Tuzshura By Novemberthe autonomists were desperate to protect the Muslim people and wrote to Adolf Hitler asking that he annex Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Reich. For which anyone would gladly sacrifice his life. The battalion captured several more Partisan positions in the following week. As they broke out of the encirclement to the north, the rest of the reconnaissance battalion drove south from Bijeljina and stopped the Partisan advance at heavy cost.
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The NDH combined almost all of modern-day Croatia , all of modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina and parts of modern-day Serbia into an "Italian-German quasi-protectorate". A Muslim leader reported that not one Muslim occupied an influential post in the administration. Although this was an overstatement, Muslims were underrepresented in government positions, comprising only two of 20 ministerial positions, none of the six state secretaries was a Muslim, and there were only 13 Muslim "people representatives" in a total of The Muslims received little protection from the Croatian Home Guard , the regular army of the NDH, whom the Germans described as "of minimal combat value".
By November , the autonomists were desperate to protect the Muslim people and wrote to Adolf Hitler asking that he annex Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Reich. Both the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS were concerned about the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the NDH that tied down German military personnel needed elsewhere. In addition, a serious food shortage threatened the region. I hope that the area south of Srem will be liberated by As a compromise, the word "Croatian" was included in its official title and Catholic Croatian officers were recruited.
He was escorted by von Krempler, who spoke Turkish. Himmler then allowed a 10 percent Christian component, but the recruitment of sufficient Muslims continued to prove difficult, resulting in the induction of 2, Catholic Croats into the division. He was eventually judged unsuitable, and was replaced with a German just before the division went into combat.
Pavlowitch states that sixty percent of its recruits were Muslims and the rest were Yugoslav Volksdeutsche who made up the majority of its officers and non-commissioned officers. He further states it was the largest of the Muslim SS divisions with 26, men. This advice soon proved prophetic. A "proven leader of men", he spoke no Serbo-Croatian but quickly gained the lasting respect and affection of the men of the division.
Apparently, the mutineers believed that many of the enlisted men would join them and they could reach the Western Allies. Willfried Schweiger. Schweiger did the same with 2nd Company. Tomasevich  states that 78 of the worst offenders were executed, but Lepre lists only 14 executions  while four more deserters were located and shot in late September.
Enlistees who were deemed "unsuitable for service" or "politically unreliable" were subsequently purged. Eventually, Bosnians were removed from the division and sent to Germany for labour service with Organisation Todt.
Of these, refused and were sent to the Neuengamme concentration camp where dozens of them died. Five soldiers were also decorated. As a result of the mutiny, the division was moved to the Neuhammer training grounds in the Silesian region of Germany present-day Poland to complete its training. SS-Freiwilligen b. Gebirgs-Division Kroatien , but a short time later a change was made to differentiate it from those that were composed of Germans and it became the 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar 1st Croatian German : Waffen-Gebirgsdivision der SS "Handschar" kroat.
It roughly corresponded with the area of operations of the Partisan 3rd Corps. The aim of Operation Wegweiser was to clear a part of the Syrmia region which was occupied by Partisans who threatened the Zagreb-Belgrade railway. The Partisans were operating from forests around Bosut and villages along the Sava.
As the division entered the area, the Partisans withdrew to the south-east, avoiding decisive engagement. Sauberzweig claimed the Partisans suffered killed and 82 captured. Sauberzweig wrote an open letter to the division: "We have now reached the Bosnian frontier and will soon begin the march into the homeland. Not only do you have these in your hands, but above all you have an idea in your hearts — to liberate the homeland. Before long, each of you shall be standing in the place that you call home, as a soldier and a gentleman; standing firm as a defender of the idea of saving the culture of Europe — the idea of Adolf Hitler.
This was a direct appeal to the Albanian troops as well as the Bosnians. Contact was immediately made with Partisan forces, who quickly withdrew into the forests.
The service support units remained north of the Sava in Vinkovci , which became their permanent garrison area. The 27th Regiment advanced easily across the Pannonian Plain through Velino Selo to Brodac and then on to Bijeljina which was taken against light Partisan resistance late on 16 March.
The battalion captured several more Partisan positions in the following week. They were mostly former members of various Muslim militias who had been conscripted into the ranks of the Partisans. The 27th Regiment quickly captured Janja and drove through Donja Trnova to reach the Ugljevik coal mines , an important economic objective for the German war machine. Following fighting which continued into the evening of 13 April, the 27th Regiment reported Partisan casualties of dead, 45 captured and two deserters along with large amounts of weapons and ammunition.
The regiment also seized a huge amount of medical supplies from aid stations in the area of Donja Trnova. The Germans considered Operation Osterei a major success, achieving all objectives with minimal losses. These teams killed over Partisans and captured over between 21 and 23 April. The 13th SS Division was under the command of V SS Corps, and the primary tasks of the division were to capture Tuzla and Zvornik, then drive south parallel with the Drina to meet other Corps elements.
The original plan included the parachute insertion of th SS Parachute Battalion into the Vlasenica area, but this was cancelled due to unsuitable weather. Flank security was to be provided by the reconnaissance battalion in the Srebrnik area. The following day it continued on as far as Stupari.
On 25 April, the 27th Regiment advanced south to capture Zvornik. The Partisans were encircled in the Stolice heights. An attempt by the Partisan 16th Vojvodina Division to relieve the surrounded force was defeated by the reconnaissance battalion and elements of the 28th Regiment. After heavy bombardment by the artillery regiment, the trapped Partisan force escaped south out of the pocket under cover of darkness on 18 May. The Partisans suffered considerable casualties, for example the 17th Majevica Brigade of the 27th East Bosnia Division lost 16 killed and 60 missing.
Since its arrival in the zone the division had been assisted in this task by local forces of varying reliability. These same groups, along with the Partisans, had simultaneously been trying to encourage Bosnian and Croat members to defect.
Between March and June , these attempts were largely fruitless, producing fewer than deserters. The Partisan 3rd Corps planned an offensive that involved three parallel columns of divisional strength thrusting north into the zone to engage and destroy German and local allied forces.
Sauberzweig claimed 3, Partisans were killed in this operation, but Phleps dismissed this as "a large exaggeration". According to one German after-action report, they had killed over 1, Partisans and captured large amounts of arms and ammunition.
Both the new corps headquarters and new division were to be formed in southern Hungary. While guarding the labourers, they subjected them to cruel treatment, and shot 22 who were unable to continue working.
The airstrip was just north of the southern boundary of the security zone and was being used by Allied aircraft to bring in supplies and evacuate wounded Partisans to Italy.
At the same time as the counter-attack was underway, the headquarters of the Partisan 3rd Corps ordered the 36th Vojvodina Division to clear the enemy from the area so that the airfield could be used.
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