The pensioner culture that is Germany

WWII Panther tank seized from pensioner’s cellar

It was to get the tank out of the cellar, so hard that modern tanks were needed.  Then there is this:

It seems the tank’s presence wasn’t much of a secret locally. Several German media reports mention that residents had seen the man driving it around town about 30 years ago. “He was chugging around in it during the snow catastrophe in 1978,” Mayor Alexander Orth was quoted as saying. But he later added: “I took this to be the eccentricity of an old man, but it looks like there’s more to it than that.”

He had an anti-aircraft gun stored away too.  For the pointer I thank Andrew Farrant.


Must be a damn big cellar.

As a card carrying libertarian, I feel it's his god given right to drive a tank if he wants to.

I may be crazy, though.

Tanks are legal to own in the US except they may not be road legal.

I believe, but was unable to verify in a quick search, that you can even have a working gun with a federal permit.

I had a friend's grizzled Gramps once show me an ancient German driving license with an endorsement for "tank driving" on it. It's been a while so I hope this isn't my memory playing games.

You are correct on both points. I quote the pertinent language from a Wall Street Journal article at There are hundreds of privately owned tanks in the United States.

One is owned by the governator. He hosts barbecues on it.


'the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a Davy Crockett', eh?

More like "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a Panther is a good guy with five Shermans."

Well a Davy Crockett could stop a Panther, but most people would consider it overkill.

It was jeep portable, small nuclear weapon system. Small for nukes. It was rated at 20 tons of TNT equivalent. So, yeah, it would stop a Panther.

What law did he break? These were not functional, correct?

"Prosecutors in the nearby city of Kiel are investigating whether the man's military collection violates Germany's War Weapons Control Act. But his lawyer says the weapons are no longer functional, therefore shouldn't be restricted."

So exactly why did they seize the tank and anti-aircraft gun from him?

It is the FYTW clause in German law, same as the one we have.

As noted below, it is quite unlikely he actually had a title to property of the German government.

You mean this guy had the termerity to steal from the Nazis! Lock him up!

Funny how p_a has absorbed the fanatic German obsession with law and order uber alles.

Unless those laws are American, then p_a is sure they are unjust.

No, what I meant was that unless he has clear title, it is reasonable to assume that the property was stolen. At least, that is a reasonable perspective based on American law.

It is extremely unlikely he stole it from the Nazis - most likely, at the time he acquired it, it either belonged to the Allied Control Council or to the Federal Republic of Germany.

"It is extremely unlikely he stole it from the Nazis – most likely, at the time he acquired it, it either belonged to the Allied Control Council or to the Federal Republic of Germany. "

One would think a court of law would have to prove that before the government moved in and seized his assets. Or is one presumed guilty until proven innocent in Germany?

'One would think a court of law would have to prove that before the government moved in and seized his assets.'

They were never his - stolen property does not become a thief's property, and if he had a single document proving he owned it, it would not have been siezed. There is a reason he did not go to court, after all - the operation involved considerable effort and time, and he could have stopped it.

This isn't really all that hard to understand, one would think.

The person in possession of property is presumed to be its owner unless it can be proven otherwise--not the other way around as you suggest.

There are pesky little things like statutes of limitations, if want to dust the fancy legal terms.

Since the Gurlitt case it seems like german prosecutors got into the habit of ceasing first, wonder about the legal details later. Especially if it touches anything Nazi related, moral outrage will overpower most concerns for rule of law.

A point made in various news reports - along with the fact that the Panther's tracks have been non-functional, to put it politely, for three decades, that being the reason the Bundeswhehr was involved.

Nonetheless, it is not exactly probable he can prove legal title to the Panzerkampfwagen V 'Panther' he had sitting in his house.

And as pointed out in various articles, the man is not exactly above reproach as a collector - 'Prosecutors were alerted to the existence of the weapons by Berlin prosecutors, who searched the villa for stolen Nazi art around a month earlier, the spokesperson for the Kiel prosecutor said.'

Unsurprisingly, at least from one perspective, the man was a financial manager living in a villa in what in German is reserved to as a 'Nobelviertel' - a posh neighborhood.

Is the burden of proof on me to prove legal title to stuff I've lying in my house for 30 years?

Well prior_approval has consistently said that Germany is a socialist hell-hole. And you've got to be pretty rich to own a basement big enough for a Panther and an 88 MM anti-aircraft gun.

This horrible collector of Nazi art (probably looted) is possibly a neo-liberal to boot. I can't forgive him for the former, and P-A can't forgive him for the latter.

When it comes to property that can only come from a goverment, such as an anti-aircraft gun, yep.

In other words, if someone just happened to discover a 105 mm M2A1 howitzer sitting in a basement in Fairfax, the American government has every right to believe that the gun remains its property, unless the person can present the proper paperwork.

To cover all the bases in this case, neither the Nazis, the Allied Control Council, nor the Federal Government of Germany are likely to have sold a Panther to a private citizen either during or after WWII. In particular, the Allied Control Council was not selling surplus weapons after the end of WWII to private German citizens.

As someone who actually lives in the town discussed, Heikendorf is not a Nobelviertel. Think a 50s german version of suburbia mixed with some holiday industry. Cheap land at the time, tendency for well to do people to go outside the majors cities center. So not anything extraordinarily extravagant like Blankenese in Hamburg or anything that the super rich in the states favor.
Globalization is funny that one could find this story here. The presence of the tank and other ww2 memorialia is widely known at least since the 90s. I remember hearing about the nutcase with the tank and armaments in his garden. As i grew up in the area where lots of state bureocrats lived i find it hard to believe this was not known among the state persecutors at the time. i cant wait to see what other local politics make it to the www, we have many a local political backstabbing, backpeddling and good old corruption to tell. Most famous the Barshel affair, or the WaterkantGate.

"...state persecutors..."

The Cowen is strong in this one.

Did they find any stolen Nazi art in the villa? I don't see how the search itself brings him into reproach.

To be fair, everything fits. Supposed stolen Nazi art to finance his operations, cutting edge German weapons from the 40's (they are not freely given as candy in Halloween), enough political influence to be allowed to drive his tank around without being bothered, a rich (at least, well-off) "retiree", a "cellar" so big you can park a tank, maybe even a death raygun, there... He must be an operative the Nazis left behind to retake lost the territory and harrass the occupying powers (yes, he was only 8 when the war ended, but I am told the old times youngesters had more focus than today's youth, and he was almost old enough to have being a member of Hitler Youth. Coincidence?). How can we be sure he wasn't planning cloning Hitler?

huh, and all this time I thought the hitler cloning project was being run out of the basement of a bierhall in blumenau...

Maybe there are many Hitler cloning projects, and they will make them fight. Let the strongest Führer lead the strongest race. The inferior Hitlers will be destroyed.

I like the idea of the last Hitler Jugend turning into the Hitler Alte Kakern.

That's an Ausf A, isn't it? This is quite a valuable museum piece. I wonder what happened to the tracks? Collectors are fanatical about their stuff, and it's nice he was willing to use it to help clear the snow now and again. Still, one well timed phone call to the right museum and he'd be a well off pensioner, and not facing various fines.

Doesn't Lemmy Kilmister own one of those?

Well, if he had these things around for almost with no bad repercussions, he probably had much more sense than upwards 90 percent of American drivers.
Let's see if I get it, he is more dangerous and sinister now than when he was young and his tank had tracks and could be driven around. I mean, what "more to it" can there be? Was he biding his time-he's 78!-, trying to lure France into a false sense of security, paciently waiting the right time to strike with his Blitzkrieg and drive his tank through Paris (old habits are hard to break). I am all for sensible gun control, but it is ridiculous.
"Local prosecutors were tipped off about the cellar's contents by colleagues in Berlin, who searched the home for stolen Nazi art earlier this year."
Well, if he didn't cash the money yet, either he is a serious art collector or he is saving for his retirement or he hasn't got any Nazi art (are we talking about art the nazis stole or some paintings by Hitler someone stole?).

Yup. Looks like the art raid was a bust, so they found another way to harass him.

Correctio: "Well, if he had these things around for almost with no bad repercussions, he probably had much more sense than upwards of 90 percent of American drivers."

Exactly. Some days, what I wouldn't give for a tank out on the highway!

Did he have any live ammunition for the tank or the anti-aircraft gun?

I wonder if the gun was a Junkers 88. If so, the guy had taste.

The anti-aircraft gun appears to be a towable 88 mm Flak 37.

A "Junkers 88" is a WW II bomber.

thank god he didn't deploy himself to settle the greek crisis!

Consider how much Germany spends on National Defense, he is main defense against a Putin invasion!


Inflation hedge.

If they could fix this up it would be a pretty big deal as I believe theres only 1 operating Panther in the world.

I live on the other side of the Kiel bay from causk. I think he is right. Moreover, getting flustered about anything that is from the 3rd Reich has become a national ritual. There is only one exception. This is the church tax which was introduced in Germany during the 3rd Reich with the Reichskonkordat of 1933. No scandal about that. This tax is still with us and is, I reckon, more bothersome than an old tank in a cellar. Cellars, at any rate, are best filled with fine wines..

These are the kinds of people Greece thinks they can fool into giving them more money.

You can't allow people to have tanks. They might stage a Waco.

I can't help but think of "Citizen Smith". Viva the Tooting Popular Front!

Didn't realize prior_approval was past the retirement age already

That Panther was actually completed postwar by the Brits as a test piece, tested in England, then was recovered from a British scrapyard in 1978. It was partially restored in England before going to this fellow. Pics from the 1978 recovery were in After The Battle, a British military history magazine.

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