Tiger tank veterans meet their British counterparts

German Tiger tank veterans met their British counterparts at the Tank Museum, Bovington, in Dorset, ahead of the opening of The Tiger Tank Collection exhibition. (l-r) Waldemar Pliska, Ernest Slarks, Wilhelm Fischer and Ken Tout.

Two surviving German Tiger Tank veterans met their British counterparts at the opening of a major exhibition at The Tank Museum, Bovington, in Dorset.

There were emotional scenes as the veterans – all in their nineties – met each other more than 70 years after the end of World War II.

They shared memories about serving their countries in tanks and discussed their experiences.

The veterans shook hands and embraced as they looked at the collection of Tiger tanks, which were a German invention that struck fear into the allies – and their reputation has endured.

The Tiger Tank Collection exhibition, supported by World of Tanks, includes 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 1945.

Never have these tanks been together at the same time before – not even during the war.

Together there are 300 tons of German tank on display, but also the memories of those who fought in them are recorded and presented.

The two Germans whose stories are told are Wilhelm Fischer and Waldemar Pliska, and they met British veterans Ken Tout and Ernest Slarks.

Waldemar said: “I was grateful for the invitation and looked forward to meeting the other veterans.

“You have to remember that these tanks were killing machines. And it must never happen again; they must be a warning to others.”

Ernest said: “It is a strange feeling really, meeting each other – but also amazing. Time heals, of course, but we must never forget.

“While the Germans don’t speak much English we discovered through interpreters and sign language that we have so much in common.”

David Willey, Curator of The Tank Museum, said: “Seeing the Tiger veterans and the British veterans meet was quite a moment.

“From speaking to them it’s clear that they shared so many experiences and they were very much looking forward to meeting.

“To bring them together at the exhibition with these legendary Tiger Tanks was a wonderful way to bring attention to the stories of the tanks and the men who fought in them.

“And these stories are powerful, as of course, are the machines themselves.”

 

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