Otto Carius (27 May 1922 – 24 January 2015) was a German tank ace within the German Army who fought during World War II and was credited with destroying more than 150 tanks. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves were awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
World War II
Carius had been drafted twice before, but sent home as "Not fit for service at present underweight!". But in May 1940, Carius was finally drafted into the 104th Infantry Replacement Battalion. Following training, he volunteered for the Panzer Corps. Carius learned the fundamentals of tank warfare at Putlos in Holstein as a member of the 7th Panzer Replacement Battalion.
His unit was integrated into the newly formed 21st Panzer Regiment and in June 1941 was sent to East Prussia. He experienced his first battle as a loader in a Panzer 38(t) during Operation Barbarossa in late June 1941. It was during this operation that Carius suffered wounds from a round that struck his tank.
In 1943, Carius transferred to the schwere Panzer-Abteilung 502 (502 heavy tank battalion). This unit fought at the Leningrad front and then in the area of Narva, Estonia (Battle of Narva) and was subordinated to Strachwitz Battle Group, under the command of Hyacinth Graf Strachwitz von Groß-Zauche und Camminetz. Carius was severely wounded on 24 July 1944 while reconnoitering a village on a motorcycle ahead of his tanks. Until that day, he was unofficially running the 2nd company of 502nd; however, he officially became the commander of 2nd company on the same day he was shot through the leg, arm, 4 bullets in the back and one through the neck. He subsequently became the commander of a Jagdtiger company of the 512th Heavy Antitank Battalion (schwere Panzerjägerabteilung) in the West at the beginning of 1945. On 8 March 1945, without finishing its training, 2nd company was directed to the front line near Siegburg. It then took part in the defense of the River Rhine and eventually surrendered to the US Army on 15 April 1945.
After the war he started a pharmacy shop called Tiger Apotheke in Herschweiler-Pettersheim, Rhineland-Palatinate, named after the Tiger tank. He also wrote a book about his own experience in the war, entitled Tigers in the Mud.
Carius died on 24 January 2015 at the age of 92.
Awards and achievements
- Wound Badge in Black (8 July 1941)
- Eastern Front Medal (20 August 1941)
- Iron Cross 2nd Class (15 September 1942)
- Iron Cross 1st Class (23 November 1943)
- Wound Badge in Silver (15 December 1943)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Knight's Cross on 4 May 1944 as Leutnant of the Reserves and platoon leader in the 2./schwere Panzer-Abteilung 502
- 535th Oak Leaves on 27 July 1944 as Leutnant of the Reserves and leader of the 2./schwere Panzer-Abteilung 502
- Panzer Badge in Silver
- 2nd Grade (15 July 1944)
- 3rd Grade (1 September 1944)
- Wound Badge in Gold (11 September 1944)
Total victories (kills):
- 150+ tanks, similar number of antitank guns (100–110 tanks following another source,) majority on the Eastern Front.
Famed director and manga artist Hayao Miyazaki wrote a watercolour manga based on Otto's Tigers in the Mud called "Otto Carius: Doromamire no tora (Tigers Covered With Mud)". It was serialized in Model Graphix magazine and ran from December 1998 to May 1999. Originally this manga was planned to consist of three episodes but being unable to complete the story in three episodes it was expanded to six episodes.
Otto has also been depicted in Tamiya model kits of him and his crew with his tank "217", a Mid version Tiger (Item #35202, now discontinued) and his Mid version Jagdtiger (Item #35307). In 2012, Cyber-Hobby produced a limited-edition model kit depicting his Tiger "217". In April 2013, Unimax released a Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer model bearing the '201' markings of Otto Carius, Panzerjager as stationed in Germany during the winter and spring of 1945.
The online game World of Tanks names a gunnery award after him.
The tabletop miniature wargame Flames of War features Otto Carius as a special character. The first is an addendum to the list book "Grey Wolf" in which he and his fire-team partner Albert Kerscher command Tiger VI E tanks. Their characters allow the tanks to have special benefits, which include the ability to ignore the adverse effects of firing at long range, as well as to re-roll any missed shots. The second version of his special character appears in the list book "Bridge at Remagen" in which he is featured with similar attributes, but is commanding a Jagdtiger.
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