From: Cologne, Germany
According to Wiki (which I am usually loath to reference) the name "Hetzer" was proliferated by post war historians and was not even used by the German troops. But we will leave the name in since it is a popular contemporary reference.
I have always heard "agitator" was the English translation. I'm tempted to just take out the translation though.
No, sorry, agitator is as wrong as troublemaker.
And why would a tank destroyer be called (i.e. racist or political) agitator, if it belonged to that set of weapons whose role was to pursue tanks or at least fend them off?
An agitator is a rabble-rouser: Quote from Merriam-Webster online dictionary explaining the word rabble-rouser: "one who stirs up the masses of the people (as to hatred or violence) : Demagogue".
German communists and Nationalsocialists (Nazis) alike used the term "agitate" (same word in german) when they were referring to win over the masses for their (violent) course.
This term doesn't even come close to the original meaning of the word Hetzer.
Few publications point out that it's still disputed whether Hetzer was an officially used designation or just an inofficial nickname. Guderian claimed before Hitler that the troops would call this tank "Hetzer".
It's possible that Guderian just made it up, especially since the troops in the field invented names and abbreviations for ineffective or cheesy weapons, nicknames which kind of undermined the morale - so he might have searched for an impressive/aggressive nickname for the Jagdpanzer 38(t) to make sure it wouldn't end up with a derogative nickname: as it was a low cost tank with confined space for the crew and really thin side armor - rather disliked by the troops, although this tiny vehicle had a firepower similar to the Jadgpanzer IV and the Pz IV and a really good kill ratio, if operated by well trained crews.
A good example for derogative nicknames invented by the troops in the field would be "Panzer-Anklopfgerät" (tank door knocker or tank door knocking device) for the "small" calibre PaKs (ie. Pak 38) used early in the Russian campaign and the nickname "Guderian-Ente" (Guderian-"duck") for the Jadgpanzer IV, a tank that was very top-heavy and slow, due to the weight of the gun and the design of the glacis/gun mantlet.
Wiki isn't the best source here, really. Still, in the german Wiki discussion of the German Hetzer article, a user states that his grandfather commanded a Hetzer and that he and his crew were using that nickname. The term had been used, question is whether it was an official tag or just a nickname used by the troops.
I haven't seen anyone coming up with proof on the net (original field manual, written Wehrmacht orders, etc) that it was an official tag, yet.
Also, the english Hetzer article doesn't even have a discussion, nor does it provide a list of sources (books, data tables). A wiki-entry without reference to proper source material is 1.) useless 2.) not very trustworthy.
The french and the dutch articles are pretty much copies or excerpts of the English article.
The German article didn't take over the alleged nickname-history and mentions that it's still disputed who invented it and whether it has been used officially or not, due to the state (or lack) of source material.
Common literature covering the Hetzer keeps taking over "Hetzer" as official tag from earlier publications, so this really doesn't prove that Hetzer was an official tag, true, but the fanbois insisting on it to be a pure post-war thing totally ignore the veteran accounts - and there are quite some, on- and offline (tv).
Anyway, I guess you should take out the current translation.
< Message edited by GoodGuy -- 11/29/2008 7:43:57 PM >
General Anthony McAuliffe
December 22nd, 1944
"I've always felt that the AA (Alied Assault engine) had the potential to be [....] big."
8th of August, 2006