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Photos from German invasion of Belgium/France 1940 (Location IDs welcome)

Discussion in 'Photographs and Documents' started by Hafnia, Nov 23, 2021.

  1. Hafnia

    Hafnia New Member

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    Hello Friends, this is my first proper post besides the introduction post to introduce myself,
    so please bear with me, I'm new here...

    The background: I have inherited a couple of photo albums that used to belong to German
    private Hans Schäfer, born in Freudenstadt near Schwarzwald,
    Germany July 23rd 1910, died January 25th 1945 in Wadowice (German: Wadowitz/Frauenstadt),
    Poland (just a little over 3 months before the German surrender).
    I know this because in one of the albums I found the condolence letter from his army unit
    to his wife. I am not directly related to him, but his wife was my Grandfathers sister.
    That is how the photos ended up with me.

    These are my initial quick scans.
    better high-res scans will follow of some of the more interesting photos.

    I have written comments under the individual pictures, including the text on the back, if any.
    If anyone can ID any of the locations (long shot, I know) It would be much appreciated.

    Many of the other photos not included here are of nature/landscapes and of him building wooden houses,
    dressed in traditional journeyman clothing.

    Later I'll post some of the other photos, a few from Berlin 1936 (year of Berlin Olympic games)
    and some camp/training photos, most likely from 1939 or just before the war started proper.

     
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  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    These are great pictures. They show the difference between the comraderie of the combatants and the devastation of war. We often forget about the difference between the two. Thanks for the look.
     
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Excellent photos and excellent post.
    I look forward to the remainder of the photos.
     
  4. ltdan

    ltdan Member

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    As a relative, you can make an inquiry at the WASt/PA. They can give you information about his military career:
    Bundesarchiv Internet - Personal Documents of Military Provenance until 1945

    With this data it would be possible to trace the stations in France and Belgium.
    Unfortunately, the place and date of death do not give any clues, because what happened in the last months of the war on the Eastern Front makes Stalingrad look like a child's birthday: 50% more German soldiers died in this period than in the previous five years total.

    If there is documentation of his service in France, I can help you with further research.

    regards
    Olli
     
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  5. ltdan

    ltdan Member

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    This information came from the German War Graves Commission (VDK):
    According to our information, Hans Schäfer died at the Kalwaria-Wadowitz road.
    He has not yet been transferred to a military cemetery established by the Volksbund.

    According to the information available to us, his grave is currently still located at the following place: Kalwaria Zebrzydowska - Poland (about 14km east of Wadowice).


    And because we Germans like to have it as correct as possible: The exact place of birth is Rodt (Loßburg) and belongs to the municipality of Freudenstadt.

    If he is not on an official military cemetery, it is to be feared that he still lies in a collective grave - which probably has not been found yet.
    In the greater Krakow area there were heavy battles with extreme casualties.

    That's all I can do for you right now

    Olli
     
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  6. ltdan

    ltdan Member

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    I was able to find out something through a contact in Poland:
    The area where your relative died was defended by the 544th Volksgrenadier Division (544th VGD) and the 78th Volks-Sturm (not Volkssturm) Division (78th VSD) during the period in question.
    However, these were no longer regular divisions, but only the typical hodgepodge of all units available at the time, with an average strength of barely 50% (if that).
    Likewise, there are practically no documents of these units. The following description is based on the evaluation of Soviet and Polish documents, interviews with witnesses and research in local archives:

    early Jan., 1945 - frontline west of Dbica
    Jan 16 - start of the retreat
    Jan. 16/17 - short resistance near Wola Rzedzinska, east od Tarnow
    Jan. 19/20 - probbaly delaying action in Bochnia
    Jan. 20/21 - retreat through Myslenice towards Wadowice (St.Rgt.195 secured the Raba river line)
    Jan. 22/23 - probably 1 regiment cooperating with 78.VSD at combat in Sulkowice
    Jan. 24 - delaying action near Barwald (1 Rgt.), west of Kalwaria.
    Jan. 24/26 - covering the Wadowice area from the southeast (Skawa river valley), some counterattacks near Swinna Poreba (using Sturmgeschütze - mentioned as "tanks" by the local people),

    ww2f.jpg
     
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  7. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Nice work, Olli!
     
  8. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Agree, Lou.

    Thanks for stepping in there and finding this for @Hafnia
     

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