369th (Croatian) Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)
|369th (Croatian) Infantry Division
369. (Kroatische) Infanterie-Division
369. (hrvatska) pješačka divizija
|Branch||German Army (Wehrmacht)|
|Motto||Što Bog da i sreća junačka|
Operations Kugelblitz, Schneesturm and Herbstgewitter
The 369th (Croatian) Infantry Division (German: 369. (Kroatische) Infanterie-Division, Croatian: 369. (hrvatska) pješačka divizija) was a so-called 'legionnaire' division of the Wehrmacht and was formed with about 8,500 soldiers recruited from the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) commanded by about 3,500 German officers, non-commissioned officers and specialists.
Formation and first battles
It was formed in September 1942 and began assembling and training at Stockerau and Dollersheim in Austria. Apparently established with former members of the legionnaire 369th Reinforced Infantry Regiment, the division attempted to cultivate the heritage of the 42. Home Guard Infantry Division, which had been known as the Devil's Division.
Although originally intended for use on the Russian Front, the division did not deploy there and was returned to the NDH in January 1943 due to the need to combat the Partisans in the territory of the NDH. It was also known as the Devil's Division (German: Teufels Division, Croatian: Vražja Divizija).
As soon as the division returned to the NDH, desertions from the division began to occur. On the day it arrived back from training in Austria, an average of 25 men were absent without leave from each company of the division. There were a range of factors encouraging desertion, including reverses suffered by the Germans in North Africa and at Stalingrad and elsewhere on the Russian Front, Partisan propaganda and infiltration, and the work of the Croatian Peasant Party. The division participated in the second phase of Operation Weiss in late February and early March 1943. Desertions worsened particularly after the capitulation of Italy in September 1943. For example, during October 1943, 489 men deserted from the division.
For several months from early December 1943, elements of the division took part in series of operations by the V SS Mountain Corps against the Partisans in eastern Bosnia known in the former Yugoslavia as the Sixth Enemy Offensive. However, the offensive failed to decisively engage the Partisans. The reconnaissance battalion of the division was also involved in Operation Rösselsprung.
The division saw action against the Partisans until the end of the war. However, by April 1945 a large part of the Croatian manpower of the division had been lost or released, with the Croatian manpower of the division only numbering between 2,000 and 3,000 soldiers. During the last few weeks of the war, the division fought in north-west Bosnia and Slavonia and withdrew towards Austria. After moving through northern Croatia, it turned west into the area of Celje in northern Slovenia. On 11 May 1945 the division, less one company, was stopped and disarmed by Partisan forces. The Germans were allowed to proceed into Austria, but the remaining Croatian soldiers were taken prisoner. The German troops surrendered to the British and were not returned to Yugoslavia.
- German Army (1939–1945)
- Yugoslav Partisans
- Yugoslav Front
- Seven anti-Partisan offensives
- Resistance during World War II
- Anti-partisan operations in World War II
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- Shepherd, Ben (2012). Terror in the Balkans: German Armies and Partisan Warfare. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-04891-1.
- Tomasevich, Jozo (1975). War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: The Chetniks 1. San Francisco: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0857-6.
- Tomasevich, Jozo (2001). War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: Occupation and Collaboration 2. San Francisco: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-3615-4.