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Oberleutnant Karl Hanke in a Panzerkampfwagen IV

Image Information
Panzerkampfwagen IV ausf D commanded by Oberleutnant (1st Lieutenant) Karl Hanke and assigned to the 25th Panzer Regiment, Seventh Panzer Division under Major General Erwin Rommel during the Battle of France. This propaganda photo appeared in Signal magazine in 1940. Hanke was employed by the Ministry for Propaganda until he had an affiar with Magda Goebbels. Hanke and Rommel, who was also a friend of Reichsminister Joseph Goebbels, understood the value of propaganda both for the home front and for their troops. They used each other to further their own aims. Rommel appointed Hanke to command the 25th in May 1940. Despite Hanke‘s lack of military training, he was a very successful, aggressive commander and saved Rommel‘s life. Hanke presented Rommel with a Knight‘s Cross from Reichschancellor Adolf Hitler and Rommel recommend him for the same. Hanke was bitter about several combat actions in France that he regarded as poor judgment and openly criticized Rommel, who sacked him and canceled the Knight‘s Cross, which angered Hanke‘s men. Popular with Hitler and Party Secretary Martin Bormann, they appointed him Gauleiter (Governor and Region Leader) of Lower Silesia in Poland, where he signed so many execution orders he was known as the “Hangman of Breslau.“ When the Soviets attacked in January 1945, Hanke organized the toughest defense (Festung (Fortress) Breslau) in the area, and the city held out until May 7. The defense had no strategic or tactical value, but it won the respect of Gobbels. Hanke escaped Breslau on May 5 by air. He learned he was to replace Himmler at Hitler‘s orders and to command the SS. For unknown reasons he went to Cezchoslovakia, where he joined the 18th SS Panzergrenadier Dvivsion “Horst Wessel“ and was captured on May 6. On June 8, 1945, his true identity still undiscovered, he attempted an escape. Either he was shot by a guard or recognized after escaping and beaten to death by former Czech and Polish displaced prisoners.
Image Filename wwii0129.jpg
Image Size 367.22 KB
Image Dimensions 545 x 750
Photographer Unknown
Photographer Title
Caption Author Jason McDonald
Date Photographed June 01, 1940
State or Province
Country France
Record Number
Status Caption ©2007, ©2024 MFA Productions LLC
Image in the Public Domain

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