The Original Tiger Tank Manual - An Authentic Translation
This book is the first and only originally conceived authentic English translation of the original German manual issued to WWII Tiger tank crews in August of 1943.
At the time, the “Tigerfibel” was the most widely distributed field manual on the Eastern Front. In stark contrast to any military documents previously published by the German military, a style using cartoons, limericks and other entertaining features was employed.
As published in English from 1997 onwards, this book titled “Tigerfibel” Pzkpfw VI "Tiger" I (Sd.kfz.181): The original Tiger Tank Manual - An authentic translation encompasses the main text section of the German “Tigerfibel” translated into English, together with a sizeable appendix featuring the various armor intelligence and armor penetration charts which had been supplied with the original manual. But in this translation, these documents are spread over several pages, thereby allowing more detailed perusal by the reader.
The German original was designed to fit into a large shirt pocket as found on tankers' uniforms, and is approximately one fourth the size of the layout used for the translation. The original “Tigerfibel” was printed on very rough brown paper, enclosed by a cardboard-type cover and stapled together. This cover featured a pocket in the back, which contained the various tank-intelligence charts, and "cloverleaf" charts, neatly folded together. These were separate, loose sheets of paper also suitable for being hung on the wall, like a poster.
All the illustrations in the German original indeed require a magnifying glass for proper dissemination. It was decided to zoom all illustrations, so as to be enlarged approximately four-fold of their original size. This yielded the easily legible 11 x 8.5” landscape format.
In order to avoid cumbersome folding exercises, all tank intelligence charts have been adapted for layout on pages of this book, yielding an increased page count vs. the German original.
Five 'Cloverleaf' (enemy vulnerability) charts included with every original 'Tigerfibel'
Furthermore, to provide more clarity, certain pages of the original have been stretched out over two pages of this translation. This means that cross-referencing the German original to the English translation on a page-by-page basis is not always feasible.
An original “Tigerfibel”, complete with all tank intelligence charts comprising the original edition as issued to German "Wehrmacht" and “Waffen SS” tank crews from 1943 onwards, was used as the basis for this translation. The translated text reflects the original wording. The translation was rendered as a true and unaltered reproduction of the original. The purpose is to allow the English-speaking world access to the content of this historical document “as written”, for purposes of enabling the reader to study history through the eyes of the originally intended audience – from the German perspective.
No additions or modifications in terms of content were made in the translated text, unless absolutely necessary to convey the exact meaning of the original wording and intended message.
It should be noted that the translation was carried out primarily for an American, and international English-speaking audience. Being aware of substantial differences in specialized terminology between British and American English, terminology indigenous to British English generally not known or understood by speakers of English outside Britain was consciously avoided. At the same time, the wording as chosen ascertains that readers in the UK could find themselves at home when reading the translation as much as possible, and in any case are able to grasp the basic message to be conveyed.
Translation work started in 1995, and continued well into 1996. It took many months to complete the job, sometimes working entire weeks at a time only on this project.
A special challenge in translation was posed by the various limericks under “Motto” and “Moral” (as in: “lesson to be learned, moral of the story”). Each of these verses were translated on the one hand to rhyme, on the other to accurately reflect the same meaning as conjured up in the original. To make this happen, the meaning of the original words – as gleaned by “reading between the lines” – had to be transposed from the German to the English cultural context. This proved rather difficult, taxing, and time-consuming: originally drafted wordings of this “technical poetry” were reconsidered and changed many times before arriving at the final version, as printed.
As British and American forces occupied the German mainland, and already before that time, a profuse amount of documents issued by German military authorities was translated into English. The purpose was to gain intelligence on enemy tactics, equipment, and procedures. Most all of these translations were rendered using a typewriter.
While the “Tigerfibel” manual had never been one of those documents translated at the time, the intent of publishing this translation in 1997 was to provide a feel of what such a document drafted by British or American forces could have looked like.
The generic and descriptive names of the 5 crew members were translated – “transcreated” – to conjure up the same images as the German originals did, while accommodating the cultural context. As such, the names cannot be literal (word-for-word) translations.
These names for members of the Tiger tank crew, as well as the entire translation, are copyrighted intellectual property. Anyone quoting from this publication or using the English names as noted above is obliged quote this book, denoting book title, author (translator), and current publisher as the source, in each and every instance.
The "Translator‘s Note" added on the last pages illuminates aspects of both the source text, i.e. the German original, and the translation, to guide the reader to a more thorough understanding of the contents of the book, as seen in historical context.
While the "Tigerfibel" cannot be regarded as an instrument of Nazi propaganda, any responsible publisher would be obliged to place certain passages in the book in contrast to current state of research.
Likewise, perhaps more importantly, the information spelled out in the "Translator‘s Note" assists the reader in comprehending the book, as written, read and understood, from the German perspective, at the time of publication in 1943.
The section featuring the "Translator‘s Note" was expanded for the 2nd edition published in 2014. This is why the original edition published from 1997 onwards lists 174 pages, the editions from 2014 onwards quote a page count of 178.
For avid readers of WW2 history books, this translation is today one of the most sought-after WW2 books illustrating the German perspective. The book is only available in print form. A Tigerfibel English PDF is not officially available. Any electronic capturing, storage, processing, or transfer of this publication, or excerpts thereof, is not authorized. The same applies to Google Books, Amazon Kindle, or similar platforms: no version or adaptation of this title has been legally made available online, as an Amazon Kindle book, or by any other means of electronic storage and retrieval. An English Tigerfibel download is therefore not available. Anyone in possession of a Tigerfibel English Translation PDF of this publication uses a pirate copy and should be aware of the legal consequences of such possession, and its dissemination.
Find out more about the past and current editions of the authentic Tigerfibel translation.