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Armor/AFV: Axis - WWII
Armor and ground forces of the Axis forces during World War II.
Hosted by Darren Baker
Meeting a German Tiger II commander
Jupiterblitz
Joined: December 30, 2007
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 07:29 AM UTC
Hello,

during the past months I have been in contact with a former German tank commander which was enabled via Mister Grube of the Panzermuseum in Munster.

This commander is Leutnant Rubbel which served the Wehrmacht from 1941-1945.

At the end of the war he was commander of a Tiger II ('321') and platoon leader within the schwere Panzerabteilung 503.

He served on the Tiger II from December 1944 until May 1945 e.g. in Hungary, Czechoslovakia.


I am preparing a feature which consists of an interview with Leutnant Rubbel about his time on the Tiger, technical subjects about the vehicle as well as his job as a commander, etc.

Accidently I found out during the calls I have had with him, that he lives in Bassum - a small town south of Bremen and only a few miles away from my residence.

So I agreed with him to meet him personally for this interview.

The sense of this thread is as follow:

I gonna send Mister Rubbel my questionnaire to let him prepare for it.

Beforehand I would also collect questions you like to have considered during this interview.


This interview will not be focussed on technical issues as his job was not about to know each super detail of the vehicle (amounts of bolts and rivets, thickness of welds etc.).


But inspite of that I promise you one thing: It will be interesting to talk with him about his job and the time on the Tiger.


(Please understand that the final selection about which and what kind of questions I gonna ask is left up to me).

BigfootV
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 07:52 AM UTC
Marco,
You lucky devil . I wish I could be there. Not many Vet's left. Have fun my friend.
alanmac
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United Kingdom
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 08:00 AM UTC
Hi

Hope you have a great time.

One question you may consider asking him, this being a possible for dioramas, is that considering the size of the Tiger II what was the procedure for climbing on board the thing it being so tall and with high sloping surfaces. I can barely see the engine deck on the one at Bovington.

Another, how much time did they get for training before being sent into action in a new vehicle.

Alan
blaster76
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 08:07 AM UTC
Having had the priveledge of meeting with several old WW2 German vets (including an aviator and believe it or not 2 submariners) I would say the only thing you should do is just get him to talk about his personal experiences. Never mind if he was a Tiger 2 commander, he was a Panzer leader and get his war history and impressions. It is really really great to hear this stuff. In the US, it was easier 30 years ago to get stories, but harder now. My advice is to enjoy it ask if you can tape it and when you have time send us some interesting tales. Iam sure many will wish to model his tank so mybe you can brig a kit with you and get him to tell you how his particular vehicle looked.
Panzerkommandant
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Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Joined: November 02, 2006
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 08:17 AM UTC
Hi Marco

I would like to know, what it was for a feeling for him, to sit in the tank.
Knowing to have thick armor plates around me, maybe a feeling of invincibility came up.
And a gun in front, which blows (nearly) everything to hell.

That would interesting me.

Thanks and have fun

Nils
Uruk-Hai
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Stockholm, Sweden
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 08:20 AM UTC
Yes, it would be real neat to hear the interview recording.
Und Deutsch ist kein problem für mich!

Cheers
Byrden
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Wien, Austria
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 09:03 AM UTC
Hmmm.. here are a few ideas:

How often did you sleep in the tank? Did all 5 of you fit?
Had your turret the flat front or the rounded front?
Where did you store your personal effects? (This tank had no turret rear bin)
There were stowage boxes under the turret floor, what was kept in each?
(this is a serious question, in every museum example they are empty)
What was stored around the edges of the turret (in behind a low sheet-metal barrier)?
How often did the engine catch fire and trigger the automatic extinguisher?
Did your tank have a gas-mask container for each man? We can't find 5 wall-holders on any surviving Tiger B, though they were standard on smaller tanks.

David
spitfire303
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Vendee, France
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 09:31 AM UTC
Marco,

WOW!!!! What a great news. Not sure if I'll sleep well tonight. I'm sure I'll come up with some questions. What's the deadline?

spit
Abydos
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 10:02 AM UTC
its to bad you couldn't video your interview with him, it would be very interesting to get his take on things like performance, just the overall "what its like to be a commander of such a vehicle, or what it is like to be in such a vehicle during combat, how it performed against the russians or americans" " did he feel safer in it then in other armored vehicles he had driven"

come to think of it how come nobody has ever done a what it was like back then video for these vets but with the aspect of hearing their side"the german side" cause all we hear about it the american vets. i mean i personally had uncles on both sides, one landed at normandy and the other was caught in late Tunisia by the brits
H_Ackermans
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Gelderland, Netherlands
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 10:09 AM UTC
I can just about say that his Tiger-B is with the simplified turret, seeing he took command of it in December '44. Not many initials around at that time anymore.

Anywho... what I'd like to know is just what was his experience with the Tiger-Bs. Where they as mechanically unreliable as so many people tend to believe these days?

How was his combat experience? Any close calls? What was his crews kill record at the end of the war? What was everyday life like in between combat? Did they even have any non combat time with the Tiger-B seeing as how the tide of war tipped further and further against the Germans.

Did he man a single Tiger-B? I mean, his mount was not lost in combat and he got a replacement?

And for icing on the cake, ANY pictures the good man has, any if he wished to share them with the interested people, that would be super.

Just to sum up, I'm interested in his whole experience, what he feels about how his time on the Tiger-B was, and also, which vehicle did he serve on before the Tiger-B and how does his time on that relate to the later time served on the Tiger-B?

But just anything is wonderfully interesting to hear, I have no doubt about that. Tomorrow it is 65 years past D-Day, veterans of the day are pushing close to 90 years of age. The personal accounts to be gathered and collected and written down for prosperity are getting thinner and thinner. Any chance to delve in those memories must be ceased and cherished.
bill_c
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MODEL SHIPWRIGHTS
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 10:53 AM UTC
PHOTOS!!!!!
spitfire303
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Vendee, France
Joined: December 22, 2006
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 11:08 AM UTC
I have one question for now. It's a detail but... worth to try.

this is his battalion commander (Dr.Nordewin von Diest-Körber) vehicle abandoned in Czechoslovakia in 1945 near Treboni (Wittingau in german)



it has a unique feature. A concrete (?) collar around the the commander's cupola. Till today today there's no other tank photographed with this kind of field mod. Maybe he would remember if it was the only vehicle, when it was done etc?

hope it's not a "rivet counter" question

spit
CReading
#001
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 11:35 AM UTC
Excellent experience for you.Thanks for giving us pre-knowledge and asking for our input.

I have always wondered how loud it was inside the tank under combat conditions and when the gun was being fired in succession did the ventilation system clear the air of smoke efficiently?

C.
ericadeane
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Michigan, United States
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 02:32 PM UTC
Marco: I sent you a private message.

I had the good fortune to interview a German tank commander several years ago at a model show. I have the full transcript if anyone wants a copy. Lots of technical information and other good anecdotes. He commanded Pz IIIs, Pz IVs. and Stug IIIs.
Kelley
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Georgia, United States
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 04:52 PM UTC
Hi Marco,
I'm assuming that you will be interviewing Alfred Rubbel, I have the "Tiger Project" book about him and found it very interesting, and would highly reccomend it to anyone who wants a glimpse of what life was like in the Tiger battalions, it is well written. Ask him about his time spent in Charkow, I thought this was a particularly interesting part of the book. It showed the human side of the german soldier. (if it's not Alfred Rubbel disregard the above)

As far as questions to ask him, I would be interested in his thoughts on the German tanks compared to the Allied tanks. There is so much argument on that subject these days. I would also be interested to know if he remembers very much about Kurt Knispel, a fellow member of the 503 and a very high scoring tank ace, (and also reportedly Mr. Rubbels gunner earlier in the war) might he remember Knispel's Tiger II call number? (a long time mystery)

Whatever you decide Marco, enjoy your time with him, as has already been mentioned, we are fast losing our WW2 vets.

Best,
Mike
Jupiterblitz
Joined: December 30, 2007
KitMaker: 878 posts
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 06:22 PM UTC
Hello and good morning,

I have not expected to get so many responses that fast.

Thank you all.


"I'm assuming that you will be interviewing Alfred Rubbel,..."

Yep, that's right.


First thing for me was to consider a certain operationalisation to narrow down the topic.

Before I have started this thread I'd asked Mister Rubbel some things to get a rudimentary profile about him.

Next step will be to structure the interview to have a mixture of a good and informative conversation.

Therefore the questionnaire by itself will not be that stringent.


It is necessary for Mister Rubbel to prepare himself to very special and technical questions e.g. how many ammo bags they had for the Bug-MG ("Four" - "I have read that they were approx. 40" - "40? No. We had not got the place at all to store so many") and where they were stored ("Above the driver's place." - "Not above the RO's place as he had to operate the MG?" - "I am not sure as I turned my attention to my job in turret. Let me ask my RO Dr. Lochmann").


Mister Rubbel has been appeared to me as someone who is rather trained in answering questions cause of his cooperation with the museum in Munster.

And: He is telling much and detailed without to babble.


So he has already told me interesting things without asking him e.g. that they did not apply a white wash at all on the tank during the winter battle or that the Tigers were that unreliable ( Herbert).

But he's been asking me too what I want to know exactly.
(So I will also ask him about the detailed technical/mechanical problems David mentioned).


I let some questions slip in during a description about his daily job as well as particular situations like preparing for a battle etc.

All the questions I have read here so far I try to ask and equalize as far as it is possible. .

(To let him take a look at a model is a good idea, I have got DML's Henschel w/Zim in my stash.)


The only limit will be the extension and time of the conversation a man with an age of 88 can be asked...


I gonna check the possibilities to capture the interview at least on a tape (though I have not got one) as it would be very convenient for me.

Due to preparations I have to care about the date of the meeting should be within the next months (I am planning August/September).


Eismann
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Ireland
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 - 08:50 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Hi Marco,


As far as questions to ask him, I would be interested in his thoughts on the German tanks compared to the Allied tanks. There is so much argument on that subject these days. I would also be interested to know if he remembers very much about Kurt Knispel, a fellow member of the 503 and a very high scoring tank ace, (and also reportedly Mr. Rubbels gunner earlier in the war) might he remember Knispel's Tiger II call number? (a long time mystery)

Whatever you decide Marco, enjoy your time with him, as has already been mentioned, we are fast losing our WW2 vets.

Best,
Mike


Hi Marco
I'd go along with Mikes questions, both are on my list for Herr Rubbel. I would also be interested in his memory regarding the octopus camouflage schemes on the Koenigstigers.
Also please thank him for taking time to be interviewed, we all appreciate it so much.
Above all enjoy the experience.

John
bizzychicken
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Wales, United Kingdom
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Posted: Saturday, June 06, 2009 - 02:54 AM UTC
Hi Marco, what great news. I hope you and Herr Rubbel enjoy youselves. One question, how succure did He feel commanding a Tiger II B, being the best tank Germany produced, did they fear the Russian IS2 or did he think it was no match for the Tiger? Basically how much did Tiger II crew's like it or would they have preferred more smaller tanks? Hope you both really gell and get some cracking answers. Cheers Geraint
scratchmod
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Posted: Saturday, June 06, 2009 - 03:02 AM UTC
Hi Marco

basically any info or stories you get will be of interest. I know a former german ss Inf officer that I see once a week, it's very interesting to hear the stories the old vets have to tell. There are fewer and fewer WWII vets that are around and willing to tell there stories. My friend is 83 like most WWII vets they are in there 80's.
Good luck and enjoy what he has to say.

Rob
Erwanspatiti
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Walloon Brabant, Belgium
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Posted: Sunday, June 07, 2009 - 08:55 AM UTC
Hi Roy,

I'm just discovering this excellent forum thanks to my favorite french one: http://www.colleurs-de-plastique.com/forums/index.php

Referring to your message:

"I had the good fortune to interview a German tank commander several years ago at a model show. I have the full transcript if anyone wants a copy. Lots of technical information and other good anecdotes. He commanded Pz IIIs, Pz IVs. and Stug IIIs."

I'm very interested in your interview. Lucky guy you were!
Would you be ready to share this interview with me by mail?

Cheers

GeraldOwens
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Posted: Sunday, June 07, 2009 - 09:07 AM UTC
Obviously, the questions that model builders would most want answered are those that Herr Rubbel would probably find trivial or peculiar, like what were the turret numbers of the two early King Tigers that Lieutenant Von Rosen retrieved from Mailly le Camps during the retreat from France (we know about 314 "Annaliese," but what about the other one, and where were they finally lost), or did the third company tanks issued without Zimmerit have any exposed red primer in the camouflage scheme? Of course, for the men who lived through the realities of the war, the color of the paint and markings have to be close to the very bottom of issues they regarded as important, and few have any recollection of them at all.
By the way, Alfred Rubbel has coauthored two books, "THE TIGER PROJECT: A Series Devoted to Germanys World War II Tiger Tank Crews: Book One - Alfred Rubbel - Schwere Panzer (Tiger) Abteilung 503," and "The Combat History of Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 503, In Action in the East and West with the Tiger I and II," which are both available through Amazon.
Catch-22
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England - South East, United Kingdom
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Posted: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 - 02:52 AM UTC
I'm with Gerald.

What colour(s) were the tanks - obviously you would have to ask more specific questions.

An easier one would be:
Was the colour surrounding the tactical numbers yellow or while? Numbers themselves? Red, blue, black? He'd probably remember that
wbill76
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Posted: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 - 04:21 AM UTC
Ask him about crew time spent on general maintenance and upkeep of the vehicle and whether or not this became harder in the final months of the war vs. his earlier experience.
The_Madhatter
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Posted: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 - 04:38 AM UTC
Sir what you have here is probably a once in a time opportunity. I dont have a specific question for you to ask, just some advice. Speak little(what little you do speak, make it insightful questions), listen lots, observe and absorb. This gentleman is probably getting close to ninety years old and though older he may be, his mind is still sharp as a tack. Never mention the friends he lost during that time, your interview will probably come to a grinding halt if you do. Keep a watch on his eyes, if they glass over and go a little misty, and he starts looking at nothing in particular, thats when you can ask the more technical questions, because thats when they leave touch with the present and relive in the past and they will amaze at what they can remember. If he does get like this for you, keep your movements to a minimal and very slow as to not draw his attention, and snap him out of it. I have a late great uncle who served in WWII as a medic and a uncle who served in Nam. I couldnt even begin to tell you how many hours I've spent sitting and listening to these to tell about the hells they endured. I hope your interview goes well and I hope ypu are allowed at least a voice recorder so you have that to review and can spend more time listening than having to write stuff down. We look forward to hereing from you afterwards.
Galwitz
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Posted: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 - 06:15 AM UTC
Personally, I would be very interested in Mr. Rubbel’s recollection of the events he was involved in at the end of the war in Czechoslovakia in May 1945. In particular, whether he has any knowledge regarding the last weeks/days (and the crew as well, for that matter) of the two Tiger Bs - # 213 and # 112 - abandoned in the vicinity of the village of Brloh in Southern Bohemia near the road to the town of Prachatice.

Thanks for the consideration, Marco...

-A-