Germany / Biography
SS-Hauptsturmführer (SS-Captain) Michael Wittmann (22 April 1914 - 8 August 1944) was considered the most successful tank commander of the Second World War - a perpetuating myth of Nazi propaganda. He died in the hard-fought battles following the successful Allied landing Operation in Normandy, which began on 8 August 1944.
SS-Hauptsturmführer Wittmann was born in Vogelthal on 22 April 1914. In 1936 Wittmann joined the SS at the age of 22 and in 1938 became a member of the Leibstandarte SS 'Adolf Hitler'. From 1939 onwards, Wittmann took part in various campaigns throughout Europe. He was awarded the Knight's Cross for the destruction of 66 tanks on 14 January 1944. Later that same month on 30 January, he received the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross from Adolf Hitler. Wittmann was celebrated as a national hero by Nazi propaganda.
After the Allied landings, in mid-June 1944 Wittmann was transferred to Normandy as a Company Commander of the SS-Schwere-Panzer-Battalion 101. In the Battle of Villers-Bocage he commanded six Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger against British tank units and inflicted considerable losses on them. These were further embellished in Nazi propaganda. Wittmann was then promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer and received the Swords to the Knight’s Cross.
On 8 August 1944, Wittmann died together with the crew of his Tiger tank, in combat with Allied units around the Falaise pocket. His remains were not found until 1983 and were moved to La Cambe cemetery.