first of all, I would like to thank John Moore very much for his patience and help while I researched my grandfather's service in the Waffen-SS. For those who are interested, I am just going to write a little summary here with a couple of pictures of my grandfather Gerhard Schlichting.
I never even knew that my grandfather served in the Waffen-SS until only a few years ago. He never really talked about the war very much and the war was just not discussed often within our family. The last time I visited Germany, August 2006, I took the opportunity to interview both my grandparents about their time in the war. At this point, I already found out about my grandfather having served in the Waffen-SS and therefore asked him directly to tell me about it. A lot of the details in this summary took quite a bit of research and help from various members from this community. I am very fortunate to have this information because my grandfather passed away only a couple of years after I had interviewed him.
Gerhard Schlichting, born on July 2nd, 1924, volunteered for service in the Waffen-SS in the Fall of 1942 and is assumed to have attended basic training on November 9th, 1942 with the SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie, Panzer-Grenadier-Ersatz-Bataillon III in Bruenn, East Prussia.
After completing basic training, he was transferred to the II./SS-Flak-Abt./Kommando-Stab “RFSS” in Wehlau. This must have happened in March 1943 because according to Stoeber, Flak der Waffen-SS this unit was created at that time and filled with recruits from Bruenn. During the interview, my grandfather mentioned that he participated in anti-partisan operations in the Ukraine during that time but said he only participated in a single combat engagement with partisans. However, he does remember being transferred to Berlin at one time to protect the Fuehrerbunker. This fits with research that shows that a single 88-Flak-Unit from the II./SS-Flak-Abt was transferred there.
Around April 1944, I don't have exact information about this, he must have attended a Fuehrerbewerberlehrgang and then attended the 16. KJL Braunschweig (held in Posen/Praq) from July 15th-December 15th 1944. After completing this training he was promoted to Standartenoberjunker d. Reserve and went on leave for two weeks. During this time, the photo below must have been taken, before he went on with the Oberjunkerlehrgang. Interestingly, my grandfather mentioned that during that time, he also had to work the Flak guns stationed in Praq because the American bombers used Praq as a navigational point. He told me that it was pretty easy duty because the Flak munitions explode at 10500m and the Americans were flying at 12000m, so they were just relaxing in the sun while everyone else had to go into the bomb shelters.
He did not continue with the Oberjunkerlehrgang in Praq since Flak and Artillery trainees went to the 16./17. Oberjunkerlehrgang with the Flak-Art. Schule I on Rerik from January 2nd to March 17th, 1945. I don't have any details but my grandfather said that this actually consisted of three separate 1 month long training courses. The Messoffizier Messlehrgang was held in Schongau, Bavaria. Then the Batterieoffizierlehrgang in Rerik and finally the 3rd Lehrgang (don't have a title or location) somewhere on the western coast of Denmark.
After completing all his officer training he was ordered to the Ersatztruppenteil in Freiman-Munich, where he was supposed to get the orders to his final field unit (Feldtruppenteil). However, he received only orders to report to the SS Fuehrungshauptamt in Berlin. Since any direct route to Berlin was already cut off by American troops, he had to go further further east. On his travels he witnessed the bombardment of Dresden (probably the one on April 17th) and when he finally got to Berlin, the city was engaged on block to block fighting with the Russians. In Berlin, he learned that the SS Fuehrungshauptamt was moved to the Timmendorfer Strand. He finally reached the SS FHA and received his promotion papers to Untersturmfuehrer. His name was mentioned in a German language article by one of his comrades, which I have pasted here untranslated:
Hans-Oscar Haase, der von der SS-Flak-Abteilung 5 ”Wiking” kommend, den 16.FB-Lehrgang v. 1.5. – 11.7.44 beim SS-PzGrenAuE-Btl 5 Ellwangen absolvierte hatte, schrieb: “ Als Kriegsfreiwilliger wurde ich am 21.Mai 1941 zur 2./Flak-Abt.Kdo.Stab RFSS nach Breslau eingezogen. Einer infanteristischen Ausbildung schloß sich eine Ausbildung an der 2 cm Flak 30 an. Bei Aufstellung der 1.SS-Infanterie-Brigade (mot) kam ich zum SS-Regiment 10 (14.Kompanie , Kompanieführer war SS-Untersturmführer Brock). Unser Einsatz im Rußlandfeldzug begann im Oktober 1941. Kampfgebiet war für uns der Mittelabschnitt. Art des Einsatzes mit der „2-Zentimeter“ war im Wesentlichen der Erdkampf.
Nach viermaliger Verwundung wurde ich als Unterscharführer und Führerbewerber im April 1944 zum Vorbereitungslehrgang für die Führerschule nach Ellwangen/Jagst kommandiert. Es folgte nach bestandenem Lehrgang, die Kommandierung zum 17.Kriegsjunkerlehrgang an die Junkerschule „Braunschweig in Posen-Treskau“ und nach der Zwischenprüfung (Bef.z.St.Ju. am 1.10.1944, der Verf.) an die nach Prag-Dewitz. Nach der Beförderung zum Standartenoberjunker im Dezember 1944 waren vor einer Beförderung zum SS-Untersturmführer noch Lehrgänge an Flak-Artillerieschulen der Luftwaffe zu absolvieren.
Nach Beendigung der Lehrgänge meldeten wir uns bei unserem Ersatztruppenteil in München-Freimarn, dort sollten wir unsere Versetzungen zu den Feldtruppenteilen erhalten. Zusammen mit zwei Kameraden, SS-Standartenoberjunker Gerd Schlichtig (actually Schlichting!) und Karl Fries, erhielten wir den Auftrag, uns beim SS-FHA Timmendorfer Strand/Ost zu melden.
Nach abwechselungsreicher Fahrt, unter Benutzung unterschiedlicher Fahrgelegenheiten, auch “per pedes“, durch bombenbeschädigte Städte, erreichten wir unseren Zielort. Nach unserer Meldung dort erhielten wir unserer Beförderungsurkunden zum SS-Untersturmführer. Ausgehändigt wurden uns diese durch einen höheren SS-Führer; dessen Namen war Schauf oder Schaub, nach meiner Erinnerung. Der Bedeutung des Tages angemessen, wurden wir vom Vorgesetzten zum gemeinsamen Mittagessen eingeladen.
Am Folgetag, es war wohl Mitte April 1945, bekamen wir unsere Versetzungsverfügungen. Meine lautete zu „Splitterteile“ 1./SS-Panzer-Regiment 5 Wiking … im Raum Gadebusch/Mecklenburg. …“(Unser Wikingruf, 12/2007, S.134)
Finally, my grandfather was taken POW by American troop on the east side of the Ratzeburger See and put into a fully equipped German base for holding (Reekaserne). Hearing about the treatment of Waffen-SS members, he had his blood type tattoo removed and they issued themselves new Soldbuecher (basically ID cards) that showed him being a Leutnant in the Wehrmacht. As a POW he worked for the British until he was released and then went to work for the Deutsche Bundesbahn.
I know that this is more of a general timeline without much detailed information about my grandfather's wartime experience but it looks like he was very lucky to mostly attend officer training courses from April 1944 until the end of the war. I was actually amazed at how much time was still dedicated to train officers while the war was already being lost and I figured that every able men would be send to the front-lines.
(I will edit this post with some pictures within the next few days).