The 21. SS Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS Skanderbeg (albanische Nr. 1) was formed in 1944 and consisted mainly of volunteers from Albaina and Kosovo, but also a few thousand sailors from the Kriegsmarine who had lost their ships. It was used to fight partisans but many of the soldiers deserted (close to 3.500 within two months) and the division was disbanded.
The remaining troops fought on as Kampfgruppe Skanderbeg before becoming a part of the 7. SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgs-Division Prinz Eugen.

Known war crimes

Elements of this division were used in operations against Jews in Albania at the order of SS-Gruppenführer Josef Fitzthum, Höhere SS und Polizeiführer Albanien.

In April 1944 soldiers from the Skanderbeg division arrested 300 Jews in Pristina that were later deported to concentration camps. (2)

Between 28 May and 5 July 1944 soldiers from the division rounded by 510 civilians and suspected partisans in Albania, of these 249 were deported to concentration camps. (1)

Commanders

SS-Brigadeführer Josef Fitzhum (? Apr 1944 - 1 May 1944)
SS-Oberführer August Schmidthuber (1 May 1944 - ? Jan 1945)

Chief of staff

SS-Hauptsturmführer Georg Berger (1 Aug 1944 - ? Jan 1945)

Quartermaster

SS-Obersturmführer Alfred Graf (1 May 1944 - ? Dec 1944)

Area of operation

Yugoslavia (May 1944 - Jan 1945)

Manpower strength

June 1944 6.156
Dec 1944 4.944

Honor titles

Skanderbeg or Iskender-Beg (ca. 1405 – 1468) was actually called Gjergi Kastriota; he is one of Albania’s most important national heroes, having been a freedom fighter against the invading Turks. The goat-head helmet worn by Skanderbeg was also adopted as the symbol for the division’s collar patch.

Order of battle

SS-Waffen-Gebirgsjäger-Regiment der SS 50
SS-Waffen-Gebirgsjäger-Regiment der SS 51
Waffen-Gebirgs Artillerie Regiment 21
SS-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 21
SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 21
SS-Gebirgs-Pionier-Bataillon 21
SS-Versorgüngs-Abteilung 21
SS-Nachrichten-Abteilung 21
SS-Sanitäts-Abteilung 21

Officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen and Concentration Camps

Concentration Camps 4
(includes officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen or Concentration Camps either prior to or after service in this unit)

Insignia

The "Skanderbeg" cuff title was authorized for this unit.
cuff-wss-skanderberg
(Courtesy of N & T Global Trading)

A collar insignia showing the Skanderbeg helmet was authorized, but probably not used.
collar-wss-skanderbeg
(Courtesy of The Ruptured Duck)

Albanian national sleeve shield
sleeve-foreign-al
(Courtesy of The Ruptured Duck)

Waffen-SS Gebirgsjäger Sleeve Badge
sleeve-wss-gebirg
(Courtesy of The Ruptured Duck)

Albanian volunteer

wss-21-albanian
(Courtesy of Gary)

Footnotes

1. "Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes" by James Pontolillo, page 29.
2. "Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes" by James Pontolillo, page 125.

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
David Littlejohn - Foreign Legions of the Third Reich, vol 3
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
James Pontolillo - Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes
Marc J. Rikmenspoel - Waffen-SS Encyclopedia
George H. Stein - The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939-1945
Frank Thayer - SS Foreign volunteer collar insignia and their reproductions (in The Military Advisor, Vol 4 No 2)
Gordon Williamson & Thomas McGuirl - German military cuffbands 1784-present
Gordon Williamson - The Waffen-SS: 11. to 23. Divisions
Mark C. Yerger - Waffen-SS Commanders: The Army, corps and divisional leaders of a legend (2 vol)

Reference material on this unit

Laurent Latruwe & Gordana Kostic - La Division Skanderbeg: Histoire des Waffen-SS albanais des origines idéologiques aux débuts de la Guerre froide
Antonio J. Munoz - Forgotten Legions: Obscure Combat Formations of the Waffen-SS

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