Page 593 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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Serbian territory and the Muslim albanian rebellion in Kosovo, Metohija and north-western Macedonia were to pave the way for opening another front against Serbia. after the austro–Hungarian attack in july 1914, Serbia deployed most of her troops along the border with the Dual Monarchy. The initial small-scale attacks from al- bania were recorded as early as the beginning of august 1914. The Ottoman and austro–Hungarian alliance was becoming tighter, which sealed the fate of the six-month reign of the freshly-elected Prince of albania, Wilhelm von Wied. after several unsuccessful attempts to crush the insurrection, the German prince was abandoned by his volunteers and left albania for good in early Septem- ber 1914.113
When the retreating Serbian army, followed by count- less refugees, reached Kosovo, sabotage and surprise at- tacks began. in many Kosovo villages local albanians re- fused to provide food without differentiating between sol- diers and civilian refugees. in istok, a small town in Me- tohija, on 29 November 1915, a unit of exhausted Serbian soldiers lagging behind the main military column was massacred by albanian brigands. Near the Monastery of St. Mark of Koriša in the vicinity of Prizren, albanians of the Kabash clan treacherously disarmed, robbed and bru- tally executed some sixty Serbian soldiers.114
after the Serbian army’s retreat from Peć, albanian outlaws pillaged many Serbian homes and shops. aus- tro–Hungarian guards prevented them from entering the hospital in Peć and massacring the wounded Serbian sol- diers. Local albanians set ambushes near [Kosovska] Mit- rovica as well, killing exhausted soldiers and robbing un- armed refugees. Serious crimes were committed against the Serbian civilian population in Suva Reka and elsewhere in Kosovo as well.115
Following the agonizing withdrawal of the defeated Serbian troops to central and northern albania—held by the Serb-friendly regime of powerful General essad-Pa- sha Toptani in his adriatic capital Durazzo—austria–Hun- gary and Bulgaria established their rule in occupied Ser- bia (1916–1918).116 Kosovo and Metohija were separated and made parts of two different austro–Hungarian oc- cupation zones: Metohija was included in the General Gou-
113 Bogumil Hrabak, Arbanaški upadi i pobune na Kosovu i u Ma- kedoniji od kraja 1912 do kraja 1915 godine: nacionalno nerazvijeni nejedinstveni Arbanasi kao orudje u rukama zainteresovanih država (Vranje: Narodni muzej, 1988), 124–145.
114 Zadužbine Kosova
115 P. Kostić, Crkveni život pravoslavnih Srba, 141–143; Bogumil
Hrabak, “Stanje na srpsko–albanskoj granici i pobuna arbanasa na Kosovu i u Makedoniji” in Srbija 1915, Zbornik radova istorijskog instituta 4 (Belgrade: istorijski institut, 1986), 80–85; B. Hrabak, Ar- banaški upadi i pobune, 186–195.
116 D.T. Bataković, “Serbian Government and essad–Pasha Topta- ni” in Serbia and the Albanians in the 20th Century, andrej Mitrović, ed., Conferences, vol. LXi, Department of Historical Sciences, no. 20 (Belgrade: Serbian academy of Sciences and arts 1991), 57–78.
Kosovo and Metohija: History, Memory, identity
vernment ’Montenegro’, a smaller portion of Kosovo with Kosovska Mitrovica and Vučitrn became part of the Gen- eral Gouvernment ’Serbia’; the largest portion of Kosovo proper with the Prizren area (Priština, Gnjilane, Ferizo- vić, Prizren, Orahovac) was included into the Bulgarian Military–inspectional Region ’Macedonia’.117
as protectors of albanians, austro–Hungarians were quick to establish schools and local administration in the albanian language. Kosovo albanians remained privi- leged, whilst Serbs were utterly distrusted. Things were even worse in the Bulgarian occupation zone: massive op- pression, internment of civilians, forced Bulgarization, persecution and murder of Serbian priests followed the establishment of Bulgarian rule. Nićifor Perić, former Metropolitan of the Raška–Prizren Diocese, was interned and murdered in Bulgaria. Serbian priests suffered most, persecuted and murdered in both occupation zones and by both albanians and Bulgarians. The Metropolitan of Raška–Prizren, Vićentije, and his deacon, Cvetko Nešić, were taken from Prizren to Uroševac on 23 November 1915 and burned alive two days later.
in Kosovo rural communities Bulgarians often ap- pointed ethnic albanians and Turks as chiefs, officials or gendarmes, who then assisted their compatriots in plun- dering local Serb property, in winning court cases against Serbs, and in hushing up occasional murders. in some Kosovo villages, Turks and albanians jointly oppressed Serbs without fear of punishment, just as it was during the last years of Ottoman rule.118
The restoration of the Kingdom of Serbia, carried out by the forces joined into the Armée d’Orient under the su- preme command of General Franchet d’esperey in the autumn of 1918, started after the Serbian armies made a major breakthrough on the Salonica Front, an event that changed the course of the Great War. Commanded by French General Tranié, French and Serbian troops reached Kosovo in early October, subsequently liberating Prišti- na, Prizren, Gnjilane and Mitrovica. Serbian komitadji units, led by Kosta Milovanović Pećanac, met French troops at Mitrovica and immediately set off to Peć. Serbs surrounded the city and compelled the considerably stron- ger austro–Hungarian garrison to surrender; it was only after that that the French cavalry trotted into town.
Muslim albanians, however, took arms left behind by the defeated Bulgarian and austrian troops and attacked representatives of the Serbian civil and military authori- ties, while the order to surrender arms met with strong armed resistance, in particular in Drenica and the rural
118 janićije Popović, Kosovo u ropstvu pod Bugarima (Leskovac, Štamparija Ž.D. Obrenovića, 1921); on the persecution of the clergy, see additional documentation in Zadužbine Kosova, 745–750.
  a serious crisis broke out in 1916 over the issue on dividing occupational zones between Bulgaria and austria–Hungary. Cf Is- torija srpskog naroda, vol. Vi–2 (Belgrade: Srpska književna zadruga, 1983), 146–148; for more, see Mitrović, Serbia’s Great War, passim.

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