Who is this Ardennes soldier?

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KG Hansen Poteau
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Re: Who is this Ardennes soldier?

Post by KG Hansen Poteau » 12 Jan 2021 02:16

Brilliant, cheers! :)

jeanlux
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Re: Who is this Ardennes soldier?

Post by jeanlux » 02 Apr 2021 14:02

Hello,
This soldier is Elimar Schneider an Alsacian..
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Harro
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Re: Who is this Ardennes soldier?

Post by Harro » 02 Apr 2021 14:14

No, he is not.
This photo was taken by SS PK-Berichter (SS war reporter) Max Büschel on the 18th of December 1944 on the road between the villages of Recht and Poteau. Elimar Schneider was an Alsatian SS veteran who claimed it is him in this photo. This ended up in a History Channel documentary and perhaps Schneider genuinely believed that this is him but other photos taken at Poteau that day prove that this is impossible: it shows that the man in the photos has the collar tabs of an SS-Rottenführer and is awarded with the Nahkampfspange (the close combat clasp), the Iron Cross 1st class and the Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen (Infantery Assault Badge). Schneider joined the SS in 1944, was never a Rottenführer and was never awarded any of these medals. In addition, Schneider served in the “Das Reich” division whereas the photos show men from the Fahrradzug (bicycle platoon), Stabskompanie (HQ company), SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 1 LSSAH, the recce battalion of the Leibstandarte. "Das Reich" was never anywhere near Poteau.
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theforger
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Re: Who is this Ardennes soldier?

Post by theforger » 26 Apr 2021 06:12

Hi Harro, I've ordered the Knittel book via a friend in NL.

Did the recon unit fight TF Mayes at Poteau or was that just Hansen's troops, with the recon units arriving as the films and photos were being taken?

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Harro
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Re: Who is this Ardennes soldier?

Post by Harro » 26 Apr 2021 08:14

The latter, the actual fighting at the Recht-Poteau road was already over. The Stabskompanie (HQ company) of the SS-PzAA1 - the recce battalion of the 1. SS-Panzer-Division LSSAH - 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 Max Hansen.
Photographer Büschel and cameraman Schäfer had accompanied the Stabskompanie since Honsfeld the previous day and While the meeting between Knittel and Hansen took place in Recht, 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 and filmed. 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.
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. The Stabskompanie doubled back over Recht to Kaiserbaracke and so did Büschel with Goltz and his men - resulting in the photos of Hansen's Grille's in action near Recht and 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 - which had remained at the crossroads waiting for fuel - can be seen in the background. Note that the first pics Büschel took at the Kaiserbaracke crossroads show Stabskompanie commander SS-Obersturmführer Heinz Goltz in his Schwimmwagen - for me that's further evidence that Büschel arrived there with Golz.
After Büschel and Schäfer left Kaiserbaracke they caught up with Knittel in la Vaulx Richard.

Enjoy the book! It was not possible to order directly from the webshop of my publisher? I've sold dozens of copies to the UK that way but it seems they're having Brexit problems

https://www.boekenbestellen.nl/boek/gus ... 58?lang=en

theforger
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Re: Who is this Ardennes soldier?

Post by theforger » 26 Apr 2021 09:02

Thanks for the comprehensive reply. Looking forward to reading your research. There's some contradictory information out there about the various KG's, supporting units, the actions, the timeline. The more I've read the more fascinated about what happened in that area of the Ardennes I've become. It's a slice of military history that draws you in. I'd like to visit at some point in 2022 when hopefully some normality has returned.

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Re: Who is this Ardennes soldier?

Post by MaximilianIII » 02 Jun 2021 20:20

Harro wrote:
08 Apr 2018 14:12
genstab wrote:This has come up on the Forum before. His name is Hans Tragarsky. You can search the AHF for the old threads giving his story.
There is absolutely no conclusive evidence that it is Tragarsky. In 2012 "hegu69" dropped that name on page 3 of this very topic - with the claim that he knew him personally - but when challenged to provide some basic evidence he never replied again.
Well thats not really the truth now is it, he did not just drop and never replied. He told about the name. Was asked for evidence. He then said that he has no prood other than the fact he was told the story.
He then wrote more interesting stuff about him before leaving the thread.

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Harro
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Re: Who is this Ardennes soldier?

Post by Harro » 02 Jun 2021 20:54

Semantics, everybody can read back and see for themselves that he stopped replying when challenged and asked for actual proof. I did not refer to page 3 for nothing. The "interesting stuff" can be constructed by anybody with some basic knowledge about the Leibstandarte or even after scrolling through wikipedia :roll:

MaximilianIII
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Re: Who is this Ardennes soldier?

Post by MaximilianIII » 03 Jun 2021 22:08

Exactly, everyone can go and see for them self that he did replied when challenged for proof. It would however be wierd to ask for proof again after someone just stated he has no proof. From what can be read no one really asked anything more from him after his last post.
What would be good is ofc if anyone could verify Hans Tragarsky aswell. The name dosnt sound like there would be that many germans who had.

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Harro
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Re: Who is this Ardennes soldier?

Post by Harro » 03 Jun 2021 22:47

Sometime before his dead there was an article in a German magazine about him. I don't recall what it was about but there was no mention of the LAH (which is no surprise because - IF he was LAH - its not something for a non-WW2 related interview

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Harro
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Re: Who is this Ardennes soldier?

Post by Harro » 03 Jun 2021 22:48

Anyway, you registered specifically to tell us that ten years ago somebody did initially reply?

MissMary
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Re: Who is this Ardennes soldier?

Post by MissMary » 06 Jul 2021 22:26

Harro,

Thanks for an excellent thread. As a relatively new WW2 History fan, I found this forum being a gold mine of info😀I`m impressed by all the effort and time you have laid on just the Winter-Fritz riddle. I was also touched by this picture.....so much anger, pain, exhaution, fear in one manś face. Its as if it was photographed today, but it was taken 76 years ago.....and it feels like we must find out who he was because we have a duty to remember him even if he belonged to the ”wrong” side of the My first thought was to reach for the different military archives, to search as you have done, page by page. But I realised that would take another 25 years or so.....😉 so in the mean time, we have to see whats popping up on the net. It would be great if you could recall which German magazine it was that wrote the article about our Ardennes-soldier. Im also thinking that it could be that he doesnt( or didnt) want to be official or recognized due to his position in LAH (if thats the case). Many former SS tried to hide their past to protect their family from reprecussions. Im really interested about your contacts in the Kamratengruppen. Did they invite you on your request or how did you get to know them?
Time is running out. Soon there is no living former SS that can help us investigate further, and we will be left with what we have in forms of interviews, books, registers, personellcards etc.
Ive also heard that there is museums in the Ardennes that could spread some more light over the battle as such. Is there any you would like to recommend for some private investigations? Another thing: all the previous similarity/look-a-like pics trying to identify The Ardennes soldier makes me wanna wonder if people are blind. Look at him. Hiś features are one-of-a- kind- his eyes especially, and the high cheeks, curled lips and firm chin, makes him stand out from the rest.

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Harro
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Re: Who is this Ardennes soldier?

Post by Harro » 06 Jul 2021 23:43

The article was about Hans Tragarsky that is not to say that it was about "our Ardennes soldier". There was no reference to the SS whatsoever, just general talk about a local pensioner. It was an online article on the website of a regional or local German newspaper or news website. I came across it when I googled the name when it first popped up in this topic but I cannot find it through google anymore. I think is is likely that they took it offline following the shitload of websites and forums which all parrot his name in connection with the SS.

Archive material about those final months of the war is extremely rare. I am not aware of any archive which has extensive files for the Leibstandarte from December 1944. Certainly not in Freiburg or Berlin, certainly not in Prague, certainly not in College Park. Yes, his name might be buried in their files somewhere but it is near impossible to connect a face to a name of a low ranking soldier through the archives.

What strikes me is that no name ever came forward through the circles of veterans and veterans organisations. For me this hints at the distinct possibility that he was either a young recruit or one of those boys who were press-ganged from the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine weeks before the Battle of the Bulge. Hansen's Panzergrenadiere suffered serious casualties between Trois-Ponts and La Gleize and later east of Bastogne and in Hungary and Austria. As a result, a lot of boys only served for a few weeks or months and those who survived simply never got to know them well enough to remember their names or faces.

BTW, the longer I've been researching those "Ambush" photos the more I wonder why everybody is focused on him. Just that look in his eyes in that one photo? It is often referred to as a "1000 mile stare" but fact is that he was probably just tired. They had been on the move since the early morning of the 16th, over 50 hours before the photos were taken. The short skirmish known as the "ambush" was their first enemy contact and probably only involved the advance guard of Kampfgruppe Hansen, not "Winter Fritz" and the other men PK-Berichter Büschel found on the scene when he arrived there with the advance guard of schnelle Gruppe Knittel. I realise that this is far less romantic/heroic/appealing to the imagination. Leidreiter, an officer in one of the other photos taken that day and whom I knew personally, told me that he was also dead tired and it shows in the photos.
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