Titan: a Nazi monster in Panama


A floating crane operating in Hitler ordered to construct the Panama Canal. The marvelous machine, 74 years old, is the great nurse ?? ?? of this strategic waterway linking the Pacific with the Atlantic.

Gamboa rainforest Panama.- The warm air expands from its thick foliage. The jujaná monkeys in there open their fluorescent yellow to climb down the branches eyes, crested eagles fly over the evening sky and the muddy soil cachirre alligators crawling fang that twist out of its jaws. The atrocious humidity August blessing for plants and animals in this wild area of ​​Central America, is a punishment for man drenched in sweat, dozens of workers are abandoning facilities Dredging Division Panama Canal at the end of their journey . With flabby faces effort, talk, joke, walk through green trails swatting insects to reach his home in this community, Gamboa, or cavort on the ground waiting for the public bus arrives and leaves in the capital -a 30 kilometers of here, where they come every night to meet his days of muscle and energy.

At this very moment, over the heads of workers in the only stretch of water on the planet that meets the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, a Nazi mechanical monster rises. With its huge force helps in the strenuous tasks with who maintain the channel through which pass each year, fourteen thousand boats that unite the five continents. Up there, floating in the water with thousands of pieces of steel connected indecipherable geometric crosses, the Titan crane rises. Adolf Hitler ordered its construction in 1941, during the war: he wanted to prove to the world that even in the Third Reich sea and sported Aryan supremacy. Seventy years after the conclusion of the conflict that killed about sixty million people, five thousand tons distributed on 112 meters further shape the largest maritime crane Earth raises sunken ships, repair damaged boats, moved to the mainland the boats, lift gates, correct container and monumental pieces: that is, solve the most serious problems of this cross between oceans.

Those who leave work this summer 2015 Tuesday know that everything that human strength is unable to do it Titan, the device with which the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) ship repairing injured by Allied bombs. Although there exhaustion workers in this Panamanian tropical forest there helplessness.

A machine that spawned the most ruthless industry of death gives them relief.



The Heritage Leader, a large ship in the Bahamas, it opens this afternoon with its imposing blue hull by the channel since its foundation in 1914, have crossed over one million ships. Container filled with products that go to Europe, Asia or Africa, the Heritage passes through the Dredging Division, as you call it is, in fact, the mechanical workshop of the channel. It’s three in the afternoon and in the installation has completed the first turn. Without giving importance to this tremendous banner Caribbean ship passing behind him, Alfonso Vera, a young electrical engineer with broad shoulders and slender like an Olympic swimmer, waiting on the road to the public bus stop. A minute ago saw one of the guards watching over the premises filled with fences and security cameras exclaimed “restricted area” at the time I pointed my camera at the German crane, and annoying asked me to stay away from the area where passing ships.

“What you want to know the Titan?” Asks Alfonso frowning, as if my intention to find out about the device which hovers meters from us, a channel that adds fourteen thousand transits per year, out to investigate a state secret . “Hard to leave you get close. Many people work in and he warns our lives come first. If nobody comes not from here. “

Titan -¿Los movements are risky?

He says’ Imagine seeing the sky, home of the tip of aparato-: tons and tons of steel moving up of many people.

From our height, mass of twisted steel that looks like a giant Meccano very complex game, with imagination, like a bird. “Used to damaged boats stuck against the side of the channel or who received the blow of a rock,” he murmurs Alfonso, and I explained that to lead you have to be a prodigious brain: “You have to electricity, calculus, mathematics” .

Tell me what makes more striking.

-Raise A boat.

He goes unreacted: “A full boat! When that giant head knows where he’s going, he gets into the water and get to anywhere. “

You see Titan and what you think?

Alfonso laughs: “Magnificent.”


No way to get through the front door to the Dredging Division, Titan residence in the channel, whose rules tells me: “Article 13. Access to heritage areas, facilities, areas of operation and, in general, the areas under the responsibility of the Authority, it is only permitted to staff. “

I insist a guard to give me access: “It’s a way of international traffic and must be cared for at one hundred percent,” he apologizes outside his box surrounded by palms, where custody advancing ships pay 300 000-400 $ 000 per crossing. But when you hear “come from Mexico,” the guard is moved to share a secret: “You can follow the course of the road,” I suggested, hinting that discover an alternate path walk down the street Winston Churchill and then I slip on trails. forest. Apartment weeds, thorns elusive, jumping between puddles, avoid huge tree roots emerging from the depth, step with colorful small wooden houses with porches that until 1999 used the US government officials who controlled the waterway. So yes, when I’m on the Panama Canal Railway rails-train that since 1850 accompanies the course of channel-, the crane has been in front of me. The sound of their engines are dry and continuous, as if regretting his mechanical animals immortality.

Focus your eyes on one of its sides and read the word “Demag”. The history of Demag Crane Ag, crane manufacturer, starting in 1906, long before the beginning of World War II. But it was with the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people and the fight against the Allies when the German construction crane high technological mainstay of the death returned. In the six years of conflict, DEMAG-an existing company until 6600 military vehicles built today, among them the deadly 250- Sonderkraftfahrzeug tank that was destroyed much of Europe. In 1941, the army of Germany and the “supreme commander” of sea power, Erich Raeder, demanded an appliance repaired submarines and German vessels that the United States, Britain and the USSR were damaged to break into the North Sea.

But Titan, the great Nazi army nurse, also fell wounded.

The British Royal Air Force and the USAAF Americans wanted to mark with fire by larger German industrial center and port, and a long duel outside derision. So they named “Operation Gomorrah” a series of bombings of Hamburg. Just as the Old Testament relates that the Lord “rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire, destroyed these cities and many men had on them” because these men were sinners, “sinners” Germans of that city saw Sunday afternoon 25 July 1943, American planes sank forty ships, attacked shipyards, ruined docks for ships and submarines. The next day, the hatred of the Nazi government was again lead 71 other British aircraft attacked the power plant of Neuhof and several docks. The attack also killed a hundred and fifty, left Titánhundido on the banks.

Despite intensive repairs are visible today in its original structure several brands: the scars of the bursts. In his five anchors, intact, a few swastikas were carved by the Reichsadler, iconic imperial eagle Hitler government.

The bowels of the crane are a marvel. A triple helix Voith Schneider Propeller gives it a speed of 15 km / h. His progress is possible for three diesel generators Siemens-Schuckert nine hundred horsepower that transmit electricity to the intricate web of wires inside, which if deployed would reach straight thirteen kilometers.

Nothing is free: the Panama Canal Administration spends for each day it comes to service, nearly $ 2000, including the salaries of twenty technicians who operate, maintain and diesel.

“The maintenance is given is so often that if they see a speck of rust clean run,” says Jorge Palacios, Panama Canal technician who has worked with Titan.

Only then groomed inside and out like no other crane channel circumvents any sign of old age.



For months, the engineer Jorge Palacios worked with Titan crane admired the bravery with hauling items that could weigh about four tons. In the maelstrom of the tasks, however, I never stopped to think what created such electromechanical minds beast. “So -relata- the day I found out that I belonged to Hitler began to chuckle. There I understood everything. “

What makes Titan? Palacios summarizes: “Solving all kinds of emergencies requiring huge capacity that thing (sic)”.

And then enumerates: “The injured have been recovered under the sea tugs, ships out problems and, most impressive, lifted the floodgates of the channel.” Nothing as prodigious as making within the Gatun locks: in that area, where the boats are high twenty-six meters to reach the highest point of the route acuática- Titan assistance once a year to maintain the six gates of between 354 and 662 tons. For technicians working on them and minimize the margin of error, it raises them once a year.

In an aquatic area that works nonstop 365 days, the crane will operate on the same day at twelve in the morning attending ships from around the world, especially the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Chile, leading transits. “Titan works at Christmas, and New Year’s Mother’s Day” jokes the sailor Raul Garrido.

To be able to charge those hundreds of tons, mathematical calculations are forced to disconcerting extremes. However, the principle is simple: Titan consists of two separate parts: the crane itself, vertical and assembled steel parts that rise and fall, and what Palacios calls “the sink”: vessel remains afloat structure. What holds the “sink” not only five tons crane, but the huge weight this up?

“That’s called physics explains the engineer. The ‘sink’ is compressed air pumps that make you bear all that weight without sinking. “

Science explains everything, but Palacios smiles and plays no magic rule: “Sometimes I see that animal and I say it’s amazing to float”.


The bullet 7.65 mm with Hitler’s skull was drilled 30 April 1945 in his bunker in the Reich Chancellery destroyed the last hope of survival of the Nazi government, he took his village leader with the most cruel crimes created an empire and let lavish amounts of weapons and facilities that the United States endorsed.

Under the peace atmosphere of a death in the port of Bremerhaven, Germany to the north end, was floating on the icy waters of the North Sea a silent, invalid, no boats to repair machine. US troops took control of Titan, they were decommissioned and towed from the Atlantic. And someday that year voyage made a perpendicular line to enter the Panama Canal into the Pacific Ocean and up to California, where in the yard of Long Beach the apparatus was reassembled and put into operation under the symbol Gercrane 350T (YD 171), the name by which its dark Nazi past is concealed. For half a century the crane was used to maintain the shipyard and military, civil and commercial ships docked there. Driven by technological spiral that occurred since the end of the Second World War and the half century, in 1994 the United States proposed to divest the old device, no longer in use. In contrast, he agreed to adopt the newborn Panama Canal Commission, which only had the steam crane Hercules, large but very distant from the size and power of the German.

In 1996, three years before the United States ceded to Panama the canal after a century of control, the US Navy began moving the crane to Central America on a freighter boat submersible. The sea voyage did not present major problems, but to reach the 31 May 1996 to the limits of Panama City, there were problems for the giant. The Bridge of the Americas, a structure for the passage of cars created in the entrance channel, despite his height he was too small to Titan. The option to withdraw one of the pieces of the bridge, pass the appliance and reposition implied overspending. The option was to head off the machine. “A crane he had to cut the top: it was too high,” he tells the sailor Raul Garrido, witness the procedure. The Titan was mutilated in your arm or boom to be reduced to 85 meters (nearly thirty fewer than today has) and also was inclined 24 degrees. “. And yet, and they did the amendment adds the sailor Titan had to cross the bridge when there was the lowest tide of Panama in a while” The reconstruction and overhaul took three more years was 19 September when it began to work. His first day proceeded with the installation of two gates of the Miraflores Locks, which in sum brushed thousand tons.

Since then there has been no break.


If one is placed at the foot of the crane and try to spot the tip, annoyed neck. The relationship between man and machine is here the same as a cat and an elephant. Three years ago, to paint from top to bottom it took six months of work. In his cabin orange-a three-story building built a steel-structure maneuvers are not simple. True, the view is wide and panoramic in this space whose board still has inscriptions in German as “trolley” (truck), but mechanical arm movements pose a paradox: although voluptuous require surgical precision. Therefore, not enough to operate the skill of the driver. “As the most powerful and largest crane in the world, the operator (Braulio Giron) can not work based on his view Garrido says the sailor; an official on the ground gives orders by radio. The operator pulls the crane boom and, as seen, you say: ‘Go up, down, release the hook 1, 2’. All his touches should be fine. “

Within a few months, in April 2016, it is likely that the channel is no longer making it. After nine years of expansion work which cost 5 billion dollars and strikes demanding the hostility in the working conditions, the channel will hold a third and new lane. The three hundred million tons of cargo pass through its waters now be duplicated, and then Panama could be, more than ever, logistics center of world trade. But the taxi driver who takes me to the Gamboa Rainforest to meet Titan has no illusions that this money improves the lives of his countrymen. “The collection is for the Panamanian government and some pockets. You know, leaks. This is also Latin America, “he laughs, and he points out the windshield:” There he is, there you can see “. I perceive the distance that chimera metal stands on a wooded and tropical mantle, which extends from the strip of green water to both sides of the horizon.

Car descend. Late afternoon and through the Shark V channel, a full white container ship full of goods: although huge, next Titan those metal boxes look like little colorful blocks of a child’s construction set. The crane rests silent, waiting for the order to arrive and it’s time to bail out fast container ships, refrigerated cargo, bulk carriers, car carriers, tankers or passenger.

Whatever, whenever, under the conditions it: if survived a bombing in 1943, in 2015 the old machine resists the toughest tasks under the heartless tropical climate.

And even today, the immortal Titan crane knows nothing of time.

 Fuente: http://nwnoticias.com/

Ernesto Chong de León, Ernesto Emilio Chong Coronado