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Carl Savich | Columns | serbianna.com Bosnia’s Nazi Past: The Kama Division

By Carl Savich

Kama Division: On far left, Gotz Berens von Rautenfeld of the Handzar Division. 
Bosnia's Nazi Past
 
Bosnia’s Nazi past has been sedulously covered-up by mainstream historians. The history has either been deleted, censored, manipulated, or falsified. The US government and media manufactured a bogus Holocaust and Nazi propaganda rationale for the Bosnian civil war, while at the same time painstakingly covering up the real Nazi past of Bosnia. There is a connection between Bosnia and the Holocaust. It is not, however, the phony US propaganda construction. Very little is known in the Western mainstream historiography about the Bosnian Muslim Handzar Nazi SS Division. What we do know about Handzar has been falsified, manipulated, and distorted by Bosnian Muslim apologists and propagandists such as Stephen Schwartz, Noel Malcolm, Tim Judah, and Norman Cigar.

Almost nothing is known about the second Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS Division, the 23rd Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS “Kama”, formed in 1944. The Kama Division was the sister division of Handzar.


Hellmut Raithel, the commander of the second Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS Division, Kama. 
Why was the Nazi past of Bosnia covered up? The Nazi past of Bosnia had to be covered up because the documentation of the Bosnian Muslim and Croat role in the Holocaust would destroy the US Holocaust propaganda paradigm that was used against the Bosnian Serbs and all Serbs in general. Moreover, US propaganda sought to obfuscate the fact that the Bosnian Muslims and Croats were proxies of the Nazis before they were proxies of the US and NATO. Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler got there before they did. It was a meticulously planned and organized cover up. The goal of US propaganda was to conceal the fact that Bosnian Muslims, Croats, and Kosovo Albanian Muslims were the most fanatical and committed Nazis and fascists. Ultimately, this is why Bosnia’s Nazi past had to be concealed and falsified.

What is the real history of Bosnia during the Holocaust? Who were the real Nazis in the Balkans? What is Bosnia’s Nazi past? What role did the Bosnian Muslim Kama Nazi SS Division play in World War II and the Holocaust?

Islam and Nazism

During World War II, Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler sought to create two Bosnian Muslim SS Divisions and two Albanian Muslim SS Divisions for Kosovo and Western Macedonia. In a May 22, 1944 letter to Artur Phleps, Himmler stated:


Islam and Nazism: A Bosnian Muslim imam leads the Nazi SS Division Handzar in Islamic prayer or Jumah. 
My goal is clear: The creation of two territorial corps, one in Bosnia, the other in Albania. These two corps, with the Division ‘Prinz Eugen’, as an army of five SS mountain divisions are the goal for 1944.

Adolf Hitler approved the formation of the second Bosnian Muslim Waffen SS Division, 23rd Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS “Kama” (kroatische Nr. 2), on May 28, 1944. Kama was the second Bosnian Muslim SS Division formed by Himmler. Kama was the sister division of the earlier Handzar division. The name was derived from the Turkish word “kama”, a shepherd’s knife or fighting knife, meaning dagger or dirk, from the Ottoman period. Transfers and recruitments for the cadre personnel had been begun on June 10. The objective was initially to recruit a Waffen SS Division of over 19,000 troops but by September 10, 1944, the number of men in the still forming division was 126 officers, 374 NCOs, and 3,293 men, 3,793 men in all.

Gottlob Berger, the head of Waffen SS recruiting, traveled to Novi Dvori on August 13, 1944, to discuss the formation of the division with Croatian NDH government officials. Berger wrote Himmler on August 17 that “the induction of 10,000 Croatian citizens of the Islamic faith (was) not possible, for such a number of reliable youngsters (was) simply not available, and thus Catholic Croatians will be (accepted).” Himmler had planned to create a division made up entirely of Bosnian Muslims. The 10,000 projected recruits for the division would consist of Bosnian Muslims of the birth years 1926 and 1927. Bosnian Muslim volunteers of Ante Pavelic’s bodyguard or the Ustasha militia were excluded. Bosnian Muslims from the Muslim militia in the NDH were also to be recruited in the Kama Division if the NDH regime deemed it necessary. The entire Reconnaissance Battalion from the Handzar Division was transferred to Kama. According to a September 2 letter by NDH envoy Siegfried Kasche, the Muslim recruits were to be assembled by September 15.


Waffen SS recruiting poster for Nazi SS: "Bosnians! Join the ranks of the Waffen SS. Defend your beautiful homeland, your wives, and children." 
The Kama Division was commanded by SS Standartenfuehrer Hellmut Raithel, who had earlier commanded the 28th Regiment of the Handzar Division. Raithel had also commanded the 11th Regiment of the 6th SS Division “Nord”. Raithel commanded the division from July 1, 1944 to September 28, 1944. The Quartermaster was SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Ernst Fritscher. SS Sturmbannfuehrer Sepp Syr commanded the Waffen-Gebirgsjaeger Regiment der SS 56 of the Kama Division. SS-Haupsturmfuehrer Wilhem Morisse commanded the 23rd SS Supply Battalion. SS-Sturmbannfuehrer Hermann Otto commanded the 23rd SS Engineer Battalion. SS-Sturmbannfuehrer Egon Zill commanded the IIIrd Battalion of Regiment 56. SS Unterscharfuehrer Fredo Gensicke was part of the aufstellungsstab or formation staff for the Kama Division.

The order of battle consisted of Regiments 55 and 56, Artillery Regiment 23, and a medical, reconnaissance, supply, anti-aircraft, signal, medical, and anti-tank battalion.

The Order of Battle for Kama was as follows:

- Waffen-Gebirgsjaeger-Regiment der SS 55 (kroatische nr. 3), regiment no. 3
- Waffen-Gebirgsjaeger Regiment der SS 56 (kroatische nr. 4), regiment no. 4
- Waffen-Gebirgs Artillerie Regiment der SS 23, artillery regiment
- SS-Aufklarungs-Abteilung 23, reconnaissance unit
- SS-Flak-Abteilung 23, anti-aircraft unit
- SS-Panzerjaeger-Abteilung 23, anti-tank unit
- SS-Nachschub-Abteilung 23, supply unit
- SS-Pionier-Bataillon 23, pioneer battalion
- SS-Nachrichten-Abteilung 23, signal unit
- SS-Feldlazarett 23, field hospital
- SS-Feldersatz-Bataillon 23, field replacement battalion
- SS-Sanitats-Abteilung 23, medical unit
- SS-Verwaltungs-Abteilung, administrative unit


Fez worn by Kama Division troops with Nazi swastika and SS Totenkopf badge. 
On June 23, 1944, the 1,137 troops for “Kama” were assembled in the Bosnian town of Bosnjaci in eastern Bosnia. The 54 officers, 187 NCOs, and the troops were transferred to Bachka on July 15. Sauberzweig had advised that the Kama Division be formed outside of Bosnia, not in the Bosnian security zone. Sauberzweig warned that the troops in Kama “should not be trained in Bosnia…due to the Ustasa’s negative influences.” Himmler ordered that Kama be formed in the Bachka region of Vojvodina, then annexed to a Greater Hungary.  A Waffen SS Corps headquarters was also established in Bacsalmas in Hungary under Karl-Gustav Sauberzweig to provide tactical command of the Kama and Handzar Divisions, the XI SS Mountain Corps, or XI. Waffen-Gebirgs-Korps der SS (kroatisches).

Vojvodina and the Kama Division

The Kama Division was formed and trained in the Bacska/Bachka/Batschka region, formerly part of Yugoslavia, at that time annexed by Hungary. The region for the initial formation of the division was in the area between the Sava, Bosna, and Speca rivers. Later, the division was transferred to the Bachka region of the Vojvodina region of Serbia to avoid attacks by guerrillas. The two recruiting depots for Kama were located in Sombor and Bogojevo in Vojvodina, in the Bachka region then annexed to a Greater Hungary since 1941. The 3rd and 4th regiments of Kama were based in the region between Sombor and Vrbas. The Kama artillery regiment was located near Kula. It was in this region of Vojvodina that the Kama Nazi SS Division was formed and assembled.


A rare photo of the 31st "Batschka" Nazi SS Division formed in Vojvodina in 1944. 
Three NCOs from every company of the Handzar Division were transferred to Kama, as were cadres, and several officers. On June 19, Sauberzweig became the commander of the IX Waffen SS Corps. On June 22, Sauberzweig met with Himmler in Berlin to discuss the two Bosnian Muslim SS Divisions. Sauberzweig argued that the divisions should be used solely for “pacification” in eastern Bosnia and not in military operations. This was what Himmler initially sought for the divisions as well. Sauberzweig explained to Himmler that the creation of Kama and the Kosovo Albanian SS Division Skanderbeg had depleted the manpower of the Handzar division:

When the division first went into action, it was not fully combat-ready. The infantry regiments possessed only six line companies apiece. The transfer of the Albanians (to the “Skanderbeg” Division), officers and NCOs included, made the situation worse, especially when no replacements for the latter (were received), and the division’s combat strength was reduced by 25%.


Fredo Gensicke, was part of the formation staff of the Kama Division.
The Kama SS Division was made up of Bosnian Muslim, Croat, and German troops. Himmler created Kama to reinforce the Handzar Division, then engaged in combat in eastern Bosnia. Kama and Handzar were meant to occupy eastern Bosnia and create a Muslim autonomous area under the SS. Himmler’s objective was to create a Bosnian Muslim state within a state in the NDH. Himmler consciously sought to revive the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg policies in Bosnia. The Bosnian Muslims became Nazi proxies who would advance the agenda of Nazi Germany. Their payback from Himmler would be Bosnian Muslim “autonomy” or a Muslim statelet under Nazi sponsorship. The Kama Nazi SS Division thus had clear-cut political implications. The Kama division advanced Bosnian Muslim nationalist goals.

The SS-FHA sought to have the Kama division ready for frontline combat by September 24. The division was forming in July and August. The rapid Soviet Red Army advances into Hungary and Yugoslavia, however, forced the German army to retreat from the Balkan theater of military operations. The training and formation of the Kama division had to be speeded up.


Collar patch of the Kama Division.
Himmler wanted to exploit the jihadist nature of Islam for the Nazi cause. Himmler wanted to harness the fanaticism of Islam for Nazism. He encouraged a holy war mindset in the Kama division. In furtherance of this objective, each regiment of Kama had a mullah, a religious expert on the Koran, and each battalion had an imam, the religious leader of the local Muslim community who conducts prayer services in mosques. Fredo Gensicke, a Reichsdeutsche SS sergeant who was transferred to the Kama Division on July 20, 1944, described the religious fanaticism of the Bosnian Muslim troops in Kama as follows:

The best battle ready units within the Division were those that came from the Reich, like the artillery, signals and assault gun detachments, There were forever complications with the Bosnian soldiers. These desertions continued and came especially after brand new uniforms had been issued. They would throw away their uniforms. They were unreliable and were in contact with Chetniks, Ustashe, and Poglavnik cells. On the other hand, there were those Muslims so fanatical in their religion that one could get a knife stuck in the back if you would twist your head around, forcing the tassel on the Fez hat to move around.

31st Waffen SS Freiwilligen Grenadier Division "Batschka"

The subsequent advance of the Russian Red Army into Hungary and the retreat of the German forces in Yugoslavia forced the Germans to disband the Kama Division by September-October, 1944, after a roughly five month existence. The Bosnian Muslim troops in the division were ordered to report to the Handzar Division. Some deserted, but most returned to the Handzar Division in Bosnia. The Waffen SS divisional number “23” was reassigned to the newly forming Dutch Waffen SS Panzer Grenadier Division “Nederland”.


Collar patch/insignia for the "Batschka" SS Division formed in Vojvodina.

SS Oberfuehrer Gustav Lombard commanded Kama in its final stages, from September 28 to October 1, 1944. In October, the personnel from the Kama division were transferred to the newly forming 31st SS Freiwilligen Grenadier Division “Batschka” made up of volksdeutsche or ethnic Germans in the Bachka region of Vojvodina. The Batschka division was set up to maintain the Vojvodina region of Serbia as part of a Greater Hungary. Hellmut Raithel, the former commander of Kama, was transferred to the new Batschka division in Vojvodina. Lombard commanded the Batschka division until April, 1945 when SS Brigadefuehrer August-Wilhelm Trabandt assumed commanded. Trabandt surrendered the division on May 8, 1945 at Koniggratz.

The Kama Division and Muslim Nationalism

The Kama Division was formed at too late a stage in the war to have an impact. Kama was formed when the German forces in the Balkans were in retreat and under heavy assault by the Soviet Red Army. The Kama Division was formed to create a Bosnian Muslim autonomous statelet in eastern Bosnia, an SS security or recruitment zone.


Raithel, on far left, when he was a member of the Handzar Division, crossing the Sava River in Bosnia in 1944. 
Mainstream historians and Bosnian Muslim apologists and propagandists such as Noel Malcolm, Stephen Schwartz, and Tim Judah, entirely miss the significance of the Kama and Handzar divisions. Is this by accident? The propagandists miss the point because they do not want to see it. They engage in self-delusion and self-repression and denial.

The Kama and Handzar divisions were formed by Heinrich Himmler and Bosnian Muslim political, religious, and cultural leaders because they wanted to advance Muslim nationalism. The two Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS divisions were created to create a Muslim state or statelet. They form the basis and core of Bosnian Muslim ultra-nationalism during the Holocaust. The objective was to achieve Muslim “autonomy” or a Nazi “protectorate” or “security zone” or SS state.

The Kama division cannot be separated from Bosnian Muslim nationalism. Kama was not a deviation or fluke. It showed the interrelationship of Islam and Nazism, of Bosnian Muslim nationalism and Hitler’s New Order in Europe. The history of Bosnia cannot be understood without an analysis of Bosnia’s long-suppressed and censored Nazi past.


Carl Savich
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