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German / Nazi Army Soldier MIA / KIA Easter Front Questions

Discussions on the German POWs, both during the war and post war, and the occupation and denazification of Germany and Austria 1944-1957.

German / Nazi Army Soldier MIA / KIA Easter Front Questions

Postby ecowhale on 23 Jan 2013 02:19

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 (no ads)

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?

Thanks, Eric
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Re: German / Nazi Army Soldier MIA / KIA Easter Front Questi

Postby John G. on 23 Jan 2013 14:25

I can help with a few things......First off, you're Grandfather was an Obergefreiter (Corporal) in the Army, the "44" on his prewar shoulder straps appear to be PIONEER/"Black with white boarders" (the only ones that have boarders) which would mean the 44th Pioneer Batt'l (Engineers).....unfortunately, the 44th was a Training unit based in Wehrkreis IV (HQ Dresden)...if this is correct, so this would not help tell us what unit he was with.....

He has the "War Merit Cross 2nd Cl." and the "Winter in Russia 1941/42" ribbons in his buttonhole, which means he was already in the Army in the first winter of 1941/42 in Russia.....NOT 1944, so some of you're family story is alittle incorrect!

I can't read the other documents....every time I try to link to them I loose my connection.....you'd have to know what unit he was with when killed to know much more....it may be there...

Hope this helps alittle....
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Re: German / Nazi Army Soldier MIA / KIA Easter Front Questi

Postby history1 on 27 Jan 2013 19:11

ecowhale wrote:[...]
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. [...]

The note in the Eheurkunde (marriage certificate) states that your grandfather was pronounced dead allready in 1964.
In the deathbooks of this year at the bureau of vital statistics in Schmölln must be the entry # 250 referring to his fate.

The Volksbund grave search states his last rank as "Stabsgefreiter", see rank insignia #18 at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mannschaften.jpg
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Re: German / Nazi Army Soldier MIA / KIA Easter Front Questi

Postby history1 on 27 Jan 2013 19:35

Another "error" I spotted on your website:
Kriegsverdienst Kreuz mit Schwertern' ... awarded for war service not in the face of the enemy.

The Kriegsverdienstkreuz (KVK) with swords where awarded for special merits in missions under hostile weapon effect or for special merits in military warfare.
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Re: German / Nazi Army Soldier MIA / KIA Easter Front Questi

Postby history1 on 27 Jan 2013 19:42

The photo "rudolf 4" is the birth certificate of Lina Erika Erler, born on November 18th, 1939 and baptized on April 28th 1940 in the Lutheran church of Schmölln. At the top it reads "Common bodily children of the married couple: 2nd child".

The photo "rudolf doc 2" shows a file from the local tax office when your GF had to pay the real property tax (15th of May, August, November and Februrary) and some info about this matter.

"rudolf doc 3" shows the other side of this writing. With pencil " der Wert des Anlagen- und Betriebskapitals wurde auf 2000 Rm. geschätzt" = "the value of the investment - and company capital was estimated at 2000 Reichsmark".

"taxes doc1" tells us that your GF owned a locksmith's shop and bike store in his town. And it´s dealing with the real property tax for the fiscal year 1938.
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