15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian)

Discussion in 'Axis Units' started by Ian Zirins, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. Ian Zirins

    Ian Zirins New Member

    Hi everyone
    I'm looking for sources of information on this unit.
    Particularly war diaries if available.
    My father's story:
    I believe my father (Karlis Andrejs Zirins d.o.b. 20/11/1925) was conscripted into this unit in 1943/44 joining I think in Cesis, Latvia.
    By a process of elimination it looks like he surrendered to the US or UK forces in Germany (Pomerania?) in 1945, finding his way to the UK as a DP via Hamburg and Hull, finally settling in Cumberland (now Cumbria)
    I'd like to fill in gaps - he never discussed his war (understandably) but had several scars, wounds and frostbite consequences.
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  2. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Ian....this is scant information,the division was formed in 1943 as a newly created unit and was composed of both Latvians and Germans as opposed to the 2nd Division (X1X Waffen-Grenadierdivision) which was formed in 1944 and consisted of Latvians only.

    Probably the best source of the history of Waffen SS units may be from the Axis History Forum as below....
    • Axis History Forum

    The Naval &Military Press who offer specialised military books may be be another source of information....
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  3. Ian Zirins

    Ian Zirins New Member

    Thank you Harry. I am at an early stage on this research and your pointers are going to be very helpful
  4. steelers708

    steelers708 Junior Member

    There are two excellent books on the Latvian Legion/Waffen SS units:
    Latvian Legion by Arthur Sigailis - Sigailas was a veteran and it may be possible to still get it fairly cheaply.

    Latviesu Legionari - Latvian Legionnares by Edvins Bruvelis - This book is a bilingual English/Latvian edition and contains hundreds of photos of the Latvian Legion. A CD of Latvian Legion songs is included, it was never cheap, when I got mine from the Latvian publishers it cost around £70, and it is extremely rare and hard to get hold of now but it is worth it if you can find a cheapish copy.

    images.jpg 489997._UY475_SS475_.jpg
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  5. David Lauberts

    David Lauberts New Member

    Hi, I ended up on this site looking into my dads past when he ended up at Wooler Work Camp, Northumberland after he was sent there after coming across as a displaced person in 1947. He was also in the Latvian Legion, Battle Group Janumus , 33rd Reg , 15th Waffen Grenadier Division.

    Not sure how much you have moved on but I have come across various sources on the internet:

    http://latvianlegion.org/en/accused/hazners/archives/CIA/VOL1/HAZNERS, VILIS VOL. 1_0004.pdf

    amongst many

    My own father was conscripted into the legion in August 1944 in Riga when he was 18, he retreated through 6 or 9 (i forget now) 'kettles' (surrounded by Russians), wounded several times , escaped being executed by the Russians in a hospital in Kolberg in the battle there because the nurses gave him a Russian or Polish battledress, ended up, I think after receiving the order of the Inspector General to the Latvian Legion to 'Go West' with Janumus leading his mean, ignoring German orders to march and defend Berlin, to surrender his 1000 odd battle group to the US Army at, I think, Gueterglueck. (From the literature I think the Americans were quite surprised a full battle group just turned up to surrender)

    My father told me they never shot at any US or British forces, they were focused on hating the Russians and putting up with the Germans. My Impression was that the Legion after their experiences in Latvia and during the fighting with Russians I think they were doing their best to try and fight to re-establish Latvian Independence. I think they were paranoid that they would be repatriated to Latvia under the Russians and killed. (His brothers had been killed, I think in 'the year of terror' in 1940 (i think that was was why they didn't mind the Germans invading after the Russians took their Independence away). He escaped from a US POW camp ( a bit of a story with him leading a group of fellow soldiers out, though I gather from reading somethings the Americans actually did not make it too hard) and ended up in one of the many DP camps in Northern Germany. He got someone to forge some papers with his date of birth 2 years younger then he was so that he 'was too young to fight' in the war (I still have his DP card and a German driving licence with his date of birth as 1928 instead of 1926), and he managed to get to England in 1947. He settled , married a Latvian wife, naturalised and lived his life to the age of 82. He never really spoke about the war, just the odd tale when he had had a drink. I remember him waking us up at night with him shouting out from nightmares from his experiences when we lived at home. He was forever grateful to the UK for allowing him to come work and settle and have a family, in fact he and my mother were the most patriotic (for the UK) people I knew :)

    I have some of his photographs on Pinterest on this link:

    6 Best Latvian Legion images in 2020 | Latvian, Legion, He left me

    if you are interested
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