The 24. Waffen-Gebirgs-(Karstjäger-)Division der SS was upgraded from Karstwehr-Bataillon on 1 August 1944 which had been fighting partisans in northern Italy since 1942. It consisted mainly of volunteers from Italy but also of volunteers from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and the Ukraine.
It was downgraded to Waffen-Gebirgs-(Karstjäger)Brigade der SS on 5 December 1944 and upgraded again on 10 February 1945.
Karstjäger mainly fougth partisans (with considerable success) but in the end of the war it also fought the British forces. It surrendered to the British 6th Armoured Division on 9 May 1945.

Known war crimes

This unit was involved in several war crimes against partisans and civilans including an imfamous beheading of two captured partisans.
The anti-partisan war in Italy was brutal on both sides and in February 1944 15 members of the SS-Karstwehr-Batillon who had been captured by the partisans near Cividale were tortured and killed.

Lineage

SS-Karstwehr-Batillon (? 1942 - Aug 1944)
24. Waffen-Gebirgs-(Karstjäger-)Division der SS (Aug 1944 - May 1945)

Commanders

SS-Obersturmbannführer Karl Marx (? Aug 1944 - 5 Dec 1944)
SS-Sturmbannführer Werner Hahn (5 Dec 1944 - 10 Feb 1945)
SS-Oberführer Adolf Wagner (10 Feb 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Quartermaster

SS-Hauptsturmführer Norbert Engel (1 Aug 1944 - ?)

Area of operations

Northeastern Italy & western Slovenia (Nov 1944 - May 1945)

Manpower strength

June 1944 1.831
Dec 1944 3.000

Honor titles

The designation “Karstjäger” – which is, in fact, not an honor title – refers to the “Karstwehr” battalions from which the division was built. Karst is the German name of the largely treeless and desolate chalk high plains in the northwest of Yugoslavia known as the Carso, an area from which a large part of the division’s original personnel was recruited.

Order of battle

Waffen-Gebirgsjäger Regiment der SS 59 (listed as SS-Gebirgs-Karstjäger-Regiment 59 in some sources)
Waffen-Gebirgsjäger Regiment der SS 60 (listed as SS-Gebirgs-Karstjäger-Regiment 60 in some sources)
Waffen-Gebrigs Artillerie Regiment 24
SS-Panzerkompanie
SS-Gebirgsbatterie
SS-Gebirgs-Sanitäts-kompanie 24
SS-Gebirgs-Nachrichten-kompanie 24
SS-Gebirgs-Pionier-kompanie 24

Officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen and Concentration Camps

Concentration Camps 1
(includes officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen or Concentration Camps either prior to or after service in this unit)

Insignia

A collar insignia with a karst flower was manufactured but never issued.

Soldiers of the Karstwehr-Bataillon during training
wss-karstwehr-bat-training3
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Soldiers of the Karstwehr-Bataillon during training
wss-karstwehr-bat-training4
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Soldier of the Karstwehr-Bataillon during training
wss-karstwehr-bat-training5
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Sources used

Christopher Ailsby - Hitler's Renegades: Foreign nationals in the service of the Third Reich
John R. Angolia - Cloth insignia of the SS
Georges M. Croisier - Waffen-SS (PDF)
Terry Goldsworthy - Valhalla's Warriors: A history of the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front 1941-1945
Steve Kane - Waffen-SS Forces in the Balkans: A checklist (in World War II Journal, Vol 7)
Dr. K-G Klietmann - Die Waffen-SS: eine Dokumentation
James Lucas - Hitler's Mountain Troops: Fighting at the extremes
Kurt Mehner - Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-1945
Antonio J. Munoz - Forgotten Legions: Obscure Combat Formations of the Waffen-SS
Marc J. Rikmenspoel - Waffen-SS Encyclopedia
Frank Thayer - SS Foreign volunteer collar insignia and their reproductions (in The Military Advisor, Vol 4 No 2)
Gordon Williamson - German Security and Police Soldier 1939-45
Gordon Williamson - The Waffen-SS: 24. to 38. Divisions and Volunteer Legions
Mark C. Yerger - Waffen-SS Commanders: The Army, corps and divisional leaders of a legend (2 vol)

Reference material on this unit

Sergio Corbatti & Marco Nava - Karstjäger! Guerriglia e controguerriglia nell'OZAK 1943-45
Sergio Corbatti & Marco Nara - Karstjäger: Guerilla and anti guerrilla in OZAK (1942-1945)
Rolf Michaelis - Die Chronik der 24. Waffen-Gebirgs[Karstjäger]-Division der SS

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