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The Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS Division Handzar, above in , was of the existence of a “Handzar Divizija” in the Bosnian Muslim Army. The original Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS Handzar Division, shown above in Army known as the “Handzar Divizija”, i.e., the Handzar Division. At the trial, Gusic testified as follows: “This is an order whereby the following units , the Handzar Divizija, the Silver Fox Unit, become part of the special purposes.

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From March to Decemberit fought a counter-insurgency campaign against communist-led Yugoslav Partisan resistance forces in the Independent State of Croatiaa fascist puppet state of Germany that encompassed almost all of modern-day Croatiaall of modern-day Bosnia handza Herzegovina as well as parts of Serbia.

It was given the title Handschar Bosnian: It was the first non-Germanic Waffen -SS division, divizja its formation marked the expansion of the Waffen -SS into a multi-ethnic military force. The division handaar briefly in the Syrmia region north of the Sava river prior to crossing into northeastern Bosnia. It also fought outside the security zone on several occasions, and earned a reputation for brutality and savagery, not only during combat operations, but also through atrocities committed against Serb hadnzar Jewish civilians.

In lateparts of the division were transferred briefly to the Zagreb area, after which the non-German members began to desert in large numbers. Over the winter of —45, it was sent to the Baranja region where it fought against the Red Army and Bulgarians throughout southern Hungaryfalling back via a series of defensive lines until they were inside the Reich frontier. Most of the remaining Bosnian Muslims left at this point and attempted to return to Bosnia.

The rest retreated further west, hoping to surrender to the Western Allies. Most of the remaining members became prisoners of the British Army. Subsequently, 38 officers were extradited handxar Yugoslavia to face criminal charges, and 10 were executed. The NDH combined almost all of modern-day Croatiaall of modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina and parts of modern-day Serbia into an “Italian-German quasi-protectorate”. A Muslim leader reported that not one Muslim occupied an influential post in the administration.

Although this was an overstatement, Muslims were underrepresented in government positions, comprising only two of 20 ministerial positions, none of the six state secretaries was a Muslim, and there were only 13 Muslim “people representatives” in a total of The Muslims received digizija protection from the Croatian Home Guardthe regular army of the NDH, whom the Germans described as “of minimal combat value”.

The Bosnian Muslim elite and notables in various cities and towns issued resolutions or memoranda that publicly denounced Croat-German hanzdar measures along with civizija and violence against Serbs. These were issued in: By Novemberthe autonomists were desperate to protect the Muslim people and wrote to Adolf Hitler asking that he annex Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Reich.

Both the Wehrmacht and the Waffen -SS were concerned handaar the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the NDH that tied down German military personnel needed elsewhere. In addition, a serious food shortage threatened the region. The romantic notions that Himmler had about the Bosnian Muslims were probably significant in the division’s genesis.

FlashBack: How Bosnian Muslims Reformed Nazi SS Division

Himmler’s primary concern in the region was not the security of the local Muslim population, but the welfare of ethnic German settlers to the north in Syrmia. I hope that the area south of Srem will be liberated by Hitler formally approved the project in mid-February and Himmler put Phleps, commander of the 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugenin charge of raising the first SS division to be recruited from a non- Germanic people. As a compromise, the word “Croatian” was included in its official title and Catholic Croatian officers were recruited.

He was escorted by von Krempler, who spoke Turkish. The Germans emphasised that al-Husayni had flown from Berlin to Sarajevo in order to bless and inspect the division. During his visit to Bosnia, al-Husayni also convinced some important Muslim leaders that the formation of the division was in the interests of Islam.

The Mufti insisted, “The most important task of this division must be to protect the homeland and families [of the Bosnian volunteers]; the division must not be permitted to leave Bosnia”, but the Germans paid no attention. Despite the support of al-Husayni, recruitment diivizija Muslims for the division fell well short of the numbers needed.


Himmler then allowed a 10 percent Christian component, but the recruitment of sufficient Muslims continued to prove difficult, resulting in the induction of 2, Catholic Croats into the division. To Himmler’s dismay, this was greater than the ratio of Catholics to Muslims that he had wanted. He was eventually judged unsuitable, and was replaced with a German just before the division went into combat. Sources differ regarding the division’s initial composition.

Pavlowitch states that sixty percent of its recruits were Muslims and the rest were Hnadzar Volksdeutsche who made up the majority of its officers and non-commissioned officers. He further states it was the largest of the Muslim SS divisions with 26, men. By the time the division had completed its training, it was still about one third below its designated strength in both divzija and NCOs, and its officer corps remained almost entirely German.

This advice soon proved prophetic. A “proven leader of men”, he spoke no Serbo-Croatian but quickly gained the lasting respect and affection of the men of the division. Apparently, the mutineers believed that divizlja of the enlisted men would join them and they could reach the Western Allies. Schweiger did the same with 2nd Company.

Sources vary on the number of mutineers killed after the revolt was suppressed. Tomasevich [31] states that 78 of the worst offenders were executed, but Lepre lists only 14 executions [39] while four more deserters were located and shot in late September. Enlistees who were deemed “unsuitable for service” or “politically unreliable” were subsequently purged. Eventually, Bosnians were removed from the division and sent to Germany for labour service with Organisation Todt.

Of these, refused and were sent to the Neuengamme concentration camp where dozens of them died. Speaking of the Bosnian Muslim troops who had served in the Austro—Hungarian army, Himmler later said, “I knew there was a chance that a few traitors might be smuggled into the division, but I haven’t the slightest doubt concerning the loyalty of the Bosnians.

These troops were loyal to their supreme commander twenty years ago, so why shouldn’t they be so today. Five soldiers were also decorated.

13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian) – Wikipedia

When Villefranche-de-Rouergue was liberated inthe local population decided to pay tribute to the mutineers by naming one of its streets Avenue des Croates Bosnian Muslims were seen by the local population as Croats of Islamic faith and commemorating “the revolt of the Croats” every 17 September. Cohen states that after the war, the Yugoslav government requested it be changed to “the revolt of the Yugoslavs” in order to obscure the mutineers’ ethnicity; this request was refused by the French.

As a result of the mutiny, the division was moved to the Neuhammer training grounds in the Silesian region of Germany present-day Poland to complete its training. On 9 OctoberSS headquarters officially named the division the Gebirgs-Division Kroatienbut a short time later a change was made to differentiate it from those that were composed of Germans and it became the 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar 1st Croatian German: Waffen-Gebirgsdivision der SS “Handschar” kroat.

It roughly corresponded with the area of operations idvizija the Partisan 3rd Corps. The division first saw action during Operation Wegweiser Signpost from 9 to 12 March The aim of Operation Wegweiser was to clear a part of the Syrmia region which was occupied by Partisans who threatened the Zagreb-Belgrade railway.

The Partisans were operating from forests around Bosut and villages along hanezar Sava. As the division entered the area, the Partisans withdrew to the south-east, avoiding decisive engagement. Sauberzweig claimed the Partisans suffered killed and 82 captured. On 15 MarchOperation Save was launched with the objective of clearing Partisans from the Semberija region.

Sauberzweig wrote an open letter to the division: Diviziia only do you have these in your hands, but above all you have an idea in your hearts — to liberate the homeland. Before long, each of you shall be standing in the place that you call home, as a soldier and a gentleman; standing firm as a defender of the idea of saving the culture of Europe — the idea of Adolf Hitler.


Sauberzweig also ordered that each commander read a prepared message as his unit crossed the Sava River, which emphasized that the “liberation of Bosnia” and ultimately the liberation of “Muslim Albania” was their goal. This was a direct appeal to the Albanian troops as well as the Bosnians. Contact was immediately made with Partisan forces, who quickly withdrew into the forests.

The service support units remained north of the Sava in Vinkovciwhich became their permanent garrison area. The 27th Regiment advanced easily across the Pannonian Plain through Velino Selo to Brodac and then on to Bijeljina which was taken against light Partisan resistance late on 16 March. The 27th Regiment then consolidated its position in Bijeljina while the 28th Regiment and the divisional reconnaissance battalion German: After Operation Savethe division remained relatively static for more than three weeks, mopping up and repelling local Partisan attacks.

The battalion captured several more Partisan positions in the following week. They were mostly former members of various Muslim militias who had been conscripted into the ranks of the Partisans. The 27th Regiment quickly captured Janja and drove through Donja Trnova to reach the Ugljevik coal minesan important economic objective for the German war machine. Following fighting which continued into the evening of 13 April, the 27th Regiment reported Partisan casualties of dead, 45 captured and two deserters along with large amounts of weapons and ammunition.

The regiment also seized a huge amount of medical supplies from aid stations in the area of Donja Trnova. The Germans considered Operation Osterei a major success, achieving all objectives with minimal losses.

SS oružana brdska divizija Handžar – Wikipedia

In the latter part hwndzar Operation OstereiJagdkommandoslightly armed and mobile “hunter teams” of company or battalion strength, were used to break up and harass Partisans still operating on the flanks. These teams killed over Partisans and captured over between 21 and 23 April. The 13th SS Division was under the command of V SS Corps, and the primary tasks of the division were to capture Tuzla and Zvornik, then drive south parallel with the Drina to meet other Corps elements.

The original plan included the parachute insertion of th SS Parachute Battalion into the Vlasenica area, but this was cancelled due to unsuitable weather. Flank security was to be provided by the reconnaissance battalion in the Srebrnik area.

This caused friction between the two that eventually required Himmler’s intervention.

On 23 April, the 28th Regiment pushed south along mountain roads through Tuzla. The following day it continued on as far as Stupari. On 25 April, the 27th Regiment advanced south to capture Zvornik. Operation Maibaum had not only stopped the Partisan 3rd Corps from crossing the Drina into Serbia, it had scattered the Partisan formation. The Partisans were encircled in the Stolice heights. An attempt by the Partisan 16th Vojvodina Division to relieve the surrounded force was defeated by the reconnaissance battalion and elements of the 28th Regiment.

After heavy bombardment by the artillery regiment, the trapped Partisan force escaped vivizija out of the pocket under cover of darkness on 18 May. The Partisans suffered considerable casualties, for example the 17th Majevica Brigade of the 27th East Bosnia Division lost 16 killed and 60 missing. Since its arrival in the zone the divzija had been assisted in this task by local forces of varying reliability. These same groups, along with the Partisans, had simultaneously been trying to encourage Bosnian and Croat members to defect.

Uandzar March and Junethese attempts were largely fruitless, producing fewer than deserters. The Partisan 3rd Corps planned an offensive that involved three parallel columns of divisional strength thrusting north into the zone to engage and destroy German and handar allied forces.

Operation Vollmond Full Moon was devised quickly after the reconnaissance battalion observed Partisan forces crossing the Tuzla—Zvornik road on the evening of 6 June Sauberzweig’s aim was to assault from the east and north, pushing the advancing Partisan forces against the Drina.

After four hours fighting, and with half the battery’s personnel dead, the artillerymen ran out eivizija small arms ammunition and scattered into the forest.