Pastoral care in Latvian units 1941-1945?

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grassi
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Pastoral care in Latvian units 1941-1945?

Post by grassi » 12 Jun 2006 11:57

Hello!

I do have some information about a pastor, Harald Kalnins (1911-1997, of Latvian-German origin), who served as “Armeegeistlicher im 5. Grenzschutzregiment der 19. Division der Lettischen Legion”.

1. Was it usual that Latvian (SS) units had pastoral care? As far as I know the 19. Division was the 19. Waffen-Grenadier-Divison der SS (lettische Nr. 2). Or was this pastoral care just for the 5. Grenzschutzregiment?

2. What kind of treatment did the pastors of those units in general face after 1945?

Kalnins himself was freed from POW in Grusia as early as 1946. He later became a very well respected pastor in Riga and the first Bishop of the renewed German Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Soviet Union (consisting out of ethnic Germans in the Soviet Union) in 1988.

The pastor in the photo is Kalnins sometimes in the 1970ies or 1980ies.

Any help appreciated!

Grassi
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VJK
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Post by VJK » 18 Jun 2006 12:18

Hi!

Each of the 2 Latvian Legion divisions had their own Lutheran pastor - 15. Div. - Jūlijs Straume; 19. Div. - Verners Voitkus. One Catholic chaplain, Kazimirs Ručs, served both Divisions.

Regards,

VJK

grassi
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Post by grassi » 20 Jun 2006 16:02

Hi VJK!

Many thanks for this very interessting information!!

May I ask you two questions?
1. What is the source for your information?
2. Where those two pastors mentioned by you also responsible for pastoral care in any of the "Grenzschutzregimenter"?

grassi

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VJK
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Post by VJK » 20 Jun 2006 20:10

Hi Grassi!

My source is the 11 volume series "Latviešu kaŗavīrs otrā pasaules kaŗa laikā" (The Latvian soldier during World War II) published between 1970 and 1982 by the Daugavas Vanagu Centrālā Valde.

The 2 pastors were responsible for pastoral care for all the units assigned to their respective divisions. I don't have any further detail, but it would appear that some units had their own individual pastor, as in the case of the 5. Grenzschützregiment.

I don't know the rank held by J. Straume and K. Ručs, but V. Voitkus was an Obersturmführer and was awarded the EKII on 3 Jan 1945 (source: "Par zemi, ko mīlam... Latviešu Dzelzskrustnieki" by Udo Intis Sietiņš)

Regards,

VJK

grassi
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Post by grassi » 20 Jun 2006 20:30

Thanks a lot, VJK, that was very fast!
Even if I do not read Latvian...

Two other questions - I hope I do not bother you:
1. Is pastor Harald Kalnins mentioned in "Latviešu kaŗavīrs otrā pasaules kaŗa laikā" ?
2. Do you happen to know whether those two pastors did survive the war or not?

Many thanks in advance!

grassi

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AJK
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Post by AJK » 20 Jun 2006 20:54

Hi Grassi,

K. Ručs (born 4 December 1915) not only survived the war, but is still alive today, living in Belgium! In 1982, Pope John Paul II advanced him to the position of Prelate. I had the privilege of meeting Prelate Ručs on several occasions when I lived in Belgium 1978 - 1988.

Regards,

AJK

grassi
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Post by grassi » 20 Jun 2006 21:01

Dear AJK,

thank you very much for this interesting information!

I am a little bit puzzled: I thought that Latvia was a more or less pure Lutheran country. Do you happen to know whether K. Ručs was able to flee in ca. 1945 or did he stay in the Soviet Union and immigrated later (if yes, what was his fate at that time)?

Thanks

grassi

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AJK
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Post by AJK » 20 Jun 2006 21:24

Hi Grassi,

In very general figures, Latvia was 60% Lutheran, 30% Catholic, and 10% Russian Orthodox. As regards Prelate Ručs, he left Latvia in 1945, before the Russians closed the encirclement of the Kurland Pocket.

Regards,

AJK

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VJK
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Post by VJK » 21 Jun 2006 17:25

Hi Grassi!

In answer to your questions:
1. I can find no mention of pastor Haralds Kalniņš in the book;
2. Pastor Jūlijs Straume was killed in action in the battles around Landeck, Pomerania at the beginning of February 1945, but pastor Verners Voitkus survived the war and died on 15 April 1987 in Australia.

Regards,

VJK

grassi
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Post by grassi » 23 Jun 2006 17:37

Hello AJK and VJK!
This is a little bit off topic, but do you happen to know whether pastor Verners Voitkus or Prelate Ručs were able to keep in contact with the church, single communities or single Lutherans or Catholics in their home country after 1945? Were they able to send bibles or at least letters etc.?
Thanks a lot
grassi

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AJK
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Post by AJK » 23 Jun 2006 17:58

Hi Grassi,

Unfortunately I cannot say whether these gentlemen kept in contact with people or organizations in Latvia during the Russian occupation. Since all correspondence to Latvia was checked by censors, it is questionable that they would have been able to send letters on a regular basis, and most likely impossible that they could have sent bibles.

Regards,

AJK

grassi
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Post by grassi » 23 Jun 2006 18:20

Dear AJK,
thanks for the quick reply. Well, it was not easy to send bibles to the SU. But it was not impossible. Sometimes the authorities even allowed foreign churches or organisations or person to send religious literature (1950ies to early 1990ies), sometimes those did it illegaly or even smuggled them. If you are interested in further details: Send me an email adress via pm I will send you a small file about this question.
Cheers
grassi

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Post by Jani » 06 Jul 2006 18:31

Interesting grassi, i'm new here but came here for this type of info. My father was an officer in the 15th Div. Have been looking for books on the Latvian Waffen SS Divs. I have Latvian Legion by Silgailis but would like to see more.

Phil Don
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Post by Phil Don » 26 Aug 2007 09:27

Hi

It was customary in german army to give the rank of major (or in Waffen SS the rank of
sturmbannführer) to military chaplain at the divisional level.

In the french division Charlemagne: Stubaf Jean MAYOL de LUPE
In the walloon division: Stubaf Leon STOCKMAN
In the bosnian 13th division, the divisional imam, Abdulah MUHASILOVIĆ, was stubaf too.

At the regimental level, the rank given was hauptsturmführer (ex Hstuf Hasan BAJRAKTAREVIĆ
imam du Waf.Geb.Jäg.Rgt. der SS 27) or obersturmführer.
At the bataillon level, more often obersturmführer ou untersturmführer.

So, in the latvian division the three chaplain were admited with military rank but why not with the rank of
stubaf ?

Phil.

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Re: Pastoral care in Latvian units 1941-1945?

Post by KAUPO » 08 Dec 2014 13:33

Hello,
You have interested about Harald Kalnins.
Harld Kalnins is my father.
Served in SS Lettische 19 division from 1944. 15 february
He was Unterofficier and Pastor in this division.

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