Indictments of the Exterminators of the Albanian People
Collected and Edited by: Leo Freundlich
Translated from German by: S. Sophie Juka
Juka Publishing Co. Inc. 1998 (revised Edition) First published in 1992 in THAT WAS YUGOSLAVIA (No. 10-12)'92.
Edited by H.P. Rullmann, Hudtwalckerstrasse, 26-D2000, Hamburg, Germany.
The atrocities committed by the Serbs against the Albanians at the present time are not different from those perpetrated in 1912-1913, as described in Albania's Golgotha.
I dedicate the translation of this book, published in Vienna, Austria, in 1913 by L. Freundlich (who in the 1930 became a close friend of my father*) to the Kosovar martyrs, past and present: not only to the men who de-fended bravely the land of their ancestors, and their own dignity as human beings, but also to all other Albanians: the defenseless children, women and the elderly who lost their lives, innocent victims of Serbian aggression.
New York, July, 1998
In March, 1878, the Russians imposed the Treaty of San Stefano on vanquished Turkey. The Treaty of Berlin, which was signed in July of that same year, modified some of the decisions dictated in San Stefano, but remained favorable to the Slavic populations in the Balkans while ignoring the rights of the non-Slavs, i.e., of the Albanians.
Montenegro, Russia's protégé, was granted state Autonomy1 and allotted territories which were nominally under Turkish rule but whose population was Albanian: the rich valleys of Plava and Gusigne, the Albanian strongholds of Hoti and Gruda, and also the seaport of Ulcin.2
The see of a Catholic bishopric from 877 to 1560, Ulcin had practically never been under Slavic rule. Its population was 95% Albanian.3 The Albanians defended it heroically, just as they had defended all the other regions allotted to Montenegro by the Great Powers. However, the Great Powers eventually intervened using naval and military forces and they handed over Ulcin to Montenegro.
As a result of the Treaty of Berlin, Serbia, which already had state autonomy, was enlarged. The aggrandizement of her territory was also made possible at the expense of the Albanians, who inhabited the towns granted to her, namely Kurshumlija, Leskovac, Vranja, Toplica and Nish.
Bismarck applied to Albania the exact words once used by Metternich in regard to Italy at a time when Austria was opposed to the creation of the Italian state: "Albania," so the Prussian statesman declared, "is merely a geographic expression; there is no Albanian nation."
The Treaty of Berlin became synonymous with injustice for the Albanians who were deeply saddened not only because they were not granted state autonomy like the other Balkan nations under Turkish rule, but also because territories inhabited by their co-national were allotted to neighboring states. The decisions reached in Berlin in 1878 marked the beginning of a long Albanian tragedy, a tragedy to which there seems to be no end.
As soon as the ceded territories were occupied by the Serbs, the Albanians were submitted to a treatment described as "cruel" by foreign diplomats.4 Tens of thousands of them were eventually forced to evacuate places, where their ancestors had lived for generations, in a very brutal way and without receiving the slightest compensation for their losses. The evacuated regions were subsequently colonized by the Serbs within a short period of time.
The Serbs, however, were not satisfied with the annexation of these territories to their state. They were bent on enlarging their domain even further. They were watching for an opportunity to get hold of other portions of land inhabited by Albanians. The Greeks and the Montenegrins were also on the watch; they too intended to enlarge further their states at Albania's expense.
It must be pointed out that when the Balkans were under Turkish rule, the so-called "Albanian territories" were vast. They comprised (see map) the vilayets (provinces) of Janinë, Manastir, Shkodër (Scutari) and Sbkup.
The Albanians, fearful that the superpowers might decide to cede to neighboring states other sections of their land, rebelled uninterruptedly against the Turks in the hope of winning state autonomy. Their frequent insurrections weakened considerably the position of the Turks in Europe.
In 1912, the Turks were so enfeebled that when the Albanians captured Shkup (Uskub, Skopje) and Manastir (Monastir, Bitolje), they granted them state autonomy within the vilayets of Shkodër, Janinë, Kosovë and parts of Manastir. The extreme weakness of the Turks became thus evident. It was at that time that Serbia decided to declare war on Turkey. The declaration was made two days after King Peter of Serbia had issued the manifesto, "To the Serbian People," in which he asserted that he was going to wage a 'holy war' in order to bring to the Balkan nations freedom, brotherhood and equality.
As it turned out, the Turks were even more exhausted than they appeared to be; in fact, instead of opposing a strong resistance to the Serbian army, they decided to retreat. Those who resisted the Serbs were practically only the Albanians, for it did not take them a long time to understand what the so-called 'holy war' was all about: the Serbs were merely intent on conquering Albanian territories.
The Albanians, having no state of their own, had no regular army; a few weapons here and there, that was all they possessed. As a result, it was relatively easy for the well-equipped Serbian troops to advance despite the opposition encountered. Thus the Albanian cities fell one after the other; Prishtina on October 22, 1912; then Ferizaj and Shkup. Prizren was taken on November 3; Gjakova (Djakovica) on November 4 and Manastir (Bitolje) on November 20.
However, the capture of these cities did not appease Serbia's hunger for conquest, for the age-old dream of the Serbs has been to have access to the sea; they coveted the seashores of Albania. The project to create a state extending to the Adriatic which would comprise all of the southern Slavs but where the Serbs intended to be the sole rulers, may be traced as far back as the eighteenth century. This project was very much alive among the Serbs at the beginning of the twentieth century. However, the Adriatic seashores inhabited by the southern Slavs could be included in the future state only after the destruction of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to which these territories belonged. The destruction of this empire was thus urgent. The presence of the Albanians on the Adriatic was also undesirable and had to be eliminated. Was not Montenegro given Albanian seaports? Why not Serbia?
Consequently, Serbia made preparations for the expedition of her troops to the Adriatic. The Serbs decided to proceed through Luma (Ljuma). In this region, the Albanians opposed a heroic resistance to the Serbian troops, but lacking arms, they were eventually overpowered by them. The capture of Luma greatly facilitated the advance of the Serbian army toward the Adriatic.
On November 28, 1912, the Albanians, alarmed by these events, proclaimed their independence in the southern seaport of Vlora (Valona). Playing no heed to this proclamation, the Serbo-Montenegrins continued their aggression. Durrës was captured on November 29, and shortly after, Elbasan was taken. The Serbs committed unspeakable murders and also burned and destroyed everything wherever they went. The ceasefire, eventually enforced by the Great Powers and accepted by the Serbs, was expected to last from December 3, 1912 until February 13, 1913, but was broken several times by the Serbian army.
Declaration of the Independence of Albania in Vlore on November 28, 1912.
Although the Albanians had no allies to plead for them, the Great Powers decided that the Albanian problem should nonetheless be discussed. To this effect a meeting, known as the Ambassadors' Conference, was held in London on December 17, 1912.
Here, it was agreed that Albania should be recognized as an autonomous state. Serbia accepted the decision reached at the Conference, but she did everything in her power to prevent it from becoming a reality.
Albania's borders had yet to be demarcated. Theoretically, the borders of the Balkan states that had been under Turkish rule were to be delimited primarily on the principle of ethnicity. There is no doubt that, based on this principle, the territory to be assigned to the state of Albania would not have been small. Though many Albanians had been massacred by the Serbo-Montenegrins, those that were left still constituted an overwhelming majority as compared to the Serbian population. The Serbs were aware of this fact more than anybody else. Since Albania had been occupied by their army, they succeeded, by means of threats and by modifying statistics, in presenting the small Serbian minority in the Albanian regions as being much larger than it actually was. Moreover, the Serbs contended and endeavored to convince the members of the Conference in London that the Albanians inhabiting Kosova and Macedonia were originally Serbs who had been forcibly Albanized and that they would soon turn Serb again. According to still another Serbian theory, the Albanians in the aforementioned regions were late comers; it went without saying that they had to be driven out.
By asserting that the Albanians were late comers in Macedonia and Kosova, the Serbs intended to stress the importance of history in decision making with regard to the delimitation of the borders. They contended that not only Kosova and Macedonia, but also the city of Shkodër and the seaport of Durrës (Durazzo), as well as all of the region that at the present time constitutes North Albania, had been under Serbian rule prior to the Turkish conquest.
However, should history and not ethnicity be considered as a basis for the demarcation of the borders, various historical data should be taken into account.
With respect to the Albanian-inhabited regions, it is important to point out the following facts:
1. It is undeniable that the Albanians are, together with the Greeks, the oldest people in the Balkans.
2. It also is an admitted fact that the Slavs are actually late comers in the Balkans. They did not even come as conquerors; they migrated in small groups.
3. True, the Albanian-inhabited regions were ruled by the Serbs for a brief period of time. But so were parts of Greece. The population remained Albanian as it was prior to the Serbian conquest.
4. The regions in question were not lost to the Turks in 1389. At the time of the Kosova battle, Serbia was small.
5. Prior to the Serbian occupation, the regions in question were for a period of time under Bulgarian rule. Scholars assert that the Slavic names of villages and other places both in Greece and in Albania date from the Bulgarian rather than from the Serbian occupation.
6. The Battle of Kosova was not fought by the Serbs alone, but by a coalition of Balkan nations. The number of the Albanians who took part in it was not negligible. Moreover, the hero of the battle, Milosh Kopili (who became known under his Slavised name as Milosh Obilich) was an Albanian.
The fact remains, however, that in the interpretation of history, the imagination plays an important role, be it unwittingly, for history is, like everything else, subjected to trends and fashions of a particular period of time. There is no doubt that in 1913, Western imagination was marked by Russia and by the Slavs in general. The Serbs, who had been for centuries under Turkish rule, and about whom the world knew very little, managed to impose their own interpretation of history to the members of the Conference in London. Serbia was supported not only by Russia, but also by France.
The Serbs insisted, in a particular way, that with regard to the delimitation of the borders, priority should be given to territorial compensation resulting from the Balkan War. Therefore, after having broken the cease-fire several times, they resumed their mass massacres on February 3, 1913, i.e., as soon as the delay fixed for the cease-fire was over. The Serbs seemed convinced that decisions would actually be made on the battlefield and not at the bargaining table.
When the demarcation of the borders was announced on March 22, 1913, the Albanians were deeply saddened because more than half of their territories were left outside the borders assigned to their state. Albania's neighbors, however, were still not satisfied. Serbia was hopeful that the Great Powers would eventually modify their decisions and grant her Durrës and Shkodër. In March, she sent new troops to Albania. Although she had agreed to remove them as soon as the borders were delimited, she continued to keep her troops within the Albanian state. The Greeks, who as members of The Balkan Alliance, had allied themselves with the Serbs in the hope of preventing the creation of the Albanian state, were also plaguing the Albanians with blockades and blood baths.
Albaniens Golgatha was published in 1913, shortly after the delimitation of the Albanian borders, i.e., at the time when the Serbo-Montenegrins, and also the Greeks, were still within the state of Albania. This booklet contains reports and articles from the world press, published between October 1912 and March 1913. These tell about atrocities committed by the Serbo-Montenegrins for the purpose of exterminating the Albanians: their lootings, tortures, bloodbaths, etc.
The editor of the booklet, Leo Freundlich, contends that some 25 000 Albanians lost their lives as a result of the massacres committed by the Serbs. This figure is considerable for that particular time. Experts, however, assert that it was much higher.
As stated by Leo Freundlich in the preface, the accounts contained in Albania's Golgotha are not complete; they constitute merely a small fraction of the material that is available.5 Among the reports that are not included, one should mention especially those written by Mary Edith Durham.6 An anthropologist, a painter, historian and journalist, Mary Edith Durham also worked for the Macedonia Relief Organization.' She spent many years in the Balkans and lived among Albanians as well as among Serbo-Montenegrins. When she first arrived in the Balkans in 1900, she was well disposed toward the Serbs, as were many other people in the west, but she eventually denounced Serbia in all of her writings. As Aubrey Herbert, M.P., remarked, "It was only the cruelty of the Serbs that turned her affection into dislike." A passage contained in her Twenty Years of Balkan Tangle (London, 1920) indicates to what extent she was repulsed by the atrocities committed by the Serbo-Montenegrins: "On arriving in London," she wrote, "I packed up the Golden Medal given me by King Nikola and returned it to him stating that I had often expressed surprise as persons who accepted decorations from Abdul Hamid, and that now I knew that he and his subjects were even more cruel than the Turk, I would not keep his blood-stained medal any longer. I communicated this to the English and Austrian press. The Order of Saint Sava given to me by King Petar of Serbia I decided to keep a little longer 'till some peculiar flagrant case'." (p. 25)
In fact, the Serbo-Montenegrins, once freed from the Turkish yoke, tried to impose upon other nations, be they Catholics or Moslems, a yoke which was much heavier than that of the Turks. "No Turk," wrote Miss Durham in that same book, "ever treated the Armenians worse than did the two Serb peoples treat the Albanians in the name of the Orthodox Church" (p.235).
Albania's Golgotha has a particularly disturbing effect on those readers who are familiar with the history of the Albanian people and who know about the reputation of their soldiers. In fact, Albanian mercenaries were in great demand, just as the Swiss, on account of their bravery. But in the fights against the Serbs in 1912-1913, the Albanians were unable to display their real valor and dignity because these were not battles between two armies, where the soldiers of both camps make use of equal means; they were combats between the army of a state and an unarmed, defenseless population that could easily be defeated and humiliated. Needles to say that procedures of a similar nature are devoid of greatness and distinction.
It is interesting to note that the Albanians did not blame the Serbian people for the atrocities committed against them; they merely condemned the Serbian government. Justin Godard, of the Carnegie Commission, who pointed out this fact, added that all nations ought to be able to make the distinction between government and people, as the Albanians did.7 However, governments followed governments in Yugoslavia without ever bringing about a change in the treatment of the Albanians who continued to be harassed, imprisoned, tortured, killed and discriminated against.8
Various means may be used to commit genocide: mass killings (as was the case during the Balkan Wars), deportations, imprisonments, et al. The worst kind of genocide is when the human rights of a people are completely ignored, for this brings about a spiritual death. This was the case when Kosova and Macedonia became part of Yugoslavia. At that time, the Albanians in Yugoslavia had neither schools for their children nor hospitals for their sick people. The Albanian population was decimated by all kinds of illnesses and whereas the Albanian children were not allowed to go to school, the Serbs, whose illiteracy during World War I was shockingly high, could provide their children with elementary, secondary and higher education.
Immediately after World War II, Tito decided that each of the nationalities in Yugoslavia should have its own republic -- even Montenegro, still tiny although its territory had more than doubled following the Treaty of Berlin. The Albanians, however, were not allowed to have their own republic despite the fact that they were more numerous than the Montenegrins and the Macedonians. Some 40 000 of them died in the first years following World War II; others were ruthlessly beaten and tortured. When Rankovic was in power, a treaty was signed with Turkey, on the basis of which 300 000 Albanians were driven out of Kosova and forcefully sent to Turkey.
After World War II, except for a brief period of time when Tito, having dismissed Rankovic, granted the Albanians a certain freedom and even allowed them to found their own university, the atrocities committed against them have continued unabated: beatings, incarcerations, killings, etc. In 1989, no matter how unbelievable it might seem, the Serbs even managed to poison over 6 000 school children.
Since the fall of Rankovic, in 1966, the Serbs have started to accuse the Albanians of persecuting the Serbian minority in Kosova. There is no doubt that the purpose of this contention is to turn world attention away from the true genocide: that of the Serbs on the Albanians.
The Serbs have also pointed out, especially during these past ten years, the high birth rate of the Albanians, which allegedly is a threat to the Serbian minority. Much has been written by foreign journalists on that high birth rate. By contrast, the fact that the mortality of the Albanian infants and children is the highest in Europe is known to very few.
It is interesting to note that according to the French scholar, Ami Boué10 in 1838, Serbia's population was less than 900 000, whereas the Albanians numbered over 1 600 000. At that time the Albanians were also more numerous than the Greeks.
These figures give an idea as to the extent of the Albanian genocide which was achieved with various means inconceivable in twentieth century Europe.
The so-called Autonomous Province of Kosova is, ever since it was annexed to the Republic of Serbia in March of 1989, a frightful concentration camp, where people are constantly tortured, both physically and mentally. The Albanians, dismissed from their jobs, are dying of hunger. No humanitarian society is allowed by the Yugoslav government to send them medical supplies, food and clothing. Strangely enough, the Serbs, despite irrefutable evidence, continue to deny their wrongdoings, as they have always done in the past, a fact that Leo Freundlich has not failed to point out in Albania 's Golgotha.
It is surprising that even now that the atrocities have reached extreme proportions both in scope and in intensity; even now when it has become obvious that not solely the Serbian government, but all of the Serbian people are responsible for the crimes committed against the Albanians, the 'civilized world' is still maintaining a shocking and disturbing silence.
In an article published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine on July 9, 1991, Johann Georg Stadtmüller remarked that the unbelievable ill-treatment of the Albanians, which has been going on for so long, is something of which Europe should be ashamed. He added that the Serbs are not merely subjecting the nationalities that make up Yugoslavia to ill-treatment; they are also threatening peace. Mr. Stadtmüller noted, furthermore, that the Serbs, because of their behavior, somehow convey the impression that there is something demoniacal about them. He added that this can, of course, not be possible for an entire people; all that is needed to improve the image of the Serbs, is to make them understand once and for all that they have no right to subjugate others in an arrogant way, but must learn to live side by side with them as equals.
An American pastor of Swiss origin, Frank Buchman, founder of the Moral Rearmament movement, once said that "there is enough in this world for everybody's need, but not enough for everybody's greed." When thinking of this declaration, one must admit that the Serbs have somehow managed to satisfy their greed, whereas nothing has ever been provided for the most elementary, the most vital needs of the Albanians.
The Albanians have often been betrayed by the Great Powers. But although frustrated and bitter, they have never given up the hope that their rights will ultimately be recognized.
Now that Yugoslavia seems to be disintegrating, one wonders, of course, what the fate of the Albanians in Yugoslavia will be. In the territories inhabited by them, they constitute an overwhelming majority and are almost equal in number to the Albanian population in the state of Albania. Consequently, it would be unfair to regard them merely as a minority group; they are a nationality.
Will the Albanian problem be solved in an equitable way or will it continue to be ignored? Will the Albanians still be treated as slaves by the Slavic populations? Will they continue to be victims of aggression and selfishness as has hitherto been the case? Or will the rights of the Albanians finally be recognized now that human rights seem to constitute the basis for resolving European problems?
Will the Albanians be finally allowed to work with dignity, to develop their varied talents, and to channel their admirable vitality toward careers with future prospects and toward goals that will not remain vain?
New York, July 1991
1. Montenegro is a geographical name used for the first time in the fifteenth century, after the Turkish conquest; it is not included in maps prior to the seventeenth century (see F. Miklosic, Die Serbischen Dynasten Crnojevic, fin Betrag zur Geschichte von Montenegro, Vienna, 1882).
2. Ulcin: from Alb. Ulk = wolf.
3. In one of the articles on Ulcin published in The New York Times back in 1880, it..is clearly stated that the population of Ulcin and its district "is Albanian" with just a "sprinkling of Slavs and Gypsies" (NYT, Sept. 13, 1880, 4:3).
4. "The Servian Government has behaved with great and unnecessary harshness, not to say cruelty, toward the Albanians in the recently ceded districts...the inhabitants of over 100 Albanian villages in Toplitza and Vranja Valley were ruthlessly driven forth from their homesteads by the Servians..." (letter sent to the Secretary of the Foreign Office of G.B. by the British consul in Belgrade, Nov. 26, 1878; see: British Museum, "Accounts and Papers" -38- 1878-9 LXXX 79, 574-575.
This letter is reproduced in: S. Rizaj, The Albanian League of Prizren, English Documents, Prishtinë, 1978, pp,241-242).
5. The Report of the International Commission to inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, recounts the atrocities committed by the Serbo-Montenegrins against the Albanians, thus corroborating the statements contained in Albaniens Golgatha. But the report was published at a later date, i.e., in 1914.
6. ME Durham (1863-1944) published several books dealing with the Balkans: Through the Land of the Serb (1904), The Burden of the Balkans (1905), High Albania (1980), Struggle for Scutari (1914), Twenty Years of Balkan Tangle (1920), The Serajevo Crime (1925), Some Tribal Origins, Laws and Customs in the Balkans (1928). Miss Durham was elected a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of England.
Miss Durham recounts the atrocities perpetrated by the Serbo-Montenegrins against the Albanians especially in her Strugglefor Scutari which appeared in print in 1914, i.e., after Albaniens Golgatha. However, prior to this book, articles on those atrocities written by her had been published in various newspapers.
7. See L 'Albanie en 1921, Paris, 1922, p. 234.
8. According to the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en Laye, the Yugoslav Government had to protect the rights of all the citizens. But the persecutions against the Albanians did not stop. Nicholas Bojaxhiu, Mother Teresa's father, a native of Shkup, was poisoned by the Serbs, as reported by his son Lazër Bojaxhiu in an interview published in the Italian magazine Genre(Dec. 1979 and Jan. 1980). Mother Teresa's family eventually moved to Tirana, Albania.
9. During World War I, "...illiteracy of the whole Serbian nation was 83%..." (E.H. Huskell, "The Truth about Bulgaria," reprint from the Oberlin Alumni Magazine, 1918).
10. Born in 1794, the son of a wealthy shipbuilder, Ami
Boué spent his childhood in Hamburg, Geneva and Paris. Orphaned at the age of 11, he was brought up by his uncle Antoine Odier, a banker. But he showed no interest in shipbuilding or bookkeeping. Instead, he went to Edinburgh, Scotland, to study medicine. He was an excellent student. Thanks to one of his teachers, he became, at the same time, deeply interested in botany and geology. His numerous publications in this latter field are greatly valued by specialists. Boué was co-founder of the French Geological Society. From 1836 to 1837, Boué, who by that time was an established scholar, journeyed, accompanied by a team of experts, through European Turkey for the purpose of studying the resources and the nationalities of that territory. In 1840, he published La Turquie d'Europe, a work which was admired for its unbiased scholarship, its clarity and precision. The Serbian scholar and patriot Alexandar Belie wrote that "it is superfluous to underscore the importance of the works by the distinguished French scholar Ami Boué. His La Turquie d’Europe in four volumes, each one comprising 400 pages, is a real encyclopedia with which no other publication of this kind could possibly compare as of this date."
N.B. The reader may find the usage of quotation marks at times faulty. I did not think it appropriate to make any changes. Also, I considered it unfit to correct inconsistencies with respect to city names (thus: Scopio, ijskiib; Tirano, Tirana; Prizrend, Prizren, etc.).
S. S. Juka