I’d like to continue about the Handschar Division article in berita Harian yesterday. The article is apparently written by someone from an aerospace institute in Malaysia. Now, I must be of lesser qualification than that writer, but it seems that he (or she) is missing some points.
First, the writer wonders about the 20:1 kill-loss ratio of Croatian Air Force during the war. He hypothesized that it is because of the Handschar Division’s successes in clearing flak sites. This makes me wonder…is he talking about the total aircraft shot down, or is it air-to-air loss? I have the feeling that that ratio is from air-to-air engagement – the Germans and their Allies score massive kills over the eastern Front, especially during the early stages of Operation Barbarossa. I believe that the Croats are better pilots than their Russian adversaries…hence the large ratio, not from the actions of the Handschar. Besides he cites the ratio of Croats against the Russian AF. Handschar only operated in the Balkans-hence no Russians until they struck in 1944.
Second, he laments the fact that an Islamic Division can never see the light in modern-day Europe and he said that even though Nazis (Hitler specifically) are basically racist, they are tolerant of Islam. Yea, right. Hitler would be tolerant against anything (except Jews I guess) as long as it is beneficial to his war effort. The thousands of eager Bosnians, croats and Albanians means he can release his troops to fight elsewhere, leaving the Balkan units to act against partisans. The Nazis even created fiction, stating that the Bosnians are descendants of teutons, wholly ignoring the fact that Bosnians are Slavs – the very Untermeschen (sub-humans=animals) the Germans are trying to eradicate/subjugate. Besides the SS are fascinated by the notion that Paradise is the reward for syahid – Heinrich Himmler said that it is a perfect reward for fallen soldiers. I believe the Nazis drummed into their Balkan recruits the communists’ lack of belief in God and that the crusade (in case of Islam, jihad) against Soviet Union falls under holy war.
Finally, this is a controversial one. The writer thinks that it is impossible for the troops to commit atrocities because one, they are Muslims and two ‘there is reason why they commit atrocities (if it is true)’. I’m not sure myself, but if you got one radical anti-Jews imam, you might be inclined to do so, in the name of religion. Furthermore, the most notorious of SS units are those involved in anti-partisan duties.
Well, for someone who works in an Institute, I expect something more well-written by the writer. He presents the article as if having a Muslim division in the notorious SS is something to be proud of. Well, maybe if the division distinguished themselves in combat. However, all the resources I have read points out the Handschar as one of the more notorious formation in the SS – nastily conducting anti-partisan operations in the Balkans (not sure if they had acted against Jews). Their combat record is nothing to be proud of – they completely folded in the face of the Red Army and the fact that they only serve in the Balkans speak volumes about their combat efficiency.