Ernst Barkmann

Ernst Barkmann

Birth
Berlin-Mitte, Mitte, Berlin, Germany
Death 27 Jun 2009 (aged 89)
Berlin-Mitte, Mitte, Berlin, Germany
Burial Kisdorf, Kreis Segeberge, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Plot Last row to the left
Memorial ID 53813831 · View Source
Suggest Edits

War Hero - SS-Oberscharfuhrer (basically a Technical Sergeant), Das Reich Division, Waffen-SS and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Also known as Ernst Schmuck-Barkmann after WWII, Barkmann was born, died and buried in the town of Kisdorf, in the German State of Holstein. His father was a farmer, and after attending school in 1936, Barkmann followed in his father's footsteps and began working on the family farm. On April 1st, 1936, Barkmann volunteered to join SS-Standarte "Germania" and after three months of training, joined the III Battalion of the Standarte. Barkmann took part in the Polish Campaign of 1939 serving with the 9th Company of Germania as a machine gunner and received his first combat wound. In the Autumn of 1941, Barkmann was seriously wounded during fighting near Dnieprpetrowsk, Russia, during Operation Barbarossa and earned the Iron Cross 2nd Class. In late 1941, Barkmann was transferred to Holland as an instructor of European SS-Volunteers but in early 1942, he volunteered for service with the division's Panzer Regiment. This decision would forever change his life. Barkmann returned to the Eastern Front in the winter of 1942 and was transferred to the 2nd Company, 2nd Panzer Regiment, 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich". Barkmann's unit was equipped with the Panzer III (50mm gun) tanks, a weapon system that was outclassed by the durable Soviet T-34 tanks. In early 1943 the 2nd Panzer Regiment took part in the Battle for Kharkov, where he won the Iron Cross First Class. In mid 1943, Barkmann was transferred to 4th Company which was equipped with new and by far superior, Panther tanks. In early 1944, he was promoted to the rank of SS-Unterscharfuhrer (sergeant). His division was soon transferred to the Bordeaux area in southern France for rest and refitting as a Panzer division. Following the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, the 2nd SS Panzer Division was ordered to move northwards and was committed to battle. In July of 1944, Das Reich was moved to the French village of Saint Lo to try and stop the advance of the United States Army's 9th and 30th Infantry Divisions as well as the the 3rd Armored Division. On July 8th, Barkmann's Company attacked the advancing American units. He earned his first tank kill that day when he destroyed a United States Army M4 Sherman tank near St.Lo. On July 12th, he destroyed two more Shermans while disabling a third. During that engagement, Barkmann moved his camouflaged Panther into an ambush position and awaited for more Allied armor, destroying an additional three Shermans. His tank was hit by an American anti-tank gun which caused his tank to catch fire. He and his crew put out the fire and saved the tank but it had to go back to the rear to the division workshop for repairs. On July 14th, after a day of rest, Barkmann was ordered to recover four Panthers that had been cut off behind enemy lines. He succeeded in this task and added three more Shermans to his total score in the process. On July 27, 1944 outside of the village of Lerey, France, Barkmann positioned his Panther in a grove of trees and proceeded to single-handedly destroy 9 Sherman tanks as well as some support vehicles effectively stopping an American armored assault. This battle became known as "Barkmann's Corner". For this heroic stand, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, roughly the equivalent of the United States' Medal of Honor. The United States never confirmed this battle happened but German reports verify it did. By July 30th, Barkmann had destroyed 15 US Sherman tanks. During the Ardennes Offensive (Battle of the Bulge), Barkmann's Panther tank drove into a group of American tanks from the 2nd Armored Division. A battle began with Barkmann being greatly outnumbered. Even with the odds against him he was able to knock out a few Sherman tanks. One Sherman rammed his Panther but didn't cause much damage although both tanks got stuck together and the Panther's engine stalled. Barkmann's mechanic managed to restart the engine and the Panther broke free and retreated. Even with the damage, Barkmann knocked out another Sherman that foolishly began chasing after him. In March 1945, Barkmann was once again fighting against the Soviets in the area of a town called Stuhlweissenburg. Here Barkmann knocked out four Soviet T-34 tanks. At the time, the Das Reich division was exhausted by non-stop fighting and lack of replacement vehicles. Barkmann and the other tank crews could no longer engage in sustained fighting against the numerically superior Soviet forces and were forced to retreat. During fighting at and around Vienna, Austria, the 4th Company was to link up with the remnants of the once famous Panzer Regiment of the 1st SS-Panzer Division, the Liebstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH), commanded by SS-Standartenführer (Colonel) Joachim Peiper, who would be tried after the war for war crimes due to the execution of American soldiers at Malmedy, France. Barkmann's tank came under fire accidentally from German forces which disabled Barkmann's tank, wounding him and his crew in the process. Barkmann blew up their tank as he knew his war was quickly coming to an end. They were able to escape Russian capture and made it to the British lines to surrender to the allies. Barkmann's war record reflects he destroyed over 82 allied tanks, 136 miscellaneous vehicles and 43 anti-tank guns. After the war Barkmann returned to the village he had been born in. He would serve his community as a local fire chief and Burgermeister (mayor). Barkmann added "Schmuck" to his name, after the war. Ernst Barkmann earned the following awards and decorations for his service during World War II:
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
- Iron Cross 1st Class
- Iron Cross 2nd Class
- Wound Badge in Silver
- Infantry Assault Badge (for actions in Poland)
- Panzer Assault Badge with "50" designation


Advertisement

Advertisement

  • Created by: Rick Lawrence
  • Added: 17 Jun 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 53813831
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Ernst Barkmann (25 Aug 1919–27 Jun 2009), Find a Grave Memorial no. 53813831, citing Friedhof Kisdorf-Etzberg, Kisdorf, Kreis Segeberge, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany ; Maintained by Rick Lawrence (contributor 47207615) .