17 October 2016

The First Christmas of SS Division "Prinz Eugen"

Image size: 1600 x 1118 pixel. 437 KB
Date: Friday, 25 December 1942
Place: Yugoslavia
Photographer: Unknown

The first Christmas of the SS Volunteer Division "Prinz Eugen". Although the SS, being a pagan organisation, was essentially an opponent of Christianity – celebrating Christian holidays was nevertheless allowed within the organisation, because of the deep roots of this religion in Europe (that is, to avoid turning off the potential manpower). In the photo, the Banat ethnic Germans modestly celebrate their first and only peaceful wartime Christmas, before marching off to bloody battles across Yugoslavia. Their faces are already nostalgic and their thoughts directed towards home, to which most of them will never return.

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16 October 2016

German Victory Parade in Belgrade

Image size: 1600 x 1200 pixel. 609 KB
Date: Sunday, 13 April 1941
Place: Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Photographer: Kriegsberichter Heinz Fremke from Propaganda-Kompanie (PK) 691

House of the National Assembly in Belgrade – then and now. After nine SS men from the "Reich" Division used the general confusion and formally captured the Yugoslav capital on 12 April 1941, a victory parade of the true conqueror of the city, the 1st Armoured Group, was held on 13 April at noon. In the (old) photo, tanks of the Panzer-Regiment 15 / 11.Panzer-Division "Gespensterdivision" (Ghost Division) parade in front of their commanders: standing in the centre is Generaloberst Ewald von Kleist (commander of the armoured group), to his right is Generalmajor Ludwig Crüwell (divisional commander), and on the left, in black uniform, is Oberstleutnant Gustav-Adolf Riebel (commander of the division's panzer Regiment). The defeat of Belgrade was also celebrated in the "Song of Armoured Group Kleist": "We were the victors of Belgrade; we defeated all resistance, and broke up with a false state!" Crüwell later fought under Rommel and after the war became chairman of the Africa Corps Veterans Association; Riebel was killed in 1942 at Stalingrad – and von Kleist ended his life in Soviet captivity, as a war criminal, in 1954. At the spot from which these three officers once proudly watched their rolling tanks – today stand the civilians, waiting for a bus.

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