Bosnian president and SS-Handschar - the facts

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Lars Gyllenhaal
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Bosnian president and SS-Handschar - the facts

Post by Lars Gyllenhaal » 27 Feb 2006 09:32

Dear fellow researchers,

There are sources claiming that the late Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic in his youth served in the Waffen-SS. But having searched around for an hour or so on this and other forums and in articles etc I believe that those claims are incorrect. What seems to be a fact is that Izetbegovic was a member of a the Young Muslims, an organization which assisted in the recruitment of young muslims to the Waffen-SS division "Handschar". But what hard evidence is there that Izetbegovic himself took part in this recruitment work?

And did Izetbegovic himself ever make any public announcements about the claims of his collaboration with the SS? Are there any serious books with quotes from him re. this subject?

And is there any truth in that (the name) "Handschar" or "Handzar" was "re-activated" by some unit during the 1990´s?

Sincerely,

Lars

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Klemen L.
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Post by Klemen L. » 28 Feb 2006 01:45

What seems to be a fact is that Izetbegovic was a member of a the Young Muslims, an organization which assisted in the recruitment of young muslims to the Waffen-SS division "Handschar". But what hard evidence is there that Izetbegovic himself took part in this recruitment work?

Former Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic was never a member of the 13th Waffen-SS Gebirgs-Division "Handschar". This I can tell you with one hundert percent certainty. He graduated high school in 1943, and studied agriculture for three years. But it is true that in 1940 he joined called the youth movement called "Young Muslims" (Mladi Muslimani), which was to promote, among other things, the Bosnian cultural and national identity.

To my knowledge this movement nor he personally were never directly involved or linked with the recruitment of Bosnians into Waffen-SS. They helped many Bosnian refugees with charity help and funds. These people escaped from Serbian Chetnik terror from east Bosnia and took refugee in Sarajevo, where they lived during the winter of 1941-42 in appauling conditions. Nedless to say that the Waffen-SS recruiters found many more than willing volunteers among these refugees.

More about Young Muslims and Alija Izetbegovic:

The History of "Mladi Muslimani"
URL: http://www.mm.co.ba/organizacija/histor ... ratko.html

Alija Izetbegovic and "Mladi Muslimani"
URL: http://www.mm.co.ba/organizacija/historijat/art145.html

Klemen

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Lars Gyllenhaal
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MM

Post by Lars Gyllenhaal » 28 Feb 2006 07:59

Dear Klemen,

Thank you for your input!

But to be able to dismiss the claims that Mr Izetbegovic collaborated with the SS I do hope that you and/or others can continue providing input here.

The Mladi Muslimani-website (in Bosnian [?] which I unfortunately do not yet comprehend) you linked to - does it explain why Mr Izetbegovic in 1946 was sentenced by the Yugoslav Supreme Military Court to three years imprisonment and two years of deprivation of civil rights? Could that have been simply for MM-membership?

Any other sources? Have any relevant German documents been found?

Sincerely,

Lars

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Klemen L.
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Post by Klemen L. » 28 Feb 2006 13:57

The Mladi Muslimani-website (in Bosnian [?] which I unfortunately do not yet comprehend) you linked to - does it explain why Mr Izetbegovic in 1946 was sentenced by the Yugoslav Supreme Military Court to three years imprisonment and two years of deprivation of civil rights? Could that have been simply for MM-membership?

After the war the Yugoslav communist party wanted and eventually took control of all pores of cultural, social and intellectual life (schools, theatres, universities, youth groups etc.) in Yugoslavia. To obtain the support of the Muslim population for their cause they created a new movement called "Preporod" in order to minimize the Muslim support for the non-communist "Young Muslims". Alija Izetbegovic and some other MM members opposed to this and were promptly arrested and sentenced to three to five years of jail or forced labour.

Klemen

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G. Trifkovic
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Post by G. Trifkovic » 07 Mar 2006 23:55

Mr. Gyllenhaal,

Izetbegovic was a member of "Mladi Muslimani",the organisation which held "equi-distance" from both Nazism and Communism,neither ideology corresponding to their world views (they called themselves "pan-islamists").
So,for example,members of "MM" in May 1943 in "Trebevic" (Today "Appolo") cinema in Sarajevo obstructed the projection of Italian film called "Kapetan Oluja" (I'm not aware of the original Italian title),because the film errenously depicted some aspects of Muslim prayer (as told by Nedzib Sacirbegovic,who took part in the "action";later he was the president of the "American section" of the "MM"):

http://www.bhdani.com/arhiva/111/t114a.htm

On the other hand,some members (I'm not sure about the "official" stand of the organisation) supported the idea of autonomous Bosnia,just what Germans seemed to promise. According to some sources,like "BH Dani" (independent Bosnian weekly) "some of them joined "Handzar" SS division". Whole text in english:

http://www.ex-yupress.com/dani/dani9.html

Izetbegovic himself publicly denied he had any connection to "Handzar" in a statement made on 27th February,2003 in "Daily Avaz",in reaction to a statement by Darko Trifunovic,ex-Bih diplomat in New York,who apparently claimed that Izetbegovic was connected to "Handzar". Izetbegovic claimed he was only 16,5 years of age at "that time".At which time exactly isn't mentioned. He was born in 1925-so in 1943 as recruitment was at full swing,he was 18.
However,I wasn't able to find the statement made by Trifunovic,so I don't know what he exactly said,and what exactly Izetbegovic denied.

http://www.avaz.ba/absolutenm/anmviewer.asp?a=3003&z=7&isasp=

The offical "Mladi Muslimani" site denies the involvment of the members in "fascist" formations,both in the link nr.2 Mr.Klemen provided but also here:

http://www.mm.co.ba/aktuelnosti/na%C5%A1i_stavovi/art86.html

where they dare Dragutin Kosovac,president of Partisan veteran association ("SUBNOR"),to provide the name "of a single MM member who served in Handzar". I'm not aware whether he provided the names or not.

As for the post-war trials: the same link above claims that from "1944-1953 communists launched a dozen of show-trials,none of them accusing the MM members of "Handzar" membership".If true,the disscusion on this aspect of MM history would be over,as I doubt that the communists would fail to use such an accusation,in addition to those already used.

Why were "MM" brought to trial? Most probably "pan-islamism". It appears they admired the newly created Islamic state of Pakistan,so they had to go. In addition to that came their opposition to "Preporod".
Izetbegovic,according to his biography in "Start" (another Bosnian weekly),earned his three years because of his involvment in the paper "Mudzahid".

http://www.startbih.info/broj/art_sex.asp?br=127

If we take into account that:

1.)accusations come mostly from his enemies of the early 90s or those who attempt to vilify Bosnian Muslims without backing it up with hard evidence;
2.)Most of independent sources claim he wasn't involved;
3.)"Mladi Muslimani" (whose very dedicated member was Izetbegovic) propagated "equi-distance" to both fascism and communism,

then I personaly doubt the Izetbegovic's involvement in "Handzar" affair.

Cheers,

Gaius

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Post by Larry D. » 08 Mar 2006 16:03

Gaius -

Excellent analysis!

The only unanswered question might be concerning the efforts (if any) the Germans went to in an attempt to penetrate or subvert the Mladi Muslimani organization. I know from the German Embassy Agram (Siegfried Kasche) microfilms that the Germans and Ustasha were competitively interested in subverting the organization to their respective interests. They both wanted those young Bosnian Muslim boys!

--Larry

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Lars Gyllenhaal
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good analysis

Post by Lars Gyllenhaal » 09 Mar 2006 08:34

Dear Gaius,

I am much indebted to you for really having devoted yourself to this question.

Accusing a modern-day president of this kind of stuff should not be done without A LOT of hard evidence. So, having read your input I for one will not link the late Mr Izetbegovic with the SS-division "Handschar".

break

Forgetting about Izetbegovic´s youth then, is there any kind of truth to the assertion on some older websites that (the name) "Handschar" or "Handzar" was "re-activated" by some official Bosnian military unit during the 1990´s?

Respectfully,

Lars

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G. Trifkovic
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Post by G. Trifkovic » 09 Mar 2006 16:40

Thank you both Mr.Larry and Mr.Gyllengaal for your kind words!

some official Bosnian military unit during the 1990´s?


I hear that for the first time and don't remember that name beeing used in the war .All I know there was a unit called "El-Mudzahid" (first as a part of the 7.Muslim Brigade of the 3rd Corps in Zenica),whose members were mostly "foreign" Muslims.

Claims that the name "Handzar" was reactivated during the wars of the 90s,are to be-what a surprise-found mostly on Serbi(an) sites. According to these sites,the name was apparently so popular that it appears twice-once in Bosnia

http://serbianunity.net/culture/library/Bodanski/deo1/3.htm

and second time in Kosovo,as a part of the army of Kosovars:

http://www.politika.co.yu/ilustro/2229/5.htm

Having the nature of the sources in mind,it won't be hard to tell the truth.

Cheers,

Gaius

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