Kummersdorf Research Center

In 1871, even during the Franco-Prussian War, the Prussian War Ministry had decided to move from Tegel, near Berlin, in a remote area of an artillery proving ground. The most successful site was forest near Kummersdorf, located on the lands of the province of Brandenburg, about 40 kilometers south of Berlin. To the Kummersdorf was laid railway line from Berlin (passing through a suburb of Berlin - Marienfelde).

By the beginning of World War II the area around the city Kummersdorf become one of the largest and perhaps most important ground for testing models of weapons and military equipment of all types. One of the main reasons for this volume was its proximity to Berlin, who also common to all capital cities, saturation, various ministries and departments, was a center of research in the field of arms control and weapons divisions of labor forces.

It should also be noted that Kummersdorf was only a few miles southwest of the other major German cities Wünsdorf is a suburb of a larger city Zossen. In the XX Century Wunsdorf was closely associated with military agency. In 1910, the district Waldstadt purchased a large plot of land for the needs of the Kaiser's army, which was subsequently created a shooting range and Prussian Infantry School. Also in 1918 Wünsdorf was established repair facility for tanks, which served as a future base for the creation of German armored forces. Wunsdorf multi-range, equipped with special stands for the shooting, Zossen military warehouses, Doeberitz and Kummersdorf shooting and provide comprehensive training for tank crews. In 1933, due to changes in the political situation, motorized troops got priority status, and on the basis of a military school in Wunsdorf created the first tank school with his permanent training base and a small training field in Zossen (Panzertruppenschule Wunsdorf-Zossen). From 1939 to 1945 in Wunsdorf been placed Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) and Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH).

After creation Kummersdorf proving ground become the most important research and test center, where the Office of Weapons Army is organized to effort and test models of foreign weapons and military equipment.

In the prewar period these models were purchased through third countries and secretly transported to Germany. Thus, in Kummersdorf in the early 30's study were delivered tanks firm Carden-Lloyd, and in 1936 through Holland light tank company Vickers-Armstrong, without arms, held on the documents like a tractor.

With the outbreak of hostilities in Spain captured armaments began to come from this country, so in September 1937 for research in Kummersdorf were Soviet tanks T-26. After the annexation of Czechoslovakia and the accession of Austria to the Reich, new models was added to collection.

Research work with samples of enemy weapons and equipment given priority status by the beginning of full-fledged hostilities on the European continent. Since then, working groups Kummersdorf were constantly on the road - in the process of collecting, studying and carrying out initial tests captured equipment, organization of transportation in Germany.

Trains with captured armaments of the enemy, which included artillery, tanks, armored vehicles, engineering equipment and much more, hurry in Kummersdorf.

Captured specimens were learning techniques to identify successful design solutions for their subsequent use in the design of German weapons, as well as the intensification of research activities. Using new, non-standard technical solutions identified during testing, resulting in savings of Germany's enormous amount of time, money and material resources, and therefore was of great importance for the German weapons development program.

In addition, in studies performed to seek effective means to combat patterns of enemy weapons and methods of protection against him, as well as determine the feasibility and usefulness of the Wehrmacht. The latter direction was particularly important during the campaign of 1939-1940. And the most important aspect was the timely identification of trends and new directions in the development of foreign arms for timely action.

Even before the end of the French campaign, June 10, 1940 from Kummersdorf France were sent to the team trophy, which was carried out extensive tests equipment, its measurements, after which the decision was the need for its transportation to the test site in Germany.

With the end of the campaign in early October 1940 the German General Staff ordered according to which each new sample captured enemy armored vehicles in duplicate should be provided in the Research Center Kummersdorf to conduct extensive testing. A comprehensive assessment of the trapped cars, armored vehicles and tanks, collected by the Office of the army has carried out in Kummersdorf on the old test site in eastern shooting range. After that, as a rule, the sample deposited with the so-called arsenal Kummersdorf, which was located behind the headquarters.

The second copy of tank should be addressed to the Office of the arms and sent to a collection tank museum Wehrmacht, which was located in a suburb of Stettin, a city Altdamm (currently these cities are Polish names Szczecin-Dabie), founded after the war began. All spectrum of armored vehicles confronted German troops during the French campaign joins those collections.

French tanks and belgian armored car in the Stettin tank museum collection

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British tanks in the Stettin tank museum collection

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Study of technical solutions to individual units and systems of French tanks give engineers the German military and a lot of engineering ideas. The greatest interest of German engineers evoked electromechanical transmission, mounted on a French tank Char 2C, a technical solution inspired by German designers, especially Professor Ferdinand Porsche, the use of such design solutions in the construction of heavy tanks. Work on its investigation for several months were carried out by Daimler-Benz, located in a suburb of Berlin Marienfelde (Berlin-Marienfelde). Another interesting solution for the German engineers was hydromechanical transmission Naeder firm Chaize installed on the French tanks B-1bis. This unit comes complete with the gearbox and gearbox Fieux Schneider and gave the opportunity to immediately proceed with the 1 st to 4 th gear. Another prototype, which gave the German breakthrough research was a small tracked tractor, dragged from the river Seine (Siena), which became the basis for the development of remote-controlled carrier charges.

The highest priority of the task tests the captured weaponry purchased after June 22, 1941. Efforts were concentrated on the study of methods and means of dealing with the new Soviet tanks. As in previous European campaigns, special teams of Kummersdorf, Hillersleben and other research centers have begun an active collection and removal of captured Soviet weapons.

All the main types of Soviet technology, the opposing German troops during Operation "Barbarossa", appeared in the collection tank museum. And further, all occurring at the front of the new models of equipment are also directed to a study. Trophies are not always sent to Germany in two copies, in some cases, send one single instance, as it probably was a T-35 tanks, others in a more massive scale as it was the main opponent of Panzerwaffe, T-34 tank, or heavy KV.

Soviet tanks in the Kummersdorf exhibition

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June 27, 1941 Special Commission submitted its first report containing an assessment of captured Soviet tanks. In December 1941, for a series of tests in the technical department of the trial was delivered to the first T-34. Under the guidance of Doctor of Technical Sciences H. Knoppeck tank was subjected to detailed study. In conclusion, signed by Oberst. Dipl.Ing. Esser talked about the need to copy the designs of the Soviet tank industry in Germany. It is known that on the basis of the study was designed brochure, a copy of which was discovered in 1943 in one of the captured German tanks, which demonstrates the balance of performance, bringing it back into place the best tank. High interest of germans ingeeners call amphibious tank T-38 and T-40, according to the results of their tests in the waters of Lake Melenze (Mellensee) near Zossen. By the time Germany had already developed its own, very cumbersome because of the removable marker float designs, floating versions of linear Pz Kpfw II for the planned invasion of the British Isles as part of Operation “Sea Lion”("Seelowe"). T-40 at a comparable hotel reservations and firepower favorably differs from them compact and rational design.

Severe geographical and climatic conditions to which the German armed forces faced on the Eastern Front, led to new requirements for Army test center in Kummersdorf the tested samples of the new weapons. As a result of that test in severe conditions of Russian winter, special teams were sent in Mogilev (Mogilev) during the winters of 1942-1943 and 1943-1944 years.

During World War II Office of Arms is very often used database Kummersdorf test center for demonstrations of new models of various high-ranking officials and military, including members of foreign delegations and the diplomatic corps.

Frequent visitor to Kummersdorf was Reich Minister of armament and military industry, Albert Speer (Albert Speer).

Army test site served as a base for the creation of numerous educational films commissioned by OKH and OKW. If and to develop the necessary manuals.

By the spring of 1945, Germany has become a battleground, which necessitated the reorganization and transfer of documents of the test center, resulting in many documents were lost or destroyed. Started moving and the landfill property. In early March 1945 was created by a tank battalion "Kummersdorf" complete with a variety of test equipment company, which was moved to the front under the Oder. Part of the Tank Battalion became part of Panzer Division "Müncheberg” the formation of which began on 5 March 1945.

Inspector general of panzer troops mentions the structure of a tank company "Kummersdorf" during a meeting in the Fuehrer's Headquarters March 31, 1945. It consisted of three tank platoons (some mobile), one platoon of reconnaissance platoon of armored vehicles, infantry (Grenadier) Platoon accompaniment, and one tank platoon (non-mobile machines). The technique was taken from those aimed at testing machines, the company included PzKpfw VI "Tiger II" (Sd.Kfz. 182), "Jagdtiger", two American tanks "Sherman", an Italian tank P-40 (i), as well as several carriers charges B IV armed with machine guns (other sources give different data availability of equipment).

According to a telex dated April 4, 1945, at least part of a tank company should have been transferred to the district of Dresden (Dresden). Non-mobile equipment, including tanks «Tiger» the tower Porsche took part in the battles of April, the south-east Kummersdorf.

General view of reserch center. Summer 1945. Note a KV-85 and Sherman tanks on the left side of picture.

(From "Technika i vooruzhenie" No10/2012 magazine)

Another tank unit was formed in Kummersdorf and participated in combat April 21, 1945 Zossen south in the direction of Baruth, with the objective to stop the advance of the 1 st Ukrainian front advancing from the direction Golssen (Golssen), as part of the battle group Kaether (Käther). Company included 42 vehicles, including at least one tank PzKpfw V "Panther". During the battle near the settlement of Baruth tank unit was completely destroyed.

The fate of the collection of trophy art Kummersdorf research center has not been established, however fragmentary information is still available. It is known that in late 1944, American technology from the Kummersdorf tank collection, suitable for use, was sent to the 150 th Tank Brigade, commanded by Otto Skorzeny, which was used during Operation « Greif ».

Heavy five-turret tank (identified as a captured Soviet tank T-35), a member of a combat group Ritter (established April 20, 1945), who fought in the area Zossen, is mentioned in several sources. It is known that the tank was quickly shot down.

In the photo album commander 1059 th Infantry Regiment, 297th Infantry Division Guard Lieutenant Colonel Michael Alexandrovich Tolkachev available picture of the road near an abandoned tank Renault D2, made 22 April 1945, which reads the caption to that photo was taken in the area Zossen (signature incorrect transcription as Sosin). On the other photos showing heavy tank "Panther" 27 April 1945, on the outskirts of Berlin, in the background can be seen a few British cruiser tanks appear earlier as belonging to the collection of German tank museum.

French tanks abandoned near Zossen. 22 April 1945.

(From M.A. Tolkachev family archive)

British tanks on the picture background. Berlin suburbs. 27 April 1945.

(From M.A. Tolkachev family archive)

(From H.S. Bogdanov family archive)

(From H.S. Bogdanov family archive)

9 March 1945 Commander of Army Group Vistula had signed the order on the transfer of museum tanks in parts of the occupying defenses around the "fortress of Stettin”, where she was to be used to enhance the established reference points as fixed gun emplacements, all unsuitable for this technique to be destroyed. How much and what exactly the samples captured armored vehicles there in the museum, and how much was used again, unfortunately, could not be determined as unable to establish their fate. However, we know that the March 24, 1945 in combat units "Stettin" including one T-34, is in the average repair, but it is quite possible that it was not a museum piece, and recently captured the trophy.

Open-air exposition of germans tank museum collection in Vienna (Heeresmuseeum).

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1. "The Wehrmacht Weapons Testing Ground at Kummersdorf". Wolfgang Fleisher.
2. Materials of the site Wünsdorf Club (wuensdorf-klub.org)
3. "Achtung - Panzer!". H. Guderian. Voenizdat, 1957.
4. "Heeresversuchsstelle Kummersdorf. Augenzeugenberichte. Fotografien. Akten 1974-1945". Wolfgang Fleischer.
5. "Beutepanzer unterm Balkenkreuz. Amerikanische und englische Kampfpanzer".Regenberger, Dr. Werner.
6."Combat History of schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653" Karlheinz Munch. Fedorowicz Publishing. 2005.
7. "Tank units of the Wehrmacht in 1945". Part 2. Frontline illustration No5 / 2004. M. Kolomiez.