, who did not take part in the war, was compelled to study the sources in his work. Many gaps in the narrative and even contradictory statements made the work more difficult. Particularly unfortunate was the fact that the names of many members of the formations in leadership roles, such as battalion and company commanders, could not be determined completely. Despite those deficiencies, it was high time for the history of the regiment to be written, since all previous efforts at a comprehensive portrait had failed for one reason or another, and the only thing available were individual contributions or broad portrayals.
The time frame under discussion here was relatively short, but it was marked by important events that still influence its today. The soldiers of the regiment fulfilled their duties bravely and in a self- sacriflcialwayfnr our German fatherland. They fought in Poland, France and North Africa. Reconstituted as Panzer-Abteilung 5, they landed in the middle of the collapse of Heeresgtwlrhe Mitte on the Eastern Front in the summer of 1944. Reconstituted anew, they were first committed on the Western Front, before they fought outside of Berlin and in Mecklenburg at the end of the war. The author made every effort to present events truthfully, since history is obligated to the truth. Consequently, the unfortunate and annoying tendency to load up any treatment of historical events with ideology-especially from the German viewpoint-is avoided. In addition, it was important not to observe the history of the oldest formation of the Panzertrulrpe in an isolated manner but to present it in the context of the war and military history.
This work is not intended to appeal just to veterans. Instead, it is designed to inform members of the younger generation about those times. Graphics are kept as simple as possible, with the aim of making the situation and conduct of the fighting understandable even to non-military professionals.
Bernd Hartmann, Oberstleutnant a.D.
Spokesman for the Veterans Association of Former
hanks to tremendous effort and a great deal of professionalism, the author has assembled a history of Panzer-Regiment 5-a regiment that led the way for the Panzertruppe in all of the theaters of war-that honors and memorializes all members of the regiment, the living and the dead. This book is a fitting tribute to my old regiment.
Werner Grun, Major a.D.
Former Battalion Commander in Panzer-Regiment 5
1.1920-26: The Seeckt Era
The military defeat of the Germans in 1918 also meant the end of the numerically very small German armor branch, which consisted of only nine battalions, each with five tanks. Independently operating armored formations-a separate armored force-did not exist in the First World War.
The lack of a sufficient number of German armored vehicles contributed in part to the defeat of the German forces during that conflict, especially in the face of the masses of tanks employed on the Allied side.
According to Article 171 of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was prohibited from having any "armored vehicles" or "any similar such materiel that could suit the purposes of war." Those provisions were monitored by an "Inter-Allied Control Commission" that was in force in Germany until February 1927.
In order to train for an armored force, which was vitally necessary in modern warfare, the German armed forces were reduced to using wheeled dummies that were pushed by soldiers or mounted on the chassis of light automobiles. The picture presented to the soldier on the ground by such displays was not well suited to conveying the elements of firepower, mobility and armor that defined the values of an armored vehicle or convincing them of the power and lethality of that new and modern type of weapons system.
From 1920 to 1926, Generaloberst Hans Seeckt was the Chief-of-Staff of the Army. Seeckt made the German Army into a gigantic school of leadership, which later proved itself immensely' and which attempted to do its bidding in the establishment of a modern army with special emphasis on technical proficiency and the mastery of weapons under the watchful eyes of the Inter-Allied Control Commission. Under Seeckt's authority, German soldiers and aviators received training on aircraft and fighting vehicles, under the strictest of secrecy, in the Soviet Union.
Following the disestablishment of the Panzerwaffe in the wake of the First World War, the tradition of combat vehicles was maintained in the Kraffahr- Abteilung of the Reichswehr.2 The motorized force consisted of seven battalions, which all reported to one of the seven divisions for mobilization purposes. The main mission of the battalion was to assure the flow of supplies for the divisions.
Supervisory responsibility for the motorized battalions fell to the Inspektion der Kraflfahrtruppens in the Ministry of Defense.
2.1927-33: From "Motorized Forces" to "Motorized Combat Forces"
At the end of the 1920s, the Inspector General of the motorized forces at the time, General der Artillerie Vollard-Bockelberg, who has been called the "trailblazer for the Panzertruppe,"4 gradually had the motorized battalion reorganized with motorcycle infantry companies and combat vehicle training companies (armored cars and dummy tanks). These would prove to be the nucleus of the future Panzertruppe. Thus, an increasingly motorized and combat-capable force evolved from what was once a transportation element.
In 1922, Hauptmann Guderian was transferred into the Motorized Forces Directorate from his light infantry battalion in Goslar. He was tasked with exploring the usage of motorized and armored forces and developed concepts for their employment, which later led to the idea of operational-level employment. He wrote in his memoirs:
By studying military history, the exercises in England and our own experiences with our dummy tanks, I was reinforced in my belief that tanks were only capable of their best performance if the other branches, on whose help they always relied, were brought to the same status in terms of speed and cross-country mobility.
In that formation, the tanks always had to play the most important role; the other branches had to orient on the tanks.
One could not put the tanks in infantry divisions; instead, one had to establish armored divisions, in which all of the branches that the tanks needed to be combat effective were present.'
Thus, thedevelopmentofmodern armoredforces was based on the concept of fast armored formations capable of large-scale actions at operational level, could accomplish missions independently and were capable of fighting as combined arms.
That concept became the basis for the command and control and doctrine of the Panzertruppe in the Second World War. It proved itself without reservation, and it still enjoys validity to this day in all modern armies. Guderian was the father of that concept.
After Guderian was promoted to Oberstleutnant in 1930 and assumed command of a motorized battalion, he returned to the Directorate of Motorized Forces on 1 October 1931 as its Chief-ofStaff. He reported to Generalmajor Oswald Lutz, who had been designated the head of the directorate on 1 April 1931. On 1 May 1933, the motorized battalions of the armed forces were redesignated as motorized combat battalions.
Both men complemented each other well, with Lutz eventually becoming known as the "father of army motorization" and Guderian as the "creator of the Panzertruppe."e One of Guderian's closest staff officers was Major i.G.' Walther K. Nehring, who was assigned there in January 1932.
After four years of hard work-often against the resistance of higher levels of command that were not prepared to accept armored vehicles as a separate branch-they created the prerequisites for the establishment of the first three armored divisions in October 1935.
3. The Armored School at KAMA
Following negotiations with the Soviets, an armor school for German personnel was established with the code name of KAMA. It was located at a former artillery base with a gunnery range about five kilometers from the city of Kasan, about 750 kilometers east of Moscow. In addition, there was an aviation school at Lipezk and a gas-warfare school at Saratow.
Starting in 1928, the Soviet Union provided training lands, living quarters, equipment (including armored vehicles under development for the Soviets) and about 60 personnel. In return, Soviet officers were permitted to attend courses and exercises in Germany.
The instructors, engineers, technicians and course participants who went to the Soviet Union were temporarily discharged from the military for the duration of the courses. Soviets also attended courses at KAMA. In ,July 1929, the first prototypes of German armored vehicles arrived at the school, which still bore the code name of "agricultural tractors" to hide their true intent." In addition to the training conducted, technical trials with the six heavy and four light "tractors" were given great emphasis.
The first course of instruction was given in 192930, followed by it second one from 1931 to 1932 and a third and final until September 1933. The school was dissolved in the fall of 1933, after German-Soviet relations worsened.
As a result of technical and tactical knowledge gained there, the approximately 30 officers who were trained there later formed the nucleus of the first German armored training units. The school had enabled the creation of the first batch of trainers and instructors, without which the rapid establishment of the first training formations in 1934-35 would not have been possible."
Many of those who attended or taught at the school were later to be found in leadership positions giment 5. Among them were Major within Panzer-Re Harpe (school director, 1932-33), HauptmannConze (tactics instructor), Oberleutnant Volckheim (tactics instructor), Oberleutnant Kiihn (gunnery instructor), Hauptmann von Koppen (class advisor), Oberleutnant Thomale (course participant) and Oberleutnant Mildebrath (course participant).
As a result, the armor school in the Soviet Union yielded significant importance for the development of operational doctrine, exerted influence on the organizational basis for the establishment of the first German armored formations that followed soon thereafter and influenced the initial construction of German armored vehicles.
Another course participant was Oberleutnant Klaus Muller, who wrote of his experiences in May 1972 in an article entitled So leblen and arbeiteten wir 1929 bis 1933 in KAMA."' Here are some excerpts:
Second Part of the Course: 1931-1932
As usual, the technical preparatory work started in the middle of January. All of the tractors received new experimental tracks, with and without rubber pads. The heavy tractors also received track pins with grease. It was soon determined that the tracks with rubber pads encountered too much resistance when steering. The greased track pins did not work out at all, since water and sand entered through the pin gaskets, thus providing an extremely effective abrasive leading to premature wear. The desired larger roadwheels could not be mounted on these tractors.
The larger roadwheels, double sprockets for driving the track and open track with ungreased pins were therefore slated for future construction.
Starting on 10 May 1932, the German course participants started on their way home by land via Dunaburg and the frontier at Bigossowo ...
Since the rations the previous year provided enough calories but lacked in vitamins, Hauptmann Conze arranged for seeds to come from Germany. As a result, the camp garden was able to provide considerably more fresh vegetables than previously ...
In July 1932, Oberstleutnant Guderian visited so as to be able to form an opinion on further developments after taking rides in both the small tractors and the heavy ones. He dictated that the development of the heavy tractors was to be emphasized.
At about the end of July, additional tactical and technical training followed for the German participants. Gunnery aids consisting of sub-caliber devices, air guns and firing at film (gunnery movies) were tested. For the gunnery movies, Hauptmann von Koppen received instruction at the weapons directorate and at the Ufa studios in Neu- babelsberg. In addition, improved firing devices were tested, which could be operated mechanically or electrically by the foot or the knee. There was an assortment of periscopes, sighting devices and different types of ammunition. The advantages and disadvantages of mechanical or electrical turret traversing mechanisms had to be determined, as well as sucking out or blowing out remaining gunpowder fumes. Since communications between and among members of the crew had to function without question, it was necessary to procure our own intercom system. There were difficulties in transmission from the non-moveable
part to the moveable part, the turret. The construction of the collector ring was no easy matter ...
In the middle of August, the Russian course participants-some 100 commanders from all branches, as well as Red Army engineers-arrived. They remained until the middle of October. The Russian participants arrived without rank insignia, just as they had the previous year, so no one know who they were dealing with. All of the course participants were inquisitive and industrious. They placed special value on having a template for every type of order, which, it should be mentioned, could lead to a certain degree of rigidity. Camaraderie between the German and Russian participants was advanced by a weekly meal taken together ...
The degree to which solidarity was fostered with the Russian forces is demonstrated by the invitation of all of the German course participants to a company function by the training company of the armor school in Leningrad. The political advisor of the company had issued the invitation and directed the evening affair, with the company commander practically functioning as a guest. When the Germans appeared, the Russians stood up, followed by a cheer that was given three times ... despite beer and a lot of vodka, there were no drunk soldiers. The discipline was good.
We noticed whenever the Russians conducted combat gunnery that the targets were more lifelike than the ones we used, for example, Polish or Czech uniforms were portrayed. Russian exercises were also conducted with amphibious tanks, whereby an engineer company participated. The gunnery training continued. The ranges had to be laid out; there were no plans. Since there were no barriers, warning devices or telephone bunkers, the range safety duties had to be carried out by cavalry. The Russian translator was clear and simple: "Whenever it's booming, everyone goes away; they know, after all, that it's a gunnery range here."
Once a Panje cart" was hit by an armorpiercing round; the horse was able to escape!
Somewhat more awkward was the occasion when a Soda machine gun was being loaded-which had to be done at maximum elevation-and the Russian course participant accidently stepped on the foot trigger and placidly emptied both magazines with a total of 1,000 rounds. In a neighboring factory, one worker was hit in the shoulder, another in the upper thigh. How the matter was handled remained a mystery ...
Besides General Lutz and Oberstleutnant Guderian, General von Hammerstein- Equord12 visited us for a short while that year. Even if all of the higher-ranking officers traveled in civilian clothes and used code names, the actual secrecy as a practical matter was somewhat different. Whenever groups-always of the same size-always traveled from the Berlin-Zoo station at certain times of the year and always had additional baggage with them-all the same size and all numbered consecutively-then the rail officials and baggage handlers smiled in a friendly manner, wished them a goodjour- ney and a quick return. It was a bit stickier for a course participant whenever a wife, who was spending the time with relatives in a smaller town, was regularly visited by a
Herr Schulz from Berlin with a payroll and the husband had completely disappeared from the picture. In another case, people were upset when a wife gave birth to a son shortly after the husband's departure, and he had apparently left her in the lurch. The same people were even more amazed when the husband reappeared half a year later ... In summary, 1932 must be considered a year of considerable progress in training and cooperation with the Russians.
As a result of the political changes in Germany, we no longer counted on a detail of participants from the Russians, which was, in fact, what happened. As a result, the training of the German participants could continue as planned without any interruption. Extensive driving exercises alternated with live-fire exercises with machine guns or 3.7-centimeter cannon, even though the gunnery range was not often made available as a result of the worsening of relationships ... In addition, there were no more exercises with Russian forces. In the middle of the intensive training came the news that the training and testing base of KAMA was to be closed by 15 September.
The preparations for the departure started in the middle of August ... what, whether and how everything would be brought back was left to the clear directives of Major Harpe, who certainly had no easy time of it in negotiating. In a cooperative effort involving all of the Germans and the Russian employees, all of the weapons, ammunition, tanks-tractors, that is-and military equipment, as well as the library, were removed. Everything had to be packed in crates and sealed. The crates for the tanks had to be enlarged, since the vehicles had taken on other dimensions in the meantime. Special lifting devices had to be fabricated for the transfer in Leningrad. Everything had to get to the railhead at Kasan under its own power or towed. The freight cars that arrived had to be thoroughly inspected and greased for the 14-day trip to Leningrad, since none of the axles could be allowed to overheat during the trip ... The equipment was taken miner Russian guard on two trains to Leningrad. The movements all took place without incident, including Leningrad. The relationships with the Russian leadership were proper and irreproachable to the very end. In the meantime, all of the Germans had either departed from Kasan by train via Moscow or by ship via Leningrad. The last one to leave the camp was Major Harpe. Our leaving was not easy for the Russian workers. The initial period in the rebirth of the Panzertruppe was ended.
German Training Sites and Schools in the Soviet Union, 1922-33
4.1933-34: Establishment of the "Motorization Training Command"
The military and political situation in Germany changed fundamentally in 1933, when Adolf Hitler became the Reich Chancellor. Hitler recognized the operational possibilities of modern weapons systems, especially the importance of the new Panzertruppe.
The first formation of the fledgling Panzertruppe was established at Zossen, about 40 kilometers south of Berlin, on 1 November 1933. It consisted of officers who had attended the KAMA course and personnel details of around 50 men in all from the seven motorized battalions to serve as cadre and trainees.
For reasons of secrecy and deception, the new formation was referred to as Kraftfahrlehrkommando Zossen.ls It initially consisted of a headquarterscommanded by Major Harpe and based temporarily in Berlin-Moabit-and a company disguised as a "Training Section" under the command of Hauptmann Conze. The new command reported directly to the Inspectorate of Motorized forces at the Ministry of Defense.
Duty Positions of the Motorization Training Command Zossen (as of 1 November 1933)
Adjutant: Oberleutnant Martin
Staff Captain: Hauptmann Baumgart
1. Kompanie ("Training Section"): Hauptman Conze
Officers: Hauptmann Thomale, Oberleutnant Kohn, Oberleutnant Ebert, Oberleutnant Henning and Oberleutnant Mildebrath
Officers in the Photograph on the Next Page with a Special Connection to Panzer-Regiment 5
1. Generalleutnant Lutz, the "Father of Army Motorization." Inspector General of Motorized Forces. Final rank: General der Panzertruppen.
2. Oberst i.G. Guderian, the "Creator of the Panzertruppe." Chief-of-Staff of the Inspectorate of Motorized Forces in the Ministry of Defense. Last rank: Generaloberst.
3. Major i.G. Nehring, operations officer in the Inspectorate of Motorized Forces. From 13 October 1937 until July 1939, he was the commander of Panzer-Regiment 5 (Oberst). Last rank: General der Panzertruppen.
4. Major Harpe, last commander of the KAMA Armor School. Effective 1 November 1933: Commander of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Last rank: Generaloberst.
5. Hauptmann Conze. Effective 1 November 1933, the commander of the 1st Company ("Training Section") of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Acting commander of PanzerRegiment 5 during the campaign in Poland. Last rank: Generalmajor.
6. Hauptmann Thomale. Effective 1 March 1934, commander of the 2nd Company ("Training Section") of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Last rank: Generalleutnant.
7. Major Breith. Effective 1 August 1934, commander of the 2nd Battalion of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Commander of the IL/Panzer-Regiment 514 until 1938. Last rank: General der Panzertruppen.
8. Oberleutnant Mildebrath. Effective 1 August 1934, commander of the 6th Company of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Battalion commander in Africa and occasionally entrusted with acting command of the regiment. Last rank: Oberst.
9. Hauptmann Kohn. Effective 15 October 1935, commander of the 1st Company of PanzerRegiment 5. Commander of the 11./Panzer- Regiment 5 in Africa as a Major. Last rank: Oberst.
The founders of the Panzertruppe, Zossen, November 1933.
10. Oberleutnant von Wilcke. Effective 1 October 1936, commander of the 2nd Company of Panzer-Regiment 5 as a Hauptmann. As a Major, commander of the IL/Panzer-Regiment5 effective 10 November 1938. Last rank: Oberst.
11. Oberleutnant Martin. Effective 1 October 1936, adjutant to the commander of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. As a Hauptmann, commander of the 5th Company of PanzerRegiment 5. As an Oberstieutnant, commander of the 11/Panzer-Regiment 5 in Africa. Mortally wounded on 27 May 1942.
12. Oberleutnant Ebert. Effective 1 November 1933, commander of the 1st Company ("Training Section") of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Last rank: Oberstleutnant.
13. Oberleutnant Henning. Effective 1 November 1933, assigned to the 1st Company ("Training Section") of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Assigned as a company officer to the 8th Company of Panzer-Regiment 5 until 1938.
Most of the military facilities at Zossen were constructed in the period from 1910 to 1913 to serve the forces training at the Zossen Training Area. The base camp was located at the western edge of the training area. Range II was only 1,000 meters away; Range III, 500.
During World War I, forces were activated at the garrison, which later saw action in the conflict. In 1919, several elements of differing free corps were billeted at the garrison.
From 1925 to 1929, portions of the buildings were used as children's recreational facilities for the city of Berlin. On 1 November 1933, the Motorization Training Command was established in the garrison.
In accordance with directives from the General Staff of the Army on 14 September 1936, Zossen was to be expanded to become the Headquarters for the High Command of the Army.
From 1937 to 1940, Camp "Zeppelin" was constructed, consisting of two bunker complexes,
"Maybach I" and "Maybach II." Communications Center "Zeppelin" was also constructed to support the facilities. On 26 August 1939, the German Army Headquarters moved to Zossen and occupied "Maybach I," among other facilities.
Just before the end of the war in 1945, the High Command of the Armed Forces moved to Zossen, occupying "Maybach II." As the result of an Allied bombing raid on 15 March 1945, large portions of the main garrison were destroyed.
The town of Zossen was approximately 3 kilometers distant from the military facilities. The ranges for the garrison were located just east of the main buildings.
In the winter of 1933-34, the emphasis for training was placed on driver's training for the future unit activations. The hilly terrain associated with the Zossen Training Area placed _link_ great demands on the driving skills of students, who referred to the area as the "waves of the Danube." During this period, the first chassis of what was to become the Panzer I arrived for driver's training. As a deception measure, the vehicles were referred to as "agricultural tractors.""
Stationing at the military facilities at Zossen as seen in a 1924 postcard.
Berlin-Zossen map (1:1,000,000) from 1940.
Chassis of a Panzer I used for driver's training at the Zossen Training Area.
On 1 March 1934, the Motorization Training Command Zossen was expanded to three companies. On 1 April, the headquarters of the command moved from Berlin-Moabit to Zossen. Effective 16 April 1934, a fourth company was added.
Command Positions of Motorization Training Command Zossen (as of 1 April 1934)'
Commander: MajorHarpe (formerly the commander of the KAMA Armor School)
Ist Company: Hauptmann Conze (formerly an instructor at the KAMA Armor school)
2nd Company: Hauptmann Thomale (formerly an instructor at the KAMA Armor school)
3rd Company: Hauptmannvon Koppen (formerly an instructor at the KAMA Armor school)
4th Company: (16 April 1934): HauptmannWenden- burg
In April 1934, the entire strength of the command, after the addition of 150 recruits, was 500.
On 1 June 1934, the Inspectorate of Motorized Forces was redesignated as the Motorized Combat Forces Command. Generalleutnant Lutz was simultaneously given permission to establish a second Motorization Training Command. The second command was established through personnel levies against the first command at Zossen, from assorted motorized battalions and from several deactivated cavalry regiments. The new command was designated as the Motorization Training Command Ohrdruf. That was the first "fusion" of the command at Zossen, which was the nucleus for the establishment later on of Panzer-Regiment 5. More were to follow.
Starting on 1 August 1934, the training command at Zossen was expanded with personnel levies from Reiter-Regiment3and Reiter-Regiment 8," as well as three motorized battalions (3, 5 and 6). This enlarged the command to two battalions. On 1 October 1934, the command positions were occupied as shown below.
Motorization Training Command Zossen Command Positions
Commander: Oberstleutnant Zuckertort
1st Battalion ("Zossen I")"
Commander: Oberstleutnant Harpe
1st Company: Hauptmann Thomale
2nd Company: Hauptman Volckheim
3rd Company: Hauptman Schwenck
4th Company: ?
2nd Battalion ("Zossen II")
5th Company: Oberleutnantvon Heinemann
6th Company: OberleutnantMildebrath
7th Company: ?
8th Company: ?
On 1 October, the Zossen command was redesignated as Kampf vagenregiment I and the Ohrdruf command as Kampfivagezregiment 2.'0 Both regiments initially kept their code names.
Both of those regiments, as well as the newly formed Kampfivagenregiment 3, that had been created out of Reiter-Regiment 12, were attached to Motorization Training Headquarters Berlin on the same date. All three elements were amalgamated
into Fighting Vehicle Brigade Berlin,20 with the first commander being GeneralmajorFessmann.
After serial production of the Panzer I was initiated in July 1934, the vehicle was delivered to all of the units, with the result that training could be started at the platoon and company level. The first company inspection took place in the spring of 1935.
The term "armored fighting vehicle" (Panzer- kampfivagen) represented a combination of "armored vehicle" (Panzerzuagen) and "fighting vehicle" (Kam- pfivagen). What that encompassed was a fully tracked armored vehicle with a main weapon, which is incorporated into a 360-degree traversable turret. For this work, the commonly used term "tank" will be used as shorthand for armored fighting vehicle.
Approximately 1,500 Panzer Is were built by the firms involved in their construction from 1934 to 1939.
With an effective date of 12 November 1934,21 special-purpose clothing was authorized for service on armored vehicles. It was designed to replaced the previous special-purpose uniform worn by the motorized forces. The branch-of-service color chosen for the new branch was rose pink.
The branch-of-service color appeared along the edge of the jacket collar (later discarded), around the collar patches, on the shoulder straps (enlisted personnel) and as underlay on the boards (officers). The crash helmet/beret had only national insignia on it, but the field cap for both officers and enlisted, whether in field gray or black, had branch-of-service piping on it as well (also later officially discarded).
Initially, both the field jacket and the crash helmet/beret combination had no national insignia. Effective 11 November 1935, the national insignia started to be worn on both items.22
Shown above is the special-purpose tanker's uniform in a period post card. This soldier was assigned to Panzer-Regiment 6, as indicated by the numerals on the shoulder straps. Members of other tank regiments wore analogous numerals.
The new uniform, consisting of black jacket and trousers, a dark-gray tricot shirt and black tie was chosen because it was not likely to show stains through oil and grease. It was also designed so that there were few areas that could get caught in the
narrow confines of an armored vehicle. The crash helmet/beret combination, which was never really popular with the crews, was only worn until around 1940, when it was replaced with a black overseas cap.
A contemporary book on uniforms written by Eberhard Hettler in 1939 introduced the specialpurpose tanker uniform by means of the illustration on the following page.23
Special-Purpose Clothing of the Panzertruppe
For service in armored vehicles, personnel in the Panzertruppe and those issued armored vehicles will wear special-purpose clothing made out of black cloth: protective headgear, field jacket and field trousers.
Protective Headgear: The national insignia on the protective headgear corresponds to that worn on the field cap, that is, it is made out of silver-gray cotton for noncommissioned officers and enlisted personnel and light aluminum weave for officers. The oak-leave wreath for enlisted personnel, noncommissioned officers and officers is made out of silver-gray cotton.
Field Jacket: Basic cloth is black; piping on the collar and around the collar patches in the branch-of-service piping; collar patches in black
with aluminum death heads. Shoulder straps with piping in branch-of-service color with the base cloth in black. Shoulder straps for noncommissioned officers with corresponding silver trim; officers use the shoulder boards of the field blouse. Insignia for enlisted personnel and musicians the same as the field blouse. No silver trim around the collar for noncommissioned officers, but twin rings for company sergeants. National insignia for all ranks out of woven silver-gray cotton on a black base.
Black field trousers without piping.
Worn with the black special-purpose clothing is a belt without sidearm. For parades, officers wear a belt with four de guerre. Noncommissioned officers and enlisted personnel wear the marksmanship lanyard, if awarded.
Footgear: Light lace-up shoes.
Another distinguishing feature of the uniform was the use of the death's head on the collar patches. Contrary to modern interpretation, these had no sinister purpose. Instead, it was merely a borrowing from the cavalry tradition, not only of Germany, but also of many other European countries. The death's head on the tanker's uniform continued the traditions of the First World War. The tankers from that conflict had painted a large death's head on the front side of their tanks. The tanker's badge for former tank crews of the First World War that was instituted by the Ministry of Defense on 13 July 1921 also bore a death's head.
At left is the fighting vehicle badge of the Weimar Republic commemorating former crewmembers of armored vehicles of the First World War, featuring the death's head symbol of the Panzertruppe.24
The musical needs of the force were also addressed with the writing of the "Tanker's Song" by Leutnant Wiehle, a young armor officer. It was set to the melody of a hiking song and soon became universally known." It was mandatory to learn the song and it was sung at every ceremonial occasion.
The Panzer-Lied on a prewar postcard.
5.1935: Birth of the Panzertruppe and PanzerRegiment 5
On 16 March 1935, the government of the Reich introduced general conscription, reestablishing the sovereignty of the military. The Reichswehr had become the Wehrmacht.
Starting in the spring of 1935, the companies of Kampfiuagen-Regiment I (Zossen) received 21 tanks (three platoons of seven tanks each). The fourth platoon of each company initially received only dummy vehicles.21
InJuly 1935, during a road march to the Doberitz Training Area, the regiment showed itself in public for the first time. During its stay at the training area, the formation-from individual companies to the regiment-was melded into a cohesive whole by means of exercises.
On the return march to Zossen, a parade was held at the Potsdam gardens by this first element of the new Panzertruppe for the Inspector General of Motorized Forces, GezeralleutnantLutz.
On 25 July 1935, both regiments participated in an exercise at the Zossen Training Area, which was attended not only by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General der Artillerie Freiherr- von Fritsch,27 but also by Hitler. This was followed by training and testing exercises at the Munster Training Area. While there, Lutz and Guderian proved the value of "combined-arms fighting" through the use of additional fully motorized elements from other branches of service that successfully worked together with the tanks. The effort to create an "armored division" had succeeded thanks to the dynamism, farsightedness and persistence of its creator, Guderian. The exercises were concluded at the training area with a parade for the Minister of Defense.
From the training area at Munster, the headquarters of the 2nd Battalion and the 5th Company moved to the Ohrdruf Training Area, where the ad hoc Panzer-Abteilung Nurnberg was established under Major Breith. In addition to the elements cited above, the battalion was also composed of elements from the rest of Kampfwagen-Regiment I and its sister regiment, Kampfivagen-Regiment 2. The mission of the battalion was to present the fledgling Panzertruppe to the general public for the first time at the Reich Party Days in Nuremberg from 10 to 16 September 1935. The battalion was then paraded at the Buckeberg, which was an annual gathering of farmers, where the armed forces put on displays to demonstrate its importance and capabilities to the agricultural community.
Panzer-Abteilung Nurnberg at the Buckeberg in 1935.
The presentation of the Panzertruppe at the Reich Party Days in 1935.
On 27 September 1935, the Kommando der Kraftfahrkampftruppen was redesignated as the Kommando der Panzertruppen. Lutz, the commanding general, was promoted to become the first General derPanzertruppen on 1 November 1935.
On 1 October 1935, Kampfiuagenregiment 2 (Ohrdruf) was deactivated and the personnel used to form the first four tank regiments: 1, 2, 3 and 4. On 15 October 1935, the first armored contingent of the German Armed Forces, Kraftfahrlehrkommando Zossen/Kampfivagenregiment 1, was redesignated as Panzer-Regiment 5. The command positions of the regiment were occupied as follows on 15 October 1935:28
Commander: Oberstleutnant Zuckertort
Commander: Oberstleutnant Streich
1st Company: Hauptmann Kohn
2nd Company: Hauptmann Thomale
3rd Company: Hauptmann Linke
4th Company: Hauptmann Wendenburg
5th Company: Oberleutnantvon Heinemann
6th Company: Oberleutnant Mildebrath
7th Company: Hauptmann von Langenthal
8th Company: ?
Organization of the 3. Panzer-Division at the End of 1935
Legend to German entries: ab= effective; DivKdr= Divisionshonimandeur= Division Coinnrander; Generalleutnant= Generalleutnant; DivKdo = Divisions Kommando = Division Headquarters; AuJblAbt = Aufhldrungs-Abteilung = Reconnaissance Battalion; PzAbwAbt = Panzerabwehr-Abteilung= Antitank Battalion; NachAbt= i\ achrichten Abteilung= Signals Battalion; PiKp = Pionier Konipanie = Engineer Company; ArtAbt = Artillerie-Abteilung = Artillery Battalion; ArtRgt = Artillerie-Regiment = Artillery Regiment; not = motorisiert = motorized; BrigKdr = BrigadeKommandeur = Brigade Commander; Schiitzen-Brigade = Rifle Regiment, Schiitzen-Bataillon = Rifle Battalion; Kradschiitzenbataillon= Motorcycle Infantry Battalion; Abteilung= Battalion.
In addition, both of the battalions had a light tank platoon and a signals platoon. The regiment had a maintenance company
15 October 1935 can be considered as the birth date of the Panzertruppe. The goal of having a branch of service capable of conducting operational-level missions that stood on its own and with its own command had been realized. Initially, it consisted of three armored divisions, which also had motorized or armored components from other branches of service. The first three armored division that reported to the Armored Forces Command were
1. Panzer-Division (headquartered in Weimar)
Commander: GeneralleutnantMaximilian Reichsfreiherr von Weichs (originally cavalry)
2. Panzer-Division (headquartered in Wurzburg)
Commander: Oberst Heinz Guderian (originally infantry, then motorized forces)
3. Panzer-Division (headquartered in Berlin)
Commander: GeneralmajorErnstFessmann (originally cavalry, then motorized forces)
Panzer-Regiment 5 was assigned to the 3. PanzerDivision. Some claim that the birth date of the regiment was actually 1 October 1934, but since the official designation of Panzer-Regiment 5was not used until 15 October 1935, that is the date that will be given precedence in this study.
The establishment of troop elements for the new armored divisions meant that Panzer-Regiment 5 had
to give up considerable amounts of personnel. For instance, the activation of Panzer-Regiment 6 in Zossen meant that officers and men from Panzer-Regiment 5 had to be reassigned. In addition, the new regiment received personnel levies from Reiter-Regiment 4 (Potsdam). Together with Panzer-Regiment 6, the two tank regiments formed the 3. Panzer-Brigade of the 3. Panzer-Division. In addition to providing personnel for its sister regiment, Panzer-Regiment 5 also had to provide two complete companies to help establish Panzer-Regiment 4 on 15 October 1935. The division was organized as follows on 15 October 1935:
The Garrisons of the 3. Panzer-Division in the Brandenburg Region (see map on next page)
Berlin: Headquarters of both the 3. Panzer-Division and the 3. Panzer-Brigade
Eberswalde: Headquarters of the 3. Schutzen-Brigade, Schutzen-Regiment 3; IL/Artillerie-Regiment 75
Neuruppin: Panzer-Regiment 6; Headquarters and the L/Artillerie-Regiment 75
Wunsdorf: Panzer-Regiment 5; Panzerabivehr-Abteilung 39
Rathenow: Pionier-Bataillon 39
Bad Freienwalde: Kradschutzen-Bataillon 3
Stahnsdorf: Nachrichten-Abteilung 39; Aufhlarungs- Abteilung 3
6. Panzer-Regiment 5 in the Wunsdorf Garrison
The small town of Wiinsdorf, in the province of Teltow, 42 kilometers south of Berlin, was selected as the garrison for Panzer-Regiment 5. It had already served as a military garrison during the First World War. The buildings for the infantry gunnery school were constructed there from 1911 to 1913. In 1925, the training battalion of Infanterie-Regiment 9 (Potsdam) moved there in 1925. It was followed in 1931 by the 3./Preuf3ische Kraftfahr-Abteilung 3.99 In 1935, Panzerabwehr-Abteilung 39 moved in. The garrison was later named the Hindenburg-Kaserne.
In addition to the troop units stationed in the garrison, there was also a military gymnastics school. It was established between 1914 and 1916. German athletes trained there for the 1936 Olympics. During the First World War, there were also a number of prisoner-of-war camps erected in the vicinity of Wunsdorf. Also, in 1918, Wunsdorf became the
home of the replacement battalion for the German armored forces of the First World War.
The location of various training facilities close by made it a good location for tank training. There was the nearby Zossen Training Area, which had been established in 1907, the Doberitz Training Area, which was approximately 50 kilometers away, and the Kiimmersdorf Gunnery Ranges.
In the years 1935-36, there was considerable construction for the new garrisons, on the order of magnitude of some 80 buildings. These were intended for Panzer-Regiment 5, the Armor School and the Motorization Training and Testing Battalion. Panzer-Regiment 5 started moving to Wunsdorf on 20 October 1935. The move was underscored by a large motor march that morning from the previous garrison at Zossen along Reich Highway 96 to Wnsdorf. There was a large civilian population present to witness the move, all accompanied by the music of the regimental band.
After the companies moved in, they immediately started work on making the sterile environs more hospitable, so that the soldiers would have a comfortable "home" during their time of service, which would offer comfort and respite after the daily duties. As a result, noncommissioned officer and enlisted common areas were established, as well as reading rooms, table tennis areas and game rooms. All of the rooms had a civilian radio. The windows were decorated with curtains and flower boxes. Commemorative displays were set up in the long hallways.
In addition, gunnery ranges, a small sports facility and a gymnasium were all established using their own means.
The 1st Battalion built a boathouse on Lake Wiinsdorf. Members of the battalion had the opportunity to participate in rowing or simply enjoy the water there. Many recruits from all areas of Germany thus became acquainted with the beautiful local scenery.
In October 1935, the regiment received its first conscripts from the reintroduction of the draft in March of that year.30 The were sworn in along with the other recruits of the garrison in a ceremony on 7 November.
Legend: Lutz-Kaserne: Built 1934-35 as Garrison IV. Occupied on 20 October 1935 by the IL/PanzerRegiment 5.
Panzertruppenschule: Armor School.
Kraftfahrlehr- and ...: Motorization Training and Testing Battalion.
Heeresspm-tschule: Army Sports School.
Hindenburg-Kasenw Panzerabwehr-Abteiluug 39.
Cambrai-Kaserne: Built 1934-35 as Garrison III. Occupied on 20 October 1935 by the Headquarters of Panzer-Regiment 5 and the L/Panzer-Regiment 5.
20 October 1935: The commander of Panzer-Regiment 5, Oberstleutnant Zuckertort, enters the garrison of Wiinsdorf, signified by the white tape, as the first vehicle after moving along Reich Highway 96. His vehicle is the command version of the Panzer I, the Panzerbefehlswagen L
20 October 1935: The 1st Battalion of Panzer-Regiment 5 enters Garrison III with its vehicles. The garrison was christened the Cambrai-Kaserne on 22 February 1938. To the left is the battalion headquarters; to the right is the regimental headquarters.
20 October 1935: Oberstleutnant Zuckertort after arriving at the new garrison.
The 2nd Battalion was billeted in Garrison IV, which was later christened the General-Lutz-Kaserne. View from the garrison in the direction of Reich Highway 96. To the left is the battalion headquarters; on the right is the billet of the 5th Company.
A postcard of General-Lutz-Kaserne in 1936. The Fighting Vehicle Memorial, which was dedicated on 16 March 1936, featured a "heavy tractor" from the KAMA Armor School. The billets of the 5th Company are on the left, one of the battalion mess halls is in the middle and the billet of the 6th Company is on the right.
The boathouse of the 1st Battalion of the regiment along Lake Wiinsdorf.
Bronze memorial of the 2nd Battalion of Panzer-Regiment 5 in Wiinsdorf. It reads: "In the Spirit of Comrades from the World War: Attack-Fight-Win." Both this memorial and the one below feature the only German tank of the First World War, the A7V.
Adolf Hitler visits Zossen before the war.
Krupp-Daimler Sd.Kfz. 3 of Kraftfahr-Abteilung 4. Like all of the other motorized battalions of the Reichswehr, it had to provide personnel for the establishment of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. The soldier in the middle is the future Hauptmann Bassenge, who was a member of the regiment from 1937 to 1939, ending his assignment there as the company commander of the 3rd Company.
One of the first: Kurt Helms, horn on 19 July 1912 in Schonebeck on the Elbe. At 17, he entered the military. In November 1933, he was transferred from KraftfahrAbteilung 4 to Motorization Training Command Zossen. In the image, he is wearing the uniform of a member of the motorized battalion. Upon his transfer, he started training new recruits in the 1st Company in April 1934 as a noncommissioned officer. After the training command was redesignated as Panzer-Regunent 5, he was transferred to the regimental headquarters and later became the First Sergeant of the 5th Company. He participated in the campaigns in Poland, France and North Africa. In 1942, he was captured at El Alamein.
23 April 1934: Swearing-in ceremony for recruits at Zossen. All the way to the left is Hauptmann Conze, the commander of the 1st Company. The 2nd Company can be seen in the far right of the image.
Transitional training from horses and trucks to tankers. In November 1934, the black tanker uniform was introduced, which initially featured no national insignia. They were not added until the beginning of November 1935.
A Model A Panzerlat the Zossen Training Area. Until 1940, the Panzer Iwas the mainstay of the tank regiments. It had originally been conceived as solely a training and exercise vehicle. Operations in Spain, Poland, France and North Africa quickly demonstrated that neither its armor nor armament were capable of standing up to a fight against enemy armor. By the end of 1941, it had disappeared from front-line service, except in a variety of specialpurpose modifications.
Zossen, 1934: Soldiers of the training command after a combat exercise.
1934: An evening social. An apple wine cooler cost 15 Pfennig.
Spring of 1935: Combat training on a PanzerI.
11 May 1935: Cleaning and maintenance of personal clothing and equipment.
Potsdam, July 1935: the first public parade of the Motorization Training Command Zossen.
August 1935: Instructional and testing exercises. Divisional-level exercise involving combined arms at the Munster Training Area. In the middle of the picture is Oberstleutnant i.G. Walther K Nehring, who was the operations officer of the Inspectorate for Motorized Combat Forces in the Ministry of Defense. He was a close associate of Heinz Guderian, the "Creator of the Panzertruppe." (Photo courtesy of the Chr. Nehring)
Postcard view of exercises with Panzer l's at a training area.
14-17 September 1935: Panzer-AbteilungNurnbergat the Reich Party Days at Nuremberg. The ad hoc battalion was composed of elements of both the Zossen and Ohrdruf motorization training commands under the command of MajorBreith, who is seen here in the lead Panzer I. He was the commander of the Zossen command's 2nd Battalion, effective 1 August 1934.
18 June 1935: The Motorization Training Command Zossen had its own hand.
20 October 1935: Oberstleutnant Zuckertort, the commander of Panzer-Regiment 5, enters the grounds of the Wiinsdorf garrison after road-marching on Reich Highway 96 from Zossen. His command and control vehicle, a Panzerbefehlswagen I, breaks the white tape that had been placed across the road.
The Cambrai-Kaserne in Wiinsdorf. It was initially built under contract from the Army Construction Office in Berlin from 1934 to 1935 as Garrison III. It was occupied on 20 October 1935 by the headquarters of PanzerRegiment 5 and its 1st Battalion (Commander: MajorStreich).
Guard force in front of the Cambrai-Kaserne (period postcard). A soldier of the regiment sounded the trumpet three times daily: "Reveille" (0600 hours), "Prelude to Taps" (2045 hours) and "Taps" (2100 hours).
Another view of the armor memorial at the Cambrai-Kaserne (period postcard).
A close-up view of the A7Vmodeled in the memorial.
General-Lutz-Kaserne along Reich Highway 96 in Wunsdorf-Zossen. It was built under contract from the Army Construction Office in Berlin from 1934 to 1935 as Garrison IV. It was occupied on 20 October 1935 by the 2nd Battalion of PanzerRegiment 5 (Commander: MajorBreith).
Marker on the company billets of the 7th Company in Wunsdorf.
Memorial in front of the company. The First Sergeant of the company, Oberfeldwebel Rother, can be seen on the left. To his left is Oberleutnant Lessen.
Conscription was reintroduced in Germany on 16 March 1935. The first draftees for Panzer-Regiment 5 are greeted at the Wunsdorf train station and escorted back to the garrison by the regimental band.
October 1935: Draftees for the 1st Battalion of Panzer-Regiment 5 enter the garrison.
7 November 1935: Swearing in recruits at the General-Lutz-Kaserne.
The regimental hand. The soldiers were assigned to the headquarters of the regiment.
The bandmaster was MusikmeisterTaeger.