Famous photograph, what is his story?

A place to post photographs and to ask about photographic research.

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Emil
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Post by Emil » Mon Feb 07, 2005 6:32 am

Thank you Simon. Problem is: did Pallud base his theory that we're dealing with 2./SS-Pz.Gr.Rgt.1 on a positive ID of that officer, or does he base the ID of that officer on his theory that we're dealing with members of 2./SS-Pz.Gr.Rgt.1?

A complex problem for anybody who is looking for the facts behind the photo.

Emil

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Fallschirmkommando
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Post by Fallschirmkommando » Wed Apr 06, 2005 9:05 pm

This guy is also spotted in the World at War series. He is chatting with a few fellow soldiers and you recognize him immediately! Check out Vol. 19 "Pincers" Of "The World at War". You will see him in action.

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Holmer
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Post by Holmer » Fri Apr 08, 2005 9:08 am

Christoph Awender wrote:
michael kenny wrote:If I remember correctly the name of this man is known. Timo would know more about it than anyone else.
I doubt it and I was not able to find a thread by Timo where he said that he knows the name. But unfortunately Timo is out if reach.

\Christoph
I found this in my mail folder. I asked Timo a while back what he knew about the soldier in the photo in question.

Timo wrote:Unfortunately the identity of this particular soldier is not known to me. I know who several other soldiers from these photos/newsreel are and I'm still trying to ID the soldier in question. For some time it was believed that his name was Walter Armbrusch but recently I talked to somebody who knew him and told me this was a mistake. Walter can be seen in other photos (Honsfeld) but was another soldier from another LAH unit.

Regards,

B Holmes
We are born to die.

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Lt. Schindler
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Post by Lt. Schindler » Thu May 12, 2005 7:02 pm

I Believe I read information on this once.

It is near the fall of Berlin and this man and other troops in fighting around Berlin captured a few key villages, apparently it is said this picture was taken as he and the other soldiers were either moving out again to take another village, going to the city, or preparing a defense for soon to attack Russian troops.

It is a very good photo, I am quite sure I am correct.
But there is a chance I'm wrong.

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Spandau
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Post by Spandau » Sun May 15, 2005 9:57 pm

Ave Schindler,

Where did you read this? Every source I have seen claims he was in the Ardennes offensive.

Vale,

-Spandau
If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze into you.

Bullman
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If you are a WW2 historian after a scoop of a story....

Post by Bullman » Sun Jan 07, 2007 11:49 pm

Hello all.

This is my first post here at these forums.

Last year on my WW2 battlefield of western Europe, I was able to visit the awesome Ardennen Poteau '44 Museum in Belgium that is dedicated to the Battle of the Bulge. It is of extra interest because it is located only a few hundered meters up the road from where the photo of that German soldier was actually taken, on a stretch of road between Recht and Poteau in Belgium. I actually took the M3 Halftrack ride from the museum down to the very spot where that photo was taken. Was an amazing experience.

Knowing the kind of "annonymously famous iconic" status of that photo of that soldier, I asked the museum owner if they actually know who this man is. To my surprise, they said that they have actually both identified and contacted the man, telling me that he now lives in the USA but respect his wishes to keep his name private.

I don't know about you, but I think that if this man ever came forward and told his story, then it would be one of the biggest scoops in WW2 history in recent times. I could imagine him appearing worldwide on 60 Minutes or something. Whether he likes it or not, that photo has made him a virtual annonymous historical celebrity worldwide, and to hear his story would be absolutely facinating. (it is kind of like how National Geographic recently tracked down, identified, interviewed and put a name and a story to that Afganistan girl with the green eyes whose photo was on the front cover of the mage some 20 odd years ago, but much more compelling and amazing).

As much as I respect this man's wishes to stay annonymous and his apparently reluctant status of representing the average German WW2 SS soldier to so many people, I almost feel this man has a obligation to history to at least have his story documented before it is too late and he leaves this world for good. I am sure there would be countless people who would appreciate hearing his story, no matter how difficult it may be for him to tell it.

If I were a WW2 historian/journalist/documentary maker, I would surely consider getting an interview with this man to be a major contribution to historical research. The clock is ticking. It would be such a tragedy if this oppourtunity passes.

Bullman

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mightythor99
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the sad news...............

Post by mightythor99 » Tue Jan 16, 2007 8:59 am

the sad news is, that we are loosing these wwii vets every day, and many of their stories are going to the grave with them. we should all be out there with tape recorders, taping these guys' stories every chance we get. i used to do it, and am going to start doing it again. it was interesting, to say the least. most of the time, if you listen closely, you can tell if they are full of bs, or telling the truth. lots of them dont want to talk about it. if you wonder why, just watch the news today, of our 20 year olds, going house to house, and getting blown up with car bombs, etc. these guys probably wont want to talk much about it when they are older either.............cant blame em.
do your part!!! everyone get out there and get interviewing wwii vets!
:up: :up: :up:
I am interested in buying / trading for photo albums, photo groupings, diaries, feldpost groupings,etc, from any country in the world, any army/navy, etc, mostly 20th century!!

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Spandau
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Re: If you are a WW2 historian after a scoop of a story....

Post by Spandau » Tue Jan 16, 2007 8:04 pm

Bullman wrote:Hello all.

To my surprise, they said that they have actually both identified and contacted the man, telling me that he now lives in the USA but respect his wishes to keep his name private.

If I were a WW2 historian/journalist/documentary maker, I would surely consider getting an interview with this man to be a major contribution to historical research. The clock is ticking. It would be such a tragedy if this oppourtunity passes.

Bullman
Ave Bullman,

If there were a way that I could contact him, I would. Evidently the Belgain museum did, and he refused to give his story to them. That leads me to believe that not only will the museum not help in any search, but also that the soldier himself might not appreciate your contacting him.

Vale,

-Spandau
If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze into you.

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Re: If you are a WW2 historian after a scoop of a story....

Post by Bullman » Thu Jan 18, 2007 6:07 am

Spandau wrote:
Ave Bullman,

If there were a way that I could contact him, I would. Evidently the Belgain museum did, and he refused to give his story to them. That leads me to believe that not only will the museum not help in any search, but also that the soldier himself might not appreciate your contacting him.

Vale,

-Spandau
I have no idea when they woud of last contated him, but certainly sometime after Jean Paul Pallud started researching those photos back in teh 1970's.

Things change. He may have a change of heart. Perhaps he doesn't realise just how valuable and sought after his story really is. Perhaps he needs some encouragement. I am sure his story would be worth many $$$$$. At the very least he could tell his story under the condition it be told/shown only after he passes? That coudln't be that bad an offer. He would be immortalised like few people could ever be.

We will see if anyone takes up this very noble challenege.

Bull

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Post by Annelie » Thu Jan 18, 2007 7:25 am

As much as I respect this man's wishes to stay annonymous and his apparently reluctant status of representing the average German WW2 SS soldier to so many people, I almost feel this man has a obligation to history to at least have his story documented before it is too late and he leaves this world for good. I am sure there would be countless people who would appreciate hearing his story, no matter how difficult it may be for him to tell it.
This man has absolutely "NO OBLIGATION" to have his story documented
for history or anyone. He served his time and his wishes to remain
private "SHOULD' be respected.

Even if he did tell his story I can imagine "historians" jumping all over
him telling him that his memory is not what it used to be or that he should
back up everything he says and even subtly called a "liar".
It would be nice if veterans could if they felt speak about their experiences
but its been proven here with Gerhard that its not easy.

I believe most people have noticed the absence of Gerhard, He just gave up trying to have a dialogue between adults IMHO.
Annelie
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Gary B
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familiar faces?

Post by Gary B » Thu Jan 18, 2007 7:27 pm

Some thoughts on identifying soldiers in photographs. It's not unusual at all that individuals would remain unidentified even under such close scrutiny. A front line combatant in the thick of combat... Many thousands of German soldiers were yet to die in the 6 months of war that remained after this image was taken.

So why does no one recognize him? And why do others possibly miss-identify him? Consider how many thousands of German families perished in the "total war." Mothers, fathers, little brothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends - all incinerated in places like Dresden or Berlin. Or perhaps the soldier and / or his family survived, but in "the east?" Acknowledgement of his identity in any public manner would have led to immediate scorn and threat from the new bosses in town.

And besides, what benefit comes from acknowledgment of his identity in those early years. If he was your son or husband, the image is only satisfaction that he was alive at a particular moment in December of 1944, someplace in Belgium. Today, we have the luxury of time to play and post these questions on the internet. Many of the common folk in post war Germany had no desire or no time to review film images from the war they'd recently suffered. What was important was finding shelter, reconnecting with lost family members, and putting enough food on the table to simply survive. What film of the war was being seen by civilians in post war Germany was the compulsory documentary evidence of the concentration and death camps.

Next for your consideration is the remarkable difficulty of actually identifying even well known people in well-composed photographs.

In the US after the war, there were numerous incidents of parents reporting photographic "proof" of their sons survival based upon images discovered in magazines, papers or on film. Of course this "proof" never reversed the evidence that a particular solder was seen to be killed by enemy fire by people who knew him, and who later tended to his body, that graves registration ID'd his body through personal effects, and dog tags. And that dental records were consistent with the teeth of the corpse disinterred in 1947 for reburial. But a family’s hope is strong!

In 1918, an unidentified amnesiac French solder was found wandering the streets of Paris. Dozens of families claimed him as their lost son, brother or father. Court fights over his identity stretched into the 1930s! A similar script is played out in the excellent French movie, "A Very Long Engagement."

During the retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in Korea in 1951, a life magazine photographer took many remarkable photographs of young Marines. One image, of a bundled and fatigued young marine, clutching a steaming cup of something warm, made it onto the cover of LIFE magazine. The young Marine was identified by more than a dozen families as their son. In fact, the young man has never been positively identified to this day. How could that be?

All that said, we struggle to put a name on war. As if to do so may change something somehow. Even with all these facts I too find myself looking into these lost faces and thinking, I wonder who he was, who loved him, what did he think about? Did he die in the war? In a car crash in 1961? Or of lung cancer in 1976? Did he ever tell his children of his experience? Or awaken his wife screaming at ghosts in the night?

I wish you all find peace, in all that you pursue. (I originally posted this a couple of years ago on another web site where folks were discussing this same image. I thought it might bear repeating here.) Gary Bachman
Gary B.

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Post by zebra-3 » Tue Jan 23, 2007 1:41 pm

Here is our little fellow you are so enthusiast about, seen in a documentary about battle of the bulge. The narrator says he is enjoying an American cigarette. (looks like a camel cigarette pack, watch closely bottom right)

Image

and from the website http://home.scarlet.be/poteau44/Poteau_historyFr.html

Important battlefield relic found:

Lately, we were doing some digging on the museum ground and found - beside a lot of empty cartridges and ammo bins - a quite well preserved (but non-functional!) FN Browning 9mm pistol! This important war relic is now on display inside the museum (photo on the right side below).

As you are probably aware of that one particular German soldier, visible on the famous photos taken at Poteau, hold such a gun in his right hand - have a glance at these wartime pictures:


Image

Image

Well, we're wondering whether or not we've actually found HIS personal weapon...?

:?

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Post by chambers » Tue Jan 23, 2007 5:38 pm

Annelie wrote:
As much as I respect this man's wishes to stay annonymous and his apparently reluctant status of representing the average German WW2 SS soldier to so many people, I almost feel this man has a obligation to history to at least have his story documented before it is too late and he leaves this world for good. I am sure there would be countless people who would appreciate hearing his story, no matter how difficult it may be for him to tell it.
This man has absolutely "NO OBLIGATION" to have his story documented
for history or anyone. He served his time and his wishes to remain
private "SHOULD' be respected.

Even if he did tell his story I can imagine "historians" jumping all over
him telling him that his memory is not what it used to be or that he should
back up everything he says and even subtly called a "liar".
It would be nice if veterans could if they felt speak about their experiences
but its been proven here with Gerhard that its not easy.

I believe most people have noticed the absence of Gerhard, He just gave up trying to have a dialogue between adults IMHO.
Thank you for saying this, Annelie. I am saddened by the loss of Gerhard and now HaEn. :(

She's right, as much ans we all want to know about his story, it is ultimately HIS story.

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mightythor99
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..................how and when did we lose another wwii ger

Post by mightythor99 » Tue Jan 23, 2007 6:50 pm

german veteran??
I am interested in buying / trading for photo albums, photo groupings, diaries, feldpost groupings,etc, from any country in the world, any army/navy, etc, mostly 20th century!!

Bullman
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Post by Bullman » Tue Jan 23, 2007 7:33 pm

chambers wrote:
Annelie wrote:
As much as I respect this man's wishes to stay annonymous and his apparently reluctant status of representing the average German WW2 SS soldier to so many people, I almost feel this man has a obligation to history to at least have his story documented before it is too late and he leaves this world for good. I am sure there would be countless people who would appreciate hearing his story, no matter how difficult it may be for him to tell it.
This man has absolutely "NO OBLIGATION" to have his story documented
for history or anyone. He served his time and his wishes to remain
private "SHOULD' be respected.

Even if he did tell his story I can imagine "historians" jumping all over
him telling him that his memory is not what it used to be or that he should
back up everything he says and even subtly called a "liar".
It would be nice if veterans could if they felt speak about their experiences
but its been proven here with Gerhard that its not easy.

I believe most people have noticed the absence of Gerhard, He just gave up trying to have a dialogue between adults IMHO.
Thank you for saying this, Annelie. I am saddened by the loss of Gerhard and now HaEn. :(

She's right, as much ans we all want to know about his story, it is ultimately HIS story.
You are focussing on the negatives here. I am not familair with what happened to Gerhard, but I assume he was a WW2 vet hounded here by everyone and anyone at theses forums. Well, this has got nothing to do with what I a suggesting.

This man need only be approached by and be interviewed by one very understanding and tactful orgainisation/individual that fully understands/appreciates all the reservations this man may have. Surely they would be prepared to accept/negotiate various levels of success in trying to extract whatever infoirmation this man may hold. But they would also be fully aware of the high value of obtaining this informaton. Media outets throught the world would absolutely go nuts trying to get a hold of this story and large sums of money would probably be involved. Certainly, if presented with the reality of significant $ incentives for telling his story , he may realise that any personal issues and difficulties he may have may just be worth it, at least if not for him, but whatever family may survive him.

We can only speculate why this man has wanted to stay anonymous and his story untold. He was an SS solider in the Ardnennes '44 and part of a unit (1st SS Panzer Div) that were implicated in the murder of civilians and POWs at the time. Maybe he never told his family (or friends) the truth (whatever that may be). Perhaps he is worried about persecution. Perhaps he has tried hard all his life to forget it all. Perhaps he is even a millionare that wouldn't be intersted in the $ incentives anyway.

63 years is a long time for one man to perhaps carry so much guilt , regret and shame for things he may have done/went through all that time ago, most of which was completely out of his control. He certainly would not be the only one. He should perhaps be happy he made it out of that terrible part of our history alive (unlike many of his comrades) and in a position to perhaps tell his story and find peace with the past and reconcilliation within himself and others that may have eluded him by keeping it all to himself.

There is opportunity in this to better things for everyone involved. For himself, any surviving family of his, us and countless generations to come. I don't think there would be too many people who would not sympathise, respect and appreciate this mans remarkable and incredibly unique place in history and the difficulties he may of had in telling his story. I don't think there would be many people who wouldn't think that the world would be a much richer (and forgiving) place if something like this were to happen.

Bull

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