By Scott Pritchett

In the summer of 1959, Ritterkreuzträger and former SS-Unterscharführer Alfred Riekstins of the SS Waffen Füsilier Bataillon 19, was killed by Soviet forces in a forest vicinity of Frauenburg, Latvia.  Frauenburg had been one of the Red Army's main points of attack during the battles in late 1944 and early 1945 to seize the German Kurland Bridgehead. Riekstens' continued resistance, fourteen years after the unconditional surrender of Germany's armed forces to the allies is symbolic both of the intensity of the German's defensive Courland campaign and the determination of her soldiers who fought it.  Heeresgruppe Kurland's successful stand for eight months in the face of huge and repeated onslaughts by the Red Army left it unbeaten right up to the surrender on 8 May 1945.  The KURLAND cuffband - the last award of its kind to be instituted, produced and awarded - distinguished the soldiers who fought this epic and difficult campaign that has been overshadowed in history by other battles of the time such as Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. 


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