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Echoes of the past in Orel

One of the pleasures of battlefield tours is doing some then & now comparisons. Unfortunately, circumstances sometimes mean that there is not enough time, or the correct location is not found, or – as happened in this case – a hi-res version of the WW2 photo was not on hand (only a lo-res pic on an iPad was available). In 2013, I was walking around Orel, looking for a huge church that was in the background of a panzer photo. Locals had no idea where it was (it was knocked down after the war). Anyway, on instinct, I took a photo of a street that seemed vaguely familiar and when I got home, discovered that it was almost the precise spot for the “now” comparison that I was seeking. Notice the colonnaded building on the left and the Oka River bridge in the distance. This photo was used in Panzerkrieg Volume 1 (page 187), but not it’s modern comparison.

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The Battle of Voronezh

The Battle of Voronezh by Jason Mark
Be sure to get your copy of “After The Battle” magazine, Issue 182, for this 29-page article with 71 photos (39 WW2 photos, 32 modern comparisons), detailed captions and 3 maps. 
Click on one of the links below to purchase a copy and get it delivered:

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Stolen documents?

In mid-November 2018, an Iron Cross award list signed by Paulus sold at auction for a wallet-melting USD $1100. Having worked with such lists many times, I immediately recognised it as the same type archived at the Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv and vowed to find out if it was stolen. 
What is certain is that this award list (No. 93) is missing from the Bundesarchiv’s holdings, together with all others numbered 89 to 100 [plus Nr. 10 of the following EK Spange list]. However, these lists appear to have been removed a long time ago because handwritten page numbers – added by BA staff – are now consecutive, indicating that the pages were already missing when staff added the folio numbers. That means there is a hole [Lists 89-100 and 10 are missing] but the handwritten folios go from 582 (for award list 88) to 583 (award list 11). 
The question of when the 13 award lists – 23 pages in all – went missing is another matter. They were present in October 1942 and missing when Bundesarchiv incorporated them into their holdings. Were they removed at war’s end by an Allied soldier seeking a souvenir or in the post-war years by an unscrupulous opportunist? That is a question I cannot answer. 
Be sure to check out the images and accompanying captions. 
Thanks to Oliver and Sebastien for doing the legwork.

Verleihungsliste Nr. 93 (Award List No. 93) sold at auction in mid-November 1942 for USD $1100, no doubt due to Paulus’s signature.

This is what the 6. Armee awards lists look like today. Take note of the numbering. Award list No. 88 is on hand-numbered folio 582…

… and Folio 583 shows Award List No. 11. It is only upon examination of the index [next images] that the full story of the missing lists is revealed.

The index, created by 6. Armee on 22 October 1942…

… shows that Award List No. 93 was present. All lists in the large red square are now missing from Bundesarchiv’s holdings.

Also missing. Award List No. 11 is still in the holdings.

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Skull on Water battalion

If you’re into models – the plastic kind – be sure to catch our 12-page article about Panzer-Abteilung 160 in the latest issue of Military Modelcraft International (April 2019, Volume 23, Issue 06). Apart from 22 photos, it contains 6 colour profiles created specifically for this article. Attached is a small sample. 
Paper and digital copies of the magazine are available from Military Modelcraft International:

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Werner Gösel turns 99

On 16 May, Werner Gösel, author of “Iron Cross Brigade”, celebrated his 99th birthday! The book’s co-editor, Christian Bauermeister, called Herr Gösel and wished him happy birthday: “Considering that he is in the 100th year of his life, he was in a positive mood. A bit tired sometimes but all together he is feeling well.” 
Very few veterans from the 1941 campaign are still with us and their ranks grow thinner every year. We look forward to reporting on Herr Gösel’s 100th birthday in a year’s time.

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“Dicker Max” (Fat Max)

A rare beast that became extinct at Stalingrad: “Dicker Max” (Fat Max), or to use the proper nomenclature, 10.5cm K18 Pz.Sfl.IVa. Just two prototypes were made and assigned to Panzerjäger-Abteilung 521. One accidentally caught fire during the early stages of Barbarossa and was a total loss, but the other – pictured here – fought until the end of 1941 and after a rebuild at Krupp during the first half of 1942 returned to Russia in time to participate in the Operation Blue summer offensive. It was quite successful, as evidenced by the kill tally on the barrel. It would be interesting to know where its life ended in the Stalingrad pocket.