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The roots of Kosovo fascism
by George Thompson

[Posted 19 February 2000; edited with some new material added by Samantha Criscione 11 April 2007]


That Was Then...

"[E]fforts should be made to get rid of the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija as soon as possible ... All indigenous Serbs should be declared as colonists and, with the help of the governments of Albania and Italy, should be sent to concentration camps in Albania. The Serbian settlers should be killed."
-- Albanian fascist president Mustafa Kruja,
June 1942 *

...And This Is Now

"He, like many KLA officers, says openly that he dreams of a Kosovo without Serbs."
-- Assertion of KLA death squad commander "the Teacher," 19 August 1999 **

"As Germany overtook Yugoslavia in 1941, the Kosovar people were liberated by the Germans. All Albanian territories of this state, such as Kosova, western Macedonia and border regions under Montenegro, were re-united into Albania proper. Albanian schools, governmental administration, press and radio were re-established."
--From the Kosovo Liberation Army-affiliated  ***

Mussolini's Italy occupied Albania in April 1939, and established a collaborationist regime with the apparent enthusiasm of most Albanians.[1] After Hitler invaded and occupied Yugoslavia in spring 1941, the bulk of the Serbian province of Kosovo-Metohija was placed under Italian-Albanian collaborationist control and annexed to Albania.[2]

The above map shows the part of Serbia occupied by Albania from 1941 to 1944, following the Italian and German invasions. (To view a larger version, go to  and click on map.)
The map uses the term "Kosovo (Autonomous Province)." In fact, Kosovo, which was incorporated in the Greater Albania created by the fascist invaders during World War II, was liberated by the Partisans and officially designated an 'autonomous province' of Serbia in 1946. The meaning of this 'autonomy' changed subsequently, becoming extreme in 1974, as discussed in the interview, "Kosovo before 1989: Nightmare with the Best Intentions," at

Map Source: University of Texas Libraries, Perry-Casta˝eda Library, Map Collection, Historical Maps of The Balkans, "Historical Borders: Kosovo [1913-1992]" (218K)
Map from Former Yugoslavia: A Map Folio, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency 1992.

When Italian forces moved into Kosovo they were accompanied by Albanians from Albania. Albanians living in Kosovo joined the invasion force as it made its way North and East, 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 the 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 persecution.[4]


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 UmiltÓ, 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 are living in conditions that are truly disgraceful, constantly harassed by the brutality of the Albanians, who are whipping up racial hatred."[7] Carlo UmiltÓ described some of the atrocities in his memoirs and observed that "the Albanians are out to exterminate the Slavs."[8]  German diplomat Hermann Neubacher, the Third Reich’s representative for southeastern Europe reported that: "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 Kruja, declared his goals candidly before his followers in Kosovo:

"efforts should be made to get rid of the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija as soon as possible ... All indigenous Serbs should be declared as colonists and, with the help of the governments of Albania and Italy, should be sent to concentration camps in Albania. The Serbian settlers should be killed."   [10]

Similarly, Kosovo Albanian leader Ferat-bey Draga, said that the "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 Nazis 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 gave the Albanians a free hand.

Kosovo Albanian nationalist militias called the Balli KombŰtar (or 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-Gebirgsdivision der SS - the Skanderbeg Division. With German leaders and Kosovo Albanian officers and troops, Hitler’s aimed to use the Skanderberg Division to "achieve its [i.e., Germany's] well-known political objective" of creating a "Greater Albania" including Kosovo, minus Jews, Serbs and Romany. [12]

In general, German policy was to organize volunteer military units among 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 Serbs 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 in 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, Haj Amin al Husseini, who was a leading Nazi, pressed for Hitler's 'Final Solution,' and had Hitler's approval to lead the murdering of all Middle Eastern Jews, once the time was ripe [13]. Albanian religious intolerance was shown by their targeting Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries for destruction.[14]

No one is certain of the exact extent of human destruction suffered in Fascist-occupied Kosovo. Estimates range from 10,000 to 30,000 Serbs murdered. At least 100,000 were driven from Kosovo and replaced with "immigrants" from Albania.[15]

In justifying current Kosovo Albanian demands to secede from Serbia, the 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.[16]

And their attention was not limited to Serbs. Unknown numbers of Romany ("Gypsies") were liquidated. And Kosovo Albanians, acting alone as well as under German direction, eliminated many of Kosovo's Jews.

The definitive work on Hitler's "Final Solution" in Yugoslavia [17] estimates that 550 Jews lived in Kosovo when Hitler took over Yugoslavia. 210 of them, or 38 percent, were murdered in Kosovo, mainly by Albanians. In fact, the Skanderbeg division's first operation was to act as an Einsatzgruppe [18] against the Jews, and its second was a similar extermination foray against the Serb village of Velika where more than 400 Serbians were murdered. [19]

Čedomir Prlinčević, head of the Jewish community in Priština and an executive of the provincial archives, has explained to Emperor's 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. Prlinčević, were it not for that fortunate detour, the entire Jewish population of Kosovo would have been eliminated. [20]

Although KLA supporters now claim that no Jews were killed in Kosovo and that Jews were sheltered by the Kosovo Albanians, such claims are false and should be treated the same way we would treat other Holocaust denials.


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 for 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 Šaban Poluža; it is called the Šaban Poluža rebellion. Sporadic violence continued until 1951. It is literally true to say that the last shots of World War II were fired in Kosovo.


Parting Thought


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 the city the headquarters of its peacekeeping district. The patriarch of the 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.
18 June 1999




* Cited in Slobodan D. Milošević, Izbeglice i preseljenici na teritoriji okupirane Jugoslavije 1941-1945. godine [Refugees and Resettlers on the Territory of Occupied Yugoslavia 1941-1945], Beograd, IRO Narodna knjiga, Institut za savremenu istoriju [Institute of Contemporary History], "Biblioteka Studija i monografije," 1981, p. 54:

"predsednik albanske vlade je na sastancima javno govorio ... 'da treba nastojati da se srpski živalj na Kosovu i Metohiji što pre smeni... Sve starosedeoce Srbe oglasiti kolonistima i kao takve preko albanskih i italijanskih vlasti poslati u koncentracione logore u Albaniju. Naseljenike Srbe treba ubijati.'85" [Ellipses in original - SC]

"[Footnote] 85 A-VII. [ = Arhiv Vojnoistorijskog instituta u Beogradu / Archive of the Institute for Military History in Belgrade] Sup-Kosovska Mitrovica, film br. 1, snimak 77 [film number 1, snapshot 77]."

NOTA BENE: Slobodan D. Milošević (1932-) is a historian. He has no connection whatsoever with the late President of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milošević.

** "KLA units 'specialised in hunting down Serbs'," Agence France Presse -- English, September 19, 1999, International news, 747 words, Jean-Luc Porte, Pristina, Yugoslavia.

*** As of 9 April 2007, is down, but the page remains posted at
The above website is apparently a mirror of If you scroll to the bottom of that page and click on the double-headed eagle (symbol of the Nazi's Skanderbeg Waffen SS Division) you can see that it used to link to the now-defunct In case the mirror is also taken down, we have backed it up at - EC

[1] Nikolaos A. Stavrou, "KFOR: Repeating History?," The Washington Times, 11 August 1999, Wednesday, Final Edition, Part A; Commentary; Pg. A15, 912 words.

[2] Hugo Roth, Kosovski iskoni: pozadina aktuelnih zbivanja na Kosovu i Metohiji / Kosovo Origins: the background to the present-day situation in Kosovo and Metohia, Beograd/Belgrade, IKP Nikola Pašić, 1996, English translation by Marko Marčetić, Chapter 10.

Portions of northern Kosovo, from Mitrovica to the provincial border with Serbia, were administered by Germany from the outset, primarily to exploit the mines in the area. An eastern sliver of Kosovo was ceded to Bulgaria.

[3] Smilja Avramov, Genocid u Jugoslaviji u svetlosti međunarodnog prava, Beograd, Politika, 1992; English translation by Margot and Boško Milosavljević, Genocide in Yugoslavia, Beograd, BIGZ, 1995, Part 2, Chapter 5, "Genocide in Kosovo and Metohija": "The crimes were begun by the ‘kachak’ guerrilla detachments which had been sent into Kosovo from Albania, but members of the Shqiptar minority quickly joined in. Judging from Italian reports, at first the situation resembled more the marauding of bandits than a deliberate policy."

[4] Dušan Bataković, The Kosovo Chronicles, prevod na engleski i lektura / translated from Serbo-Croatian into English by Dragana Vulićević, Beograd, Plato, 1992; Avramov, supra.

[5] Smilja Avramov, supra.

[6] Carlo UmiltÓ, Jugoslavia e Albania. Memorie di un diplomatico, Milano, Garzanti, 1947, in Avramov, supra, note 141.

[7] Smilja Avramov, supra, note 117.

[8] Carlo UmiltÓ, Jugoslavia e Albania. Memorie di un diplomatico, Milano, Garzanti, 1947, in Avramov, supra, note 137.

[9] Hermann Neubacher, Sonderauftrag SŘdost, 1940-1945. Bericht eines fliegenden Diplomaten, Göttingen, Musterschmidt-Verlag, 1956, 2. durchgesehene Auflage: 1957, p. 116, quoted in Slavenko Terzić, "Kosovo, Serbian Issue and the Greater Albania Project," in Dimitrije Bogdanović et al., Old Serbia and Albanians, Beograd / Belgrade, Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti / Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Historical Institute / Istoriski institut, 1999.

[10] Slobodan D. Milošević, Izbeglice i preseljenici na teritoriji okupirane Jugoslavije 1941-1945. godine [Refugees and Resettlers on the Territory of Occupied Yugoslavia 1941-1945], Beograd, IRO Narodna knjiga, Institut za savremenu istoriju [Institute of Contemporary History], "Biblioteka Studija i monografije," 1981, p. 54.

[11] Bataković, supra, Part 1, Chapter 1, citing H. Bajrami, Izvestaj Konstantina Plavsica Tasi Dinicu, ministru unutrasnjih poslova u Nedicevoj vladi oktobra 1943, o kosovsko-mitrovackanm srezu, Godisnjak arhiva Kosova XIV-XV (1978-1979), p. 313.

[12] Avramov, supra, note 151.

[13] On the role of Haji Amin al Husseini as a leading Nazi, see the following documents:

* 'Observer' [Immanuel Velikovsky], "Ex-Mufti, Criminal Ally. State Dept. Conceals Promised White Paper Book; Uses Whitewash Instead", New York Post, Monday, February 23, 1948.

* Jared Israel, "Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin's Role as an Instigator of the Shoah (Holocaust)"

[14] Avramov, supra, note 148, citing Bishop Atanisije Jevtic, From Kosovo to Jadovno.

[15] Bataković gives a conservative estimate of 10,000 dead, while Slavenko Terzić cites a contemporary American intelligence report that 10,000 died in the first year of occupation alone. Terzić, supra, citing Serge Krizman, Maps of Yugoslavia at War (1943).  In addition, an unknown number of Serbs died in the German-operated work camps of Pristina and Mitrovica, or were killed by the Germans as reprisals against resistance activity.

The reported number of expelled Serbs also varies depending on the source. Alex N. Dragnić and Slavko Todorović cited the figure of 70,000-100,000, based on a review of wartime refugee records [Alex N. Dragnić, Slavko Todorović, The Saga of Kosovo. Focus on Serbian-Albanian Relations, New York, N.Y., Columbia University Press, 1984]. Dimitrije Bogdanović estimates 100,000, but acknowledges that the exact number has never been determined [Dimitrije Bogdanović, Knjiga o Kosovu / The Kosovo Question: Past and Present, Beograd : Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti, 1985]. Smilja Avramov notes that wartime records showing 70,000 refugees from Kosovo counted only those persons in need of government assistance who registered with the Commissariat for Refugees in Belgrade. Records of those who did not register, or who fled to Montenegro, apparently do not exist. Avramov, supra.

[16] Before World War II Serbs constituted a slight majority of the Kosovo population (Avramov, supra). In addition to the murder and expulsion of Serbs, the relative ethnic population balance was further skewed by the entrance of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians from Albania proper during the war. Relying on Italian records from the time, Smilja Avramov estimates that 150,000 to 200,000 Albanians moved into Kosovo between 1941 and 1943.

[17] Zločini fašističkih okupatora i njihovih pomagača protiv Jevreja u Jugoslaviji [The Crimes of the Fascist Occupants and Their Collaborators Against Jews in Yugoslavia], edited by Zdenko L÷wenthal [Zdenko Levntal], with a summary in English, Belgrade, Federation of Jewish Communities of the Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia, 1957.

[18] Regarding the Einsatzgruppen, see 

[19] Avramov, supra.

[20]  "Driven from Kosovo!" Interview with Čedomir Prlinčević, Chief Archivist of Kosovo and leader of the Jewish Community in Priština, capital of Kosovo province (Serbia).


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