penkalaa wrote:Ok I will try to belive that the reasons of Himmler to establish the Handschar Division are, so big love for Bosnian people and for Bosnian independence
George Lepre has probably good phone line to Sarajewo, especially to Bosniacs historians or sources.
Before you start making wild accusations, you should know that I conducted my research during the 1990s Balkan War and had no contact whatsoever with ANY Bosnian historians or sources. How can you make an accusation like that without even reading the book first? The primary materials I used to reconstruct the Germans' viewpoints and actions were in fact German, these in the form of archival documents and veterans.
Himmler did not reach out to the Bosnian autonomists because he "loved" them - he and Gottlob Berger saw the Bosnian Muslims as a convenient source of manpower to fight against the Partisans. I'll quote some of the documents I used:
There were Bosnian Muslims who supported the Croatian government - Alija Suljak and the Kulenovic brothers are of course good examples. But the Germans saw that there were Muslims who were dissatisfied with Croatian rule as early as November 1941. (Source: Deutsche General in Agram (Zagreb), Anlage zu Ia Nr. 377/41 g.Kdos., 21 November 1944. (U.S. National Archives II, Records Group 242, Microcopy T-501, Roll 264, ff1280).
From the beginning of the Handschar Division recruiting campaign, Himmler wanted the division to consist of Bosnian Muslims. His exact words: "Diese Division hat tunlichst aus Bosniaken mohammedanischer Religion zu bestehen." (I don't know if you speak German or not, but the translation is: "This division must as far as is possible consist of Bosnians of the Muslim faith.") Source: Himmler Funkspruch an SS-Gruf. Phleps, 13. Februar 1943. (NARA II, RG 242, T-175, Roll 70, ff2587188.
Regarding German contacts with the Bosnian Muslim autonomy movement:
"(Hafiz Muhammad) Pandza is confirmed as pro-German, he is the author of the Bosnian Muslim memorandum to the Führer (1942) in which a protectorate for Bosnia was requested. Pandza also contributed much toward the formation of the (Handschar) Division, for which he became an enemy of the Ustase..." Source: Panzerarmeeoberkommando 2, Ic/A.O., an Heereskommando der Heeresgruppe F dated 8 January 1944 (NARA II, RG 242, T-313, Roll 189, ff263).
See also: Gen.Kdo. V-SS-Geb. Korps, Kdr.General, Tgb. Nr. VG/38/43 geh., "Muselmanische Denkschrift über die Möglichkeit einer Befriedung Ostbosniens" dated 26 December 1943 (NARA II, RG 242, Roll 267, ff1141).
SS donates 100,000 Reichsmarks to the Muslim organization "Merhamed" in Sarajevo. Source: SS-Hauptamt, "Vom Reichsführer SS befohlene Sammlung zur Behebung der Not der muselmanischen Bevölkerung im bosnische Raum" dated 18 February 1944 (NARA II, RG 242, T-175, Roll 21, ff2526644).
There were Germans who were strongly opposed to the SS effort to recruit only Muslims and support the Muslim autonomist movement, particularly the German Foreign Office. The German envoy to Zagreb, Siegfried Kasche, was a friend of the Croatian government and hated the SS. (Kasche, an SA official, was nearly murdered by the SS during the "Night ofthe Long Knives" in 1934.) He feared that the SS would "ruin the efforts to mold all of Croatia's inhabitants into one people." Another German official, Edmund Glaise von Horstenau, wrote that the Croatian government saw the Handschar Division as a "dangerous blow against their ... principle of a unified Croatian state." Sources:
Konsul Dr. Winkler, "Die Politische Lage der Mohammedaner Bosniens in April 1943" dated 4 May 1943 (NARA II, RG 242, T-120, Roll 4203, K208927) and a letter from Glaise von Horstenau to Himmler dated 25 February 1943 (NARA II, RG 242, T-175, Roll 111, ff2635851). [For information regarding Croatian resistance to the Handschar Division's formation, see Vrancic's memoirs (volume 2, page 357) and the documents of the German Foreign Office.]
Despite the pointed opposition from both the Croatian government and the German Foreign Office, Himmler still wanted to form an exclusively Muslim division. His exact words: "Bleibe bei meiner Absicht, SS-Bosniaken Division aus Muselmanen aufzustellen, die heute zum grössten Teil nicht auf unserer Seite mitkämpfen, sondern beiseitstehen oder sogar gegen uns kämpfen. Als Bosniaken würden sie sicherlich treue Soldaten auf unsere Seite sein." ("I remain committed to forming the SS Bosnian Division from Muslims, who today for the most part are not fighting on our side, but are either on the sidelines or are even fighting against us. As Bosnians they will surely become loyal soldiers on our side.") When Pavelic offered Himmler 6000 Ustase men for the division, Himmler said he would gladly accept them, but they would be assigned to separate police battalions. Source: Himmler Fernschreiben an von Ribbentrop, 20. Februar 1943 (NARA II, RG 242, Roll 111, ff2635340).
In the end, Catholic Croatians were accepted into the division, but only because of recruiting shortfalls. For its part, the SS was angry about having to accept them. Gottlob Berger, even blamed the September 1943 mutiny on the division's Catholics because one of the ring leaders, Nikola Vukelic, was Catholic. (Berger's accusation, I should add, was totally groundless.) Source: Letter from SS-Ogruf. Gottlob Berger to RF-SS Himmler dated 25 September 1943 (NARA II, RG 242, T-175, Roll 70, ff2587123).
The division's name: Originally, the division was titled the "Kroatische SS Freiwilligen Division." But the Muslim division members and the autonomists didn't like the name, for it made no reference to Bosnia-Herzegovina, so it was changed to "13. SS-Freiwilligen bosnisch-herzegowinische Gebirgs-Division (Kroatien)." Source: Letter from SS-Ostuf. Carl Rachor (Handschar's intelligence officer) to Dr. Rudolf Brandt (Himmler's staff) dated 14 September 1943 (NARA II, RG 242, T-175, Roll 117, ff2641961) and SS-Führungshauptamt, Amt II, Org. Abt. Ia/II, Tgb. Nr. 1472/43 g. Kdos., "13. SS-Freiwilligen b.h.Geb.Div.(Kroatien)."
As for Turkey, it is true that the Germans wanted the Turks to enter the war on their side, but in the voluminous documentation I have assembled on the Handschar Division (over five linear feet of documents) I have not seen any mention of plans to use the Handschar Division to influence the Turkish government. No Turkish government or religious officials were ever invited to visit the division, and when one SS man suggested that a special "moon and star" badge be designed for wear by the division's imams, it was refused because of its Turkish appearance. Source: Reichsführer SS, Persönlicher Stab, Tgb. Nr. 34/54/43 g, An den Chef des SS-Führungshauptamtes, SS-Gruf. Jüttner, "Planstellen für muselmanische Imame" dated 5 June 1943 (NARA II, RG 242, T-175, Roll 70, ff 2587154).
Why did you post two photographs of Muslims in the Ustase? How does this prove that the SS didn't support the Bosnian autonomy movement? No one denies that there were Bosnian Muslims in the Ustase, but the fact that Himmler wanted a Bosnian Muslim division is common knowledge.
If you can prove that all of the German documents I have cited here are wrong, please use primary sources and not simply your own opinion in doing so. As Daniel Patrick Moynahan once said, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts."
Hi "Division": There were a minority of Croatian Catholics in the Handschar Division. Estimates as to their numbers vary between 300 and 2800. (In fact, one Croatian company commander, Ostuf. Stjepan Petkovic of SS-Regiment 28, was KIA in May 1944.) But these men were not happy about the attention that the SS paid to the Muslims and the autonomy movement. When I looked through the personnel files of several Croatian Catholic officers who served with Handschar, there were notations regarding their Croatian nationalism. One Croatian Catholic wrote an angry letter to the editor of Handzar
, the division's newspaper, complaining of German support for the Muslim autonomists.