Withdrawal from Estonia

SS-Unterscharführer Markus Ledin
Markus Ledin and some Estonian Coastal Swedes
Swedish SS-Unterscharführer Markus Ledin volunteered for the Waffen-SS in 1942 and served with the Wiking Division before joining the Nordland's SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 11 (Panzergruppe Saalbach). During the retreat from Estonia in September 1944, Ledin was cut off behind enemy lines together with two other Swedes (SS-Unterscharführer Sven Alm and SS-Unterscharführer Ingemar Somberg) when their SPW broke down. They camouflaged their half-track and managed to repair it and travelled westward. They reached the village Noarootsi near Haapsalu at the Estonian coast after three nights through enemy territory. In their haste they run into some 15 Soviet soldiers who were busy looting and murdering the local inhabitants of the village (the Soviets made it a policy to loot and rape civilians in Soviet occupied territories). The Swedes surprised the Red Comrades. After the attack, some civilians began to kill the still surviving, but wounded Soviets in revenge. These civilians then followed the Swedes in a fishing boat leaving Estonia on September 25 1944. When they reached the Finnish coast, they were all arrested by the Finnish Army (Finland was at this point no longer in war with the Soviet Union). SS-Unterscharführer Ledin and Alm had served in the Swedish Volunteer Corps during the Russo-Finnish Winter War (1939 – 1940) and showed their Finnish medals to their captures, who then released them. This Waffen-SS trio then continued their journey back home to Sweden. What became of the civilians is unclear. Top image: SS-Unterscharführer Markus Ledin on the Eastern Front. Date and location unclear. Courtesy of Wittenborn. Bottom image: The deserter Markus Ledin is seen here on the boat deck leaving his comrades behind when the war seemed to be lost. Public domain. Source: SS-Panzer-Aufklarungs-Abteilung 11: The Swedish SS-platoon in the Battles for the Baltics, Pomerania and Berlin 1943-45.

1 comment:

  1. Loviise 27/7/1111/4/18

    The village (Noarootsi) they ended up in is actually literally translated “knife Sweden”. It is an area inhabited by the Swedes since centuries. In 1944 when the Soviet liberators arrived the inhabitants' contacts with their relatives in Sweden were cut off and the coastal areas become military zones. Hopefully the Finnish commander allowed these so-called Coastal Swedes to continue their escape as well. Great historical stuff.