The Second Hell

The training in Neuhammer was unfinished. The Estonian 20th Division was sent to Silesian front where they had to battle with the Russian large tank and infantry units. Near Falkenberg the German units, and the Estonian 20th SS Division, were surrounded and this has been called the Oppeln pocket. Estonian leaders concentrated all their strength in getting out of the pocket with three passages and they were successful. Alfons Rebane received for this breakout, as the second foreigner, the Oak Leaves for the Knight's Cross. It was the last time he got to feel the honor of being the savior of German units. Franz Augsberger, who was in charge of the most northern passage, was killed on March 17 by a missile splinter while he was examining the enemy's positions with binoculars. The man, who had the honor of knowing all four Estonian Knight's Cross recipients and who was once praised and then cursed, died. The less known General Maack became the new Estonian 20th SS Division leader, but he soon killed himself. The last man to lead the Estonian Division, who also remained a regiment leader, was Alfons Rebane.

The loser was facing the end of the war with all of its horrors. Estonians lost their last hope. Since April, Harald Nugiseks was also with the 20th Estonian SS Division and went through its destruction. All sorts of rumors started to spread. For instance, there was a rumor that the division leader Colonel Rebane had made a connection with an American General who was moving towards Czech and the Estonian Division was also expected there. Another rumor claimed that Rebane was cooperating with the leading General of the Czech resistance and the latter had promised to let the Division go to the West allies without any interruption. It could have been possible that this type of discussions did take place but nobody knew at that time how important one man's word could have been. One promised, another forbade and someone third made all important decisions, who knew nothing of the made promises or prohibitions. It was an extremely dangerous chaos.

The reality was that the regiment's leaders Colonel Rebane and Majors Maitla and Võhma made the decision to retreat from Silesia to Czech together to join the US troops. Falling into the hands of the red terrorists was totally out of the question, our soldiers knew too much of that regime and had seen the real face of the enemy. Rebane was later accused of abandoning the Estonian Division while trying to fulfill this plan and had gradually given away the weapons and then escaped to the West in the car of the division commander. But who can say if an organized leaving would have meant that everyone would have reached the Czech hell and then to Russia? Whatever it meant, most Estonians did have to face hell. Harald Nugiseks was one of them.