Ernst Barkmann (later Ernst Schmuck-Barkmann) (25 August 1919 – 27 June 2009) was a German tank commander in the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany during World War II. He is known for the actions undertaken at “Barkmann’s corner", in which it was claimed he halted a major U.S. Army armoured advance in Normandy on 27 July 1944, for which action he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
Barkmann joined the Nazi Party on 1 September 1938 and served in the Reich Labour Service from November 1938 to March 1939. After this he joined the SS on 1 April 1939, and served during the occupation of Poland. He was posted for a time as an instructor of SS volunteers in the Netherlands. In winter 1942/43 he was posted to the SS Division Das Reich on the Eastern Front, with which he took part in the Third Battle of Kharkov.
In February 1944, Das Reich was ordered to France to form a part of the 5th Panzer Army, the armoured reserve for the expected Allied invasion. Following Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of June 1944, the division reached the front in early July and fought against the American forces near Saint-Lô. Barkmann was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Barkmann participated in the Ardennes Offensive in December 1944 and the fighting on the Eastern Front in the spring of 1945.
Barkmann and his crew was credited with the destruction of at least 82 Soviet, British and US tanks, 136 miscellaneous armoured fighting vehicles and 43 anti-tank guns.
Barkmann's reputed actions in Normandy were challenged by the military historian Steven Zaloga in his 2015 work Armored Champion: The Top Tanks of World War II. In his book he asserts that he has analysed the Allied war records, and was unable to locate the losses claimed by Barkmann. He attributed the narrative of Barkmann's corner to the "propaganda efforts of the Waffen-SS".
Awards and decorations
- 1939 Wound Badge in Black, 1939
- 1939 Iron Cross 2nd Class, 14 July 1941
- Infantry Assault Badge in Silver, 18 February 1942
- 1939 Iron Cross 1st Class, 1 August 1944
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, 27 August 1944 as Panzer commander in the 4./SS-Panzer-Regiment 2 "Das Reich"
- 1939 Wound Badge in Silver and Gold
- Panzer Badge Second Type and Third Type