Sunday, November 29, 2009

Desiderius Hampel

Desiderius Hampel born on January 20, 1895 in Sisak, Bosnia-Hercegovina. He became a cadet of Austro-Hungarian Army in mid-October 1914. Assigned to Inf.Rgt. 16 (kroatische), he commanded a platoon between April to 1 May 1915. Then Hampel was commissioned as a lieutnant and given command of 14.Kompanie until autumn 1915. After that he assumed command of 4.(MG) Kompanie and hold that post to mid-September 1918, when he advanced to deputy battalion commander. From 1 May 1917, as an oberleutnant he led - with three other officers - a security unit against the Serbs toward the end of the war. After the war, Hampel was interned by Serbs for a year. He later escaped to Vienna, then Budapest.

After hold a series of jobs - estate worker; forestry student at University of Munich, 1925-28; forestry worker to December 1937 - Hampel joined with Hungarian Army on December 1937. He served in Budapest until March 1941, when he commanded an air defense unit at Csepel to time of his discharge, November 1941. A military born, after retired from Hungarian Army, Hampel joined with Croatian Army as Major (Bojnik) and intelligence officer with IV. Army Corps. He remained in that post until 15 May 1942, when he was transferred to the Waffen-SS.

Hampel was joined with the Bosnian SS 'Handchar' Division and assumed command of Regiment 27 shortly after its arrival at Neuhammer. Born to German parents in Bosnia, Hampel was uniquely suited to the division, for he not only spoke his mens' native tongue, but, unlike most of his fellow ex-Habsburg officers now in SS uniform, was a capable leader. After Karl-Gustav Sauberzweig, the second 'Handschar' Division commander, was appointed to a higher position, Hampel replaced him as commander of the Bosnian SS division.

Hampel lead the 'Handschar' Division until the end of the war and surrendered to British. His name was included in the list of 'Handschar' men that Partisan wanted. At first, the Partisan tried to persuade him to return to Yugoslavia to face a trial. He declined the offer however. Then, with help from some his German comrades, he made an escape from the POW camp. He later settled in Graz, where he lived until his death in 1981.

Copyright © 2006 by Nino Oktorino

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