The roots of Kosovo fascism
by George Thompson
THAT WAS THEN...
"The Serbian population in Kosovo should be removed as soon as possible.
Serbian settlers should be killed." (Albanian fascist leader Mustafa
Kroja, June 1942.)
...AND THIS IS NOW
"He, like many KLA officers, says openly that he dreams of a Kosovo
without Serbs." (Description of KLA death squad commander "the Teacher",
Agence France Presse, August 19, 1999)
"As Germany overtook Yugoslavia in 1941, the Kosovar people were
liberated by the Germans. All Albanian territories of this state, such
as Kosovo, western Macedonia and border regions under Montenegro, were
re-united into Albania proper. Albanian schools, governmental
administration, press and radio were re-established." (From www.klpm.org
, a Kosovo Liberation Army-affiliated affiliated website)
Mussolini's Italy occupied Albania proper in April, 1939, and
established a collaborationist regime with the apparent enthusiasm
most Albanians.(1) After Hitler invaded and occupied Yugoslavia in
spring 1941, the bulk of current Kosovo was placed under
Italian-Albanian collaborationist control and annexed to Albania.(2)
When Italian forces moved into Kosovo they were accompanied by Albanians
from Albania. Albanians living in Kosovo joined the invasion force
made its way North and West, and also ambushed Yugoslav Army units
moving to meet the invaders. These Albanians, natives of both Albania
and Kosovo, instituted a campaign of murder and expulsion of Serbs.
Initially, the mayhem was carried out by disorganized "kachak"
(irregular) units. These were Albanian brigands from both sides of
border who had fought Yugoslavia throughout the 1920s and 1930s.(3)
However, soon a native Kosovo militia was formed. This militia, called
the Vulnetari, and various gendarme units, began more systematic
ITALIAN FASCISTS TAKEN ABACK
Italian authorities in Kosovo seemed a bit distressed by the terror
against Serbs and occasionally intervened to prevent Albanian attacks,
at least in urban areas. Thus a Serbian historian wrote: "Italian troops
were stationed in the towns of Kosovo and acted as a restraining force
..."(5) And Carlo Umilta, a civilian aide to the Commander of the
Italian occupation forces, described several instances where Italian
forces fired on Albanians to halt massacres of Serbs.6)
Because of manpower limitations and the de facto alliance between
Albanians and the Axis powers, these efforts at restraint were limited.
Nevertheless, the Italian occupiers reported their disgust at Albanians'
actions to the authorities in Rome. The Italian army reported that
Albanians were "hunting down Serbs", and that the "Serbian minority
living in conditions that are truly disgraceful, constantly harassed
the brutality of the Albanians, who are whipping up racial hatred."(7)
Carlo Umilta described some of the atrocities in his memoirs and
observed that "the Albanians are out to exterminate the Slavs."(8)
words were echoed by those of German diplomat Hermann Neubacher, the
Third Reich's representative for southeastern Europe: "Shiptars (i.e.,
Kosovo Albanians) were in a hurry to expel as many Serbs as possible
from the country."(9)
The atrocities were deliberate, part of a plan to create a Serb-free
"Greater Albania". In June 1942 the fascist puppet president of Albania,
Mustafa Kroja, declared his goals candidly before his followers in
"The Serbian population of Kosovo should be removed as soon as possible
. . . All indigenous Serbs should be qualified as colonists and as
via the Albanian and Italian governments, be sent to concentration
in Albania. Serbian settlers should be killed." (10)
Similar sentiments were expressed by a Kosovo Albanian leader, Ferat-bey
"time has come to exterminate the Serbs . . . there will be no Serbs
under the Kosovo sun."(11)
The anti-Serb pogroms intensified after Italy's collapse in September
1943. The German Nazi's assumed control of Albania, including Kosovo.
Italian military units pulled out and were replaced by three divisions
of the German XXI Mountain Corps. The German presence freed the
Albanians of restraint.
Kosovo Albanian nationalist militias called the "Balli Kombëtar"
"Ballistas") carried out a campaign of deportation and murder of Serbs
in 1943 and 1944. Then, on Hitler's express order, the Germans formed
the 21st "Waffen-Gebirgs Division der SS" - the Skanderbeg Division.
With German leaders and Kosovo Albanian officers and troops, Hitler's
hoped that using the Skanderbergs Germany could "achieve its well-known
political objective" of creating a viable (i.e., pure) "Greater Albania"
In general, German policy was to organize volunteer military units
Nazi sympathizers in occupied countries. Of all the occupied nations
only the Serbs, Greeks and Poles refused to form Nazi volunteer units.
Rather than joining the Nazis, as the Albanians in Kosovo did, the
organized the largest anti-Nazi resistance in Europe. Both the Communist
Partisans and the Royalist Chetniks were mainly Serbs and both groups
fought the Germans and their local allies throughout Yugoslavia.
The Germans recruited the 9,000 man Skanderbeg division to fight these
resistance groups But the Skanderberg's Albanians had little interest
going up against soldiers; they mainly wanted to terrorize local Serbs,
"Gypsies" and Jews. Many of these Kosovo Albanians had seen prior
service in the Bosnian Muslim and Croatian SS divisions which were
notorious for slaughtering civilians.
What explained this passionate hatred for non-Albanians? A big factor
was militant Islam. The Fundamentalist "Second League of Prizren" was
created in September 1943 by Xhafer Deva, a Kosovo Albanian, to work
with the German authorities. The League proclaimed a jihad (holy war)
against Slavs. They were backed by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, El
Emin Huseini, who was pro-Nazi and had called for getting rid of all
Jews in what was at that time British-occupied Palestine. Albanian
religious intolerance was shown by their targeting Serbian Orthodox
churches and monasteries for destruction.(13)
No one is certain of human destruction suffered in this Fascist Albanian
Holocaust. Estimates range from 10,000 to 30,000 Serbs murdered. At
least 100,000 were driven from Kosovo and replaced with "immigrants"
from Albania proper.(14)
In justifying current Kosovo Albanian demands to secede from Serbia,
media has repeated, like a mantra: 90% of the population is Albanian.
While this figure is most likely exaggerated (nobody knows for sure
because Kosovo Albanians boycotted the census for years!) - the province
has been largely Albanian. But a major cause of the current demographic
imbalance: was the Albanians' success as Hitler's willing executioners
during World War II.(15)
And their attention was not limited to Serbs. Unknown numbers of Roma
("Gypsies") were liquidated. And Kosovo Albanians, acting alone as
as under German direction, eliminated many of Kosovo's Jews.
The definitive work on Hitler's "Final Solution" in Yugoslavia (16)
estimates that 550 Jews lived in Kosovo Hitler took over Yugoslavia.
of them, or 38 percent, were murdered in Kosovo, mainly by Albanians.
fact, the Skanderbeg division's first operation was to act as an
"einsatzgruppen" against the Jews, and its second was a similar
extermination foray against the Serb village of Velika where more than
400 Serbians were murdered.(17)
Ceda Prlincevic, head of the Jewish community in Pristina and an
executive of the provincial archives, has explained to Emperors-Clothes
that the Jews who were not murdered outright were sent by the Skanderbeg
division to the German death camps Treblinka and Bergen-Belsen. One
train, on its way to the latter camp, took the wrong track and was
intercepted by advancing Russian soldiers. According to Mr. Prlincevic,
were it not for that fortunate detour, the entire Jewish population
Kosovo would have been eliminated.
Although KLA supporters now claim that no Jews were killed in Kosovo
that Jews were sheltered by the Kosovo Albanians, such claims are false
and should be treated the same way we would treat other Holocaust
ALBANIAN FASCISTS GO ON FIGHTING
The Germans surrendered in 1945, but the remnants of the Kosovo Albanian
Nazi and fascist groups continued fighting the Yugoslav government
six years, with a major rebellion from 1945 to 1948 in the Drenica
region. (Drenica was the hotbed for KLA recruiting in 1998-99). That
rebellion was under the command of Shabhan Paluzha; it is called the
Shabhan Paluzha rebellion. Sporadic violence continued until 1951.
literally true to say that the last shots of World War II were fired
This past summer, as Germans entered Prizren in Kosovo for the first
time since World War II, an NBC correspondent reported:
"I was at dinner with a kind Kosovo Muslim family the other night when
talk turned to the German NATO troops that rolled into town to make
city the headquarters of its peacekeeping district. The patriarch of
family, a man old enough to remember the last time German troops rolled
into Prizren, said they all felt safe now. 'The German soldiers are
excellent,' he said. Then he added, 'I should know, I used to be one.'
Then he raised his arm in a Nazi salute and said, 'Heil,' and laughed
merrily. (NBC, June 18, 1999)
(1) Professor Nikalaos A. Stavrou, KFOR: Repeating History,
Washington Times (August 11, 1999).
(2) Hugo Wolf, Kosovo Origins (1996) chapter 10. Portions
Kosovo, from Mitrovica to the provincial border with
administered by Germany from the outset, primarily to
exploit the mines
in the area. An eastern sliver of Kosovo was ceded to
(3) Dr. Smilja Avramov, Genocide in Yugoslavia, Part
2, Chapter 5,
"Genocide in Kosovo and Metohija" (1995): "The crimes
were begun by the
'kachak' guerrilla detachments which had been sent into
Albania, but members of the Shqiptar minority quickly
joined in. Judging
from Italian reports, at first the situation resembled
marauding of bandits than a deliberate policy."
(4) Dr. Dusan Batakovic, The Kosovo Chronicles (1992);
(5) Dr. Smilja Avramov, supra.
(6) Carlo Umilta, Jugoslavia e Albania, Memoire di un
(1947), in Avramov, supra, note 141.
(7) Dr. Smilja Avramov, supra, note 117.
(8) Carlo Umilta, Jugoslavia e Albania, Memoire di un
(1947), in Avramov, supra, note 137.
(9) Hermann Neubacher, Sonderauftrag Sudost (1953), quoted
Slavenko Terzic, Old Serbia and Albanians.
(10) Dr. Slavenko Terzic, Kosovo, Serbian Issue and the
(11) Batakovic, supra, citing H. Bajrami, Izvestaj Konstantina
Tasi Dinicu, ministru unutrasnjih poslova u Nedicevoj
1943, o kosovsko-mitrovackanm srezu, Godisnjak arhiva
(1978-1979) at 313.
(12) Avramov, supra, note 151.
(13) Avramov, supra, note 148, citing Bishop Atanisije
Kosovo to Jadovno.
(14) Batakovic gives a conservative estimate of 10,000
dead while Dr.
Slavenko Terzic cites a contemporary American intelligence
10,000 died in the first year of occupation alone. Terzic,
Serge Krizman, Maps of Yugoslavia at War (1943). Carl
Kosta Savitch, in
Genocide in Kosovo: Skanderbeg Division, quotes a wartime
30,000 to 40,000 Serbs were killed by Albanians. In addition,
number of Serbs dies in the German-operated work camps
of Pristina and
Mitrovica, or were killed by the Germans as reprisals
The reported number of expelled Serbs also varies depending
source. Dragnich and Todorovich cited the figure of 70,000-100,000,
based on a review of wartime refugee records. Dmitri
estimates 100,000, but acknowledges that the exact number
has never been
determined. Dmitri Bogdanovich, The Kosovo Question:
Past and Present
(1985). Dr. Avramov notes that wartime records showing
from Kosovo counted only those persons in need of government
who registered with the Commissariat for Refugees in
of those who did not register, or who fled to Montenegro,
not exist. Avramov, supra.
(15) Before world war 2 Serbs constituted a slight majority
Kosovo population. Avramov, supra. In addition to the
expulsion of Serbs, the relative ethnic population balance
skewed by the entrance of hundreds of thousands of ethnic
Albania proper during the war. Relying on Italian records
from the time,
Dr. Avramov estimates that 150,000 to 200,000 Albanians
Kosovo between 1941 and 1943.
(16) The Crimes of Fascist Occupants and Their Collaborators
Jews of Yugoslavia (1952, revised 1957) (published by
The Federation of
Jewish Communities of Yugoslavia).
(17) Avramov, supra.
from the Emperor's Clothes