Slavenko TERZIC, Ph. D.
Historical Institute of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts

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Albanian Ethnic Cleansing of Old Serbia

The public all over the world, not only professional, but the large one too, has been faced in the course of the last decade with the inadmissible and incredible contortion of the historical truth about the Serbs, and Kosovo and Metohija as a central area of their civilization. There are quite a number of biased interpretations of certain events in Balkan and European history, but there are no similar examples of such immoral manipulation with historical facts. The Albanians in Kosovo had never been victims of ethnic cleansing by the Serbs, but on the contrary, unfortunately, the Serbs in Kosovo had been the victims of a massive ethnic cleansing implemented by the Albanians in the 19th century (particularly in the period 1878 – 1912) under the auspices of the Turkish rulers, during the II World War (1941 – 1945) within the framework of the Great Albania, under the patronage of fascist Italy and nazi Germany, as well as after the II World War, with the gracious support of the communist regime in Tito’s Yugoslavia.

The history of South-East Europe is a very complicated one, and no objective, even if it is called the “New World Order”, could justify the obvious simplification and manipulation. The Ottoman conquests in the second half of the 15th century had cut the high heritage of the civilization of the Balkan Christian nations. Under the Ottoman occupation, the societies of these nations had been destroyed, as well as their political, social and cultural elite, numerous medieval towns, Orthodox churches and other cultural monuments were devastated. The civilizational essence of historical processes among the Serbs, as well as in the whole South-East Europe until the 20th century, results from the conflict of the European Christian civilization and the radical Islam, introduced by the Turkish conquests. (South-East Europe had not had contacts with the high achievements of the Arab Islamic civilization, but with the militant military Islam of the Seldzuks).

Kosovo and Metohija are the best example of a conflict of those two civilizational and social models – as the former US state secretary Henry Kissinger had pointed out in numerous occasions. The Albanians in Albania had accepted Islam in a large majority, but had accepted nearly nothing from the Islamic civilization. Serbs, as well as other Christian nations in the Balkans, had given a strong support to the efforts of the Christian Europe to push out the Ottoman Empire from Central Europe (particularly since the end of the 17th century). After the defeat of the Christian coalition in the conflict with the Turks and the retreat of European forces from the southern parts of the present Serbia, the Albanians from Albania, under the wing of the Turkish authorities, had started to settle in Serbia, primarily in the region of Metohija, and later in Kosovo.

That had marked the beginning of the process of permanent oppression of Orthodox Serbs as Christians by the newcomers, Albanians – Moslems.1 At that time had started the most brutal phase of destruction of monumental Serbian monasteries (transformation of the Serbian Monastery Bogorodica Ljeviska into a mosque, 1756), cultural monuments, followed by various forms of violence and crime. Witnesses to this are numerous historical sources in the Vatican and Vienna archives, as well as the archives of many other European countries.

The Albanians also (an Indo-European or Arian race, but not of the Greek, Latin, or Slav families), who, as a result of all the invasions of the Balkan peninsula, had been driven southwards into the inaccessible mountainous country now known as Albania, began to spread northwards and eastwards again during the Turkish dominion, pushing back the Serbs from the territory where they had long been settled.
pp. 84

Albanians coming from Albania had been exclusively nomadic cattlemen, occupying with their vast herds the rich fields of Metohija and Kosovo. They do not have their cultural monuments in this area. They do not have any cultural monuments of their own in this area. The Orthodox Serbs, those who had not fled, wishing to remain in their homes, mostly had to convert into the Islam and later, in the second or third generation, had gradually lost their Serbian ethnic identity under the influence of the Albanian Islamic environment. These are long-term processes, which could be understood only with the understanding of the general political, social and spiritual circumstances in the remote provinces of the Ottoman Empire in the 18th and 19th century. The Albanians had been a minority in relation to the Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija for a very long time, but they had a strong support of the Turkish authorities, to which they gave a large contribution too, occupying important posts in the administration.

The British renowned historian Harold Temperly had clearly pointed out that “the Mussulmanised Serbs, known as Arnauts, are the bitterest foes of the Serb”.2 Temperley was professor in Oxford and Cambridge, and in 1921, he was British representative in the Committee for the Albanian Borders. Numerous European authors and travel writers had recorded the process of gradual ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Old Serbia (Joseph Muller, Alexandar Gilferding, Victor Berar, Ivan B. Iastrebov and others). The Archimandrite of the Serbian Decani monastery Haji Serafim Ristic sent a complaint to the Turkish sultan Abdul Aziz, which had been later published as a separate book entitled “The Cry of the Old Serbia” (Zemun 1864), and devoted to the English presbyter William Denton.

To the Revd William Denton I dedicate this book; and I trust so generous a friend of my people will know how to pardon the liberty I take in so doing, and will accept this tribute of my profound gratitude to the eloquent and courageous defender of suffering Christianity.
What I have recently seen and heard - the safferings and cries of the unhappy Christian people in the East - I cannot give to the world without first resuming that to the especial attention and protection of one who has already spend to them his large heart, and consecrated his pen to the service of humanity.

Belgrade 1st May 1864

Archimandrite

SERAPHIM

This book contains elaborate documents of the Albanian crimes against the Serbs in Metohija and Kosovo. The ethnic cleansing of the Serbs intensified particularly after the establishment of the Albanian League in Prizren in 1878, which had openly proclaimed the creation of the Great Albania as its main goal. The renowned European historian Konstantin Jirecek claimed that in the period 1878-1912 about 150,000 Orthodox Serbs were moved from Old Serbia to the central parts of the present Serbia (which had been the Kingdom of Serbia at that time.3 In spite of a massive violent oppression of the Serbs and their exodus from Kosovo and Metohija, the ratio of Serbs – Orthodox and Moslems and Albanians – mostly Moslems, was 50:50 hundred years ago.4 (The Serbian Theological College was opened in Prizren in 1871.) This process had been emphasized convincingly by H.N. Brailsford in his book “Macedonia”, written in 1905.5 He even stated that the Albanians “manifest a semi-feudal terrorism” towards the Slavs.6 The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy had also supported the penetration of Albanians into the Old Serbia at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. The British researcher Laffan had noted: “The number of Albanians in Old Serbia was increasing, as they were supported and encouraged by Austria”.7 One should look at the ethnic map of Serbia which had been published in London in 1909 by Alfred Stead, showing that there were only a few ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija, and that most of them were “Albanized Serbs”.8

Besides numerous Russian, French and other sources, this process had been treated in English diplomatic papers too. For example, Sir John Banham wrote to the marquis of Lansdown on May 7, 1901, that 40 Serbian families were obliged to emigrate to the Kingdom of Serbia due to the Albanian terror.9 Another English diplomat, Mr. Young, wrote to the marquis of Lansdown on September 9, 1901: “The Old Servia is still an area of disturbance owing to the lawlessness, vendettas and racial jealousies of the Albanians”.10 Young added in the same report that the oppression of the Serbian population continues and that 600 Albanians, with the help of 50 Turkish soldiers, “had reduced a village of 60 households to one quarter of that number”.11 Young’s report of December 1901 states that the Albanian terror from the spring to December resulted in the expulsion of 250 Serbian families to the Kingdom of Serbia.12

By a joint action of the Balkan Christians this process had been stopped with the liberation of Old Serbia and the whole Balkan Peninsula from the Turkish rule, in 1912. However, it had been repeated, more brutally, in the Second World War during the existence of the nazi-fascist Great Albania, when most of Metohija and part of Kosovo were given to this occupational product. Besides over 10,000 killed Serbs during the fascist occupation of Kosovo and Metohija, between 80,000 and 100,000 Serbs were expelled, while roughly the same number of Albanians from Albania were brought to settle in these Serbian lands.13 Even Herman Neubacher, the representative of the Third Reich for SouthEastern Europe, had written about those crimes. The new communist authorities, instead of bringing back the expelled Serbs to their homes and farms, forbade their return. The final stage of ethnic cleansing of Kosovo and Metohija was implemented under the communist authority, by the political leadership of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. The Albanians had all the power in this province, and instead of using this power for the promotion of the multicultural and multiethnic character of Kosovo and Metohija, they have endeavored to implement a fully ethnic cleansing of the Serbs. It seems paradoxical, but the federal leadership of the former Yugoslav state did not undertake anything to protect the Serbs in this autonomous province. Documents, in a vast number as it concerns recent times, exist, primarily in archives, as well as on video and audiotapes. The Serbs, unfortunately, did not do anything to present this huge amount of documents to the European public. Contrary to all the actual truth, the world is flooded today by the “truth” that the Serbs are implementing the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo and Metohija, although they have been the great and tragic victims of one of the biggest ethnic cleansing in the modern history of Europe.14

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FOOTNOTES:
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1. Dr Konstantin Jirecek, Albanien in der Vergangenheit (in) Illirisch-Albanische Forschungen Zusammengestellt von DR Ludwig von Thalloczy, I. Band, Munchen and Leipzig 1916, 86-87.

2. Harold W.V. Temperly, History of Serbia, London 1917, p. 309.

3. Konstantin Jirecek, Ibid, 87; K. Gersin, Altserbien und die Albanesiche Frage, Wien 1912, 29.

4. Polit., Eintheilung, Nationalitaten und Religionen. Published as the enclosure to the book Detailbeschreibung des Sandzaks Plevlje und des Vilajets Kosovo (Mit 8 Beilagen und 10 Tafeln). Als Manuscript gedruckt, Wien 1899, p. 306.

5. H.N. Brailsford, Macedonia. Its Races and Their Future, New York, 1971, pp. 90, 274-277.

6. Ibid., 90.

7. R.G.D. Laffan, The Guardians of the Gate, Historical Lectures on the Serbs, Oxford 1918, p. 90.

8. Servia by the Servians. Compiled and edited by Alfread Stead. With a map. London 1909.

9. Turkey, No. 1 (1903). Correspondence, Respecting the Affairs of Southeast Europe, London 1904, p. 45.

10. Ibid. Old Servia and the Albanian Border, p. 88

11. Ibid. p. 89

12. Ibid. p. 102

13. Serge Krizman, Maps of Yugoslavia at War, Massacre of the innocent Serbian population, committed in Yugoslavia bu the Axis and its Satellite from April 1941 to August 1941, Washington 1943.

14. Hermann Neubacher, Soncerauftrag Sudost 1940-1945, Goetingen 1953, p. 116.