wss-19

The 19. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (lettische Nr. 2) was formed when 2. Lettische SS-Freiwilligen-Brigade was upgraded to a division.
It fought the Red Army until it ended the war in the Kurland pocket.

Lineage

Lettische SS-Freiwilligen-Brigade (May 1943 - Oct 1943)
2. Lettische SS-Freiwilligen-Brigade (Oct 1943 - Jan 1944)
19. Lettische SS-Freiwilligen-Division (Jan 1944 - May 1944)
19. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (lettische Nr. 2) (May 1944 - May 1945)

Commander

SS-Brigadeführer Hinrich Schuldt (7 Jan 1944 - 15 Mar 1944)
SS-Standartenführer Friedrich-Wilhelm Bock (15 Mar 1944 - 13 Apr 1944)
SS-Gruppenführer Bruno Steckenbach (15 Apr 1944 - 8 May 1945)

Chief of staff

SS-Sturmbannführer Hans Koop (? 1944 - 1 Mar 1945)

Area of operations

Eastern front, northern sector (Mar 1944 - May 1945)

Manpower strength

Dec 1943 8.033
June 1944 10.592
Dec 1944 9.396

Honor titles

This division was not named, but two of its regiments were:
Waffen-Grenadier-Regiment 42 “Voldemars Veiss“
Voldemars Veiss (7 November 1899 - 16 April 1944) was a former career officer in the Latvian army and later SS Waffen-Standartenführer and Knight’s Cross winner. Veiss, under whose command the Latvian SS Volunteer Legion was formed in 1943, commanded the 2. Lettische Freiw. Brigade der SS when he died from wounds suffered in action.
Waffen-Grenadier-Regiment 43 „Hinrich Schuldt“
Hinrich Schuldt (14 June 1901 – 15 March 1944) was a highly decorated SS-Oberführer (posthumously made SS-Brigadeführer and awarded the Swords to his Knight’s Cross), who had served with the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, the SS-Verfügungstruppe and the Waffen-SS, where he finally commanded the 19th Division. He was killed in action by an anti-tank shell and succeeded by Friedrich-Wilhelm Bock.

Holders of high awards

Holders of the German Cross in Gold (14)
Holders of the German Cross in Silver (1)
- Lüdke, Hermann, 25.01.1945, SS-Sturmbannführer, Ib 19. Waffen-Gren.Div. d. SS (lett. Nr. 2)
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Waffen-SS (8)
- Berzins, Janis, 05.03.1945, Waffen-Obersturmführer, 2./Waffen-Gren.Rgt. d. SS 42 (lett. Nr. 1)
- Biters, Augusts, 05.03.1945, Waffen-Untersturmführer, Waffen-Gren.Rgt. d. SS 44 (lett. Nr. 6)
- Dzenis, Janis, 05.02.1945, Waffen-Oberscharführer, I./SS-Gren.Rgt. 43
- Kalnajs, Teodors, 10.04.1945, Waffen-Obersturmführer, Ord-Offz. im Stab/Waffen-Gren.Rgt. d. SS 44
- Laumanis, Ernests, 05.03.1945, Waffen-Hauptsturmführer, Waffen-Füs.Btl. d. SS 19
- Ozols, Janis, 25.02.1945, Waffen-Hauptsturmführer, III./Waffen-Art.Rgt. d. SS 19 (lett. Nr. 2)
- Piterans, Wilhelms, 15.02.1945, Waffen-Untersturmführer, I./SS-Gren.Rgt. 43
- Praudins, Gustavs, 07.01.1945, Waffen-Obersturmführer, I./SS-Gren.Rgt. 44
Holders of the Knight's Cross (12, including 3 unofficial/unconfirmed) (11 RK + 1 EL)

Order of battle

Waffen-Grenadier Regiment der SS 42 Voldemars Veiss
Waffen-Grenadier Regiment der SS 43 Heinrich Schuldt
Waffen-Grenadier Regiment der SS 44
Waffen-Artillerie Regiment 19
SS-Füsilier Battalion 19
SS-Panzerjäger Abteilung 19
SS-Flak Abteilung 19
SS-Pionier Battalion 19
SS-Nachschub Truppen 19
SS-Sanitäts Abteilung 19
SS-Feldpostamt 19
SS-Nachrichten-Abteilung 19

Notable members

Bruno Streckenbach (SS-Gruppenführer, head of Einsatzgruppe I during the invasion of Poland, head of Amtsgruppe I of Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) 1940-1942)

Officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen and Concentration Camps

Concentration Camps 3
Einsatzgruppen 1
(includes officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen or Concentration Camps either prior to or after service in this unit)

Insignia

A collar insignia with the Latvian fire cross (swastika) was authorized on 11 March 1943. The Latvian Fire Cross (ugunskrusts in Latvian or Thunder Cross, pērkonkrusts) dates back to the Bronze age and was also used as a aircraft marking in the Latvian Air Force 1918-1934.
It was also used as a symbol by the Latvian fascist party Ugunskrusts founded in 1932 by Gustavs Celmiņš. It was banned shortly afterwards but was reformed as Pērkonkrusts until it was again banned in 1934.

Obersturmbannführer Nikolajs Galdins with the special Fire Cross collar patch
galdins-nikolajs
(Courtesy of Dave)

Latvian national sleeve shield 
sleeve-foreign-lv
(Courtesy of The Ruptured Duck)

Latvian soldiers from the division
wss-19-soldiers
(Courtesy of Dave)

The burial of Waffen-Standartenführer Voldemars Veiss in Riga April 1944
wss-19-veiss-voldemars-funeral
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Sources used

Christopher Ailsby - Hitler's Renegades: Foreign nationals in the service of the Third Reich
John R. Angolia - Cloth insignia of the SS
Georges M. Croisier - Waffen-SS (PDF)
Terry Goldsworthy - Valhalla's Warriors: A history of the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front 1941-1945
Dr. K-G Klietmann - Die Waffen-SS: eine Dokumentation
David Littlejohn - Foreign Legions of the Third Reich, vol 4
Kurt Mehner - Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-1945
Marc J. Rikmenspoel - Waffen-SS Encyclopedia
George H. Stein - The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939-1945
Frank Thayer - SS Foreign volunteer collar insignia and their reporductions (in The Military Advisor, Vol 4 No 2)
Gordon Williamson - The Waffen-SS: 11. to 23. Divisions
Mark C. Yerger - Waffen-SS Commanders: The Army, corps and divisional leaders of a legend (2 vol)

Reference material on this unit

Rolf Michaelis - Latvians in the Ordnungspolizei and Waffen-SS
Arthur Silgailis - Latvian Legion
Hans Stöber - Die Lettischen Divisionen Im VI. SS-Armeekorps

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