Mujo wrote: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....Followed by the "infamous" decorations - in - a- latrine - bucket riposte from Sepp Dietrich!
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.Any open combat with significant regular enemy forces anywhere.
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.Individuals betrayed at various points. Himmler betrayed, Schellenberg betrayed, Kaltenbrunner betrayed, Fegelein betrayed...so?
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?
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.There was some fighting with Russian forces including armoured units...
Thanks. This post of yours now gives the opportunity for an objective, issue by issue, factual discussion.
Most military units and certainly all WSS formations have in some point in time turned in a lacklustre performance. But perhaps elite formations are not written off by those off colour days. Neither are lesser formations upgraded to the same elite status by that logic. A formation's reputation gets built up over time and consistency. The famous 4th Indian Division (The Red Eagles of North Africa fame), was routed ignominiously by enemy artillery fire early in the 1965 India-Pakistan war. However within the next few days the same Red Eagles helped destroy (along with other formations) the Pakistani armoured spearhead in the battle of Khemkaran - Assal Uttar, in the largest tank battle since World War II. The 12 SS HJ Div was a shadow of its former self after Normandy.
If one insists on making disproportionate military capital out of anti-partisan combat, then several other SS formations would start jostling for glory. Like the SS Karstjaeger Division/Brigade for example. Or (God forbid !) the Kaminski outfit....
The 4 SS big shots who betrayed their cause at the end havent succceeded in demolishing the image of the countless others who fell for their faith. Colonel Shaedle...Leutenant Steyr and their ilk went down spectacularly in Berlin at about that same time. And there were many many others unnamed who chose "ehre" over life. The Waffen SS as a whole didnt get disgraced by those 4 rats.
You have logically pointed out that the number of Handschar personnel who engaged in mutiny were just 4 too. Hence why should that mark the entire division. True. But I haven't based my assessment of the Division on that one instance. I have read the pattern....which includes the series of significant desertions (with arms and equipment too) when the weather turned bad.
I would repeat that my intention was never to bring down the reputation of those men of the Handschar who stayed steady and loyal till the end. There were brave, loyal capable men in this division. But as a formation it doesnt have the same credibility as that of the elite Waffen SS divisions. Thats all.