7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen – Yugoslavia, 1943
⇒ The 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen was a German mountain infantry division of the Waffen-SS, the armed wing of the German Nazi Party that served alongside but was never formally part of the Wehrmacht during World War II in Yugoslavia. Formed in 1941 from Volksdeutsche (ethnic German) volunteers and conscripts from the Banat, Independent State of Croatia (NDH), Hungary and Romania, it fought a counter-insurgency campaign against communist-led Yugoslav Partisan resistance forces in the occupied Serbia, NDH and Montenegro. It was given the title Prinz Eugen after Prince Eugene of Savoy, an outstanding military leader of the Habsburg Empire who liberated the Banat and Belgrade from the Ottoman Empire in the Austro-Turkish War of 1716–18. It was initially named the SS-Freiwilligen-Division Prinz Eugen (SS-Volunteer Division Prinz Eugen).
|Motto(s)||Vorwärts, Prinz Eugen!
(Forwards, Prinz Eugen!)
|Engagements||World War II|
Karl von Oberkamp
⇒ In the video above it is fighting the Yugoslavian resistance in Montenegro in 1943: in Operation Weiss I, the Division advanced from Karlovac area against NOVJ units resistance and on January 29 captured informal partisan capital Bihać. In Operation Weiss II it forced its way from western Bosnia to Mostar area in Hercegovina and also deployed units northwest of Sarajevo.
In May the Division took part in operation against Chetniks. The Operation was successful and Draža Mihailović was forced to retreat to Serbia with his headquarters.
From 15 May – 15 June, the division took a part in the Fifth anti-Partisan Offensive (Operation Schwartz) aiming to pin Tito’s main force of about 20,000 Partisans against the Zelengora mountain, in southeastern Bosnia. During the battle, the division received a task to move through the Italian zone in order to block the possible advance of Partisans towards the Adriatic sea and Albania, to close the south-east part of the encirclement and then advance north over mountainous terrain to crush the Partisan forces. In 11-day fightings from May 20 division captured Šavnik. For this success major (Sturmbannführer) Dietsche as well as commander Phleps received first two Knight’s Crosses for the division.
In the following days the focal point of the battle shifted westward. After the main group of the Partisans headed by 1st Proletarian Division broke out of the encirclement, two battalions of the division that were moved to cover the left bank of the Sutjeska river and block the Partisan’s escape route were surprised by the attack of three battalions of 1st Dalmatian and one from 5th Montenegro Brigade at Tjentište pushing them back. They recovered their positions during a night battle and decimated most Partisan units. In the operation Schwartz the division suffered total losses of 613 men.
In August 1943, the division became a part of the XV Mountain Corps and was sent to the Dalmatian coast, to disarm the Italian forces in September 1943 after the Italian Government had surrendered to the Allies. In exploiting Italian capitulation, NOVJ succeeded in seizing control of the most part of the Dalmatian coast. In sixteen-days long battle the division, together with 92nd Motorized Regiment, pushed back NOVJ units and on September 29 reoccupied Split. In October, division participated in Operation Landsturm, another anti-Partisan operation in Omiš, Ploče and Biokovo. In battles for Split and Biokovo coastline, division suffered losses of 1582 killed, wounded and missing in action.
The division was reorganized on 22 October 1943 and was renamed the 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen. In November, the unit was attached to the V SS Mountain Corps and took part in anti-Partisan Operations Kugelblitz and Schneesturm in December 1943.
⇒ The division was infamous for its cruelty and massive atrocities committed:
Everything they came across they burnt down, they murdered and pillaged. The officers and men of the SS division Prinz Eugen committed crimes of an outrageous cruelty on this occasion. The victims were shot, slaughtered and tortured, or burnt to death in burning houses. Where a victim was found not in his house but on the road or in the fields some distance away, he was murdered and burnt there. Infants with their mothers, pregnant women and frail old people were also murdered. In short, every civilian met with by these troops in these villages was murdered. In many cases, whole families who, not expecting such treatment or lacking the time for escape, had remained quietly in their homes were annihilated and murdered. Whole families were thrown into burning houses in many cases and thus burnt. It has been established from the investigations entered upon that 121 persons, mostly women, and including 30 persons aged 60–92 years and 29 children of ages ranging from 6 months to 14 years, were executed on this occasion in the horrible manner narrated above. The villages [and then follows the list of the villages] were burnt down and razed to the ground.