The quality of the Handschar division

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Mujo
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The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Mujo » 07 Aug 2016 23:47

[Split from "The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS"]
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:.. in many many instances..some waffen ss formations like the handschar were pathetic..
What exactly are you basing this on? Nothing at all I assume. Virtually every high level W-SS officer serving with or near the 13th SS division from Kumm to Sauberzweig and Phelps had a favorable opinion of the Handschar division. They earned greater fame while fighting on the eastern front (post Oct '44) on the bridgeheads at Apatin and Batina and elsewhere in Hungary that escape the scrutiny of a serious historian. But please continue with your generalizations.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 08 Aug 2016 06:42

Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:.. in many many instances..some waffen ss formations like the handschar were pathetic..
What exactly are you basing this on? Nothing at all I assume. Virtually every high level W-SS officer serving with or near the 13th SS division from Kumm to Sauberzweig and Phelps had a favorable opinion of the Handschar division. They earned greater fame while fighting on the eastern front (post Oct '44) on the bridgeheads at Apatin and Batina and elsewhere in Hungary that escape the scrutiny of a serious historian. But please continue with your generalizations.
George Lepre mentions the mutiny of the Handschar on 17 september '43 while training in France. The mutiny was led by Ferid Dzanic. And involved both Muslim and catholic personnel..so it wasn't along communal lines. This by itself makes the formation suspect.

Lepre further describes the events post Tito's declaration of an amnesty in August'44. In September and October, thousands deserted from the formation while in Bosnia and also after the move to Zagreb. Many carried their weapons and joined the partisans.

The performance of the Handschar amidst all this, was sometimes quite good in their anti-partisan role. However I wouldn't want to sing paeans to a formation where the german commanders would always have to keep one eye open for the next deserter of assassin from amongst their ranks.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Mujo » 10 Aug 2016 01:42

sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:.. in many many instances..some waffen ss formations like the handschar were pathetic..
What exactly are you basing this on? Nothing at all I assume. Virtually every high level W-SS officer serving with or near the 13th SS division from Kumm to Sauberzweig and Phelps had a favorable opinion of the Handschar division. They earned greater fame while fighting on the eastern front (post Oct '44) on the bridgeheads at Apatin and Batina and elsewhere in Hungary that escape the scrutiny of a serious historian. But please continue with your generalizations.
George Lepre mentions the mutiny of the Handschar on 17 september '43 while training in France. The mutiny was led by Ferid Dzanic. And involved both Muslim and catholic personnel..so it wasn't along communal lines. This by itself makes the formation suspect.

Lepre further describes the events post Tito's declaration of an amnesty in August'44. In September and October, thousands deserted from the formation while in Bosnia and also after the move to Zagreb. Many carried their weapons and joined the partisans.

The performance of the Handschar amidst all this, was sometimes quite good in their anti-partisan role. However I wouldn't want to sing paeans to a formation where the german commanders would always have to keep one eye open for the next deserter of assassin from amongst their ranks.
Your awareness of the events is far too generalized. So let me break it down.
The mutineers numbered less than a half a dozen within a single company of engineers, not the division. The company itself snuffed out the mutiny. A loyal Bosnian imam led the effort to squash the mutiny, for which he was awarded the EKI on Himmler's own suggestion. The common view is that the entire division had a mutiny, this is not so. Neither of the largest formations within the division (Regt 27 nor 28 had a mutiny).
Conversely the first SS mutiny happening within the 7th SS back in the Balkans earlier the same month numbered in the hundreds who refused to take up arms.
Second. Approx 300 SS men (largely those of the Feldgendarm Trupp 13) defected to the partisans in Maoca in Oct '44. These men were largely the Catholic Croats, whom Saubwerzweig had effectively quarantined following the mutiny of Sept '43. They had the largest desertion rates even prior to the commencement of the division's training in France. The thousands of Bosnians were actually turned over to the Wehrmacht's 1st Geb Div. and many of these were pressed back into the service of the then Kampfgruppe Hanke in Hungary (when the two units crossed paths).
Well into the last months of the war, the German officers actually had grown to depend more and more on the Bosniaks with whom they had trained with in France.

This is from a Bosniak who had remained with KpfGpe Hanke:
"There was fewer and fewer Bosniaks, not due to desertions but because we were incurring higher losses than the Germans who were then filling our ranks. But that was entirely understandable, we were the mainstay of the division. The commanders who knew us, expected the most from us and did not know how much they could depend on the replacements (he uses the word: "new guys"). It was later said that they were preserving "German blood" while they were sending us into the fire. I did not find this to be true."
Murat B.

This is the account given to us by the unit historian of the 51st Partisan Div. upon encountering Aufl Abt 13 on the Danube bridgeheads:

"Panic spreads among the partisans, the ones that aren't outright killed by the MG42 ("Sharac")in the boats, are getting out and cut down in the flight."
"the hapless partisans, unable to dig in throw their arms up in to the air hoping to be spared."
"it was then that the 4th batt/51st was destroyed by the enemy on our left flank." - partisan report 12 Nov
1600 the inexperienced 51st is throw back another 500m to their previous positions
"to go forward was impossible, to retreat unthinkable because only the Danube and HQ was back there."
"the enemy reinforcements came in the form of the reconaissance detachment of the 13th SS division Handschar, in which were armored fighting vehicles....their attack was merciless."
"they first suppressed our mortars with an effective use of artillery, which was then followed up by its infantry, which made use of creeping fire to encircle us and then destroyed us at close range"
"they swept through the alleyways, openings in the walls, front yards, gardens: jumping from house to house and street to street."

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 10 Aug 2016 04:19

Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:.. in many many instances..some waffen ss formations like the handschar were pathetic..
What exactly are you basing this on? Nothing at all I assume. Virtually every high level W-SS officer serving with or near the 13th SS division from Kumm to Sauberzweig and Phelps had a favorable opinion of the Handschar division. They earned greater fame while fighting on the eastern front (post Oct '44) on the bridgeheads at Apatin and Batina and elsewhere in Hungary that escape the scrutiny of a serious historian. But please continue with your generalizations.
George Lepre mentions the mutiny of the Handschar on 17 september '43 while training in France. The mutiny was led by Ferid Dzanic. And involved both Muslim and catholic personnel..so it wasn't along communal lines. This by itself makes the formation suspect.

Lepre further describes the events post Tito's declaration of an amnesty in August'44. In September and October, thousands deserted from the formation while in Bosnia and also after the move to Zagreb. Many carried their weapons and joined the partisans.

The performance of the Handschar amidst all this, was sometimes quite good in their anti-partisan role. However I wouldn't want to sing paeans to a formation where the german commanders would always have to keep one eye open for the next deserter of assassin from amongst their ranks.
Your awareness of the events is far too generalized. So let me break it down.
The mutineers numbered less than a half a dozen within a single company of engineers, not the division. The company itself snuffed out the mutiny. A loyal Bosnian imam led the effort to squash the mutiny, for which he was awarded the EKI on Himmler's own suggestion. The common view is that the entire division had a mutiny, this is not so. Neither of the largest formations within the division (Regt 27 nor 28 had a mutiny).
Conversely the first SS mutiny happening within the 7th SS back in the Balkans earlier the same month numbered in the hundreds who refused to take up arms.
Second. Approx 300 SS men (largely those of the Feldgendarm Trupp 13) defected to the partisans in Maoca in Oct '44. These men were largely the Catholic Croats, whom Saubwerzweig had effectively quarantined following the mutiny of Sept '43. They had the largest desertion rates even prior to the commencement of the division's training in France. The thousands of Bosnians were actually turned over to the Wehrmacht's 1st Geb Div. and many of these were pressed back into the service of the then Kampfgruppe Hanke in Hungary (when the two units crossed paths).
Well into the last months of the war, the German officers actually had grown to depend more and more on the Bosniaks with whom they had trained with in France.

This is from a Bosniak who had remained with KpfGpe Hanke:
"There was fewer and fewer Bosniaks, not due to desertions but because we were incurring higher losses than the Germans who were then filling our ranks. But that was entirely understandable, we were the mainstay of the division. The commanders who knew us, expected the most from us and did not know how much they could depend on the replacements (he uses the word: "new guys"). It was later said that they were preserving "German blood" while they were sending us into the fire. I did not find this to be true."
Murat B.

This is the account given to us by the unit historian of the 51st Partisan Div. upon encountering Aufl Abt 13 on the Danube bridgeheads:

"Panic spreads among the partisans, the ones that aren't outright killed by the MG42 ("Sharac")in the boats, are getting out and cut down in the flight."
"the hapless partisans, unable to dig in throw their arms up in to the air hoping to be spared."
"it was then that the 4th batt/51st was destroyed by the enemy on our left flank." - partisan report 12 Nov
1600 the inexperienced 51st is throw back another 500m to their previous positions
"to go forward was impossible, to retreat unthinkable because only the Danube and HQ was back there."
"the enemy reinforcements came in the form of the reconaissance detachment of the 13th SS division Handschar, in which were armored fighting vehicles....their attack was merciless."
"they first suppressed our mortars with an effective use of artillery, which was then followed up by its infantry, which made use of creeping fire to encircle us and then destroyed us at close range"
"they swept through the alleyways, openings in the walls, front yards, gardens: jumping from house to house and street to street."

Maybe I'm missing the point of this post?
What exactly are we arguing about?

You have given an instance of the formation 's effectiveness against partisans. Interesting and informative. But what's the purpose?

I had mentioned that Handschar was known to be effective in some anti partisan actions. So?

My original contention was that as a division it was subpar amongst Waffen-SS formations. If substantial elements of a division are mutiny prone and thousands desert (not just 300 btw) then it is not the best of formations.

Here we are considering Handschar as a whole. We are not getting into the ethnic analysis and dynamics of why this formation was sub par. That's an interesting discussion in it's own right.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Mujo » 10 Aug 2016 13:34

sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:.


I had mentioned that Handschar was known to be effective in some anti partisan actions. So?
Not just some...virtually every action the 13th division ever fought against the partisans it came out on top. Even the disastrous episode at Lopare in June of 1944 which cost I/28 and II/28 around 205 killed, they had still inflicted 2-3,000 casualties on the partisans and stymied any further offensives past that point as the map below shows.

Your continued dogmatic dismissal of this division's combat effectiveness is not worthy of an academic. Especially considering that virtually every contemporary who depended on the division for some function (whether Ottom Kumm or even Gen. von Rost) found it to be worthy of praise. Much of the estimations of this division come out of pure ignorance of what it later did on the eastern front. Things that aren't well known or easily understandable, like the fact that the 13th SS plugged a 70km gap south of Lake Balaton stretching all the way from Nagyskanica to Barcs.
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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 10 Aug 2016 14:36

Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Mujo wrote:
Not just some...virtually every action the 13th division ever fought against the partisans it came out on top. Even the disastrous episode at Lopare in June of 1944 which cost I/28 and II/28 around 205 killed, they had still inflicted 2-3,000 casualties on the partisans and stymied any further offensives past that point as the map below shows.

Your continued dogmatic dismissal of this division's combat effectiveness is not worthy of an academic. Especially considering that virtually every contemporary who depended on the division for some function (whether Ottom Kumm or even Gen. von Rost) found it to be worthy of praise. Much of the estimations of this division come out of pure ignorance of what it later did on the eastern front. Things that aren't well known or easily understandable, like the fact that the 13th SS plugged a 70km gap south of Lake Balaton stretching all the way from Nagyskanica to Barcs.



I still feel that I am missing your point somewhere. Putting up a brave and good show by some units of a division in some sectors against irregular partisan forces in occupied territories is a commendable job. But the context of the present discussion is different. It is about the status of an Waffen SS Division amongst the likes of the LSSAH, Das Reich, TK, Nordland, Hohenstauffen, Frundsberg, Charlemagne and the like. To be even talked about in the same breath with these divs, a formation has to show exemplary commitment, loyalty and steadfastness in the most impossible of circumstances... ( meine ehre heisst treue..remember?).

I would fall back again on our dear own military historian George Lepre :


HIMMLER'S BOSNIAN DIVISION
C
The Waffen-SS
Handschar Division
1943-1945
GEORGE LEPRE

" .....Disintegration

In the early part of September 1944, the V SS Mountain Corps decided to move the division by rail back to the security zone to rest and refit. The transfer began on the first, when II and III/27 left Drinjača and shifted north, the former to Kurukaja and the latter to Vukovije. I/27 was moved to Osmaci, II/28 to Srebrnik, and I/28 joined III/27 in Vukovije. It required several days for all of the units to make the moves, but the battlefield situation was fairly quiet and the transfers were conducted without incident. Shortly after the division's return, Tito ordered his III Bosnia Corps to begin an offensive in the Majevica, Posavina, and Semberija areas.

On the afternoon of 4 September, under the cover of heavy fog, units of the V Border Brigade as-saulted the division garrison at Srebrnik.

The battle lasted into the night. Helmut Kinz's II/28 was hard pressed to fend off the attackers and at one point was even surrounded, but managed to hold the position. Twenty-five enemy dead were counted and two prisoners were taken, while four of Kinz's men were killed. Srebrnik's defenders earned a rare "acclamation" from the Partisans................................

On 4 September, units of the 11th Division nearly liquidated enemy forces in the Srebrnik area. The fighting lasted (for two days), but the enemy stub- bornly held on, aided by their effective use of heavy artillery.

The 38th East Bosnia Division assaulted the division base at Srnice on the following morning, but this attack was also repulsed. Hampel rushed several units to the Srebrnik area to relieve the pressure on II/ 28. An attack carried out by 3,/Pi. Btl. 13 on the morning of 6 September in the Srebrnik - Podorasje - Ljenobud area was successful in pushing the guerrillas to the south. Remarkably, even this did not stop the Partisans, who regrouped and continued fighting with support from automatic weapons and mortars. The Ger-mans called their resistance "dogged and tenacious" and an assault from I/28, which had been moved in from Dobosnica, was required to finally drive them out of the area. In all, the division counted seventy enemy dead while losing thirteen of their own men killed and thirty-three wounded.

It was on 6 September that the division fought its first battles with its former "allies," the Četniks. Taking advantage of the increasingly desperate German mili-tary situation, the Serbians assaulted three division supply columns that afternoon and raided the base at Dragaljevac (twenty kilometers east-southeast of Bréko) that evening. All of the attacks failed but Friedrich Kreibich, commander of II/AR 13, was killed at Lopare. Two days later, the base at Kastel was similarly attacked and two division members were slain east of Stolin. What is most remarkable about these incidents is the fact that there were still instances of cooperation be-tween the division and Četnik units after their occurrence. Partisan activity contin-ued during this period as well: II/27 was assaulted unsuccessfully at Matkovac, west of Zvornik, on the eighth. During the period 1-7 September 1944, the Allies conducted Operation "Ratweek" in the Balkans, in which Tito's forces, combined with Allied air power, launched attacks against vital Axis railways and roads, seeking to hamper the with-drawal of German units from Greece. Large sections of the Sarajevo - Brod rail-way were destroyed, making the division's supply situation critical and mass desertions among the demoralized Croatian units tasked with the line's security

........................................

"The Flood"


It was during the month of September that the division began to display signs of massive disintegration. In the face of the deteriorating German military situa-tion on all fronts, rumors began to spread among the Bosnians that the Germans were planning to pull out of the Balkan peninsula and leave them to fend for them-selves. One can only speculate as to the source of the rumors; it was almost cer-tainly the Partisans, the Ustaša, or both. A number of desertions had taken place since the spring, but by September it became epidemic. "The worse the situation at the front became," complained one platoon leader, "the more desertions would result. There were many rumors that made the rounds (among the Bosnians) that never reached us Germans."

During the period 1-20 September, over 2,000 Bosnians deserted from the division.

Some did not return from furloughs; others simply abandoned their posts. What was worst for the Germans was that the men departed
with
their weapons and equipment and these were finding their way into the hands of the insurgents. Through the desertions the division lost 1,578 rifles, 301 pistols, 61 sub-machine guns, 61 machine guns, 2 trucks, 1 motorcycle, and 40 horses in the first two weeks of September alone - and it only grew worse.

Morale also waned in Raithel's "Kama" Division; as they entered the final phase of their training, one German reported: (Our) company was quartered in a Stiechowice school. I bunked with (two NCOs), Werner Rauner from Thuringia and a Muslim. One day this Muslim departed; he had been given a furlough. His last words to us were that he would not be returning. We took it as a joke. We in fact never saw him again.


.......................................................


11 ./27 provides security for a division supply column in the Doboj—Maglai area, 18 September 1944. In the fore-ground are Kurt Bernhardt (left), the company's senior NCO, and com- pany commander Klaus Berger.
As for the Bosnians themselves, some simply fled to their homes out of con-cern for the safety of their families; others joined the Ustaša or Zeleni Kader. One communist report stated that "large groups of deserters (from the division) were wandering around local villages."
14
Many of the men actually changed sides and joined the Partisans, as it was obvious to them that the Germans were losing the war. This particular trend was abetted by Tito's declaration of 17 August which pledged amnesty for deserters from the occupation forces to his cause, as well as the fall of Tuzla.
15
By 5 October, the Partisan III Bosnia Corps could report that "approximately 700 (deserters) from the ('Handschar' Division) were fighting within (its) ranks."
16
The flood briefly subsided after the division returned to the Bréko area, for some 158 deserters returned by the end of September, 51 of which were retained.
14
štab III Korpusa NOV Jugoslavije, Pov. br. 108/44, 26. oktobra 1944, to Vrhovnom štabu NOV i POJ, "Operativni izvještaj za mjesec septembar" (
Zbornik
, tome IV, vol. 30, 268).
15
Jozo Tomasevich,
War and Revolution in Yugoslavia 1941-1945: The Chetniks
(Stanford: Stan-ford University Press, 1975), 412. See also Kasche's telegram from 10 September 1944 (T-120, roll 1030, 408909). It is interesting to note that in his telegram, Pavelić supporter Kasche fails to mention those Bosnians deserting to the Ustaša; he merely mentions deserters "going over to the (Partisans)."
16
štab III Korpusa NOV Jugoslavije, Pov. broj: 90/44, 5. oktobra to Vrhovnom štabu NOV i POJ
(Zbornik
, tome IV, vol. 30, 94). See also Milo Zekić, "Trideset osma NOU divizija" in Istočna
Bosna,
vol. 2,457. Zekić writes that "many soldiers (of the 'Handschar' Division) surrendered (at this time)."
..............................................................."

I would again repeat that one was not commenting on the battle effectiveness of certain units of the Division when calling the formation subpar as a Waffen SS Division. In order to be counted amongst the elite, a formation needs to score on other points apart from valiance in battle in some sectors. The hall mark of the classic Waffen SS model was ironclad discipline and top morale and loyalty under pressure..."meine ehre heisst treue" !! And Handschar, as a division, was found wanting on that count.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Mujo » 10 Aug 2016 15:32

sandeepmukherjee196 wrote: Putting up a brave and good show by some units of a division in some sectors against irregular partisan forces in occupied territories is a commendable job
I see a very clear pattern here that is continually underrating facts to fit its own poor logic.
Even this generalized statement has inherrent falsehoods within it.

by some units of a division
Which of the division's units are exempt from praise I wonder? Because this statement implies that 50% or fewer were competent.

in some sectors
Which sectors are excluded? Lopare was the only embarrassment and that turned out to be a reprieve in the end.
against irregular partisan forces
A more careful analysis of what happened on the Apatina and Batina bridgeheads when 6 Soviet divisions and numerous other fresh partisan divisions were brought up proves this to be wrong. The defense of Line Dravovid in the Spring of '45 against the 1st Bulgarian Army is another example.
in occupied territories
Handschar spent roughly an equal amount of it's time on the eastern front as it did in Bosnia.

And yet Handschar stands out time and time again in report after report:
"Our troops, particularily the 13th SS Division Handschar, have fought oustandingly well in the face of a vastly superior foe. Despite two enemy breakthroughs, the main battle line is in our hands. The fighting continues." -Oberkommando des Heeres report dates 14. april '45

Do you have any original viewpoints on this subject or are you going to continue to copy and paste entire chapters from a book I've already read? It's pretty clear your bias is rooted in a total lack of detailed awareness of the division's battles. You're not doing justice to anyone who has done any serious research on this division, let alone the reputation of the unit itself for others to appreciate.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Mujo » 10 Aug 2016 15:40

sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Large sections of the Sarajevo - Brod rail-way were destroyed, making the division's supply situation critical and mass desertions among the demoralized Croatian units tasked with the line's security
This is referring to the Croat Domobran and Ustasa units devasted in air raids and partisan offensives. Handschar was not a formation of the Croatian state. As I recall, Handschar's Flak Abt 13 fared well during Op Ratweek, downing about 40 allied planes.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 10 Aug 2016 16:01

Mujo wrote: ....................................
Do you have any original viewpoints on this subject or are you going to continue to copy and paste entire chapters from a book I've already read? It's pretty clear your bias is rooted in a total lack of detailed awareness of the division's battles. You're not doing justice to anyone who has done any serious research on this division, let alone the reputation of the unit itself for others to appreciate.

No I do not have any "original viewpoints" ..not having participated myself, nor having known any participants first hand or even their second generation descendants. So I have to per force depend on "a book" like the one I have "copy-pasted" from which in turn quotes a plethora of primary sources, documents and participants.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Mujo » 10 Aug 2016 16:47

sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Mujo wrote: ....................................
Do you have any original viewpoints on this subject or are you going to continue to copy and paste entire chapters from a book I've already read? It's pretty clear your bias is rooted in a total lack of detailed awareness of the division's battles. You're not doing justice to anyone who has done any serious research on this division, let alone the reputation of the unit itself for others to appreciate.

No I do not have any "original viewpoints" ..not having participated myself, nor having known any participants first hand or even their second generation descendants. So I have to per force depend on "a book" like the one I have "copy-pasted" from which in turn quotes a plethora of primary sources, documents and participants.
Half of which is post war communist propaganda, compiled at a time when the trials were underway.

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by George Lepre » 10 Aug 2016 18:23

Hi Guys -

Both of you make good points. However, it is difficult to compare the Handschar Division to the original Waffen SS divisions. Himmler decided to form the 13th Division for one specific purpose: to fight Tito's Partisans in Bosnia. Although he made sure it had excellent equipment, it suffered from chronic shortages of officers and NCOs. The German formations had well-educated young enlisted men who had undergone years of paramilitary training and political indoctrination while in the Hitler Youth. With Handschar, its men spoke little or no German, some arrived in Semlin malnourished, and 90% of them were illiterate. (This percentage is not mine, it comes from the division commander.)

As far as the Villefranche mutiny was concerned, it was impossible to prove each Bosnian's political loyalty when they were inducted. The same was true with most of the Eastern SS formations. The 30th SS Division had an even larger mutiny with a great loss of life, and there were mass desertions from the Turkic units. Another aspect is that as it became more and more obvious that the Germans were going to lose the war, the Eastern volunteers believed they faced certain death, so they looked to change sides. Prior to the Normandy landings, the July 20th plot, and the Red Army's advances, desertion was not a problem in the Handschar Division. Moreover, if the division had been a failure, resources would not have been set aside to form another division, "Kama."

George

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Pena V » 12 Aug 2016 21:19

Mujo,

In your opinion, how good was the 13.D "Handschar" compared to the other Waffen-SS divisions of early and mid war years (1."LSSAH" - 23.D "Nederland")? The late SS-divisions (24.D-38.D) didn't have a change because they were created too late and were a waiste of time and effort (just like their Heer counterparts) and thus not comparable.

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Ivan_S » 14 Aug 2016 21:18

George Lepre is right in his statement when comparing the Handschar with their german counterparts : that's simply nonsense. Moreover, local context and time was different. We have to keep in mind that Handschar was raised after the distarster of Stalingrad when germany lost its reputation of invincilbilty... The impact was profund in europe and especially more in central and balkan-europe...
Maybe the recruits were illiterate at best, but bosnian-muslim elites were probably aware about the outcome of the war (there are some quotes in Lepre's book concerning that point)...
Bosnia, where the unit was to be raised, was already a no-mercy battlefield involving croatian ustasis, serbian cetniks, muslim militias and Tito's multi-ethnic Partisans... Sure the division prooved to be more than a match fighting partisans in the vicinity its men where recruited, thanks to its vastly superior equipment (especially in artillery), better training and experienced german officer and nco cadre, as it has been demonstrated in Lepre's excellent study.
As long as the german were able to keep their initial promise (that the unit would stay in bosnia), the Handschar would be reliable in overall... In case not, many bosnian muslims would feel free to enlist in muslim militias or ustasa units to protect them their cities as best they could. Adding to this, the outcome of the war became clear with the arrival of soviet armies in september-october 1944 and Tito was wised enough to take advantage of the situation and the partisans would accept former members (with their arms and equipment!) of the Handschar in their ranks without retaliation...
A fact often overlooked is the great political ability of communsit leader, Tito, promoting the Yugoslavian Federation with several republics, among them the Republic of Bosnia... Keep in mind it was that a large part of the bosnian muslim elite was in search of... That was the perfect blow to the ustasi dream of "Croatian Independant state" and the best tool to gain muslim communities of bosnia audience.
Much to my surprise was to read in Lepre's study that a sizeable (how many, i don't know) amount of bosnian muslims were still fighting, outside of bosnia, in the Handschar in 1945 to the bitter end... I believed all were disbanded in october 1944 but that apparently, that was not the case.

sandeepmukherjee196
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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 15 Aug 2016 04:32

Hi...

My original contention remains. The Handschar was subpar when compared to the classic Waffen-SS setup.

I find George Lepre 's work excellent and authoritative. I am disturbed by the comment made previously by a poster that all this was communist propaganda. How can numbers quoted from original sources and references provided on the scale that Lepre has done amount to propaganda?

And I am not in agreement with the view that the stage of the war provides an alibi. Other foreign volunteer formations like the Charlemagne came into their own during that same period

The performance of the Nordland in Berlin when it was all over, gives a lie to the stage of the war alibi.

Cheers
Sandeep

Pena V
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Location: Finland

Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Pena V » 16 Aug 2016 07:32

Ivan_S wrote:George Lepre is right in his statement when comparing the Handschar with their german counterparts
Of
Pena V wrote:the other Waffen-SS divisions of early and mid war years (1."LSSAH" - 23.D "Nederland")
do you consider
7. D "Prinz Eugen"
11. D "Nordland"
14. D "Galizien"
15. D Latvia
18. D "Horst Wessel"
19. D Latvia 2
20. D "Estland"
21. D "Skanderbeg"
22. D Maria Theresia
23. D "Nederland"
to be German counterparts?
Ivan_S wrote:Moreover, local context and time was different.
Local context is always different but how was time different?

Regards,

Pena V

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