06 August 2018

0353 | Photo | Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer Alpenland



Operation "Kočevje". On the night between 9 and 10 December 1943, the Partisan XIV Division (three brigades strong: the I, II, and XIII) attacked the German garrison in Kočevje (three companies strong: the 2nd Company of the 19th SS Police Regiment and the 3rd and 7th companies of the Slovenian Home Guard). The incomparably superior Partisan forces captured relatively quickly all enemy strongholds – except the old castle, to which the garrison remnants withdrew. The Partisans shelled, attacked and torched the castle, but, due to its thick walls, failed to finish off the besieged crew; from a XIV Division report, the third day of the siege: "The castle walls are about 2-3 metres thick, even a 100 mm howitzer cannot break through them. We had to gradually demolish the walls with howitzers. The walls were demolished, with howitzers, on two sides of the castle, and an opening was made. However, everything was destroyed inside the castle so much that our men, having penetrated into the castle, could not go any further. Additionally, the Germans were closing all openings very quickly. Our men managed to set the castle on fire in two places during the night, after they charged through the castle doors that were smashed by a howitzer. Already half of the castle is in flames." And then, when everyone expected that the castle would finally fall, German reinforcements arrived in the nick of time and forced the Partisans to retreat. (According to the Partisans, their "units evacuated themselves from the city due to too much pressure"; according to the Germans, "when the first tanks appeared, the bandits turned to wild flight.") The reinforcements, which, thanks to the poor Partisan defense and intelligence service, relatively easily broke through to the city, consisted of the 314th Regiment of the 162nd (Turkestani) Infantry Division, a reinforced battalion of the 19th SS Police Regiment, the 13th Police Armoured Company and the 27th and 28th companies of the Slovenian Home Guard. Having found out about the Kočevje debacle, the Partisan Main Headquarters immediately ordered: "1. Find the culprits responsible for the relatively easy German penetration from Ljubljana through Turjak, check how the roads were dug and mined, and who is responsible for the superficiality and inadequate resistance of the forces in charge of the security in that sector. 2. Launch an investigation on who is responsible for the slow and reckless reaction in Kočevje itself, to the news of the German penetration from Ribnica. 3. Punish the responsible leaders and, if necessary, replace them. 4. Prepare everything for a renewed attack on Kočevje immediately..." In this action, besides failing to complete their task and destroying half of the city along the way, the Partisans also lost their division commander, Mirko Bračič. He was killed by his comrade Franc Bobnar Gedžo, commander of the XIII Brigade, because of his cruel treatment of his own fighters, whom he shot for trifles, mostly because of their objections, or personal grudges. (In memory of the killed commander, officially "fallen at the head of his fighters", the Main Headquarters gave the XIII Brigade, i.e. his killer's brigade, the name "Mirko Bračič". Bobnar later committed suicide, and Bračič was proclaimed a national hero.) Pictured, German troops chat while having a snack among the ruins in front of the old castle, after relieving the besieged garrison. In the foreground, a member of the 19th SS Police Regiment, with his mouth full, passes by a captured Italian L6/40 tank, now in the service of the German police. (Notes: The source of the photograph, the Museum of Yugoslavia, incorrectly described this undamaged tank as being destroyed, by fighters of the XIV Division. The photographer, SS war correspondent Kleine, incorrectly stated in his caption that the Partisan siege lasted for 10 days, instead of three.)

Text © Ivan Ž.

Photographer: Kleine.
Date: 12 December 1943.
Location: Kočevje, Yugoslavia.
Original caption: "While liberating a city, police relieve their 10 days besieged comrades. [...]"

File source: Znaci / Muzej Jugoslavije, 7676.

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Operacija "Kočevje". U noći između 9. i 10. decembra 1943. godine, partizanska XIV divizija (jačine tri brigade: I, II i XIII) napala je nemački garnizon u Kočevju (jačine tri čete: 2. četa 19. policijskog SS-puka i 3. i 7. četa Slovenačkog domobranstva). Neuporedivo jače partizanske snage zauzele su relativno brzo sva neprijateljska uporišta – osim starog zamka, u koji su se ostaci garnizona povukli. Partizani su zamak granatirali, napadali i palili, ali, zbog debelih zidova, nisu uspevali da dokrajče opkoljenu posadu; iz izveštaja XIV divizije, trećeg dana opsade: "Zidovi zamka debeli su 2-3 metra, tako da ih ni haubica od 100 mm ne može probiti. Zidove smo morali tek postepeno rušiti haubicama. Na dve strane zamka su zidovi, pomoću haubica, srušeni i napravljen je otvor. Ipak je bilo u unutrašnjosti zamka sve toliko porušeno da naši, kad su prodrli u zamak, nisu mogli dalje. Pored toga, Nemci sve otvore velikom brzinom zatrpavaju. Naši su uspeli da tokom noći zapale zamak na tri mesta, i to nakon juriša kroz vrata zamka koja su bila razbijena pomoću haubice. Sada se već pola zamka nalazi u plamenu." A zatim, kada su svi očekivali da će zamak konačno pasti, Nemcima je u poslednji čas stiglo pojačanje i prinudilo partizane na povlačenje. (Prema partizanima, njihove "jedinice su se, usled suviše jakog pritiska, evakuisale iz grada"; prema Nemcima, "kada su se pojavili prvi tenkovi, banditi su se dali u divlji beg".) Pojačanje, koje se, zahvaljujući lošoj partizanskoj odbrani i obaveštajnoj službi, s relativnom lakoćom probilo do grada, činili su 314. puk 162. (turkestanske) pešadijske divizije, ojačani bataljon 19. policijskog SS-puka, 13. policijska oklopna četa i 27. i 28. četa Slovenačkog domobranstva. Saznavši za debakl svojih jedinica u Kočevju, partizanski glavni štab je odmah naredio: "1. Treba potražiti odgovorne krivce za srazmerno lak prodor Nemaca iz Ljubljane preko Turjaka, izvršiti kontrolu kako su putevi bili prokopani i minirani, i ko je odgovoran za površnost i nedovoljnu otpornost snaga koje su se nalazile na obezbeđenju u tom pravcu. 2. Treba povesti istragu o odgovornosti za sporost i lakomislenost u samom Kočevju kad su stigle vesti o prodiranju Nemaca iz Ribnice. 3. Odgovorne rukovodioce treba kazniti i, prema potrebi, smeniti. 4. Odmah treba pripremiti sve za ponovan napad na Kočevje..." Osim što nisu ispunili zadatak, razrušivši usput pola grada, partizani su u ovoj akciji izgubili i svog komandanta divizije, Mirka Bračiča. Ubio ga je njegov saborac Franc Bobnar Gedžo, komandant XIII brigade, zbog okrutnog ophođenja prema sopstvenim borcima, koje je streljao zbog najobičnijih sitnica, uglavnom prigovora, ili ličnog zameranja. (U spomen na ubijenog komandanta, zvanično "palog na čelu svojih boraca", glavni štab je XIII brigadi, tj. brigadi njegovog ubice, dao ime "Mirko Bračič". Bobnar je kasnije izvršio samoubistvo, a Bračič je proglašen za narodnog heroja.) Na slici, nemačke trupe ćaskaju dok užinaju među ruševinama ispred starog zamka, po oslobađanju opkoljenog garnizona. U prvom planu, jedan pripadnik 19. policijskog SS-puka, punih usta, prolazi pored zaplenjenog italijanskog tenka L6/40, sada u službi nemačke policije. (Napomene: u izvoru fotografije, Muzeju Jugoslavije, ovaj neoštećeni tenk je netačno opisan kao uništen, od boraca XIV divizije; autor fotografije, ratni dopisnik SS-a Klajne, u svom je natpisu netačno naveo da je partizanska opsada trajala 10 dana, umesto tri.)

Tekst © Ivan Ž.

Fotograf: Klajne.
Datum: 12. decembar 1943.
Mesto: Kočevje, Jugoslavija.
Originalni natpis: "Pri oslobađanju jednog grada, policija oslobađa svoje 10 dana opkoljene drugove. [...]"

Izvor fajla: Znaci / Muzej Jugoslavije, 7676.

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