11.ϟϟ-Freiwilliegen-Panzergrenadierdivision „Nordland“ (Kurland-Kessel/Courland Pocket)

Pz AAII Nordland
SS-Untersturmführer Balstad
When Riga fell on October 13 1944, all Waffen-SS units were withdrawn into what was known as the Kurland Pocket. From late October to December 1944, the 11.SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland fought fierce defensive battles in the pocket. The Nordland Division's manpower strength was about 9,000 men in December 1944. In January 1945, the division was ordered to the Baltic port of Libau, where it was shipped out of the pocket to Pomerania and assigned to SS-Obergruppenführer Steiner's SS-Panzer-Armeeoberkommando 11 (11th SS-Panzer Army), which was now forming in anticipation of the defence of Berlin. Right image: Swedish Volunteers in SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 11 of the Nordland Division SS-Rottenführer Karl-Olof Holm and SS-Unterscharführer Erik Wallin in Dünaburg (Daugavpils) in Latvia. The 24 year old Holm were caught by the German Feldgendarmerie trying to desert the Kurland pocket. He was probably executed or died in a Penal Battalion in Latvia in 1944. Public domain. Left image: Norwegian SS-Untersturmführer Johan Petter Balstad served with SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 23 Norge of the Nordland Division. Balstad wears the Iron Cross First Class, the Wound Badge and no less than three Single-Handed Tank Destruction Badges on his right arm. He single-handedly destroyed three Soviet T-34 tanks in the autumn of 1944. Johan Petter Balstad died aged 61 on June 18 1985 in Oslo, Norway. Public domain.

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