Updated: Jan 10
As part of a new series we are looking into individuals from all sides of the conflict, who remain lost in the Kurland pocket. Our first case is that of a German artilleryman missing since 1944.
This story is dedicated to Klemens Piosetzki and all the missing, who still lie in Kurland’s soil.
If you have a relative or story you would like us to look into, please feel free to drop us an email.
The Legenda Admin Team November 16, 2020
Wartime photo shows Klemens at the table wearing a side cap and neck scarf. Photo: Copyright Barbara S. 2020
The 29-year-old seasoned veteran Klemens Piosetzki closed the heavy door gently behind him. His mind was a whirlwind of emotions. Gratitude, that he had got to spend one night with his fiancée, fear about what the future held and, of course, sadness at their separation.
It was the early hours of October 23, 1944 … he stepped into the chill of the pre-dawn darkness, only his boots disturbed the silence, as his steps echoed on the ancient cobble stones of the still sleeping town of Marienwerder, a garrison town. He felt close to tears and didn’t dare to look back at the window, where he knew his fiancée would be watching him leave ...
Marienwerder Station - Picture: Web
From the small window Ursula Hirsch watched in silence, as the darkness slowly swallowed up Klemens, as he strode away. Having already lost another man she had loved early in the war, she prayed this would not be the last vision she would ever have of Klemens and she vowed to do whatever it took to protect the child she was carrying. She hoped he wouldn't glance back; she didn't want his last memory of her to be one of her crying ...
As he made his way through the Old Town towards the station, he noted the town was looking more neglected than he remembered, but five years of war had taken its toll on everything - himself included. He smiled ruefully, five hard years of serving in the war had certainly made him feel a little less polished than before. His scruffy, heavily worn boots proved that point. He wondered how many miles they had carried him since his enlistment in 1939, only five years ago, but it seemed like a lifetime away…
Artillery Regiment 181 - Seen here on the move. Copyright: Legenda Archaeology 2020
The rhythm of his boots was almost hypnotising. He had learned over the years not to think about distances or discomfort, but to turn your mind to other things. He was not keen to consider what the future held for him and his comrades, surrounded in Kurland. So, he decided to think back to his past and how he had reached this point in his life ...
He had been born during the early stage of World War I in Schomberg, in Silesia, and had grown up with two older brothers and a sister. On finishing his education he had held an office job within a local business, but had always yearned to do more, to see the world. When war broke out in September, 1939, he wanted to do his bit… He had grown up surrounded by many heroic stories of World War I and, like many patriotic Germans of the time, he wanted to help right the perceived injustices of the Versailles Treaty.
So, he had enlisted.
Klemens Piosetzki - Still missing in Latvia. Photo Copyright: Barbara S 2020
The Polish campaign had been over too quickly for him to see any action there, but with France and Britain still standing as enemies, the Wehrmacht continued its expansion. It was one of these newly formed units as part of this expansion that he found himself joining. The 81st Infantry Division, also known as ‘Eine Schlesische Division’ was formed of men from the Silesia region. Its main headquarters were in Gorlitz, but he was based in the pretty garrison town of Marienwerder, West Preussen, just South of Danzig, it is where he would later meet Ursula. Klemens was posted to the 12th Battery of Artillery Regiment 181. Much of their equipment was antiquated Czechoslovakian, captured when the country was annexed in 1938. January 19th stuck out as a big day: it was when they had undertaken their first live firing exercises. Morale was sky high and they were living in areas, where the locals had warmed to them and conditions were pleasant. By the end of February the Division was declared ‘ready for action’. But nothing happened.
Soldiers of Artillery Regiment 181 - Eating from their field canteens. Copyright: Legenda Archaeology 2020
Rumours swirled about action against France, but still they remained in Germany - training, training, and again, more training. However, it was during one of these exercises that news reached them that the war in the west had begun! A few days later, on May 16, the division loaded up on trains and headed westwards. On crossing the border they reached Eupen and Limburg on the very first day. They were euphoric, but soon suffered their first casualties, which was sobering for these enthusiastic, yet inexperienced troops. On they went, always advancing. The hot weather and being thirsty were two of his main memories of this time …. Funny, what sticks in the mind, he thought… First they headed towards Paris, through Spa, Stourmont and Ambleve: they were moving at a rate of some 40kms a day - it seemed like nothing could stop them.
Victory Parade in France - from the album of a member of Artillery Regiment 181 Copyright: Legenda Archaeology 2020
By May 24 they had crossed from Belgium into France and over the River Meuse. By June 2 they were at St. Quentin and passing through the old battlefields of the First World War, which was very poignant for them. They then turned south-westwards towards Soissons where the countryside was breath-taking in its beauty. It then read like a tourist trail, passing through so many places so quickly. They crossed the River Aisne on June 7 and despite stiffening enemy resistance and more casualties, his artillery regiment eventually entered Chateau-Thierry shortly afterwards. A brief rest and they were on the move again … The following days saw the advance continue: Briare was taken, marking their final river crossing of the western campaign, the River Loire. They were at the picturesque Chateau Blancafort, when armistice came and Artillery Regt 181’s western campaign was at an end. They had travelled over 800 kilometers and suffered some 24 killed in action.
Chateau Blancafort - from the album of a soldier of Artillery Regiment 181. Copyright: Legenda Archaeology 2020
After a few days of recovery, the division was ordered to return to Germany. The journey back was a hot and dusty affair through the detritus of war, that littered the roads and refugees returning home. They eventually arrived back on German soil on July 17 to a hero’s welcome. In every station they stopped, people flocked to greet and cheer them: it had been one of the highlights of his military service. However, as the ecstasy waned, 81 Infantry Division faced an uncertain future. It was one of the units initially marked for complete dissolution and, although ordinary soldiers had no way of knowing it at the time, secret planning for attacking the Soviet Union was already underway. It was for this reason that the order to dissolve was never implemented and instead, the unit was put ‘on leave’. This was a strange time: helping with the harvest, agriculture and industry was not what he had enlisted for, but the truth was that they were a reserve unit awaiting a new task …
His order to return to his unit came at the beginning of 1941. He remembered the feverish activity that commenced, bringing the division back to full readiness by February 1941. The question as to where they were going was soon answered: the Vendee area of France. He had been pleased by this news as he’d liked France and wanted to spend more time there: now he would get his chance.
An Officer of Artillery Regiment 181 inspects the wreckage on a French beach. Copyright: Legenda Archaeology 2020
The troop trains were loaded and headed for Les Sables d’Olonne. The Division’s orders were to protect the Atlantic coast from allied raids, be they by air or by sea. Being from an inland area, he found the rugged coastline and ocean mesmerizing. Added to this, the fresh air, good food and drink and pleasant local population meant it was the happiest time of his military postings. He even started to learn the language … The only action of note they saw was when the battleship Scharnhorst arrived at La Pallice in July. This duly attracted the RAF in a raid that damaged the ship, but also cost the attackers a number of aircraft. Other than that, it remained a peaceful posting amongst glorious surroundings.But, like all good things, it had to come to an end. With the fighting in the East now stalled at the gates of Moscow, it was only a matter of time until the order came, which it duly did … by early December the first units of the Division had started the move east….
Men of Artillery Regiment 181 on board a transport train. Copyright: Legenda Archaeology 2020
Moving an entire division was a large and complicated process. It took some 41 transport trains to move them across Germany and eventually to Riga. From here they moved east and got a frightening glimpse of the terrible Winter weather that awaited them. The Division was broken into three parts: he was with the headquarters group in the Staraya Russia and Lake Ilmen area. The cold was indescribable and unlike anything he had experienced ever before. That Winter temperatures dropped as low as minus 42 degrees and at times it felt as if it was the weather they were fighting, not the Russians. However, despite these inhumane conditions, it was where they would spend the Winter, often involved in heavy fighting in temperatures that regularly fell below minus 30. As Winter became Spring the frozen wastelands became a muddy morass. He was not sure which he hated more, the cold or the mud … Another grim issue in the thaw was that of the thousands of dead Soviet soldiers, killed during the Winter battles, now exposed and in need of burial, in order to stop disease becoming endemic. This was definitely not at all like the pleasant days in France …
Winter losses had taken its toll on the 81st Infantry Division. A number of the artillery units had to be merged and he had found himself joining IV Battery in the Jassry positions alongside the 5th Jaeger Division ...
The guns of Artillery Regiment 181 firing. Copyright: Legenda Archaeology 2020
A sudden deep, chesty cough brought him back from his reminiscences to reality, as he turned onto the Bahnhof Strasse. He was now not far from the station ... The cough, he knew, was a manifestation of the ‘flu he had picked up in Demjansk … They had known it as the ‘ass end of the world’ and even thinking back now it turned his stomach: it was a swamp even at the height of summer. The area had been completely surrounded, but a fierce German offensive had broken the encirclement and a tenuous land corridor formed. They had been sent there to protect it. Sadly, it was also a breeding ground for serious diseases borne by mosquitoes. That August was still all a bit of a blur for him: fever, nausea, eye pain and such fatigue as he had never known before, or since, and, of course, that cough ... He had been diagnosed on 15 August and three days later, he was transferred to the Field Hospital at Mawrino (See footnote *A). Such was the severity of his illness that he would not be declared fit again until again 6 October. This was just in time to take part in the fierce Autumn and Winter battles as the Soviets tried to surround first Staraya Russia and then Demjansk again. Throughout this time, the nine 150mm cannons of IV Artillery 181 were called into ever more desperate action to help keep the corridor open …
Graves of members of the Artillery Regiment 181. Date/Location unknown. Copyright: Legenda Archaeology 2020
They had hoped Christmas 1942 to be restful, as they were due to be pulled from the line, but this was not to be the case. A major Soviet attack was launched to the North and the still weakened division was again thrown back into the fray. The peak of the Russian winter was upon them with all its fury. The cold surrounded them and there was no escape from its icy clutches. It was in these appalling conditions they received orders to change positions. They were now being sent even further North to one of the most inhospitable sections of the front, Volkhov. They started loading at Staraya Russia for the journey. It was sad leaving so many of their comrades buried in the swamps around the Demjansk salient. Despite these sacrifices, in a few short weeks it would be abandoned to the Soviets anyway ...
Next came Leningrad… The Soviet assault had opened a narrow land corridor along Lake Lagoda, allowing supplies into the city. This threatened the entire German Northern section, which at one point was at risk of a complete collapse. It had been a time of constant action and ‘firefighting’ … constantly changing positions to close off Soviet penetrations. One stood out in his mind - the one when they had helped stop a Soviet attack on the neighbouring 132nd Division on February 17. It had been a close-run thing. However, as Winter once again turned to Spring, the thaw and mud slowed military operations down, thus allowing the Division to regroup and train replacements. The guns were getting ever more worn and unreliable, his battery was down to just seven 150mm guns. As to the replacements, he felt sorry for them. They were getting ever younger and more inexperienced. They tried to teach them, but at the front there was no substitute for experience.
Members of Artillery Regiment 181 inspect a destroyed tank. Copyright: Legenda Archaeology 2020
In late July all hell had broken loose with Soviet shelling destroying the positions between Neva and Pogostje, whilst fierce battles had raged for control of the Ssinjawino heights. Much of this offensive had fallen on nearby units, but they were regularly called in to help. It was clear the Soviets were planning ever larger offensives. September had seen the retreat from the Kirischi Bridgehead. They had been very lucky not to be surrounded by this withdrawal, as his unit was one of the last to leave its positions, providing covering fire for the 96th Division. His last actions on the accursed Volkhov front were on October 7, supporting Grenadier Regt. 81, by stopping a Soviet tank attack in the Cherennaya area.
In mid-October they had finally received new guns, not a moment too soon, as one crisis now followed another on an almost daily basis. The part of the front line they now held was a memorable one: it ran approximately 14kms long around 1km North of the Pushkin Estates. This was known, before the war, as the ‘Potsdam of the Tzars’ and had been home to the world famous Amber Room. It was now a poor shadow of its former beauty, destroyed by years of fighting … But there was no time to enjoy the history, or anything else for that matter, as Soviet advances south-west of them meant there was a real risk of being cut off. To counter this they were pulled back, first to Gatchina, then Pskow and then Pustoschka. In the heavy fighting around the village of ‘Bokarowo’ on New Year’s Eve 1943, he had got shot in the foot. It hurt like hell, but his comrades told him he was lucky, as he had a ‘million-mark wound’... this was a wound bad enough to get you home, but not bad enough to be life changing. With the pain surging up his leg he certainly hadn't felt lucky at the time ... Initially, he was sent to a first aid station in Morosowo, (footnote *A) before being sent back to the reserve hospital in Marienwerder where he eventually arrived on the 18th.
Klemens seen here in civilian clothing. Copyright: Barbara S. 2020
A welcome period of recuperation leave followed as his foot slowly healed. It had, indeed, been good to be away from the front and sleep in a proper bed. Once declared ‘fit to return’ he was allocated to a replacement battalion - the 44 Heavy Artillery Replacement Battalion - based at the airfield at Ohlau. This unit was responsible for despatching replacements to a number of different Artillery Regiments including IV/ Artillery Regt.181. On June 23, the Soviets launched their long-planned offensive « Operation Bagration ». Such were the scale of losses on Army Group Centre, that there was a fear the whole front would collapse. It was this critical need for men that had brought to an end his time at Ohlau. Due to the chaos of the retreat it had been hard to find his unit, but, on July 20, he finally caught up with them in Lithuania. They told him of how they’d had to fight their way through Polozk in Belarus to avoid being cut off. By August 3, they had repositioned in a forest area just North of the village of Biksiai (see footnote *1) and three days later, on August 6 (a significant date in the story of Klemens see footnote *2) the unit found itself around Grumsliai on the Lithuanian/Latvian border.
An Artillery gun belonging to Artillery Regiment 181. Copyright: Legenda Archaeology 2020
As Summer turned to Autumn it was his turn to get wounded again. Fortunately it was only a minor wound (see footnote *3), but it was enough for him to get sent to the rear for treatment again. He was lucky, as the supply railway ran directly through Artillery Regt 181s positions (see footnote*4) and thus could be used, not only to re-supply them, but also to remove their wounded very quickly. He was declared ‘fit for service’ again in late September and set off to track down his unit, which was now in Latvia. However, before he could reach it, the Soviet 51st Army swept across the country reaching the Baltic Sea on October 10, so cutting off Army Group North and thus forming the Kurland pocket. With this encirclement complete he was unable to get back to his unit. The train he was on was halted and the men forced to disembark. An ad hoc reorganisation followed. It was amazing that the orderly army of 1939 had come to this, but, despite the chaos, men were quickly sorted into various scratch units (see footnote *5). Those next few days were all a bit of a blur: they were constantly on the move, never really sure where the enemy was and aware of wild rumours that the Soviets had surrounded them. He fell back with the scratch unit to Königsberg, a town where you could now actually feel the fear of the approaching the Red Army. However, with the immediate pressure off, the men could be sorted in a more orderly fashion. As a specialist heavy artillery gunner, he was ordered to report back to his regiment’s headquarters and seek transport to re-join his unit. Having got these orders, he started the 200km long journey back to Marienwerder via Elbing.
Members of Artillery Regiment 181 - Date and Location unknown. Copyright: Legenda Archaeology 2020
It took some six days of hard walking to reach Marienwerder, where he immediately reported to his regiment’s HQ. He had been thinking of visiting Ursula first, but it was far too risky to be caught anywhere without orders. The Military Police were notorious for their treatment of anyone, who was suspected of deserting. Having reported to barracks, his arrival was met with surprise. They thought he was dead, as he had been on the missing list since his wounding. He was ordered to be ready to leave early next morning from the railway station, where he would go to Danzig and from there a ship would take him to the Kurland pocket. He was then given permission to return ‘home’ for the night and see his fiancée (see footnote *6). He arrived at the heavy door that led to Ursula’s flat and knocked loudly. For a second Ursula had not recognised him, as she pulled open the door: he was cold, tired, dirty and hungry - when he glimpsed his reflection in the mirror, he barely recognised himself. He pulled off his battered boots and placed them by the door, where they stood in stark contrast against the clean, pretty wallpaper of the flat … ‘HALT !’ someone shouted, jolting him back to the present and taking him away from the pleasant memories of seeing Ursula last night … He had arrived at Marienwerder station. He showed his papers and was directed to the platform for the train leaving for Danzig ...
Artillery Regiment 181 - Loading a shell into the breech of their artillery piece. Copyright: Legenda Archaeology 2020
Kurland - (See Footnote *7)
The rail journey had been pretty straightforward, but the chaos at Danzig had to be seen to be believed. There were refugees arriving, others wanting to leave, soldiers waiting about, the wounded lying on the quayside awaiting collection. Despite the hustle and bustle and constant fear of an air attack, it somehow remained remarkably efficient. He stopped to get something out of his boot. He had learnt long ago, that the smallest discomfort can grow and grow and, if you are able to protect your feet from even the smallest of pain, you should do so … He studied the sorry state of his boots: they had served him well. From the frozen nights in Staraya Russia to the bogs of Demjansk. From the dust of the Summer battles to the long walk back from Lithuania. It was, however, probably time for a replacement pair, but there was no time to think of such things now …
Klemens seen here before the war. Copyright: Barbara S. 2020
As he looked around he saw a few other men from his division. He joined them as they waited to board the ship. Within a few hours they were loaded and the Captain was keen to get under way for fear of Soviet air attack. Soon it was dark and, with the ship completely blacked out, it was an eerie sailing. There had been a number of ships sunk by Soviet submarines and the thought of ending up in the cold Baltic waters at this time of the year sent a shiver down his spine: he quickly put the thought out of his mind.
Fortunately, the sailing was trouble-free and next morning they sailed into Libau. Again, the naval personnel were keen to get unloaded and away: they much preferred the open sea to being tethered to a quayside. The ship was unloaded of troops immediately. Military police then directed them away to muster areas, where they could be sorted and forwarded on to their units. Meanwhile, even as the supplies were still being unloaded, the wounded were being carried aboard for the return journey. Once they were all safely on, the refugees would be allowed to board. He felt a huge pang of sympathy for them. There they stood, quietly and forlornly waiting, in a long line, cold, miserable and afraid … he tried to put out of his mind the fact that his own fiancée may soon be facing the same hardship, if the Soviet advances could not be stopped.As dark fell they were told to get ready. Moving at night would save them the risk of being attacked by the Soviet ‘Jabos’. They were in luck: they could get a ride sitting amongst supplies on the train that was still running to at least Frauenburg. From there they could, the next day, hitch a ride to that section of the front, where the 81 Infantry Division was: it was in the East of the pocket holding an approximate 10km section of the front line to the East and South East of the small town of Autz. Across from them they faced the Soviet 10th Guards Army.
Artillery Regiment 181 in action, seen here in the distance the guns of the Regiment receiving up to date firing instructions via radio. Copyright: Legenda Archaeology 2020
He had finally arrived back with his unit, just as the Soviets launched their second major assault to overrun the Kurland pocket. Despite the seriousness of their plight, he did get a few light hearted comments: ‘Glad you could join us’ and ‘Enjoy your holiday?’ Even Major Illig, the commander of IV Artillery Regt. 181, who was later awarded the German Cross in Gold for his actions in Kurland, noted the return of one of the originals of the regiment.
In his five years at the Front he had seen a lot of fighting, but nothing compared to the maelstrom he now found himself in. Tens of thousands of shells, rockets and mortars continued to pummel their positions both day and night, relentlessly on and on it went. Fighting was sometimes hand to hand as Soviet penetrations appeared, as if by magic, right in front of you. The ongoing assault had fallen right across the front that 81, 329 and 215 Infantry Divisions were holding. The area between Autz and Doblen was under extreme pressure. Part of 329’s flank collapsed and 81 had to send across additional units to help try and plug this 4km penetration. It was a desperate struggle between life and death.
By the early part of November, 81 Infantry Division was recognised as being a spent force and was to be pulled from the line, much to everyone’s relief. However, due to the nature of the ongoing fighting, this was not an easy thing to organise. First, the Divisional HQ moved to Sturini, whilst the artillery guns of I-III battery moved to the old positions of 205’s artillery in the area of Tukums and Slampe. It was now Klemen’s unit’s turn to go, as being the senior unit, it was the last of the artillery battalions to depart.
For Klemens, however, there was to be no relief: this was to be his last action.
Soviet artillery targeted the area, massive explosions shook the ground. It was as if the world was ending … As the smoke cleared, his comrades could see Klemens lying still - seriously wounded by shrapnel. (see footnote *8) To a man they all left their cover and sprinted to help. As he lay there, his comrades administered morphine. He was grateful, there was no pain now. He could see them cutting open his uniform and tending him with bandages. These comrades had become like brothers to him. He felt a strange sense of pride and no regrets, that he was here with them now. As the morphine started to take effect, they gently removed his boots: he looked at them sadly, through eyes that were getting ever heavier …
They had travelled their final miles together.
Klemens was buried three days later … a note in his paperwork simply states : ‘Grave in Kurland’
Post War- “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
In the Summer of 1945 Barbara Hirsch was born in Recklinghausen, in the British sector of occupied Germany. Ursula had fulfilled her pledge to protect Klemens’ unborn child and had fled the Soviet advance. Despite all the hardships she had encountered, she reached the Western allied sector and it was here, that Barbara was born. Barbara would grow up as a citizen of Europe, a German mother and later, when her mother married, an English ‘Dad’. She took on his name with an official name change at 16 and became a naturalized British citizen. Today, Barbara Simpson lives in France and has three sons and four grandsons. She has a keen interest in History and has travelled to many of the places mentioned in this story. We can only thank you, Barbara, for sharing so much personal information with us and we sincerely hope, that, one day, we will find Klemens for you and return your father to you … This is why we search. The fact that Klemens was buried and not lost on a frontline means that the possibility of our finding him remains. Where he lies exactly is not recorded, but the two most likely sites, if the eyewitness information is correct, are either close to Autz, as his unit was departing, or in an existing and now lost cemetery, in or around Tukums. This is where his unit was going and where they would be based for much of the rest of the Kurland siege. It is probable that he lies near a field hospital, but like so many we search for, the crucial evidence of exactly where he lies is presently missing.
If anyone reading this can help with any additional info on IV Artillery Reg. 181 and their losses and exact positions in Kurland, we stand by, ready to search for Klemens and bring him in from the cold …
Barbara, seen here proof reading this story of her father November 2020.
We do not claim that, from July 1944 onwards, is a precise account of what happened to Klemens. Too much information is missing or confused for us to make such a claim, but the experience of being cut off, lost and eventually returning to his unit, is one that many German soldiers experienced in the chaos of the final year of the war. What is written here is an attempt to make sense of his loss and pay a tribute to him, based on the few facts on this period we do have.
*A This was the Ortslazarett Sanitatskompanie 1/126
*1- With grateful thanks to www.deutsches-wehrkundearchiv.de for their help in research material for the compilation of facts from these dates.
*2 - The fog of war by this period means that many documents were lost, destroyed, not corrected or incorrect. For example, Klemens is shown as having been killed on or around 6th August, which we know was a clerical ‘tidying up’ date regarding the missing, long after the event.
*3 - There is a mention in his paperwork of a ‘new light wound’ around this time of heavy fighting in Lithuania, but no further details.
*4 - See ‘Die 81’ by Werner Haupt (1969), page 164
*5 - A new Feldpost number, that is not fully decipherable, appears in his paperwork at this time, dated after he was posted as missing. The stamp appears to read ‘Registerstelle’.
*6 - From a letter in 1985 written by Ursula we know that he visited her on October 22, 1944 and this was the last time she saw him. She also states that he was ‘cold, tired, dirty and hungry’ when he arrived, none of which makes it sound like a long-planned homecoming. Added to this, he only stayed one night and less than 24 hours, so the chance of a granted leave can be ruled out.
*7 - The details of the Kurland story of Klemens are based on the few facts we have that have survived and the story is based on the most likely chain of events we can put together, by taking those facts into account.
*8 - A regimental friend of Klemens’, Georg Janek, made two statements, under oath, to the German Red Cross authorities in 1955/56. In the second, more detailed one, he confirms that Klemens was ‘hit by shrapnel’, that he ‘saw him die’ and that he was ‘buried three days later, as they were at the time retreating’. He states ‘it was in the ‘Autumn’ and the statement that it was ‘possibly early 1945’ from his earlier interview has been retracted.
As we know that Klemens was in Marienwerder in October 1944 this means that, realistically speaking, it could only be in November. He mentions the weather was damp and cloudy with rain and around 5 degrees above freezing, which rules out an air attack as the likely cause of the shrapnel wound and, thus, we can be fairly sure it was Soviet artillery that killed him. The likelihood of this date is further founded by the fact that after this, the IV Artillery Battery moved into position on 6th November to the Tukums area. Thus, they are not shown to be involved in any serious ‘moves or retreats’ that would fit Georg’s statement of them ‘retreating’ when Klemens was buried.
They did move again in the Spring of 1945, by which time the weather and Georg’s recollection of ‘Autumn’ are too far out to be considered as likely. Added to the fact that Georg doesn't mention Christmas, New Year or snow on the ground : all add up to our belief that Klemens died in November 1944.
We also feel that, as he had been posted ‘missing’ in August, had he returned to his unit and served with them, it is likely that this spurious date of death would have been amended, but, because his return to his unit and his death were close together, the paperwork never caught up with what really happened …
Hence our research.
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