Page 597 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 597

 Kosovo and Metohija: History, Memory, identity
their own flag and to open schools with instruction in albanian. The trib- al and mostly peasant Kosovo alba- nian population received the newly acquired national symbols enthusi- astically, but was not ready to restrain its actions to the cultural and politi- cal plane. in reality, the albanians planned to organize a full-scale re- venge against the Serbs, perceived as oppressors under the Kingdom of Yu- goslavia.
During the first few months of
Fascist occupation, italian and al-
banian forces burned down nearly
10,000 homes of Serb settlers in fre-
quent night raids. The owners and
their families were expelled to Mon-
tenegro and central Serbia, and some
were sent to internment camps in al-
bania. at least 900 Serbs were sent
to the Porte Romano concentration
camp in Durazzo (Durrës). Most of
them were from Gnjilane, while oth-
ers were from Prizren, Priština, Peć,
Uroševac and Lipljan. Roughly 600 Serb prisoners from the Gnjilane area drowned on a cargo ship on their way to concentration camps in italy. in the italian-Balist ques- tura of Prizren, the large building of the Roman Catholic Seminary was used as a prison for Serb detainees, who were often tortured to death. Many Serbs “ended up in concentration camps in Priština and Mitrovica. These Serbs were apparently used as a labour force for fortification works in italian albania, and in the Trepča mines work- ing for the Germans.”134 The albanians, both locals and fresh settlers from albania, used to plough the colonist fields afresh to erase every trace of Serb settlement and forestall Serb return. if Serbs did try to return after the war, they would find it hard to recognize their seized property.135
The main targets were, as earlier during periods of an- archy or wars, the priests and monks of the Serbian Or- thodox Church and their flock: andrija Popović, a priest from istok, and Nikodim Radosavljević, a hieromonk of Gorioč monastery, were murdered by albanians in 1941 together with 102 Serbs from the parish of istok; Dam- askin Bošković, a renowned hieromonk of Devič monas- tery, was tortured and murdered by local albanians in mid- October 1941, while the medieval monastery of Devič was burned down and destroyed; parish priests of Uroševac
134 Bernd j. Fisher, Albania at War 1939–1945 (West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 1999), 87.
135 Cf extensive documentation in Nenad antonijević, Albanski zločini nad Srbima na Kosovu i Metohiji za vreme Drugog svetskog rata Dokumenti (Kragujevac: Muzej žrtava genocida, 2004).
Sanjak of Pljevlja and the Vilajet of Kosovo, Vienna 1897
(Dragoljub Kujundžić) and Djakovica (Slobodan Popović) were murdered in 1942; the parish priest of Kosovska Mi- trovica (Momčilo Nešić) was murdered in 1943; parish priests of Peć (Mihailo Milošević) and Ranilug (Krsta Po- pović) were murdered in 1944, etc. at least twenty-six Serb churches and monasteries were desecrated, pillaged or burned; some, like Gorioč monastery, were used as pris- ons for the Kosovo Serbs; dozens of smaller Serb church- es were razed to the ground and the medieval monaster- ies of Gračanica, Sokolica, St. Mark of Koriša and St. Pe- ter of Koriša were looted on a regular basis by local alba- nians. During these frequent raids several monks and nuns were either wounded or killed.136 Many Christian Ortho- dox graveyards were devastated or desecrated by local albanians to erase every trace of Serb settlement.
Large-scale destruction of Serb colonist villages was a major component of a strategic plan: to demonstrate to potential post-war international commissions drawing new borders that Serbs had never lived in Kosovo. a promi- nent Kosovo albanian leader, Ferat-beg Draga, solemnly proclaimed in 1943 that the “time has come to extermi- nate the Serbs [...] there will be no Serbs under the Koso- vo sun.”137
136 Zadužbine Kosova, 783–793.
137 Hakif Bajrami, “izveštaj Konstantina Plavšića Tasi Diniću, min- istru unutrašnjih poslova u Nedićevoj vladi oktobra 1943, o kosov- sko-mitrovačkom srezu”, Godišnjak arhiva Kosova XIV–XV/Prishti- në : arkive të Kosovës, (1978–79), 313. Cf also jovan Pejin, Stradanje Srba u Metohiji 1941–1944 (Belgrade: arhivski pregled, 1994).

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