Waffen-Obersturmbannführer der ϟϟ Riipalu

Waffen-Obersturmbannführer der SS Harald Riipalu
After the Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1940 Harald Riipalu (born Reibach) was forcibly mobilized into the Soviet Red Army 22nd Territorial Corps and served there during 1940–1941. In 1941 he defected to the German side to fight against the Soviet aggression. Riipalu served in 20.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS and became the Commander of Waffen-Grenadier-Regiment der SS 45 Estland. Waffen-Obersturmbannführer der SS Harald Riipalu was one of four Estonian commanders who earned the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. He was awarded the Knight's Cross for his actions in the Battle of Tannenberg Line and in the Battle of Auvere where Riipalu and his regiment drove back the assault of the Red Army, which prevented the Red Army from encircling Armee-Abteilung Narwa (Army Group Narva). The award was presented to him by SS-Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner. After Germany had lost the war, former Estonian freedom fighters were hunted by the USSR, but Riipalu managed to remain in the free world. From 1945 to 1948 he lived in Denmark, later he and many other Estonian Waffen-SS veterans settled in the U.K. Image: Harald Riipalu in Dorpat in Estonia on November 10 1944. Fair use.

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