The following information was send to us by Ivars Seibelis, the son of Georgs:
Georgs Seibelis graduated as a Civil Engineer and undertook post-graduate studies in Prague, Czechoslovakia where he specialized in high-rise structures. After he completed his studies, he went into military service with the Latvian Army. During this term of service he was first nominated for an Instructor (NCO) training course, which he completed as a Warrant Officer and was placed on the Army Reserve. He was then sent to the Military Academy for Officer training, from which he graduated as a Second Lieutenant.
Following the infamous Molotov-Ribentrop pact, the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Latvia in June 1940. Arrests, deportations and executions commenced immediately. Army officers, professionals of all kinds, teachers, journalists, managers, etc. were high on the lists for arrest, as were many, many other ordinary people. By changing jobs and places where he lived, my father avoided arrest until June 1941. At the time Germany invaded Soviet Union, he was sentenced to be executed (shot), but within hours the holding prison was bombed by the Germans, and in the confusion he and some of the other arrested officers escaped. I do remember my father arriving home in his underwear, grabbing his Latvian army uniform and some weapons, which had been buried in the garden, and disappearing into the forests with the partisans. The deportations and executions continued right up to the Germans driving out the Russians. In one single night- June 13/14, over 15,000 Latvian men, women and children were arrested, loaded into railroad cattle trucks and shipped to Siberia. Many did not survive the journey which lasted several weeks, let alone the many following years of imprisonment in the slave camps. The same fate befell our neighbours- Estonia and Lithuania. In total about 45,000 Baltic people were herded into railroad cattle trucks and deported on that single night. Whilst these were not the only mass deportations, to this day 14th of June is a day of remembrance for the Baltic people, and every year we gather for a solemn commemoration wherever in the world we may be.
After German forces occupied Latvia, the remnants of Latvian army units gathered and took up the task of clearing out the forests of the thousands of remaining Red Army troops behind the German lines. By October 1941, the German Wehrmacht placed most of these units under their command and the first of these Battalions, including my father, in Latvian army uniforms, went to the front on 22/10/1941 to fight against Bolshevism. Other Latvian Battalions soon followed, initially known as "Ordnungspolizei Lettland", they fought in the hotspots on the Leningrad front. In February 1943 the Latvian Legion was established to encompass these Battalions. In April 1943 three of the battalions were formed into the Latvian 2nd Brigade under German higher command. In July 1943 my father was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant (Obersturmführer), commanding a Company.
An understanding was established with the Germans, that whilst Latvian troops would fight under German high command as part of the Wehrmacht, they would only do so on the Eastern front against the Soviet Union, in no case against any of the Western Allies. Eventually the Latvian units were fully absorbed into the Wehrmacht, and the 2nd Brigade was formed into 15th and 19th (Lettische Freiwillige) Divisions, and had to change to German uniforms, rank designations, etc. The only distinctions were a cloth shield in Latvian national colours on the uniforms' sleeve, and a designation of 19th and 15th Waffen Grenadier Divisions der SS, not Waffen SS Divisions.
In April 1944 my father was promoted to the rank of Captain (Hauptsturmführer) commanding II Battalion of the 19th Division 42nd Regiment. In the Waffen SS, a Battalion was a fully self contained unit with its own Headquarters Company, Artillery, Medical unit, Sappers, etc., the size of the Battalion varied between some 500 to 1,000 troops, depending on causalities (could be as high as 50% in a few days of a major battle) and availability of replacements. After Leningrad, he fought with the 19th Division in the Wolchov area, Velikije Luki (near Cholm), Krasnije, Opocka, etc., then through the retreat Westward, fighting rearguard action in the Latvian province of Vidzeme, eventually retreating through the capital city Riga (on October 1944) to Kurland (Kurzeme).
The "Fortress Kurland" battles are well documented. Despite a huge manpower, materiel, and air superiority, and launching six major offensives, the Soviets gained only a few kilometres during the seven, or so, months of fighting on that front. In fact the troops in Kurland were the only major undefeated Wehrmacht land forces at the time of Germany's capitulation on May 8th 1945.
Among the awards my father received are: the German Cross in Gold for repeated outstanding acts of bravery and leadership in the Kurland battles, Iron Cross 1st Class, Iron Cross 2nd Class, Silver Infantry Assault medal, Eastern Front (Ostmedaille) medal, Silver Wound Badge. I have anecdotal input that he also received the Silver Close Combat clasp, but this has not been verified, he certainly qualified for it. He also qualified for the "Voldemar Veiss" Regiment, and "Kurland" cuff titles (I don't know wether he actually wore them or not), which by now are extremely rare, since there were very few survivors, and they were captured by the Soviets. He was wounded in action at least three times, probably four. The remaining official records peter out towards capitulation time, so there is no official German Wehrmacht record of his fate at the end of the war, and subsequent to Germany's capitulation.
Official Latvian sources reveal that he was captured, with a group of his men, by Soviet troops some three weeks after Germany's capitulation, and summarily sentenced to 20 years in Siberian slave camps plus 5 years loss civil righys and confiscation of all property, for fighting against the Soviet Union. After 16 years in Siberian concentration camps North of the Polar Circle, he suffered a stroke, and was partly paralysed on one side. Since he was no longer able to perform the forced labour, he was released and allowed to return to Riga, Latvia where he was allowed to work as a Draftsman.
The war wounds and 16 years in Siberia had left their mark and he died December 1970 aged 57. In one of the very few (censored) letters which reached us, he wrote, "they have broken my body, but they cannot break my spirit".
As to what kind of man may father was, I have to rely mostly on what I have heard from my mother, some veterans, and read in various WWII related books. He went off to war when I was 5 years old, and I last saw him only during a few very brief furloughs from the front lines. Undoubtedly he was an outstanding soldier and leader, this is attested to by the few of his wartime comrades who survived, by references in wartime accounts and books, newspaper articles, and the awards he received.
Towards the end of 1944 my mother and I escaped from Riga to Germany shortly before it was re-occupied by the Russians. Had we stayed, we were certain to have ended up in Siberia. It was a turbulent time in Europe, by the time I was 9 years old I had been bombed or shot at by the Russians, Germans, Americans and the British. Luckily, except for inflicting a minor exploding bullet shrapnel wound by an American Mustang fighter plane, they all missed. From Germany we later migrated to Australia. Many of my relatives were not so lucky, and perished at the hands of either the Soviets, or the Germans.
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