A WW2 Croatian Military Order of Trefoil 4th Class with oakleves (for Gallantry in action), awarded to Kav. Riettmeister Friedrich Wilhelm Weil, Aufkl. Abt. I. Kos. Div.; issued in Zagreb, on May 9, 1944. Reason for the award was for "Exceptionally brave conduct and successful leadership of his unit in the battles against the bandits (Partisans), especially during the battle near Obrovo 23-30 May 1944, and in area around Karlovac-Petrinja, then from 27-30 June 1944 near Čazma and 8-18 July 1944 in Žumberak." (All mentioned areas and towns are in central-western Croatia). Document measures 28.7cm x 37.1cm, signed in ink by Croatian Minister Vice-admiral on lower left, and on right bottom side by General Percevic. Folded, in extremely fine condition and extremely rare to an Officer of the 1st Kosak Division. Document is contained within original mailing envelope, also in extremely fine condition.
Footnote: Upon the formation of the unit in April 1943, the Division was dispatched to Croatia, where they were placed under the command of the Second Panzer Army and were used to provide rear area security to the army.
The Division's first fighting engagement was on October 12, 1943, when the unit was dispatched against Yugoslav partisans in Fruška Gora Mountains. In the operation the Cossacks aided by 15 tanks and 1 armoured car captured the village of Beocin with the partisan HQ. Subsequently the unit was used to protect the Zagreb-Belgrade railroad and the Sava valley. Several regiments of the division took part in several anti-partisan operations and guarded the Sarajevo railroad against the partisans. As part of a wide anti-partisan operation Napfkuchen the Cossack division was transferred to Croatia, where it fought against partisans and chetniks in 1944.
While in Croatia, the division quickly established a reputation for undisciplined and ruthless behavior, not only towards the partisans, but also towards the civilian population, prompting the Croatian authorities to complain to the Germans and finally to Hitler personally. Besides raping women, killing people, and plundering and burning towns suspected of harboring partisans and partisan supporters, the division used telegraph poles along the railroad tracks as a warning to the partisans and others. During its first two months of deployment in Croatia, special divisional court martials imposed at least twenty death sentences in each of the four regiments for related crimes.
The Cossacks' first engagement against the Red Army happened in December 1944 near Pitomača. The fighting resulted in Soviet withdrawal from the area. In January 1945, the 1st Cossack Division together with the 2nd Cossack Division was transferred to the Waffen-SS. As the 1. SS-Kosaken-Kavallerie-Division it became part of the newly formed XV SS Cossack Cavalry Corps.
At the end of the war, Cossacks of the division retreated into Austria and surrendered to British troops. They were promised safety by the British only to be lied to and removed from the compound and while some were transferred to the USSR, many were executed in Slovenia.