Ģenerālis Jānis Kurelis (1882 - 1954) - a fighter against the Soviet and Nazi occupiers
Thursday, 2012, 3. May
articles from: http://www.sargs.lv/Vesture/Vesture/2012/05/03-01.aspx#lastcomment
Image sourced from: http://www.sargs.lv/~/media/Sargs_LV/Ve ... ashx?h=200the photo - Military Academic Students 1930 Kurelis - the sixth from the right. Photo: War Museum archive
Jānis Kurelis was one of the independent Latvian Republic's (1918 - 1939) 57 army generals. Gen. J.Kurelis was a professional soldier who witnessed the Russian-Japanese war, two world wars. In the First World War, General J. Kurelis took an active part in hostilities, while in the Second World War, he led military units in the struggle for an independent Latvia, without being subject to any of the occupying powers. General Kurelis went into Latvian history as a brave and heroic soldier, while the term "Couronians" of the unit was a sign of a comprehensive national resistance and liberation struggles participants sign.
J.Kurelis was born May 6, 1882, in the Valka district, Latvia. Kurelis Later the family moved to Pskov, Russia, where he graduated from the Pskov Latvian Lutheran church school, and later from the Pskov Sergius High School. After leaving school Kurelis entered the Tsarist Russian Army as a volunteer seeing service in Warsaw, Poland. In 1901 he graduated with honors from the Officers School in Odessa, gaining podporučika rank. When the Russo-Japanese War (1904 - 1905) started, he went to the front in the Far East, where he fought in battles with the Japanese. He was awarded the first of three battle honors and promotion in rank. Over the next year, he participated in battles with the Latvian Riflemen and for heroism received several combat medals. In 1918, he was discharged from the Russian army and went to the Far East, where the French military mission began forming Latvian troops.
Kurelis returned to Latvia in November 1919, during the Latvian War of Independence. He was appointed Chief of the Army Staff Organization (Logistics?) and for a long time he was also a member of the Board of the Ministry of Security. At the end of the liberation struggle in 1921 Colonel J. Kurelis was appointed as the Latvian Army Technical Bureau chief assistant, and in 1922 was made the newly formed Technical Division Commander. Technical Division included aircraft, tanks and artillery units. Despite the limited financial resources of this division it was a major fighting force in the Latvian army. In 1925 Kurelis was promoted to General.
In 1930 Kurelis finished higher military education at the institution Latvian - War of Academic Courses. For a long time he was virstiesas War (ie the army) member. In 1935 Kurelis married Elza Rozenvalds, from a doctors family, they had a son and later daughter. In 1940, General Kureli was dismissed from the Latvian army officer in connection with the service maximum age, and in the first years of the German occupation, he was a Latvian disabled Cooperation Union of "Security" director.
In 1943, when the German occupation forces committed the Guard (to help maintain peace and order in the country in order to protect key public institutions and other nationally important sites) to reconstruction, he joined the circle of resistance - in Riga at the end of July 1944 he became a separate military unit commander of the General Kurelis group, known to its members as the Kurelian. The unit was designed to fight against all enemies in defence of Latvian territory, and specially trained groups of people for guerrilla activity behind the lines. Kurelis Courland provided protection against German forces. Kurelian force total number reached 2000 - 3000 men as he recruited like-minded people - former Latvian army officers. Kurelis was affiliated with the Latvijas central council, which was established in 1943 to coordinate the various resistance groups and achieve a Latvian Republic and the actual restoration of sovereignty.
The Kurelis to the Latvian Central Council established and maintained contacts with the British military, which had been considered allies. Getting to know Kurelian goals (to defend Latvia against both Soviet and Nazi invaders), the German occupation authorities moved against them with repressive action. Several of Kureļis' staff officers were shot, many hundreds were sent to concentration camps, while the majority dispersed. In 1944, he was detained and sent with his family to Danzig, Poland. German authorities avoided Kurelis arrest. At the end of January 1945, Danzig was evacuated, J.Kurelis managed to escape the rapidly approaching Red Army, he would only meet his wife and children after two years from the time they left the Soviet occupation zone and found temporary residence in Schleswig - Holstein, Germany.
J.Kurelis in 1951 with his family emigrated to the United States, Chicago. Unfortunately, as soon as General state of health deteriorated rapidly and he died on December 5, 1954. J.Kurelis is buried in Chicago, Irving Park Acacia Cemetery. His family remained in the United States.
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