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Thread: 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the ϟϟ 'Handschar'

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    Post 13. Waffen-Gebrigs-Division der SS "Handschar"

    13.Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS "Handschar" (kroat.Nr.1)

    Kroatische-SS-Freiwilligen-Division

    Kroatische SS-Freiwilligen-Gebrigs-Division

    Traditions The title given to this unit comes from a Handschar (or Handzar in Croatian), which is a curved Turkish sword, otherwise known as the Scimitar. This sword has historically been the symbol of Bosnia.
    Campaigns Balkans 1944-1945

    Austria 1945


    History When the Independant State of Croatia proclaimed its independance on April 10th 1941, during the German invasion of Yugoslavia, part of the land it claimed was the former Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia-Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina). The province was an ethnic and religious mix, with a portion of the population being Catholic Croatian, a portion being Orthodox Serbian, and a portion being Croatians of the Muslim faith. It was these Muslim inhabitants of Bosnia that Himmler and the SS would target in their recruitment of a Croatian SS Division (although a portion of the future division's men would be Catholic Croatian as well).

    The reasons for the recruitment in particular of Croatian Muslims by the SS were many-fold. For one, Himmler was fascinated by the Islamic faith, and thought Muslims to be fearless soldiers. Himmler also subscribed to the propaganda theory that Croatians (and therefore the Croatian Muslims) were not, in fact, Slavic people, but actually of Aryan (Gothic) descent, and thereby acceptable to the racially "pure" SS. The fact that this ludicrous theory would not hold up to any kind of serious scrutiny was conveniently ignored. Finally, the Germans were hoping to rally the World's 350 million Muslims to their side, in a struggle against the British Empire. The creation of a Muslim, albeit European Muslim Division, was considered a stepping stone to this greater end.

    Adolf Hitler approved of Himmler's idea on February 13th 1943. Prior to the formation of the division, however, approval also had to be granted by the Croatian government, as their citizens were to be recruited, and on Croatian territory. The Croatian Poglavnik, Ante Pavelic, and his ministers had many problems with the idea, but eventually agreed to the division's creation on March 5th 1943. The divisional strength reached the required 26,000 men by mid 1943, though not all men were volunteers (some being begged, bribed and outright kidnapped into service). Also, 2,800 of the men were Catholic Croatians and not Muslim.

    The new division was assigned the number "13", and originally named the "13 SS Frei.Gebirgs Division (kroatien). The full name "13 Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS 'Handschar' (kroatische Nr. 1)" was not given until May, 1944. A "Handschar" (or Handzar in Croatian) is curved Turkish sword - the Scimitar. This sword has historically been the symbol of Bosnia. The Division was to have 2 Infantry Regiments (Waffen-Gebirgs-Jager Regiments der SS 27 & 28 - kroatisches Nrs. 1 & 2), an Artillery Regiment (SS-Gebirgs-Artillerie Regiment 13), a Reconnaisance Company, a Panzerjager Company, a Flak Company, a Pioneer Battalion, and other support units; and was designated an SS "mountain" division. The first commander (from March 9, 1943 till August 1, 1943) was SS Standartenfuhrer Herbert von Obwurzer. Oberfuhrer (later Brigadefuhrer) Karl-Gustav Sauberzweig took over till June 1st 1944, when Desiderius Hampel (Oberfuhrer, later Brigadefuhrer) replaced him. Hampel commanded the remnants of the division until its surrender on May 8th 1945.

    The uniform worn by the division was regular SS issue, with a divisional collar patch showing an arm, holding a Scimitar, over a Swastika. On the left arm was a Croatian armshield (red-white chessboard). Headgear was the Muslim Fez, in field grey (normal service) or red ("walking out"), with the SS eagle and death's head emblazoned. Non-Muslim members could opt to wear the normal SS mountain cap. The oval mountain troop Edelweiss patch was worn on the right arm.

    The division departed for training in occupied France, where the full complement arrived by September 1943. It was at Villefranche, during this period of training, that the division became the only SS Division to mutiny. Much has been made of this, however, while it is true that some German officers were killed during the mutiny, the fact is that only very few soldiers participated in the uprising. Fault can be squarely placed on 3 Communists, infiltrated into the ranks of the division, and a handfull of malcontents. Not only did a great majority of the troops not participate in the rebellion, but most either had no idea it was happening, or actively helped to quash it. 14 soldiers were executed as mutineers.

    By mid-February 1944, the division finished its training (some time was spent at Neuhammer, Germany for training), and was sent back to Bosnia for active service (against Communist Partisans). Its area of operation was northeastern Bosnia, western Serbia, and southern Sirmium. The division participated in several anti-Partisan operations (such as "Wegweiser", "Save", "Osterei", "Maibaum", "Maiglockchen" etc.). Some successes were achieved, and overall the "Handschar" showed itself as a competent anti-guerilla unit.

    With the penetration of the Red Army up to the Croatian borders in late 1944, the Division was trasfered to southern Hungary, and became involved in front-line fighting. Desertions plagued the Division from this point on, as many of the Muslims decided to return to Bosnia to protect their homes and families. The men who remained contiuned to fight valiantly against overwhelming odds, and were slowly pushed westward out of Hungary into Austria. The remnants of the division surrendered to British troops on May 8th 1945.


    http://www.feldgrau.com/13ss.html

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    Post Re: 13.Waffen-Gebrigs-Division der SS "Handschar" (kroatische Nr.1)

    Last edited by Übersoldat; Sunday, January 18th, 2004 at 08:17 AM.

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    Post Re: 13.Waffen-Gebrigs-Division der SS "Handschar" (kroatische Nr.1)

    As the measure of precaution I feel necessity to underline that the soldiers of SS Handschar division declared them selves as the Croats by nationality just like the overwhelm majority of Bosnian Muslims of that time.
    There was no members of Orthodox confession inside this division, only Muslims and Catholics of Croatian and German nationality.

    http://www.hrvatskiustaskipokret.com/HUP/handar.asp

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    Post Re: 13.Waffen-Gebrigs-Division der SS "Handschar" (kroatische Nr.1)

    Originally Posted by Blond Beast:
    The title given to this unit comes from a Handschar (or Handzar in Croatian), which is a curved Turkish sword, otherwise known as the Scimitar.


    Originally Posted by Blond Beast:
    Himmler also subscribed to the propaganda theory that Croatians (and therefore the Croatian Muslims) were not, in fact, Slavic people, but actually of Aryan (Gothic) descent, and thereby acceptable to the racially "pure" SS. The fact that this ludicrous theory would not hold up to any kind of serious scrutiny was conveniently ignored. Finally, the Germans were hoping to rally the World's 350 million Muslims to their side, in a struggle against the British Empire.


    Originally Posted by Blond Beast:
    The division departed for training in occupied France, where the full complement arrived by September 1943. It was at Villefranche, during this period of training, that the division became the only SS Division to mutiny. Much has been made of this, however, while it is true that some German officers were killed during the mutiny...
    Originally Posted by Zvaci:
    ...the fact is that only very few soldiers participated in the uprising. Fault can be squarely placed on 3 Communists, infiltrated into the ranks of the division, and a handfull of malcontents. Not only did a great majority of the troops not participate in the rebellion, but most either had no idea it was happening, or actively helped to quash it. 14 soldiers were executed as mutineers.

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    Post Re: 13.Waffen-Gebrigs-Division der SS "Handschar" (kroatische Nr.1)

    Origins of Handschar symbol as the Bosnian coat of arms and as the regalia of Kroatische SS no1.

    During the 19th century the Emperors of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire used the arms below for Bosnia.

    http://www.ngw.nl/indexgb.htm

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    Post Re: 13.Waffen-Gebrigs-Division der SS "Handschar" (kroatische Nr.1)

    Thank you Loki for paying attention. Here are some details (from Croat sources) on the topic of Bosnian Muslims

    The first contact of the Croats with Islam took place in the 9th century when the Arabs began to attack the Croatian coast. The Duke Domagoj (864-876), "the severest Croats duke" (pessimus Sclavorum dux as described by Venetian chronicler Ioannis) waged naval warfare against Arabs around the Italian city of Bari 871.AD. During this pheriod one Croat from Dalmatia, known under the Islamic name Djawhar ben Abd Allah (911-992), was taken as a slave to the court of caliph Al-Khaim in Tunisia. Later he made a great career becoming the famous general.
    In the 12th century the famous Arabian geographer al-Edrisi was working at the court of the the Norman King Roger II in Palermo. After 15 years of study he prepared a huge map of Europe (3.4x1.5 m) where one can find bilad garuasia where bilad = land, country, and garuasia = Croatia. The map appeared in 1154, when many contemporary countries still do not exist in Europe. Especially important is a description of Garuasia in the accompaning book of commentaries, where he states that Croatia starts with Istrian cities of Umag, Novigrad, Porec, Rovinj, Pula, Medulin, Labin, Plomin. Then al-Edrisi describes the cities from Bakar to Dubrovnik. It is known that he visited Senj, Knin, Biograd and some other Croatian cities. The original map is kept in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

    Ottoman Wars

    Sultan Mehmed II, also known as the Conqueror (Fatih), after his conquest of Constantinople in 1453, managed to annex Serbia to the Ottoman Empire in 1459. The Catholic Kingdom of Bosnia fell in his hands in 1463 as well. The fall of Bosnia meant a direct threat to Croatia, the next target of the Ottoman army. The Ottomans carried out a full-scale attack on Croatia. The Croats had learned how to defend against the Ottoman army and quite soon they learned how to counterattack. Details about Croat-Ottoman wars: http://www.hercegbosna.org/engleski/crootto.html

    Bosnian Muslims

    The developtmant of the Croats outside Croatia, under Ottoman Empire (Bosnia) went in a different cultural direction. Many Croats converted to Islam. The Bosnian Muslims are in great majority of Croatian descent, and constitute now a nation, recognized according to their own wish in 1968 (under the influence of Belgrade). Many of the Muslim Slavs in Bosnia-Herzegovina had a strong awareness of their Croatian descent, and even called themselves Muslim Croats, to distinguish from the Catholic Croats. The fusion of the Islamic and Croatian culture even created the unique Croatian-Arabic script called 'Arabica'. One of the oldest texts written in Arabica is a love song called "Chirvat-tirkisi" (= Croat song) from 1588, and held in the National Library in Vienna.
    Some of the most outstanding Croatian intellectuals of the Muslim faith in Bosnia and Herzegovina was:
    Edhem Mulabdic (1862-1954), Adenaga Mesic (1868-1945), Ivan Aziz Milicevic (1868-1950), Safvet-beg Basagic (1870-1934), Osman Nuri Hadzic (1869-1937), Hasan Fehim Nametak (1871-1953), Fehim Spaho (1877-1942), Musa Cazim Catic (1878-1915), Dzafer-beg Kulenovic (1891-1956), Ahmed Muradbegovic (1898-1972), Hasan Kikic (1905-1942), Alija Nametak (1906-1987), Nahir Kulenovic (1929-1963), Enver Colakovic (1913-1976), Mehmedalija Mak Dizdar (1917-1971) Muhamed Hadzzijahic (1918-1978)

    http://www.hkz.hr/1945.htm (hr)

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    13th Waffen Mountain Division of the ϟϟ 'Handschar'

    I wanted some people's thoughts on this topic. Apparently there was a Bosnian Muslim SS group during WWII which worked with Hitler and Himmler. This surprised me greatly when I found out about it. I just don't buy that it is some "long fabricated propaganda story" without further evidence of such. While I do believe a lot about WWII was written about the victors, I don't see why this relatively unknown group would have been made up, and frankly find it impossible to be made up with the pictures included. Especially since there is a photo of Grand Mufti Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, alongside SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor of Waffen SS Karl-Gustav Sauberzweig, greeting Bosnian SS volunteers together with Nazi officers in November 1943.

    What bothers me is what Hitlers true nature was, and what means he was willing to go through to obtain it. I don't care if it is what the general populace thinks, or if there was an alternate motive. I just like to know the truth.
    Til árs ok friðar

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    Hold on, Dvergr, because I think I can help you with this. I recently purchased a book called "Hitler's Legions" in which I believe there's a reference to this particular division

    If I don't have time to copy it all out tonight, I'll certainly have the info on here for you within 24 hours!

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    You're disappointed that Hitler wasn't as evil and racis' as Hollywood says he is?
    All that is necessary for Evil to triumph is for good Men to do Nothing. ~ Edmund Burke

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