BACKGROUND: In early 1941 under heavy pressure by the Germans, Yugoslavia joined the axis powers. Many Yugoslavian Serbian military personnel however disagreed with this arrangement and launched an unsuccessful overthrow which was crushed by the Germans, and resulted in the formation of the Independent State of Croatia, including the province of Bosnia-Herzegovina. As the tides of war changed for Germany it was decided to recruit a division of Bosnian Muslims in February 1943, which eventually evolved into the 13.Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS "Handschar" (kroat. Nr.1), and was primarily manned from Muslims from the Bosnia-Herzegovina region of Croatia, with a cadre of German personnel from the 7. SS-Freiwillingen-Gebirgs-Division "Prinz Eugen". The fez, a traditional piece of Muslim headgear, dating back to Bosnian regiments in the Hapsburg Empire, was authorized for wear by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler for all ethnic divisional personnel. Of Note: The short lived 23.Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS "Kama" (kroatische Nr.2), was also authorized wear of the fez. The fez was issued in a field-grey version for wear with the service uniform and a maroon version for wear with the dress uniform. Of Note: Due to the racial makeup of the divisional personnel Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler forbade wear of the SS runes on the collar insignia and it was decided that another suitable symbol be utilized and the distinctive collar insignia for divisional personnel was introduced on April 30TH 1943. It is believed that SS-Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger came up with the design of the collar tab and the name "Handschar". The "Handschar" refers to the scimitar featured on the collar tab and is meant to represent the blade carried by Turkish police in the Balkan region for centuries and was also featured on the Bosnian coat-of-arms during the reign of the Hapsburg Empire.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Nice quality, formed, maroon, rabbit fur felt, construction dress uniform fez. The fez features a two piece tassel to the top center of the crown. The tassel has a short piece of maroon felt inserted and stitched into the center of the crown with the correct, black, multi-strand, silk type material tassel sewn to the top. The front center of the fez features a machine woven, second pattern, SS eagle in silver/grey threads on a cut-out woven black rayon base and a separate machine woven, 1934 pattern, Totenkopf in silver/grey threads, also on a cut-out black rayon base. Both pieces of insignia are machine stitched to the cap. The unlined interior has a partial remaining leather sweatband machine stitched to the bottom edge. Roughly a size 60. Nice larger size original fez.

GRADE ****                             PRICE $1,785.00

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