22 July 2018

0350 | Photo | SS-Freiwilligen-Division "Prinz Eugen"



Justifying the creation of the ethnic German SS Division "Prinz Eugen", August Schmidhuber, the last division commander, stated in his closing argument in court in Belgrade: "Every nation has the right to expect a healthy national feeling from its national minorities abroad. Why should the Banat Germans not be proud of their German nationality? The formation of the 'Prinz Eugen' Division, therefore, was logical. The division leaving Banat was Draža Mihailović's fault: we had to advance towards Kopaonik." Of course, the implication that the original purpose of the Banat Swabian division was to secure the (plain) Banat was not true, because it was officially a mountain unit right from the start, trained for mountain, counter-guerrilla warfare. However, it is true that the division left its homeland primarily in order to fight the Yugoslav Army rebels, that is, General Mihailović's Chetniks. The penultimate division commander, Otto Kumm, wrote in his history of the division: "In early October 1942, the division was transferred into the southwestern corner of Serbia in order to secure the area – while continuing intensive training. After the bloody suppression of Communist and nationalist uprisings in Serbia by German troops in the autumn of 1941, which particularly hit the towns of Šabac, Kraljevo, Kragujevac, Kruševac and others, the area was relatively quiet. Of course, there were still groups of armed rebels, especially national Chetniks, cruising the forests and mountains; but their will to fight was severely depleted. [...] Already in the first half of October, the division's first large-scale operation was scheduled, which was conceived by Phleps as more of a combined arms exercise under wartime conditions. The enemy was the operational headquarters of the rebel commander of Central Serbia, Major Keserović, in the Kopaonik Mountains, around Kriva Reka." After the (failed) Kopaonik operation, which ended with a horrific massacre of civilians in Kriva Reka, the Banat SS division continued cleansing Southwestern Serbia from Chetnik units. Pictured, members of the "Prinz Eugen" Division search the captured Chetniks in Serbia, in late October 1942.

Text: Ivan Ž.

Photographer: Homann, SS War Correspondent Battalion.
Date: October 1942.
Location: unknown, Yugoslavia.
Original caption: unknown.

File source: National Archives, 242-JRP-34-29-6.

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Pravdajući stvaranje folksdojčerske SS-divizije "Princ Ojgen", August Šmidhuber, poslednji komandant divizije, na sudu u Beogradu je u svojoj završnoj reči izjavio: "Svaki narod ima pravo od svojih nacionalnih manjina u inostranstvu da očekuje zdravo nacionalno osećanje. Zašto Nemci u Banatu ne bi smeli da se ponose svojom nemačkom nacionalnošću? Logičan je, dakle, nastanak divizije 'Princ Ojgen'. To što je divizija napustila Banat, kriv je Draža Mihailović: morali smo nastupati na Kopaonik." Naravno, implikacija da je prvobitna namena divizije banatskih Švaba bila obezbeđenje (ravničarskog) Banata nije bila tačna, jer je ova jedinica od samog početka bila zvanično brdska, obučavana za brdsko, protivgerilsko ratovanje. Međutim, tačno jeste to da je divizija svoj rodni kraj napustila prvenstveno radi borbe protiv pobunjene jugoslovenske vojske, odnosno četnika generala Mihailovića. Pretposlednji komandant divizije, Oto Kum, u svom istorijatu divizije je napisao: "Početkom oktobra 1942. godine, divizija je premeštena u jugozapadni deo Srbije kako bi ovaj prostor – nastavljajući intenzivnu obuku – obezbedila. Posle krvavog suzbijanja komunističkog i nacionalističkog ustanka u Srbiji od strane nemačkih trupa u jesen 1941. godine, koje je posebno pogodilo gradove Šabac, Kraljevo, Kragujevac, Kruševac i dr., u ovom području relativno preovladava mir. Naravno, grupe naoružanih ustanika, posebno nacionalnih četnika, još uvek krstare po šumama i planinama; ali je njihova volja za borbom ozbiljno uzdrmana. [...] Već u prvoj polovini oktobra, zakazana je prva velika operacija divizije, koju je Fleps zamislio više kao vežbu združenih rodova u ratnim uslovima. Neprijatelj je operativni štab ustaničkog komandanta centralne Srbije, majora Keserovića, na Kopaoniku, oko Krive Reke." Nakon (neuspele) kopaoničke operacije, koja je okončana stravičnim pokoljem civila u Krivoj Reci, banatska SS-divizija je nastavila čišćenje jugozapadne Srbije od četničkih jedinica. Na slici, pripadnici "Princ Eugen" divizije pretresaju zarobljene četnike u Srbiji, krajem oktobra 1942. 

Tekst: Ivan Ž.

Fotograf: Homan, Ratnodopisnički bataljon SS-a.
Datum: oktobar 1942.
Mesto: nepoznato, Jugoslavija.
Originalni natpis: nepoznat.

Izvor fajla: National Archives, 242-JRP-34-29-6.

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