Falsifying history: The holocaust and Greater Albania



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History is in many ways a myth we create for ourselves. History is constantly falsified to justify wars and territorial claims. Albanian apologists have falsified the role Albania played in the Holocaust to justify an illegal US/NATO war against Serbia and to allow for the creation of a Greater Albania that would include the Serbian province of Kosovo-Metohija.

The Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Albania are estimated at 591 from 1941 to 1944, when a Greater Albania was sponsored by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. There were 33 known families of Albanian Jews living in pre-war Albania. The largest Jewish community consisted of 15 Jewish families living in Vlora. According to the 1930 census, there were 204 Jews living in Albania. At the Wannsee Conference in 1942, when the Final Solution was organized, the total Jewish population of Albania was listed as 200 Jews. By 1939 there were Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria.

The two factors that explain why more Jews in Albania were not killed are that Albania was under Italian control and Albania had a very small Jewish population. Italian forces in Albania rejected the Final Solution as “the German disease” and did not enforce anti-Jewish measures. This is why Albanian Jews were “rescued” in Albania, not because of anything the Albanians did themselves. There was no history of ideological anti-Semitism in Albania. But this was true of every country in the Balkans. A history of anti-Semitism did not exist in Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Hungary, or Romania. So Albania was not unique in this regard in any way. The small number of Jews in Albania also played a key role in why they were not killed. During the Italian occupation, they were able to disperse and blend in the general population. When Germany occupied Albania in 1943, the Jewish population was already beyond reach.

3 ethnic terrotory of albaniansAlbanian nationalistic territorial claims from 1878 onward

What role did Albania play in the Holocaust? Albanian apologists maintain that no Jews were killed in Albania during the Holocaust. Is this accurate? What is the context of this statement? Albanian apologists have consciously and methodically falsified the Albanian role in the Holocaust. The way this was done was to totally suppress the fact that Kosovo-Metohija was a part of Albania from 1941 to 1944. Also left out is the fact that a Greater Albania was in fact created that included not only Kosovo-Metohija, Kosova in the Greater Albania ideology, but southern Serbian territory, territory in southern Montenegro, and western Macedonia, or Illirida. Albanian apologists distort history by implying that it was Albanians that rescued Jews. But in fact it was the Italian occupation forces that opposed the Final Solution and who rescued Jews. Another falsification is the omission of the role played by Xhafer Deva, a Kosovar Albanian Muslim, in the Greater Albanian state and in the Holocaust.

Albanian apologists falsify the history of the Holocaust by suppressing the fact that it was Adolf Hitler who first created a Greater Albania that included the Serbian province of Kosovo-Metohija. They assiduously cover-up the fact that it was Adolf Hitler who set the precedent for an “independent” Kosova, an ethnically pure Albanian Kosova. Albanian apologists have carefully suppressed and deleted this fact.

Rescue in Albania by Harvey Sarner was published in book form in 1997 just in time for the Kosovo conflict and the start of the KLA terrorism campaign sponsored by the US/EU/NATO. It began being used as a propaganda tract immediately. The book was to pave the way for US military intervention in Serbia. It was first published as a booklet in 1992 as “The Jews of Albania”. It was released following the aliyah or emigration of the entire Jewish population out of Albania. They settled in Tel Aviv and other towns and cities in Israel. Little is revealed about the author. This throws up red flags. But Sarner did play a major role in the emigration of Albanian Jews to Israel. So the publication initially was payback or a goodwill gesture from Sarner for the emigration out of Albania to Israel. Israel got 300 new citizens and Albania got the pamphlet “The Jews of Albania”, a thank you note.

Who is Harvey Sarner? He is a third generation American of Jewish-Polish descent. Sarner is a retired American attorney. He is not a historian. The book is essentially a hack job. Sarner has paid or “subsidized” visits to Israel of “Righteous Gentiles”. He has written another book, General Anders and the Soldiers of the Second Polish Corps in 1997. He is the chairman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Jewish Foundation for Christian Rescuers. He has worked with Jews in Poland, Ukraine, and Albania. His primary focus is on Jewish emigration to Israel and in documenting those non-Jews who have “rescued” Jews during the Holocaust.

Rescue in Albania is nothing more than a thinly-veiled propaganda tract. His subtitle is: “One Hundred Percent of Jews in Albania Rescued from Holocaust.” The book features an Albanian and Israeli flag on the cover. Van Christo, the Albanian president of the Frosina Foundation, has used the book for “fund raising purposes” to obtain money for the separatist campaign in Kosovo. Lobby money can buy you a lot of lies. That is the American way. And Sarner knows that.

In this propaganda tract, Sarner says nothing about the 21st SS Division “Skanderbeg”, made up primarily of Kosovar Muslim recruits, nothing about the genocide committed by Albanians against the Serbian and Jewish populations of Kosovo and Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Croatia. He says nothing about the destruction of Serbian Orthodox churches and cathedrals in Kosovo. He says nothing about the murder of Serbian Orthodox priests. Is it ignorance? It is willful ignorance. He suppresses and deletes anything negative about Albania and Albanians. A fundamental aspect of propaganda is that it is one-sided, subjective, and tells only half the story. Under this definition, Rescue in Albania is pure propaganda.

In October, 1997, the Albanian American Civic League (AACL, Lobbi Shqiptar), headed by Joe DioGuardi, began a systematic campaign to use the book by Sarner as a propaganda tool in the upcoming Kosovo separatist/terrorist war. The AACL had been founded in 1989 by DioGuardi to revive the Greater Albania ideology established by the 1878 First League of Prizren. In 1943, Nazi Germany re-established the dormant Greater Albania ideology or program by establishing the Second League of Prizren under Xhafer Deva.

DioGuardi’s agenda for the AACL is stated as follows: “to liberate the seven million Albanian people in the Balkans from hostile Slavic domination.” This is an echo of Hitler’s statements regarding the Sudeten Germans in 1938. It is nothing less than a racist, neo-fascist and neo-Nazi ideology and campaign of expansion, to create a Greater Albania. The AACL requested that Thomas Lantos and Benjamin Gilman write a Forward to Rescue in Albania. The League distributed 10,000 copies, mostly to influential Jews in the US as propaganda for the coming separatist conflict in Kosovo-Metohija. Congressman Gilman and James Traficant then sent copies of the book with personal letters to each Jewish member of Congress with a “Dear Colleague” letter to other House members.

U.S. Representative James Traficant, D-Ohio, was later found guilty on bribery and corruption charges. A House panel voted to expel Traficant in 2002 from the US Congress. This shows that the Albanian apologists will say and do anything to support Greater Albania, even break the law. It shows that you can buy anything with a bribe. Money can buy a lot of lies. And this is the real danger of all propaganda. Anyone with any money can falsify the facts and manipulate others to kill. Bribes can buy a lot of propaganda, or PR or spin. And the goal is to get people to kill other people and to take their land. Wars come and go, but propaganda methods do not change.

Sarner begins his book on the Holocaust with a discussion of Greater Albania, The Four Vilayets” under Ottoman Turkey: Janina, Shkodra, Kosovo, and Manastir. This is merely a parroting of the Greater Albania ideology. This is just recycled by Sarner from handouts his Albanian minders provided to him. There is no question that Sarner has been provided Albanian handlers to help him with his facts. What Sarner was not told is that these so-called Albanian Vilayets have non-Albanian majorities and were never part of Albania. This is the myth of Greater Albania. Janina is in northern Greece and has never been part of Albania. The population is majority Greek. There are almost no Albanians in that former Ottoman Turkish “vilayet”. Manastir is in southern Macedonia which is majority Macedonian with a minuscule Albanian population. It was never part of Albania. Shkodra is the territory around southern Montenegro. Montenegro has a minority Albanian population and has never been part of Albania. Kosovo-Metohija is the cradle of the Serbian Orthodox church and of Serbian culture. The towns, cities, and villages all have Serbian names from the medieval period when it was part of Serbia. The oldest Serbian Orthodox churches are located in Kosovo. Albanian settlement and colonization during the Ottoman Turkish period could not erase its Serbian heritage. Moreover, Kosovo-Metohija was never a part of Albania. In fact, there had never been an Albanian state until 1912. But Sarner is silent about all of this.

There are many factual errors and mistakes showing Sarner’s total and complete ignorance of the actual Holocaust history of Albania. He referred to “General Futzstun, the Gestapo chief…” There was no such person named Futzstun. In fact, this was SS Brigadefuehrer Josef Fitzhum (1896-1945), who was the Higher SS and Police Leader (Hoherer SS und Polizeifuehrer, HSSPF) in Albania. Fitzhum was responsible for internal security, the war against the resistance or guerrillas, and the implementation of the Final Solution. He assumed control in Albania after German forces occupied Albania following the surrender of Italy in September, 1943. He had been the police chief in Vienna from 1938 to 1940. Fitzhum created the 21st SS Division Skanderbeg with Xhafer Deva, made up mostly of Kosovar Muslim Albanians. As noted by Raul Hilberg in The Destruction of the European Jews (1961), Skanderbeg played a major role in the Holocaust, rounding up the Jews in Greater Albania who were subsequently sent to Bergen-Belsen where they were killed.

Sarner sought to make a distinction between Albania proper and Kosovo. He defined Kosovo as part of “the annexed territories”. But this is a bit of a ruse and a phony scam. Kosovo was made a part of Albania in 1941. Kosovo was called the “New Albania”. The Interior Minister of Albania was a Kosovan or Kosovar Albanian Muslim, Xhafer Deva. Deva was one of the most influential Albanians in the Albanian Government. And he was from Kosovo. Sarner seeks to obfuscate this obvious fact by creating a spurious and meaningless distinction.

Sarner admitted that Jews in Kosovo were being sent to the concentration camps where they were killed: “All around them…in the annexed territories, Jews were being transported to the death camps.” He admits that Kosovo Jews were being killed. He doesn’t admit that it was the Albanians who rounded up the Jews so that they could be killed. Why the omission? He is writing propaganda. He seeks to falsify the Albanian role in the Holocaust.

He grossly exaggerated the uniqueness of the “rescue” of Jews in Albania: “In Athens, the Jews refused to supply a list and there was a 50% survival rate.” He is factually wrong. In fact, the survival rate was 66% in Athens for Jews. Athens, like Albania, was in the Italian occupation zone. This explains why the Jews were “rescued”, not because of Albanian actions. It would be analogous to a cheerleader claiming credit for a win of the football team. In short, the Albanians had nothing to do with the so-called rescue. This is giving the Albanians credit for something that they were not responsible for. It is a falsification of history. It is out and out propaganda. By contrast, in Bulgaria, an estimated 50,000 Bulgarian Jews were “rescued”. But Bulgarians did allow the Jews of Macedonia and Thrace, then a part of a Greater Bulgaria, to be deported and killed by German forces.

Why this obsession and constant harping on “the list”? Sarner wrote his book when the Holocaust movie Schindler’s List (1993) was released. He wants to make the connection very easy to follow for his readers. He doesn’t want to complicate things for them too much. Oskar Schindler did not divulge a “list” of Jews to the Nazis, and the Albanians did not divulge a list to the Nazis. It is very easy and simple to follow. Oskar Schindler was a “Righteous Gentile”, as were the Albanian “Christians and Muslims” who “rescued” Jews. This explains why there is an overemphasis on “the list”.

Sarner does not examine World War II at any length. Although his subject matter is purportedly on World War II and the Holocaust, there is very little on the Holocaust itself. He finally gets around to discussing the Holocaust period in “Chapter 7″, which he titled “The Germans”. Most of the book is on Jewish settlement in Albania and the 1930s period when Jewish-American Herman Bernstein was the US Ambassador to Albania. There is almost no account of the Holocaust and World War II. Why is this? This is because Sarner does not want to elucidate, but obfuscate. He wants to cover-up, not reveal.

He starts off with an incorrect assertion: ‘The fact that the Albanian Government and people did not cooperate with the Germans…” According to Sarner, Xhafer Deva, the Kosovar Muslim Interior Minister denied the list of Jews to the German forces on page 43. He offers no evidence for these statements. Factually, the Albanian Government and people did cooperate with the Germans. Indeed, Deva helped to organize the Nazi 21st Waffen SS Division “Skanderbeg”. Moreover, there was an Albanian Muslim Battalion of about 300 men in the Bosnian Muslim 13th Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS “Handschar/Handzar”. The SS designed special gray skull caps for the Albanian Nazi SS troops. The Albanian Skanderbeg SS Division also had its own symbol created by the SS and worn as a collar patch, a goat’s head helmet supposedly modeled on the one worn by Skanderbeg himself. Sarner doesn’t even discuss the Balli Kombetar (BK), an ultra-nationalist group committed to creating a Greater Albania that would include Kosovo. Sarner says nothing about the known and widespread collaboration of the Balli Kombetar with the Italian and German occupation forces.

Sarner maintained that in 1943, the German occupation forces made a request for a list of Jews living in Greater Albania. In the spring of 1944, the Nazis asked the Regency for the list. The real reason the Jews in Albania proper were not rounded up and deported was because under Italian occupation they had dispersed and were difficult to concentrate. But in Kosovo-Metohija, then part of a Greater Albania, and Xhafer Deva’s birthplace, Albanians did round up all the known Jews, who were subsequently sent to the death camps and killed. The reference to “the list” is a smokescreen and a bit of pettifoggery.

The reason there was a “rescue” in Albania was because the Italian government did not support the Final Solution and prevented its implementation. The German anti-Jewish policy was termed “the German disease” by the Italians.

Albanians, however, did play a major role in the Holocaust, the mass killings of Albanian Jews. Sarner plays dumb. All anyone has to do is to check Raul Hilberg’s seminal Holocaust book, The Destruction of European Jewry from 1961 to learn that Albanians played a key and fundamental role in the Holocaust. Sarner calls Kosovo a part of “The Annexed Territories”. He doesn’t reveal that Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini created a Greater Albania. He doesn’t tell us that Kosovo-Metohjia, parts of Montenegro, southern Serbia, and western Macedonia were all parts of a Greater Albania. Why? Because this is the exact same goal of today, of US foreign policy and of NATO. It is Adolf Hitler’s vision. But today, Hitler’s vision is taken up and revived by the US and NATO and Joe DioGuardi and Thomas Lantos. But Hitler did it first. But of course, Sarner is unaware of all this. His is a blissful ignorance. He does concede that Kosovo was made part of Albania: “In April, 1941″ Kosovo “was annexed to Albania…”

Here is what Sarner says about Kosovo: “The Jews in the ‘annexed area’ were not as fortunate as the Jews in Albania proper. Life in the annexed territories was not as secure and there were unfortunate incidents of Jews being abused by the local people.” So he does grudgingly admit that Albanians did participate in the anti-Semitic outrages against the Jewish population, although he does not use the word “Kosovar Muslim” or “Albanian” but refers to “the local people”.

There was a Jewish family that was killed in Albania. The Jewish family Ardel was killed by the Nazis in Albania, but Sarner qualifies this as being a family of partisans. They were killed not because they were Jew, but because they were partisans.

Sarner incorrectly implied that Albania escaped all the horrors of the Final Solution and Holocaust. But this is not true. Albania too experienced the Holocaust. The German occupation forces imposed anti-Jewish laws in Kosovo. Kosovo Jews wore “J” for “Juden” or “Jew”. Kosovo Jews wore white armbands with the word “Jude” in black letters. ID cards were stamped with a red “J”. Josef Fitzhum was determined to carry out the Final Solution in Albania. Fitzhum ordered the Jews of Vlora deported. And at least one Jewish family was killed.

Sarner finally got around to admitting that Albanians played an active and major role in the Holocaust: “In Prishtina, capital city of the annexed territories, the local authorities complied with German demands and jailed 60 Jewish men.”

The Albanian Government played an active role in the Holocaust. On April 1, 1942, the Albanian Minister of the Interior gave instructions to the Albanian Prefect of Police that Jews who came after the war started should be “gathered on a field of concentration.” On March 20, 1942, he had ordered that the Jews be imprisoned and a list of Jews provided. In Note C, The Fields of Concentration, Sarner conceded that this euphemistic language meant a concentration camp: “This was the name given to what were otherwise known as concentration camps. These were camps for civilians and…their populations were mainly Jews….The camps were surrounded by barbed wire….It was an ugly place.” This is a very roundabout and disingenuous and dishonest way to admit that the Albanian Government set up concentration camps for Jews in Albania. It is artful spin and propaganda. But it is also a malicious attempt at falsifying history. Sarner is rewriting history, creating a phony and bogus history.

Podela Jugoslavije 1941

Division of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia by the Axis Powers and their regional clients in April 1941 with the territories given to a Greater Albania

Sarner even finally conceded that the Albanian Government and Albanian authorities took an active part in the extermination of European Jews: “In June, 1943…the Albanian police chief suggested the jailing of certain Jews:

‘According to our investigation the Jews listed below are dangerous because they are propaganderizing [sic] against the Axis (Rome-Berlin) and they want to organize and hold meetings. We think these people should be taken away from here as soon as possible to one of the concentration fields, because their staying here could be dangerous to the regime.’”

To complete the circle, Sarner finally grudgingly admits that the Albanian Government and people played a major role in the Holocaust and Final Solution: “In April, 1944, the Germans shipped 400 Jews from the annexed territories to Bergen-Belsen; 100 survived the war.”

Then Sarner creates a propaganda smokescreen by arguing absurdly that the Albanians only helped to kill only 40% of the Jewish population of Kosovo, then a part of Greater Albania: “According to our report the survival rate in Kosove [sic] was sixty percent, which made it, relatively, one of the areas with the highest percentage of survival in occupied Europe.” This is a patently absurd and nonsensical argument. It displays a bizarre moral calculus.

Finally, in Footnote 2, Sarner explained why he wrote the book and its ultimate purpose. The book was written essentially as a propaganda tract, a falsified history of the Holocaust, in order to garner support for the creation of a Greater Albania or “independent” Kosova. This is the method to Sarner’s madness. The book had a clear-cut goal and purpose all along. Propaganda is written for a specific purpose and goal. As Adolf Hitler himself noted, propaganda is not written for “blasй young gentlemen”, but to convince the masses, to persuade key groups, key target audiences. In this case, the target audience was powerful and influential establishment Jews in the US. Sarner parrots the Albanian and US State Department policy on the Serbian province of Kosovo-Metohija as follows: “The status of Kosova[sic], currently a part of Yugoslavia, is in contention today. Albanians favor either independence for Kosova or its being a part of Albania. The people of the area are ethnic Albanians.” Of course, this statement too is incorrect and is patently absurd. The borders of Yugoslavia are recognized by the United Nations and by international law. Yugoslavia, as a sovereign nation, has a right and duty top safeguard and protect its own internationally recognized and legal borders. But Sarner knows all that. Propaganda is not written to be rational. As Hitler noted, propaganda appeals to the emotions and subjective and irrational nature of man. This is what Sarner is appealing to.

What is the Kosovo conflict all about? Edith Durham in The Burden of the Balkans, published in 1905, explained the Albanian goal in Kosovo succinctly and clearly:

The Christian the Albanian persecutes is the Slav Christian, and this is the old, old race hatred. Of all the passions that sway human fortunes, race hatred is, perhaps, the strongest and the most lasting.

The Kosovo conflict is all about “race hatred”, what we call “racism” today. It is all about finishing the job Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini started. It is called genocide and ethnic cleansing. This is the real goal. This is why Sarner is falsifying the history.

Durham also argued that the Shqip or Albanian language is an “Aryan tongue”. The Nazi/fascist sponsors of Greater Albania in 1941 would also argue that the Albanians were part of the Aryan, or master race, a superior race.

In 1991, virtually the entire Jewish population of Albania left for Israel. The Jews were airlifted to Israel after the collapse of the Communist regime. Albania under the Communist regime of Enver Hoxha maintained no diplomatic relations with Israel. Hoxha abolished religion and created an atheistic state in Albania. Today, there are less than 40 Jews in all of Albania. They live in the capital Tirana. In Kosovo, the small Jewish population was ethnically cleansed out of Kosovo in 1999 along with Kosovo Serbs and other non-Albanians after NATO troops occupied the Serbian province. The Kosovo Jews fled to Belgrade. There are no more Jews living in Kosovo today, which is under NATO military occupation.

Bibliography

Durham, Edith. The Burden of the Balkans. London: Edward Arnold, 1905.
Fischer, Brend. Albania at War, 1939-1944. W. Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1999.
Hilberg, Raul. The Destruction of the European Jews. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, Inc., 1961.
Sarner, Harvey. Rescue in Albania. Cathedral City, CA: Brunswick Press, 1997.


By Carl K. Savich

Illustrated by Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

Original source of the article:

http://www.pogledi.rs/en/falsifying-history-the-holocaust-and-greater-albania/

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How Germany paved the way to the Kosovo War 1998-1999



Ixgrydi

By Matthias Küntzel (in 2000)

Contribution to the 2nd International Hearing of the European Tribunal concerning Nato’s war against Yugoslavia. Hamburg, April 16, 2000 [1]

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In 1991, a delegation of the German Bundestag visited Kosovo for the first time in order to talk with Kosovo Albanian nationalist leaders. This prompted – as early as 1991! – the warning by a senior member of the Yugoslavian parliament that “the British and the Germans would create a common intervention force with 70,000 soldiers in order to intervene in Kosovo.” [2] Indeed an early and accurate prophecy! So what about Germany’s role in preparing for the Kosovo war?

There were and there are strategic differences between German and the US policies about how to retain or enhance hegemony. “As a wealthy status quo power, the United States has an interest in maintaining international order”, wrote Joseph S. Nye, Jr, a former US deputy secretary of defense. “In a world where there are some two hundred states but many thousands of often overlapping entities that might eventually make a claim to nationhood, blind promotion of self-determination would have highly problematic consequences.” [3] Berlin, however, in seeking to create conditions for an ongoing expansion of German influence (that means: changing the international order) does not share this priority. As Rupert Scholz, the former German secretary of defense, explained: “The aim of maintaining “stability” in Europe seems to be a most dangerous one. There will not be any real stablity, which is able to maintain peace, if individual nations are held prisoner in unwanted and unnatural (“unnatürliche”) state organizations, which have been imposed upon them.” Since 1990, German foreign policy has “constantly persisted in activly advocating a universal right of self-determination.” [4]

This policy has a particular bearing on Kosovo. The hidden war about Kosovo’s future started in 1995 at the latest. In February 1995 in the presence of Roman Herzog, Germany’s President at that time, Germany and Albania signed a common declaration of principle at Tirana. This declaration is rarely mentioned in the literature but nevertheless decisive because it promised to find a “solution to the Kosovo question” by advocating the right of self-determination for Kosovo’s Albanians. [5] Advocating self-determination for Kosovo´s Albanians, however, meant advocating their right to secede from Yugoslavia. This declaration was in so far a kind of advance notice to continue Germany’s 1991 course (recognition of Croatia) in order to further split up Yugoslavia following a racist (völkisch) concept of self-determination.

In the period following, the German goverment did everything it could to spur on the separation of Albanians within Kosovo. Germany supported and financed those nationalists who sought to pursue the goal of full independence by creating alternative governing institutions as well as independent Albanian educational and medical systems in Kosovo which systematically separated the majority of the people in Kosovo from the other peoples of Yugoslavia. In addition, German secret diplomacy was instrumental in helping the “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA), as they call themselves, since its creation in February 1996. The daily newspaper “The European” stated that “German civil and military intelligence services have been involved in training and equipping the rebels with the aim of cementing German influence in the Balkan area.” [6]

During those years, Germany unilaterally supported the secessionist movements. In 1997 editor Johann Georg Reißmüller of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (a German daily newspaper) wrote: “The US government is not at all happy with Germany’s policy in Kosovo”.

It was, however, exactly that year – 1997 – that the crisis in Kosovo began to escalate. After the destruction of the Albanian army arsenals the KLA armed itself in order to start a large-scale nationalist rebellion. This development and the following counter-attack by the Serbian police moved Kosovo into the headlines and into the focal point of NATO’s considerations. How did Germany and the United States react?

“The Clinton administration is still uncertain about how to deal with this crisis”, later wrote the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. A senior official from the German foreign office was sent to Washington to put pressure on the deputy secretary of state, Strobe Talbott. “We urgently need U.S. leadership now” claimed Germany’s emissary. [7] This pattern: Germany calls for the U.S. government – actually for a special wing of the U.S government – to act against Yugoslavia were repeated between March 1998 and March 1999 over and over again. Let us now take a closer look at that pre-war diplomacy which paved the way to war.

The US government is responsible for most of the war crimes NATO committed against Yugoslavia. But even in 1998, the Clinton administration – split in several fractions on how to deal with Milosevic and the Kosovo Albanians’ nationalism – hesitated, reacting uncertainly on a case-by-case basis, oscillating between supporting the KLA and letting Milosevic have a free hand in smashing them. Germany on the other hand knew what to do and how to act. The grand design of Germany’s Kosovo policy had been in effect by March 1998. It was revealed by Germany’s informal ambassador to the Balkans, Christian Schwarz-Schilling, who on March 16, 1998 said: “We should try to tell Milosevic the plain truth through pressure and even military interventions that he can retain control over Kosovo as a part of Yugoslavia only if certain fundamentals are met. And if this is not the case, the territory there will have to be transformed into a kind of protectorate until those fundamentals are provided for.” [8]

This idea of pushing the Kosovo´s Albanians towards a military confrontation with Milosevic in order to create a Kosovo protectorate from now on became the central point of Germany’s Kosovo policy – either by the Kohl/Kinkel CDU government or the Schröder/Fischer SPD-Green coalition. One condition was that international troops be stationed on Kosovo soil. As early as March 1998 Germany accordingly put this matter on the agenda at the London meeting of the international Contact Group on Yugoslavia. [9]

The other condition was that Nato would have to enter Kosovo against the will of the Yugoslav government. Accordingly, Germany sharpened its tone towards Belgrad. Milosevic became the main target and remained so whatever his policy looked like.

But France, the UK, Italy and the dominating voices within the US government still prefered to follow a less confrontational policy. In 1998, The European for example stated that “Washington realised that pushing the Kosovars towards a military confrontation with Milosevic, as the Germans wanted to do, would have a boomerang effect on the Balkans. The United States put maximum pressure on Germany to stop supporting the KLA behind the scenes, as did the other European countries such as Britain and France.” [10] They termed the KLA activities “terrorist” and supported indirectly a Serbian counteroffensive against the KLA during the summer of 1998 and appealed to Milosevic and the moderate Albanian leader Rugova to begin talks. The KLA, however, succeeded in provoking the Serbian police force and in escalating armed clashes time and again. The policy of de-escalation turned out to be a permanent failure as long as there was a continuity in the supply of KLA weapons and KLA mercenaries across the Albanian border.

It was therefore not at all surprising that in the summer of 1998 all the efforts of the United Nations and the majority of Nato countries (including the US) concentrated in the goal of cutting off the arms and soldiers supplies in favor of the KLA. The Albanian government headed by Fatos Nano who had disassociated himself from the KLA supported this plan. Inside NATO the idea of sending 7000 soldiers to cut off the traffic in weapons began to take shape.

During this crucial situation,however, Germany’s covering up for the KLA became both public and evident: The German government vetoed the cutting-off of the supply of weapons for the KLA! Klaus Kinkel, then head of the German foreign office said: “Of course you have to consider whether you are permitted from a moral and ethnical point of view to prevent the Kosovo-Albanians from buying weapons for their self-defense.” [11] Volker Rühe, then head of the ministry of defense answered to this consideration with an unequivocal No: “You cannot resolve the Kosovo conflict by sending troops to Albania to seal the border and thus be acting in favor of Milosevic.” [12] Rühe’s message was quiete clear: everyone who tries to seal the border in order to find a peaceful solution is taking sides with Milosevic. In order to disassociate yourself from Milosevic you have to escalate the war between the Kosovo Albanians and the Serbs by delivering more and more weapons to the KLA!

This open German solidarity with the KLA has been as much an isolated provocation as has the recognition of Tudjman’s Croatia in 1991, 50 years after the formation of the first Croatian state under the rule of the fascist Ustashi regime.

Just like 1991 Germany again stood nearly alone against a huge majority of countries in Europe and the world. Just like 1991 Germany again supported a movement with a background rooted in the Nazi past, because the KLA is partly led by the sons and grandsons of extreme right-wing Albanian fighters, the heirs of those who fought during World War II in the fascist militias and the “Skanderbeg Volunteer SS Division” raised by the Nazis. [13] The “National Front of Albania” (Balli Kombetar) which collaborated with Nazi leaders in 1943/44 today boasts about its influence within the KLA which has a program that seems to be a modified version of the 1943 Nazi utopia.

Thus the program of “ethnic cleansing” which Germany exported into the Balkans in 1941 remained alive within the movement of the Kosovo Albanian nationalists during the 80s. “The nationalists have a two-point platform” wrote the New York Times in 1982: “First to establish what they call an ethnically clean Albanian republic and then the merger with Albania to form a greater Albania.” [14] Whenever the KLA talks about “liberation” or “freeing” this has been up to now understood in the Nazi-sense of “free of something” i.e. “free of Jews” (“judenfrei”), “free of Gypsies” or “free of Serbs”. Noone could be really surprised when, beginning with June 1999, the de facto rule of the KLA turned out to be a daily and a deadly trap for thousands of non-Albanians, especially defenceless Serbs.

In the summer of 1998 Germany and the USA took not only opposite but conflicting sides: While the USA – in the words of General Shelton, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – has had “concerns about the techniques that are being used to put down, to squelch the uprising” [15] Germany on the other hand acted as the protective power for the KLA. This confrontation includes a strategic conflict within NATO: Is the Atlantic Alliance supposed to help or to hinder the KLA? Should NATO as the KLA’s airforce contribute to the revision of state borders and the further diminishing of Yugoslavia? Or is the alliance bound to clap down on such a type of militant secessionism?

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It was Germany’s insistence and the ignorance or thirst for adventure within the leadership of the other NATO powers that brought the world’s biggest military alliance eventually in favor of the Albanian nationalists. Germany has “given evidence of its prepareness to lead” praised the influential Frankfurter Allgemeine. [16] Now Germany once again took the lead in pressing for military intervention in Kosovo. The New York Times reported: “German officials seem increasingly inchined towards charting a military course to stop the violence in Kosovo.” [17] Indeed. “Mr. Kinkel threatens with a Nato intervention in Kosovo” proclaimed the headlines of German papers on June 5, 1998. “The United States, unlike Germany, rejects a snap decision about a military intervention”, wrote Frankfurter Allgemeine the following day. Volker Rühe was the first government official in Europe who as early as June 15, 1998 spoke in favor of a strike against Yugoslavia even without a UN Security Council green light. This suggestion played havoc with not only the UN Charter but also with the German constitution and the Treaty of Moscow concerning German unification. This proposal was later taken up positively by the USA. We have to conclude, therefore, that Germany is not only guilty of committing the crimes which are connected with the US-led bombing of Yugoslavia, but is responsible for ardently working towards triggering this war. The German concept for Kosovo includes the following:

  1. to make a stand against the Yugoslav government
  2. unlimited support for the Kosovo Albanian nationalists who demand independence and a lasting unification with Albania
  3. to demand for air-strikes against Yugoslavia in order to achieve a NATO protectorate for Kosovo which is supposed to be only an interim step towards the independence of Kosovo.

Strategic differences between German and the US policies diminished considerably in 1999 when the Clinton administration decided to go to war in favor of the ultra-secessionist KLA. They seem to gain, however, new weight in the post-war debate about the final status of Kosovo. US Secretary of State Madelaine Albright recently rejected the idea of creating a greater Albania, whereas German policy seems to be pushing in the opposite direction.

Karl Lamers, the influential CDU foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition in the Bundestag said about the transformation of Kosovo into a NATO protectorate that this is “only the first step towards the separation of Kosovo from Yugoslavia” and that an independent Kosovo will be “only an interim step to merging (“Anschluss”) with Albania.” [18] Recently, Lamers mentioned with great satisfaction “that everything we are actually doing in Kosovo, e. g. the creation of a new currency zone, is aimed at creating an independent Kosovo…”. [19] Even Germany’s red/green coalition government does not want to recognize Kosovo as being a province of Yugoslavia. That is the reason why in his last major statement Joschka Fischer – Germany’s vice-chancellor and secretary of state – let the question of “the future status of the Kosovo” open claiming that it would be impossible to resolve this now. In an interview with a French newspaper, however, he made clear that he had no doubts about the Kosovo’s future status: “The international community is present in Kosovo and the Balkans in order to show that – according to the example of resolving the ,German question’ in 1990 – the ,Albanian question’ could be resolved only with the agreement of the neighbouring states.” [20]

US government circles are quite aware of the ambitions of their rival, Germany. Zbigniew Brzezinski called the Berlin republic a “geostrategic main actor” and a “subversive big power inspired by an ambitious vision”. Strobe Talbott, the deputy secretary of state, characterized Germany as the seismic focal point of the current geopolitical earthquakes which are disrupting the Atlantic Alliance as well as the Balkans. He emphasized that Germany is “the epicentre of thoses processes – enlargement and expansion, extension and deepening.” [21]

Within the context of the war against Yugoslavia the other great powers, however, not only reacted to aggressive German moves but pursued their own special interests as well. The United States wanted to retain its influence in Europe, to strengthen a worldwide role for NATO and to weaken Russias influence within the new world order. Great Britain und France were eager to demonstrate their military superiority over Germany and wanted to give a starting signal for the establishing of an independent European intervention force (together with Germany) vis-a-vis the USA. Each of these nations is a rival to the others and is trying to retain or achieve as much influence and power as possible. The war against Yugoslavia has been the first, however, to be spurred on by Germany as an attempt to redesign current world order after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This war has put the irrational elements and the destructive roots of capitalistic societies into a new light.

(Not published)
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NOTES:

[1] This contribution is a short description of a broader study: Matthias Küntzel, Der Weg in den Krieg. Deutschland, die Nato und das Kosovo, Elefanten Press, Berlin 2000. The author’s e-mail address: mail@matthiaskuentzel.de.

[2] This warning was published in the Yugoslavian journal Polityka; see the minutes of the Bundestag meeting June 16, 1991, pp. 2560-1.

[3] Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Redefining the National Interest, Foreign Affairs Vol.78 No.4, July/August 1999 pp. 22-35.

[4] See Rupert Scholz, Das Festhalten an ungewollten Staaten schafft keine Stabilität, in: Die Welt, December 12, 1991; Rupert Scholz, Das Selbstbestimmungsrecht und die deutsche Politik, in: Internationale Politik 4/1995, S.51.

[5] “Deutschland und Albanien … bekräftigen das Recht aller Völker, frei und ohne Einmischung von außen ihr Schicksal zu bestimmen und ihre politische, wirtschaftliche, soziale und kulturelle Entwicklung nach eigenem Wunsch zu gestalten.” This declaration is published in the Archiv der Gegenwart, March 13, 1995, pp. 39819-20.

[6] Roger Fallgot, How Germany Backed KLA, in: The European, 21-27 September 1998. See for more details M. Küntzel, Der Weg in den Krieg pp. 59-64.

[7] See Die Zeit, May 12, 1999.

[8] Christian Schwarz-Schilling, March 16, 1999, Deutschlandradio, quoted in: Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung, Stichworte zur Sicherheitspolitik, April 1998, p. 47.

[9] Russia, the USA, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany are members of this informal but influential group.

[10] Roger Fallgot, ibid.

[11] Interview with Klaus Kinkel, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, July 30, 1998.

[12] Mr. Rühe is quoted in the Frankfurter Allgemeine, June 9, 1998.

[13] See Chris Hedges, Kosovo´s Next Masters? in: Foreign Affairs, Vol.78, No.3, May/June 1999, pp.24-42. “Although never much of a fighting force, the Skanderbeg Division took part in the shameful roundup and deportation of the province´s few hundred Jews during the Holocaust. … The decision by KLA commanders to dress their police in black fatigues and order their fighters to salute with a cleched fist to the forehead has led many to worry about these fascist antecedents.” (ibid.)

[14] See Marvine Howe, Exodus of Serbians Stirs Province in Yugoslavia, New York Times July 12, 1982.

[15] See New York Times, June 16, 1998.

[16] See Frankfurter Allgemeine, September 26, 1998.

[17] See New York Times, June 10, 1998.

[18] See the minutes of the Bundestag parliamentary session of April 15, 1999.

[19] See the minutes of the Bundestag parliamentary session of April 5, 2000.

[20] See Le Monde March 25, 2000, emphasis by the author.

[21] See Frankfurter Allgemeine, February 5, 1999.


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Kosovo Albanian “Skanderbeg SS Division”



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The historical and political precedents for the creation of a greater Sqiperia or Greater Albania was set during World War II when the Kosovo and Metohija regions along with territory Southwest of lake Skutari from Montenegro and the western region of Southern Serbia, or Juzna Srbija (now part of Macedonija), were annexed to Albania by the Axis powers led by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, under a plan devised by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler to dismember and to destroy the Serbian Nation and people, which the Germans and Italians perceived as the main threat to the axis powers and to the Third Reich in the Balkan.

On April 7, 1939, Italian troops invaded and occupied Albania forcing the Albanian ruler King Zog I Ahmed Bey Zogu, to flee to Greece. Italy formally annexed into the Kingdom of Italy under the Italian king Victor Immanuel and established a military government and viceroy. The Italian began a program to colonize the country when thousands of settlers emigrated to Albania. An Albanian Fascist Party was established with Albanian Black skirts based on Italian models. The Albanian Army consisted of three infantry brigades of 12 000 men.

On October 28 1940, Italy invaded Greece from Albania with 10 Italian divisions and the Albanian Army but were driven back.

Germany sought to assist the Italian-Albanian offensive by operation Alpine Violet, a plan to move a corps of tree German mountain divisions to Albania by air and sea. Instead German built up a heavy concentration of the German Twelfth Army on the northwest Greek Border with Bulgaria, from where the German invasion was launched.

On April 6, 1941, Nazi Germany and the axis powers invaded Yugoslavia, Operation Punishment, and Greece forcing the capitulation of Yugoslavia on the 17th, and Greece on the 23rd. Yugoslavia was subsequently occupied and dismembered. The Axis powers established a greater Albania or greater Shqiperia at the expense of Serbia and Montenegro. Territory from Montenegro was annexed to Greater Albania. From Serbia, the Kosovo and Metohija were ceded to greater Albania, along with the western part of Southern Serbia (Juzna Srbija), now part of Macedonia, an area which was part of Stara Srbija (Ancient Old Serbia). This Kosovo-metohija region and the surrounding territory annexed to Greater Albania was called “New Albania”.

To create an ethnically pure Shqiptar Kosovo, which Albanian called “Kosova”, the Shqiptari (Albanians) launched a widescale campaigns of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Ethnic Serbs in the Kosovo-Metohija regions were massacred, and their homes were burned, and survivors were brutally driven out and expelled in policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The Balli Kombetar (BK or National Union) was an Albanian nationalist group led by Midhat Fresheri and Ali Klissura whose political objective was to in incorporate Kosovo-Metohija into a Greater Albania and to ethnically cleanse the region of Orthodox Serbs

The Abanian Committee of Kosovo organized massive campaigns of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Orthodox Serbian inhabitants of Kosovo- Metohuja. A contemporary report described the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Serbs as follows:

Armed with material supplied by the Italians, the Albanians hurled themselves against helpless settlers in their homes and villages. According to the most reliable sources, the Albanian burned many Serbian settlements, killing some of the people and driving out others who escaped to the mountains. At present other Serbian settlement are being attacked and the property of individuals and of communities is either being confiscated or destroyed. It is not possible to ascertain at the present time the exact number of victims of those atrocities, but it may be estimated that at least between 30.000 and 40.000 perished.

Bedri Pejani, the Muslim leader of the Albanian National committee, called for the extermination of Ortodox Serbian Cristians in Kosovo Metohija and for a union of a Greater Albania with Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Rashka (Sandzak) region of Serbia, into a great Islamic state. The grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin El Husseini was presented to Pejani a plan which he approved as a being in the interest of Islam. The Germans however rejected the plan.

On September 3, 1943, Italy capitulated by signing an armistice with the Allies. The German were now forced to occupy Albania with the collapse of the Italian forces. The Germans sent the 100th Jaeger Division from Greece and the 297th Infantry Division from Serbia and the German 1st Mountain Division to occupy Albania. These troops were organized into the XXI Mountain Corps which was under the command of General Paul Bader.

Additional security forces for the interior were needed, however, to free up Germans troops for defense of the coastline. The decision was made to form an Albanian SS mountain division for this purpose. In April in 1944, recruitment for the Albanian SS division began under direction of the newly formed Albanian Nazi party, which has been formed through the efforts of Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Acting upon instructions of Reichsfuehrer SS Henrich Himmler, the SS main office ordered the formation of an Albanian volunteer mountain division on April 17, 1944. SS Brigadefuehrern and Generalmajor of the Waffen SS Josef Fitzhum, who Headed the Higher SS and Police Command in Albania, oversaw the forming and training of the division.

The SS high Command planed to create a mountain division of 10.000 men. The Higher SS and Police Command in Albania, in conduction with the Albanian National Committee, listed 11.398 possible recruits for the Waffen SS mountain division. Most of these recruits were “kossovars”, shqiptar Ghegs from Kosovo Metohija in Serbia. The Shqiptar Tosks were found mainly in southern Albania. Most of the Shqiptar collaborators with the nazi forces were theNazi forces were the so-called Kossovars, ethnic Shqiptars from the Kosmet of Serbia. The Nazi German-sponsored Albanian gendarmes, special police and para-military units were made up by Kossovars. The Kossovars were under the direct control of the Albanian Interior Minister Xhafer Deva.

The Skanderbeg Division was formed and trained in Kosovo and was made up mostly of muslim Shqiptar Kossovars. There were only a small number of Albanians from Albania proper in the division. The Skanderbeg Mountain Division of the Wafen SS was thus essentially a Kosovo or Kosmet Division. The Division was stationed and operated in Kosovo and other Serbian regions almost exclusively.

Of the 11.398 recruits listed for the Division, 9.275 were ascertained to be suitable to draft in the Waffen SS. Of those suitable to be drafted, 6.491 Albanian were chosen and inducted into the Skanderbeg Division. To this Albanian core were added veteran German troops primarily Reichdeutsche from Austria and Volkdeutcshe officers, NCOs, and enlisted men, transferred from the 7th SS Mountain Division “Prinz Eugen” which was stationed in Bosnia-Hercegovina. The Kosovo Albanian 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS “Skanderbeg” consisted in total of 8.500 – 9.000 men of all ranks. The 6.491 Shqiptar recruits were assembled at depots in Kosovo where the formation and the training of the division began.

The official designation for the division was 21 Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS “Skanderbeg” (Albanische Nr 1). The SS Main Office designed a distinctive arm patch for the division, consisting of a black double-headed eagle on a red background, the national symbol of Albania. The word “Skanderbeg”, embroidered in white, appeared above the eagle and was warn on the left sleeve. The right collar patch consisted of a helmet with a goat’s head on top, the helmet supposedly worn by George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, after whom the division was named. The Shqiptars recruits in the division wore a white skullcap, the national attire of the Shqiptar Ghegs. The SS main office also issued gray skullcaps with the Totenkopf (death’s head) insignia sewn on the front below the Hoheitszeichen (the national symbol of Nazi Germany, consisting of a white eagle over a Nazi swastika).

Division was named after George Kastrioti, or Gjergj Kastriota, also as Kastriotis (1405-1468), national hero of Albania, who fought for the Ottoman Turks. As a child, Kastrioti was given as a hostage to Sultan Murat II to be brought as a Muslim at Adrianople (Edrine). Kastrioti became an officer in the Ottoman Turkish army and led the Turkish forces in many victories over Christian troops. Murat II was impressed with his valor and bravery in his battle for Islam and gave him the name Iskander Bey in Turkish, from “Iskander”, Aleksander the Great, or prince Aleksander, and “bey”, master. The name was shortened to Skanderbeg, beg being the local variant of bey. Later Kastrioti renounced Islam and converted to Christianity and attacked his former Ottoman Turkish masters. He captured the Albanian capital Kroja from the Turkish governor and proclaimed a revolt against the Turks in 1442. Sultan Mohammed II sent Turkish armies to defeat the renegade Kastrioti, but he was able to defeat Turkish forces, wich besieged Kroja but could not capture it. Kastrioti died in 1468. Kroja surrendered in 1479 and the Turks occupied Albania.

The Albanians in the Skanderbeg Division were mostly Muslims, of the Bektashi and Sunni sects of Islam. The division contained several hundred Albanian Catholics, followers of Jon Marko Joni.

The first commander of the Skandereg division was SS Brigadefuehrer Generalmajor of the Waffen SS Josef Fitshum, who commanded the division from April to June 1944. After the Juli 20, assassination plot against Hitler, Fitzhum was appointed supreme commander in Albania. In June, SS Stardentenfuehrer August Schmidhuber was appointed division commander, a post would hold until August 1944. On June 21, 1944, Schmidhuber was promoted to SS Oberfuehrer and later in the war, he would be promoted to SS Brigadefuhrer. SS Oberstrumbannfuhrer Alfred Graf commanded the reorganized remnants of the Skanderbeg Division from August 1944, to may, 1945.

The Shultzstaffel or SS was created in the period 1923-1925 and was initially known as the Stosstrupp (Shock troop) “Adolf Hitler”. On Januari 16, 1929, Hitler appointed Heinrich Himmler leader of SS, Reichsfuehrer SS. The SS was envisioned as an elite troop of the Party, a praetorian bodyguard to Hitler and the Nazi leadership. The SS was a formation “composed of the best physically, the most dependable, and the most faithful men in the Nazi movement. In 1940, combat units of the SS were formed, collectively termed the Waffen SS. Approximately 30-40 Waffen SS divisions were formed during the war, divided into three groupings, Waffen divisions made by Germans, those made up of ethnic Germans outside the Reich, and those made up of non-Germans. “Divisions der SS”, Divisions of the SS.

On September 27,1939, Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler as Chief of German Police consolidated the Gestapo, Kripo, and SD under an SS Main Office of Reich Security, or the RSHA. The RSHA was the actual body entrusted with the overall administration of the final solution at the Jewish Problem, what became known as the Holocaust. The SS Economic and administrative Main Office or WVHA, run the concentration camp system. Nazi concentration camp personnel and guards, althout not under the command of the Army or the Kommandoamt der Waffen SS, neverthless, wore Waffen SS uniforms and received Waffen SS paybooks. Reichfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler oversaw a program that resulted in the extermination of millions of men, women and children. Himmler was the Arhictect of genocide and of the Holocaust and the Wafen SS was his “private army”, the black angels”.

In Jun,1944, The Skanderbeg Waffen SS Mountain Division engaged in large-scale field maneuvers in the area between the towns of Berane and Adrijevica in Monte Negro (Crna Gora). Garrisons of Skanderbeg division were established in Kosovo towns of Pec, Jakova, Prizren, and Pristina. Further training of the division continued in August as new recruits were inducted in the division. An artillery battalion of the division, consisting of two batteries, was located in Gnjilane.

The first major action of the division occurred in August, 144 in Kosovo. In September, 1944, the Skanderbeg division occupied the Southern Serbia (Juzna Srbija) region now part of the communist created republic of Macedonia, and helped to garrison the region. The Skanderberg division was ordered into the areas surrounding the towns Skoplje (or Skopje), Kumanovo Presevo and Bujanovac. Sanderbeg operated in Stara Serbija (old and Ancient Serbia) region, in the towns of Pec, Gnjilane,Djakovica, Tetovo Gostivar, and Kosovska Mitrovica, then part of Kosovo Metohija and Southern Serbia.

In November, 1944, when the German armies in the Balkan were retreating from Yugoslavia and the Balkans, the Skanderbeg division remnants were reorganized into Regimentegruppe 21 SS Gebirgs “Skanderbeg” and was transferred to Skoplje, according to one account of the movements of the Battle group. This SS Kampfgrupe “Skanderbeg”, along with the prinz Eugen Divisin, defended the Vardar valley. The battle group “Skanderbeg” and Prinz Eugen held the Vardar area because it was the sole corridor of escape for the retreating German armies in Alexander Loehr’s Army Group E, which was retreating from Greece and Aegean Islands.

3. regrutacija za SS Skenderbeg diviziju Kosovo april 1944

The Skanderbeg Battle Group along with the Prinz Eugen Division retreated to the to the Brcko region of Bosnia-Herzegovina by mid-january 1945. At this time the remaining Skanderbeg personnel were incorporated into the 14th SS Volonteer Mountain Infantry Regiment of the 7th SS division Prinz Eugen. The remnants of the Skanderbeg Division fought in this formation until the end of the war, retreating to Austria in May, 1945.

The Skanderbeg division engaged in a policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Serbian Orthodox Christian populations of the regions under occupation by the division in Kosovo Metohija, Montenegro, and southern Serbia. Balkan Historian Robert Lee Wolff, in the “Balkans in Our time”, described the genocide committed against Kosovo Serbs by the Shqiptar 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS Skenderbeg as follows:

In the regions annexed by the Albanians, their so-called Skanderbeg division, made up of members of the Albanian minority in Yugoslavia, massacred Serbs with impunity.

Historian L.H. Stavrianos, in “The Balkan Since 1453″, described the genocide committed against Orthodox Serbs by the Shqiptar Skanderbeg Division in these terms: Yugoslav Albanians, organized in their fascist Skanderbeg Division, conducted an indiscriminate massacre of Serbians.

The Skanderbeg Division played a role in the Holocaust, the genocide if European Jewry, by rounding up scores of Kosovo Jews in a group roughly 500 persons deemed enemies of the Third Reich when the division occupied Prizren in Kosovo Metohija. The division sought to create ethnically pure Kosovo, ethnically cleansed of Orthodox Serbs, Jews and Gypsies the untermenschen (subhuman), who were targeted for extermination.

The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal declared the Shutzstaffel or SS criminal organization and every individual member of SS was found to Be a war criminal guilty of “planning and carrying out crimes against humanity”. The Shqiptar Kosovars in the 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division “Skanderbeg” committed war crimes and genocide against the Orthodox Serbian population of Kosovo. The Shqiptar planed and carried out crimes against humanity in Kosovo. Orthodox Serbians of Kosovo were the victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide. This genocide would contribute in the Shqiptar goal and policy to create an ethnically pure, Shqiptar Kosovo, in an attempt to create a greater Shqiperia or greater Albania. Following World war II, the Yugoslav Communist dictatorship allowed the policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Orthodox Serbs to continue, and indeed, gave greater impetus and legitimacy to the policy.

During World War II, the Axis powers dismembered and occupied Yugoslavia and created a greater Albania by annexing the Serbian region of Kosovo-Metohija by Nazi Germany, Germany formed a Shqiptar “Kosovar” Waffen SS Division, the 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS “Skanderbeg” which engaged in a policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Orthodox Serbian population of Kosovo. The result was that the Shqiptars, with the help of Germany, were able to virtually exterminate the Serbian and Jews populations of Kosovo, thereby creating an ethnically pure, Nazi German-sponsored Greater Albania or Greater Shqiperia.

Historical evidence demonstrates that genocide and ethnic cleansing were perpetrated upon the Serbian population of Kosovo and Metohija, first by theY Ottoman Turks, by Albanian leaders and the populace , then during the occupation by fascist Italy and Nazi Germany by Albanian fascists and Nazis, and continued throughout the Communist period , during which periods the ethnic Serbian population was forced to emigrate…

The historical and political precedent for the creation of a Greater Albania or Greater ShqiperiaY was set during World War II when the Kosovo and Metohija regions, along with territory southwest of Lake Scutari from Montenegro and the western region of Macedonia,, which was then southern Serbia, or Juzna Srbija, were annexed to Albania by the Axis powers, led by fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, under a plan devised by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler which sought to dismemberY the Serbian nation and people, which the Germans and Italians perceived as the main threat to the Axis powers and to the Third Reich in the Balkans.

On April 7, 1939, Italian troops invaded and occupied Albania, forcing the Albanian ruler King Zog I, Ahmed Bey Zogu, to flee to Greece.Italy next formally annexed Albania into the Kingdom of Italy under the Italian King Victor Immanuel and established a military government and Viceroy.The Italians began a program to colonize the country when thousands of settlers emigrated to Albania.An Albanian Fascist Party was established with Albanian Blackshirts basedY on the Italian models.The Albanian army consisted of three infantry brigades of 12,000 men.

On October 28, 1940, Italy invaded Greece from Albania with 10 Italian divisions and the Albanian army but were driven back.

Germany sought to assist the Italian-Albanian offensive by Operation Alpine Violet, a plan to move a corps of three German mountain divisions to Albania by air and sea. Instead, the Germans built up a heavy concentration of the German Twelfth Army on the northwest Greek border with Bulgaria, from where the German invasion was launched.

On April 6, l941, Nazi Germany and the Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia, Operation Punishment, and Greece, forcing the capitulation of Yugoslavia on the 17th and Greece on the 23rd.Yugoslavia was subsequently occupied and dismembered.The Axis powers established a Greater Albania or Greater Shqiperia at the expense of Serbia and Montenegro. Territory from Montenegro was annexed to Greater Albania. From Serbia, the Kosovo and Metohija regions were ceded to Greater Albania, along with the western part of southern Serbia (Juzna Srbija), now part of Macedonia, an area which was part of Stara Srbija (Ancient or Old Serbia).This Kosovo-Metohija region and the durrounding territory annexed to Greater Albania was called iNew Albaniai.

To create an ethnically pure Albanian Kosovo, which the Albanians called iKosovai,theY Albanians (Shqiptari) launched a widescale campaigns of ethnic cleansing and genocide.Ethnic Serbs in the Kosovo-Metohija regions were massacred, and their homes were burned, and the survivors were brutally driven out and expelled in a policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The Balli Kombetar (BK or National Union) was an Albanian nationalist group led by Midhat Frasheri and Ali Klissura whose political objective was to incorporate Kosovo-Metohija into a Greater Albania and to ethnically cleanse the region of Orthodox Serbs.

The Albanian Committee of Kosovo organized massive campaigns of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Orthodox Serbian inhabitants of Kosovo-Metohija.A contemporary report described the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Serbs as follows:
Armed with material supplied by the Italians, the Albanians hurled themselves against the helpless settlers in their homes and villages. Accoring to the most reliables sources the Albanians burned many Serbian settlements, killing some of the people and driving out others who escaped to the mountains. At present other Serbian settlements are being attacked and the property of indviduals and of communities is either being confiscated or destroyed. It is not possible to ascertain at the present the exact number of victims of those atrocities, but it may be estimated that at least between 30,000 and 50,000 perished.

Bedri Pejani, the Muslim leader of the Albanian National Committee, called for the extermination of Orthodox Serbian Christians in Kosovo-Metohija and for a union of a Greater Albania with Bosnia-Hercegovina and the Rashka (Sandzak) region of Serbia into a Greater Islamic State. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el Husseini, was presented the Pejani plan which he approved as being in the interest of Islam. The Germans,however, rejected the plan.

On September 3, 1943, Italy capitulated by signing an armistice with the Allies. The Germans were then forced to occupy Albania with the collapse of the Italian forces.The Germans sent he 100th Jaeger Division from Greece and the 297th Infantry Division from Serbia and the German 1st Mountain Division to occupy Albania.Y These troops were organized into the XXI Mountain Corps, which was under the command of General Paul Bader.

Bedri Pejani organized and headed the Second Albanian League of Prizren in 1943, which sought to revive the goals of the First League of Prizren in 1878, whiich were to unite all the lands where Albanians lived into a single, unified Greater Albania. The Second Albanian League,like the First, was reactionary, anti-democratic, racist, authoritarian, and allied with Nazi Germany. Pejani found an ardent supporter of the Second League in Heinrich Himmler, the iarchitect of genocidei and the person who oversaw the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem. The Second League fit perfectly into Hitleris New Order in Europe. Moreover, Italian anthropological research had revealed that the Ghegs were Aryans or Nordic, the herrenvolk or master race like the Germans.Pejani and the Second League opposed democracy and human rights but sought to create a Greater Albania through genocide and ethnic cleansing. The 21st Waffen SS Division Skanderbeg resulted from the efforts of the Second League of Prizren.

Germany re-occupied Albania and Kosovo in 1943. Additional security forces for the interior were needed,however, to free up German troops for defense of the coastline. The decision was made to form an Albanian SS mountain division for this purpose. In April, 1944, recruitment for the Albanian SS Division began under the direction of the newly formed Albanian Nazi Party, which had been formed through the efforts of Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Acting upon the instructions of Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler, the SS Main Office ordered the formation of an Albanian Volunteer mountain Division on April 17,1944. Himmler planned to create two Albanian SS divisions. SS Brigadefuehrer and Generalmajor of the Waffen SS Josef Fitzhum, who headed the Higher SS and Police Command in Albania, oversaw the formation and training of the division.

The SS High Command planned to create a mountain division of 10,000 men. The Higher SS and Police Command in Albania, in conjunction with the Albanian National Committee, listed 11,398 possible recruits for the Waffen SS mountain division. Most of these recruits, roughly two-thirds were Kosovars, Albanian (Shqiptar) Ghegs from Kosovo-Metohija in Serbia. The Shqiptar Tosks were found mainly in southern Albania. Most of the Shqiptar collaborators with the Nazi forces were the so-called Kosovars, ethnic Shqiptars from the Kosmet of Serbia. The Albanian gendarmes, special police, and para-military units were Kosovars. The Kosovars were under the direct control of the Albanian Interior Minister, Xhafer Deva.

The Skanderbeg Division was formed and trained in Kosovo and was made up mostly of Muslim Shqiptar Kosovars.There were only a small number of Albanians from Albania proper in the division, about one-third.Y The Skanderbeg Mountain Division of the Waffen SS was thus essentially a Kosovo or Kosmet division. The division was stationed and operated in Kosovo and other Serbian regions almost exclusively.

Of the 11,398 recruits listed for the division, 9,275 were ascertained to be suitable to draft in the Waffen SS. Of those suitable to be drafted, 6,491 Albanians were chosen and inducted into the Skanderbeg Division. To this Albanian core were added veteran German troops, primarily Reichdeutsche from Austria and Volkdeutsche officers, NCOs, and enlisted men, transferred from the 7th SS Mountain Division iPrinz Eugeni which was stationed in Bosnia-Hercegovina.The Kosovo Albanian 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS iSkanderbegi consisted in total of 8,500-9,000 men of all ranks.The 6,491 Albanian recruits were assembled at depots in Kosovo where the formation and the training of the division began.

The official designation for the division was 21. Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS iSkanderbegi (Albanische Nr.1).The SS Main Office designed a distinctive arm patch for the division, consisting of a black, double-headed eagle on a red background, the national symbol for Albania. The word iSkanderbegi , embroidered in white, appeared above the eagle and was worn on the left sleeve.The left collar patch consisted of a helmet with a goatis head on the top, the helmet supposedly worn by George Kastrioti, Skanderbeg, after whom the division was named. The Shqiptar recruits in the division wore a white skullcap, the national attire of the Shqiptar Ghegs. The SS Main Office also issued gray skullcaps with the Totenkopf (Deathis Head) insignia sewn on the front below the Hoheitzeichen (the national symbol of Nazi Germany, consisting of a white eagle over a Nazi swastika).

The division was named after George Kastrioti, or Gjergj Kastriota, also as Kastriotis (1405-1468), a national hero of Albania, who fought against the Ottoman Turks.As a child, Kastrioti was given as a hostage to Sultan Murad II to be brought us as a Muslim at Adrianople (Edirne).Kastrioti became an officer in the Ottoman Turkish army and led the Turkish forces in many victories over Christian troops.Murad II was impressed with his valor and bravery in his battles for Islam and gave him the name Iskander Bey in Turkish, from iIskanderi, Alexander the Great, or Prince Alexander, and iBeyi, master.

The nameY was shortened to Skanderbeg, beg being the local variant of beg.Later, Kastrioti renounced Islam and converted to Christianity and attacking his former Ottoman Turkish masters. He captured the Albanian capital Kruja from the Turkish governor and proclaimed a revolt against the Turks in 1442.Sultan Mohammed II sent Turkish armies to defeat the renegade Kastrioti, but he was able to defeat the Turkish forces, which besieged Kruja but could not capture it. Kastrioti died in 1468. Kruja surrendered in 1479 and the Turks occupied Albania.

The Albanians in the Skanderbeg Division were mostly Muslims, of the Bektashi and Sunni sects of IslamThe division contained several hundred Albanian Catholics, followers of Jon Marko Joni.

The first commander of the Skanderbeg division was SS Brigadefuehrer and Generalmajor of the Waffen SS Josef Fitzhum, who commanded the division from April to June, 1944. After the July 20, 1944 assassination plot against Hitler, Fitzhum was appointed supreme commander in Albania. In June, SS Standartenfuehrer August Schmidhuber, who had been a member of the 7th SS Mountain Division iPrinz Eugeni, was appointed commander of the division, a post he would hold until August, 1944. On June 21, 1944, Schmidhuber was promoted to SS Oberfuehrer, and later in the war, he would be promoted to SS Brigadefuehrer. SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Alfred Graf commanded the reorganized remnants of the Skanderbeg Division from August, 1944, to May, 1945.

The Schutzstaffel or SS was created in the period 1923-1925 and was initially known as the Stosstrupp (Shock Troop) iAdolf Hitleri. On January 16, 1929, Hitler appointed Heinrich Himmler leader of the SS, Reichsfuehrer SS. The SS was envisioned as an elite troop of the Party, a Praetorian bodyguard to Hitler and the Nazi leadership. The SS was a formation icomposed of the best physically, the most dependable, and the most faithful men in the Nazi movement.i In 1940, combat units of the SS were formed, collectively termed the Waffen SS. Approximately 30-40 Waffen SS divisions were formed during the war,divided into three groupings, Waffen SS divisions made up of Germans, those made up of ethnic Germans outside the Reich, and those made up of non-Germans, iDivisions der SS, Divisions of the SS.

On September 27, 1939, Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler as Chief of German Police consolidated the Gestapo, Kripo, and SD under an SS Main Office of Reich Security, or the RSHA. The RSHA was the actual body entrusted with the overall administration of the Final Solution of the Jewish Problem, what became known as the Holocaust. The SS Economic and Administrative Main Office, or WVHA, ran the concentration camp system. Nazi concentration camp personnel and guards, although not under the command of the Army or the Kommandoamt der Waffen SS, nevertheless, wore Waffen SS uniforms and received Waffen SS paybooks. Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler oversaw a program that resulted in the extermination of millions of men, women, and children. Himmler was the architect of genocide and of the Holocaust and the Waffen SS was his iprivate armyi, the iblack angelsi. As part of the Skanderbeg Waffen SS Division, Kosovar Albanians would play a role in the Final Solution, the Holocaust. Kosovo Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies would be victims.

In June, 1944, the Skanderbeg Waffen SS Mountain Division engaged in large-scale field maneuvers in the area between the towns of Berane and Andrijevica in Montenegro ( Crna Gora). Garrisons of the Skanderbeg division were established in the Kosovo towns of Pec, Djakovica, Prizren, and Pristina. Further training of the divisionY continued in August as new recruits were inducted in the division. An artillery battalion of the division, consisting of two batteries, was located in Gnjilane.

The first major action of the division occurred in August, 1944 in Kosovo. In September, 1944, the Skanderbeg Division occupied Macedonia, then denoted as southern Serbia, and helped to garrison the region. The Skanderbeg Division was ordered into the areas surrounding the towns of Skopje, Kumanovo, Presevo, and Bujanovac. Skanderbeg operated in the Stara Srbija (Old Serbia) region, in the Kosovo-Metohija towns of Pec, Gnjilane, Djakovica, Kosovska Mitrovica, and the Macedonian towns of Tetovo and Gostivar. The city of Tetovo was a major base for the Skanderbeg Division.

In November, 1944, when the German armies in the Balkans were retreating from Yugoslavia and Greece, the Skanderbeg Division remnants were reorganized into Regimentgruppe 21. SS Gebirgs iSkanderbegi and was transferred to Skopje, according to an account of the movements of the Battle Group. This SS Kampfgruppe iSkanderbegi, along with the Prinz Eugen Division, defended the Vardar valley. The Battle Group iSkanderbegi and Prinz Eugen held the Vardar area because it was the sole corridor of escape for the retreating German armies in Alexander Loehris Army Group E, which was then retreating from Greece and the Aegean Islands.

The Skanderbeg Battle Group along with the Prinz Eugen Division retreated to the Brcko region of Bosnia-Hercegovina by mid-January, 1945. At this time, the remaining Skanderbeg personnel were incorporated into the 14th SS Volunteer Mountain infantry Regiment of the 7th SS Division Prinz Eugen. The remnants of the Skanderbeg division fought in this formation until the end of the war, retreating to Austria in May, 1945.

The Skanderbeg Division engaged in a policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Serbian Orthodox population of the regions under occupation by the division in Kosovo-Metohija, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Balkan historian Robert Lee Wolff, in The Balkans in Our Time, described the genocide committed against Kosovo Serbs by the Albanian 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS iSkanderbegi as follows:

In the regions annexed by the Albanians, their so-called Skanderbeg division, made up of members of the Albanian minority in Yugoslavia, massacred Serbs with impunity..

Historian L.S. Stavrianos, in The Balkans Since 1453, described the genocide committed against Orthodox Kosovo Serbs by the Skanderbeg Division in these terms:

Yugoslav Albanians, organized in their fascist Skanderbeg Division, conducted an indiscriminate massacre of Serbians.

1. Siptarska regrutacija za SS Skenderbeg diviziju na Kosovu april 1944

The Skanderbeg Division played a role in the Holocaust, the genocide of European Jewry. In Kosovo: A Short History, Noel Malcolm noted that in the Djakovica region of Kosovo-Metohija, the Skanderbeg Division engaged in ithe round-up and deportation of 281 Jewsi to the concentration-extermination camps in May, 1944. According to Malcolm, ithey took part in the most shameful episode of Kosovois wartime history.i p310 Skanderbeg rounded up scores of Jews in a group of approximately 500 Kosovans deemed enemies of the Third Reich when the Division occupied Prizren in Kosovo-Metohija. The division sought to create an ethnically pure Kosovo, ethnically cleansed of Orthodox Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies,Y the untermenschen (subhumans), not part of the so-called West, who were targeted for extermination.

According to Miranda Vickers in Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo, the Kosovo Albanian Skanderbeg SS Division ethnically cleansed an estimated 10,000 Kosovo Serbian families, most of whom fled as refugees to Serbia while Albanian colonists from Albania entered Kosovo and took over their lands and homes:

Until the first months of 1944 there were continued waves of migration from Kosovo of Serbs and Montenegrins,forced to flee following intimidation….TheY 21stSS eSkanderbeg Divisioni (consisting, as already mentioned, of two battalions) formed out of Albanian volunteers in the spring of 1944, indiscriminately killed Serbs and Montenegrins in Kosovo. This led to the emigration of an estimated 10,000 Slav families, most of whom went to Serbia…replaced by new colonists from the poorer regions of northern Albania.

The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal declared the Schutzstaffel or SS a criminal organization and every individual member of the SS was found to be a war criminal guilty of iplanning and carrying out crimes against humanity.i The Albanian Kosovars in the 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS iSkanderbegi committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing, and genocide against the Orthodox Serbian population of Kosovo.This genocide would contribute to the Kosovar goal and policy to create an ethnically pure Kosova, in a attempt to create a Greater Albania.

During World War II, the Axis powers dismembered and occupied Yugoslavia and created a Greater Albania by annexing Kosovo-Metohija to Albania. During the occupation of Kosovo-Metohija by Nazi Germany, Germany formed an Albanian Kosovar Waffen SS Division, the 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS iSkanderbegi which engaged in a policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Orthodox Serbian population of Kosovo. The result was that with the Albanians, with the help of Germany, were able to either kill or drive out entire Serbian families and to round up and deport Kosovo Jews to the extermination camps, thereby creating during World War II an ethnically pure, Nazi German-sponsored Greater Albania.


2000-11-18

By Carl K. Savich

Source: www.pogledi.rs

Illustrated by Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

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