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Liz G's Literary Log

some fiction, some fantasy but a good deal of non-fiction. Bite size history

20 & 21 May 1945

Adolf Hitler committed suicide 8 May 1945, bringing world war two to an end.

I am concern about food and Jāņi day is just one month away.  We are tied down at the forest bridge, and there is increasingly less to eat each day.

In addition, I survived on only barn plants at Flensburg during the previous two weeks.  We are all very much in shock.

 

 

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29 November 1943

General Dankers, General Director of Latvian Internal affairs, Local Authority, ordered the mobilisation of all Latvian men born between 1915 and 1924.

1943-o-dankers

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oskars_Danker

Second half of March and early April 1944

Three Latvian regiments, 1st, 2nd and 3rd, have been sent to the front and placed at the disposal of VI SS corps.  Those Latvian men living closest to the Latvian-Russian boarder have been declared politically untrustworthy, and therefore assigned to construction battalions away from the Russian front.

If my parents had stayed in Lielvārde on the river Daugava, if they had not relocated us 100 kilometres east to Jaunpiebalga, then maybe I would have been considered too unpredictable to fight.  Life in a construction battalion may have been easier.

17 May 1945

Sailing from Denmark to Germany

The first Allied forces arrived in Denmark mid afternoon of May 5th.  They were greeted by throngs of people celebrating in Copenhagen.  British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery had already accepted the surrender of German forces at Lüneburg Heath, east of Hamburg but Denmark’s official liberation took effect at 8am on May 5th 1945.  Unfortunately, those on the island of Bornholm continued to be bombarded by Soviet forces until 9th May.  After two days of bombardment, landing Soviet troops accepted German surrender. 

We knew the Allied forces were coming but they took longer to reach us than we had anticipated.  Fighting against Russian occupation is something that has burdened generations of Latvian men.  Equally, Latvia has suffered the shackles of Germany in her history with similar revulsion.  Any invading army must be repelled, but the Allied soldiers pose no threat to Latvia.  Their fight is with the Germans, not with Latvians.  We are not defending Latvia but standing upon foreign soil, governed by a foreign power and so our unit is to surrender. 

Allied forces were moving quickly but their advance has slowed since the decision was made.  We had expected them to be upon us within twenty four hours but it has been three days.  If our German commanders discover us, we will all be executed as deserters and cowards and so we are in hiding.  Having no food for twenty four hours would not have been such a big problem but after three days our stomachs had turned themselves inside out.

Once again God answered my prayers.  We have been discovered by a family who have taken pity upon us.  They have been able to treat us to a small amount of salted herrings.  They are not my favourite but at least my hunger has subsided.

It has take five days for the Allied soldiers to reach us.  We are all relieved to surrender to them and not to have been discovered by the Red Army.

7 May 1945 – BBC News
1945: Germany signs unconditional surrender

Germany has signed an unconditional surrender bringing to an end six years of war in Europe, according to reports from France.

This evening, 7th May 1945, the Ministry of Information has confirmed that an official statement declaring the end of the war, will be made simultaneously in London, Washington and Moscow tomorrow, 8th May 1945.

The day has been declared a national holiday to mark Victory in Europe Day (VE Day). The following day (9 May 1945) will also be a national holiday.

The BBC’s Thomas Cadett watched the official signing at a schoolhouse in Reims, northeastern France, which serves as the advance headquarters of the supreme commander in Europe, General Dwight D Eisenhower.

 

27 April 1945

It is reported that 824 men, under the command of Waffen-Standartenführer Vilis Janums, surrendered to American forces at Güterglück near to the river Elbe.

The Elbe originates in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northern Czech Republic before traversing through much of Bohemia, then into Germany before continuing out into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg.  As I was never sure where I was fighting, could this could have been the river where the wooden bridge with its three great guns stood?

2 May 1945

Approximately 4,500 men have surrendered to the Americans south of Schwerin, Germany.  

To my knowledge, Latvian Waffen Legions have been split up, scattered all over the place to bolster other units.  Some of those soldiers surrendered to the Americans at Güterglück, whilst others fought at the Battle of Berlin and unfortunately had to surrender to the Red Army.

30 March 1945

The big day on Saturday, 31 March 1945, we have been transferred to Sølskot.

The Soviets are closing in on Berlin.  The allies have crossed the Rhine.  Whilst we have been sent  back to the fighting front.  We travelled to Schleswig, Denmark where we stayed until the last few days of April.

03
Norway National Park

We journey back to Sølskot on 1st May.   I have been billeted in Sølskot park, there are around 400 of us in one tavern.

german-soldiers-from-netherlands-sent-to-eastern-front

28 March 1945, Wednesday

Denmark, Horsens.

We have arrived.  We have been swept up in the chaos of the collapse of the Eastern Front.

The Gestapo HQ in Copenhagen was bombed a few days ago by the British.  It was a large u-shaped building.  The whole of Denmark’s Gestapo, along with a large number of criminal police were killed.

After the forming of the Latvian Police Battalions during January 1943 in Reichskommissariat Ostland, Heinrich Himmler formed Latvian legion Lettische SS Freiwilligen Legion in February 1943.  That Legion later became a Division, receiving the numerical designation 15 before being renamed Lettische SS Freiwilligen Brigade.

The unlawful conscription of Latvian men for military service by Germany, was based on Alfred Rosenberg’s compulsory labour decree of 19 December 1941. It was carried out by the Department of Labour for the Latvian Self Administration, and commenced early 1943.  All Latvian males born between 1919 and 1924 received a compulsory recruitment notice.  The 15th Waffen SS, together with the 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (2nd Latvian) were formed into the Latvian Legion.  And so here I am.

  • 29 March 1945 The Americans are in Frankfurt.

26 March 1945

To Denmark

The fighting is very unpredictable over the Rhine as German forces continue to put up resistance in the battle for western Germany

1945-churchill-crosses-rhine-26-march
Churchill crosses Rhine, 26 March 1945

“With cohesion rapidly disintegrating, the Germans were organised into battle groups of anything from platoon to battalion strength: ad hoc formations ranging from pathetic Volksturm (Home Guard) to experienced SS and parachute detachments and even an officer cadet training school. Some put up token resistance and ran away. The best, including the officer cadets, fought with skill and ferocity.”  http://ww2today.com/26-march-1945-the-forward-platoon-makes-contact-as-they-enter-germany

BU 2419
26 March 1945 German training cadet POW’s

Command is resolute, the allies must not reach the Fatherland’s heart.  We are to stop the advance from Denmark.

11 August 1944

3-nimmer-feldpost-01
Camaraderie Package

Will never destroy the kingdom if you are united and loyal

Max Von Schenkendorf

Bad Nenndorf

To unaddressed, Dated 11 August 1944

Bad Nenndorf, Germany

Department Hannover

Camaraderie package

The USSR Red Army approached the eastern border of Latvia in the summer of 1944, resulting in an extensive refugee flow of Latvian civilians westwards. The population feared Bolshevik repressions.  The refugee flow was also stimulate by the approaching ware fare front-line.  Many Latvian people were coercively evacuated by the Nazi occupation authorities.  Their numbers swelled those of workers, prisoners and concentration camp captives already sent to Germany during the Nazi occupation, not forgetting the Latvian soldiers transported to Germany.

At the beginning of 1945 there were 171 000 residents of Latvia within the German Reich.

From Riga evacuations began at the beginning of August in 1944 and continued until the 10th of October.  Most refugees from Riga ended up sailing out of the Baltic basin, disembarking at Danzig.  Evacuation by ship from Ventspils (Windau) and Liepaja (Libau) began in September of 1944 with the end ports being Danzig and Danzig Neufahrwasser. From Liepaja some ships also were sent to Pillau.  Evacuations from Liepaja and Ventspils continued until the beginning of January in 1945.

At the end of the war, in the summer of 1945, 107 000 refugees from Latvia were in West Germany, i.e. the British, US and French occupation zones.  25 400 people were held in the war prisoner camps of the western Allies.

In addition 4600 Latvians found themselves in Sweden, 2100 in Denmark and 2200 in Austria in the summer of 1945.

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