I'm a grandson of a Nazi soldier and am looking for historian research assistance to learn some facts about his participation in the Russian German War. His death certificate is attached here.
I have made a single web page with the information, photos and questions I have here:http://ecowhale.com/eric/rudolf_erler.html
If you don't want to go there, here's the story followed by questions sought to be answered:
Rudolf was born in Heukewald, Germany and owned a second generation bicycle and sewing machine shop in a very nice building they also lived in. He earned an engineering degree. He may have built one if the first televisions.
Rudolf, was forced to go fight against the Russians in 1944 in the German Russian War of WWII. He was not a Nazi in heart and neither were anyone in his family. The Nazis forced Rudolf to go to war against his will or be shot on site.
On December 22, 1944 at age 35, Rudolf was proclaimed to be killed in action in the Eastern Front, specifically Pampali, Republic of Latvia (formerly western Russia), but very well could have been captured. The death certificate of 1965 says he was killed in action. This death certificate was requested by Rudolf's wife, Lotte so that she could obtain social security benefits.
At about the same time, the Russians retaliated against Rudolf's home town of Schmolln and ruthlessly destroyed a lot of property, stole items and committed atrocities such as rape.
During the war, Rudolf's wife Lotte hid herself and her two daughters in the basement and consumed mostly low nutrition foods such as flour. She since then raised her two daughters alone.
Lotte's house started to deteriorate and Lotte could not afford to repair it, so she made a deal with the state that if they maintained it for her, they would also own it. This is why Lotte's daughter Erika never inherited the building. Fortunately, the state remodeled the building to be very beautiful. Since the reunification with West Germany, it has been used as an electronics store "Euronics" .
Erika's son, Eric feels the building should have been given to Erika to be kept in the family. But at least it looks nice now. Rudolf had no sons to take on the Erler name and the family business was ceased. His grandson Eric desires to continue the business in the United States to continue where he left off before being forced to do something he didn't want to do.
Historian Research Questions:
• In the above story, please suggest any corrections or additional interesting information.
• What stories can be told about Rudolf's uniform such as his rank (especially the collar insignia), position, job, etc.? I have never seen the "44" shoulder patch anywhere else. How long in years is it likely he served? Since he had an engineering degree, would he have been automatically given a higher rank?
• When is it estimated Rudolf left home to enter Russia? Is it likely he knew he was on a suicide mission or would he have been misled by the Nazi leaders that they were winning and will take over Russia?
• Is it likely Rudolf killed any red army soldiers, Russian civilians or destroyed any property?
• Can it be confirmed whether Rudolf was MIA or KIA and how so? If captured, what environment did he likely live in and for how long?
• What interesting facts are there about what he was doing in Pampali, Republic of Latvia?
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