SS-Sturmann (Leading Private) Karl Brammer
Now to a man whom perhaps not to be viewed as the others I have told you about, seeing as he belonged to the feared and loathed Schutzstaffel (SS), and especially as he was part of the Prinz-Eugen regiment; A regiment that became infamous for its anti-partisan fighting and it’s war crimes against the Yugoslav army and partisan units.
Quick background to the regiment: The 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen was a German mountain infantry division of the Waffen-SS, the armed wing of the German Nazi Party that served alongside but was never formally part of the Wehrmacht during World War II. Formed in 1941 from Volksdeutsche (ethnic German) volunteers and conscripts from the Banat, Independent State of Croatia (NDH), Hungary and Romania, it fought a counter-insurgency campaign against communist-led Yugoslav Partisan resistance forces in the Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia, NDH and Montenegro. It was given the title Prinz Eugen after Prince Eugene of Savoy, an outstanding military leader of the Habsburg Empire who liberated the Banat and Belgrade from the Ottoman Empire in the Austro-Turkish War of 1716–1718. It was initially named the SS-Freiwilligen-Division Prinz Eugen (SS-Volunteer Division Prinz Eugen).
Their determination to fight the Serbs and other “undesirables” can be seen here:
The “backbone of the division” was made up of Volksdeutsche from the Serbian Banat, ethnic Germans known as Schwabian Germans who had formerly been officers and NCOs in the Yugoslav Army. Members of the division understood that they would be fighting Serbian guerrillas as is evident from a song the members of the division sang, as related by SS Hauptsturmfuehrer of the Prinz-Eugen Division Sepp Krombholz:
‘Prinz Eugen, the noble troop,
it must scuffle with Serbs,
our trash division!
And many Serbian skulls
and many Serbian maids
will I soon see fallen … ‘
However we must get back to the young Karl, he died aged 23 on the 5th of January 1945, when his division were busy fighting Yugoslav forces: “In January, 1945, Eugen, along with remnants of the Skanderbeg Division, fought the Russian and Bulgarian forces around Vukovar.”
Whether or not the young man smiling out at us was guilty of some of the most heinous crimes against civilians seen…..
“The Prinz Eugen SS Division was accused of “committing some of the worst atrocities attributable to any soldiers during the Second World War. ” The Division murdered unarmed civilians, burned and looted homes and entire villages and districts and tortured and massacred men, women, and children.
In May, l943, during Operation Black, Prinz Eugen invaded Montenegro from Hercegovina and occupied the Niksic district. The SS troops took punitive measures against the civilian population, burning down entire villages, torturing and burning civilians in their houses. Pregnant women, infants with their mothers, the frail and the elderly were brutally massacred. Entire families were massacred or burned alive in their houses: 121 persons, mostly women, were massacred, which included 29 children between the ages of 6 months and 14 years, and 30 persons between the ages of 60 and 92.
On March 27, l944, Prinz Eugen launched a “purge action” from Sinj. On March 28, l944, Eugen overran the villages of Otok, Conji, Ruda, Dolac Dolnji, where all 834 inhabitants were massacred and their bodies burned. Over 500 houses were set on fire and looted.”
Or not cannot be easily determined, he must have been present with the division on at least one occasion, however it would be foolish to put him straight into the evil butcher category, without concrete evidence. He was decorated for bravery, held decorations for lengthy time spent in combat, and had been wounded in action, as well as having served in the “East”, so odds are he had at the age of 23 been involved in something of the atrocities written about, sadly.
They will as a division, be remembered in words such as these written in a Yugoslavian police document…
“Everything they came across they burnt down, they murdered and pillaged. The officers and men of the SS division Prinz Eugen committed crimes of an outrageous cruelty on this occasion. The victims were shot, slaughtered and tortured, or burnt to death in burning houses. Where a victim was found not in his house but on the road or in the fields some distance away, he was murdered and burnt there. Infants with their mothers, pregnant women and frail old people were also murdered. In short, every civilian met with by these troops in these villages was murdered. In many cases, whole families who, not expecting such treatment or lacking the time for escape, had remained quietly in their homes were annihilated and murdered. Whole families were thrown into burning houses in many cases and thus burnt. It has been established from the investigations entered upon that 121 persons, mostly women, and including 30 persons aged 60-92 years and 29 children of ages ranging from 6 months to 14 years, were executed on this occasion in the horrible manner narrated above. The villages [and then follows the list of the villages] were burnt down and razed to the ground.”