Otto Carius was born on May 27th of 1922 in Zweibrucken, Rheinland-Pfalz in Southwest Germany. Just as he graduated from school, World War II broke out and he volunteered for 104th Infantry Placement Battalion in May of 1940. Following training, he was assigned to the 21st Panzer Regiment and experienced his first battle as a loader on a Panzer 38(t) during the "Barbarossa" operation in June of 1941. After about a year of war experience on the Eastern Front, Carius was accepted in an Officer Candidate Course and following its completion, was assigned to the 502nd Heavy Tank Battalion in April of 1943. Equipped with the new Tiger tanks, he was assigned as a tank commander to the 2nd Company of 502nd Tank Battalion. That summer, the 2nd Company was deployed to the Russian Leningrad Front and took part in several operations in that area. During that time, 502nd Tank Battalion was ordered to reinforce the front along with 11th SS Freiwillige Panzergrenadier Division "Nordland" at Narva Bridgehead. During one of his engagements, Carius destroyed four Soviet SU-85s and successfully withdrew without losses. In June of 1944, the company was transferred to Dunaburg (Daugavpils in Latvia) to defend the city from a concentrated Russian offensive. In the July of 1944, Russians outflanked the German defensive lines via the motorways west of Minsk and Borissov to Witebsk (same route was used by Germans in 1941). By using tanks in vast numbers, Soviets intended to divide the German occupied territory into small salients and then take port city of Riga. Since Riga is situated at the mouth of Dvina River, Dunaburg was an important strategic point for both Germans and Russians.
On July 22 of 1944, 1st Lieutenant Otto Carius with his company of eight (early and mid production) Tigers advanced towards village of Malinava (northern suburb of Dunaburg) in order to halt the Russian advance. 1st Lieutenant Otto Carius and 1st Lieutenant Albert Kerscher (one of the most decorated commanders of sPzAbt 502) took a Kubelwagen in order to check if the village was already occupied by Russians. They discovered that village of Malinava was already occupied by the enemy. Carius recognized that the Russian tanks in the village were only advance troops waiting for the main force to arrive. He decided to recapture the village before the arrival of reinforcements. Carius returned to his company for briefing and explained his plan to take the village.
He decided to attack the village using only two tanks because there was only one road leading to the village and rushing all of his Tigers would be dangerous. Six Tigers remained in the reserve while Carius and Kerscher's Tigers moved towards the village of Malinava. Speed was the essence of Carius' strategy and it was decisive to upset Russians and immobilize their tanks.
Left: Leutnant Otto Carius after receiving Oakleaves to his Knight's Cross.
When Carius' Tiger No.217 was about to enter the village, two T-34/85 tanks were observed rotating their turrets. At this moment, Kerscher's Tiger No.213 which followed Carius at about 150m, fired and knocked them out. Also for the first time, Otto Carius encountered Russian's latest JS-1 (or possibly JS-2) heavy tank. Its silhouette was somewhat similar to the German King Tiger and Carius was confused at first but after hesitating a bit, he fired and JS-1 burst into flames. Afterwards, Otto Carius recalls that the entire battle did not last more than 20 minutes. In such a short time, Carius and Kerscher's Tigers knocked out 17 Russian tanks including the new JS-1. Although the Russians were attacked by suprise, Carius' quick and accurate recognition of the situation and the excellent tactics used were the main factors in the outcome. Carius' achievement at Malinava is equally outstanding to Michael Wittmann's achievement at Villers-Bocage.
In November of 1943, Otto Carius destroyed 10 Soviet T-34/76 tanks at the distances as low as 50 meters.In August of 1944, Otto Carius was transferred to Paderbornto the newly created schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 512 and received the command of the 2nd company. sPzJagAbt 512 was equipped with powerful Jagdtigers, armed with 128mm Pak 44 L/55 gun. Carius commanded the 2nd company, which was training at Senne Camp near Paderborn and at Dollersheim near Vienna. On March 8th of 1945, without finishing its training, 2nd company was directed to the frontline near Siegburg. It then took part in the defence of the River Rhine and eventually surrendered to the US Army on April 15th of 1945. Interesting fact is that Otto Carius, only wore his Knight's Cross at the front, as it was a "pass" to get requests filled better.
After the war, Otto Carius became an owner of a pharmacy called Tiger Apotheke.
Born: 27 May 1922 in Zweibrucken
Awards: - Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Class (EK II and EK I), - Knights Cross (Ritterkreuz), - Oakleaves to the Knights Cross (Eichenlaub), - Wound Badge in Gold, - Panzer Battle Badge in Silver (100),
Total victories (kills): - 150-200 tanks, * Majority of this score was tailed on the Eastern Front.