June 08th 2012 05:09:40 PM
*****TWO UPDATES AT BOTTOM*****
In my blog responding to The Washington Times and its calumnist — I mean columnist — Jeffrey T. Kuhner, I made a couple references to the traumatized Canadian UN soldiers who witnessed the aftermath of the crimes by rampaging Croatian troops upon Serbian soldiers and civilians alike. I wanted to just illustrate some of what that was referring to, with a few random excerpts:
ASHAMED OF OUR INCOMPETENCE: Recollections of a Canadian Soldier
Translated interview with Peter Cochrane, by Ljiljana Mitrovic
…One evening while heatedly debating how politicians yet again stirred the ashes and reignited the embers in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, and how many Serbs died in this last war, a passerby (from Georgia – formerly in USSR), obviously not realizing his surroundings, took it upon himself to announce that the Croatians didn’t kill enough Serbs. Before the present, shocked Serbs could react, [the stranger slugged him].
“I didn’t have a choice; I had to knock him out,” begins Peter Cochrane, a Canadian soldier who served as a peacekeeper in Serbian Krajina and Slavonia from October 1992 to October 1993. An experience which he says will remain forever etched into his conscious and subconscious mind.
Massacre in Medak Pocket
“I was a witness to the endless lines of broken figures carrying what they could take away on their shoulders. And the fallen cities, burning villages, bloody sidewalks, mass graves - everything that is unimaginable in modern society” confesses Pete who, with his gesture towards the Georgian, awakened a trust in even the most skeptical among us.
Born September 4th, 1965 in Montreal, where his family still resides, at the age of 21 Pete decided to join the Canadian armed forces.
After his training in Quebec, Nova Scotia and Alberta, he was transferred to the Third Battalion PPCLI Division (Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry)…In 1992 he was sent to the territories of the former Yugoslavia. There he spent the next six months in Krajina and Western Slavonia….
…”That breed of hate and resentment I simply couldn’t imagine. We, the UN soldiers, tried to help the poor locals on both sides of the conflict, but couldn’t do much due to political directives coming from New York. When I went into this mission I thought I was going there to help the people and to maintain peace with no regard towards nationality. Yet, because of orders coming from ‘above’ I was extremely frustrated and paralyzed to do anything as were the rest of the UNPROFOR soldiers whose hands were tied.”
“For example: It was well known to us that there were three mass graves in the vicinity of Uljanik, where Serbs were buried”, continues Pete in the same breath. “Given orders to go down there and investigate, we discovered bodies of massacred Serb civilians and sent our report to New York. They did absolutely nothing about the matter, nor did it in any way dawn on them to blame the Croatians. The same was seen, in an already witnessed scenario, around the villages in the area of Pakrac. Many knives were dragged across the throats of women, children, elderly and others… many more men were captured in a cursed ring of hate and revenge. I remember we patrolled for days around those villages. In one of the houses lived an old woman, as you would say, who had one foot in the grave. For days she greeted us with Turkish coffee and plum brandy (rakija). Then one day, she wasn’t there. Then the second, then the third… Being curious as to her whereabouts, we went into her open house and found her on the floor with her throat slit. We asked ourselves who she could have possibly crossed.
Then, there was a little Serbian boy who lost his family to a grenade explosion and was dramatically disturbed by the incident. Every day he greeted our patrol with an endless stream of “kako ste, kako ste” (how are you) which is why we dubbed him the ‘kakoste kid’. We gave him candies and food, then one day we found out he was killed. Again, why?
I even participated in the first big Canadian firefight in almost 40 years, on September 8th, 1993 in Medak Pocket.
At that time, while guarding the Serbian villages, we were attacked by the Croatian army. Upon our return to the demolished houses we came upon a scenario which cannot be forgotten. Slaughtered people, children and animals… a massacre unthinkable for civilization. I was ashamed of the political decisions of my superiors. Truth be told, I was ashamed of neither myself nor my friends since we were doing everything in our capacity to help civilians, especially children and the elderly. But, the effects of those memories I feel to this day.”
Could you understand what was going on there?
“At that time I couldn’t. Nobody could have understood that. But then, upon my return to Canada, I began to study the history of the former Yugoslavia and many things became clear. Only then did I comprehend what sorts of lies were being served through the “free” western media. There was a lot of shooting, and blood, especially at night. Fields were over-filled with mines in which many Canadian soldiers were injured including me. “
Pete does not wish to speak of injuries he sustained in just such a field, from which he almost went deaf and is frequently reminded of by the shrapnel in his leg…
“As a soldier you have to be strong, yet a stint in the battlefields of Yugoslavia will leave a lasting impression on the strongest of men. My friend who spent only six months in Croatia and was injured there a number of times, upon his return to Canada sought the help of numerous doctors and psychologists, but nobody could help him. He was found in his own apartment, having taken his own life, his pistol still in his hand.”
Hell in Kosovo
…During the 85th anniversary of the Canadian army [Pete] met Major General Lewis Mackenzie, with whom he is impressed primarily because of his objective political views.
“He is one of those rare leaders who always speaks the truth”, says Pete as he continues the story about his service, which eventually brought him to Kosovo and Metohija in July of 1999.
Right around the time when this Serbian region was a new hotbed around which all proven contributors and sub-contributors to the advanced Balkan crisis circled like vultures, Canadian troops had an assignment to protect Serbian Churches and other Serbian holy sites. Nothing personal against Pete and his objectives, but Archbishop Artemije at that time announced “churches and monasteries that survived 500 years of Turkish occupation, didn’t survive two months in the presence of 50,000 heavily armed international ‘peace keepers’.”
It is assumed that war is waged to prevent ethnic cleansing and genocide, to establish law and order.
“For me, it’s an astounding figure that out of the 80,000 Serbs in the region who we were supposedly protecting when we arrived in Kosovo, there were just 8,000 left only a few months later”, recalls Pete Cochrane.
This means that any living human being who wasn’t Albanian by descent was forced out of Kosovo and Metohija under the ‘watchful eye’ of heavily armed NATO soldiers.
“Those who stayed were attacked every day. And the properties of those who fled or were killed were pillaged and Serbian monuments were systematically defaced. Rule of law was - no law. We couldn’t do much nor did we know how to subdue the hordes of Albanians who rushed to destroy everything that lay in front of them. I’m ashamed that when I was in Kosovo I couldn’t do more for the innocent Serbian people.
Were you able to avoid your mission to Kosovo?
“Yes, but in that case I would have had to face the consequences - which goes without saying when you’re employed by the army. But, to be honest, before I left for Kosovo, I didn’t know what was waiting for me. Afterwards it was too late. During my time in the former Yugoslavia I didn’t do anything I regret. But, I do regret that I couldn’t do more.”
Croatian atrocities being forgotten: Cdn. officers (CBC News, July 21, 2003)
Canadian officers say they are frustrated by inaction over a 1995 ethnic cleansing operation by Croatians against Serbs – one in which the Croats may have had western help.
They documented numerous atrocities during Operation Storm, which was a four-day campaign by the Croats to recover land held in central and southern Croatia for four years by Serbian militias.
However, not one person has been arrested and brought before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
More than 200,000 Serbs were expelled, and thousands were killed.
“Just amazing. You can see the holes in the back of the head,” said Capt. Gerry Carron, showing pictures he took to document the killings.
“We found people in wells,” he said. “There was an old lady we found head-first in a well. Why did they do that?”
Some top military officers said the expertise required to plan and execute Operation Storm meant it couldn’t have been done by the Croats alone.
Croatia’s American consultant
Fingers have been pointed at Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI), a U.S. consulting company based in Alexandria, Va. The company’s Web site points to an article in which the Croatian government praised the job MPRI has done for it – although MPRI has denied involvement in Operation Storm.
Croatia was getting assistance in other ways. Argentina [Nazi haven] supplied artillery used in Operation Storm – despite a UN ban and even though its own soldiers were working there as [ostensibly “neutral”] peacekeepers.
Looking back, Capt. Carron said peacekeepers may have made things worse by disarming the Serbs while the Croats re-armed.
Canadian officers say the involvement of the West could explain the foot-dragging on prosecution….
Embedding has been disabled for this documentary that interviews some of the Canadian soldiers — “The Ghosts of Medak Pocket” — but it is gripping. It includes some disturbing footage taken by the UN troops themselves. The introduction from the youtube account holder reads:
This is the story of brave men of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI) who put their lives on the line to protect Serbian civilians of Medak Pocket from Croat ethnic cleansing and whose noble cause and valiant actions were kept under wraps under the general pressure of anti-Serbian policy.
In 1993, Canadian peacekeepers in Croatia were plunged into the most significant fighting Canada had seen since the Korean War. Their extraordinary heroism was covered up and forgotten. The ghosts of that battlefield have haunted them ever since.
Canadian peacekeepers in Medak Pocket, Croatia, found no peace to keep in September 1993. They engaged the forces of ethnic cleansing in a deadly firefight and drove them from the area under United Nations protection. The soldiers should have returned home as heroes. Instead, they arrived under a cloud of suspicion and silence.
In Medak Pocket, members of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry did exactly the job they were trained — and ordered — to do. When attacked by the Croat army they returned fire and fought back valiantly to protect Serbian civilians and to save the UN mandate in Croatia. Then they confronted the horrors of the offensive’s aftermath — the annihilation by the Croat army of Serbian villages. The Canadians searched for survivors. There were none.
The soldiers came home haunted by these atrocities, but in the wake of the Somalia affair, Canada had no time for soldiers’ stories of the horrific compromises of battle — the peacekeepers were silenced. In time, the dark secrets of Medak’s horrors drove many of these soldiers to despair, to homelessness and even suicide.
Of course, no good Serb-slaughter goes unrewarded in the Balkans, and so it wasn’t long before an Albanian general with a prominent role in Medak and Storm was installed as “prime minister” of Kosovo, seen by Washington as a hardliner who could speed independence along:
General Who Ordered Attacks on Canadian Troops Becomes Prime Minister of the U.N.-Administered Serbian Province of Kosovo (Canada Newswire, March 13, 2006)
Agim Ceku, who is alleged to have led an unprovoked 1993 military attack on Canadian Peacekeepers in the Medak Pocket region of Croatia, has been chosen by Albanians [and facilitated by Washington] to replace the outgoing prime minister….
The Medak offensive, allegedly planned by Ceku, is also known as the “Medak massacre”. This name is entrenched in the minds of many Canadian Armed Forces personnel as Canada’s largest military battle since the Korean War. Four Canadians were wounded in the clash that left nearly 30 Croatian soldiers dead.
According to reputable sources, Agim Ceku was instrumental in the 1993 Croatian military offensive at Medak, and was one of the key planners of the 1995 ethnic cleansing operation ‘Storm’. Both of these operations involved the deliberate shelling of civilians, rape, torture, systematic arson, and the permanent expulsion of Serbs from the Krajina region of Croatia.
It is an insult to Canada, and in particular the honourable and respected personnel of the Canadian Armed Forces, that Agim Ceku is not behind bars.
[He’s quite the opposite of being behind bars, actually. In 2007 at the joint American-German Marshall Center in Garmisch, Germany, which trains Eastern Europeans in Western military ways and takes pride in grads going on to attain general officer rank and cabinet appointments back home, the “Highest Ranking Graduate” being touted, with enlarged photo and all, was General — oops, Prime Minister — Ceku. “The only good part of this story,” according to author and Naval War College professor John R. Schindler, from whom I learned of this, “is that this was pointed out to me, last month in Garmisch, by a Muslim graduate of the Marshall Center, a senior minister from one of the -stans, who was every bit as horrified by this as I was, who called Ceku a ‘war criminal’ even before I did.”]
This recent appointment raises concern that a man who helped plan and execute two campaigns of ethnic cleansing has become the Prime Minister of Kosovo, a province where intolerance towards non-Albanians continues unchecked and unabated. […]
UNPROFOR footage shown at Croatian generals’ trial (Feb. 13, 2008)
Video footage of UNPROFOR entering the Medak Pocket was shown at the trial of Rahim Ademi and Mirko Norac.
The Croatian generals are on trial for war crimes carried out against civilians during the Medak Pocket operation. Croatian forces entered the region several days before UNPROFOR’s arrival.
On a number of videos, one can see villages razed to the ground, with UN soldiers picking up dead bodies and placing them in body bags. Footage of the identification of 50 bodies returned to the Serbs by Croatian forces in Korenica was also shown yesterday.
The video, filmed by the Reuters news agency, shows Croatian and UN officials meeting at the demarcation point after Croatian forces were obliged to leave the region under the terms of an agreement concluded between the two forces.
A Canadian battalion commander said in an interview that the Croatian forces had delayed their exit from the region, which was why UN forces had entered the territory several hours later than planned.
“We were fired on by the Croatian forces on several occasions. There were several incidents and we returned fire several times, but no one was killed,” UN officer Mark Rullo said in the video.
He said that Croatian forces had been issued a second ultimatum the next day in Ribnik that they should leave or risk being fired upon by UN forces.
Another UN officer, who did not give his name, said that the Serb homes in the occupied villages had been destroyed just before the arrival of the peacekeeping forces.
“They wanted to make sure that there was nothing left here when we arrived,” he added. […]
Canadian lieutenant-general in war criminals’ cross hairs
By SCOTT TAYLOR (Halifax Herald, May 5, 2008)
…The previous week, Lt.-Gen. Leslie had taken the witness stand at the Hague Tribunal to testify against a Croatian general accused of war crimes. The incident to which Leslie was an eyewitness occurred in August 1995 during the most violent episode of ethnic cleansing during the civil wars that heralded the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. At that juncture, a Canadian battalion and a large number of Canadian UN observers were located in the Krajina, an ethnic Serbian enclave in the newly declared independent republic of Croatia.
When the Croats seceded from Yugoslavia, the Krajina Serbs declared their own independence from Croatia. An armed standoff over this territory had existed from 1991 until the summer of 1995. When Croatian forces launched a major offensive to eliminate the Krajina pocket, the Canadian peacekeepers did not resist the Croatian attack, and the tiny Serbian army in the Krajina fled without much of a fight. Having already experienced the Croatian brand of ethnic cleansing, in particular the infamous massacre and rape of innocent Serbs in the Medak Pocket in 1993, the Serb civilians also fled the advancing Croats.
As the Serb soldiers fled into Bosnia, hundreds of thousands of Serbian refugees streamed into the Krajina capital of Knin. It was here that then-colonel Leslie was based with the UN mission. As the offensive approached Knin, the UN advised the Croatian troops that the city was devoid of Serbian military targets and should be regarded as an “open city.”
Despite the UN warnings, the Croatian gunners launched a devastating barrage that killed hundreds of defenceless Serb civilians. At that time, Leslie and other senior Canadian officers angrily denounced this as a war crime.
To his credit, Leslie, now army commander, was not dissuaded from testifying at the Hague by domestic political pressure….Predictably, the Croatian defendant, Gen. Ante Gotovina, wasted little time before unleashing his lawyers on a smear campaign against Leslie.
Last September a similar case occurred when two Croatian generals accused of war crimes in the Medak Pocket incident blamed the Canadian peacekeepers of having killed the innocent Serbs and committing the atrocities…What is noticeably absent on these occasions is any sort of supporting fire from the Canadian government.
Therefore, when Croatian war criminals accuse our soldiers of committing these atrocities and cast aspersions on our decorated generals, one would expect to see a purple-headed Peter MacKay kicking over garbage cans and demanding apologies on behalf of our maligned soldiers. Instead of meekly accepting Croatia’s membership into NATO last month, Canada should have demanded justice be brought upon the perpetrators of these heinous crimes as a prerequisite to Croatia’s entry into the alliance.
That is the kind of political support our soldiers deserve - not just red sweatshirts on Fridays and flag-waving rallies.
There is a good story to go with all of this as well, about another Canadian soldier, one that illustrates that in recent years Canada and Canadians have behaved more like what America is supposed to be, and once was (e.g. standing by Israel; the prime minister initially vetoing the Srebrenica resolution which, I think, Parliament eventually passed anyway).
‘King Marco’ left his legacy in Bosnia (The Canadian Press, April 20, 2002)
Major Shane Schreiber, who serves in another unit of the Canadian Forces in Kandahar, wrote this tribute the day after Sgt. Marc Leger’s death.
I had the pleasure of having worked with Sgt. Leger for two years when I commanded A Company (Parachute). He was a soldier of rare skill, compassion and intellect.
My most vivid memory of then-Master Cpl. Leger was during our tour in Bosnia in 2000. By that time, most of the international aid agencies had abandoned Bosnia for more exciting missions elsewhere, but the need was greater than ever because of the return of large numbers of displaced persons to their war — destroyed homes (and lives).
Master Cpl. Leger had been given a particularly difficult area of responsibility in a place called the Livno Valley. Here, Serbs who had been ethnically cleansed by their Croat neighbours were returning to shattered homes. Despite the fact it was beyond our mandate, Master Cpl. Leger felt he had to do something to help these people.
To him, it made no sense that he was enforcing a peace that kept these people living like refugees in their own homes.
He began by doing little things, like constantly harassing his company commander (me) for resources to help these people. He took leftover and thrown away building supplies and distributed these on patrol. He snuck food from the camp kitchen, and spirited off the camp water truck when no one was looking. The more he found to help with, the more he needed, as those villagers he was helping told their friends to return home, that the Canadians would help them. Soon, a shattered village began to rebuild.
The Livno valley became Master Cpl. Leger’s adopted home. He lived in the camp with the rest of us, but his heart and mind was always with ‘his’ people stuck in the bombed-out houses among mine-strewn fields. He could not accept that humanitarian aid agencies had simply left these people to fend for themselves. He began to badger the local UNHCR representative, and any aid agency that drove through the area was stopped by Master Cpl. Leger and given a lecture on the conditions and requirements for assistance.
Finally, I explained to Master Cpl. Leger that to get any resources from UNHCR or any other aid agency, he was going to have to get their attention, and the only way to get their attention was to get the locals to appoint a mayor to plead their case directly. Seizing on the idea, Master Cpl. Leger organized a “town hall” meeting with his people. He explained the realities and the requirements, and explained the need to choose a leader, a spokesperson. Unanimously, they chose him.
Amused, he explained that he could not act as their spokesperson; he was a Canadian soldier — not a Bosnian politician. He explained the foreign concept of an election, and they all agreed that this was an excellent way to choose a new mayor. Again, Master Cpl. Leger was the unanimous choice.
Less amused and more concerned, Master Cpl. Leger explained in detail that the mayor had to be one of them. Finally, after much good-natured teasing and a quick lesson on the concept of democratic elections theory done through a bemused translator, the locals chose their mayor. But they immediately became a constitutional monarchy when, again by unanimous decision, they named Master Cpl. Leger their king. ‘King Marco’ was to become Master Cpl. Leger’s lasting title, both in the Livno Valley, and within the parachute company.
In his advocacy for the plight of the Livno Valley, King Marco became the irresistible force that eventually wore away the immovable rocks of misunderstanding and apathy. Eventually, he became a spokesperson for returnees throughout the Canadian area of responsibility, and his passion and his commitment made him an eloquent representative.
I used to love to bring VIPs, like our British divisional commander, the American three-star commander of SFOR, or the Canadian ambassador to Radonovici in the Livno Valley for Master Cpl. Leger to brief. His forthright manner and common sense solutions made converts of them all, and I watched with pride as he stickhandled every question until even the most skeptical became his supporters.
Master Cpl. Leger’s proudest day of the tour was when the first red tile roof went up in the Livno Valley, reversing a 10-year cycle of destruction and despair. King Marco had brought hope back to the Livno Valley.
For his work in the Livno Valley, Sgt. Leger was deservedly awarded a Chief of Defence Staff Commendation last year…
What I find incredible is that Sgt. Leger was not all that different from every other trooper in my company. What I find even more surprising is how an institution as publicly maligned and neglected as the Canadian army can continue to consistently attract and retain guys like Marc Leger. As historian Jack Granatstein has said of another Canadian army at another time, it is probably a better organization than the people of Canada know or deserve. Marc Leger, and his fellow soldiers are, as the Prime Minister has already said, “the best face of Canada.”
He was a goddamned hero, and we should all take our lead from his spirit and his actions.
The King is Dead. Long Live the King.
Another nice article about Sgt. Leger seems to avoid mentioning that these were displaced Serbs he was helping:
Marc Leger’s widow continues his work in Bosnia (Canadian Press, May 10, 2003)
With a heavy heart, Marley Leger opened a community centre in eastern Bosnia on Saturday, carrying on the work begun by her husband, Sgt. Marc Leger, who was one of four Canadian soldiers killed by U.S. friendly fire last year in Afghanistan.
After his death, Leger launched a memorial fund to continue the restoration work he started while on a NATO mission in war-ravaged Bosnia. After a year of fundraising and with the help of the Canadian military, she travelled to Livno Valley to open the centre and unveil a plaque in his memory.
“It was like coming home to my long-lost relatives,” Leger said Saturday in an interview from Bosnia after the opening ceremony. “The people were so receptive. And it was very emotional.
“I had a really tough time leaving them today. I cried quite a bit.”
After he died in April 2002, the residents sent a letter of condolence to Marley Leger.
“He was the world to them and it wasn’t only because he brought aid back into the area,” Leger said. “It was because he gave so much of himself and he loved them and embraced them and he brought hope back into an area that was devastated.”
Most of the residents are elderly, Leger said, and she hopes that the rebuilding of the centre, along with much-needed restoration of power to the area, will bring young people back.
“I can’t thank Canadians enough for helping me with this project,” she said. “There were donations anywhere from $25 to thousands of dollars.
Leger’s next challenge is to raise enough money to put a roof on the church next to the community centre, which she estimates will cost $10,000 to $15,000. She said there is about $6,200 in the account now.
“They touched my heart just the way they touched Marc’s and I don’t know how they couldn’t do that to you. They’re such humble people but would give you anything. And the fact that you give them your friendship is the world to them. That’s what Marc stood for.”
Marc Leger of Lancaster, Ont., was one of four Canadians killed during a training exercise near Kandahar, Afghanistan, on April 17, 2002, when the U.S. pilots mistook them for enemy combatants. While Maj. William Umbach circled overhead, Maj. Harry Schmidt dropped a 225-kilogram bomb on his unsuspecting allies.
Also killed were Pte. Richard Green, 21, of Mill Cove, N.S., Pte. Nathan Smith, 26, of Ostrea Lake, N.S., and Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer of Montreal.
Another eight Canadians were injured.
An American officer, Col. Patrick Rosenow, said in March there was sufficient evidence to send the pilots to a court martial, but that the charges should be dismissed and their case should be handled outside a military court. […]
Apologies for being asinine enough to dwell on what I know is a mere, unrelated coincidence, but I can’t resist: Well no wonder the Serb-lover was killed by “friendly” fire. And by a National Guard pilot, no less (see below). This would be the same National Guard currently shooting up Serbs in Kosovo as we speak. The last item is from Canada’s “Fallen Heroes Project”:
Lancaster, Ontario, CAN
Army, SGT, Third Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (3PPCLI)
04/18/2002 Afghanistan, Kandahar
Sergeant Marc Leger died at the hands of an errant bomb unleashed by a ‘gung ho’ American National Guard pilot who thought he was under attack while patrolling in Afghanistan during the war there. It is not, however, Leger’s death in Afghanistan that puts him on the list. During an earlier time in Bosnia, Sergeant Marc Leger became known as ‘King Marco.’ During his time in Bosnia, Leger was exposed to the horrors of ‘ethnic cleansing.’ In the Livno Valley, Bosnia, ‘King Marco’ is hailed as a hero. While on his peacekeeping (a misnomer) tour of duty, Leger was charged with disarming potential insurgents and providing security for all ethnic groups. Additionally, he was given the responsibility of assisting returning Serb refugees as they settled back into their communities. Most of the farmhouses had been destroyed by a rampaging Croat army hell bent to ethnically cleanse the area of all Serbs. The Croats killed or drove off livestock, poisoned wells, destroyed Serb Orthodox churches and laid land mines. One Serb family that managed to survive by fleeing, returned to their homeland only to face a place of destruction. With their few possessions, the family of Miorad Kozomara began to rebuild their home; all that remained from before was their house with its partial roof but little else; no doors, no windows, no livestock, and no seed to plant a crop. One day, a jeep with some Canadian soldiers arrived and told the Kozomara family that they were there to help. Sergeant Marc Leger was their leader.
When he saw the desperate state that faced the Serb family, Canadian Leger “badgered the local United Nations High Commission of Refugees’ representative and any aid agency that drove through the area.” For six months, Leger hounded the UN representative and other officers for resources. [Canwest news service]
“He took leftover and thrown-away building supplies and distributed them while on patrol. He snuck food from the camp kitchen and spirited off the camp water truck when no one was looking.” [ibid.]
Leger managed to pry money from the Canadian International Development Agency to re-roof 28 local houses. One re-roofed house is emblazoned with the Canadian Maple Leaf and the CIDA logo. [ibid.]
Recently, when the Serbs in the Livno Valley learned of Sergeant Marc Leger’s death, they mourned. One said, “We never could have returned to this valley without the help of that big Canadian soldier.” [ibid.]
The Kozomara family learned of King Marc’s death through one of their sons who lives in Canada. The news of Sergeant Leger’s death shattered Mrs. Kozomara. “I got very nervous and started crying as if my son had died,” she said. [ibid.]
Sergeant Leger’s widow, Marley Leger, will take the proceeds of the ‘Sergeant Marc Leger Memorial Fund’ to local officials so that a gutted schoolhouse can be rebuilt as a community centre and medical clinic. A plaque will be attached to the building; the plaque dedicates the building to Sergeant Marc Leger’s memory. ‘King Marc’s’ memory lives on.
Of the aforementioned Canadian heroes, Sergeant Marc Leger is the one that stands out. His heroism truly qualifies as “a person who does great and brave deeds and is admired for them.”
I guess during those times that I’m going off about the vast quantity of German-origin last names operating in the world-coordinated undoing of Serbia and Serbs as Germany finally wins WWII, I need to remember that Leger is a German last name too. (I think.)
I’ve just been corrected. A reader informs me that “Leger,” while Germanic in origin, is now very French in Quebec. And Marc is the French spelling of Mark, of course.”The surname is quite common in Quebec – so any good French Canadian reading this would take exception!! Please don’t call him German!!”
I came across a comment that’s tangentially related to this blog. It appeared in Feb. 2011 under an article titled “Serbia: The Shame of the West,” which was written by a Welshman named Royston Jones. The link doesn’t work anymore, but I believe that the comment below appeared in response to anti-Serb comments posted by an international affairs graduate student named Ard Morina:
Feb. 18, 2011 8:07 a.m.
Ard Morina, Canadian soldiers in Croatia WITNESSED Croats killing Serb civilians in the Medak Pocket massacre. The Croats were forcing the Serbs to carry looted belonging[s] for the Croats and when the Canadian soldiers would get close the Croats would start killing them [the Serbs]. Further the Canadian soldiers took pictures of some of these dead Serbs that the Croats didn’t get cleared away. They found raped and murdered teenage girls in a basement – their bodies still hot from being burned.
Many Serbian massacre victims were left as they lay and not in graves. I’ve seen pictures and autopsy reports – full identifications. If the Serbs retook a village after a Muslim attack they’d find these bodies and then give them a proper burial, and Croats were known to bury the dead Serbs at a certain number of inches apart so it wouldn’t always qualify as a “mass grave”. This was told to me by an American UN worker from Tennessee – Stephanie Bond – who was there during the Croatian war and worked there as a return officer for a few years later.
She said Croats were using German street cleaning machines to clear off the blood and gore and wrecked vehicles of a road which was bombed as strafed by Croat planes as the Serb refugees were fleeing.
I’ll also post the article itself, since it’s no longer findable online:
Serbia: The Shame of the West (WalesHome.org, Feb. 15, 2011)
A proud people of an unjustly vilified nation
By Royston Jones
TODAY, Serbs around the world are remembering the Serbian National Revolution; a somewhat protracted affair generally agreed to have started in 1804 and concluded by 1835. So radical was this arrangement – a constitutional monarchy, abolition of feudalism – that Serbia’s autocratic neighbours insisted the constitution be watered down lest these dangerous ideas spread.
This fear and loathing was not to be an isolated incident. In fact, few nations in recent decades have been so universally vilified. Why that should be so can only be understood by glimpsing into Serbia’s history and looking at the events that have shaped modern Serbian attitudes, about themselves, their neighbours, and the wider world.
In the mid 14th Century the Serbs had an empire, ruled by Stefan Uroš IV Dušan, but the empire did not outlast the man, with the nation suffering two catastrophic defeats to the Ottoman Turks at Maritsa (1371) and Kosovo Polje (1389). The latter battle is of course more poetically known as “The Field of Black Birds”, a seminal event in their history that Serbs regard as both the birth of the modern nation and the door on an era of oppression and suffering.
During those dark centuries the fragmented territories of the Serbs knew, at varying times, partial independence, suzerain status or direct Turkish rule, but the people always remained focused on unification and independence. As unforgiving opponents of the Sublime Porte, Serbs often allied themselves with the Kingdom of Hungary and other Christian powers. Serbian tenacity and willingness to fight became legendary, resulting in Serbs being recruited by neighbouring countries as soldiers, even being settled with their families in troubled border regions.
Following the revolution the remainder of the nineteenth century was relatively stable, apart from a few minor conflicts. Finally, at the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Serbia was recognised by the Great Powers as an independent state, and became a kingdom under Milan (Obrenovic) I in 1882. Although Serbia was now fully independent there remained outside the Kingdom many areas inhabited by Serbs. The inevitable irredentism that resulted led to strained relations with neighbouring states.
Then came Sarajevo. Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb, and member of the Young Bosnia organisation, set out with a few comrades to assassinate the Austrian archduke, Franz Ferdinand. The attempt failed and Princip was returning to his lodgings when to his surprise he saw the royal car again – it had taken a wrong turn. Now there would be no mistake. The event that sparked the First World War happened by pure chance.
In that European tragedy Serbia suffered 450,000 dead, or 16.11% of her total population, more than any other combatant nation. By comparison, France lost 4.29%, Germany 3.82% and the UK 2.19%. Such were the losses that the Serbs often had to withdraw – even to Greece and Corfu – to recruit and regroup. But they always came back fighting. It’s easy to say, ‘Well, they started it!’. But Princip’s group included Bosnian Muslims and Croats. This unity didn’t suit the agenda of the Austrians or their ally, Germany; for them it was simple: Princip was a Serb and so the plot, via the Black Hand organisation, was traced back to Belgrade.
As one of the victors, Serbia was rewarded with a new country, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, ruled by Alexander I, of the old Karadordevic dynasty. A superstitious man, Alexander. As a result of three members of his family dying on a Tuesday he was reluctant to undertake official duties on that day, but on October 9, 1934 he had no choice. While being driven through the streets of Marseilles on a state visit to France he was assassinated by a Bulgarian member of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (IMRO). According to many who have researched this (the first filmed assassination) IMRO was in league with the Ustaše, the Croatian fascist organisation, and both were secretly sponsored by Mussolini.
The Second World War was a time of yet more blood-letting. While a small number of Serbs collaborated the vast majority reacted as Serbs always have when threatened or invaded. They fought. The courage and doggedness of Tito’s (mainly Serbian) Partisans and the royalist (and totally Serbian) Chetniks led by Draža Mihailovic is well documented. The vast numbers of German troops they tied down for years undoubtedly helped the Soviets achieve victory on the Eastern Front. Yet, as ever, there was a price to be paid.
The Ustaše was well rewarded after the German invasion, ruling the Nazi puppet-state of Croatia (including Bosnia), with Croats providing recruits for a Croatian SS division. The Kosovo Albanians had their SS division and ethnically cleansed Serbs from Kosovo. Many Bosnian Muslims also sided with the Nazis. Bizarrely, Himmler showed quite a liking for Islam, regarding it, with its promise of paradise and maidens, as a good religion for a warrior. Surrounded by enemies the life of a Serb became very difficult.
The names of Auschwitz, Belsen and other Second World War extermination camps are familiar to us all, but few know the name Jasenovac. This camp, run by the Ustaše, did the Nazis’ bidding in exterminating Jews and Roma, but saved most places for Serbs. Overall, some 390,000 ethnic Serb residents of Croatia and Bosnia died at the hands of the Ustaše, though not all at Jasenovac, and in total well over half a million Serbs died.
The post-war history of Yugoslavia should be familiar to most readers. Under President Tito Yugoslavia achieved a certain amount of prosperity, and became a beacon for non-aligned countries during the Cold War. Yet in seeking to overcome the internal tensions of his country Tito came to be seen by many Serbs as favouring other nationalities above them, working for a “weak Serbia, for a strong Yugoslavia”. When he died in 1980 the stage was set for the next act in the Balkans tragedy. The only surprise was that it took so long for the curtain to rise.
There isn’t the space to deal with everything that happened between 1991 and 1999. The Western – in other words, the US – interpretation of this period runs as follows: Tired of Serbian oppression the other nations of Yugoslavia decided upon independence, but then found themselves subject to all manner of horrors inflicted, either by the regular Yugoslav army, police, or Serb irregulars. The Western media followed this line unquestioningly.
Here’s a different interpretation, for which we need to examine the general (and all too often unsubstantiated) claims of Serbian “brutality” in response to the break-up of their “empire”. The northernmost territory, Slovenia, and the southernmost, Macedonia, split with hardly any bloodshed. (In fact, the worst trouble in Macedonia came, post-independence, from secessionist Albanians.) The fighting was concentrated in Croatia, Bosnia and, finally, Kosovo – an Autonomous Province of Serbia. Why should Serbia, and Serbs generally, respond differently in different areas? Because Slovenia and Macedonia contained few ethnic Serbs. Whereas the other three areas contained large numbers of ethnic Serbs for whom anyone with a knowledge of recent Balkan history should have been very concerned.
Croatia was home [to] well over half a million ethnic Serbs, mainly in the Krajina region. Had you been a Krajina Serb in the country that had once been ruled by the Ustaše, and was now led by nationalist demagogue, Franjo Tudman, would you have felt safe? Wouldn’t you have sought help from fellow Serbs? When the 300,000 or more surviving Krajina Serbs were expelled in 1995, their homes burnt and the old people they had to leave behind killed, Western politicians and media referred to it as “an exodus” . . . for only Serbs can be guilty of ethnic cleansing.
As late as 1998 the US State Department had the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) listed as a terrorist organisation. The very same bunch of drug-traffickers and gun-runners whose leader Hashim Thaçi was then being lionised by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, with his gang promoted as freedom fighters, posing in front of the cameras and promising to go fight the Serbs. (Posing was what the KLA was best at, it did very little fighting.) And as we all know now, the KLA also ran a lucrative organ harvesting business from Serb civilians they kidnapped and butchered.
Why so many lies? Put quite simply, the West (again, mainly the US) had an agenda based on geopolitical considerations. The Soviet Union was breaking apart. The Cold War was over and Eastern Europe was in turmoil, with every Ivan and Istvan wanting to be a capitalist and to drive a Merc. The one remaining obstacle to the eastward advance of Western ideas (and goods) was perceived to be Yugoslavia led by Serbia, which despite the strained relationship under Tito, was now rediscovering older ties with its Orthodox cousins in Russia. Ergo Yugoslavia had to be dismembered and Serbia itself weakened.
This strategy became linked with the Gulf War. On February 23, 1991 a US-led force began the ground attack to “liberate” Kuwait. As we know, this was, militarily, successful, but there were unforeseen complications. Not least among those complications was the presence, post-conflict, of US military bases in Saudi Arabia. “Crusaders” so close to Mecca outraged many Muslims, not least, Osama bin Laden. It was this US military presence in his homeland that turned Osama bin Laden against the West. In a desperate attempt to placate the Islamic world the USA wanted to be seen defending Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo.
You may see this as an apologia for the Serbs. So be it. But it is not the work of a denier. In the various conflicts of the 1990s many crimes were committed by Serbs, none worse than the massacre at Srebrenica. But why did the politicians and the media take me, and you, for idiots in telling us that the other parties were all innocent victims? Doesn’t it worry you that in a democratic society we were lied to over such a lengthy period? Those lies are slowly unravelling, but time is passing and the belated truth will never have the same impact as the nightly television reports we all saw, with their strident and insistent message: ‘the Serbs are guilty’.
Yet if we are considering war crimes . . . It was significant that rather than put in ground troops to link up with the heroes of the KLA the USA chose to bomb Serb civilians in order to bring their government to the surrender table. In killing Serbian civilians and bombing Belgrade the USA committed war crimes. But of course the USA won, so no one will indict Uncle Sam, even though his war crimes were filmed and otherwise better documented than any of the ‘atrocities’ alleged to have been committed by the Serbs.
Given that on more than one occasion they have come close to total annihilation as a people, we should not be surprised that when threatened Serbs fight back with everything they’ve got. But their struggles have invariably been defensive. Whether fighting medieval Turks or 20th Century Germans the Serbs have fought in defence of their land and their people. It was the same in the 1990s when Yugoslavia was broken apart.
Why the West – yes, again the USA – chose to misrepresent the situation has been explained. The dismemberment of Yugoslavia, the support for Croat neo-fascists, Albanian gangsters, and possibly even foreign mujahideen who came to kill Serbs, is one of the most dishonourable chapters in recent Western history.