Academic journal article Military Review

The History of the 7th SS Mountain Division, Prinz Eugen

Academic journal article Military Review

The History of the 7th SS Mountain Division, Prinz Eugen

Article excerpt

THE HISTORY OF THE TrH SS MOUNTAIN DIVISION, PRINZ EUGEN by Ono Kumm. 281 pages. J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing Inc., Winnipeg, Canada. 1995. No price available.

This little book is one of a series of previously published Wehrmacht divisional histories now translated and published in English. The series will ultimately include more than two dozen such histories.

Otto Kumm, a Prinz Eugen Division commander, gives a first-person narrative of the unit's experiences. Published as a recollection with help from old soldiers of the Prinz Eugen Kameraden (reunion group), the book is a fascinating account from the division's formation in 1942 to its capture on 15 May 1945. The epilogue gives an account of the troops' two years in captivity.

Kumm begins his history by explaining Germany's connection to the Balkans, which began with the Ottoman Empire's 14th century European invasion. Although the Turks' struggle with the Europeans ebbed and flowed until the early 20th century, they reached their high-water mark near Vienna in 1529. From that point, Germanic soldiers took on the defense burden. Using German, Croatian and Slavic troops, the Habsburg Empire established a military frontier on the confrontation line. This detail is important to Kumm in establishing the rationale for how the division formed in Bosnia from "Volk Deutsch" Croats and Muslim Bosnians.

The division waged most of its campaigns in Bosnia with Bosnian troops against other Bosnian-chiefly Serbian Chetniks or Marshal Tito's partisans. In short, the Prinz Eugen Division fought guerrillas. In some ways, the campaigns are chilling precursors of the present-day Bosnian situation. The Prinz Eugen Division fought in northeast Bosnia, near Tuzla; attacked and seized Srebenica; and fought along the Drina. In the ultimate irony for those of us who have served in Bosnia, the Prinz Eugen Division withdrew across the Sava River at Brod, where US units now cross to return to Germany. …

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