wwii axis reenactment forum

Illustrated history of the Handschar Division
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Author:  42gunner [ Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

Thanks, Im glad I got this section out of the way. More interesting stuff is on the way. I got some nice illustrations of mortars and artillery coming up. Bajram (Bayram) celebration, and the vists of the Mufti and Himmler.

Author:  42gunner [ Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

Introduction to Artillery and Crew Served Weapons

Poor Man’s Artillery - 50mm leichte Granatwerfer 36
It could be carried into position by one man but took two men to operate. More effective use included a spotter or forward observer who could pin point targets and adjust the crew’s fire. It was meant for a high angle of fire as the barrel could not depress under 45 degrees. It was a muzzle loading, trigger firing light mortar system that weight at 31 pounds, firing a 5 cm shell. Max range was 568 yards and was capable of supporting troops under a 100 yards. Shell “5cm Wgr. 36” (maroon, as seen above) was 8.5 inches long, weighed 2 pounds with an HE filling. Ten shells were carried in each box, six rounds could be fired in just 8 seconds. A rate of fire of 15 to 25 rounds a minute could be maintained.
Illustration above shows the loadout of a light mortarman and how he carried the base and ammo box. Lower right also shows the textbook fighting hole for a l.Gr.W. 36 team.
It was usually issued at a company level, rarely on platoon level. It helped supplement the fire of other launched projectile weapons like the Schiessbecher or the heavier mortars. However, just like the light machine gun concept it could close in with the enemy and move as fast, keeping up with the advancing riflemen. It would be assigned to overwatch positions with good fields of fire, as the riflemen proceeded to scout ahead.
The picture below perfectly illustrates it’s mobility and usefulness to mountain troops.

8cm schwerer Granatwerfer 34
A s.Gr.W. 34 is being assembled during Mufti’s visit to the range (SS-Aufklarungs Abteilung 13)

This mortar proved to be one of the most versatile in-direct fire weapons a mountain unit could deploy. This particular mortar system earned a reputation for effectiveness comparable to that of the 88mm cannon. The weapon was so similar to the American heavy mortar that American troops had no trouble deploying it against the Axis forces. Further study of the design, one can find out that it’s superior reputation must’ve come from the crews who deployed it. It was a basic smooth bore, muzzle loaded, fixed firing pin mortar. Firing an 81mm HE shell containing 1.1 pounds of TNT, weighing at 3.5kg. A smoke shell was also produced, it contained a pound of sulphur trioxide. The mortar also featured a mil graduated panoramic sight.
Total weight was 124 pounds, capable of being carried into action by a three man crew or by a couple of mules on a longer march.
Heavy mortars were issued on a battalion level, and although they could fire under a 100 meters all the way out to 1900 meters, targets were usually engaged and suppressed between 400 and 1,200 meters. Shells came in steel cases which held four each. A crew from an infantry division would usually bring twenty four rounds into action, mountain divisions however, who were usually issued less weapons would be compensated in ammunition. Resulting in each crew carrying more shells and even assigning more riflemen to carry additional rounds. Crew consisted of at least three members: gunner, who controlled the deflection and elevation mechanism, assistant gunner who loaded the shell on the command of the gunner, and the ammunition bearer that prepared the shell and inserted the proper fuse. Depending on the situation and range to target, a gun leader could be spotting for the crew with binoculars at the scene or he could be relaying the adjustments and commands of a forward observer. Forward observers themselves would be imbedded with the rifle platoon. In reality, regular NCOs and officers would find themselves calling in fire missions and adjusting fire with the aid of radiomen.
Textbook mortar pit to accommodate the 8cm schwerer Granatwerfer 34.

Other Crew Served Weapons
MG42 Lafette
During the early years of World War One, two heavy machine guns were issued to each battalion and treated just like artillery pieces due to the lack of understanding of proper machine gun tactics at the time. The Germans’ quick realization on the importance of these weapons quickly changed their infantry tactics. The rifleman was now there to make sure the machine gunner completed his mission.
Machine gun crews of the SS-Aufklarungs Abteilung 13 posing with their lafette mounted MG42s. (Picture taken in Bosnia during the 1944’s operations)

Depending on the mission and transportation available a Lafette tripod was used with the standard issue Maschinengewehr 42. Featuring a telescopic sight and a traversing and elevating mechanism it made the machine gun more accurate. The tripod made it a heavy machine gun and a heavy machine gun required a larger crew to sustain it’s operation.
The MG42 in it’s light machine gun role required a gunner, and assistant gunner to operate. Basic equipment requirement was an extra barrel and two or more machine gun belts on top of the ammo the gunner already carried. In this role the assistant gunner would also help the gunner stay on target.
Picture above shows the 2-man light machine gun pit, if there was ever a need to dig in.

In the heavy machine gun role, there was an addition and a requirement for an actual spotter/ gun commander who was responsible for the gun’s employment. A couple more riflemen carried spare barrels and ammunition. During a firefight they would remain close by keeping the ammunition available and covering the machine gun team’s advance.
Handschar would receive a decent amount of MG42s, and a machine gun squad was sometimes available for each platoon of riflemen, according to doctrine. Just like with their mortar teams, a smaller number of machine guns in a company would result in issuing of more ammo and barrels to the team.
Assistant gunner with an extra barrel and two ammunition boxes (each box carried 250 linked 7.92mm rounds)

Heavy machine gun pit for German Lafette mounted machine guns.

The accompanying riflemen would be in two man fighting holes on the flanks of the machine gun pits.
If dug in, machine gun teams would be assigned fields of fire and final protective lines. Supplementary and secondary positions would also be assigned. Dead space (trenches, craters,depressions) areas that could not be covered by direct fire weapons would be assigned to light mortar crews (if available) or riflemen with Schiessbechers. The advancing enemy could not be allowed to take cover in depressions and feel comfortable in front of an MG42.

Author:  42gunner [ Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

7.5cm leichtes Infanteriegeschütz and Gebirgsinfanteriegeschütz 18
l.IG. 18 was a versatile infantry support gun. A few men could bring it into action and keep a steady flow of shells flying down range. Sustainable rate of fire was 8-15 rounds per minute. Barrel life was about 10,000-12,000 rounds. It was available at battalion level.
Statistics below are for the regular Infanteriegeschutz and the Gebirgsinfanteriegeschutz variant:
Calibre: 75 mm (2.95 in)
Elevation: -10° to 73°
Muzzle Velocity (w/HE shell): 210 m/s (689 ft/s)
Range: 3,550 m (3,882 yds)
Traverse: 12°
Weight: 400 kg (882 lbs)
Weight of the 7.5 cm le.GebIG 18: 440 kg (970 lbs)
Weight of HE Shell: 6 kg (13.22 lbs)
Weight of HC Shell: 3 kg (6.6 lbs)

It could be transported with ease, as seen above on the back of a horse carriage. It is not clear which variant this one is exactly.

Mountain Infantry Variant
A modified version of the l.IG 18 made especially for mountain troops. It could be broken down into 6-10 parts and loaded up on mules, which was a common practice. Six mules would carry the gun followed by a couple of others carrying the ammunition. The protective shield was optional.

Author:  42gunner [ Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

10.5cm leichte Feldhaubitze 18/Gebirgs Haubitze 40
SS-Kanoniers from SS-Artillery Regiment 13 firing a 105mm Gebirgs Haubitze 40. 18 during operations in Bosnia, 1944.
This particular gun is the l.FH 18(M) modified for mountain use. The wheels have been removed on this one, most likely due to the situation at hand. The model “M” of the le.FH 18 featured a muzzle brake and a recoil system, increasing range and allowing the use of a more powerful charge. The muzzle brake was double baffle with side flanges. It increased the gun’s range by about 1,800 yards.
The breech mechanism is of the horizontal sliding block type. A hydraulic buffer is built into the cradle on which the barrel slides in recoil, and a hydro-pneumatic recuperator is mounted above the barrel.
Second SS-Kanonier from the left is looking through the sight and operating the traverse and elevating hand wheels.
There are two range drum scales: one in mils ranging from 0 to 1,250; the other in meters ranging from 0 to 1,500 for hollow charge ammunition and from 1,500 to 9,675 for high explosive shells, both with charge 6 in the lower register.
According to doctrine, it took five men to operate.


Caliber 105 mm (4.14 ins.)
Weight 3,660 lb.
Length of piece 10 ft., 4 ins.
Length (firing position) 18 ft., 6 ins.
Height (firing position) 4 ft., 11 ins.
Width (overall) 4 ft., 6 ins.
Length of bore 9 ft., 5 ins.
No. of grooves 32
Muzzle velocity 1,870 f/s
Max. range (horizontal) 13,807 yds. (Chg. 7)
Rate of fire 5+ rounds per minute
Traverse 25°, 20′ left and right
Elevation 70°
Depression -4°, 47′
Length of recoil (variable) 19.7 ins. to 49.2 ins.
10.5 cm F.H. Gr. Al. (32 lb.)*
10.5 cm F.H. Gr. 38 Al.
10.5 cm F.H. Gr. Buntrauch (32 lb.)
10.5 cm 39 rot HL/A and HL/B (25.8 lb.)–Chg. 6 only.
10.5 cm 39 rot AL/C

This mountain version could be split into nine loads for mule transport. Eventough only 420 were made during the entire war, the GebH 40 earned a reputation for being the best mountain howitzer ever made, it saw continued service after the war and on into the 1960s.
Everything about it was conventional but it’s carriage is what made it uniquely innovative.
First, the light-alloy wheels with solid rubber tires, and their spring suspension, were fixed to the legs of the split-trail carriage and would "toe-in" when the legs were spread out in preparation for firing. Second, a firing pedestal was positioned underneath the front of the carriage so that the howitzer had three points of support when firing and to minimize the time needed to find a firing position by reducing the amount of level space required (three level spots being easier to find than four). Third, it could be towed fully assembled, broken down into four loads on single-axle trailers towed by Sd.Kfz. 2 Kettenkrad and halftracks, or be broken down into five pack-loads to be carried by mules.

The leFH 18 itself was also a proven and reliable gun, it supported the infantryman on all fronts and climates. It and it’s variants were the backbone of the 13th SS Artillery Regiment, and credited with helping win the day in many counter insurgency battles in Bosnia.
Many times before attacks on a dug in enemy, a forward observer would scout ahead, get as close as he could to the enemy line, noting every trench, number of occupants, MG and mortar nest…On his command, he would order up to three nearby batteries to open fire on concentrated points along the enemy’s front. As dust was settling, the infantry was already lobbing grenades into the trenches and overrunning the positions.
Such skillful use of artillery and other support weapons would result in overwhelming victories, often capturing many prisoners and weapons while only suffering a small number of wounded.
The Regiment itself had 36 guns divided up amongst 12 batteries, 4 guns a battery. Three batteries making up a battalion. These guns were howitzers and did not include PAKs or infantry guns which had a decent in-direct fire range and were sometimes used in such a manner by units they were attached to. Infantry guns, and even Flak guns would, however, be placed to protect the flanks of the artillery. This regiment also required at least 18 light machine guns for support. The SS-Kannonier was also trained and doubled as a rifleman.

15cm schwere Feldhaubitze 18 “Immergrün”
Backbone of the German medium artillery from the first day of the war till the end.
It proved psychologically effective to have heavy howitzers close to the front lines and the 150mm s.FH. 18 always outdone itself in such cases. Mobility was an issue, luckily the men of IV/AR 13 were supplied with prime movers to get the division’s heaviest guns into positions.
In a worst case scenario, they were also trained to man handle it (IV/AR 13, training in Germany)

The caliber of the HE shell was 149x260mm R, cased separate-loading ammunition, weighing in at 43.5 kilograms. Four could be fired in a minute.
Breech: horizontal sliding block
Recoil: hydropneumatic Carriage split trail
Elevation: −3° to +45° Traverse 64°
Muzzle Velocity: 495 metres per second (1,620 ft/s)
Maximum range: 13,250 metres (14,490 yd)

Himmler inspecting the 7th Battery of the SS-Artillery Regiment 13.

One battalion out of each regiment had heavy howitzers. Here, the 7th Battery with their schwere Feldhaubitze 18s. This particular battery would fight bitterly at the Battle of Lopare making the 16th Vojvodina Division bleed for every foot they took. At Lopare the I/28 Battalion was the buffer between the enemy division and the two artillery batteries supporting it from the rear. The guns were most likely positioned on the hills overlooking the road from Lopare to Priboj.
Picture above shows the positions of the two batteries, the I/28 infantry battalion and the hilly terrain in front of them. The enemy was now only kilometers away and the batteries had to make quick adjustments and focus their salvos directly into the ranks of the advancing enemy. Sauberzweig bragged that the enemy lost 3,000 men during the overall operation.

Author:  42gunner [ Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

Guns of the Flak Abteilung 13
20mm Fliegerabwehrkanone 38
Long before the war German designers realized that the anti aircraft guns might become dual purpose in the field, destroying tanks and suppressing infantry when no air threat was present. Flak crews in the Handschar Division were trained to use their guns in a ground role (due to the low chance of being attacked by allied aircraft), supporting infantry attacks from support by fire positions and protecting the flanks of the gun batteries. Flaks were even issued to the Panzer Jagers. The chance of being attacked by partisan planes was not ruled out, and by the end of 1944, Handschar’s crew downed a decent number of allied planes.

Flak 38, itself was an improved version of the Flak 30, it was adopted in 1939. It was lighter and had a significantly higher rate of fire. 20mm Gebirgsflak 38 was a mountain variant, which was even lighter and simplified. Mount was raised off of the ground allowing it to be set up on un-even ground.

While mounted on wheels it could be horse drawn and pushed into position by a few men. It proved devastating against enemy personnel. Especially if the gun was on an elevated position aiming into a valley, it’s rate of fire and explosive rounds, made it as feared as the MG42 if not more.

Shell 20x138Bmm Caliber 20mm (.79)
Elevation -12°to ±90° Traverse 360°
Rate of Fire 280–450 rounds/min (cyclic)
120–180 rpm (practical)
Muzzle Velocity 900 m/s (2,953 ft/s)
Effective range 2,200 m (2,406 yds)
Feed system 20 round box magazine

20mm Flakvierling 38
Germany 1943, men of the Flak Abteilung demonstrate the use of a Flakvierling to Mufti.

Same day, same flak crew.

The Vierling was produced as the German Army was having doubts about the single barreled Flak 38’s 2cm round being able to stop the ever-increasing speeds of the low flying allied fighter planes. So the solution was quadruple the number of barrels.

The weapon consisted of quad-mounted 2 cm Flak 38 AA guns with collapsing seats, folding handles, and ammunition racks. The mount had a triangular base with a jack at each leg for leveling the gun. The tracker traversed and elevated the mount manually using two handwheels. The gun was fired by a set of two footpedals—each of which fired two diametrically opposite Flak 38s—and could be operated either automatically or semi-automatically. When raised, the weapon measured 307 cm (10 feet 1 inch) high.
Each of the four mounted guns fired from a 20-round magazine at a maximum combined rate of fire of 1,400 rounds per minute (reduced to 800 rounds per minute for combat use). The guns could be fired in pairs (diagonally opposite) or simultaneously, in either semi-automatic or fully automatic mode. Its effective vertical range was 2200 meters. It was also used just as effectively against ground targets as it was against low-flying aircraft.

Shell 20x138B Caliber 20 mm (.78 in)
Elevation - 10° - +100° Traverse 360°
Rate of Fire 1,800 rpm (Cyclic)
800 rpm (Practical)
Muzzle Velocity 900 m/s (2,953 ft/s)
Effective range 2,200 m (2,406 yds)
Feed system 4x 20 round box magazines

8.8cm Flugzeugabwehr-Kanone 18/36/37/41
Members of Flak Abt. 13 are being decorated, late 1944. The kill rings are visible on the barrel. This crew is responsible for downing over 20 Allied aircraft.

A widely used anti aircraft gun, the 88mm “Acht Acht” could be seen on all the fronts in various roles.
It’s high velocity, long range 88mm round made it a superior anti aircraft gun.
One particular incident with a British prisoner fully reflects the reputation the “acht acht” earned in the anti tank role.
"After the battle at Halfaya Pass a member of Rommel's staff overheard a captured British tank driver under interrogation expressing his indignation: In my opinion said the Englishman, with an unfriendly glance at a near-by 88, it is unfair to use 'flak' against our tanks.
A German artilleryman who was sitting on his haunches near by, listening to the interpretation, interjected excitedly, Ja, and I think it most unfair of you to attack with tanks whose armor nothing but an 88 will penetrate."

For the Flak 18/36/37 variants, the HE shell weighed 9kg, flew at a velocity of 820 meters per second out to 14,815-14,860 meters. The AP shell weighed 9.5kg, had a velocity of 795 meters per second with a range of
8,000-10,600 meters. The rate of fire, while firing either shell was 15-20 rounds per minute. All three variants weighed 5 tons (with a transport weight of 8,200kg), had a barrel length of 4.93 meters which could elevate up to 85 degrees.
The Flak 41 was a significant leap forward. It’s High Explosive shell was .4kg heavier, flew at an unheard of 1,000 meters per second velocity out to 19,735-20,000 meters. Armor Piercing shell weighed 10kg, flew at 980 meters per second out to 10675-15000 meters. Rate of fire increased to 20-25 rounds per minute. The increased range is thanks to the 6.54 meter long barrel, which could also elevate five degrees more.
It all came at a price tough, the gun’s combat weight was now, 7,840kg, and a transport weight of 11,240kg.

Author:  42gunner [ Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

Panzer Jagers

Panzerabwehrkannone 40 crew drill done by the men of SS-Panzer Jager Abteilung 13 during Himmler’s visit.

7.5cm Panzerabwehrkannone 40
It made up the bulk of the German anti tank artillery with about 23,500 produced. It proved effective against almost every Allied tank until the end of the war, it continued service with militaries of Germany’s eastern front allies after the war. Caliber of the shell was 75x714mm.
Caliber: 75 mm L/46
Rifling: 32 Grooves, right-hand increasing twist, 1/24 to 1/18.
Length with the carriage: 6.2 metres (20.3 ft)
Length: 3.45 metres (11.3 ft)
Width: 2 metres (6.6 ft)
Height: 1.25 metres (4.1 ft)
Weight (combat ready): 1,425 kilograms (3,142 lb)
Traverse: 65°
Elevation: -5° to + 22°
Rate of fire: 14 rounds per minute
Muzzle velocity:
933 metres per second (3,061 ft/s) (Tungsten cored round)
792 metres per second (2,598 ft/s) (Standard armour piercing)
548 metres per second (1,798 ft/s) (HE)
Engagement range: 1,800 metres (5,906 ft)
Indirect range: 7,678 metres (25,190 ft) m (HE shell)
Projectile weight: 3.18 kilograms (7.0 lb) to 6.8 kilograms (15.0 lb)
Armor penetration (at 90 degrees) at 500 metres (1,640 ft):
132 millimetres (5 in) (Standard armour piercing)
154 millimetres (6 in) (Tungsten cored round)

Men of SS-Panzer Jager Abteilung 13 in formation.

Author:  42gunner [ Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

Would it be possible to sticky this thread?
Overall, it's a collection of info and illustrations on most common subjects.

Author:  42gunner [ Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

Training in Germany

The Division left France for Neuhammer on the first of October. The facility was able to quarter everyone except the Albanian battalion of Regt. 28.
Due to a personnel shortage, a number of units had to be disbanded, among them, were the two cavalry squadrons. The cavalry squadrons were of significant historical value to the Bosnians. In 1740, Fredrick the Great was facing Polish uhlans and was desperately in need of lancers. So, he formed one squadron of Bosnians within his 5th Prussian Hussar Regiment, which later became the oldest and most distinguished Hussar regiment in the Imperial German Army. 5th Hussars were known as the Black or Death’s Head Hussars. Having proven their worth the original force was reformed and expanded in 1771 and given it’s own designation of “Regiment Bosniaken Nr. 9“ . They were symbolic as the first Bosnians who had fought under the Totenkopf.
Nevertheless, many SS-Gebirgsjager Divisions disbanded their Kavallerie units due to manpower problems whether from heavy fighting or other reasons. The Division was already rich on symbolism and nostalgia.

Down time
Some of the men and officers.
Enlisted men singing and playing the accordion.


Time after training (1800 hours) was reserved for cleaning weapons and mending uniforms. More importantly in foreign volunteer SS formations, the men would devote their free time to learning the German language. Time was also spent writing letters and reading.

An officer leading the men in prayer.
(Original photo caption read: "Sie Kampften mit uns fur Europa")

Because the Imams were officers, prayer was scheduled whenever possible. Dzuma (Djumah) on Fridays was mandatory.

Author:  42gunner [ Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

The situation in the Homeland

It is here that we get an insight into the volatile situation going on in the Bosnia. We also get to understand the mindset of the Bosnian volunteer better. The behavior of the Bosnians in the following months reflects that of the events. From the mutiny to the final weeks of the Division.

“Our situation is a difficult one and worsens daily. The Muslim population finds itself in a position where no one can protect them. The Croatian military is unfit to assume the task, the Muslims have hardly any possibility of undertaking the job themselves, and the Germans do not possess sufficient forces. The Muslim men find themselves for the most part in a host of military units. Unfortunately, there is but one hope, that with God’s mercy, the division will save our world; that the killing will stop and that lives will be spared.”

-a letter from a Bosnian civilian to a member of the Division.

Regardless of the German political agenda for the Division, the paragraph above best illustrates every volunteer’s task he was eager to accomplish, and that ultimately, they were not bound to serving within the SS to accomplish that goal.
Regiment 27’s Imam, Hasan Bajraktarevic further explains:

“A negative impression has been made by the new Muslim losses in eastern Bosnia inflicted by the Cetniks and Partisans, including 50,000 new refugees. The larger cities have been inundated with them.
Great bitterness has arose that the division has not yet arrived.”

The communist propaganda has convinced the families of the volunteers that their sons have been sent to the eastern front to die as cannon fodder, or the more ridiculous claim that they were to be worked to death in French mines.
Despite this situation the Division could not return to Bosnia any earlier, efforts were made to raise money to relieve the food shortage. 88,000 Reichsmarks were collected, and an additional 35,000 from other Waffen-SS units.
Imams, hard at work in Bosnia, were able to recruit an additional 1,000 volunteers, bringing the Division to 80% of prescribed strength. SS men from 4th SS-Polizei and 6th SS-Nord Divisions were also transferred, as well as a small number from 1st SS-Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, 2nd SS-Das Reich and 5th SS-Wiking Divisions to fill leadership positions.
Basic training ended on 30th November, followed by squad, platoon and then company sized drills.

Author:  42gunner [ Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

Bajram under the Swastika


“This is the first feast that the entire division will observe together. We want to observe it as a sign that we have grown together into a community of prosperity…that your fate is Germany’s fate.
Adolf Hitler has instructed us to overcome all setbacks and make up for all mistakes; to increase our energy and combat readiness.
So today we shall not despair in view of exasperated struggles on all fronts and in view of the suffering in Bosnia; we shall merely increase our desire to carry out our mission. We will employ all forces to complete the training as quickly as possible. We want to be our Fuhrer’s best soldiers!”



“The world’s Muslims are engaged in a terrible life or death struggle. Today, a war of enormous magnitude is being waged; a war as humanity has never before experienced. The entire world has divided itself into two camps. One stands under the leadership of the Jews, about who God says in the Qur’an, “They are your enemy and God’s enemy.” And that is the English, Americans, and Bolsheviks, who fight against faith, against God, against morality, and just order.
On the other side stands National Socialist Germany with it’s allies, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, who fight for God, faith, morality, and a fairer and more righteous order in the world, as well as for a fairer distribution of goods that God has produced for all people.
As we observe this Bajram feast with good food, and even halva, an entire army of our brothers, our refugees, wander about from city to village, wrapped in rags, barefooted, hungry and cold. Their Bajram feast will be spent in misery and distress. It is even sadder that the Cetniks and Partisans carry on their activities, murdering and plundering wherever they go. But we call out to them, “You can murder and plunder, but the day will come when the tables are turned!”
And to you, dear and beloved Bosnia, we appeal to you, our beloved parents, our loyal wives and children - be patient and ask our God that we finish our training quickly. We will then return and trash our enemies with courage of lions, and liberate our cities and villages, our Bosnia. We shall then celebrate our Bajram feast again in peaceful content land and follow the path and perform the labor that God has shown us.”

Divisional Imam Muhasilovic

Bajramfest 1943

A prayer prior to the celebration.

The Divisional choir sings Bosnian and religious songs.

“Bosansko Kolo”


Imam SS-Hauptsturmführer Husein Dzozo (pronounced Jo-zoh) thanked Himmler for the donations made to the Bosnian family members, an increase in troop rations and the establishment of an Imam school.
“These deeds signify the great benevolence for us Muslims and for Bosnia in general. I therefore consider it my duty to extend our thanks to the Reichsfuhrer-SS in the names of the division’s Imams as well as an in the names of the hundreds of thousands of Bosnia’s poor in that I pledge that we are prepared to lay down our lives in battle for the great leader Adolf Hitler and the New Europe.”

Author:  42gunner [ Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

Himmler’s visit

Himmler’s first visit to the Division at Neuhammer was on 21. November, and the second on the 11th and 12th of January, 1944.

An Old Tradition Reborn

The Charge of the Bosnian Infantry at the Russians, Second Battle at Lemberg on 10. September 1914. Numerically outnumbered, they still attacked. In the midst of all of this, the Regimental band was heard playing.


Himmler had all the right reasons to be inspired by the heroic acts of the Bosnian WW1 regiments. They fought and took part in battles of epic proportions, little known offensives that would make some western front battles look like skirmishes. The tenth Isonzo offensive of the summer of 1917, in particular, included 36 Italian Divisions, 400,000 strong, attacking an Austro-Hungarian force of two times smaller strength, which still made the Italians suffer two men for each Austrian. During the well known British offensive at the Somme, the British initially only fielded 13 Divisions.
One post war caption read:
“A million casualties wasted on the Italian Front--and who remembers?”

(Himmler getting ready to inspect the SS-Aufklarungs Abteilung 13, November 1943)

During his visits Himmler spoke of the Austrian glory, how the Division was to start where the Hapsburgs left off, and the fear the southeastern Europeans had of the Turks.
“Germany and the Reich have been friends of Islam for the past two centuries, owing not to expediency but to friendly conviction. We have the same goals.”
He continued:
“Today the world knows what the SS is. We have more enemies than friends. We know this but it doesn’t bother us in the slightest. The enemy also knows that we are soldiers from the heart of Europe.”

This visit was filmed and footage is available, Himmler saw the I/28 battalion and an artillery battery perform an “attack of a reinforced battalion from the assembly area.”
He also spoke of the unique training methods within the foreign SS formations:
“Owing to the language barrier the officers must conduct the training as follows ( I saw it personally with the Bosnians): the officer assembles his company, lays down behind the machine gun, and gives a German command. His men repeat the order aloud and follow his lead. This continues until each man has learned the task; upon command “Eingraben”, for example, they reach for their entrenching tools and begin digging. In this manner, a division that does not speak German can function under German command. For the officers in these units, the duty does not end at 1800 hrs: the evenings are used for language instruction in the tongues of the men.”

In a response to the Mufti’s pleas for aid, Himmler donated 100,000 Reichsmarks and purchased a large stock of clothing which was turned over to the Merhamed welfare organization.

Author:  42gunner [ Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

Mufit’s visits

Mufti also visited the Division twice at Neuhammer, he visited with Muslim officials from Bosnia and Albania. His visits and the uniqueness of the Division attracted the German press, a newsreel and many pictures of his visit are available. They are some of the best known pictures on the subject to most people, and are very often used for modern day propaganda.

This photograph appeared on the front page of the “Wiener Illustrierte” (Vienna Illustrated)


“The Mufti was loved by the men. He gave us good-will packets during his visits. These packets contained 250 grams of tobacco, four cigarettes, Arabian honey, and fruit.”
Ago Omic

Mufti praying with the men. Asking God for soldier's luck and bravery in the coming operations.
Sauberzweig can be seen standing in the background, over the Mufti's left shoulder.

Another picture of the event. This seems to be the same company he previously reviewed, as alot of the German officers can be seen in the background.

A Sturmmann putting up a picture of Mufti in his barracks. Note the mess tin on the bottom.

The Mufti with an SS Rifleman.

Men of II/28 and SS-Regt. 27 performed live fire exercises during his visits. Here an SS-Jäger is firing his K98 at targets. Winter of 1943, you can clearly see the snow falling. The rifleman himself, seems to be wearing a camouflage smock, an indication that the Division was combat ready at this point. The last of the field exercises would take place in January. Egon Zill’s II/28 battalion which proved itself during the final exercises won a prize of being on the lead transport to Bosnia.

“The Mufti said that these were splendid days that reminded him of his own soldiering during the First World War (as an artillery officer in the Turkish Army) He met six brothers, five of whom formed one gun crew, and a man of fifty five who had joined with his son. Another volunteer, aged fifty, had fifteen children, three of them fighting with the German Armed Forces.”

1943 comes to an end
“Reichsfuhrer! The officers, NCOs and men of the Muslim Division send you, Reichsfuhrer, their greetings at Yuletide - the German Christmas! With these greetings, they vow to fight with spirit and weapons side by side with other SS formations during the New Year to prepare the way for the Europe to be ordered by our Fuhrer. To their Reichsfuhrer they wish success and soldier’s luck during the New Year as well as continued good health. Heil Hitler! In Gratitude, Sauberzweig.”

Author:  42gunner [ Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division


Author:  Schenk [ Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

Great post, I've always wondered how the Handschar functioned and what kind of division it was exactly.

Author:  42gunner [ Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Illustrated history of the Handschar Division

Schenk wrote:
Great post, I've always wondered how the Handschar functioned and what kind of division it was exactly.

Thanks, It's a very interesting subject, and there are alot of fascinating parts to it. Very nostalgic as well.
The whole idea of an SS-Gebirgsjager unit fighting a ferocious anti partisan fight is very attractive to me.

After this I hope to start researching 7.SS-Prinz Eugen, it had a longer operational history.

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