From Badass of the Week:
It’s a pretty well known fact around this site that I have a tendency to award bonus badassery points to men and women who made a career out of killing Nazis. So when you take into account the incredible disdain I have for all things Fascism-related, it may come as a coronary-inducing shock to many of you that I am actually featuring a fucking goddamned Nazi SS bastard as my Badass of the Week. Now before you fire up your e-mail client and start composing angsty letters to me informing me of a now-pressing need for me to choke to death on my own vomit and rot in the fiery inferno of the seventh layer of Hell, hear me out. This week’s badass, Michael Wittman, is up here despite the fact that he’s a Nazi, rather than because of it. The man was the most accomplished tank commander in the history of warfare, and his exploits in Russia and France (where he fucked up Allied forces left and right) were so insane that he was actually able to overcome the epically large number of bonus points he had working against him. After quite a bit of deliberation on the subject, I decided that just because he served a goverment comprised entirely of assclowns and douchebags doesn’t mean that his accomplishments should go unnoticed.
Michael Wittman joined the German army as an infantryman in 1934 at the age of twenty-one and quickly proved himself to be a high-quality soldier. It wasn’t long before he was recruited into the military arm of the SS and assigned to the 1st SS Panzer Division – the elite of the German elite and a military unit so incredibly badass that every Avalon Hill tabletop wargame ever created lists it as a fucking 12-6 unit. Just for the record, a combat-ready regiment of motherfucking fifty foot tall robot Godzillas that shoot heat-seeking missles out of their crotches probably wouldn’t be listed as a 12-power unit. So that’s saying some shit right there. Unfortunately, instead of fragging the proponents of Democracy from the turret of a hardcore Panzer, Michael Wittman was instead assigned to the Scout Platoon, where he was in command of a crappy little armored car with a machine gun strapped to its front bumper while his buddies got to drive around like the bad guys in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade shouting cool shit like “Achtung!” and “Auf Links!”. Wittman sucked it up and did his duty for the Vaterland while the Blitzkrieg rocked Poland, France and Greece like a hurricane, and finally when it was time for the 1st SS Panzer to start kicking Josef Stalin in the beets, German high command assigned Wittman command of a StuG III Assault Gun.
Now the Sturmgeschütz III technically wasn’t a tank. Sure it had a big-ass 75mm gun that could punch a sucking chest wound in the Terminator, but it didn’t have a moveable turret, and was generally considered to be more of an artillery piece than a straight-up tank. Nevertheless, Wittman put his skills to good use on his first day on the front lines, when he was out in the woods by himself facing a company of 18 Soviet T-34 tanks – the most badass heavy tank the Russkies had to offer. Wittman didn’t even give a shit. He was so pumped to be out of that stupid armored car that he just went nuts with his little assault gun, killing six tanks and chasing the rest from the field. For his one-man assault on Communism, Wittman was awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class. Throughout 1941 and 1942 he continued kicking Russian asses from the cockpit of his self-propelled artillery piece, winning victory after victory despite being consistently outnumbered and outgunned by Soviet forces. By the time the 1st SS Panzer reached the outskirts of Moscow, Wittman and his crew had already knocked out 25 T-34s and 32 Anti-Tank Guns. His medal was upgraded to the Iron Cross First Class, and he was shipped back to Germany for Officer School.
After fucking around in Germany for a while, Wittman returned to the Ostfront in 1943 in the commander’s chair of a Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger tank. While I’ve long said that the Panther was the most badass tank of World War II, it should be noted that the Tiger is a close second, and in the hands of a guy like Michael Wittman it was deadlier than heart disease and more dangerous than sticking your face in a bag full of angry squirrels. Wittman returned to the 1st SS Panzer just in time for the Battle of Kursk – the largest tank battle ever fought in the history of the universe – and he was prepared to whomp some asses. In the first day of fighting alone, Wittman’s crew recorded eight tank kills. After fighting basically non-stop for five straight days, the crew of his Tiger had taken out 30 tanks, 28 anti-tank guns, two full batteries of artillery and one of those trucks that drives around and ladles out borscht for $2 a bowl.
As the Germans continued to fight a losing campaign against the Soviets, Wittman continued to be awesome. Once he recorded fifteen tank kills in a single day; Another time he notched thirteen. He was an unequalled tactician who had complete control over his machine, and he and his crew worked together seamlessly. He was a master of spotting out ambushes and locating concealed anti-tank gun positions, and at one point was credited with killing 66 Russian tanks in the span of only 6 months, a feat that netted him the Knight’s Cross. As if he needs anything to make him more badass, I should mention that his turret gunner was a dude named Balthazar, which makes it sound like he had a fucking demon or some shit sitting in the cockpit with him.