The quality of the Handschar division

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Ivan_S
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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Ivan_S » 18 Aug 2016 10:38

Pena V wrote:
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
Handschar couldn't be compared to divisions like the Nederland or the Nordland for sure... Keep in mind Nordland,Nederland, Latvia had already a core of experienced soldiers & ncos (the former ss-legions) already serving since operation Barbarossa. This wasn't the case of the Handschar who had to rely on german officers and ncos... So, yes, the Handschar in its begining was not, in spite of its training and equipment, the same combat value like these divisions i mentioned.
Concerning the timing it was raised, you should know people in the balkan were aware of the probable outcome of the war in the east after the Stalingrad disaster... For the axis, things were clearly turning bad. The fact that Himmler's service wouldn't have been able to get the division its full-manpower is an evidence of that. Thousands were volunteers but a sizeable numbers were just conscripts. At that time, with the increasing development of tito's partisans in bosnia (with more and more muslims serving with them), it wasn't evident to join the Handschar for a young muslim...
Had the german raised the Handschar earlier, things would have turned differently i think. Much more volunteers, more combat hardened ncos and soldiers and yes, we could have favorably compared the Handschar to its sister division, the Prinz Eugen.

Regards.

ps : sorry when using the term "time", i meant the moment it was raised which, in bosnia wasn't the best one!

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by G. Trifkovic » 18 Aug 2016 12:02

HI,
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.
actually, only one Partisan division, the 51st Vojvodina, took part in the action at Apatin-Batina.
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."
What is the source(s) for these quotes?

Cheers,

G.

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Mujo
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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Mujo » 30 Aug 2016 00:19

Pena V wrote: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.

Pena V
Why would anyone compare a mountain division to an armored division to begin with? The W-SS had numerous Corps within itself, many tasked with their own particular duties and these sub-units within the W-SS accomplished their tasks respectivelly. Mountain troops armed with rifles are never going to get the glory of an armored spearhead. They are also never going to occupy the same stretch of front for a truly balanced comparison of their capabilities.
Last edited by Mujo on 30 Aug 2016 01:07, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Mujo » 30 Aug 2016 00:22

Ivan_S wrote:
Pena V wrote:
Ivan_S wrote:we could have favorably compared the Handschar to its sister division, the Prinz Eugen.
Both Otto Kumm and Arthur Phelps, commanders of the 7th SS at various points had favorable views of the 13th SS Div.

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Mujo » 30 Aug 2016 00:26

sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:Hi...

The Handschar was subpar when compared to the classic Waffen-SS setup.

Sandeep
While we're still comparing the performances of divisions tasked with a variety of responsibilities to different theaters, lets consider the 3rd US Armored and the 10th Mountain.

My original contention remains.
Please leave your dogmatism at the door.

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Mujo
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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Mujo » 30 Aug 2016 02:00

G. Trifkovic wrote:
What is the source(s) for these quotes?

Cheers,

G.

Zija Sulejmanpasic (Istine i Lazi) approx pp. 290-311, quoting Lt. Col Savic of the 51st Vojv. as well as other post war Yugoslav historians (Bozic I believe).

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 30 Aug 2016 12:25

Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:Hi...

The Handschar was subpar when compared to the classic Waffen-SS setup.

Sandeep
While we're still comparing the performances of divisions tasked with a variety of responsibilities to different theaters, lets consider the 3rd US Armored and the 10th Mountain.

I was rather thinking of comparing the Handschar (non armoured, lightly armed blah blah blah) with the non armoured etc 33rd Charlemagne, 15th and 19th Latvian Divisions.


Comparisons can be made like to like on parameters like :

[*] Discipline, commitment and morale under extreme danger and pressure.

[*] Unwavering loyalty and commitment even when their side was sure of losing, in fact more commitment and steadfastness, if anything, in the final days.

[*] Desertions and mutinies.

[*] Fighting record against 'real armies' with armour in full fledged combat.


sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:My original contention remains.
Mujo wrote:Please leave your dogmatism at the door.
Thats exactly what I am trying to say....

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Pena V » 30 Aug 2016 22:00

Mujo wrote:Why would anyone compare a mountain division to an armored division to begin with?
Why not? But if we agree that the armored divisions were better that still leaves 16 divisions:
- 6 Panzergrenadier (4. D Polizei, 11. D "Nordland", 16. D "RF-SS", 17. D "GvB", 18. D "Horst Wessel", 23. D "Nederland")
- 4 Waffen Grenadier (14. D, 15. D, 19. D, 20. D)
- 4 Gebirgs (6. "Nord", 7. "Prinz Eugen", 13. "Handschar", 21. D "Skanderbeg")
- 2 Kavallerie (8. D "Florian Geyer", 22. D Maria Theresia)
Mujo wrote:Both Otto Kumm and Arthur Phelps, commanders of the 7th SS at various points had favorable views of the 13th SS Div.
So what. Did they have unfavorable views of any SS division?

Regards,

Pena V

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Mujo » 30 Aug 2016 22:43

sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote: Fighting record against 'real armies' with armour in full fledged combat.
Considering that you're dodging answering questions to prior assertions, I wont waste my time. Not only that but your assessment of this division is solely based on Chapters 4 and 9 of G. Lepre's book. Did you ever think of reading the 5 chapters in between?

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Mujo » 30 Aug 2016 23:06

Pena V wrote:
Mujo wrote: So what. Did they have unfavorable views of any SS division?
Kumm and Phelps wrote the book on counter-insurgency in the Balkans. Their units had been at Tito's heels for a while. If anyone would have been able to appraise the 13th division without the elitist bias of having been in the LSSAH, it would've been them. If Kumm's veracity is in question, consider that he did command the 1st SS prior to writing his book and still had good things to say of the Handschar division.

It is without a doubt that the Handschar division performed more and with greater discipline and professionalism than the combined efforts of the Kama, Skanderbeg, Batschka and the Karstjager divisions. So much so that its operational tempo in 1944 had exceeded that even of the 7th SS Division.
I would also venture out on a limb to say that its discipline also spared the lives of many Serbian civilians in the Majevica region, as well as captive partisans (the latter being killed anyways by the marauding cetniks that trailed on the flanks of this division in the Sekovici area). Some of the research I've done on the accusations made against Handschar and Mihailovic's Cetniks are some of the same at the same date and location. Shedding doubt on Handschar being the perpetrator.

The real contest with proper scientific parameters of selection should be narrowed down to Handschar v. Prinz Eugen. But differences still arise.
Both had mutinies, both fought in the same theater against the same enemy.
But whereas the 7th SS remained in Croatia and continued to fight an insurgent foe, Handschar div. did move out and had met the Soviets/Bulgarians/Yugoslavs on the Danube and numerous other bridgeheads and defense lines. Its services are noted on a handful of occasions as saving the lives of German troops in the process of withdrawal (Dravovid for example). 13. SS also had no such defeat as that of the 7th at Drvar.

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 31 Aug 2016 08:00

Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote: Fighting record against 'real armies' with armour in full fledged combat.
Considering that you're dodging answering questions to prior assertions, I wont waste my time. Not only that but your assessment of this division is solely based on Chapters 4 and 9 of G. Lepre's book. Did you ever think of reading the 5 chapters in between?


Its your prerogative to decide how you wish to utilise your time. However since you are referring to me as an excuse, let me point out once more that what is written elsewhere in George Lepre's book doesnt undo the facts about the morale, desertions and mutiny of the Handscahr. My contention had never been that this division was worthless as a combat formation. It played its role with periodic effectiveness in anti partisan warfare which by itself had its importance and criticality in the defence of the Reich's strategic interests.

I had said before and am repeating that my POV is based on a comparison with the better divisions of the Waffen SS and not a stand alone discussion about some of the good fights they put up against the Yogoslav partisans. My basis of comaprison has been the common Waffen SS ethos expected from these formations. And I would point out that the Handschar is not the only WSS Div suspected of lacking this ingredient.

The fact that you refuse to engage in a like to like comparison with similar non armoured SS formations made up of non German communities, who faced similar difficulties and circumstances, is telling. I would like to repeat that I was interested in a relevant comparison with only OPEN COMBAT situations with regular armies, including armoured opponents.

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by vathra » 31 Aug 2016 09:36

Mujo wrote:Kumm and Phelps wrote the book on counter-insurgency in the Balkans.
What book and who is Phelps?
Mujo wrote:But whereas the 7th SS remained in Croatia and continued to fight an insurgent foe, Handschar div. did move out and had met the Soviets/Bulgarians/Yugoslavs on the Danube and numerous other bridgeheads and defense lines. Its services are noted on a handful of occasions as saving the lives of German troops in the process of withdrawal (Dravovid for example). 13. SS also had no such defeat as that of the 7th at Drvar.
7th SS fought hard against Soviets in Serbia in September-October 1944,

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Mujo » 31 Aug 2016 12:20

sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
Mujo wrote:
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote: Fighting record against 'real armies' with armour in full fledged combat.
Considering that you're dodging answering questions to prior assertions, I wont waste my time. Not only that but your assessment of this division is solely based on Chapters 4 and 9 of G. Lepre's book. Did you ever think of reading the 5 chapters in between?


Its your prerogative to decide how you wish to utilise your time. However since you are referring to me as an excuse, let me point out once more that what is written elsewhere in George Lepre's book doesnt undo the facts about the morale, desertions and mutiny of the Handscahr. My contention had never been that this division was worthless as a combat formation. It played its role with periodic effectiveness in anti partisan warfare which by itself had its importance and criticality in the defence of the Reich's strategic interests.

I had said before and am repeating that my POV is based on a comparison with the better divisions of the Waffen SS and not a stand alone discussion about some of the good fights they put up against the Yogoslav partisans. My basis of comaprison has been the common Waffen SS ethos expected from these formations. And I would point out that the Handschar is not the only WSS Div suspected of lacking this ingredient.

The fact that you refuse to engage in a like to like comparison with similar non armoured SS formations made up of non German communities, who faced similar difficulties and circumstances, is telling. I would like to repeat that I was interested in a relevant comparison with only OPEN COMBAT situations with regular armies, including armoured opponents.
This is literally a waste of bandwidth. You're contributing nothing that would make an argument in either direction.
There was hardly a Waffen SS division that had a great time in the latter years of the war.
Two SS divisions were virtually destroyed at Budapest. Dietrich's entire 6. SS Panzer Army did nothing but keep its engines idling during Fruhlingserwachen. So much so as to warrant Hitler's own disgust with their performance and the infamous armband order. The evolution of your argument has gone from 'Handschar was sometimes adept at fighting partisans in some sectors' to 'only actions on the eastern front count.'
The entire Waffen SS rose out of a mutiny with other rival Nazi groups and ended with Himmler's own betrayal.

As for this whole full fledged armored combat... what exactly do you think happened at Barcs, Nagyskanisza, Sigetvar and Siklos?
These were drawn by a veteran following the war and actually go on to name the individuals that he remembers destroying Russian tanks.
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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 31 Aug 2016 18:43

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

This is literally a waste of bandwidth. You're contributing nothing that would make an argument in either direction.
There was hardly a Waffen SS division that had a great time in the latter years of the war.
Right. Now you realise that the churlish refusal to engage in an objective debate on the relevant issues of comparison is leading to an unnecessary "waste of bandwidth"? By stating that : "There was hardly a Waffen SS division that had a great time in the latter years of the war" you are now usefully opening up the debate for others (me included) who will no doubt challenge this fallacy with several examples of Waffen SS units and formations "that had a great time in the latter years of the war"....
Mujo wrote: Two SS divisions were virtually destroyed at Budapest. Dietrich's entire 6. SS Panzer Army did nothing but keep its engines idling during Fruhlingserwachen. So much so as to warrant Hitler's own disgust with their performance and the infamous armband order.
...Followed by the "infamous" decorations - in - a- latrine - bucket riposte from Sepp Dietrich!
Mujo wrote: The evolution of your argument has gone from 'Handschar was sometimes adept at fighting partisans in some sectors' to 'only actions on the eastern front count.'
Nopes...not necessarily the eastern front. Any open combat with significant regular enemy forces anywhere. For instance, Sepp Krafft's small Training and Replacement Battalion's decisive blocking of the British 1st Airborne outside Arnhem. Or the Gotz von Berlichingen doing their bit in Normandy and Metz.

Mujo wrote:The entire Waffen SS rose out of a mutiny with other rival Nazi groups and ended with Himmler's own betrayal.
Which Waffen SS mutiny would that be?

Individuals betrayed at various points. Himmler betrayed, Schellenberg betrayed, Kaltenbrunner betrayed, Fegelein betrayed...so?
Mujo wrote: As for this whole full fledged armored combat... what exactly do you think happened at Barcs, Nagyskanisza, Sigetvar and Siklos?
These were drawn by a veteran following the war and actually go on to name the individuals that he remembers destroying Russian tanks.
Yah,..what exactly happened? There was some fighting with Russian forces including armoured units...like the Volkssturm uncles and HJ kids with panzerfausts were doing anyways in those days ?

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Re: The quality of the Handschar division

Post by Mujo » 31 Aug 2016 23:34

...Followed by the "infamous" decorations - in - a- latrine - bucket riposte from Sepp Dietrich!
The supposed reaction taken by the LSSAH to this order is not in question here. Its their lackluster performance which brought it about. Clearly Hitler expected more from them. Men of the Handschar division lost their right to a divisional armband in a similar fall from grace.
Any open combat with significant regular enemy forces anywhere.
Apparently I need to bring up the Apatin and Batina bridgeheads again. Or maybe I should point out the elephant in the room at this point and bring up the fact that the Soviets did not advance further into Yugoslavia past Belgrade (with the intent of knocking NDH Croatia out of the war), that their primary objective was either cutting off the German retreat in Austria or continuing onto Berlin. And that as a result the German strategy was that of general withdrawal out of the Balkans and had hardly ever involved stand and fight orders.

Individuals betrayed at various points. Himmler betrayed, Schellenberg betrayed, Kaltenbrunner betrayed, Fegelein betrayed...so?
Didn't these four individuals also take the 'Meine Ehre Heisst Treue' oath? According to your own criteria they failed as officers of the organization from which they expected undying loyalty. Amusingly enough you've listed the same number of mutineers (or whatever we should call them) as those 4 Croat/Bosnian ringleaders at Villefranche. If you still dont get it, you've proven the trend for disloyal SS men from the top to bottom. And yet it was a similar handful of SS men and NCOs that enacted that company level mutiny within Handschar's engineer battalion.
A better question is, why view Himmler's betrayal as individual and brand an entire division as mutinous based on the conduct of 4 men in a single company? Why all of a sudden look for exceptions when your usual pattern of logic was that of generalizations?
Why not for that same matter judge Handschar based on the 5 officers put up for the Knights Cross? Aren't they representative of their respective unit's courage and performance?
There was some fighting with Russian forces including armoured units...
So the lack of Russian commitment to the stretch of front manned by men of the 13th Division is a fault of the division itself? And yet Handschar was a part of Op. Fruhlingserwachen where Dietrich's own veteran units did little to set the example.

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