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Miervaldis Adamsons, 29 June 1910 – 23 August 1946, Latvian military officer who during World War II joined the Waffen SS and got the rank of Hauptsturmfuhrer. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, which was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership by Nazi Germany during World War II.
Miervaldis Adamsons was born on 29 June 1910, in Poltava. In the 1920s, his family returned to Latvia and settled in Cesis where Miervaldis graduated. In 1928, Miervaldis started theology studies at the University of Latvia. In this period, he became a member of the oldest Latvian student fraternity, Lettonia. However soon he left his studies and joined the Merchant navy. During his travels, he visited Africa and South America, however, due to his sharp character he often got into trouble and finally after a conflict with ship captain he landed in Marseilles, France and joined the French Foreign Legion signing a six-year contract in 1930. There he served in Morocco in cavalry units and was many times decorated for bravery. There he earned the nickname The Moroccan Terror and was promoted to be an NCO.
After his service in the Foreign Legion, he returned to Latvia and joined the Latvian Army in 1937 serving as an officer in the 8th Daugavpils Infantry Regiment.
The Latvian Army was disbanded under the occupation of the Soviet Union. When the Germans invaded in Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, Adamsons was leading a partisan unit in Vidzeme which was involved in skirmishes with retreating Red Army. Later he voluntarily joined the 26th Tukums Battalion and by June 1942 was stationed in the Minsk region now being involved in operations against Partisans on the opposite side to those he had conducted himself.
In February 1943, Adamsons was leading a patrol over the frozen Ilmen Lake behind the Red Army’s lines. They managed to destroy a Soviet ammunition depot and capture a Soviet officer.
In April 1943, Adamson was in the 2nd Battalion, Latvian Brigade on the Leningrad front and took part in the Battle of Wolchow where he was severely wounded in the head and eye. He was also awarded the Iron Cross for bravery.
After recovering from his wounds he was given command of the 6th Company, 44th Waffen Grenadier Regiment, 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (2nd Latvian) which had been formed from the Latvian Brigade. He was again wounded in August 1944 just before being promoted to Hauptsturmfuhrer in September 1944.
Returning to the front he was involved in the battle of the Kurland Pocket in December 1944 and was again seriously wounded and partly lost his eyesight. His company in a single 24-hour period repelled seven attacks by the Russians, and after the battle, the bodies of 400 fallen Russian soldiers could be counted in front of the Latvians positions. So fierce was the fighting the Russian 100th Army Corps was completely destroyed.
For this remarkable defensive success Adamsons was awarded the Knights Cross in January 1945. Spring of 1945, he spent time in various military hospitals in Courland. During the last days of the Courland Pocket, some of Adamsons’ comrades offered him a place in a boat to Sweden, the destination of many other Latvian soldiers and civilians. He, however, refused to leave Latvia.
Adamsons survived the war and while in hospital he entered Soviet captivity in May 1945. At first, he claimed to be a German and was sent to the prisoner of war camp in the Siauliai but later he was sent to work in the nickel mines at Murmansk. After a few months, he together with several German officers tried to escape to Finland in the winter of 1945/46. However, they were recaptured near the Finnish border. He was sentenced to death for homeland betrayal in May 1946 after it became clear that he is actually Latvian.
Miervaldis Adamsons was executed in Riga on 23 August 1946 by firing squad. In 1993, Adamsons was fully exonerated by the Latvian supreme court.
Johan Petter Balstad
Johan Peter Balstad, 25 September 1924 in Koppang – 18 June 1985 at Hovseter Oslo, was an officer in German Schutzstaffel with a rank of SS – Untersturmführer in SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 23, one of the regiments in the 11th SS Panzergrenade Division Nordland.
He graduated from SS-Junkerschule in Bad Tölz on 11. Kriegsjunkerlehrgang, 6th September 1943 – 11th March 1944), and most of the time he was the troop leader. He excelled during the fighting at Tannenbergstellung in July and August 1944 at Narva, and he received the 1st Class of the Iron Cross and the Panzer Destruction Badge by the personal destruction of two T-34s in close combat with Panzerfaust.
Later at Baldone in September 1944, he took his third T-34 and is thus the Norwegian who destroyed most Russian tanks in close combat. For this, he got the nickname “Panserknekkeren”. He won the rank as Untersturmführer 21 June 1944. On October 6, same year at Saa-Rini, he became seriously injured.
He was sentenced to two and a half years of forced labor in the Norwegian Land Settlement Judgment.
Ernst Barkmann (later Ernst Schmuck-Barkmann), 25 August 1919 – 27 June 2009, was a German tank commander in the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany during World War II. He is known for the actions undertaken at Barkmann’s corner, in which it was claimed he halted a major U.S. Army armored advance in Normandy on 27 July 1944, for which action he received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.
Erwin Bartmann, 2 December 1923 – 14 September 2012, was a Unterscharfuhrer in the Waffen-SS during World War II.
He was born on in Schlochau, a town close to the then Polish border. Today the town, now called Czluchow, lies within Poland. Erwin was the youngest of four brothers two of whom died in infancy during a period of hyperinflation that brought great financial hardship to his family. In the hope of finding a better life, they moved to the Friedrichshain district of Berlin in 1927.
In 1941, Erwin enlisted voluntarily in the 1st Waffen SS Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler and fought on the Eastern Front until seriously wounded during the failed German assault on Prokhorovka. After a period of recuperation, he served as a machine-gun instructor stationed in Alt Hartmansdorf, a village to the east of Berlin, and saw action once more when the Russians crossed the River Oder in April 1945. Erwin eventually fell into captivity several days after hostilities ended in May 1945 and spent time as a POW first in England, then in Scotland, until he was discharged from the Waffen SS in late December 1948.
Unable to return in safety to his home in the Soviet-controlled sector of Berlin, Erwin decided to remain in Edinburgh and took up a position as a baker, the trade he had learned after leaving school. He became a British citizen on 5 November 1955 and later married his Scottish sweetheart with whom he raised a son. Erwin died on 14 September 2012, three months before his eighty-ninth birthday.
Friedrich-Wilhelm Bock, 6 May 1897 – 11 March 1978, was a German Waffen-SS commander during World War II who led three SS divisions bring the SS Division Hohenstaufen, 4th SS Polizei Division, Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS – 2nd Latvian. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross of Nazi Germany.
Joachim Boosfeld, 1 June 1922 – 19 June 2015, was a Hauptsturmfuhrer (Chief Storm Leader/Captain) in the Waffen-SS during World War II. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, which was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership by Nazi Germany during World War II. He was also one of 631 men to be awarded the Close Combat Clasp in Gold. It was awarded for 50 days hand to hand or close combat. He later served in the Bundeswehr till 1981 reaching the rank of Oberst.
Gerhard Bremer, 25 July 1917 in Düsterntal, part of Delligsen, district Gandersheim – 29 October 1989 in Alicante, Spain, was a German officer of the Waffen-SS, recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and after the Second World War a contractor in Spain.
Josef Diefenthal, 5 October 1915 — 13 April 2001, was a Sturmbannfuhrer (Major) in the Waffen-SS who was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on 5 February 1945 for his exploits during the Ardennes Offensive, while in command of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment, 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler.
Diefenthal was found guilty of war crimes committed during the Battle of the Bulge, and sentenced to death, which was later changed to life imprisonment. He was released in 1956.
Till 1980 he was working as tax officer in the tax office in Euskirchen/North Rhine-Westphalia.
Helmut Dörner, 26 June 1909 in Mönchengladbach – 11 February 1945 in Budapest, was a German commander in the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.
During World War II, he was awarded both classes of the Iron Cross during the Battle of France. Dörner stayed with the Polizei division until late 1943 and was then transferred to Greece. When Karl Schümers (divisional commander) was killed, Dörner took over the command until the arrival of the new commander. In September 1944 the 4th SS Polizei Division was sent to Rumania and Hungary. During the siege of Budapest, he became the commander of a mixed battle group and died during a breakthrough attempt.
Hans Dorr, 7 April 1912 – 17 April 1945, was a German Waffen-SS Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) who served with the 5. SS-Panzer-Division Wiking and was a commander of the SS-Regiment Germania. He was wounded 16 times during World War II and died at a Field hospital near Judenburg only a month before the war’s end. He was also awarded the prestigious Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern, Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.
Hans Drexel, 1919-1962), was an SS-Hauptsturmführer and Ritterkreuzträger of the Second World War. Hans Drexel joined the SS-Verfügungstruppe on 1 November 1938 and was a policeman in the Polish campaign with the SS regiment Germany. On November 9, 1940, he was promoted to SS-Untersturmführer and on July 14, 1941 platoon leader in the 14th Company of the SS Infantry Regiment Westland. On January 30, 1942, he was promoted to SS-Obersturmführer. On August 3, 1943, he was awarded as the leader of the 10th Company of the SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment Germania the German Cross in Gold. On September 13, 1943, he became deputy leader of the 2nd Battalion of the SS Panzergrenadier Regiment Westland. On September 20, 1943, he was with parts of his battalion smashing a Russian deployment in the heavy fighting at Boiki. On September 28, 1943, he was badly wounded. On October 14, 1943, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross for his work with Boiki, on November 9, 1943, he was promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer. In the Cherkassy basin, Drexel was a tactical advisor to the commander of the SS Sturm Brigade Wallonia.
Karl-Heinz Ertel, 26 November 1919 – 25 January 1993, was a reserve commander in the Waffen-SS during World War II who was awarded the Knights Cross of Iron Cross Germany during World War II.
Karl-Heinz Euling, 16 August 1919 – 14 April 2014, and his unit distinguished themselves during the fierce fighting following the Invasion and particularly during Operation Market-Garden. Before the Allies were able to encircle the rear of his battalion, Euling managed to escape, leading his men back to the German lines and suffering only two casualties.
Waldemar “Axel ” Fegelein, 9 January 1912 in Ansbach – 20 November 2000 in Obermeitingen, district of Landsberg am Lech, was a German officer of the cavalry in the Waffen-SS and the Knight’s Cross of the Second World War. He was the younger brother of Hermann Fegelein.
Albert Frey, 16 February 1913 – 1 September 2003, was a German SS-Sturmbannführer during the Third Reich era. The tried and tested commander of the I.Bataillon / SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 1 / SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH). He was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight’s Cross of the Iron Crosses) on 3 March 1943 for his achievements during the operations in the Kharkov campaign at the beginning of 1943.
Karl Gesele, 15 August 1912 – 8 April 1968, was an SS-Standartenführer (colonel) in the Waffen-SS during World War II. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership by Nazi Germany during World War II.
Werner Grothmann, 23 August 1915 – 26 February 2002, was a mid-ranking commander in the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany and aide-de-camp to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler from 1940 until Himmler’s death in 1945.
Alfred Günther *
Alfred Hermann Albert Günther, 25 April 1917 in Magdeburg, Saxony – 15 June 1944 in Evrecy, was a German SS-Untersturmführer of the Waffen-SS, Ritterkreuzträger, and part of the Sturmartillerie in the Second World War.