|History of the 23.Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS "Kama"|
(Kroat Nr. 2):
Adolf Hitler gave approval for the raising of a 2nd Croatian Waffen SS
division on June 17, 1944, giving this fledgling division the honorary title
"Kama" (a short Turkish sword), and assigning the divisional number 23.
The full title of the division was therefore: 23.Waffen-Geb.Div. der SS "Kama"
(kroatische Nr. 2).
The decision was also made to raise a Corps command that would eventually lead the 13th SS Division ("Handzar") and the 23rd SS Division ("Kama"). Actual recruitment for the "Kama" Division had started on June 10th 1944.
A sizeable number of German officers and NCO's were made available to the division. Croatian officers and men from the "Handzar" Division were also transfered to "Kama", including the entire Reconnaissance Battalion.
To this core of troops was added a new batch of Croatian/Croatian-Muslim recruits.
At its peak strength in September 1944, "Kama" had 3,793 men. Fearing
Partisan disruption of the new division in training, the assembly site
chosen for the division was the Backa Region. Backa had been annexed by
Hungary following the invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, and was far enough
from negative outside influences on the troops.
The division began to take shape in July and August of 1944. During the
month of September 1944, the Red Army made dangerous advances into the
Balkans and Hungary. The training bases for the "Kama" Division were
suddenly precariously close to the front lines. The SS-FHA attempted to get
the division ready for combat, citing the unrealistic date of September 24
as when the unit would be ready for frontline service. The training state of
the recruits was still in the basic stage, however. It would be sheer
suicide to commit the division to front-line service!
The unrealistic date of committal passed. The SS-FHA soon realized that no
time was left for the "Kama" Division to form. As the Red Army moved into
Hungary, German military leaders decided to disband the unit and make as
much use of the personnel as possible by transferring them as replacemetns
to other divisions. The decision was made in October, 1944, and most of the
divisional elements went ot the 31st SS Division.
The Muslims of "Kama" were ordered to report to the "Handscar" Division. Some of them deserted on the way to "Handscar" headquarters, most reported for duty. Divisional number "23" was then given to the Dutch Panzer-Grenadier
Division just being formed.
During its short, 5 month existence, "Kama" commander was
SS-Stardartenfuhrer Hellmut Raithel. A collar patch depicting a sun was
designed for the division, but few were actually produced.
The "Kama" Division was envisioned as an anti-Partisan unit, but the
worsening German military situation required that the division's
organization be aborted.