15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian)
This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian)|
Insignia of 15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian)
|Part of||VI SS Army Corps (Latvian)|
|Latvian legionnaires Armshield|
The 15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian) (German: 15. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (lettische Nr. 1)), Latvian: 15. ieroču SS grenadieru divīzija (latviešu Nr. 1)) was an Infantry Division of the Waffen-SS during World War II. It was formed in February 1943, and together with its sister unit, the 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (2nd Latvian) formed the Latvian Legion.
World War II
After forming of Latvian Police Battalions in Reichskommissariat Ostland, Heinrich Himmler formed Latvian legion (Lettische SS-Freiwilligen-Legion) in January 1943. In February 1943 Lettische SS-Freiwilligen-Division was formed which later received the numerical designation 15. The Legion was renamed the Lettische SS-Freiwilligen-Brigade, with the numerical designation added soon after.
The unlawful conscription of Latvians for military service by the Germans, was based on Alfred Rosenberg's compulsory labor decree of 19 December 1941. It was carried out by Department of Labor of the Latvian Self Administration, commencing in early 1943 with the compulsory recruitment of Latvian citizens born between 1919 and 1924. The 15th Waffen SS, together with the 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (2nd Latvian) formed the Latvian Legion.
The 15th Waffen SS was swept up in the chaos of the collapse of the Eastern Front and lost much of its manpower fighting in districts surrounding Leningrad (Ostrov, Novosokolniki and Novgorod Oblast). In September 1944 the surviving elements of the division were sent by boat to Danzig. The division fought on the Pomeranian Wall defences and then retreated through Pomerania and Germany to Berlin.
Their concerns were far different from Hitler's national-social ideology. Latvian historians maintain that the Latvian Legion itself was a front line combat unit and did not participate in any war crimes. Moreover, the Latvian Legion, being an organization of conscripts, was exempt from the opinion rendered at Nuremberg trials, consistent with findings by post-war Allied authorities. Nor has any Latvian ever been accused of any war crime while a member of the Latvian Legion.
Part of the division with a total of 824 men, under Waffen-Standartenführer Vilis Janums, surrendered 27 April 1945 to the advancing Americans at Güterglück near the Elbe River. Other elements of the Division, amounting to approximately 4,500 men, surrendered to the Americans south of Schwerin on 2 May 1945.
- SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor Peter Hansen (25 February 1943 - 1 May 1943)
- SS-Gruppenführer und Generalmajor Carl Graf von Pückler-Burghauss (1 May 1943 - 17 February 1944)
- SS-Oberführer Nikolaus Heilmann (17 February 1944 - 21 July 1944)
- SS-Oberführer Herbert von Obwurzer (21 July 1944 - 26 January 1945)
- SS-Oberführer Adolf Ax (26 January 1945 - 15 February 1945)
- SS-Oberführer, later Brigadeführer und Generalmajor Karl Burk (15 February - 2 May 1945) [full citation needed]
Order of battle
- Waffen Grenadier Regiment of SS 32
- Waffen Grenadier Regiment of SS 33
- Waffen Grenadier Regiment of SS 34
- Waffen Artillery Regiment of SS 15
- Waffen Füsilier Battalion of SS 15
- Waffen Flak Battalion of SS 15
- Waffen Signals Battalion of SS 15
- Waffen Pionier Battalion of SS 15
- Waffen Panzerjäger Battalion of SS 15
- SS Medical Battalion 15
- SS Nachschub Troop 15
- SS Feldpost Department 15
- SS Veterinary Company 15
- SS Wirtschafts Battalion 15
- SS Bau Regiment 1 of 15. SS-Division
- SS Bau Regiment 2 of 15. SS-Division
- SS Feldersatz Battalion 15
- SS Waffen Feldgendarmerie Troop 15
- SS War Reporter Troop 15 
- Vilis Hāzners
- List of Knight's Cross recipients 15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian)
- Official designation in German language as to „Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv“ in Freiburg im Breisgau, stores of the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS.
- Page Taylor, Hugh (14 February 2016). Uniforms, Organization and History of the Waffen-SS. 5 (1st ed.). San Jose, Calif.: R. James Bender Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 0-912138-25-4.
- Mirdza Kate Baltais, The Latvian Legion in documents, 1999, p14
- Silgailis, Arturs (12 February 2016). "15. Divizijas pēdejās gaitas". Latviešu Leģions (in Latvian) (4th ed.). Riga: Apvienība Timermanis un Vējiņš. pp. 207–213. ISBN 9984-01-045-7.
- Rickmenspoel, M. Waffen-SS Encyclopedia. Aberjona Press, 2004.
- Wendal, Marcus. "15. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (lettische Nr. 1)". Axis History. Archived from the original on 2 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-15.