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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.
Karl Brommann, 20 July 1920 – 30 June 2011, was a Untersturmführer in the Waffen SS during World War II. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross for the destruction of 66 tanks along with 44 anti-tank guns and 15 vehicles in the battle for Danzig.
Brommann was born on 20 July 1920 in Neumünster in Holstein. In 1937, he volunteered to join the SS at the age of seventeen and was posted to the 2nd Brandenburg Standarte, SS Totenkopf with SS Service Number 316479. In 1938, he took part in the Anschluss of Austria and the occupation of the Sudetenland.
Brommann was posted to the 6th SS Gebirgs Division Nord and fought in Finland and was twice wounded the first time in both hands and feet the second time was a serious lung wound. Brommann stayed in Hospital for almost one year recovering from his injuries.
After recovering from his wounds he was posted to the 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division Nordland in May 1943 and fought on the Eastern Front. He was also promoted to Oberscharführer at this time.
In October 1943, he was transferred to the newly forming 103 SS Heavy Panzer Battalion and trained on the Tiger tank.
In October 1944 the Battalion received their first King Tigers and on 27 January 1945, was transferred to the Eastern Front. Following their arrival at the front, the Battalion saw heavy combat in the Stettin area. They also participated in the escape of refugees from East Prussia. During the night of February 17/18, the Battalion was loaded onto trains and moved to Danzig. During the fighting in Danzig and Sopot, Untersturmführer Karl Brommann now the commander of the 2nd Company, destroyed 66 tanks along with 44 anti-tank guns and 15 vehicles. Following this action, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross. Brommann received further honors when he was mentioned in the daily Wehrmachtbericht on 10 April 1945 for this action.
In March 1945, he was wounded for the third time suffering burns to his head and hands and a splinter in his eye. Evacuated by hospital train to Flensburg. He was captured by the British on 21 May 1945.
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 highly decorated SS-Obersturmbannführer in the Waffen-SS during World War II and a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. . He 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.
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.
Herbert Golz, 9 April 9th, 1897 in Berlin-Brandenburg – 29 January 1979 in Bad Dürrheim was a highly decorated SS-Standartenführer und Oberst der Schutzpolizei in the Waffen-SS during World War II and a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. His SS-Number was 357,154 with 1,323,386 in the NSDAP.
Herbert Golz was born on 9 April 1897 in Berlin to a family with a long military tradition. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Golz, who had just graduated from the Andreas Gymnasium (High School), immediately volunteered for military duty. After a brief basic training period, he participated in the Battle of Ypern in October 1914 as a member of the 201st Reserve Regiment. In the course of the war, he would serve 4 tours of duty on the Western Front and 2 on the Eastern Front. He would also be decorated with both classes of the Iron Cross, the Austrian Medal for Bravery, and receive a field promotion to Leutnant of the Reserves in August 1917.
Following the war, Golz served with the para-military Freikorps Reinhold from January 1919 until May 1919, fighting against the communist Spartacists in Berlin. He would then join the Schutzpolizei, serving as a Police Captain in Cologne and Düsseldorf before being reassigned to Berlin with the rank of Major der Schutzpolizei.
When World War II started, Herbert Golz immediately sought a way to get back into military service. He promptly signed on with the new SS-Polizei Division which began forming in the fall of 1939 and he was placed in command of I.Bataillon / Polizei-Schützen-Regiment 3. He would lead this unit with the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer und Major der Schutzpolizei throughout the French Campaign of 1940 and through the early part of the Russian Campaign.
In February 1942, Golz was assigned to the General Staff of the Schutzpolizei with the job of supervising police units that had been mobilized for military duties in the field. He would receive a promotion to SS-Obersturmbannführer in April 1943 but it was not until February 1944 that he was called back to combat service. He was placed in charge of a defensive sector of the besieged city of Kowell in Ukraine. Although the town was totally surrounded by strong Soviet forces, he had been flown in along with SS-Gruppenführer Herbert Otto Gille, the commander of the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, who had been assigned to direct the overall defense and relief of Kowell.
The Wiking Division, led by its SS Panzer Regiment 5 and its II. Battalion which had not been trapped in the Cherkasy Pocket spearheaded the attempt to break through to Kowell from the outside. When the relief of the town was finally secured on 5 April 1944, the numbers of defenders had dwindled down to between 4,000 and 4,500, almost half of whom were wounded. With no anti-tank weapons and limited supplies and ammunition, their defensive effort had been one of the more notable of the entire war. For his determined leadership during the siege of Kowell, Herbert Golz was decorated with the German Cross in Gold. He would be promoted to SS-Standartenführer und Oberst der Schutzpolizei in June 1944 and later on, in October, the Hungarian government would award him the Knight’s Cross of Hungary.
Late in 1944, Golz became the Chief-of-Staff of the XIV. SS Army Corps which was serving against the Americans on the Upper Rhine Front, where he would help organize one of the last German offensive operations in the west across the Strum River. In January 1945, Golz was given the job of Chief-of-Staff of X.SS Army Corps in southern Pomerania. While the Corps had only limited Waffen-SS personnel, it directed the 163rd Army Infantry Division, the 8th Jäger Division, and the 314th Army Infantry Division.
On 1 and 2 March 1945, a Soviet armored breakthrough succeeded in cutting-off and encircling the X.SS Army Corps. In the subsequent combat action the Corps commander, Lt.Gen. Krappe was killed and heavy losses were sustained. On his own initiative, SS-Staf. Golz formed a battle-group out of the most cohesive units left in control of the Corps, and for three weeks straight personally led this command in action behind the Soviet lines, before finally breaking through to the safety of the German lines on the Oder River Front.
For his incredible leadership and personal bravery during this time, Herbert Golz was awarded the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross on 3 May 1945. Following the war, he went into British captivity which lasted for three years. After his release, he became a successful businessman and remained active in Waffen-SS veteran’s affairs.
Viktor Eberhard Gräbner, 24 May 1914 – 18 September 1944, was a highly decorated SS-Hauptsturmführer in the Waffen-SS and Oberleutnant in the Heer during World War II and a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.
He was originally an officer in the German Army who in 1943 transferred to the Waffen-SS. On 23 August 1944, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, the highest Third Reich award for bravery, and 26 days later he died in the Battle of Arnhem.
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 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.