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Pics from the Eastern Front 1941-42

Posted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:21 pm
by cassarnold
Here are some pics I found in my deceased mother's archives. They are of her uncle who was killed in Russia in 1942. Our family was of East Prussian origin.

Pics are for interest, but any insights or comments are welcome,

Re: Pics from the Eastern Front 1941-42

Posted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:40 pm
by Linkar
Judging by the log houses the pictures could be taken in Byelorussia, Central or North Russia, or maybe in North Ukraine (north of Kiev). Definitely not in Central or South Ukraine and not in South Russia.

If you know what Wehrmacht unit your great-uncle served in, it is possible to look up the places the unit fought in and narrow down the possible locations in the pictures.

Re: Pics from the Eastern Front 1941-42

Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 7:56 am
by cassarnold
Thank you for your comments Linkar,
I am still trying to go through old documents that I have just come across.

My great-uncle was "Der Oberleutnant der Reserve" and apparently was killed in Rschew (Rzhev), which I see from a map is northwest of Moscow. So that fould fit with the North, as you said. Which Wehrmacht unit would that refer to? I guess Heer, although I also read that Luftwaffe had ground forces.

His official death documents says
"Der Verschollene ist vermutlich am 2 Juni 1942 durch einen Volltreffer in einem Stollen ums Leben gekommen."

My German is poor, but another member here suggested that meant that he was killed by direct artillery hit likely in a bunker. As so, is the second picture here that of a bunker? I wonder if that is the bunker that was hit? Of course I am annotating.

I am also in the process of writing to Berlin for more detailed information.


Re: Pics from the Eastern Front 1941-42

Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:41 pm
by Linkar
Hi Cassandra,

From the uniform in the photos definitely not Luftwaffe, and not SS. He was in Heer.

If he was in Rzhev area in June 1942 it might help to guess which division he was in. The documents that you posted in another thread said that he was from Darkehmen/Angerapp area in East Prussia. Darkehmen was renamed Angerapp in 1939. I believe it was close to Insterburg

Most divisions in Heer had a 'home' military district (Wehrkreis). Each Wehrkreis had a number. Wehrkreis I was East Prussia.

Here are links to maps of Rzhev area battles.

Russian map dated January 4-11, 1942: ... _11_42.jpg
German divisions listed on it:
339 ID (Infantry Division, marked on the map in Russian as 'nd'. Note that Russian infantry divisions are marked with letters 'cd')
216 ID, 110 ID, 6 ID, 26 ID, 86 ID, 206 ID, 161 ID, 46 ID and 256 ID.
Out of these divisions 206 ID and 161 ID were raised in Wehrkreis I, i.e. in East Prussia.
26 ID was raised mostly in Wehrkreis VI (Rhineland-Westphalia) but it also had some East Prussians.

I don't have a battle map for May-June 1942 but here are Russian and German maps dated late July-August 1942: ... absch.jpg/ ... che_42.jpg
They list 253 ID, 206 ID, 251 ID, 87 ID, 256 ID, 14 MD (Motorized Division), 72 ID, 161 ID, 129 ID, 102 ID, 5 PzD (Panzer Division), 36 MD, 1 PzD, 2 PzD, 342 ID, 78 ID. Out of these divisions, 206 ID and 161 ID were from East Prussia. No 26 ID at this time.

Here is a German site with information on Wehrmacht units. My German is minimal but I've been able to read it with Google Translate.
161 ID ... /161ID.htm
206 ID ... /206ID.htm
26 ID ... n/26ID.htm
Each of the pages has the division symbol at the top. You might want to look for it, as well the division/regiment numbers in your photos. For example, vehicles were often marked with a division symbol, and signs on bunkers could denote the army unit
Overview of Wehrkreis I by town: ... sernen.htm
Map of Third Reich Germany: ... /Karte.htm If you click on it, it will show an enlarged picture of the area you clicked on. Another click, and it will give you an even more detailed area map. Gross Medien is south of Angerapp on it.

Hope this helps a bit.

Re: Pics from the Eastern Front 1941-42

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:07 am
by cassarnold
Hi Linkar,
My goodness!! Thank you so much. Yes, it "helps a bit." This is fantastic, it would have taken me forever to get even to this point. That he was in Heer and Wehrkreis 1 is incredibly helpful. I will peruse the maps and sites you suggested, and hopefully will get some info. I agree that Google translate works well for German (and I can muddle my way though), not so much luck with Russian however. I could study this all day long, if it were not for my pesky full-time job :-) The maps are fascinating.

Again, I really cannot thank everyone here enough for all the valuable assistance.


Re: Pics from the Eastern Front 1941-42

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:18 pm
by Linkar

You're very welcome. Translating from Russian is nearly impossible in Google, but it works well for translations from German.

This three-volume reference, German Order of Battle by Samuel W. Mitcham ( ... 15&sr=1-31), is a good starter book on Heer divisions.

It has chapters on the Heer structure, Wehrkriese system and short individual chapters on each division. It's less detailed than Lexicon der Wehrmacht website, but I found that reading the book made it easier for me to understand the content on the website.