Talk:Courland Pocket

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Surrender[edit]

By the time Army Group Courland surrendered on 7 May 1945, it was the only substantial German formation left intact.

On the 7th it was not the only substantial German formation left intact. There was the German garrison in Norway and Army Group Centre.

It seem that the date of surrender of the Pocket could be considered one of several dates according to this article. But I have not read that the surrender was considered to be on the 7th. For example Bevoor (Berlin: the downfall 1945 p.420) writes "Despite Jodl's signature in Rheims Schoerner's army group.... and neither General von Saucken nor the huge force still trapped in Courland had surrendered."

So what is the source that says that they surrendered on the 7th ? --Philip Baird Shearer 14:38, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

origin of color photo Kurlandfront.jpg[edit]

Does anyone have origin/source information for color photo Kurlandfront.jpg?

Thank you! GintsN 23:35, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Baltic strategic offensive operation[edit]

The plan is to expand the Baltic operation article because it actually encompassed four distinct Soviet operations within itself, the:

  • Riga offensive operation
  • Tallin offensive operation
  • Moonzund islands offensive operation
  • Memel offensive operation

The Courland pocket was not a Soviet operation, but rather the German name for the entrapment of the forces in the area as a result of the Memel offensive, and its continuation by the blockading Red Army. In the Soviet military history the operation is called just that, the "blockade of the Courland group of forces", which included land and sea blockade activities.--mrg3105mrg3105 00:51, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

This is an English article. Per WP:MILMOS#NAME, we use the most common name in English, not an English translation of the Soviet name for the battle, which would have no relevance to an English reader. Also, with respect to the battle of Memel, I merely linked it to the correct article, you can name it whatever you want, but the link is accurate. Furthermore, as stated previously, this is an English article, and the English name of the battle stays. You may call the battle whatever you want in the Estonian, Russian, Lithuanian, and/or Latvian versions of the article. If you provide a reliable and verifiable source where Americans or the British utilize the Russian or Estonian name of the battle, please provide it. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 04:15, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
"blockade of the Kurland group of forces" Is that not another term for the "Courland Pocket" which as far as I can tell is not used in English? Apart from anything else why use Kurland instead of Courland? --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 11:18, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
Re Orangemarlin - The English usage until recently was based on the Russian and German Kurland, and not the French Courland per Kurland , Latvian Kur+zeme. In any case, as a historical even derived from Soviet military history, the operational name is properly derived from there. In Russian there was no "pocket" but rather the Russian equivalent of German kessel. However, Kurland was not really a kessel in military terms, but a siege.
Re Philip's comment - the "blockade of the Kurland group of forces" describes the strategic operation, and not the actual offensives to effect the blockade, its reduction, and final surrender. The article does not adequately cover all these phases. In any case, who named the operation "Courland pocket"? Not Germans, and not Red Army, and not the US Army. This is confirmed by the use of Kurland Army Group (p.91) in From the Vistula to the Oder: Soviet Offensive Operations - October 1944 - March 1945, Col. D.M. Glantz ed., Center for Land Warfare, US Army War College symposum proceedings record during which members of former Wehrmacht and Red Army were present. The populist misnaming of operations in English sources sadly comes from the worst kind of original research based on book-cover publisher's decisions dating from the 50s and 60s when not much was known in the West about the Eastern Front.
Interestingly the Siege of Leningrad was also a blockade, and so called in Russian. This is because in military terms "pocket", "cauldron" (from German:kessel), siege and a blockade are different concepts lost on bad historians.--Shattered Wikiglass (talk) 02:28, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I am not sure where you get your ideas from for example why do you think that "The English usage until recently was based on the Russian and German Kurland, and not the French Courland"? Further while the German term Kessel is sometime used in English books the word cauldron is not unless it is a translation of the German term. The English language equivalent of the German word kessel is pocket. For example, taking a well known WWII example, Google books returns 631 on "Ruhr pocket" and 24 on "Ruhr kessel" only two of those are in English and one is citing a German source. Just one book is returned that uses the term "Ruhr cauldron" (Werwolf!: The History of the National Socialist Guerrilla Movement, 1944-1946).
As for this pocket: Google books returns 19 on "Kurland pocket" and 50 on "Courland pocket", all the book returned for "Kurland kessel" are German and none are returned for "Courland cauldron" and one for "Kurland cauldron" (Latvia in World War II - Page 343) --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 14:16, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I also did a Google search on Courland pocket and Kurland pocket site:mil. There is some noise because Kurland is also a name, but there are only a couple of references to the Courland pocket and one to the Kurland pocket in the US military domain. --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 14:32, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Philip, don't use Google tools. Refer to actual verifiable sources. I refer you to English usage of "a pocket of resistance" in the military context to highlight the difference between its use in reference to encirclements as opposed to "cauldrons", a much stronger source of resistance. "Within the Ruhr Pocket about 430,000 German soldiers of Army Group B" hardly a "pocket" of resistance. Many past authors were indiscriminate, and lacking in knowledge to use appropriate terms. Similarly, a military blockade - the action of an armed force that surrounds a fortified place and isolates it while continuing to attack, is quite apart from a siege which is not synonymous, but is a strategy by the military force to force surrender through exhaustion of resources by the besieged without further attacks. Since Wehrmacht continued to attack Leningrad, the event was a blockade. WP is a reference work, and needs to define its terms, and use them appropriately. English language never developed the term for a larger occurrence of encirclement because as a naval power, Britain participated in many naval blockades, but not a lot of large land campaigns--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 02:17, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
mrg3105 you can not make the distinctions you are trying to make (as is indicated by your use of the word "besieged" for defenders, as to be besieged they must be under siege). Blockade is a tactic used in a siege, as are assault and negotiations. The word cauldron is not used in English unless it is used as a translated borrowed word from German, (for example there is no military usage indicated in the OED). The OED lists in pocket under 8.b " b. Mil. An area held by troops who are surrounded by opposing forces; the body of troops occupying such an area; esp. in pocket of resistance (also in extended use)." So if a salient is pinched off, the troops are trapped in a pocket no matter how hard or little they fight. I disagree with the comment about the British Army not fighting a "lot of large land campaigns" -- Marlborough and Wellington are two British generals who fought large campaigns as commanders of large combined allied armies --, but in the same sentence you are also confirming that words such as cauldron do not exist in English, in which case we do not need to invent them. --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 10:38, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
As an aside, I believe that the term "Kurlandschlacht" (probably best translated 'Battle of/for Kurland', although 'Kurland battle' would be more direct) is probably more commonly used in German than "Kurland-Kessel". A brief check via Google Books also seems to suggest this. Certainly, the terms "Kessel von Demjansk" and "Heiligenbeiler Kessel", to give two well-known examples of a 'cauldron', are rather more common than "Kurland-Kessel". I understand that the term "Courland Pocket" has been used in some English contexts, but caution should be exercised.Esdrasbarnevelt (talk) 09:48, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Philip, the cauldron is part of the overall name for the post-encirclement number of operations from Russian, Russians having borrowed the term from Germans. Use of pocket is a complete invention not extant in sources either Russian or German. Should someone decide to go to primary sources on either side, as John Erickson and David Glantz did, the 'pocket' won't stand a chance. I'd say lets not repeat poor original paper research online. This is not OR, but correction of past 'wrongs' through better article research.
With all due respect for Marlborough and Wellington, their forces, even by the scale of their contemporaries, were not great. However, what was the largest "pocket" achieved by the British Army prior to SWW? This is not to belittle this Army, or "score points", but to simply illustrate influence of history on terminology. OED may be an authority on English, but not on military terminology. Just as there is an implied difference in scale between a skirmish and an offensive, both being attacks, so is there a difference between the scales in a pocket and a cauldron when addressing encirclements. There are terms in English to illustrate the scale of things in other applications, just not this one. --Shattered Wikiglass (talk) 11:22, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Marlborough and Wellington commanded forces on a scale similar to that of their contemporaneities. In WWI and II the English speaking peoples fielded forces large enough to need descriptions to cover all types of military engagements. As far as I know the German military term kessel is used for pocket in English eg de:Kessel von Falaise Falaise Pocket, de:Ruhrkessel Ruhr Pocket, the German language does not seem to make a distinctions you are trying to make. --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 12:14, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Purpose[edit]

Before getting into an edit conflict, please tell me what you think the purpose for the formation of the blockade was--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 04:48, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

A sane strategic commander (if ever he had been, it was defiantly something that Hitler was not by that stage of the war) would have tried to evacuate as many troops as possible by sea to defend Germany. Once it was obvious to the Soviets that the Germans were not doing that keeping them bottled up in a large pocket that, -- unlike those in East Prussia around Konigsberg (hence the need for the East Prussian Offensive to press home an assault on that pocket) -- did not threaten their lines of communications for the main attack on the "lair of the fascist beasts" was strategically sound as the Soviet troops and material needed to contain the pocket was less than the effort to finish it off. --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 19:54, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Foreign names for the pocket[edit]

From the history of the article

  • 16:42, 9 April 2008 Philip Baird Shearer (co-edit.) Includes putting the foreign names for the operation into a footnote.
  • 17:37, 9 April 2008 Xil (that sholdn't be note)
  • 17:59, 9 April 2008 Philip Baird Shearer (Why should it not be a note? The foreign language names are not readable by most English readers and only clutter up the introduction.)

--Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 18:02, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Earlier edit history was only the Russian term was included, after which I added the Latvian term. Fortunately at least for this article, "Courland Pocket" is the predominant English version, so at least we're not conflicting over whose appellation translated into English it is that we should be using.
   I don't have any burning editorial judgement either way, but now that it's in a note, one advantage is that we can provide translations for the foreign language terms--something which would be way too much clutter for the intro, but which can be quite illustrative regarding, shall we say, perspectives on history. So, in this case, we've got:
  • Russian: блокада Курляндской группировки войск (Blockade of the Courland Army Group) ◄ close?
  • Latvian: Kurzemes katls (Courland Caldron) or Kurzemes cietoksnis (Courland Fortress) ◄ as a rule Latvians don't capitalize titles/headings whereas we do in English
If this notation mechanism works here, perhaps it might serve as a model for other articles where there's constant debate over whose foreign-language name in the introduction reigns supreme, should be listed first, etc., etc. —PētersV (talk) 18:31, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Because it is common style to have foreign names in relevant languages at the begining of the article. People who read article are likely to be interested in the subject of the article, so the readers may know related languages to some extent or names in these languages can be used to refer to the subject of the article in other resources even in languages other than the term. It helps people to learn what the article is about and where to look for more information - by looking at a note one can't tell what it says and weather it just gives source or some information. ~~Xil * 18:58, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
I added translations of the foreign terms as a ref. Point taken, if we think the current way of doing things clutters the introduction, that needs to be taken up as part of a larger perspective rather than for one particular article. —PētersV (talk) 19:54, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

As for the comment in the history about other articles, there are lots of military articles were the other name is either moved to a footnote or a separate section. There is no need to have a wider debate about it. --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 20:06, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

What is the point of putting them in the lead? They add nothing to the article and just clutter the lead. If they are to be present at all they should be in a footnote. That is one of the uses of footnotes! If the English is a translation of some phrase or other from a none Latin alphabet there is sometimes an advantage. But in this case the name is notable in English without the need for these names. It is only common style when editors who write the other languages try to insist on it. User:Xil what do you think is the advantage to having names in foreign languages in the lead? --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 20:00, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Right, the number of templates created for the purpose clearly indicates how rare the practice is and having ugly footnote in the middle of the sentence, is such a good looking and widely used practice. Stating that I am insisting just because I corrected Vecrumba's choice of terms a bit (mind that I wasn't the first to add foreign terms) and asking to explain adventage, when I already have, is offensive and shows that you don't really want to consider any option other than your own. ~~Xil * 20:46, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
As it's a military history article related to Latvia, the Latvian name makes sense; since a Soviet operation, Russian name. come to think of it, we're missing the German name. (!!!) There are so many foreign terms in so many Baltic, Eastern/Central European articles that one expects to see the terminology. If there's a larger movement to discourage that and have a way to deal with it differently, then that dialog needs to go to a more appropriate place. We three are quite obviously not going to settle it here, and there are far more urgent issues to debate over. —PētersV (talk) 00:39, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Please restore my translations of terms. Let's not get into reverting and losing content, shall we??? —PētersV (talk) 01:00, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
P.S. With reference to earlier discussions, "Courland pocket" is the only term (sometimes Kurland) I've come across for English terminology. For what it's worth. —PētersV (talk) 01:22, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
In general the only name/s included in the lead other then English are those which show how the English name was derived if it is not a more commonly used English name. In this case the Courland Pocket is neither based on the German (for whom it was a cauldron) or Russian (for whom it was a blockade) or Latvian (who were there with the Germans). Given that Kurland is the German usage, the English use probably came from a translation of a French text in the 50s or 60s, since Courland is the French name for the peninsula, although Albert Seaton, an early author on Red Army in English, uses Kurland.
So, the name of the article is wrong in that it does not represent the sources of the participants on either side, but a third party translation, and that, given the size of the forces which surrendered, it was far from a "pocket" as is reflected by the German kessel, and the Russian grupirovka voisk (группировки войск), which does not mean Army Group, but a grouping of forces. Before I am told that I am biased towards the Soviet POV, I had asked the question, and it was explained to me that an Army Group is a formation of forces that are able to conduct operations. When a formation looses the ability to conduct operations, it becomes simply a grouping of those forces which find themselves in the unfortunate position of entrapment, and are known as a "grouping".--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 01:38, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
And the supporting proof of possible French origin of Courland Pocket is from Canada's

International Journal (1946) p.146, "In January 1945, forty German divisions were encircled by the Russians in the "Courland pocket" and cut off."--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 01:50, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

And an early reference work repeats it in Everyman's Dictionary of Dates p.226 by Charles Arnold-Baker, Anthony Dent (1954) "19th (Latvian SS) Division held out in the 'Courland' pocket until the German capitulation, 5 May 1945. Part of 18th (Latvian SS) Division, withdrawn to help the defence of Berlin,"

And so it goes to this day...all a French Canadian plot! ;o)--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 01:56, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

"Courland" is the English name for Latvija's Kurzeme and has been in use for centuries. The Courland Pocket encompassed the northwestern part of Kurzeme. Again, that is the term ("Courland Pocket") I have seen in most common English usage. (In fact, except for some Latvian sites incorrectly using Kurland in English, I haven't seen any other term.) I agree that technically the Russian name refers more to a "grouping of troops" than to a formal "army group." However, mrg3105's contention that the German (and Latvian) divisions could not conduct operations is not borne out by events (which, per 30,000 some odd total Soviet casualties is grossly misrepresented by mrg3105's Soviet sources). —PētersV (talk) 01:59, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
It would not serve anything to go through the sources, so I will leave it at the explanation for Kurland becoming Courland in reference to the Second World War event as it is.
"Conduct operations" is not cognate to "take casualties"! Casualties are always higher if the units and formations are unable to conduct operations, known as Attrition warfare (see First World War) and is the antitheses of manoeuvre, such as Frontal assault. A blockade is a strategy by means of which the enemy is forced into attrition warfare by a larger friendly force, which the enemy can not hope to sustain. Hence nearly half a million Soviet troops were blockading the 180,000 Axis troops. The German commanders, fully cognisant of the principle having served during the First World War, tried to at all times to preserve the fighting strength of the troops under their command in the hope of evacuation. Your thesis that there was a lot of fighting, or even German attacks is not only counter-logical, but contradicts orders first issued to Rendulic when such hope was still present at the OKH. The 30,000 Soviet casualties represent operations to reduce and contain the blockade from mid-February to May, but were mostly sustained in the first two weeks when the last breakout attempt was made by the German Group. You will be amazed to find out that these were considered light casualties given this was an offensive by a Front where the usual ratio of attackers to defenders was expected to be about 6:1. The reason is that the German command at first were going to evacuate these troops as they had done with troops in Finland, so German units retreated mostly in good order before the Soviet forces and neither sustained heavy fighting (yes, about 23,000 soviet casualties and some 6,000 German) at that time. German troops suffered more casualties during the rest of the blockade as a result of Soviet interdiction of the naval transports evacuating troops from Courland then through ground combat in Courland. Govorov was very much liked by the troops for the conduct of this blockade. So much for legendary defence of Courland.--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 02:42, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Quite honestly, we are never going to reconcile your 30,000 Soviet casualties to my >300,000 Soviet casualites (74,000 in battle # 6 alone). So we don't debate endlessly, I would suggest you put your sourced materials under "Soviet account of..." and (when I get to it, but I'll put in some placeholders showing the contradictory accounts) I put in my account under "German/Latvian account of..". We are clearly not going to bridge the divide. I know all about the bombs dropping on those evacuating, the Soviets were bombing refugee ships as well, my own parents' ship barely escaped, others that left the same time weren't as lucky. —PētersV (talk) 16:25, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

I would have been surprised if the British had not had their own name for the peninsular for much longer than post World War II. When it comes to things that ships can run into the British as a long standing maritime power has tend to have a name them. I did a quick Google books for the term and on the first page it returns John Pinkerton (1809) - Voyages and travels - Page 715 and on the second page is a book by Karl Johann von Blomberg (1701) Northern Seven Years' War, 1563-1570 - page 161. At that point I gave up as the term Courland has been in use from at least 1701. Whether or not it is originally a French term I do not know but whatever its origin, use for over 300 years makes it an English word. --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 19:20, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

Philip Baird Shearer is correct in surmising the connection to Courland in English is the British Navy. The Duchy of Courland (Ducatus Curlandiae et Semigalliae) existed from 1561 to 1795 and was a major seapower under Duke Jakob in the mid-17th century and ship-builder to the British. Jakob was (reputedly) godson to King James I, and was granted the colony of Tobago around 1640 by King Charles I and sent his first expedition there in 1642. So, put another way, it's quite possible Shakespeare knew of "Courland." —PētersV (talk) 21:01, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Ok, so the British used a French word, what else is new ;o)
The reason the German and Latvian casualty figures will never be reliable is because they could not, logically, be reliable since the retreating side never has time to access casualties! This is the reason Soviet casualties for 1941 are largely unreliable by the Soviet admission, including the source I cited. Well, we have something in common then, because my grandmother, then a young woman with two kids, was supposed to be evacuated on a ship from Odessa when a German air raid sunk the ship she was supposed to be on at the wharf in 1941. She was waiting to go on when this happened because three orphanages were given boarding priority. Funny about that.--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 00:16, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
I've got no reason to doubt the German/Latvian numbers, the operations during the blockade (Soviet term) are well documented, including tanks destroyed, planes shot down, etc. So, as I said, the most logical approach is to do both as separate accounts as it's unlikely it's possible to craft a narrative that encompasses an order of magnitude difference in Soviet casualties, not to mention the Soviets cutting off and simply blockading while the other side has records of repulsing numerous attacks at horrific losses to the Soviets. Latvian accounts of wartime action whether from WWI or WWII are, apart from the usual admiration of heroism, quite factual and detailed with both what went well and (the litmus test) what didn't.
   Do you have a number for tanks or planes lost in Courland by the Soviets? —PētersV (talk) 02:36, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
In my opinion any Soviet source is unreliable, because the Soviets often have presented numbers they needed not the true data. Modern Latvian sources should be accurate (mind that Latvians were fighting on bouth sides, not just German and for heroic part it is considered a great tragedy to Latvian nation, thus little need to exgenerate), but if you don't agree it would be more logic to find some independent foreign (not Latvian/Nazi/Soviet) source ~~Xil * 11:45, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
The Soviet figures are backed up by Krivosheev, who is usually considered as reliable. What are the sources for the Latvian figures?
Perhaps the simplest thing would be to have two accounts in the same article, one using the Soviet historiography and one using the Latvian? Does the German account match the Latvian one?Esdrasbarnevelt (talk) 12:01, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Oh, and could it be that the Latvian sources are counting all wounded (including those returned to combat) as casualties, whereas Krivosheev, and the Societ figures before him, counts irrecoverable losses?Esdrasbarnevelt (talk) 12:03, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Latvian source is Švābe's 3-volume "Latvju Enciclopedija" issued in the 50's. The reason I asked for losses of Soviet tanks, planes, etc. is so that we have some additional numbers to compare. There might be differences in how casualties are counted, but a plane shot down is a plane shot down, same for a tank destroyed. —PētersV (talk) 16:58, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Casualties...yet again[edit]

There is a persistent ignorance of HOW the casualty figures are derived.

Casualty figures used to be know as "returns", i.e. the unit commanders would count the members of the unit that returned to camp, and submit a report on the missing names.

As armies became larger and combat more complex this became increasingly difficult.

For example for Commonwealth troops alone in Europe the statistic is that there are 211,970 unidentified burials, (187,843 from the First World War and 24,127 from the Second World War), from a total Commonwealth burials of 1,147,216.

This means that during the Second World War, Commonwealth troops operating in a relatively small area for a relatively short time (6 weeks in N. France and 10 months in N.France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany), had lost, and were later unable to identify 24,000 personnel!

The Soviet Second World War deaths were (rounded up) to 10,700,000. This means all the confirmed dead, as well as the confirmed but unidentified dead and missing in action.

So you get some perspective here, in December 2007 there were only 2,270,700 people counted in Latvia. This means that over four Latvias-full of people died.

It is absolutely impossible to account for all casualties when conflicts are waged on this scale.

Besides this, ALL records of ALL participants are in error. This is simply because the only way to access casualties is to actually count them. Since both sides spent time retreating and advancing, BOTH sides had difficulty accounting for casualties.

Why are Soviet figures more reliable. While the Red Army spent time retreating in 1941, for much of the rest of the war it was advancing. This allowed it to assess battlefield intelligence. Besides that, the Red Army captured much of the German records on the 1941 and later periods of the war, so it had the benefit of both side's records.

The Soviet casualty accounting went through several phases:

  • Immediate post-war intentional reduction of casualties
  • Immediate post-Stalin declaration of higher subjective figures using "creative" accounting
  • Late 70s and 80s reporting of generally correct figures, but excluding important groups from the count
  • Post-USSR independent analysis and objective reporting by Russian historians

Above all it is important to understand that at no time did the Soviet or Russian military historians INVENTED figures, but they did on occasion chose to "play" with figures using available records.

GERMAN AUTHORS NEVER WENT THROUGH THIS HISTORIOGRAPHIC EVOLUTION! GERMAN AUTHORS NEVER HAD ACCESS TO THE SAME QUANTITY AND QUALITY OF ARCHIVAL MATERIAL GERMAN AUTHORS HAVE NEVER BEEN SUBJECTED TO CRITICAL ANALYSIS DUE TO THE PRESUMPTION OF THEIR CORRECTNESS

When you are quoting 300,000 Soviet casualties for this operation, you are doing EXACTLY what was done in the Soviet Union. For example a Soviet publication would say that 450,000 Soviet soldiers died liberating Minsk. This was in fact true IF one considers that the figure given was for all operations up to and including the date of liberation of Minsk! So, technically it is true. The fact that maybe only 25,000 troops died in the actual operation to liberate Minsk is a "detail".

Not only that, but it is important to understand that casualties are not incurred in a linear progression. Every operation has a casualty high phase of the initial attack. After that either there is a breakthrough, and pursuit, or there is not. The usual Soviet operational or strategic operation timetable allocated 3-6 days for the breakthrough depending on scale, and as long as a month for the completion of operations. This means that often 80% of the casualties would be incurred in the first 10-20% of the duration of the operation. Given the actual operation to blockade German troops in Courland lasted a few days, your suggestion of a 300,000 dead from a force of 450,000 is simply nonsensical since no force could sustain such a rate of casualties! The first time you wrote this I knew you had it all wrong and when you posted that timetable from the German site Kurland-kessel, I knew I was right. If you divide the total of that list over the 6 months, and divide the casualties over the number of operations, you will get 50,000 casualties average per operation, or a rate of about 11% per operation. Krivosheev gives about 7% for the Courland operation. In fact by far the heaviest casualties were incurred by the Red Army in preventing the first attempt to open the coastal communications by the AG Nord before someone in Berlin suggested evacuation by sea with the idea that the renamed AG Courland would preserve its fighting poser to fight in Germany. At a guess the casualty progression was something like 16%, 13%, 12%, 10%, 8%, 7% for the operations you listed, TOTALING 300,000. Creative accounting is something I have seen a lot of in history, and at work, so it won't wash with me. So far as I'm concerned all the casualty figures in all the articles that are without reliable referenced source can be deleted as OR because looking at a few I can see that they are just a figment of someone's imagination who has no idea about how they are incurred, and recorded.--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 14:52, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

See mine above on the source. Latvian sources on Courland don't necessarily have anything to do with German sources so you can STOP SHOUTING ABOUT GERMAN SOURCES. As I've said, we should attempt to see if there are any other numbers to compare besides casualties. —PētersV (talk) 17:01, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Don't mean to drum to a single beat (maybe I do), but are there figures for Soviet war material lost? All the above is interesting but it's all speculation just like "Courland" being French.
   As for "Given the actual operation to blockade German troops in Courland lasted a few days, your suggestion of a 300,000 dead from a force of 450,000 is simply nonsensical since no force could sustain such a rate of casualties!", the Soviets incurred casualties over a period of half a year. And you're "deducing" that's what was meant by that figure? You're just not listening. And the Soviets were more "creative" than anybody. —PētersV (talk) 02:52, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
Another editor was working on the articles dealing with this period and area of operations, and he has not asked me for figures, so I have not looked them up. Given the number of things I am currently looking up, this will have to wait, particularly since it is not a pressing issue to the subject of the discussion. He seems to be doing pretty well without much help from me anyway.
How many Latvian Encyclopaedias (English edition?) do you think there are in Australia? In any case, encyclopaedias are also written based on research. You should be able to tell me where that research came from, right?
The reason I shouted GERMAN, is because you failed to get that there was what, one or two Latvian SS divisions among remnants of two German Armies (or a German Army Group), so whatever the Latvians were able to obtain came from one source and one source only - Waffen SS, despised by the Heer that it was. Waffen SS did not gather casualty statistics, they just exterminated.
No, "the Soviets incurred casualties over a period of half a year", but over five years. This is why they are scrupulous in dividing the five years into campaigns, strategic (Frontal) operations and smaller (Army) operations, and provide start and end dates. The six months you mention include what?! Where do you start counting? You CAN start counting from Leningrad if you wish to get your 300,000 casualties, however there was only one Courland operation because Red Army conducted it. If you want to talk about German operations, please detail them.
So what if Soviets were creative with numbers? Its a given of historical research that accounts of history are heavily draped in politics! Surely if anyone would be aware of this it would be a Pole such as yourself? In the end though, and based on independent correlational research and combat statistics, it turns out that Soviets did keep pretty good records all things considered. A totalitarian state had to!--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 03:33, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
Your position is that the Latvians have no verification of their own. They weren't sitting in some hole waiting for the Germans to tell them what was going on. The whole front at its longest wasn't more than 170 kilometers or so. And the "Waffen SS" aka the Latvian Legion had nothing to do with exterminating if you mean the Holocaust. Your fanciful mix would make for wonderful conversation over cocktails, but it's not encyclopedic editing. —PētersV (talk) 03:46, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
What I'm saying is that divisional commanders, who were German in the case of Latvian units, were SS and would get their data from Waffen SS, but SS did not usually engage in statistics. In any case, I'm still waiting for these sources. This however has nothing to do with the AG Courland not having been "defeated in the field".--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 05:10, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
You seem to be equating casualties to killed in action. However casualty figures also includes wounded and missing too. Given your claim of 30,000 dead, and a conservative ratio of wounded to dead of about 4:1 (based on US casualty ratio in WW2, likely to be higher in the case of the Soviets), that would translate to 30,000 dead + 120,000 wounded = 150,000 casualties at a bare minimum. Martintg (talk) 05:15, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Hoping for U-boats?[edit]

Just wondering how someone can write a book in 1945 claiming to be inside Dönitz's head. Just curious for the basis/records for this. Dönitz was certainly holding out for evacuation to Germany, that doesn't mean U-boats. —PētersV (talk) 02:41, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

The way this bit is written in the article isn't quite correct. The Germans referred to the pocket as the "Courland Bridgehead", Hitler believing that a reversal of the war was still possible at this late stage, believing that these new subs would bring victory in the Battle of the Atlantic, allowing Germany to push the allies out of Western Europe, giving Hitler a year to focus on the east using Courland as a springboard for a future offensive on the northern flank, hence the dogged defence. A pipe dream ofcourse, but that was the German rationale for defending that position. Martintg (talk) 05:53, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
I've been bold and updated that section accordingly with an appropriate reference. Martintg (talk) 06:33, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Historiography[edit]

You will note that I've created a section on the historic representation of the battle, or series of battles, and the intent of the Soviet command. I've added a reference to the casualty figures of Krivosheev, which support the Soviet analysis. The figures from German military sources are there also, with space for their sources to be identified. This would seem the most equitable solution.Esdrasbarnevelt (talk) 10:44, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

"Six Major Battles"[edit]

As none of the editors proposing the 'Latvian' historiography seem to have provided references for their assertions, as yet, I've had a look for them.

At least part of the source for the claim of six major 'defensive' battles would seem to be A.Silgailis, Latviešu Leģions (Imanta, Copenhagen, 1964) (p.185, 190); referenced here. No idea as to the quality or impartiality of this source, but I would point out that Artur Silgailis was an officer in the Latvian Legion himself, which may cast doubt on his impartiality. I don't know where his figures came from originally, or if there is a German account that also mentions the six battles.Esdrasbarnevelt (talk) 15:07, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

I find this fascinating...
From [1] "Caught between two powerful neighbors and ancient enemies, Germany and Russia" - from Wikipedia article -

The 1500s were a time of great changes for the inhabitants of Latvia, notable for the reformation and the collapse of the Livonian state. After the Livonian War (1558–1583) today's Latvian territory came under Polish-Lithuanian rule. The Lutheran faith was accepted in Kurzeme, Zemgale and Vidzeme, but the Roman Catholic faith maintained its dominance in Latgale and continues to do so today.[citation needed]

The seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries saw a struggle between Poland, Sweden and Russia for supremacy in the eastern Baltic. Most of Polish Livonia, including Vidzeme, came under Swedish rule with the Truce of Altmark in 1629. Under the Swedish rule, serfdom was eased and a network of schools was established for the peasantry.

The Treaty of Nystad ending the Great Northern War in 1721 gave Vidzeme to Russia (it became part of the Riga Governorate). The Latgale region remained part of Poland as Inflanty until 1772, when it was joined to Russia. The Duchy of Courland became a Russian province (the Courland Governorate) in 1795, bringing all of what is now Latvia into Imperial Russia.

So, in fact Latvia had not been an independent state since the 16th century, had never fought Germany in modern history, and was a part of the Russian Empire since the start of the 19th century as a result of the defeat of Sweden and Poland! How can Russia and Germany have been ancient enemies when they actually did not engage in combat with Latvians as a state?!
And this "the Germans conducted an illegal draft in Latvia and put the draftees in SS uniforms"...but,

the Latvian 19th Division excelled in a heroic struggle to defend this last piece of Latvia, waiting in vain for assistance from the Western Allies. Ironically, a unit of the Latvian 15th Division in Germany, while trying to reach the American army so that it could surrender, wound up unwillingly in the defence of Hitler’s Bunker in Berlin in the last days of the war.

Who in their right mind could claim that unwilling draftees in SS uniforms could heroically defend Latvia in 1944 while waiting for Western Allies to rescue them, when on the Western Front Allied troops were being accused of war crimes for shooting all SS troops they came across?!
  • Anyone desperate to keep the Soviets from returning. Stop denigrating sources with your endless "who could be stupid enough to believe??" commentary and just stick to what sources say. I don't have the time to respond to each of your exclamations of incredulity. —PētersV (talk) 01:10, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
Who would claim that unwilling Latvian 15th SS division troops would be placed to defend the Hitlar's bunker?! Wouldn't Hitler want the most reliable troops for his personal defence, and that of the last functioning Wehrmacht HQ?
  • Oh please. The Latvian Legion wound up being Allied guards at Nuremberg. Obviously someone there at the time believed them. Someone who had more information than you. —PētersV (talk) 01:14, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
If Latvians were such unwilling draftees, then how is it that they managed to raise a second SS division ahead of Croats, Hungarians and Ukrainians, who all had larger populations and more resources to do so?
The same source is found at the 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (2nd Latvian) and the 15th was not chosen for defence of the bunker for nothing because, "Despite its short history the 15th SS was the most decorated foreign SS division with 13 Knight Crosses." So much for unwilling draftees.
  • See earlier comment. Don't confuse desperation with a love of Nazis. —PētersV (talk) 01:14, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
Then we have the compulsory "best, largest, most important" statement I seem to encounter so often in articles that deal with minority participants in the Eastern Front. "Those six Grand Battles were probably among the most intensively fought battles in Europe during World War II." Where are these Grand Battles documented? The only name quoted is Freivalds, in multiple volumes, and it is in fact Latviesu Karavirs Otra Pasaules Kara Laika Dokumentu Un Atminu Krajums in 7 Volumes, by Osvalds, Galvenais Redaktors & Kapteinis Oskars Caunitis, Militarais Redaktors, Osvalds Freivalds, Daugavad Vanagu Centralas Valdes Izdevums (1970). This editor's earlier work is Osvalds Freivalds, Latviesu politiškas partijas 60 gados (Latvian Political Parties over 60 Years) (Copenhagen: Imantą, 1961). He is also the premier authority on the Lettisches Freiwilligen Polizei Regiment 1 Riga (Osvalds Freivalds (editor) - Latviesu karavirs otra pasaules kara laika) renamed Waffen Gren. Rgt. der SS "Riga" on 26. October 1944. Although he died in 1975, his papers were being published from Sweden by the emigrant Latvian community there, and included, Latviesu legions. - Stokholma : Daugavas vanagu, 1974. Hardly a neutral and reliable source. There is only one way he would have got to Sweden, and that is as an escapee from Latvia in 1944-45. So where is it that he got his figures from? This Bija karavīrs Was soldier may explain, DĀVIS FREIVALDS 31. jul. 1943 and JĀNIS FREIVALDS 8. mart. 1944 (with an Iron Cross).
Grand Battles indeed, in the context of the Eastern Front they were secondary operational measures to restrict manoeuvre of the AG Nord and prevent its break-out! We are not talking Battle of Leipzig here, right?
The same Latvian Legion commemoration site says "In Kurzeme, Soviet documents show that Stalin threw division after division into the Kurland inferno, disregarding the appallingly high losses. According to German estimates, the Soviet army lost 320,000 soldiers – including those fallen, wounded, and taken prisoner – and 2388 tanks, 659 planes, 900 cannons, and 1440 machine-guns." Which Soviet documents? How did former Latvian Legion service personnel get hold of Soviet documents while in exile in Sweden?
  • Taken verbatim from an article originally written by Frank Gordon appearing on CENTROPA.ORG. Stop with the ?????'s. —PētersV (talk) 01:18, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
This site also reveals that

Among the last defenders of Hitler's Reich Chancellery and Himmler's State Security Headquarters in Berlin were eighty Latvian soldiers, from the Fifteenth Battalion of the Fifteenth Latvian Legion(see page). The last commander of this battalion, Lieutenant Neilands, would act as interpreter for the talks on German surrender between the commander of Berlin , General Krebs, and the Soviets. Yet another Latvian, the Soviet Colonel General Nikolajs Bersarin, who's troops fought the Latvians in Berlin, would become the first commander of Russian-occupied Berlin until his death in 1946.

So not a whole division, but an understength company of die-harts, and here is the news, Soviet Colonel General Nikolajs Bersarin was an ethnic Russian (says so on his Hero of Soviet Union award) born in St-Petersburg!
Who was the Lieutenant Neilands? Jan 1945 - Jan 1945: Waffen-Obersturmführer Kārlis Neilands, 3. Flak Kompanie, SS-Panzerjäger Abteilung 15, so not just some "translator".
But then the site changes its numbers to "in the battle for Courland at the city of Džûksta during December 1944 where in six battles 72,000 Russian soldiers perished trying to destroy Army Group North". What do they mean by "trying"? On 26 January 1945 it ceased to be! However the AG Nord was not destroyed AT Džûksta, but the Latvian SS battled the Red Army's Latvian Corps, so not exactly a wide-ranging awareness of the front or the Front's operations.
The search of the source was not long in coming. In fact the site plagiarised another work by Frank Gordon who says "Ironically, the last commander of this battalion, Lieutenant Neilands, was the translator at the capitulation talks between the commander of Berlin, General Krebs, and the Russians. Another Latvian(original bold), the Soviet Colonel Nikolajs Berzzarins (Bersarin) became the first commander of Russian-occupied Berlin."! Who is Frank Gordon? He is not a military historian, but a US Holocaust researcher who published this [2]. How was the number of casualties arrived at?

For the Nineteenth Division Kurland was truly the last stand. They took part in six major battles between October 12, 1944, and April 3, 1945. Together with the German army units they on the whole held the front line, keeping the Bolsheviks out of Kurland, until May 8, 1945, when Germany capitulated. These soldiers remained undefeated until the final moments of the war, im Felde unbesiegt(italics in original), as the Germans say. In one of the last battles, Captain Miervaldis Adamsons' company in a single 24-hour period repelled seven attacks by the Russians, and after the battle the bodies of 400 fallen Soviet soldiers could be counted in front of the Latvians' unconquered positions.

The author does not differentiate a skirmish from a strategic operation, calling them all "battles"! So, if each company in a 24-hour period killed 400 Soviet soldiers during seven attacks, then how many Soviet soldiers were killed by companies of 30 divisions during 6 months? We don't know because Gordon does not provide a reference except...

Soviet war historians have also written about the stubborn resistance put up by the defenders of Fortress Kurland, especially by the Latvians. Using these Soviet sources(my italics), Gershon Shapiro, a veteran of the Soviet-German war who emigrated to Israel, writes in his document collection Jews -- Heroes of the Soviet Union (in Russian, Tel Aviv 1982, pp. 359-360) that the Soviet High Command asked the commanders of the First and Second Baltic Fronts to take forceful action in Kurland, in order to drive the enemy from the northern sector of the Baltic Sea and free their units for more important positions on the Soviet-German front. The first attempt occurred on October 16, 1944, but was stopped in the area around Tukums. The next Soviet offensive took place on October 27, but met with strong resistance from the outset and did not result in any gains. November 20 saw another offensive, but the Germans and Latvians stabilized their defensive line, utilizing favorable geographic features. Equally unsuccessful were the final attempts of the First and Second Baltic Front Armies to liquidate the German Army Group "Kurland" in December of 1944 and February and April of 1945.

Soviet documents show that Stalin threw division after division into the Kurland inferno, disregarding the appallingly high losses. According to German estimates, the Soviet army lost 320,000 soldiers -- including those fallen, wounded, and taken prisoner -- and 2388 tanks, 659 planes, 900 cannons, and 1440 machine-guns.

The last paragraph is actually the author's opinion, and not shown by any documents!
So, the "Grand Battles" were in fact separate offensives that led to the final blockade of Courland, and there were tactical assaults during the actual blockade. But where did Shapiro get his data?
Well, he focused on the Jewish Heroes of the Soviet Union, so any data from his book only concerned those that served there and were awarded the HSU, and most of them served in the Latvian units of the Red Army that fought the Latvian SS according to the same Frank Gordon! In a review of Shapiro's book one reviewer noted that "Shapiro’s book is a collection of pieces culled from Soviet

sources on Jews who were awarded the medal of Hero of the Soviet Union (some of which had previously appeared in “quasi-legal” publications in the Soviet Union). From many standpoints these articles hardly differ from the style of writing common in the Soviet Union. The book discusses the Jews who distinguished themselves in battle, but the author is not always successful in capturing the element of Jewish warfare, even when intimations to that effect could be perceived in the Soviet publications on which he based himself."[yad-vashem.org.il/odot_pdf/Microsoft%20Word%20-%206218.pdf ]

So, the figures for the proposition that over 300,000 Soviet troops were killed in the battles for Courland DID come from Soviet sources, are NOT related solely to the battle FOR Courland, i.e. the final German defensive position held for months in expectation of evacuation, and are highly biased for numerous reasons, Soviet, Latvian and German. The sources, I have yet to discover what rank and role Gershon Shapiro held in the Red Army, are not reliable in the fact that it was in the author's interest to justify the award of the HSU to subjects of his book as much as that of the Latvians to show how "heroic" their "warriors" were against the "Reds". A dual duplicity in twisting the words and numbers, further promoted here in Wikipedia.
Now, if we can get back to real history?--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 00:59, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

You're going to make me read your immense diatribe, obviously. Apologies I'm up to my eyeballs in late night and weekend work for the next week or so. I did just check again, and your ref for 30,000 or so lost by the Soviets is only for February - May. What happened to the prior fall and winter? —PētersV (talk) 01:29, 16 April 2008 (UTC) (forgot to sign)

P.S. I'm sorry, but if this is your style (a litany of ridicule) for discussing sources, feel free to go write the Soviet version of the Courland Blockade. Later this year I'll get around to the Latvian version. —PētersV (talk) 01:29, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
Somehow I expected this...
"a litany of ridicule" is what it deserves for you claiming that your figures did not come from Soviet sources...poor research deserves it
When you do write a "Latvian version", don't forget to link it to the English version in Wikipedia.--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 02:11, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
I'm not writing mine in Latvian.
   On Džūkste, 19,000 Soviet casualties after the initial phase of the 5th battle for Courland--that battle was initiated by a Soviet attack on Džūkste.
   Did you mean claiming didn't come from German sources? The German figures are corroborated by Latvian reports. I'm still looking for corroboration of an account that at Nuremberg the Russians complained the Latvian 19th division destroyed 13 Soviet tank divisions.
   I'm happy to discuss my sources versus your sources, though as I've indicated my time is extremely limited right now. But if you're going to write these sorts of litanies, that's not a discussion, that reads more like you congratulating yourself on your superior attempts at put-downs. —PētersV (talk) 02:48, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
The essential point as I see it is that the casualty figures can be reconciled with each other, as the German and Latvian historiographies treat the 'Kurlandschlacht' (or whatever) as everything since October 1944 and count all wounded as 'casualties'. The Soviet figures, confirmed by Krivosheev, separate out the blockade operations (i.e. those since January) and separate the irrecoverable losses, i.e. genuine losses, in that period from the 'medical' (presumably those able to be returned to combat). If the Soviet figures admit 30,000 irrecoverables since January it's not difficult to reconcile this with 90,000 irrecoverable losses when you also include the more intense battles from October-January, when the German defences were still being rolled up. It is, however, disingenuous to suggest that the Soviet simply 'lost' 390,000 men (or as Mangulis puts it "expended almost a half a million men trying to take Courland"). They didn't; I would suggest that most of these were not irrecoverable casualties.
The second part of this point - whether they were 'trying to take Courland' or not - is that the interpretation of the figures as used by Mangulis supports the assertion that the six periods of activity were 'major battles', the result of a Soviet policy to take Courland at all costs. The Soviet interpretation supports their narrative - that the battles were sharp but from their point of view defensive in nature. Mrg3105 has commented that there are all kinds of reasons for the way the battles might have been depicted, and we should be clear about these.Esdrasbarnevelt (talk) 08:18, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
Valdis O. Lumans, Latvia in World War II, World War II: The Global, Human and Ethical Dimension v. 11 (New York: Fordham Univ. Press, 2006), ISBN 0823226271, p. 356: "The German and Latvian forces defending Fortress Courland were not merely idle troops of occupation. They repelled one Soviet offensive after another, five according to some counts and six by others." He then goes on to describe these battles, based on a synthesis of German, Latvian, and Soviet literature. The guy's a respected expert on the German SS, having won widespread acclaim for his previous book Himmler's Auxiliaries (1993), so maybe he's credible? Oh, sorry... he's obviously of Latvian descent, and he admits (p. 1), that his father served in the Legion, so I guess we can just throw his book on the growing pile of ludicrous, crypto-fascist, apologist literature written by Latvians posing as scholars, right?
For the record, Frank (Efraim) Gordon is not a "US Holocaust researcher"; he is a Latvian Jew now living in Israel. For many years during the Soviet period he worked for LETA/TASS and the daily newspaper Rīgas Balss. As for Berzarin being Latvian, even the main pro-Russian party in Latvia, ForHRUL, calls him that. Check out this contest question they had in honour of the 60th anniversary of the Soviet victory over fascism (emphasis mine): 1. 22 июня 1941 года находящейся на территории Латвии 27-й армией командовал латыш, генерал-майор Николай Берзарин. А кем стал Берзарин в 1945-м, когда война завершилась?Zalktis (talk) 12:35, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
I've no idea what political allegiance Lumans has, and if he describes 'six major battles' in his book, then it can be cited as a reference in the 'historiography' section as an example of the Latvian historiography, can't it?
I think there is a point, with regard to World War II historiography (and Eastern Front historiography in particular) that - no matter how many separate sources are presented - often nearly all the information comes from perhaps one or two accounts. I wonder how many of Lumans' sources all trace back to Freivalds, who seems the earliest source identified so far. That's the point, where there are two vastly conflicting accounts (as in this case) - to find the originator of the information.Esdrasbarnevelt (talk) 14:07, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

I've had a chance to peruse the recently-published Die Ostfront 1943/44: Der Krieg im Osten und an den Nebenfronten, Karl-Heinz Frieser et al. (München: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2007; xvi, 1319 p.; ISBN 9783421062352), which is vol. 8 of the series Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg published in cooperation with Germany's Militärgeschichtliche Forschungsamt (MGFA). DRZW is in many ways the standard work of German military history on WWII, at least from the prespective of current German historical scholarship. For the record, it counts six (6) Kurlandschlachten. And it doesn't rely on Freivalds as a source. As for Lumans being necessarily included under the heading "Latvian historiography", the guy's been raised, educated, and employed as a history professor at a university all in the USA; furthermore, as far as I know, he's never published anything scholarly in Latvian, or in Latvia. Shouldn't that make his categorisation as "Latvian" somewhat problematic? By such logic, Michael Ignatieff would be a Russian scholar... —Zalktis (talk) 19:02, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

Is it possible for you to source something from there as to what's said about the scope of these "six battles"? Given the chronology presented in German sources, I still suspect that the first was actually the Riga operation and that the second was the operation to clear the Germans from the Moonsund Archipelago, as the dates are practically identical. Esdrasbarnevelt (talk) 08:18, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
According to DRZW, vol. 8 (2007; see fuller details above) "die sechs Kurlandschlachten" were as follows (pp. 623–678; citing map p. 654):
  1. 27.10–7.11.44 (battle for Auce/Autz and area N of Vaiņode)
  2. 19.11–25.11.44 (Soviet attack in area Ezere—Pampaļi)
  3. 21.12–31.12.44 (so-called "Christmas Battles" near Dobele/Dobeln and S of Saldus/Frauenburg)
  4. 24.1–3.2.45 (Soviet thrusts in area Skuodas—Priekule/Preekuln, and S of Saldus)
  5. 20.2–13.3.45 (Soviet thrusts in areas Priekule, Zvārde—Lielpildiene, and Džūkste)
  6. 17.3–28.3.45 (major Soviet gains E and W of Saldus)
The German Operations "Doppelkopf" (16–27.8.44) and "Cäsar" (16–18.9.44), against the RKKA's 51. Army and 5. Guards' Army respectively, are not counted as "Kurlandschlachten".
This periodisation of the Kurlandschlachten is said to be based on the records of HG Nord; it varies from that of Werner Haupt, who considered the Soviet offensive of 13–24.10.44 (ringing in HG Nord) to be the first Kurlandschlacht (p. 659 fn 118).
The books of Werner Haupt are NOT reputable sources - he is/was known to be in right-extreme circles and is no proper historian (see german Wikipedia) 151.136.147.145 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 13:46, 15 October 2015 (UTC)
On pp. 668–78, the book also discusses aspects of Hitler's plans for Kurland as a potential "bridgehead to final victory", incl. the proposed use of new-type U-boats, the idea of "tying down" Soviet forces from participating in the surge on Berlin, etc.
On a side note, DRZW 8 gives the following figures as the total losses for the German forces in the six Kurlandschlachten: 17,037 men, 13 tanks, and 31 assault guns (Sturmgeschütze) (p. 663 fn 150, citing Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv (Freiburg), Studie ZA 1/2047, p. 1016). —Zalktis (talk) 18:27, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

order and purpose[edit]

P.S. Sorry for the revert, but please do any commentary on the order of battle and any purpose on the part of any side as part of historiography. Lat. encyclopedia states clearly that Soviet initiated attack starting 1st battle on October 15, attacking at approximately 10:00am following an intensive artillery barrage (by the Soviets). —PētersV (talk) 03:18, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

P.P.S. Obviously, there were major evacuations. However, those do need to be discussed separately not necessarily in conjunction with the order of battle. Our sources would also appear to differ on how successful the Soviet bombardment of ships was. If Soviet sources have any specific claims of numbers sunk and when, that would be of interest. —PētersV (talk) 03:33, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

P.P.S. Please fix your Dunnigan citation. Book? —PētersV (talk) 03:43, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Looking at the chronology, it seems clear that the first 'major battle' was in fact the offensive against Riga, the second part of the Baltic Offensive (the first being the Memel Offensive Operation, which first cut off AGN). This was certainly a major offensive, but as Schoerner evacuated Riga and the Soviet thrust was entirely successful (see Mitcham, German Defeat in the East, p.145), I'm not sure it can be construed as a failed attempt to take the Courland pocket - more an entirely successful attempt to attack towards RigaEsdrasbarnevelt (talk) 22:14, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

The fall of Riga was the prelude. When the German retreat by land was cut off, a front ~170km long was formed between the two forces. What Latvians consider the Soviet assault to take the Courland Pocket starts with the first offensive of the 15th, which the Soviets launched three days after the Germans/Latvians took up new defensive positions. Personally, I suspect the Soviets may have misinterpreted that shift in positions as a sign of weakness. It was originally written in the article here that the "destroyed" German forces were trapped--I changed that in the intro to "remnants." However, it turns out that the (experienced) command structure of the German Group North was largely intact, and so the German/Latvian forces were able to organize and counter the Soviets very effectively. At least from my (detailed) encyclopedic source, the notion that the Soviets were just defensively guarding the perimeter to prevent the Germans/Latvians from escaping is a fanciful fiction painted to cover up Stalin's horrific losses. —PētersV (talk) 22:59, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, well I'm aware that the nature of the second of the 'six major battles' is where the historiography really parts company - I was pointing out that the first of them (there's a map from the Russian perspective here, for those who would like a look) wasn't necessarily an 'attempt to take Courland' as some sources have presented, but an authorised withdrawal of Schoerner's force, coupled with a Soviet advance towards Riga and the coast that (in terms of those objectives, at least, was successful). Schoerner, of course, had stated that he would attack towards Memel (relieving the remnants of Third Panzer Army besieged there) if the front could be shortened by abandoning Riga, and though Hitler dithered over the matter, he eventually agreed. As I've said, I'd argue that the first of the 'six attempts to take Courland' was actually a withdrawal from / siezure of Riga, an example of the fact that events can be depicted different ways by different sources.
As for the second period of fighting later in the year - well, clearly something happened, and the front was shortened again. This may or may not have been an attempt to take the pocket, again the historiography differs.
I'm still not convinced about there being a major 'cover-up' of 'horrific losses', though. Here's why:
      • The Soviet figure of 30,000 admitted irrecoverable casualties is for Jan-May only.
      • The '390,000' figure given from German records covers the whole period since October, including part of Baltic Strategic Offensive, and it should be remembered that 90,000 of these are irrecoverable.
      • So, if the Soviet records admitted to 30,000 losses (as opposed to those merely wounded and able to be returned to combat) from January onwards, it's not unreasonable to suggest that a similar amount might have been lost in the fighting from October-January, when the front was actually moving, as opposed to static. This is getting closer to the figure provided by the Germans.
      • The other 300,000 'losses' given by the German report could be accounted for by the 'medical' losses, i.e. wounded, of which the Soviets themselves recorded 218,622 between 14 September and 24 November! (figures here, about two thirds of the way down).
I think the underlying statistics behind the casualty figures quoted are probably very similar - it's just the interpretation being put on them.Esdrasbarnevelt (talk) 08:34, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

Dunnigan[edit]

I assume the cryptic reference "p.171, Dunnigan" refers to something by wargames designer(!) Jim Dunnigan, most likely the edited collection The Russian Front: Germany's War in the East, 1941-45 (first ed., as War in the East, New York: Simulations Publications, 1977; new UK ed. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1978). However, it is not possible to determine which edition (UK or US, etc.) of the book is being cited. As requested above by Pēters on 16 April, please provide a proper citation, ideally also giving the article from the collection being quoted. An incomplete reference is almost more useless than no reference at all. There seems to be a lot of scrutiny of so-called "Latvian" or "German" sources, but what is the quality of the scholarship being quoted elsewhere in the article? No-one will ever be able to judge, if the bibliographic details remain hidden from us. —Zalktis (talk) 14:45, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure who added the Dunnigan reference - it certainly wasn't me. Perhaps it's easier to remove it? Esdrasbarnevelt (talk) 10:27, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
I would tend to agree. I scrolled back through prior versions and couldn't find where it was added. It must have come with the original cut and paste from another article which created this article. I assumed that other article was the Courland Army Group one, but no Dunnigan there either that I could find. —PētersV (talk) 22:01, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
The author of the original version said it was from Courland and the original is still there - Courland#Courland_during_World_War_II, reference you're discussing, however, was added on 16 april this year by User:Mrg3105 (diff) ~~Xil * 22:53, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
If you're that concerned about the footnote / source, you can always remove it - the content of the sentence (i.e. that the Germans began defending the bridgehead against attempts to reduce it) is agreed on by nearly all of the other sources given anyway, so a footnote isn't really essential at this point. Esdrasbarnevelt (talk) 08:18, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

McAteer's book[edit]

Could someone provide page numbers for references c,d,e and f to this book? Alæxis¿question? 09:36, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

I have removed the referencing to this book, as it is a vanity press publication, meaning WP:SELFPUB, and hence isn't a reliable source for this project. Sourcing to a reliable source now needs to be found; time will be given, otherwise all uncited information should be removed. --Russavia Let's dialogue 09:35, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Since we've had another round of eliminating McAteer's book despite its use in plenty of other articles on Wikipedia, I suggest editors who try to paint this into a Russia says Latvians say spat (including vandalizing section titles) give me a week or so to replace the deleted citations with other sources. VєсrumЬа TALK 19:06, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

Panther Line[edit]

I think this article should mention the Panther Line.

My hunch (and, no, I don't have the sources to back it up) is that the Courland Pocket held out so long because they were falling back from a series of defensive lines (unlike the rest of the Germany military): first, the lines used in the siege of Leningrad, and then the Panther Line of 1943. What's unique about the Baltic is that it was on the frontline, broadly speaking, throughout the whole of the war on the Eastern Front.--Jack Upland (talk) 08:11, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

Sorry, but this is not simply a lack of WP:SOURCE but WP:OR. --Jaan Pärn (talk) 14:03, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
If you read about the fortifications in Courland and the goal of defending (or taking) the port of Liepaja (Libau), there's really no connection to the Panther Line. VєсrumЬа TALK 19:08, 30 May 2012 (UTC)


On 5 September 2013 somebody has deleted large and essential parts of the article. Why? This should not be allowed. I hope Wikipedia will restore the page — Preceding unsigned comment added by 94.125.233.3 (talk) 14:48, 17 May 2014 (UTC)

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