Surviving Germans who fought in legendary Tiger Tanks have spoken ahead of an exhibition that for the first time in history brings all members of the Tiger family together.
The Tank Museum, Bovington, in Dorset has spoken to those Germans whose tanks inspired such fear in British soldiers during World War Two.
The men revealed how they felt superior to other soldiers, received special packages from Hitler and sang songs about how they would fight to victory or die.
But they also described the horrific realities of tank warfare, witnessing concentration camp victims and nightmares they still suffer from.
The museum has been revealing the stories of those who fought in British tanks that were first introduced just over a century ago – and is now giving an insight into the enemy crews.
The Tiger Tank Collection exhibition, supported by World of Tanks, will include the Museum’s own Tiger 1, its two King Tigers, and its Jagdtiger, along with the Elefant, which is back in Europe for the first time since the end of the war.
The one Tiger unable to be present – the Sturmtiger – will be represented later in the year using ground-breaking virtual technology, supplied by software developer Wargaming.
The stories of the Tiger crews are as powerful as their tanks.
One veteran, Wilhelm Fischer, said: “Every month I got four packages from Adolf Hitler; they had chocolate in, cigarettes, sausage, we even got cured sausage every now and then.
“It was only the tanks. The infantry didn’t get anything, they just lay in the mud.”
He described firing a Tiger tank gun and said: “You had to keep your mouth open so you didn’t burst your eardrums.”
He also said conditions were terrible and added: “To sleep in the tank you stayed sitting, hunkered down in our seats. You couldn’t lie down, there was no room.
“…Hygiene? Pfft, it’s the last thing you think about. You were happy enough just having enough to drink.”