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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. I hope you find it helpful and entertaining.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Hitler's Jihadis

Sticking largely to the Balkan World War Two theme I have just finished reading 'Hitler's Jihadi's' by Jonathan Trigg.

The author gives the background to the recruitment of Muslims into the Waffen SS. It may seem a strange mix given that racism underpinned Nazi ideology, but their racial theorists managed to justify it - just. In reality, as the war progressed it was more a case of needs must.  For the Muslim volunteers it was also largely a question of 'my enemies enemy'.

Trigg takes the reader through the history of a wide range of units. Some small and short lived, but others substantial with credible fighting records. Probably the best known is the Bosnian 13th SS Mountain Division 'Handschar'. Most of their recruits joined up simply as a means of defending their villages from the Ustase on one side and the Chetniks on the other. There is a more detailed history of this division written and lavishly illustrated by George Lepre.

Few of these volunteers survived the war. Those who did, ended up being executed or sent to Stalin's gulags. This is not an edifying tale or one with a happy ending. However, its a valuable piece of research well told.

I have also finished some ariel support for my Italians chasing the partisans around the mountains. This is a 1/48th scale kit of the Macchi MC200 fighter. It's made by a firm I hadn't heard of before, SMER. This is a fairly simple and cheap kit (£10) that produces an adequate model for the wargames table. The parts are not always a great fit and there is a lot of flash - so sharpen your scalpel.






3 comments:

  1. Another book added to my wishlist. I bought a bunch of the Handschar heads from Bolt Action years ago and I am slowly building a Handschar wargaming force in 28mm. Other than a few references in other books and online I don't have much reference materials. Thanks for the heads up on this book and the one by George Lepre.

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  2. I'm doing the same warlord heads. Lepre has an amazing collection of photos. Osprey MAA34 Waffen SS has quite a good colour plate of a Handschar soldier.

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  3. 'The author gives the background to the recruitment of Muslims into the Waffen SS. It may seem a strange mix given that racism underpinned Nazi ideology, but their racial theorists managed to justify it - just.'

    Bosniaks may not have been exactly 'Arian', but Nazis and Muslims still have lots of other things in common, as notorious Nazi collaborator and indicted war criminal Haj Amin al-Husseini, sometime Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was keen to point out in his wartime propaganda pamphlet 'Islam and Nazism'. For the ideological parallels, see Matthias Kuentzel's 'Jihad and Jew Hatred'.

    P.S.

    Haj Amin escaped prosecution as a war criminal thanks to French intervention (and the first account of his career was written by Simon Wiesenthal in an attempt to get him re-indicted).

    Haj Amin was therefore free to embark on a second career as first secretary of the Arab League, based in Egypt, as well as mentor to his yhoung cousin, the well-known Egyptian engineering student, 'Yasser' Arafat. The rest, as they say, is history....

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