SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Karl-Gustav Sauberzweig, commander of the Handschar Division, on the right photographed in 1944.
Before the division entered into Bosnia in mid-February 1944, Sauberzweig told his men:
"We have now reached the Bosnian frontier and will (soon) begin the march into the homeland.
I was recently able to travel throughout almost all of Bosnia. What I saw shocked me. The fields lay uncultivated, the villages burned out and destroyed. The few remaining inhabitants live in cellars or underground shelters. Misery reigns in the refugee camps as I’ve never before seen in my life. This must be changed through swift and energetic action.
The necessity of our task has only become greater through what I have witnessed. The task demands that each and every one of you perform your duty - only then can we carry it out. The Führer has provided you with his best weapons. Not only do you (have these) in your hands, but above all you have an idea in your hearts - to liberate the homeland.
I also saw some of your fathers. Their eyes, when I told them that I was your division commander, shined as brightly as yours….
Before long, each of you shall be standing in the place that you call home, as a soldier and a gentleman; standing firm as a defender of the idea of saving the culture of Europe - the idea of Adolf Hitler.
I wish every one of you “soldier’s luck” and know … that you will be loyal until the end.”