Steel Division Wiki

Panther A Barkmann is a German Tank unit.


Main article: Panther A

Ernst Barkmann was born in Kisdorf in 1919, and volunteered for service in the SS-Verfügungstruppe (forerunner of the Waffen-SS) in 1936. Trained as a machine gunner, he participated in the invasions of Poland and France, before being reassigned together with his regiment, Germania, to the newly formed 5. SS-Panzer-Division Wiking. As part of Wiking, he participated in Fall Barbarossa in 1941, receiving heavy wounds within a month of the operation's start.

After recovering from his wounds, he was reassigned to the 2. SS-Panzer-Division Das Reich, and participated in the battles of Kharkov and Kursk in 1943. He was redeployed to the Western Front alongside Das Reich and participated in the battles in Normandy and the Ardennes Offensive in 1944. He eventually surrendered to the British, ending his military career as an SS-Oberscharführer.

After release, Barkmann returned to his native Kisdorf, joining the volunteer brigade, participating in politics as an FDP and CDU member, with his career culminating in the position of the mayor of Kisdorf. He held the post between 1976 and 1994, until retirement. He died in 2009, at the age of 90.

Fact or fiction?[]

Barkmann is considered a panzer ace, due to his Knight's Cross, received for actions taken on July 27, 1944. While fighting at St. Lo, Barkmann held up a column from the 3rd Armored Division, destroying nine out of fifteen M4 Sherman tanks, alongside numerous other vehicles. The legend of the Barkmann's Corner became one of the most enduring examples of Waffen-SS as an elite fighting force.

However, the story of a single Panther A defeating nine Shermans, before retreating with superficial damage and returning to friendly lines, sounds less like a credible claim and more like fantasy. It was common practice for Nazi propaganda to embellish events or invent them, when none were available, and Waffen-SS divisions were awarded high decorations disproportionately more often than their Wehrmacht counterparts, despite similar performance in the field.

In Barkmann's case, the story advanced by his citation is problematic for two reasons (courtesy of Steven Zaloga):

  1. There were no Sherman tanks lost on the day of the incident in that sector of the front line or that period for that matter.
  2. In fact, there were no Shermans in the alleged location of Barkmann's corner at all, precluding his ability to engage well over a dozen tanks (but enabling him to come out of it intact).

Regardless of the factual accuracy of his citation, Barkmann and his crew was credited with the destruction of at least 82 Soviet, British and US tanks, 136 miscellaneous armoured fighting vehicles and 43 anti-tank guns.


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