February 25, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 25-02-03



ERP KIM Info-Service



Foreingers' cemetery in the upper part of the Serb Orthodox cemetery in Pec.  Graves of Italian, French and Russian White Guard soldiers now lie underneath tons of  trash and debris dumped by local Kosovo Albanians.  Now the snow covers the sad scene of human madness and utmost lack of respect towards a Christian holy site, photo: ERP KIM Info-Service, Feb 24, 2003


The so called Foreigners' cemetery is located between the Serb Orthodox main cemetery in Pec and the cemetery of the Belo Polje village. Since the end of the war in 1999 the Foreigners' cemetery was covered by tons of trash and debris which local Kosovo Albanian constantly dump on Christian cemeteries in the area. We are presenting a special report by the ERP KIM Info-service reporter D.P. who investigated the fate of at least 50 Italian soldiers who were killed by Albanian extremists Balli Kombetar in 1943-1944 and were burried in the upper part of the Pec cemetery.

Serbian Orthodox Church will request urgent assistance from the Italian, French and Russian Embassies in Belgrade and the local international Kosovo offices to clean and reconstruct the Foreigners' cemetery as well as the main Serb Orthodox cemetery and protect it from further Albanian vandalism.

This tragic fate of the Italian, French and Russian graves in Pec shows again that nothing which bears the sign of cross and Christianity is holy to Kosovo Albanian extremists and their supporters.


ERPKIM Info-Service

The Foreigners' Cemetery

Cemetery of Italian soldiers killed by Albanian Ballists in 1943 and other foreign soldiers turned into garbage dump

'What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's
 blood crieth unto me from the ground. 'GEN 4:10

Pec (Kosovo and Metohija)
February 20, 2003.

by D.P.

After the conflict in 1999 Kosovo Albanian extremists desecrated dozens of Serbian Orthodox cemeteries throughout the Province. Less well-known is the fact that underneath the tons of trash and debris maliciously dumped on Christian cemeteries, there also lies an Italian military cemetery from the Second World War. The bones of Italian soldiers killed in fury by Albanian Ballists following the capitulation of Italy in 1943 met with the same fate 60 years later.

The new Pec cemetery was established in 1912. It stretches on the right side of the road, on the exit from Pec in the direction of Decani and Djakovica. The far side borders with the cemetery and churchyard of the village of Belo Polje. A few dozen meters from the main entrance to the cemetery, where the last row of graves ends, (the graves of Serbian gendarmes on the right side toward the fence) and parallel to it, lies the so-called Foreigners' Cemetery, which is approximately 20 meters long and about seven meters wide. Buried in this tract were first French soldiers (about 10 of them) who were killed in 1914; then members of the Russian White Guard who came to Pec between 1917 and 1922; and finally, Italian soldiers from Calabria belonging to Garibaldi's brigade (some 50 to 60 of them), who were killed and buried here in 1943-1944.

A second tract containing the graves of killed Italian soldiers (between 20 and 30 of them), also killed in 1943-1944, is located in the Roman Catholic part of the city cemetery, right next to the wire fence, at the end of the path, to the left of the house of the gravedigger, Radovan.

What happened to the Italian soldiers from Garibaldi's brigade? The Italian garrison was located at the site of the present-day Advanced School of Commerce in Pec. After the surrender of Italy in 1943, 5,000 Kosovo Albanians attacked the garrison with the intent of removing the Italian flag and hoisting the Albanian one, as well as disarming the Italian soldiers, grabbing their weapons and taking over the garrison before the arrival of the German army and the final withdrawal of the Italian one. The Italian soldiers opened fire and killed 13 Albanians in defense. Members of the Xhafer Deva division of the Albanian nationalist organization (Balli Kombëtar - National Front founded in 1942), commonly called Ballists by the Serbs, killed between 20 and 25 Italian soldiers out of revenge in the wood processing plant in Pec. The Ballists then began killing Italian soldiers in other locations in Pec, starting with those who were married to Serb women. Approximately 150 young Serb men from Pec were killed in the same massacre and their bodies were scattered from the Pec Patriarchate to the present-day leather and shoe factory. The Albanians stripped the clothes from the bodies of the Italian soldiers and left them unburied. The unidentified corpses, which had in the meanwhile begun to decompose, were claimed by the elderly Serb women of Pec, who buried them in their city cemetery.

Fr. Xenophont on the location under which lies the Foreigners' cemetery, Pec, Feb 24, 2003

The Ballists destroyed the markings on their graves immediately after the burial in order to hide their crime. The commander of the city of Pec until 1943, who lived in Bologna, knew the history of these events. He visited the city of Pec between 1970 and 1975 as a member of the war veterans' association and paid respect to his fallen comerades. If this senior officer from Garibaldi's brigade is still alive, he is now between 85 and 90 years old.

How do the two tracts of the Foreigners' Cemetery look today? The part of the cemetery on the right side, along the road to the cemetery, the church, and the village of Belo Polje, is buried by mounds of earth, garbage and cast off iron.

The second tract, a common grave measuring 10 by 2.5 meters and located on the Roman Catholic part of the cemetery, is either difficult to make out or, if there are markers on in, has been dug up and filled with the graves of Roman Catholic residents of Pec.

The Foreigners' Cemetery was completely preserved until 1999. After the flight of the Serb population from Pec, local Albanian began to desecrate the graves and transport enormous quantities of refuse to the far part of the city cemetery, in the very place where the tract with the graves of foreign soldiers is located. Even before this tract was buried by a mountain of debris, many crosses on the soldiers' graves were broken.

This report was prepared on the basis of conversations with older Serb residents of Pec who were eyewitnesses to the above described events, as well as after consulting with competent individuals who in recent years have shared the fate of the Orthodox Serbs of Pec and its surroundings. The report was completed after our three visits to the aforementioned cemetery accompanied by officers and soldiers of Italian KFOR from the nearby military base, and UNMIK police, who are completely aware of this incident.

The Serbian Orthodox Church has asked UNMIK and KFOR that clearing of the desecrated Pec cemetery begin as soon as possible so that the bones of the Serbs, Italians, Frenchmen and Russians who lie buried here can rest in well-deserved peace.


photo showing an opened Serb tomb in the Pec cemetery, 24. feb 2003.

The war against the dead has not brought any good to anyone but only shame and disgrace

Omnia videt Deus et omnia audit
(God sees everything and everything does He hear)


Radio B92
February 24, 2003

Today a delegation of the Orthodox Diocese of Raska-Prizren visited the Serb cemetery in Pec and the part of the cemetery in which were burried foreign soldiers from the First and Second World Wars. With profound regret it was noticed that several more tombs in the Serbian section of the cemetery had recently been opened and that some wooden coffins inside the tombs were desecrated and broken.

Such uncivilized behavior of local Kosovo Albanians who have been desecrating and looting the Serb Orthodox cemetery in Pec in the last three and half years is one of the most tragic pages of the recent history of this region and a dark spot on the future records of UN/KFOR mission in Kosovo and Metohija. It is absolutely impossible to understand that after so many appeals and requests to efficiently prevent such barbarous acts international authorities did not do anything to secure the cemetery and make local Albanians stop with their misdeeds. With their passivity and disappointing lack of determination international representatives failed to stop the local Kosovo Albanians from dumping with trash and debris even the graves of their own soldiers from the Second World War.

It was especially disappointing to learn that destruction of the cemetery in Pec is not unknown to the local Kosovo Albanian administrators in Pec at all. They openly allowed their compatriots to turn the devastated Serb village of Belo Polje and the nearby city cemetery into a public dumping place which also happened in several neighboring abandoned Serb villages. Dozens of marble coverings were dismantled from the tombs and sold on the local market.

Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska-Prizren raises once again its voice against the crime which Kosovo Albanians of Pec have comitted against Christian cemeteries. The war against the dead has not brought any good to anyone but only shame and disgrace. Those who believe that such gruesome acts will remain unpunished should be aware that the worldly justice may be delayed, but no one will ever evade the righteous judgement of God. Sooner or later the history will bring to the light of the day all evils which were done against the remains of the deceased and numerous other Christian sites in Kosovo Province.


Serb cemeteries desecrated after the deployment of the UN mission
 and the NATO led peacekeeping forces in Kosovo

Desecrated Serb Orthodox tomb in Brestovik, near Pec

A scene from the Serb Orthodox Cemetery in Naklo, near Pec

ERP KIM Info-Service is the official Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren and works with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije.
Our Information Service is distributing news on Kosovo related issues. The main focus of the Info-Service is the life of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian community in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija. ERP KIM Info Service works in cooperation with www.serbian-translation.com as well as the Kosovo Daily News (KDN) News List

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