Gathering clouds: the roots of ethnic cleansing
in Kosovo and Macedonia
Early twentieth-century documents
Compiled, translated and edited by Robert Elsie
Dukagjini Balkan Books
Dukagjini, Peja 2002
The term 'ethnic cleansing' first
became a household term for television viewers around the world
in the 1990s. The years of bloody fighting among Serbs, Croats
and Bosnians, the latter then called Muslims, in Bosnia, following
the dissolution of Yugoslav federation, constituted a chilling
example of a war based purely on ethnicity. The Bosnian Serbs,
though not only the Serbs, regarded it as their sacred duty to
cleanse territory which they believed to be theirs alone, of
all other ethnic groups.
The second, equally chilling example
followed in the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo. Yet the cleansing of
Kosovo, with massive human rights violations, indeed open pogroms,
and the organized and well-executed expulsion of half a million
people from their homeland, did not take place by accident or
independent of history.
The present volume endeavours to throw
some light on the historical dimension of ethnic cleansing in
Kosovo. It is a collection of five seminal texts, written from
1913 to 1944, which demonstrate that ethnic cleansing in Kosovo
and elsewhere was a cornerstone of Serbian government policies
from the time Serbia took over Kosovo from the Turks in 1913.
The first report, Albania's Golgotha,
dates indeed from 1913 at the time of the Balkan Wars. With the
collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Albania itself had managed to
attain independence, but Kosovo was left to Serbia, a tragic
mistake for the majority of the inhabitants of the region and
one which was to haunt the Balkans throughout the twentieth century.
This work, originally published in German, is a compilation of
rare news reports which seeped out of Kosovo at the time. Its
author, Leo Freundlich, was a Jewish publicist and Austrian parliamentarian
who represented the Social-Democratic party in Vienna around
the time of the First World War.
The second report included in this collection,
originally written in French and entitled The Situation of
the Albanian Minority in Yugoslavia, is a memorandum addressed
to the League of Nations in 1930 by three Catholic priests, Gjon
Bisaku, Shtjefën Kurti, Luigj Gashi, who had been working
in Kosovo in the 1920s on behalf of the Sacred Congregation of
the Propaganda Fide in Rome. Their desperate appeal shows that
the situation of the Albanians in Kosovo had not much improved
a generation after the Serb takeover.
The three concluding reports, by Serb
authors, document the ideology of ethnic cleansing and its support
among members of the Serbian intellectual community at the time.
The Expulsion of the Albanians, of 1937 and The Minority
Problem in the New Yugoslavia of 1944 are works of the noted
Bosnian Serb scholar and political figure Vaso Cubrilovic (1897-1990).
As a student in 1914, Cubrilovic had participated in the assassination
in Sarajevo of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, the event
which precipitated the First World War. Between the two wars,
he was professor at the Faculty of Arts in Belgrade. A leading
member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Art, Cubrilovic
also held several ministerial portfolios after World War II.
Among his writings is the monograph Istorija politicke misle
u Srbiji XIX veka, Belgrade 1958 (History of political thought
in Serbia in the 19th century). Equally blunt in its ideology
is the Draft on Albania written in 1939 by the well-known
Bosnian Serb short-story writer and novelist Ivo Andric (1892-1975).
Andric was educated in Zagreb, Graz and Vienna. After World War
I, he joined the diplomatic service and served as Yugoslav ambassador
to Berlin in 1940. The best known of his many prose works is:
The Bridge on the Drina, London 1959. In 1961, he was
awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Before closing, a remark must be made
on the use of Balkan place names. The texts presented in this
reader were taken or translated from a variety of sources and
offer a variety of designations for the same place names. Some
authors use the Serbian-language terms for towns in Kosovo, names
which are still often found in English-language atlases and guidebooks.
Other authors use the Albanian-language terms which will be less
familiar to the Western reader. For the sake of standardization
and of neutrality, I have endeavoured here, where no clear-cut
English term was available, to give both the Albanian and the
Serbo-Croatian forms, e.g. Gjakova / Djakovica. I am well
aware that this is cumbersome and that there are inconsistencies,
but I hope that readers will be patient. It is a rather thorny
issue. For the term Kosovo, Albanian authors now prefer
to use the Albanian form Kosova in their works, even in
English and other foreign languages, e.g. Republic of Kosova.
English usage of eastern European toponyms is in flux at the
moment. Now that Byelorussia has become Belarus, and Moldavia
has become Moldova, there is no particular reason why the traditional
term Kosovo should not be replaced by Kosova. I have nonetheless
preferred to stick to the commoner form Kosovo for the moment,
simply because it still constitutes standard usage in the English-language
In conclusion, I would like to stress
that this book is not conceived or intended as an indictment
of the Serbian people as a whole. They, too, have been victims.
In the final analysis, the Serbs of Kosovo themselves have indeed
become the ultimate victims of Belgrade's traditional policies
of ethnic cleansing. At the most, this volume is simply an attempt
to elucidate some of the historical factors which allowed many
of them to be manipulated in recent years... and with such devastating
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Albania's Golgotha
Indictment of the exterminators of the Albanian people
by Leo Freundlich (1913)
- The situation of the Albanian minority in Yugoslavia
Memorandum presented to the League of Nations
by Gjon Bisaku, Shtjefën Kurti & Luigj Gashi (1930)
- The expulsion of the Albanians
by Vaso Cubrilovic (1937)
- Draft on Albania
by Ivo Andric (1939)
- The minority problem in the new Yugoslavia.
by Vaso Cubrilovic (1944)