13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian)

The name comes from an historical Turkish short curved swords. The division's former name was BH – Bosnia Hercegovina.

  • 27th SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgsjäger Regiment (January 1944)
  • 28th SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgsjäger Regiment

Division Leaders:

  • SS-Oberführer Herbert von Obwurzer
  • SS-Brigadeführer Karl Gustav Sauberzweig
  • SS-Brigadeführer Desiderius Hampel

The division was formed on March 1, 1943. The initial staff came from the SS Division Prinz Eugen. Bosnian Muslims were recruited, at first they took volunteers, later men were mobilized. About 20,000 Bosnian and a few hundred Albanian Muslim volunteers gathered into the training camp. Muslims were the enemies of the Serbian Christians and it was easy to use them in fighting against Tito partisans, who were mostly Serbians. From July 1943 to February 1944 the division was on training in France, where the Muslims tried to organize a small mutiny against the Germans.

In spring 1944 the anti-partisan operations began in the Brčko headquarters, where the division stood out with extraordinary cruelty. Many men deserted from the division to the Red Army and the unit, that had lost its trust, was brought back to Germany in October 1944. There the division was reformed with the Volksdeutches new staff into the 13th RegimentGruppe SS Mountain Handschar and into Kampfgruppe Hanke. These units were sent to battle in Hungary, where they were South of Budapest, in Drava and near Lake Balaton. On March 24, 1945 3,770 men were in battles with 10 cannons. The remaining members of the division surrendered to the British units on May 12, 1945 in Austria.


A mountain unit's symbol on the sleeve, Handschar and an angel's symbol on the collar patches.

5 men from this division received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.