07 July 2018

0345 | Photo | Waffen-Gebirgs-(Karstjäger-)Brigade der SS



The last days of the war. Members of the British 6th Armoured Division escorting delegates of Battlegroup Harmel (blindfolded, for security reasons) to negotiate terms of surrender, near the village of Dogna, Italy (seen in the background is the Masonry Bridge, Ponte di Muro). The task of SS-Brigadeführer Heinz Harmel's battlegroup, whose main force consisted of remnants of the SS Karst Jäger Brigade (a unit that was meant to become the 24th SS Division), was to make sure that the troops retreating from Yugoslavia and Italy cross the German (Austrian) border and surrender to the Allies, instead of the Yugoslav Partisans (from whom they expected a cruel revenge). The German (Austrian) officer in the foreground is SS-Obersturmführer Oswin Merwald of the SS Karst Jäger Brigade, the man who, in retaliation for a Partisan attack on his soldiers, in October 1943, burnt down the village of Strmec (at the Predel Pass), killing the entire male population. On his left sleeve, he still wears a cuff with the name of the Austrian "Der Führer" Regiment, in which he served during the invasion of Yugoslavia (the same as Heinz Harmel). Shining on his chest, next to the Iron Cross, is the Bandit-Fighting Badge (Bandenkampfabzeichen). (As far as is known, Merwald was never prosecuted for the Strmec crime, nor was he declared a war criminal.)

Text © Ivan Ž.

Photographer: unknown.
Date: 7 May 1945.
Location: Dogna, Italy.
Original caption: unknown.

File source: "Waffen-SS at War", A. J. Barker.
Number: 141 (p. 112).

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Poslednji dani rata. Pripadnici britanske 6. oklopne divizije sprovode delegate Borbene grupe Harmel (sa povezima na očima, iz bezbednosnih razloga) na pregovore o uslovima predaje, u blizini sela Dunje, u Italiji (u pozadini se vidi Zidani most, Ponte di Muro). Zadatak borbene grupe SS-brigadefirera Hajnca Harmela, čije su glavne snage činili ostaci Kraško-lovačke SS-brigade (nesuđene 24. SS-divizije), bio je da omogući trupama u povlačenju iz Jugoslavije i Italije prelaz preko nemačke (austrijske) granice i predaju saveznicima, umesto jugoslovenskim partizanima (od kojih se očekivala surova osveta). Nemački (austrijski) oficir u prvom planu je SS-oberšturmfirer Osvin Mervald iz Kraško-lovačke SS-brigade, čovek koji je oktobra 1943. godine, u cilju odmazde za jedan partizanski napad na njegove vojnike, spalio selo Strmec (na Predelu), pobivši celokupno muško stanovništvo. Na levom rukavu on i dalje nosi traku s imenom austrijskog puka "Firer", u kojem je služio za vreme invazije na Jugoslaviju (kao i Hajnc Harmel). Na njegovim prsima, pored Gvozdenog krsta, sjaji se Značka za borbu protiv bandi (Bandenkampfabzeichen). (Koliko je poznato, Mervald nikada nije odgovarao za zločin u Strmecu, niti je proglašen za ratnog zločinca.)

Tekst © Ivan Ž.

Fotograf: nepoznat.
Datum: 7. maj 1945.
Mesto: Dunja, Italija.
Originalni natpis: nepoznat.

Izvor fajla: "Waffen-SS at War", A. J. Barker.
Broj: 141 (str. 112).

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