Tiger II Propaganda Film Still of Schwere Panzer Abteilung 503

Acting Company Commander Leutnant (later Bundeswehr Generalmajor) Richard Freiherr ("Free Lord," but translated as Baron) von Rosen (1922- ) passes 3.Kompanie/Schwere Panzer Abteilung 503 reinforced with elements of 1.Kompanie in his Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf B Tiger II during Panzer Abteilung 503's refit in Sennelager near Padeborn. Note that while von Rosen's tiger II has Zimmerit (anti-magnetic paste to stop mines), the two Tigers by his head do not. Zimmerit was no longer applied at the factory in August 1944. This still frame is from a propaganda film. After 3.Kompanie was bombed out of existence on July 18, Leutnant von Rosen returned from hospital to find that the Battalion's two remaining tanks were stranded from lack of rail transport during the German evacuation across the Seine. He made phone calls and got a locomotive; that one was destroyed by Allied aircraft as the tanks were being loaded. A second locomotive extracted the tanks and by September 9, 1944, Schwere Panzer Abteilung had arrived at Sennelager for complete refitting into the Tiger II. (Previously, some companies had Tiger Is.) By September 22, forty-five new Tiger IIs had been issued to all three Companies, bringing the Battalion up to strength. The forty-seven Tiger IIs were assigned to Budapest, Hungary, where they assisted German SS General Otto Skorzeny in Unternehmen Eisenfaust (Operation Panzerfaust). Hungarian Regent Admiral Miklos Horthy had reasserted control of the government after bowing to German pressure and signed an armistice with the Soviet Union. On October 15, Skorzeny kidnapped Horthy's son and sent him to a concentration camp; he survived the war. Schwere Panzer Abteilung 503, supported by fallschirmjager (paratroopers) took to the streets of Budapest, blocking reinforcements from reaching Horthy at Buda Royal Castle. Skorzeny installed Nyilaskeresztes Part - Hungarista Mozgalom (literally "Arrow Cross Party-Hungarist Movement") led by Ferenc Szalasi. This operation held open hungarian borders to allow one million German soldiers to evacuate to the Reich. Panzer Abteilung 503 then defended Budapest against the Soviet assault in December 1944; the Battalion claimed its 1,500 vehicle destroyed during the defense. By March 15, 1945, the Battalion had twenty-six Tiger IIs, of which only twelve were operational. Von Rosen, promoted to Oberleutnant, was full company commander in the Budapest siege. The Battalion retreated into Austria in April 1945 and into Bohemia in May. He was wounded five times during World War II. After incarceration by the Americans, he tried framing before joining the Bundeswehr, the West German Army. He retired as a Major General in 1982.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
National Archives and Records Ad
Date Photographed: 
Friday, September 22, 1944
Sennelager (near Paderborn)