23.Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS “Kama” (kroat.Nr.2)
|Like its sister formation, the 13.SS, this unit was given its name fromthe word for a traditional/regional weapon, in this case, a short Turkishsword otherwise known as a kama – which is in fact a sort of shorter fightingknife.
|Approval was given for the raising of a 2nd Croatian Waffen ssdivision on June 17, 1944. The new division was given the honorary title”Kama”. Actual recruitment for “Kama”had started on June 10th 1944, and a sizeable number of Germanofficers and NCO’s were made available to the division. Croatian officersand men from the 13.SS were also transfered to”Kama”, including the entire Reconnaissance Battalion. To this core oftroops was added a new batch of Croatian and Croatian-Muslim recruits.
Interstingly, “Kama” was never formed at anything near divisional level.At its peak strength in September 1944, it had 3,793 men within itsranks total. Fearing Partisan disruption of the new division in training,the assembly site chosen for the division was the Backa Region. Backa hadbeen annexed by Hungary following the invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, andwas far enough from partisan influences on the troops.
The division began to take shape in July and August of 1944, butduring the month of September 1944, the Red Army made dangerous advancesinto the Balkans and Hungary. The training bases for the “Kama” Divisionwere suddenly precariously close to the front lines. The SS-FHA attempted toget the division ready for combat, citing the unrealistic date of September24th as when the unit would be ready for frontline service. The trainingstate of the recruits was still in the basic stage, however, and theunrealistic date of committal passed. Thereafter, the SS-FHA realizedthat no time was left for the “Kama” Division to form. As the Red Armymoved into Hungary, German military leaders decided to disband the unitand make as much use of the already formed personnel as possible bytransferring them as replacements to other divisions. The decision wasmade in October, 1944, and most of the divisional elements went to helpform the 31.SS-Freiwilligen-Grenadier-Division.
The Muslims of “Kama” were ordered to report to the 13.SS. Some of them deserted on the way to the 13.ssheadquarters, but most reported for duty. The divisional number 23 wasthen handed over to the newly forming DutchPanzer-Grenadier-Division.
“Kama” was originally envisioned as an anti-Partisan unit, but theworsening German military situation required that the division’sorganization be aborted and it never was fully formed, trainied oremployed in combat.
|Standartenführer Helmuth Raithel 7.01.44 – 9.28.44
Brigadeführer Gustav Lombard 9.28.44 -10.01.44