KLA -- Resurgent Nazis Under NATO's
By George Thompson
"No one, in any case, should entertain
any notion that any future Kosovo, whether run by Albanians or by an international
protectorate, is going to have any Serbs in it." Tim Judah, New York
Review of Books.
The false historical analogy underlying
NATO's war against Yugoslavia is the purported resemblance of the Serbs'
anti-KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) counterinsurgency to nazi atrocities
in the second world war. Clinton has compared the Serbian campaign to the
Holocaust and Mrs. Clinton has stated that the images on CNN remind her
of the movie Schindler's List; both implicitly analogize the Kosovar Albanians
to Jews in the 1930s and '40s, and the Serbs to nazis. Other NATO leaders,
and most journalists in NATO countries, have mindlessly echoed the Clintons'
Not only is the analogy completely misplaced
as a historical matter, but it was the Albanians who sided with the nazis
and fascists in the 1940s and the current KLA that continues the ethnic
eliminationist policies of that era. The Serbs are engaged in suppressing
a resurgent neo-nazi movement, just as they did during and immediately
after the world war. While NATO's rhetoric has served to rally an uninformed
public's support for attacking Yugoslavia, even a cursory understanding
of the area's recent history belies that rhetoric and refutes the false
version of events that NATO has misused to justify its attack.
Mussolini's Italy occupied Albania proper
in April 1939, and established a collaborationist regime with the enthusiastic
support of the native population. After Hitler invaded and occupied Yugoslavia
in spring 1941, the bulk of current Kosovo-Metohija was placed under Italian-Albanian
collaborationist control and annexed to Albania. Kosovar Albanian fascist
militias called the "Balli Kombëtar" or "Ballistas"
conducted a campaign of murder and deportation against the Serb population
between 1941 and 1943, the years of Italian control. Carlo Umilta, a civilian
aide to the commander of the Italian occupation forces, described some
of the atrocities in his memoirs and observed that "the Albanians
are out to exterminate the Slavs."
The anti-Serb pogroms intensified after
Italy's collapse in 1943, when the Germans assumed control of Albania,
including Kosovo. In April 1944 the Germans formed the 21st "Waffen-Gebirgs
Division der SS Skanderbeg" (alban.Nr.1) with German leadership and
Kosovar Albanian officers and rank and file. Although the Germans raised
the unit as an anti-Partisan force, its Albanian members were interested
solely in murdering or expelling the Serb population, as their Ballista
predecessors had done so successfully. The division was dissolved in early
A major impetus for the Kosovar Albanians'
attempt to drive the Serbs from Kosovo under both fascist and nazi tutelage
was militant Islam. The Islamist group "Second League of Prizren"
was created in September 1943 by Xhafer Deva, a Kosovar Albanian, and proclaimed
a jihad against Slavs. This effort was supported by the grand mufti of
Jerusalem, El Haj Emin Huseini, who similarly called for the elimination
of Jews in then-British-occupied Palestine.
No one is certain how many Serbs were killed
or displaced in this Albanian-sponsored Holocaust. Estimates range between
10,000 and 30,000 murdered, with at least an additional 100,000 driven
from Kosovo to elsewhere in Yugoslavia and replaced with "immigrants"
from Albania proper. The Kosovar Albanians' depredations were a major cause
of the current demographic imbalance: the Albanians constitute a majority
of the Kosovo population because of their great success as Hitler's willing
executioners. But their murderous attention was not limited only to Serbs.
Countless Roma (Gypsies) were liquidated, and Kosovar Albanians, both acting
alone and under German direction, managed to eliminate approximately 40
percent of Kosovo's Jewish population. The definitive work concerning the
nazi-orchestrated elimination of Yugoslav Jews, "The Crimes of Fascist
Occupants and Their Collaborators Against the Jews of Yugoslavia"
(1952, revised 1957) (published by The Federation of Jewish Communities
of Yugoslavia) estimates that there were approximately 550 Jews in Kosovo
at the time of Hitler's takeover of Yugoslavia, and that 210 of them, or
38 percent, were murdered, primarily by Kosovar Albanians. In fact, the
Skanderbeg division's first operation was to act as an "einsatzgruppen"
against the Jews. Although KLA supporters now claim that no Jews were killed
in Kosovo and that Jews were sheltered by the Kosovar Albanians, such claims
are false and should be treated with the disdain shown to other Holocaust
Although their German mentors surrendered
in 1945, the remnants of the Albanian Kosovar nazi and fascist groups continued
fighting the Yugoslav government for an additional six years, with a major
rebellion occurring from 1945 to 1948 in the Drenica region, the hotbed
for today's KLA recruiting, under the command of Shaban Paluzha. Sporadic
resistance continued from 1948 to 1951.
Notwithstanding the eventual suppression
of these last Axis holdouts, Tito instituted a Kosovo policy of rewarding
Albanians and subordinating Serbs instead of "denazifying" the
Albanians. The Serbs that had been driven from Kosovo were as a general
matter prevented from returning, while immigration from Albanian was encouraged
to further skew the province's demographic profile. Tito granted an enhanced
autonomy that placed Kosovar Albanians in local political control, and
this power was used to continue making life intolerable for the Serbs,
with the result that many thousands more fled during the 1970s and 1980s.
The persecution of the Serbs during this time has been well documented
elsewhere, particularly by David Binder of the New York Times who in 1982
-- long before Milosevic attained political power -- reported that the
Albanians' violent "incidents have prompted many of Kosovo's Slavic
inhabitants to flee the province, thereby helping to fulfill a nationalist
demand for an ethnically 'pure' Albanian Kosovo." New York Times,
Nov. 9, 1982 at A6. Facts on File reported similar findings, quoting an
ethnic Albanian Communist Party official as saying "[t]he nationalists
have a two-point platform, first to establish what they call an ethnically
clean Albanian republic and then the merger with Albania to form a greater
Albania". Facts on File World News Digest (Sept. 10, 1982).
In short, the same desire to drive out Serbs
that animated the Albanian nazi and fascist units in the 1940s remained
active throughout the post-war period. It flared anew into spectacular
violence with the KLA's advent. In both form and substance, the KLA is
merely a continuation of the Ballistas and Skanderbegs.
In form, the KLA has named its units after
"heroes" of the Albanian nazi and fascist units. It has adopted
the exact same insignia that was used by the Skanderbeg division. Many
of its leaders and earliest members are the sons and grandsons of members
of the Skanderbeg and Ballista units. A KLA-affiliated website, sponsored
by the Kosova Liberation Peace Movement (www.klpm.org), looks with approbation
on the nazi occupation:
As Germany overtook Yugoslavia in 1941,
the Kosovar people were liberated by the Germans. All Albanian territories
of this state, such as Kosova (sic), western Macedonia and border regions
under Montenegro, were re-united into Albania proper. Albanian schools,
governmental administration, press and radio were re-established.
And, needless to say, the Serbs were eliminated.
The areas referred to constitute the "greater Albania" that the
more audacious KLA leaders now seek to recreate. The kplm website envisions
a similar "liberation" in the future: "The KLA is committed
to liberate Kosova and to bring their motherland to freedom." Having
seen that the previous liberation had resulted in the wholesale murder
of the Serb and Jewish population, it is no wonder that the Serbian authorities
took the strongest steps to prevent its promised recurrence.
Even more telling than the KLA's pedigree
and self-chosen symbolism are its actions, for these truly demonstrate
the group's unreconstructed nazism. The focus of the organization's efforts
was the murder of Serb civilians, as well as Albanians that did not wish
to provide their support. The KLA's 1998 terror campaign was designed to
force all Serbs from areas under its control, and it was quite successful
in doing so. In the autumn of 1998 the Associated Press reported that the
Serbian populations of nearly 100 villages had been driven out, either
by death or intimidation. KLA commanders Remi and Haradjani were particularly
ruthless, and their documented campaign of terror against Serbs, Albanians
and Roma, documented at www.siri-us.com, would earn them an indictment
in the Hague if the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia had
any interest in justice.
The methods used by the KLA reek of Hitler-era
barbarity. In Klecka, 22 Serb civilians were tortured and executed and
their remains disposed of in an improvised crematorium, and near Glogovac
Serb farmers and their families were butchered and thrown in a muddy ditch.
While these incidents were ignored in the American press, which had long
since picked the KLA as its favorites in the Kosovo conflict, the Serb
authorities and citizenry were quite familiar with them and knew they portended
a similar fate for the entire non-Albanian population unless the KLA was
And make no mistake: KLA victory and Kosovo's
forced removal from Serbia will complete the process begun in the 1940s
of eliminating the remaining Serbs. As Tim Judah, a strong supporter of
the KLA, approvingly predicted in the May 1999 New York Review of Books:
"No one, in any case, should entertain any notion that any future
Kosovo, whether run by Albanians or by an international protectorate, is
going to have any Serbs in it." Judah's words echo those of Carlo
Umilta, the Italian fascist who at least had the decency to be disgusted
by that prospect. In short, the KLA, with NATO's armed support, will complete
what Hitler and Mussolini started, as people like Judah cheer them on.
Nor can the leaders and citizens of NATO
countries feign ignorance of the KLA's true nature. Former New York Times
reporter Chris Hedges, no friend of the Serbs, wrote in the May-June 1999
edition of Foreign Affairs that the KLA shows "hints of fascism on
one side and whiffs of communism on the other" and notes the genealogical
link between its leaders and members of "the Skanderbeg volunteer
SS division raised by the Nazis" and their "part in the shameful
roundup and deportation of . . . [the] few hundred Jews during the Holocaust."
This description has been widely circulated although, predictably, Hedges
ignored the shameful roundup and mass murder of Serbs during the nazi period.
While most Americans, like Mrs. Clinton, may get their (mis)understanding
of historical events through fictional movies, they should have at least
a minimal understanding of the real historical facts before launching a
war and destroying a country based solely on supposed historical analogies.
Some commentators in the U.S. have acknowledged
the nazi/fascist affiliation of Kosovar Albanians in the 1940s, but argue
that this is "ancient history" (to quote one U.S. congressman)
and has no bearing on the current war. Aside from the fact that the Serb
Holocaust is no more "ancient" than the gas chambers at Auschwitz,
today's KLA has adopted the same goals and tactics of the Ballistas and
Skanderbegs and should be given the same shrift that violent neo-nazi groups
would receive in any other country.
Any group that considers the nazis as liberators,
looks with nostalgia on nazi control, wishes to replicate that era today,
and resorts to mass murder to do so deserves to be ruthlessly uprooted.
Instead, NATO has allied itself with the KLA and gone to war to prevent
the Serbs from eliminating this resurgent nazi cancer. What we have in
the KLA is the resurrection of a 1940s nazi/fascist group, dressed up for
1990s media success and this time supported by the former world war 2 Allies
along with, of course, Germany. The Serbs are no more the reincarnation
of nazis than were the world war 2 resistance groups that fought against
Hitler while the KLA's predecessors fought for him. The Serbian fight against
the KLA was a continuation of the earlier struggle against Hitler's Kosovar
Albanian allies. That Clinton's false analogy gained any credence among
the ignorant populations of the United States and western Europe is, perhaps,
a bigger injury than all the bombs and missiles dropped by NATO to help
fulfill Hitler's agenda six decades later.
The Washington Post reported on June 5,
1999 that half the remaining Serb population had recently fled Kosovo,
and the Washington Times of June 5 reported that the Pentagon expects the
rest to follow. NATO has accomplished what even Hitler could not: the elimination
of Serbs in Kosovo. Congratulations, America; you have done the nazis'
work, and Hitler is smiling in his grave..
Next: [ 1993
- Glorifying the Nazi past ]
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Last revised: June 9, 1999