In case you plan to visit Cologne and look for the places the tank duel took place, this page could be a little help for you. Here I have created a little city sightseeing tour, where you will visit the most relevant places of the tank duel. Duration of this tour is about 1 hour. Two small town plans are available too for give you a little orientation.|
Start of the tour: the bridge ramp of the Hohenzollern Bridge, south side (where the cathedral is located)
View today: Hohenzollern Bridge
Source: DVD "Köln 1945 Nahaufnahmen" by Hermann Rheindorf
Until 1945 the Hohenzollern Bridge was used for car and tram traffic too, this part was located here at this side of the bridge. After the war only the railway part of the bridge was rebuilt, two tracks. During the 1980s the bridge was renovated with a third new track on the north side of the bridge.
At noon of March 06, 1945 the German troops destroyed the bridge when the US troops reached the areas nearby. So it wasn't possible anymore for the German troops to reach the other side of the Rhine river.
But let us go back a few hours on March 6, 1945. The three German tanks were rolling over the old car traffic part of the bridge on the morning of March 6, 1945 from across the Rhine in order to defend the city on this side of the Rhine against the advancing Americans. They drove down the long straight ramp the street level. The ramp ended not far away from the Trankgasse tunnel. The Trankgasse is located on the other side of the central station coming from the Rhine River bridge, first parallel to the ramp, then crosses the railway tracks in a tunnel, and then leads next to the cathedral to street Komödienstrasse.
Black dashed line is the path of the three tanks on the ramp, the black arrow shows Trankgasse coming from the Rhine.
The ramp, March 07, 1945. In the background the Cathedral.
Let us now go towards the Cathedral. We are passing one building of the Museum Ludwig on the right side and then go sharply to the right. After a short distance there is a spiral staircase, we go down. There we see the tunnel where Trankgasse is coming out and as a second street the Johannisstrasse. The street coming from the old town is the street Domhof. Location 1945
Here, at this point two German tanks remained and were waiting for the advancing US troops. The third German tank drove in a westerly direction to the train station Gereon, probably via Trankgasse, Marzellenstrasse, An den Dominikanern, Gereonstrasse (still without lot of rubble and therefore good for passing). Looking into western direction through the second Trankgasse tunnel below the "Domplatte" (which connects central station and cathedral at this location) one can see the Komödienstrasse in background. In 1945 the tunnel and the "Domplatte" wasn't existing, so the German tank commander's view was much better, when he saw the Company 'F' Sherman tanks advancing in Komödienstrasse behind the piles of rubble on the street.
View out of the tunnel in direction Komödienstraße
Let us go in that direction along the railway construction, on the central station forecourt we follow the large staircases on the left up to the cathedral.
Standing over the western Trankgasse tunnel exit we have another good look towards the Komödienstrasse
Let us now follow the flow of pedestrians to the right along the cathedral.
At the northern tower of the cathedral we don't follow the other people going to the left towards the pedestrian zone but go straight ahead to the little part of the cathedral square where you will find some trees and benches. Straight ahead we now can see the tourist office. But we look to the right, down to the Trankgasse.
At this place the Panther tank was located when he had hit the Sherman and came here to wait for more US troops and tanks.
Let us now go down to the street corner, we look straight ahead into street Marzellenstrasse. The houses at the left corner and the right corner were already existing in 1945. At the end of the first road section we can clearly see the former house of the German Labor Front, from where cameraman Bates was filming the famous Panther sequence. The intersection in front of this house was the place where the Pershing shot and hit the Panther.
Arrow shows the former German Labor Front house.
In 1945 the Komödienstrasse was not as wide as it is today.
This graphic shows the former course of the Komödienstraße (red area). The red dotted line shows the former course of the house fronts
Blue rectangles show the positions of the Sherman tanks, the green one shows, where the Panther stood later this day during the tank duel with the Pershing.
Now we walk along the Komödienstrasse into western direction.
After about 120 meters, we will see a staircase between the houses on the left side which leads to the street Burgmauer.
Approximately in the middle of the next following house and then in the area of the street halfway line the Sherman was located on March 6, 1945 when he was hit at the former roadside (photo: view from other street side)
The little passage to the St. Andreas church on the other side of the road still exists, the house at the corner now placed a few meters more backwards and in direction towards the cathedral. And at the old street corner there stood the second Sherman whe can see on the famous photo taken by Fred Ramage
Source: The U.S. Army 3rd Armored Division History Website. Photo: Fred Ramage/Getty Images
Now look into western direction, where you can see a wide street area / a large intersection. Beyond the intersection you can see two streets leading from western city parts to the cathedral
The left multi-lane street is street Burgmauer, the street on the right Komödienstrasse. Until 1945 both streets were leading seperately towards the cathedral, houses were standing between the streets. The entire remaining way towards the cathedral, the street Komödienstrasse was as small as you can see it there.
After the war, this area was not rebuilt. For modern traffic needs it was rebuild as you can see it today, more wide. During the metro construction in the 60s they found a piece of a Roman wall, you can see it in the middle of the intersection today.