Hans Tragarsky background

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Theakker3
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Hans Tragarsky background

Post by Theakker3 » 09 Jun 2019 06:18

The famous Waffen SS panzergrenadier photograph seems to have a vague background. It seems as though he has been identified as "Hans Tragarsky" but I have heard others say it's not certain what his name is. Does anyone know the true story behind him, or know any good sources to read that go into detail about him or the LAH unit he served in? Image

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Harro
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Re: Hans Tragarsky background

Post by Harro » 10 Jun 2019 11:06

Problem is that there is zero evidence that his name was really "Hans Tragarsky". AHF member "hegu69" posted this back in September 2012:
hegu69 wrote:
23 Sep 2012 22:17
Hans was born 1921 and joined the LAH when he was 17.
He fought from the first day until the last day of WWII
Specially Greece was very emotional for him, loosing many close friends.
He has served every front in the war except Africa.
About the pictures he only told me that he remembers that day.
They had an ambush and after the fight was over, they took food and cigaretts from us vehicles.
Guys from the "Propagandakompanie" came by, stopped and asked if they can take pictures.
Thats all...nothing spectacular.
I think they just liked the heavy armed guys after the fight smoking US Cigaretts.
Hans never realised, that the pictures are so famous.
We surrendered to US Troops close to Vienna after the US Army promised them, not to deliver them to the Russians.
Well.....he and many of his comrades where given to the Russians, so he had not a very good opinion about promises of the US Army.
After he returned from Russia he suffered many problems because he has served in the Waffen-SS, specially LAH
He had the Iron Cross 2nd class and the silver Close Combat Medal, Assault Badge etc.
He was woundet several times and a russian shrapnell was still in his back until he passed away.
He was a great guy, I liked him very much.....
However, when asked to provide some actual evidence "hegu69" never replied and never posted in the AHF forums again. With that is is just a name to add to the dozen or so other identities floating around the internet for this guy,

viewtopic.php?f=50&t=179572&p=1734991

That said: the background of the photograph itself isn't "vague" at all. It was taken by SS PK-Berichter Max Büschel on the 18th of December 1944 on the stretch of road between Recht and Poteau. The previous afternoon photographer Büschel and newsreel filmer Schäfer left Rollbahn D at Honsfeld to accompany the Stabskompanie (staff company) of SS-PzAA1 as they drove over Heppenbach and Amel to reach the village of Born in the afternoon where they linked up with the rest of schnelle Gruppe Knittel (which had used Rollbahn E) and remained there for the night.

The Stabskompanie left Born in the morning of the 18th and drove over Kaiserbaracke - where the 2. (le.SPW) and 3. (VW) Kompanie had secured the crossroads - to the village of Recht where Knittel met with Hansen. IMO, that's how photographer Büschel, cameraman Schäfer, Knittel's aide Stiewe and those 234's carrying soldiers from the Fahrradzug ended up at the famous "ambush scene" near Poteau. While the meeting between Knittel and Hansen took place, I think the Stabskompanie drove up the road to Poteau to prepare their further advance behind Hansen's battlegroup. As the men waited for Knittel and new orders, Büschel took advantage of them loitering around to take pics of them advancing and "attacking" up the road towards the "ambush scene" where they came across some of Hansen's grenadiers who were also photographed.

But while Knittel talked with Hansen he received orders from Mohnke: Peiper had managed a breakthrough at Stavelot and the Schnelle Gruppe was to follow him to La Gleize. Goltz, the 234's and their passengers from the Fahrradzug doubled back over Recht to Kaiserbaracke and so did Büschel with Goltz and his men - resulting in the photos of Hansen's Jagdpanzer's moving up, of Hansen's Grille's in action near Recht followed by the pics taken at Kaiserbaracke where members of the 3. (VW) Kompanie acted out the famous Schwimmwagen pics. The Sd.Kfz. 250's from the 2. (le.SPW) Kompanie can be seen in the background. Note that the first pics Büschel took at the Kaiserbaracke crossroads show Goltz in his Schwimmwagen.

After Büschel and Schäfer left Kaiserbaracke they caught up with Knittel in la Vaulx Richard.

Theakker3
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Re: Hans Tragarsky background

Post by Theakker3 » 11 Jun 2019 00:49

Harro wrote:
10 Jun 2019 11:06
Problem is that there is zero evidence that his name was really "Hans Tragarsky". AHF member "hegu69" posted this back in September 2012:
hegu69 wrote:
23 Sep 2012 22:17
Hans was born 1921 and joined the LAH when he was 17.
He fought from the first day until the last day of WWII
Specially Greece was very emotional for him, loosing many close friends.
He has served every front in the war except Africa.
About the pictures he only told me that he remembers that day.
They had an ambush and after the fight was over, they took food and cigaretts from us vehicles.
Guys from the "Propagandakompanie" came by, stopped and asked if they can take pictures.
Thats all...nothing spectacular.
I think they just liked the heavy armed guys after the fight smoking US Cigaretts.
Hans never realised, that the pictures are so famous.
We surrendered to US Troops close to Vienna after the US Army promised them, not to deliver them to the Russians.
Well.....he and many of his comrades where given to the Russians, so he had not a very good opinion about promises of the US Army.
After he returned from Russia he suffered many problems because he has served in the Waffen-SS, specially LAH
He had the Iron Cross 2nd class and the silver Close Combat Medal, Assault Badge etc.
He was woundet several times and a russian shrapnell was still in his back until he passed away.
He was a great guy, I liked him very much.....
However, when asked to provide some actual evidence "hegu69" never replied and never posted in the AHF forums again. With that is is just a name to add to the dozen or so other identities floating around the internet for this guy,

viewtopic.php?f=50&t=179572&p=1734991

That said: the background of the photograph itself isn't "vague" at all. It was taken by SS PK-Berichter Max Büschel on the 18th of December 1944 on the stretch of road between Recht and Poteau. The previous afternoon photographer Büschel and newsreel filmer Schäfer left Rollbahn D at Honsfeld to accompany the Stabskompanie (staff company) of SS-PzAA1 as they drove over Heppenbach and Amel to reach the village of Born in the afternoon where they linked up with the rest of schnelle Gruppe Knittel (which had used Rollbahn E) and remained there for the night.

The Stabskompanie left Born in the morning of the 18th and drove over Kaiserbaracke - where the 2. (le.SPW) and 3. (VW) Kompanie had secured the crossroads - to the village of Recht where Knittel met with Hansen. IMO, that's how photographer Büschel, cameraman Schäfer, Knittel's aide Stiewe and those 234's carrying soldiers from the Fahrradzug ended up at the famous "ambush scene" near Poteau. While the meeting between Knittel and Hansen took place, I think the Stabskompanie drove up the road to Poteau to prepare their further advance behind Hansen's battlegroup. As the men waited for Knittel and new orders, Büschel took advantage of them loitering around to take pics of them advancing and "attacking" up the road towards the "ambush scene" where they came across some of Hansen's grenadiers who were also photographed.

But while Knittel talked with Hansen he received orders from Mohnke: Peiper had managed a breakthrough at Stavelot and the Schnelle Gruppe was to follow him to La Gleize. Goltz, the 234's and their passengers from the Fahrradzug doubled back over Recht to Kaiserbaracke and so did Büschel with Goltz and his men - resulting in the photos of Hansen's Jagdpanzer's moving up, of Hansen's Grille's in action near Recht followed by the pics taken at Kaiserbaracke where members of the 3. (VW) Kompanie acted out the famous Schwimmwagen pics. The Sd.Kfz. 250's from the 2. (le.SPW) Kompanie can be seen in the background. Note that the first pics Büschel took at the Kaiserbaracke crossroads show Goltz in his Schwimmwagen.

After Büschel and Schäfer left Kaiserbaracke they caught up with Knittel in la Vaulx Richard.
Thank you for the information. May I ask where you were able to find all that? What book it is in, or what source you obtained it from? Also, do you know of any archive's I can find that show all the photos that were taken by Buschel that day?

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Harro
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Re: Hans Tragarsky background

Post by Harro » 11 Jun 2019 09:38

Personal research including contact with veterans and invaluable help from fellow researchers. The original negatives are at NARA. More photos and info on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/gustavknittel

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Re: Hans Tragarsky background

Post by AKahl » 12 Jun 2019 05:11

That is a great summary, Harro. Your knowledge of these matters is humbling. I greatly enjoy your posts.

It's funny that this has just come up again, since I had just re-read some of the older posts. Funny enough was that the impetus for it was that I had just bought two Chen Forge/Hanwei reproduction Kampfmesser, and I was reminded of these photos. I dug out my old Ardennes; Peiper and Skorzeny book by Jean Paul Pallud to look at the photo. And then I begun to research details of the bit of video and resulting still frames on the internet, leading to a number of posts by you and others here, that helped me to better understand some details, and the seemingly established fact that this young man remains unknown to this day. I saw, that this grenadier's dagger is slightly different than the ones I ordered, but still these photos are fascinating, showing great details about late war kit, uniforms, weapons, and even some plunder of food, weapons (M-1 carbine in particular) and smokes.

So would it be fair to assume that this MG gunner and his immediate companions are actual mechanized infantrymen (grenadiers) based on all the e-tools worn? Or are they more likely members of the bicycle platoon which was riding on the armored cars of the Reconnaissance Battalion? I thought I understood you to say that two others, including the famous individual with the map case and STG-44 and another "star" subject who has a similar trench knife tucked in his boot, and is pointing, probably for the benefit of the photographer, were thought to be members of the bicycle platoon.
Remain yourself, in spite of all the mighty do.

Goethe

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Harro
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Re: Hans Tragarsky background

Post by Harro » 12 Jun 2019 12:04

Definitely a grenadier - note the distinct difference between the light gear from the Fahrradzug in the initial pics and the heavier gear of Hansen's grenadiers which appear later in the sequence. Part of the men from the Fahrradzug are dressed in Luftwaffe gear. A massive 25 percent of the SS-PzAA1 consisted of Luftwaffe personnel at that time - ground personnel that was transferred to the Leibstandarte to make up for the huge losses the decimated division had suffered in Normandy. At that time - weeks before the Bulge, the SS lacked the means to provide proper Waffen-SS uniforms for all these men. Merscher confirmed that many were still in their Luftwaffe gear when the Ardennes Offensive started - and even this was a hodgepodge of Luftwaffe items because the airforce was also on its last legs.

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Re: Hans Tragarsky background

Post by AKahl » 17 Jun 2019 23:14

Hey, Harro, I appreciate the response and insight.

This has all caused me to start rereading Fatal Crossroads, and I just ordered your book. Said it was the last one on Amazon. I can't wait to read it.

Books by Michael Reynolds and Jens Westemeier are next on the list.

I'm learning a lot on this forum. The wealth of knowledge around here defies belief.
Remain yourself, in spite of all the mighty do.

Goethe

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