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Peter U
12-30-2015, 08:14 AM
In my last Soldbuch thread of this year, I'll show you the Soldbuch of Max Weingärtner and tell his sad story which I puzzled back together from his letters and official documents that were also included in this grouping.



Max Weingärtner born in Lövö in Hungary in 1925 lived with his mutter and stepfather in Linz (Austria).
In August 1943, when he was 17 1/2 he dropped out of school, were was studying to become an electro mechanic and joined the Luftwaffe with the desire to become a pilot.
Before he was allowed to attend pilot school, he got basic infantry training with 13/Fl Rgt 53, in October 1943 he is transferred to Fl Rgt 93 and once again in February, then he ends up in 4/Flieger Regiment 71 which was based in Southern France and in May '44 he finally is allowed to attend pilot school and is sent to Flugzeugführerschule A'41 in Frankfurt am Oder.
All goes well and after 21 training flights he is allowed to fly the Bü181 training plane on his own but then disaster strikes in the last week of July 1944, (all this is according to his letter to his mother) their is something wrong with the tires of his plane and when he tries to land, he crashes the airplane; the crash isn't entirely his fault and he isn't kicked out of pilot training but he will have to wait half a year until he can rejoin the next class.
Not interested in waiting another six months, he volunteers for paratrooper service.
(My personal feeling is that he has fallen in the hands of a Fj recruiter.)
In the letter to his mother he writes that it now, in these desperate times, it is his duty to do something else besides waiting in a barrack camp, he also wants to avoid confronting his father who had told him that he would most likely fail at pilot school just like he failed in all other educations he followed.
What also is interesting in this letter is that he mentions that he now because he has volunteered for Fj duty will soon be promoted to NCO candidate; nothing in his Soldbuch can confirm that he was ever promoted to a NCO candidate rank, no doubt some idle promise a recruiter made him to convince him in signing a contract for Fj service.
At the end of August '44 he is medically checked and approved for Fj service and the next week he is sent to the Fj training facility in Halberstadt.
His Fj training is very short, after only three weeks and not even attending jump school, he is transferred to his active unit 3/FJR15 of the 5th Fj Division, which was then refitting in The Hague (Holland).
On October 1 1944 he is promoted to Gefreiter and his wish to do something for the cause will soon be granted, his division is one of the units that will participate in Hitler's last "all or nothing" offensive.
Initially all goes well, they break through the American frontline in Luxemburg and capture a lot of US army supplies, this we can also read in his letter he sent to his mother on January 1 1945, he mentions that they now have huge amounts of American chocolate and cigarettes and that they are actually living of US Army rations.
But their initial success is only short lived, their advance is not only halted, they are in the middle of the advance route of Patton's III Army counter attack to relieve the troops besieged in Bastogne.
The pressure on the line held by the 5FJD is enormous, the weather has cleared up and they are under constant air attacks now and also the 4th Armoured Division in pushing on.
On Christmas day FJR15 retreats from Warnach to Hollange, also on this day (according to his letter) he get slightly wounded by splinters from an American mortar projectile.
A few days later FJR15 has to retreat once again, they leave their positions in Sainlez & Livarchamps and fall back to Harlange.
It is here that he writes his last letter to his parents, a letter he has given to a comrade that is going back to Germany (a wounded friend that is evacuated out of the frontline?).
Now his story becomes a bit of a mystery which I'll try to solve as best as possible.
After this letter, that is mailed to them on January 8 1945, the next news his parents will get is the small letter from his company of February 26 1945, in the letter is also his award document for the EKII which he earned in the battle of the bulge, the company administration also informs his parents that he is MIA but that they are pretty sure that he is still alive but in allied hands.
His parents wait in vain for the "I have been taken POW" postcard from the Red Cross.
According to a letter of the Austrian Red Cross of July 1947 he is still regarded as being MIA but they also strongly presume that he is dead.
It is only in late February 1948 that the German war graves registration commission find his grave, he died on January 12 1945 and is buried on the local cemetery of Hamm (Germany, there are two towns with the same name, one near Bonn and another near Dusseldorf).
Later when the German war cemetery in Sandweiler (Luxemburg) is opened, his remains will be reburied there.
What did happen to him between January 1 and January 12 1945?
I have no material evidence but this is what I think happened:
He probably got indeed lost from his unit but didn't fall in American hands, he was most likely seriously wounded and picked up by another unit, which evacuated him back to Germany.
He finally ended up being buried in a marked grave in the cemetery of Hamm, perhaps he died on his way to a field hospital there or passed away in the hospital itself, we will never know but nevertheless what happened, the council in Hamm didn't contact his parents probably they presumed the army would have done this and Max Weingartner stayed MIA until 1948.

Peter U
12-30-2015, 08:19 AM
His Soldbuch and dogtag, most likely they were kept in the archives of the city council of Hamm and returned to his parents after his MIA case was closed in 1948.
As you can see his Soldbuch has been soaking wet, most likely from the snow in the Ardennes during the bulge offensive.
Also notice that he wasn't issued any Fj related clothing or equipment.

Peter U
12-30-2015, 08:21 AM
His EKII document and the letter it came with.
The document is signed by his divisional commander General Heilmann.

Peter U
12-30-2015, 08:22 AM
The letter he sent from the Ardennes.
Remember that these letters went through the hands of a censor and thus don't contain any military details about the campaign.

Peter U
12-30-2015, 08:23 AM
The letters from the Red Cross and the war graves registration office.

Peter U
12-30-2015, 08:41 AM
By coincidence earlier this year I added another FJR15 Soldbuch to my collection, Funker Heinz Vollstedt served in the same company as Max Weingärten in the battle of the bulge but he was luckier and most likely really ended up in an American army POW cage.

Heinz Vollstedt (°1927) was a carpenter from Strodeich, he joined the LW in August 1944 and was to be trained as a radio operator.
But after two weeks of basic training he joined the Fallschirmjäger and attended Fj school until November 1944, then he was transferred to 3/FJR15.
This Soldbuch was found in the USA, most likely a GI souvenir; their are no entries made in this Soldbuch after November 1944 and he isn't listed as being KIA, so we can presume that Heinz Vollstedt was one of the many German POW's of the bulge offensive.

Notice how he was equipped with Fj gear such as vest and pants, M38 helmet and special Fj spare ammo bandoleer and hand grenade bag.

nirvana
12-30-2015, 09:54 AM
This Soldbuch was found in the USA, most likely a GI souvenir; their are no entries made in this Soldbuch after November 1944 and he isn't listed as being KIA, so we can presume that Heinz Vollstedt was one of the many German POW's of the bulge offensive.

It seems like many (most?) Soldbuchs have no real "end." Its unclear if someone was taken prisoner, or vanished, or something similar. Are there no American POW records? Postwar pension records? It strange how these things end in 1944 or 1945.

LTCar2
12-30-2015, 10:22 AM
Another great read Peter. I love these individual histories. I appreciate your time and effort in bringing them to life again. Thank you.

BerlinerLuebecker
12-30-2015, 10:36 AM
Thanks, as always, for sharing! These accounts you manage to cobble together really humanize the conflict.

If the person in question has died more than 30 years ago, isn't it possible to request additional information from the WASt?

gtodan
12-30-2015, 10:55 AM
Have you ever tried or been inspired to contact these individuals or their families?

Good stories, thanks for your efforts.

Hambone
12-30-2015, 09:29 PM
As usual, outstanding and interesting! Thank you for sharing these SBs and research Peter. :happy0180:

pitfighter
12-30-2015, 09:45 PM
Brilliant stuff - really interesting set!

Peter U
01-01-2016, 04:44 AM
Have you ever tried or been inspired to contact these individuals or their families?

Good stories, thanks for your efforts.



No not really, it isn't something I'am interested in.
Also if you want to do it, it isn't easy because of the strick privacy laws in Germany.

Peter U
01-01-2016, 04:46 AM
Thanks, as always, for sharing! These accounts you manage to cobble together really humanize the conflict.

If the person in question has died more than 30 years ago, isn't it possible to request additional information from the WASt?


You can always try to contact WASt but it is going to be a long wait, that is if you get an answer at all; WASt isn't a service for collectors of militaria.

Peter U
01-01-2016, 04:47 AM
Thanks for all the positive replies!
:thumbsup:



And a happy new year.
:happy0180:

mauser202
01-01-2016, 09:19 AM
Awesome read Peter, Thank you for sharing and you interpretations.