How was the tank destroyed by Hitler's Gustav










is actually a female given name and the short form of Dorothea; But what is meant here is "the greatest gun of all time" from World War II. Several parts of this German "wonder weapon" were blown up in April 1945 on the edge of the Grafenwöhr military training area shortly before the American invasion.

I would like to expressly point out that this article is not about the glorification of weapons either. I am very well aware of the tremendous misery that wars and the weapons used there at all times.
I would much prefer it if all people around the world gave up all weapons if the prophet Micah's prophecy was fulfilled:

“In the last days, however, the mountain on which God's house stands will stand firm, higher than all mountains and above all hills. And the peoples will come running, and many pagans will go and say: 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in his paths!'
For instruction will go out from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge among great peoples and correct many pagans in distant lands. They will turn their swords into plowshares and their skewers into sickles. No people will take up the sword against the other, and they will no longer learn to wage war. Everyone will dwell under his vine and fig tree, and no one will frighten them. For the mouth of the Lord of hosts spoke it. "(Mi, 4,1-4)

But unfortunately the reality looks different, as Wilhelm Busch also recognized.

Development of the Dora

The OKH was already established in 1937
approached the Krupp company,
an oversized gun
to be developed as a "special device".
Finally, i.a.
three 80 cm cannons built,
Dora, Heavy Gustav
and Heavy long Gustav.

This 80 cm cannon was the largest gun ever built. The 32.48 m long tube with a weight of 400 t alone was mounted on a 40-axle chassis when it was fired. Two adjacent tracks were required for firing. The cannon was straightened by pushing it back and forth in a "shooting curve" with two 1,000 hp diesel locomotives. It was possible to fire 7,100 kg tank shells with a maximum firing range of 37,000 m, and 4,800 kg high explosive shells that reached a firing range of 48,000 m at a Vo of 820 m / s.

In Rügenwalde (Pomerania,
today Darłowo, Poland)
became the cannon
in November / December 1941
built up ...

... and in attendance
by Adolf Hitler
and other Nazi giants
tried and tested in a sharp shot.
The Dora fired
from the shooting range
Rügenwalde bath
out to the Baltic Sea.

Use of the Dora in the Crimea
On June 22, 1941, Hitler began the attack on the Soviet Union, which was obviously taken by surprise. Progress was rapid, and by the end of 1941 the Baltic States and Belarus were in the hands of German troops. At the beginning of August, the Fuehrer had the attack on Moscow recommended by the generals halted in order to initially take Ukraine, which is particularly important in terms of energy economics.
In fact, in October 1941 large parts of the Ukraine and the Black Sea Peninsula of Crimea were occupied by the German 11th Army under Colonel General Erich von Manstein and Romanian units. Another goal was the conquest of Sevastopol. In addition, the use of the huge Dora gun made perfect sense - if at all.

On January 8, 1942, the Heavy Artillery Division (E) 672 was set up. Colonel R. Böhm became the commander of this unit. During the handover ceremony, the gun was christened "Dora"; that was the name of the sister of the chief engineer Erich Müller.
The Dora (I) railway gun was transported from its previous location in Rügenwalde on special low-loader wagons to the Crimea in late spring 1942 and brought into position about 16 km northeast of Sevastopol. (Photo)

The actual battle for Sevastopol, "the strongest fortress in the world", began on June 7, 1942. A total of 48 projectiles were fired during this single deployment of the Dora in the summer of 1942 near Sevastopol. This also showed the great penetration power of the enormous 80 cm caliber: The Dora destroyed an ammunition dump of the Soviets, which was 30 m deep in the natural rock. It was also used to build tank forts, such as the fortress Maxim Gorky shot at. "But the rather ´mean´ hit effect is in no relation to the enormous effort." (2, page 81)
After the city was conquered on July 1, 1942, around 97,000 Red Army soldiers were captured. None of these prisoners came to the camp in Bernreuth, as it was closed soon afterwards.

The Crimean Shield,
a combat badge in WWII,
was born on July 25, 1942
Donated by Adolf Hitler.
All members of the Wehrmacht were able to receive this medal
and people subordinate to the Wehrmacht
got that between September 21, 1941
and July 4, 1942 in the fighting
around the Crimea on land, in the air
and were involved in water.

200,000 to 300,000 such sleeve shields to be worn on the left upper arm of the uniform were awarded. They were also awarded posthumously because several thousand German Wehrmacht members had died or went missing in the Crimea.

The end of the dora
After the capture of Sevastopol, the Dora I was brought to safety in Auerswalde (near Chemnitz, Saxony). After an overhaul, the last live shot was fired at a demonstration in March 1943. The gun was then "stored" in Auerswalde.
The second Gustav gun, often Heavy Gustav or simply Dora II called, is said to have never been used after test shots in March 1943 near Rügenwalde.
A third Gustav device Heavy long Gustav called, was destroyed in the assembly hall of Krupp in Essen during an Allied attack on Bamben.
On April 14 or 15, 1945 the 1942 was deployed near Sevastopol Dora I Made unusable by the German Wehrmacht by blowing up the breech block and the cradle. The still intact parts and some rubble were analyzed by Soviet experts and brought to the central loot collection point in Merseburg near Halle at the end of 1945. Nothing is known about their whereabouts.
More or less by chance, in December 2003 Matthias Gluba discovered a piece of iron weighing around 80 by 40 centimeters and weighing around 200 kg in Auerswalde.

It's a piece
from the cradle * of Dora II,
that at the demolition in 1945
was thrown about 150 m
and ended up in a garden.

The find found a place in the Military History Museum of the Bundeswehr (MHM) in Dresden, which opened in 2011, together with an almost 4 ton 800 mm high explosive grenade, a model of the Dora and some other relevant exhibits on the subject.

* The cradle or barrel cradle is an important part of guns. It is fixed or moveable in the mount and encompasses a rear part of the gun barrel in a ring shape in front of its breech block. The barrel can slide back in the cradle when firing in order to dissipate most of the recoil energy through its moment of inertia. In the case of larger guns, the barrel is also braked hydraulically and then returned to its starting position by the barrel hauler.
It was only through this gun construction with a barrel cradle, which was developed in the second half of the 19th century, that guns with a larger caliber could be fired with a fixed mount. Before that, the entire carriage had to be mounted in a complex return system, or it had to be let roll back on wheels.

As already mentioned, the Dora had the almost unbelievable caliber of 80 cm (800 mm), a total length of 42.98 meters in the firing position, a weight of 1,350 tons and required 500 men to operate, and even more than 3,000 to position it.

A weight of 4.72 t and a total of
5.4 m long HE grenade
had a range
of around 47 km.
The enormous impact
the tank shell was
specified as follows:
in steel 1 m
in reinforced concrete 8 m
32 m in natural soil.

Here are the
Human - Grenade - Dora

The Dora railway gun
is also a testimony
for Hitler's gigantomania.
In this photo
he admires (probably 2nd from the right)
with some followers
his supposed miracle weapon
in Rügenwalde (see above).

The Dora at Metzenhof
The second, identical railway gun Dora II (from some Heavy Gustav or Heavy Gustav 2 Although it was finished and ready to fire in 1942, it was never used except for a test shooting in March 1943, and consequently it was not in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula.
In any case, this Dora was dismantled in Rügenwalde in August 1944 and initially stored. "They are loaded onto special wagons (note: we are talking about both railway guns!) At the firing range in Rügenwalde on the Baltic Sea and have been on the road with several trains in Germany since March 1945. The train with the most important parts, such as coat- and soul tube, bottom piece, cradle, loading table and ammunition lifts for the Gustav devices on board are ´parked´ in a wooded area near Metzenhof. The Americans do not consider the object of Hitler's weapons gigantomania worth a bomb carpet the other trains that are near Chemnitz are not operational. " (2, page 56)
The train with the gun or the gun parts of the two Doras arrived at the Grafenwöhr military training area at the end of March 1945 and was parked at Metzenhof.

This old map (from 1) shows a section of the branch line coming from Grafenwöhr via Eschenbach, Stegenthumbach and Metzenhof on to Kirchenthumbach. The said train took this route in the spring of 1945. Then it was parked south of the Großer Weiher (blue) approx. 300 m north of the Metzenmühle in the forest (yellow). The then 31 year old Josef Stock, foreman at the Metzenmühle, remembered 50 years later: "The cannon itself included another ten or twelve railway wagons, which were equipped with additional and spare parts as well as tools. About 40 members of the Wehrmacht have the cannon day and night guarded." (3)

On this aerial photo (from BayernAtlas) the village of Metzenhof is at the top left. The edge of the forest in the center of the picture is roughly today's border of the military training area, marked with a red line. Between Metzenhof and Panzerringstraße, the loop of which is shown in the lower left corner, is a military helicopter landing pad with associated facilities and buildings.

"The Landser sat in our kitchen several times and had coffee. On April 19, the Americans had already taken Stegenthumbach (note about 3 km southeast of the Metzenmühle), the German soldiers came and made us aware that in a few hours the gun was blown up. On Hitler’s orders, the cannon was not allowed to fall into the hands of the enemy when it was in working order. " (3)
On the same day, immediately before the US troops arrived, German soldiers blew up the train with parts of the train standing near Metzenhof on the edge of the training area greatest gun of all time, more precisely with parts of the two guns Dora I and Dora II. Another contemporary witness remembers that "there was a mighty rattle" and that there were several post-explosions.
"Almost three years after the mission in the Crimea: The detonation can be heard as far as Weiden and Bayreuth when the earth shook ... at Metzenhof in Upper Palatinate on April 19, 1945 at 1.30 p.m. The surrounding forest went up in flames . Shortly before the Americans reach the tracks, German pioneers blow up an entire train with 19 special wagons. " (2, page 58)

What about the demolition
left on April 19th,
"was from 1945
until dismantling in 1950
on the tracks at Metzenhof. "
(4, page 104f)
The cradle mentioned above
is on the left in front of the pipe
to recognize.

American soldiers in particular liked to be photographed with the remains of "Hitler's monster gun" (5, page 105). The legendary US General George S. Patton also came here in the summer of 1945 a few months before his death. He is said to have taken the Dora nameplate with him as a souvenir.

"To maintain
of rail transport
became a siding
around the wagons with the huge ones
Scrap parts of the Dora built. "(5, page 105)

It wasn't until 1950
the remains of the gun parts
by a dismantling team
dismantled from Dingolfing and with
disassembled large welding torches.
The metal pieces were then
transported away. (Photo from 1)

In some local tool cellars, pieces, such as wrenches, are said to be from the Dora’s rich inventory and to be used.

used and further sources

1archive Heinrich Dilling, Dachsbach
2Hormann, Jörg-M., Railway gun Dora - The artillery giant of the Second World War and its forerunners, in Clausewitz, issue 1/2012

Fürk, Fritz, The steel monster was put to an end in Nordbayerischer Kurier, April 19, 1995

4Burckhardt Paul, The military training areas Grafenwöhr, Hohenfels, Wildflecken, Weiden 1989
5Morgenstern, Gerald,Grafenwoehr Training Area, yesterday - today, Grafenwoehr 2010; 2nd and extended edition 2011
Father i call you (prayer during battle)
Text:Körner, Karl Theodor (1791-1813)
Melody: Himmel, Friedrich Heinrich (1765-1814)

This article was last updated on September 29, 2020

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