The New Haven Register in Connecticut, along with Congregation Mishkan Israel, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, and the Southern Connecticut State University’s Ethnic Heritage Center were the latest victims to fall for the WWII-Albania-Saving-Jews PR that’s been on a big push since 2005. While I’ve explained before what the problem is with this approach (the end goal is to get Israel on board with Kosovo independence), there were a couple points I neglected to make. First, let’s remember that far more Germans saved Jews than did Albanians, so Albanian Jew-saves don’t say anything about the Albanians as a people. Second, the propaganda has the reader assuming that the individual Albanian efforts on Jews’ behalf was somehow unique to the region. A contrast to Serbia and Serbs is assumed. Retired Air Force Colonel George Jatras injected the following monkey wrench into this “contrast.” It’s from a July 7, 1997 letter in the Washington Times, in response to a letter by a typical Croatian. Mr. Jatras reveals what the Serbs went through to save not only Jews, but Americans. In return we bombed them on behalf of those who not only declared war on America, but who also turned Americans and Jews in to the Nazis.

…Rather than collaborating with the Nazis as claimed by Mr. Udbinac, Serbian forces under Gen. Mihailovich were loyal to the Allies in WW II and rescued over 500 downed American pilots while at the same time Croats and Muslims were turning our airmen over to the Nazis. Due to disgracefull politics (we did not want to offend our Communist friend, Josef Tito — himself a Croat), our State Department denied the efforts by American pilots to have a monument erected to honor those brave Serbians who sacrificed their lives to rescue them. In his account of the rescue, Major Richard Felman, an American Jew from Tucson, Arizona, recalls, “I watched in horror with binoculars as the Germans executed the entire village of Serbians who refused to disclose my hideaway with Draza Mihailovich’s forces.”

On June 9, 1994, The Times carried an open letter to President Clinton from Major Felman and his fellow survivors deploring the bombing in Bosnia where Americans were killing “ the very Serbian people who saved our lives while at the same time helping some of the people who were shooting at us and turning us over to the Germans.”

Mr. Udbinac’s accusation of Serbian anti-Semitism is even more egregious considering Serbian families took in Jewish children as their own in order to protect them from the horrors of Croatia’s death camps. Upon being discovered protecting these children, entire Serbian families were executed.

John Ranz, Chairman of the Survivors of Buchenwald, USA writes, “In the Serbian mountains Jews were welcomed by the Serbian partisans with open arms, and the 5,000 that survived in Yugoslavia survived among the partisans. The Serbs protected them until the end of the war at the risk of endangering their own lives.” […]

Reader Frank Zavisca, of Shreveport, Louisiana, has his own problems with the Albanian approach:

I am always suspect when people bring up past atrocities, or past good deeds, to support an agenda.

There are MANY stories (mostly untold) about Europeans of all nations risking their life to save those targeted by the Nazis, with great risk to themselves. I am certain Albanians did this — why would a few not? Not everyone lost their moral courage under gunfire.

Aside from sentimental value, it has no value in the present. Most of the “players” have long since gone, and those living there presently have no virtue passed on from past good deeds. It is not relevant. It’s just “spin.”

When people still love the past, there isn’t much future. Likely many of the old farts in Kosovo would feel the same about the “good old days” when the Nazis were in charge.

Indeed.

In January 2009, the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle became the latest of the Jewish sucker press to swallow and print the propaganda:

…Although there were not too many Jews living in Albania at the time, many Jews fled to Albania in search of safety. During World War II, there were only two countries in Europe “that actively refused to cooperate with the Nazis: Denmark and Albania,” said Gershman…[O]ne Albanian told him earnestly, ‘“I would sooner have my son killed than break my besa.’ It’s more than strong.” …The honor of helping someone in need is so prized, Gershman explained, the Albanian people actually fought over who would take the Jews in. [Indeed, they probably had shootouts over it, resulting in blood feuds, which are linked to besa.] And, Gershman continued, there is no evidence of any Jew ever being turned over to the Nazis by an Albanian.

Actually, 10-12 Jews were turned over in Albania itself, and several hundred were rounded up and turned over by Albanians in Kosovo. So that last sentence, along with the claim that Albania was one of only two European countries that actively refused to cooperate with the Nazis, ignores the enthusiasm with which Albania greeted the Italian-fascist invasion as opposed to any kind of resistance — because in return for cooperating Albania was promised Kosovo and western Macedonia. Albanians were so grateful that they created the SS Skanderbeg Division for the Germans. Also being brushed under the rug is the Albanian participation in the invasion of Greece and the Fascist organization that exists in Kosovo to this day, Balli Kombetar, which ran the north while the Communists ran the south. Many of the northern Albanians switched sides when they saw that the Fascists weren’t going to win. Historian Carl Savich described one of the roles of the Balli Kombetar in WWII:

Christopher Simpson, in Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and its Effects on the Cold War, noted that relatively few [Albanian] Jews were captured and killed but “not for lack of trying by the Balli Kombetar organization and the Albanian SS” which had orchestrated “a series of anti-Semitic purges that rounded up about 800 people, the majority of whom were deported and murdered.”

In closing, it’s worth pointing out that all these newspapers writing about the beauty of the Albanian honor code “Besa” are irresponsibly omitting the fact that Besa is actually this: “[A] murderer must request security from the victim’s family — in the form of a word of honour known as “besa” — that he will not be shot if he steps outside his home.” That is to say, Besa is linked to the violent blood code that accounts for there being thousands of children in Albania and Kosovo who are confined to their fort-like houses, unable to go outside for either school or play, because the relative of someone whom their relative killed is waiting for an opportunity to take a life in return, as per the Besa-dictated revenge.