Sunday, January 17, 2010

Franjo Džal

Born on 9 April 1906 in Bihac, Franjo Džal finished elementary school and gymnasium in Bihać and graduated from the military academy in Belgrade in 1924. In the Yugoslav Royal Army he finished training as a fighter pilot. During the German invasion, he was serving as a major in Nis.

Already a member of Ustasa, Džal soon joined the Air Force of the NDH on 29 April 1841. He was assigned to the Croatian Air Force Legion in July and became the first commander of 15 (Kroat)./JG 52, and in October was promoted to lieutenant-colonel. Between then and November 1942 he claimed 16 confirmed and three to five unconfirmed victories during the course of 157 missions. By December, the Croatian Air Force Legion returned to the Independent State of Croatia for vacation.

Džal and his unit returned to the Eastern Front in February of 1943. Dzal, however, achieved no further kills during his second tour, since he rarely flew and drank heavily. He became the legion commander on 22 May, but was replaced and sends back to Croatia on 16 June held posts within the command of the air force. However, in November 1943 he was made commander of the Croatian Air Force Legion for the second time.

Promoted to colonel in February 1944, Džal returned the following month to Croatian Air Force HQ as operation officer. With the defeat of the NDH in 1945 he tried to escape to Austria, but captured in Slovenia by Yugoslavian partisans. He was subsequently court-martialed in Belgrade and executed in October 1945.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Monday, January 4, 2010

Brigade Nord Africaine

Brigade Nord Africaine was a group of 180 Algerian volunteers established under German supervision. Founded by Mohamed Al Maadi, a virulent anti-Semite who went by the nickname “SS Mohamed”, originally the unit used as guards in the Peugeot factories of Socheaux, Consisted of Vichy followers, ex-POWs, pimps, and criminals, they were known as brutal thugs. At least they were executed 50 French workers and are responsible for many rapes and plundering. But theirs military capabilities were so poor. Thus, when the unit was deployed to fight the partisans of the Dordogne region of France, they almost destroyed. After the Allied landed in southern France, the remaining members of this Arab unit run away to Marseille, where they were hide among Maghreb community in the area or return to Algeria, where they continuing theirs criminal activities, the only of theirs expertise during theirs short existence.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Muhamed Hadziefendić

Muhamed Hadziefendić born in Tuzla in January 1898. After graduated from Merchant Academy in Sarajevo, he decided on a military career and joined the Bosnian regiment of the Austro-Hungarian army during WWI, ending the war with the rank of lieutenant.

During the Kingdom of Yugoslavia days, Hadziefendić continued his military education at the Yugoslavian Military Academy and in 1938 received the rank of major. Instead to follow the order of the Yugoslav Army Command to fight the invaders during the German invasion in April 1941, he deserted and organized the local population in Vodice near Sibenik, Dalmatia, to fight against the disintegrating Yugoslav Army. After the proclamation of the NDH on 10 April 1941, he returned to his native Tuzla.

In December 1941, Hadziefendić visited the Croatian Field-Marshall Slavko Kvaternik, and requested permission to create a Domobran formation that would consist of Tuzla area Moslem Croatians. Permission was granted, and on 22 December 1941, with material assistance from the NDH government, the Dobrovoljacki Odjel Narodnog Ustanka Bojnika Hadziefendića (Major Hadziefendić Volunteer Revolutionary Group) was formed. The “group” became the Zdrug Dobrovoljacke Legije Hadziefendića (the Brigade of Hadziefendić’s Volunteer Legion) in March 1942. In July of 1942, it became the Domobran Volunteer Regiment (DOMDO), but was commonly known as the Hadziefendićeva Legija (Hadziefendić Legion). The Legion was almost 6000 strong, and operated in the Tuzla area (northeastern Bosnia), where they defended Moslem local towns and villages in the area from Chetniks and Partisans menace.

Some Moslem autonomists saw the Legion as a base for a future Bosnian army and made offering to Hitler in theirs famous Memorandum to put the formation under control of the Nazis. Thus, in the spring of 1943, the Germans used the Legion as a core to build the SS ‘Handzar’ Division. Hadziefendić notified the Croatian Army Command in Zagreb of the readiness of his men to join with the Waffen-SS, and at the beginning of July, 1943 became an SS officer. Some of Legion’s men refused to join the SS and deserted—mostly because they wished to remain near theirs homes). In October 1943, Hadziefendić was in his home in Tuzla, awaiting orders to join the SS ‘Handzar’ Division. However, on October 6, 1943, Partisans of the 18th East Bosnian Division attacked and occupied Tuzla. Hadziefendić was arrested, charged with treason, and executed.

Copyright © 2006 by Nino Oktorino

Band of Nazi Brothers

The fanatic appeal of Hitler reached into America during the prewar years. The most-known of pro-Nazi organizations that sprung among Americans were German-American Bund under Fritz Kuhn and the Silver Shirt Legion under William Dudley Pelley. They never got many followers and only became a political joke in American political life. While Hitler never got a strong foothold among Americans, however, some of US citizens saw service in Nazis armed forces during WWII, including in the Waffen-SS.

Many of Americans who served in the Wehrmacht belong to German descent. Some of them volunteered, while the others were conscripted during theirs stay in the Third Reich as foreign students or tourists when the war broke out. Fact about German immigration to North America that had been massive since the mid-19th century also made Heinrich Himmler, the SS leader, envision a plan to include American-German as a part of the Third Reich subject in the future. However, despite some claims about an ‘American Free Corps’ or ‘George Washington Brigade’, no unit of the Waffen-SS made up of American volunteers was ever raised. According to Alexander Dolezalek of the SS-Hauptamt (main office), there was never an attempt made to recruit Americans at all. Nevertheless, according to SS sources, five Americans served in the Waffen-SS in May 1940, but after that date no numbers are available.

The most-known case of US citizen who served in Himmler’s private army was Second Lieutenant Martin James Monti. Born in 1910 in St Louis of an Italian-Swiss father and German mother, he was send to Karachi, India, to serve as an air force pilot. While in India, he deserted the Army Air Force, hitching a ride aboard a C-46 to Cairo, Egypt. From there he was traveled to Tripoli, Libya, and Naples, Italy, where he stole a recon version of the P-38 aircraft and flew to Milan. There he surrendered, or rather defected, to the Germans and worked as a propaganda broadcaster (as Martin Wiethaupt, a name that he taken from his mother maiden name).

At the end of 1944, Monti made a microphone test at the recording studio of the SS Standarte ‘Kurt Eggers’, a propaganda unit of the Waffen-SS, under the direction of Guenter d'Alquen, in Berlin, Germany. He later joined them as a SS-Untersturmführer and participated in writing and composing a leaflet to be distributed by members of the German military forces, among members of the U.S. and Allied Nations, who were held as POW's.

At the end of the war Monti went south to Italy. He surrendered to US forces, still wearing his SS uniform—claiming that he had been given the uniform by partisans. He was charged with desertion and sentenced to 15 years hard labor. This sentence was soon commuted and Monti rejoined the US Air Corps, but in 1948 he was discharged and picked up by the FBI. He was now charged with treason and sentenced to 25 years the following year. He was paroled in 1960.

There were some other German-Americans who served as Waffen-SS officers during World War II. They were SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef Awender, a medical doctor in the SS ‘Frundsberg’ Division who born in Philadelphia in 1913; SS-Untersturmführer Robert Beimes, a signal officer in the SS ‘Hitlerjugend’ Division, born in San Francisco in 1919. His father was a translator in the SD; SS-Hauptsturmführer Eldon Walli, born in New York City in 1913 in the SS-Kriegsberichter Abteilung (war reporters); and SS-Hauptsturmführer Paul Winckler-Theede, born in New York City in 1912 and served as a military judge in the SS ‘Das Reich’ Division.

At least eight American volunteers are known to have been killed during their service in the Waffen-SS. They were Francesco Mattedi, a soldier in the Italian SS Division who killed in Nettunia, 30 April 1944; Charles MacDonald, KIA near Johvi/Estonia, 14 March 1944; Raymond George Rommelspacher, died in Normandy/France, 6 October 1944, Edwin/Erwin Peter, KIA in Latvia, 2 July 1941; Andreas Hauser, died in Welikij in Ukraine, 18 January 1945; Lucas Diel, died on 9 December 1944 in Hungary; and Andy Beneschan, KIA in Bosnia, 16 April 1945.

No real attempt by the US authorities to investigate the matter and trace the volunteers was made after the war, as opposed to for example the efforts by the British.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino