Julian Amery, in his function as Special Operations Executive (SOE) liaison officer from 1941 to 1945, “variously associated with the Resistance Movements [sic] of the Balkans, and more especially with those of the South Slavs and the Albanians”, wrote in his memoirs: “the Resistance Movement of the second [sic] World War will not lack their memorials.”[i] However, the past seventy years have proven Amery’s statement incorrect. When we think back to the events of the Second World War in Southeast Europe, we mainly remember the communist partisans who were under the command of Tito’s and Enver Hoxha’s officers.[ii] Other resistance movements only became known to Western Europe when nationalist groups in the 1990s tried—and still do today— to exploit their splendour for nationalist causes.[iii]

Until now, partisans’ and collaborators’ actions and proceedings were often viewed in a national perspective—because after the conclusion of World War Two the old and new borders helped to confirm the old and new national states. However, resistance against Fascism and National Socialism in the Balkans was multifaceted and multinational in character, and much more than a mere communist movement. In recent years, I have investigated different forms of collaboration with and resistance against the German and/or Italian occupiers in Southeast Europe, particularly in Kosovo and the bordering territories. Many movements worked together either wholly or partially, and many fought each other. Nevertheless, one aspect remained the same: Transnationality and the crossing of borders were common threads amongst all resistance movements in this part of Southeast Europe.[iv]Therefore, this contribution will discuss and highlight the approach of rethinking borders as variable factors.

The two regions, Kosovo and Sandžak, which are introduced later, were not only hotspots of extreme interethnic conflicts but acted also as transnational settings of various resistance (and collaborative) groups during the Second World War. It is due to these circumstances that the two regions and their bordering territories remain unique cases for historical investigation. Which benefits or intentions, which constraints or political opinions were reasons to fight in one unit or another—and to fight against or alongside the Germans and Italians? Who is who in this complex web of resistance, occasionally collaborating and fully collaborating coalitions? And what were the intersecting and dividing factors of these transnational resistance networks?

Historical Background: The Sandžak and Kosovo from the Ottoman Empire to the Second World War


Borders are wavering entities particularly in the region of Kosovo and the neighbouring Sandžak. Until this day, Kosovo and Sandžak are known as border regions of eastern and western European cultures, shared by Orthodox and Catholic Christianity and Islam, and placed between the Great Power’s spheres of interest, in the past between the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary, today between the European Union, Russia and the United States.[v] Newspaper articles on current conflicts regularly feature stories on northern Kosovo in particular.[vi] Many of the conflicts still smouldering in Kosovo and neighbouring Sandžak are rooted in the events and aftermath of the Second World War. This short introduction serves as a guide to this region of ever-changing borderlines.

When the Serbian Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović and his coalition army lost the battle of Kosovo Polje in 1389 against Sultan Murad Hüdavendigâr, a new era began and Serbian princes became vassals of the Ottoman Empire. After the capture of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottomans established direct control by structuring conquered territory into new districts. Thus, Kosovo was integrated into the Ottoman Empire, from 1455 to 1864 as part of the elayet of Rumelia, and then, from 1864 as Kosovo vilayet. “Elayet” and “vilayet” are labels for Ottoman administrative units, similar to the label “sandžak”. The sandžak, which I will discuss, was the Sandžak of Novi Pazar (1580-1872), a sub-district of the elayet Bosnia. From 1877 onwards, the Sandžak of Novi Pazar was joined to the newly installed vilayet of Kosovo.[vii] After the Berlin Conference of 1878 another player emerged next to Ottoman administration: In 1879 the Austro-Hungarian army invaded the region of Sandžak and remained there until 1908 “rather as an observer than a rapid reaction force”; nevertheless, the Sandžak was redefined by the Habsburg administration.[viii]

After the Balkan wars, the London Treaty of 1913 defined new borders: the Sandžak of Novi Pazar was divided; one part was attached to Montenegro, the other part, together with Kosovo, became Serbian territory. Up to the First World War, this region was a theatre of AustroHungarian and Serbian conflicting interests. After the end of World War I, Serbia became the hegemonial power in the newly built Kingdom of Yugoslavia including the contested region. The Sandžak’s other half remained under Montenegrin control, and in this way became part of the Yugoslavian state, too.

When Adolf Hitler and his High Command of the Armed Forces (OKW) were coordinating the last steps for Operation Barbarossa in spring 1941, Yugoslav officers around General Dušan Simović revolted against the Tripartite Pact that had been signed on 25 March 1941 by the Yugoslav government and the Axis Powers. They forced the cabinet of Dragiša Cvetković and Prince Paul Karađorđević to abdicate and crowned king the under-aged Peter II. Hitler, who had counted on vassal states in Southeast Europe protecting his flank for the upcoming campaign against the Soviet Union, decided to attack Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941 since it had become hostile state.[ix] Shortly after the German Balkan campaign, German forces seized Serbia with its half of the Sandžak territory, and the northern part of Kosovo; its southern part and the bordering territories of Montenegro and Macedonia—were then consolidated as New Albania and became part of Greater Albania which was under Italian control until September 1943. An eastern portion of Kosovo and Macedonia was annexed by Bulgaria, although the country itself did not participate in the campaign.[x] Both of the Axis powers instrumentalized religion and ethnic affiliation, keeping their own interests in mind. With these tactics the Axis attempted to destabilise the Kosovo region in particular, and hamper any contact and possible unification among the early Albanian and Serbian resistance movements. This strategy was alluded to in his diary by Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano: “Today, it should not come to mind that we concentrate on this problem. On the contrary, we have to subdue the Yugoslavs. But in the future, we have to create a significant pro-Kosovar policy. This will keep alive the irredentist problem in the Balkans, catch the attention of the Albanians, and symbolise a brandished dagger plunged into the back of Yugoslavia.”[xi]


Who is who in resistance movements in Kosovo and Sandžak?


Since the time of the Roman Empire, the Sandžak and Kosovo region was known as a key geopolitical area acting as passage and toehold from the Adriatic sea to the East, and from North to South, from Durrës to Niš, or from Skopje to Belgrade, for example The topography makes this zone a perfect landscape for guerrilla warfare: the region contains only poor roads, more likely just dusty tracks—unsuitable for tanks and artillery transport—, dense forests, and the karst mountains which helped the partisans to build their networks and guerrilla systems The dense web of diverse resistance groups in this region suggests a strong distrust of the Germans. The resistance force’s ranks consisted of combatants from up to five Southeast European countries: Greater Albania, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was part of the Nezavisna Država Hrvatska (NDH)—the Independent State of Croatia (as it was called), Montenegro, and Macedonia. In addition, they were supported by former Italian soldiers (particularly after September 1943), Turkmens who formerly fought in the German ranks, and they even gained support from German deserters. Nevertheless, the complexity and density of the various resistance groups compel me to explain each of them briefly. There were the Yugoslav communist partisans, the Serbian and the Montenegrin Četniks (royalists), various Albanian and Kosovar Communist Partisan units, the Kosovar and the Albanian Nationalists, and the Albanian Royalists.

After the invasion of the Axis powers in 1941, Sandžak and Kosovo were notorious for their increased traffic of anti-German and/or antiItalian groups looking for contacts with other groups abroad,15 as well as refugees (often Jewish) who were trying to reach Old Albania.[xii] An order from the divisional commander of the SS division Skanderbeg, August Schmidhuber, testifies the German assumption of the traffic’s equal intensity in the opposite direction: “Many Communist and anti-German immigrants [were travelling] from Old Albania to the Kosovo territory”. Therefore, he ordered his subordinates to check and question every passenger on the train or road from 15 June 1944 and every week thereafter they were to demand to see their identity card, inquire their destination and reason for travel.[xiii] Schmidhuber was one of the leading figures in the anti-partisan war in Kosovo and the Sandžak. He ordered the arrest of every person who could not sufficiently explain their reason for travel or destination and they were to be brought into the concentration camp of Prishtina.[xiv] However, his orders were not very successful—he felt that in these border territories alliances were fragile constructions: Even those who promised to collaborate denied their support if the profit, material or immaterial, was not promising enough.[xv] Several groups, leaders, and individuals swung back and forth from resistance to collaboration and then back again.[xvi]

The two earliest resistance groups, the communist partisans and the Četniks, emerged right after the German invasion of Yugoslavia: On 22 June 1941, a first communist partisan detachment was formed in Croatia and on 4 July, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia called for an armed uprising in all Yugoslav territories[xvii]. In May, under the command of the Yugoslav exile government in London, the so-called Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland, known as the Četnik-movement, was established under a former Serbian officer, Dragoljub Draža Mihailović. Mihailović, a genuine Serbian royalist, became the highest Četnik commander and as a former officer of the general staff in the Serbian army, he and other former Yugoslav officers brought distinct advantages to this movement: The units were provided with arms and enjoyed specialized training.[xviii] Before the German invasion, they had already made arms depots in the hilly karst and had even acquired ammunition and automatic weapons from the western Allies’ airdrops.[xix] They collaborated with Kosovar Nationalist groups abroad as a German report of the „situation in Albania in May 1943“ outlines. From a today’s point of view such a collaboration in the border territories between Serbia and “Greater Albania” seems uncommon. During this time, it was seen as a “serious danger” because “the Albanians on the other side of the demarcation line highly supported the [Četnik] movement of general Draža Mihajlović”.[xx]Partially collaboration with the Germans towards the end of war made the Četniks unreliable partners for the western Allies.[xxi]

Different branches of Albanian communist partisans were united in the so-called Levizja Nacional Çlirimtare (NLC), the communist National Liberation Front from 1942—this movement would eventually lead to the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha.[xxii] Obviously, the Communist movement in Northern Albania and Kosovo was anything but moderate—the local societies lived in a strongly traditional manner, and proved quite impregnable to fundamental communist values. A large section of the local elites therefore decided to collaborate with the German forces in the region, because they had promised to not touch their traditional rites and customs.[xxiii] Fadil Hoxha was such a communist, and one of the bestknown commanders in Kosovo—his unit included both Serbian and Albanian Kosovars. He was supported by Shefqet Peci, the commander of the third Albanian Communist division, 28 and later had a distinguished political career in Tito’s Yugoslavia.29

The Balli Kombëtar—“National Front”—was a nationalist umbrella organisation of anti-Italian, sometimes anti-German, and often antiCommunist Albanian magnates and clan chiefs. This organisation was very active in Kosovo and northern Albania. Known persons who were part of the Balli Kombëtar included individuals such as Midhat Frashëri and Muharrem Bajraktari. Initially, the majority of these Albanian nationalist bands abstained from any kind of pro-German attitude and changed sides only after the Communists had turned against them in 1943. Therefore, a confusing situation ensued: The Germans supported the “National Bands”—along with some select members of the Balli Kombëtar—who fought against the Italians, the communist and/or the Četniks. The Germans even recruited some of them for their own units such as the SS Skanderbeg or the Handschar division.30 Other parts of this organisation remained in the resistance camp until the end of war. However, they remained undecided on whether or not they should attack the Germans until summer 1944—when the German downfall was clearly foreseeable. But by then, it was too late. The western Allies— namely the British SOE liaison officers, Edmund “Trotsky” Davies, Neil “Billy” Mac Lean and Julian Amery – restricted their supplies exclusively to the Communist partisans. Another political resistance movement included the royalist Legaliteti, or so-called Zogist fraction, named for their support of the former Albanian King Ahmed Zogu. There were others without affiliation, like Gani Kreyziu from Kosovo. He and his group resisted the occupiers, the Communist and the Zogist fraction.

In the Sandžak—as opposed to Kosovo—the Yugoslav Communist partisan movement proved more influential. Small cells were executing acts of sabotage. For example, Rifat ‘Tršo’ Burdžović built up an umbrella organisation called the “District Committee of the Communist Party in the Sandžak” consisting of a few cells in Bijelo Polje, Novi Pazar, Priboj and Plievlja. He came in contact with Communist ideas for the first time in 1933 during his studies in Belgrade. There he joined a group of young Communists but returned to the Sandžak soon after the German invasion in April 1941.32 In summer 1941, Communist partisan movements in Sandžak were consolidated into the People’s Liberation Movement/Narodno Oslobodilački Pokret (NOP) and the Zemaljsko Antifašističko Vijeće Narodnog Oslobodjenja Sanžaka (ZAVNOS) under the flag of the KPJ. As in Kosovo, and in the Sandžak not all inhabitants endorsed the Communists; some perceived them as part of the oppressive former Serbian state. Indiscriminate reprisals of the Communist partisans against real or alleged collaborators drove many inhabitants to the Četnik partisan movement.

All these parties had their specific intentions, which included establishing a particular political system after the war, and all were looking for allies. The Albanian communists found supporters in the stronger neighbouring communist partisans who were under the leadership of Jozip Broz Tito. During the summer of 1941, the Yugoslav Communist Party even sent two members, already involved in resistance in Kosovo, Dušan Mugoša and Miladin Popović,34 to help build the Albanian Communist Party. However, the Albanian communists had to deal with the intention of the “big brother” to create a Greater Yugoslavia after the war—which meant a Smaller Albania without Kosovo for the Albanians. Mugoša and Popović played an important role later on: Attempts to build an all-in-one umbrella resistance organisation consisting of communists and the diverse nationalist groups of the Balli Kombëtar and the Legaliteti in 1943 finally failed due to the question wether a greater Albanian state or the inclusion of Kosovo into a new Yugoslavia would occur when the war came to an end.

First attempts in the direction of an all-inclusive umbrella resistance organisation date back to 1940 when the British SOE tried to create a united front. This was exhausting work as Amery testifies: “Nevertheless the work made progress. Our couriers passed from Kossovo [sic] into Albania, preaching the aims of the United Front among the tribal chiefs, and gathering political and military information. Soon we were in communication with Muharrem Bairaktar, the lord of the Liuma, who promised his support.”[xxiv] Amery and the SOE in this early phase tried to create a united Balkan front against Fascism. A remarkable fact is, that Mihailović himself established contact with Bairaktar, as they had known each other from earlier Belgrade times.[xxv]

Later on, there were various attempts of the different leaders to share their knowledge and troops and to create a united front against the invaders. Proof of this can be found from the conferences of Peza in 1942, the conference of Mukje in August 1943, and the conference of Labinot in September 1943. As previously mentioned, the project of an umbrella organisation between Communist, Nationalist, and Royalist partisans failed first of all due to the question of a Greater Albania (or a Smaller Albania without Kosovo) but also due to the question of the post-war state structure. After Labinot, the atmosphere completely changed when the communists officially declared the nationalists as enemies of the state.[xxvi]

Even if these opposing groups fought each other fiercely after autumn 1943, the main opponents of all of these partisan units between 1939 and 1943 were the Italian army and the Milizia Fascista Albanese, and from 1941 to 1944 there were various Wehrmachts-divisions, and units of German Waffen-SS and Polizei. Only a few months after the invasion, in summer 1939, the Italians under Governor Jacomoni created the Milzia Fascista Albanese (MFA), the Albanian wing of the Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurrezza Nazionale (MVSN), better known as the infamous Camicie Nere.

They were spurred on by the Italians to fight against their “ethnic enemies” and fought in the Italian campaign against Greece in late 1940 and from April 1941 onward in the borderland to Montenegro and Montenegrin Sandžak against Orthodox Serbs and Montenegrins.[xxvii] When caught by partisans they were often massacred in unusually cruel ways as revenge for war crimes they had committed.[xxviii]

Only one year after the German invasion of the region, in 1942, the

Germans created the so-called Albanisch Muselmanischer SelbstschutzAlbanian Muslim Self Defence units which consisted of Albanian Muslims in the Sandžak region and Northern Kosovo.[xxix] As the name Selbstschutz states, these unit were officially thought of as protection against Četniks and communist partisans in the borderlands. A similar function had the Albanesische Gendarmerie in the Sandžak. In early 1943, the Waffen-SS began its recruitment for the 13th Waffen-Mountain-Division of the SS Handžar not only in Bosnia-Herzegovina but in Sandžak as well. In addition, the 21st Waffen-Mountain-Division of the SS Skanderbeg, which was set up one year later was formed almost entirely from Sandžak and Kosovo inhabitants. The German recruitment efforts of locals for the Waffen-SS were strongly linked to another umbrella organisation, the Second League of Prizren. This organisation was a right wing, traditional and anti-Serbian organisation of clan chiefs and representatives of Kosovo and former Kosovo irrendenta-followers.[xxx] Furthermore, the Germans supported the anti-Italian resistance from 1941 to September 1943 in this territory and the bordering New Albania (the Middle and South Kosovo) in order to create an unstable situation not only for communist partisans and Četniki, but also for the Italians since they were seen as rivals, too. Towns and villages near the German-Italian demarcation line in Sandžak and Kosovo like Kosovska Mitrovica, Novi Pazar, Priština/Prishtina, Peć/Peja or Vučitrn/Vushtrri therefore became consecutive “hot spots” of violence, turntables of diverse resistance groups and refugees, and early centres of Nazi recruitment.[xxxi]


Shades and Grades of the Resistance Movements

All shades of social background were represented in the resistance: Some of the leaders graduated from university and had previous international experiences, like Rifat Burdžović or Muharrem Bajraktari. Some were farmers without any education, incapable of reading or writing. Some were wealthy or descended from an old influential noble family like Gani Kryeziu, and others were poor. The male and female quota differed greatly—in communist organisations in Kosovo, women were represented along with men.[xxxii] In Nationalist units only men fought, since these groups were rooted in patriarchal tribal traditions. The resisters who collaborated with the British liaison officers and fought the Germans were of a colourful political mixture as seen by Amery: “We marched northwards through the afternoon; a rabble army of Zogist tribesmen, Ballist irregulars, and Turkoman deserters.”[xxxiii] Not only Ballist irregulars, but also leaders of the Balli Kombëtar, like Midhat Frasheri and the Zogist Abaz Kupi joined the British mission.[xxxiv] Even though, the historiography of both socialist states –Yugoslavia under Tito and Albania under Enver Hoxha—later accepted only Communist partisans as true resisters. Similar evidence of an early mixed resistance act can be found in the 13 July Uprising in Montenegro and the Montenegrin part of Sandžak. Initiated by the KPJ, this action was a genuinely popular uprising, supported by former officers of the Yugoslav army. During this early rebellion in summer 1941, some Sandžak towns were briefly liberated as well, such as Bijelo Polje, Berane or Andrijevica. However, after the suppression of the uprising, political rivalry among the various resistance groups returned and civil war broke out.[xxxv]

Popular targets among all resistance groups were infrastructural installations like railways or companies, which were involved in the war economy. Hence, the newly recruited SS Skanderbeg division had the task to protect these against partisans: Firstly, the route from Skopje to Mitrovica and Belgrade, and from Peć/Peja towards Montenegro.[xxxvi] However, regional connections were also targets of the Partisans, for example the mountain pass road near Đjakovica/Gjakova.[xxxvii] Secondly, the protection of chrome ore mines in Đjakovica/Gjakova and Kukës and other important objects like the Trepça mines near Mitrovica, which fell into the hands of Tito’s Partisans in the last months of the war.[xxxviii] Thirdly, these tasks should help to maintain “peace and order in the inner Kosovo“ and secure the border of the “new Albanian” territories.[xxxix] As a result of this policy the detention of 510 „Jews, communists and band helpers“ from end of May to July 1944 were reported.[xl]

A military report of the OB Südost (supreme command Southeast) from autumn 1944 proves that the Germans were well informed of the strength and composition of every group.[xli] One last major German antipartisan-operation in the investigated region was the operation Draufgänger (Daredevil) between 18 and 28 July 1944. The aim of the operation was to destroy the base of Tito partisans in Berane in the Montenegrin Sandžak and regain the initiative for the further course of the war.[xlii] During the operation Draufgänger against the partisans in summer 1944, Schmidhuber complained that the terrain was very difficult, the battles hard, and the troops were forced on a daily basis to overcome enormous physical strain due to altitude differences, which varied between 800 and 1000 meters.[xliii] Not surprisingly, the operation failed completely: More than 400 German troops deserted and defected to the partisans.[xliv]

August Schmidhuber, the commander of the Waffen-SS division “Skanderbeg” documented that things had changed: “The enemy in the operation ‘Draufgänger‘ were no longer bandits in the previous sense, but homogenous, well-armed, well-trained units in English uniforms, and remarkably well-led. At the machine guns, the enemy was far superior to our troops. The training level and the combat value of these bandits had proved to be surprisingly good. Troops and command have to be put on an equal footing with a fully-fledged regular European army.”[xlv]

The German operations against the communist partisans of the National Liberation Front and in the bordering territories against Tito’s partisans began in 1943 with some degree of success,[xlvi] but eventually failed. The historian Klaus Schmider stated that these failures especially against the units under Tito’s command were even more remarkable because the partisans were not locals.[xlvii] In addition, in early autumn 1944 another event revealed the weaknesses of the German occupiers. On its way back to the “Reich” while crossing the borderlands of “Greater Albania” and entering Kosovo, communist partisans probably commanded by Fadil Hoxha attacked a convoy of German women. 22 of the 40 German women who were attacked, died and some were taken hostage for ransom. This can be seen as an act of retaliation, for the hanging of several Kosovar women of the Communist resistance by Schmidhuber’s men in August 1944. Hoxha demanded gold for the women’s freedom, the release of Communist prisoners, as well as the release of the British general Davies.[xlviii]

The German Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS got increasingly tangled up in a three-front-running battle, particularly in the Kosovo region: Titopartisans from Montenegro and Sandžak, Albanian communists mostly from the South and from the territory east of Prishtina a BulgarianMacedonian communist unit.[xlix] In this bordering territory of Kosovo, in Tetovo-Gostivar, in September 1944, 1,000 men deserted to the Communist partisans in a single day.[l] However, the decision of other factions, like the Balli Kombëtar and the Zogist movements, to fight the invaders came too late. The Communist won this interim battle when General Davies, shortly before his capture, proclaimed exclusive support for the communist partisans.[li]


The resistance movements of Sandžak and Kosovo had to cope with three dimensions of conflict: the Second Word War as a global conflict; the partisan war against the Fascist and Nazi invaders as a transnational clash; and a local civil war. The complex, multi-faceted puzzle of diverse groups and the decision-making to join one side or the other need to be assessed against that background. In most cases, alliances were often made in a short-term sense—meaning that even unlikely bonds between Četnik formations and nationalist Muslims were possible. The ascertained attempts of divergent resistance factions to build and consolidate multilateral alliances against one threat, namely the German and Italian oppressors, prove their basic understanding for concentration of force. However, all of these groups pursued long-term political, ideological or personal aims, too—especially in relation to the future borders and the political systems after the war: Even if borderlines were provisory and fluid entities for the varying resistant groups in Kosovo and Sandžak regions—frequently crossed, often ignored—the intended borderlines after the war inhibited a common proceeding. At the latest, the Labinot conference in September 1943 showed the insurmountable antagonism between the various factions on the question of a Yugoslavian state including Kosovo and Sandžak or a Greater Albania.




UMR Sirice | « Les Cahiers Sirice », 2019/1 N° 22 | pages 85 à 99 , ISSN 1967-2713


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[i] Julian Amery, Sons of the Eagle: A Study in Guerrilla War, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 1948, p. VII.

[ii] Until today, the discussion about World War II and the various resistance camps remains a highly delicate topic which influences the policies and politics of Southeast European countries. E.g. Sonja Biserko, “25 Years of ICTY. Facing the Past in Serbia and the Region”, Südosteuropa-Mitteilungen, n°2 2018, p. 56-67. Jože Pirjevec’s attempt to write Tito’s biography as complete as possible underlines the unabated charisma of the Yugoslav leader. Jože Pirjevec’s, Tito i drugovi, Belgrade, Laguna, 2014. E.g. of a bias publication on partisans: Miloslav Samardžić, Saradnja partizana sa Nemcima, Ustašama i Albancima, Kragujevac, Delphi, 2006.

[iii] Best known is the example of the Četnik-movement, which became a kind of synonym for new national movements. Therefore, today it is often seen as a monolithic bloc. Nevertheless, the various Četnik formations acted in a very different way, which lasted from resistance through to collaboration.

[iv] On the discussion of transnational history see Michael G. Mueller and Cornelius Torp “Conceptualizing transnational spaces in history”, European Review of History—Revue européenne d’histoire, n°5, 2009, p. 609–617.

[v] Peter Jordan, „Geopolitische Rolle Albaniens“, in Peter Jordan (dir.), Albanien. Geographie, historische Anthropologie, Geschichte, Kultur, postkommunistische Transformation, Wien, Peter Lang, 2003, p. 81.

[vi]https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/30/world/europe/kosovo-serbia.html (viewed on 8/10/2018)

[vii]  Oliver Jens Schmitt, Kosovo. Kurze Geschichte einer zentralbalkanischen Landschaft, Wien, Böhlau, 2008, p. 35, 70-71.

[viii] Tamara Scheer, “Minimale Kosten, absolut kein Blut”. Österreich-Ungarns Präsenz im Sandžak von Novipazar (1879-1908), Frankfurt a. M., Peter Lang, 2013, p. 55.

[ix] Jozo Tomasević, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia 1941-1945, Occupation and Collaboration, Stanford, University Press, 2001, p. 47.

[x] Ibid., p. 62-63, 138-168. Franziska Zaugg, Albanische Muslime in der Waffen-SS, Von „Großalbanien“ zur Division „Skanderbeg“, Paderborn, Schöningh Verlag, 2016, p. 74-77.

[xi] Galeazzo Ciano & Hugh Gibson (dir.), The Ciano Diaries: 1939 1943. The Complete, Unabridged Diaries of Count Galeazzo, Safety Harbor, Simon Publications, 2001 (reprint), p. 69 (4/21/1939), as translated by Samantha Rose Simpson. On the development of Albanian nationalism, see Nathalie Clayer, Aux origines du.

[xii] Albert Ramaj, “Rettung von Juden in Albanien”, Ökumenisches Forum für Religion und Gesellschaft in Ost und West, n°2, 2007, p. 18. Sara Berger, Erwin Lewin, Sanela Schmid, Maria Vassilikou, Verfolgung und Ermordung der Juden 1933-1945, Besetztes

Südosteuropa und Italien, Bd. 14, Berlin; Boston, 2017, p. 83.

[xiii] Abschrift „Kontrolle des Ein- und Durchreiseverkehrs im Kosovogebiet“, Div. Kdr. Schmidhuber, 6/15/1944 (Anlage 10 zu DGA Nr. 3046/44 g.v. 6/23/1944), BArchF, RH 19-XI/9, p. 24.

[xiv] Ibid. Find more detailed information about the concentration camp in Prishtina in Zaugg, Albanische Muslime in der Waffen-SS, p. 256-258;

Berger/Lewin/Schmid/Vassilikou, Verfolgung und Ermordung der Juden, op. cit., p.

[xv] „Zusammenfassender Bericht“ Schmidhuber, 10/2/1944, BArchF, RS 3-21/1, p. 3.

[xvi] On different motivations: Hubert Neuwirth, Widerstand und Kollaboration in Albanien 1939-1944, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 2008, p. 49-50.

[xvii] A Map with various Četniks units in Sandžak and Montenegrin borderlands shows the large variety of different groups. Befehlshaber der Deutschen Truppen in

Kroatien, Gen. Inf. Rudolf Lüters to German Wehrmacht-units, BArchF, RS 40/81, p. 124.

[xviii] Holm Sundhaussen, Geschichte Serbiens, 19.–21. Jahrhundert. Wien, Boehlau, 2007, p. 320-322.

[xix][xix] Zaugg, Albanische Muslime in der Waffen-SS, op. cit., p. 164.

[xx] „Situation in Albania Mai 1943“, Auswertestelle Süd, 8/24/1944 signed by Chef der Heeresarchive Oberstleutnant Neumeister, 8/31/1944, BArchF, RH 18/407.

[xxi] See more on Četnik movements in Enver Redžić, Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Second World War, New York, Oxon, 2005, p. 119-163. E.g. of a Četnik group’s collaborating commitment: Leader of the National Serbian Irregular Troops in Bosnia to Ribbentrop, 3/24/1942, PAAA, R27531.

[xxii] Zaugg, Albanische Muslime in der Waffen-SS, op. cit., p. 67-68.

[xxiii] The local Albanian elites of Kosovo and Sandžak were for example assembled in the “Second League of Prizren” and the “Committee for the Liberation of Kosovo”. For the protection of traditional rights and customs see e.g. Sauberzweig, 13. SS-Division.

[xxiv] Amery, Sons of the Eagle, op. cit., p. 37. Muharrem Bairaktar initially supported the resistance, after the break of the collaboration with the Communists, he decided to form an alliance with the Germans. Neuwirth, Widerstand und Kollaboration, p. 182183, 210. Sundhaussen, Geschichte Serbiens, op. cit., p. 320-322.

[xxv][xxv] Sundhaussen, Geschichte Serbiens, op. cit., p. 320-322.

[xxvi] Zaugg, Albanische Muslime in der Waffen-SS, op. cit., p. 72-73.

[xxvii] Kollegger, Albaniens Wiedergeburt, Wien, Wiener Verlagsgesellschaft, 1942, p. 60-61,Festschrift zum 19. Jahrestag der MVSN, ACS, SPD CO, b. 847, fasc. 500.020/II, p. 65.  Note „Situation in Montenegro“ von Scheiger, 1/3/1942, PAAA, Altes Amt, Tirana 4/3.

[xxviii] Note „Situation in Montenegro“ von Scheiger, 1/3/1942, PAAA, Altes Amt, Tirana 4/3.

[xxix] Some of them were ethnically mixed. The prior aim to join a “self-defence”-unit was to defend the own land, property and family. Kenneth Morrison, Elizabeth Roberts, The Sandžak. A History, London, Hurst & Co. 2013, p. 107.

[xxx] Elsie, Historical Dictionary of Kosovo, op. cit., p. 251. For further information about the newer history of southeastern European Waffen-SS units see Franziska Zaugg, Jacek Andrzej Młynarczyk (dir.), “Ost- und Südosteuropaeer in der Waffen-SS. Kulturelle Aspekte und historischer Kontext“, Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, n°7-8, 2017. Xavier Bougarel, Korb Alexander, Stefan Petke, Franziska Zaugg, “Muslim SS Units in the Balkans and the Soviet Union”, in Jochen Böhler, Robert Gerwarth (dir.), The Waffen-SS. A European History, Oxford, University Press, 2016, p. 252-283.

[xxxi] Zaugg, Albanische Muslime in der Waffen-SS, op. cit., p. 177-192. On refugees who fled from Kosovo to Montenegrin territories under Italian control after the 1941’s invasion see: Tomasevich, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, op. cit., p. 139.

[xxxii] Ibid., p. 273-274.

[xxxiii] Amery, Sons of the Eagle, op. cit., p. 289.

[xxxiv] Ibid., p. 286-289.

[xxxv] Morrison, Roberts, The Sandžak, op. cit., p. 108-111.

[xxxvi] Letter Kopf to Leopold Stütz, 5/28/1964, BArchF, N 756/182a.

[xxxvii] Prisoner report Schrader, VA HEM.OK.BOJCKA, 72A/1a/34, S. 2.

[xxxviii] Elsie, Historical Dictionary of Kosovo, op. cit., p. 274.

[xxxix] Report Schmidhuber, 5/31/1944, BArchF, RH 19 XI/9.

[xl] „Report of the situation“, Gen.Kdo. XXI. Geb.AK, 7/13/1944, NARA, T314/664,

  1. 227. Zaugg, Albanische Muslime in der Waffen-SS, op. cit., p. 255.

[xli] Report “Entwicklung der militärischen Lage in Albanien im Herbst 1944”, OB Südost, Name unlesbar, undatiert, BArchF, RW 40/116a.

[xlii] Schmider, Partisanenkrieg, op. cit., p. 505.

[xliii] Combat report of the operation “Draufgänger” vom 7/18-7/28/1944, Schmidhuber, Lagebeurteilung 7/22/1944, NARA, T314/664, p. 283.

[xliv] Schmider, Partisanenkrieg, op. cit., p. 506.

[xlv] Ibid., p. 505.

[xlvi] For example the winter offensive 1943/44, cp. Neuwirth, Widerstand und Kollaboration, op. cit., p. 199.

[xlvii] Schmider, Partisanenkrieg, op. cit., p. 547.

[xlviii] Zaugg, Albanische Muslime in der Waffen-SS, op. cit., p. 273-274. Mitteilung Schliep (in Kitzbühel) über AA an Neubacher, 10/22/1944, PAAA, Handakten Botschafter

Ritter, R27772.

[xlix] Zaugg, Albanische Muslime in der Waffen-SS, op. cit., p. 259.

[l] „Zusammenfassender Bericht“ Schmidhuber, 10/2/1944, BArchF, RS 3-21/1, p. 7.

[li] Bernd J. Fischer, Albania at War, 1939–1945, West Lafayette, Purdue University Press, 1999, p. 204.


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