Cologne March 1945: Duel at the Cathedral – The lost human stories.

Free for amazon prime members! Watch the full length documentary here: Witness the US troops first hand on their advance from the outskirts of the city to the banks of the Rhine and the fascinating research on one of the most famous pieces of newsreel film taken during World War 2.
70th anniversary of VE-Day – special edition 2015:
Cologne, Germany, the famous Cathedral city in March 1945. Eight months after D-Day, the US troops are now on the cusp of a long-awaited milestone. Cologne is the largest city that the G.I.s will take during the war. Nazi propaganda has declared the city to be defended to the last cartridge. The impending battle has dominated the headlines of the world press for days. Dozens of correspondents, photographers, and cameramen have followed the US troops in order to report in detail on the event. Some of the shots taken by the cameramen of the US military are still perceived in the USA as the most famous scenes of World War II. The battle for Cologne ends with a final, dramatic tank duel at the base of the Cathedral. The film footage makes the engagement the most famous tank duel in the world. However, who the people in those scenes were still remains unknown. Based on several years of research into the background and contemporary witnesses, this documentary reconstructs the advance of US troops into Cologne and shows crucial moments of the battle for the city in March 5 -7, 1945.

among the long facebook threads of comments Douglas Rivela wrote:
“This looks absolutely fascinating. Too rarely do we really take one incident in a long conflict and pick it apart to find the profoundly human stories lost in all the spectacle. The film makers here, go to the archives to find out who the people were – German as well as American – in one of the most famous pieces of newsreal taken during World War II, a deadly personal battle between two tanks in front of a Cathedaral in Cologne, Germany in March 1945. What they irreverently end up doing in their research is uncover an amazing mystery where what we were told happened may well of not happened anywhere near as reported and thus one of the most famous incidents of World War II becomes an investigation as the film makers track down and find the man who may of been the commander of the tank in this photo, who was reported dead at the time but has lived a long life since. Absolutely fascinating research that puts a human face on what otherwise would of remained grainy old newsreal footage in an achive.”

Featured eye witnesses: Andy Rooney (correspondent “The Starts&Stripes”), Clarence Smoyer (3rd Armored Division), Francis Wilber (104th Infantry Division), James Bates (U.S. Signal corps cameraman), Robert Ziller (RAF-cameraman), Manfred Bockhoff (9.Panzerdivision), Gustav Schäfer (Panzerbrigade 106), Günther Müller (360 Volksgrenadier-Division) and many others.

Now available as VoD on
part 1: the attack on Cologne (80min.)
part 2: battle for Cathedral & Rhine (60min.)
extra1: Cologne tank duel: the factual pictures (30min.)
extra2: battle of the peace – 100 days of U.S. military government in Cologne (18min.)

24 thoughts on “Cologne March 1945: Duel at the Cathedral – The lost human stories.

  1. Jean-francois Saliou says:

    Les photos de ROBERT CAPPA, sur OMAHA BEACH, ont faites le tour du monde. Mais, réussir a filmer un char allemand être détruit, avec l'horreur que cela implique, pour l'équipage, mais surtout le danger que cela provoque pour le cameraman, je suis vraiment époustouflé. Chapeau bas……

  2. Wilhelm Geisler says:


  3. Eras Gone Bullet Molds says:

    There is a McDonald's restaurant at the intersection where the German Panther tanks was destroyed. Very appropriate.

  4. RUHappyATM says:

    All that I have learnt is that war is bad.
    There are no winners.

  5. Trevor Sizzle says:

    two guy's died one died in the panther and 1 died from wounds the other three lived.

  6. Sergio Grez Estudio Creativo says:

    Where can I find the entire documentary?? PLEASE!

  7. SomeStupidFace • 12 Years ago says:

    Must have been a unique experience being in that Pershing to see a Panther so clearly in your sights. Usually in tank battles you can barely see the enemy tank due to smoke, Flames, Debris and other factors but this Pershing crew had a perfect view of the Panther.

  8. Tyler 3518 says:

    My great great uncle Julian was in that tank, the one witch the Commander with no leg

  9. a seemingly invisible helmet says:

    Actually 5 Survived From The Panther

    The First Two You Have Seen Escaping From The Tank Was The Commander And The Radio Operator And Before The Second Shot On The Panther The Driver Escaped And The Gunner Slumps Back In The Tank And Before The Third Shot The Loader Escaped From The Loader's Hatch But Then The Loader Died….maybe

  10. Me. Crunchy says:

    There is someone who actually researched the tank duel of cologne.Only the german gunner died the rest of the crew escaped.For the sherman only the loader survived.

  11. 1/5 Panther Crew died the loader escaped from the back of yhe turret

  12. boodabill says:

    I watched the complete set of documentaries on Vimeo.There is some question as to several parts being staged. Also, different people have different accounts, and others tried to re-write history. Obviously, respect goes to the brave men who were risking their lives. Another video shoes how, after blowing it up, the United States helped the Germans build Cologne back up.

  13. takiri dixon says:

    So the German commander was confused by the Pershing thinking it was a friendly Panther and thats reason they did not fire on the Americans.

  14. takiri dixon says:

    So' this bullshit propaganda' the American have been showing us for 70 years is a load of shit, and i'm thinking that Panther was taken out by Pershing tank. So the real story behind this Americans bullshit, they used a captured Panther tanks to suck the commander into thinking its a friendly. Well it goes with out saying' don't believe everything you are shown are fact.

  15. John Citizen says:

    You can clearly see the crew bailing, at least 2 survived lol

  16. Hope To The Weak says:

    My Great uncle Fought in this. 3rd armored division top tank Gunner PFC. got two fingers blown off by a SS officer in this battle. Got the nick name Stumpy.

  17. TheGT3 click Crash says:

    The Germans were pissed cause they got tricked. Kinda strange when Germans started getting there asses handed to them do they complain about the way other forces should have been more noble in there fighting techniques.

  18. RedBaron1418 says:

    RedBaron1418 15 minutes ago (edited)

    Very unwise of the German Tank Commander to choose his position so directly on the Intersection. He stands with his Panther in the middle of the road, has turned the tower, shows the Enemy his full Broadside. Tactically meaningful to protect the lives of his comrades would have been to pull right behind the Building, so that half of the Tank is removed from the viewpoint of the Opponent, you can see practically only the Front Chains and half the Tower. This is unlikely to be noticed in the rubble Landscape. And so he still has enough Field of Fire to hit the Road. To take advantage of the Surprise moment, it would have been wiser to pull out of the Cover, face FRONTAL against the opponent, firstly because of the narrower Silhouette, and secondly because the strongest Armor is frontal (to the chagrin of the driver, because every time he gets the whole bang) , Due to the situation that might have only led to a delay, the outcome of the fight, of course, would not have affected it. Certainly also plays a role, which stood here no more experienced tank crews in the fight, but for the most part boarders or semi-trained Soldiers. Anyway, it's always tragic, but all the crew members seem to have survived the attack. I hope the survivors had a long and happy life! And if you want to know who wrote this, I'm a former German Tank Commander of a Leopard 2, trained in the Eighties, not in the squirming troupe of today.

  19. dog heart sun spots says:

    what does people expect Germans to do just surrender, if the US was being invaded we would all fight to the end.

  20. FortNutz - Gaming says:

    The panther thought that the Pershing was a German tank because its new and it looks like a German tank also the Americans are confused when they thought it was theirs

  21. bellator11 says:

    Damn, the Pershing crew sure were lucky their tank looked like a German tank or that Panther would've fired first and ended them. I can understand the frustration of the German crew feeling as though they had been tricked afterwards, they had never seen a Pershing tank before and it definitely looked more like any German tank than a Sherman did.

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