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Monday, January 26, 2015

Otto Carius - 1922-2015

On January 24, 2015 Otto Carius passed away at the age of 92. Carius remains one of the most famous German tank aces of World War II, with a tally of over 150 enemy tanks. Initially declared unfit for service, he eventually made it into the armed forces and trained with the armored formations. Most of his service time was spent on the Eastern front, initially in the Panzer 38(t) though more famously in the Tiger I tank as a part of schwere Panzer Abteilung 502. After being wounded in battle against the Soviets in 1944, he was appointed to command the second company of schwere Panzer-Jäger Abteilung 512 fighting in the Jagdtiger tank destroyer until surrendering to the US Army in April 1945.

After the war, Carius attended Heidelberg University where he studied pharmacy.  In 1956 he opened his own pharmacy called Tiger Apotheke, which still stands today.  Carius also faced the backlash against the military and Nazi regime that permeated Germany in the late 1940's and through the 1950's. Uncomfortable with being condemned for actions he did not commit, he was inspired to write his memoirs, Tigers in the Mud, describing his service and the service of those under his command.

With each year the voices of those who fought in that great conflict grow ever more silent, and sadly much of their history is being lost with them. I had the privilege of writing a brief biographical sketch of Carius for the Bridge at Remagen book for Flames of War. He was a brave soldier, an amazing tactician, and an unwavering advocate for the average German soldier during World War II. May he rest in peace.

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