March 03rd 2009 03:01:27 PM
In case everyone on the planet missed my response to WND’s momentary lapse into suckerhood last week — and most likely you did miss it since it was buried in a Saturday commentary section — here is what I wrote:
I’m normally a fan of Aaron Klein’s, so I was devastated to find that he had WND fall for the Albanian PR ploy regarding World War II that’s been making the rounds since 2005 ( “Forgotten history: Muslims who save Jews; Exhibition honors Albanians who risked lives during Holocaust” ). The Albanian Righteous of World War II are being used quite deliberately at this time to get American Jews to push Israel to recognize Kosovo. Essentially the same “exclusive” piece WND published this week had graced the pages of the Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh just two weeks ago, as the PR makes its rounds to all Jewish and Jewish-friendly publications, for the fourth year now. The same coverage that Klein gave to Muslims saving Jews appears on Islamic sites as well.
In 2007, I wrote a response op-ed for the New York Jewish Week after they also fell victim to the scheme. (The original Jewish Week link is no longer available, but the provided link serves.) More important is the direct response to Norman Gershman’s and Yad Vashem’s exhibit – and therefore Klein’s piece – here: “Can We Please Stop Using the Jews?”
One important point is that while Albanians are on top of their Jew-saving PR, it never occurred to Serbs – exponentially more of whom saved Jews during World War II – to compile a list of their Jew-saves for credit and flaunt it in the event that an expansionist rival would use its own Jew-saves as a weapon against them. Among the thousands of Serbian families who risked their lives to save Jews, only about 150 are documented at Yad Vashem, still more than the 60-some Albanian Righteous documented there and getting all the attention.
There is an insidious and ironic motivation behind this parading of World War II’s Albanian Righteous: to promote the birth of the supremacist state of Kosovo. Gershman is one of a handful of Jewish front men helping out with the Kosovo theft, wittingly or not. Last year he got his exhibit into the famed 92nd St. Y in New York, as well as into the halls of the UN. Here is one eight-minute film by him, meant to be positive, which nonetheless reveals the true nature of “Besa,” the Albanian honor code that Gershman’s exhibit, and now WND, celebrate. Besa is part of the blood code that makes Albanian society so terrifying. It is primitive, and it’s nothing to be glorified.
In general when dealing with questions of Albanian Righteous vs. Serbian Righteous and who has the greater affinity for/history with the Jews, in addition to the numbers that tell the story one must look at the wider history: Jews and Serbs died together in World War II concentration camps and mass executions. Both were targeted then. And both are targeted today. Albanians were not targeted; Albania was an Axis ally that contributed SS divisions to the Nazi cause. And the Albanians are not imperiled today; indeed, they are getting a second state – they are expanding.
It’s true that the Albanians have never particularly had it in for the Jews, but they’ve always been out to exterminate the Serbs – and when opportunity knocks (WWII, 1999), they make new friends fast. Let’s keep in mind that it wasn’t Serbs who rounded up almost all the Jews of Kosovo (annexed to Albania) during World War II for the Nazis; it was Albanians. That is not a reflection on the Albanian Righteous, but it is key to the big picture.
Among the Albanian-generated buzz phrases going around is that “all of Albania’s Jews were saved” and that “Albania had more Jews at the end of the war than at the beginning.” That’s because Albania had only 200 Jews to start with. One must ask why. The answer is that most had left Albania by the end of World War I because of persecution. In addition, Italy controlled Albania early in World War II and was not interested in the Final Solution. Today Kosovo has 50 Jews left and Albania has fewer than 10.
This is what is relevant. For Yad Vashem’s purposes, both the Albanian Righteous and the Serbian Righteous are correctly viewed as equal. But before setting pen to paper, as the responsible journalist that I know he is, Aaron Klein should have first asked why we are hearing exclusively, and so much, at this time about the Albanian Righteous, far less numerous than their enemy Serb Righteous. What I have stated above is well chronicled at the Jewish Virtual Library.
While the WWII Albanians-Saving-Jews propaganda continues making its rounds to Jewish and conservative media to help get Israel to commit suicide by recognizing an independent Kosovo, let’s remember what former leader of Kosovo’s tiny Jewish community said in an interview in 2000, about 1990s Kosovo:
[Cedomir] Prlincevic: First of all, a large part of the ethnic Albanians wanted to return to the situation that existed a hundred years ago, under the Ottoman Empire, and again during World War II, when Kosovo was under Nazi- Albanian control. Most of the Albanian population had been won to this goal by the secessionist movement…And of course, many Albanians believed that during World War II the German Nazis had set Albanians free.
The Yugoslav constitution of 1974 didn’t help. It weakened the central government and thus encouraged those in Kosovo who wanted to return to the W.W. II regime when Albanian nationalists ruled Kosovo under the German Nazis and terrorized the Serbs, Roma [’Gypsies’] and Jews. After 1974 the abuses against Serbs and Roma increased. This was openly manifested during the ethnic Albanian riots in 1981.
These were race riots, with Serbs as the targets, both the Serbian clergy and ordinary Serbian citizens. After that the Americans entered the picture and magnified the secessionists’ political strength ten times over.
In his own letter in response to the offending WND article, Author William Dorich recalls this additional bit of Albanian history from WWII (the Jasenovac camp complex being the third-largest yet least known concentration camp, where hundreds of thousands of Serbs, plus 40,000 Jews and 80,000 Roma were put to death): In addition to the Albanian Nazi SS Skanderbeg division that helped round up Jews in Kosovo, there were three hundred Albanians among the Bosnian-Muslim Nazi SS Handzar division, which assisted in guarding the railway links in the Balkans that transported victims to Jasenovac and Auschwitz.
These events are touched on in Andy Wilcoxson’s pre-published book manuscript:
During World War II Kosovo was invaded by the Axis powers, and in 1941 Kosovo was annexed to Albania until Allied forces liberated the territory and returned the province to Yugoslav sovereignty.
Many Kosovo Albanians saw the Axis powers as guarantors of their ambition to create a greater Albanian state in Kosovo. In order to realize this goal, many Kosovo Albanians volunteered for service in the Nazi SS.
Several Albanians joined the 13th Waffen-Gebirgs Division der SS “Handschar” (Kroat Nr.1). Although this division was primarily made up of Muslims from the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), it did contain an entire battalion of Albanians commanded by Nazir Hodic from Kosovo.
In the spring of 1944 Heinrich Himmler established the 21st Waffen-Gebirgs Division der SS “Skanderbeg” (Albanische Nr.1). This division numbered more than 9,000 men and was made up primarily of Albanian volunteers from Kosovo.
The Skanderbeg division’s first operation was a raid on May 14, 1944, against the Jewish community in Pristina. Kosovo-Albanian SS troops raided apartments and homes belonging to Jews, looting their possessions and rounding them up for deportation to Nazi death camps. The SS Skanderbeg Division apprehended 281 Kosovo Jews, which included men, women, and children. From May to June 1944 they apprehended a total of 519 Jews and Serbs from Kosovo…They took full advantage of the Axis occupation to wage a second extermination campaign against the Serbs.
And yet it is only the handful of Albanian Righteous that we hear about incessantly when it comes to the Balkans. So that we might help re-deliver on Albanians’ Nazi-fulfilled ambitions of a Greater Albania.
Final word from Dorich:
It also appears that Mr. Klein is ignorant about the rescue of 513 American airmen downed over occupied Yugoslavia as well as any reference that thousands of Jews were saved by the Serbs who hid them in their barns and basements — revealing a level of contempt Klein has for the history of the Jews in former Yugoslavia. I remind Klein that the oldest Jewish choir in the modern world is not in Israel, it’s in Belgrade, formed after the war in Spain when Jews fled to Serbia where they were welcomed with open arms. Those Jews prospered under the Serbs for decades and they share common grave with those Serbs who hid them from the Nazis.
I’m excerpting below from a Russian Pravda article from July, 2009 by Lisa Karpova, titled “Albanian Fascist Crimes,” which has good additional information on the Albanian-Fascist axis:
…A monument and memorial park were dedicated to the members of the notorious Skanderbeg SS Division, the Kosovo Regiment and the Albanian fascist collaborators, to be built on a surface of 1.5 hectares in Pristina, in Kosovo, the NATO stolen province which is by international law Serbian territory. NATO has made Kosovo into a people and drug trafficking mafia state. Serbs who fought against the Nazis were ethnically cleansed from Kosovo….
During the war, the Axis powers dismembered and occupied Yugoslavia. Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini detached Kosovo from Serbia and annexed it to Albania in 1941. Germany formed a Shqiptar “Kosovar” Waffen SS Division, the 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS “Skanderbeg” which engaged in a policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Orthodox Serbian population of Kosovo. The result was that the Shqiptars, with the help of Germany, were able to virtually exterminate the Serbian and Jewish populations of Kosovo, thereby creating an ethnically pure, Nazi German-sponsored Greater Albania or Greater Shqiperia.
Italian authorities in Kosovo seemed a bit distressed by the terror against Serbs and occasionally intervened to prevent Albanian attacks, at least in urban areas. A Serbian historian wrote: “Italian troops were stationed in the towns of Kosovo and acted as a restraining force …” And Carlo Umiltà, a civilian aide to the Commander of the Italian occupation forces, described several instances where Italian forces fired on Albanians to halt massacres of Serbs.
The anti-Serb pogroms intensified after Italy’s collapse in 1943, when the Germans assumed control of Albania, including Kosovo. Although the Germans raised the Albanian units as an anti-partisan force, its Albanian members were interested solely in murdering or expelling the Serb population. The 21st SS Skanderbeg Division indiscriminately killed Christian Slavs. About 100,000 Slavs were expelled from Kosovo by Albanians. The Albanian Skanderbeg Division and the Croats were guilty of unspeakable atrocities against Serbs and Jews…
[The] Albanian conflict in Kosovo was always motivated by secession, making Kosovo a part of Albania. This was the Greater Albania nationalist ideology established by the 1878 League of Prizren because Albania itself was always poor, backward, weak and powerless. At the same time, Albanians started to send their women into the Serbian region to breed more Albanians.
It was expected that after all Serbs had been killed or expelled from Kosovo and their Orthodox churches and cemeteries destroyed, a Greater Albania would result. In other words, what Albanians sought was a Kosovo taken over by ethnic Albanian Muslims who would expel the Serbian and other non-Albanian populations and eradicate any non-Albanian cultural or religious monuments or symbols. It entailed the total and complete extermination and eradication of any non-Albanian population or culture or religion in Kosovo. The Greater Albania nationalist ideology presupposed genocide: biological, cultural and religious. Even back then the US and Britain gave quiet support to these pro-fascist elements.
Prizren was a base for the Albanian “Kosovar” Muslim Nazi SS units. The participation of the Prizren League through its military formations in the extermination of Kosovo Jews is one of the most shameful episodes in the history of Kosovo. The military formations were the Albanian gendarmerie, the Kosovo Regiment, and the Skanderbeg SS Division, which numbered a total of more than 11,000 Albanian collaborators.
Recorded in the chronicle of acts of terror by Albanians from Kosovo and Metohija are crimes in Babuska municipality, forcible expulsion in Urosevac, executions in Velika Hoca, forcible detention of the population from Prizren and Grbol, murders in the village of Vitomirica…. Two hundred Serbs were killed just in the district of Djakovica and 5,000 Serbs were taken away to fascist camps in Albania.
A definitive work concerning the elimination of Yugoslav Jews, “The Crimes of Fascist Occupants and Their Collaborators Against the Jews of Yugoslavia” (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 “einsatzgruppen” against the Jews. The entire Jewish population of Kosovo was destroyed and never recovered to its pre-war numbers.
Interesting to note, also, that the KLA has named its units after “heroes” of Albanian Nazi 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.