2 SS Infantry Brigade
|2 SS Infantry Brigade|
|Karl Fischer von Treuenfeld
Fritz von Scholz
The 2 SS Infantry Brigade (mot) was formed on the 15 May 1941, under the command of Karl Fischer von Treuenfeld with the 4th and 5th SS Infantry (formerly Totenkopf) Regiments and began its operational service in September in the rear area of Army Group North, under which command it would spend its entire existence. It gradually began to incorporate foreign legions of the SS under its operational control, such that it became regarded as a multinational unit, especially on the siege lines of the Leningrad front. After the western legions departed for refit, it began operating with Latvian volunteer formations and eventually was re designated the 2nd Latvian SS Infantry Brigade and on the 18 May 1943, and used as the cadre in the formation of the 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (2nd Latvian) in January 1944.
The 2 SS Infantry Brigade was raised on 15 May 1941 and was placed under the command of Army Group North for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Prior to this, the role that the unit would undertake during the assault was discussed in a meeting between Henning von Tresckow and Kurt Knoblauch (de) of the RFSS office, held just three days before hostilities between Germany and the Soviet Union began. In this meeting it was decided that the 2 SS Infantry Brigade along with the 1 SS Infantry Brigade and the SS Cavalry Brigade would be used in the rear of the advancing army to conduct anti partisan operations as well as assisting in rounding up the Jewish population. A few weeks later they were involved in the mass murder of the population of the occupied territories, their victims for 1941, could be measured in the tens of thousands.
In 1942, the 19th and 21st Latvian Security Battalions from the Latvian Legion were attached to the Brigade. The brigade was now an international formation that included Dutch, Flemish and Norwegian volunteer Legions.
In January 1943, the 19th and 21st Latvian Schuma (Police) Battalions were serving with the Brigade, impressed by their conduct, Heinrich Himmler changed the 2 SS Infantry Brigade into a Latvian Brigade and at the same time set the foundations for a Latvian Division.
The existing 18th, 24th, and 26th Latvian Schuma Battalions serving in Leningrad were used to form the Brigade's 2nd SS Volunteer Regiment. They were then sent for training at Krasnoye Selo, where Himmler added the 16th Latvian Schuma Battalion to the brigade in February.
On 18 May 1943, these Latvian Battalions along with the other three Latvian Legion Battalions were incorporated into the 2 SS Infantry Brigade, and re-designated the 2 SS Latvian Brigade. The Dutch, Flemish and Norwegian formations were then removed from the Brigade and the 2 SS Latvian Brigade was deployed with Army Group North. It was placed under the command of Brigadeführer Fritz von Scholz and was engaged in defending the west bank of the Volkhov River near Leningrad until late 1943.
In January 1944, the Brigade was used as the cadre in the formation of the 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (2nd Latvian).
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