May 16, 2016

A Somewhat Daily Dose of Useless Tidbits for May 16th, 2016 - Iconic Battle of the Bulge Images

This fantastic diorama was inspired the images of "Mr Battle of the Bulge" or "Winter Fritz" as he has been called and it is one of the iconic images of the WWII Ardennes offensive. He has been immortalized in a Dragon 12" action figure, several 1/0th scale busts and here in this diorama.

This is the complete frame of one of the most famous stills from the German side in World War II. It is one of several taken (along with newsreel film) on December 18, 1944 near Poteau, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. The men are smoking captured American cigarettes, and they are part of the 1st SS Panzer Division, Kampfgruppe Hansen. Hans Tragarsky on the left is holding an FN High Power pistol, and is draped in a 7.92mm MG42 ammunition belt.
On an Axis history forum a poster as recently came forward with an identity. He believes his name was Hans Tragarsky and he passed away on January 7, 2011. He claims to have known him and that the old man didn't know that his pictures had become somewhat famous.

He was 23 when the photo was taken and all he recalled about that day was that his unit ambushed a convoy of American armor & soft skinned vehicles and, after the fight was over, they took food, weapons and cigarettes from the US wreckage. Cameramen from the "Propagandakompanie" came by, stopped and asked if they could take pictures.... nothing spectacular, another skirmish, another day. Luckily for us, the images found their way into US hands ( from a captured cameraman as the newsreel tells us ).

Hans Tragarsky, 1st SS Panzer Division, Kampfgruppe Hansen,
December 18, 1944 near Poteau, Belgium
Hans was born 1921 and joined the LAH when he was 17. He fought from the first day until the last day of WWII Specially Greece was very emotional for him, loosing many close friends. He has served every front in the war except Africa. Hans never realised, that the pictures are so famous. We surrendered to US Troops close to Vienna after the US Army promised them, not to deliver them to the Russians. Well.....he and many of his comrades where given to the Russians, so he had not a very good opinion about promises of the US Army. After he returned from Russia he suffered many problems because he has served in the Waffen-SS, specially LAH. He had the Iron Cross 2nd class and the silver Close Combat Medal, Assault Badge etc. He was wounded several times and Russian shrapnel was still in his back until he passed away.

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