GERMAN Tiger tank veterans who fought the Allies in World War Two received special packages from Adolf Hitler himself, they have recalled.
Speaking ahead of an exhibition set for The Tank Museum, Bovington, the former Tiger tank crewmen revealed how they were made to feel superior to other soldiers in the German army.
One veteran, Wilhelm Fischer, said: “Every month I got four packages from Adolf Hitler - they had chocolate in, cigarettes, sausage, we even got cured sausage every now and then.
“It was only the tanks. The infantry didn’t get anything, they just lay in the mud.”
The Tiger Tank Collection exhibition, with the German veterans’ stories, includes the museum’s own Tiger 1, its two King Tigers and its Jagdtiger.
There will also be an example of the German Elefant, a 65-tonne tank destroyer which is back on European soil for the first time since the end of the war.
German veteran Waldemar Pliska, who served amid the bloody carnage of the eastern front, said: “We saw 100 refugees that had been freed from a concentration camp. I asked everyone, who are those people? But they said to me to keep my mouth shut, as they were from a concentration camp and we were forbidden to speak about it.
“They were terrible experiences and I often dream of them still. I wake up drenched in sweat because I cannot forget.
“This Tiger is a weapon of war and it promotes it. It was a killing machine and I cannot endorse it. Simple as that.”
The only member of the Tiger Tank family unable to be present at the exhibition is the Sturmtiger, although it will be represented later in the year using virtual technology.
Mr Fischer recalled that every time the Tiger tank gun was fired, the gunner had to keep his mouth open to stop his eardrums from bursting.
“To sleep in the tank you stayed sitting, hunkered down in our seats. You couldn’t lie down, there was no room.
“Hygiene? It is the last thing you think about. You were happy enough just having enough to drink.”
The museum has been revealing the stories of those who fought in British tanks that were introduced just over a century ago - and now it is giving an insight into the enemy crews.
The Tiger Tank Collection exhibition begins on April 6.