This talk sets forth background to the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Particular emphasis is on the relationship between the Muslim and Serb minorities in that unfortunate nation, and the development of the 1999 NATO campaign in Kosovo. Beginning with discussion of the oppression of Serbs in the Ottoman empire, the lecture discusses the privileged status of Slovenia and Croatia during the Austro-Hungarian empire’s occupation of what is now Yugoslavia. The divisions that stemmed from the two empires’ occupation of the Balkans had much to do with setting the stage for the current conflicts.
The talk then outlines the history of Yugoslavia during World War II, with particular emphasis on the Axis nations’ use of ethnic Albanians and Bosnian Muslims. Kosovo was granted nominal autonomy during the Axis occupation of the Balkans, and the Trepca mining complex (in Kosovo) provided the Germans with mineral resources that were essential to the German war effort. (The Trepca mining complex is the most valuable piece of economic real estate in the former Yugoslavia.)
Though largely ignored in most histories of World War II, Nazi Germany’s use of ethnic Muslim populations significantly affected the course of events during World War II in a number of areas, the Balkans in particular. The Nazis formed and operated Muslim Waffen SS divisions in the former Yugoslavia. Utilizing the versatile Haj Amin Al-Husseini (self-styled “Grand Mufti of Jerusalem,” Nazi espionage agent, SS Major, Palestinian nationalist leader), the Waffen SS successfully recruited from among Muslim populations in the Balkans, Middle East and Soviet Union. In the former Yugoslavia, the Nazis formed a Bosnian Muslim division, the 13th Waffen SS Division (named Hanjar or Handzar.) Recruiting for the division from among the ranks of the Young Muslims, was none other than Alija Izetbegovic, the first President of Bosnia.
Next, the lecture focuses on his resurrection of the Hanjar division after becoming President of Bosnia! Trained by veterans of the Afghan conflict and composed largely of ethnic Albanians, the new Hanjar division was explicitly named after, and specifically and overtly patterned on, the 13th Waffen SS division of Izetbegovic’s youth. In addition to serving as a Praetorian guard, administering to the personal security of Izetbegovic and other members of the leadership in Sarajevo, Hanjar functions as a “special forces” division, backing up other units and working closely with Mujahadeen formations.
The discussion highlights observations by UN personnel serving with peacekeeping forces in areas where the Hanjar operated. Noting the large ethnic Albanian representation in Hanjar, one observer expressed the fear in 1993 that the fighting might very well spread to Kosovo. (Subsequent events have borne out his fears.) By 1995, elements of Hanjar were infiltrating into Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia.
The lecture highlights the Skanderbeg Division, a Waffen SS division composed of ethnic Albanians, largely from Kosovo. Many members of the KLA are the sons and grandsons of men who fought with the 21st Waffen SS or Skanderbeg Division, and the KLA has sustained much of its fascist heritage. Never much of a fighting unit, Skanderbeg helped round up Kosovo’s Jewish population, fought against the Yugoslavian Partisans, and helped safeguard the successful German retreat from Greece and Albania. In light of the fact that German intelligence actively supported the KLA in the mid-to late 90’s, it is not irrelevant to ask whether some of the Waffen SS connections to the area may have figured in the shaping of events there.
In this context, one should bear in mind that the Waffen SS has its own branch of the ODESSA network, abbreviated HIAG. (The ODESSA is the post-World II SS underground, inextricably linked with U.S. and German intelligence, as well as the deadly Bormann Organization.) In addition to the 13th (Hanjar) and 21st (Skanderbeg) Divisions, the Germans also formed the 23rd (Kama) Division from Balkan Muslim populations.
Lecture Highlights Include: The KLA’s involvement in organized crime activities (drug smuggling i particular); collaboration between Germany and Croatian fascists, dating from the time of World War II; Western de-stabilization efforts against Yugoslavia during the 1980s; the functional autonomy granted to ethnic Albanians in Kosovo under the Tito government; the ethnic Albanians’ use of this autonomy to oppress the Serbian minority in the province; Milosevic’s rise in the Yugoslavian Communist party; Milosevic’s retraction of Albanian autonomy in Kosovo; a secret trip to Germany in the 1980s by Franjo Tudjman (president of Croatia), in order to lay the groundwork for Croatian secession from Yugoslavia; a synoptic history of the Croatian fascist movement, its alliance with Germany, and its murderous persecution of Serbs during World War II; a 2 billion-dollar, interest-free loan to finance Croatian independence (arranged by the American branch of the Knights of Malta); the Vatican’s role in establishing the myth of the Serbs as the last bastion of hard-line, Soviet-style communism in Europe; German parroting and dissemination of the Vatican propaganda line about Yugoslavia; Vatican endorsement of Croatian and Slovenian independence from Yugoslavia; Croatia’s human rights abuses against Serbs living in Croatia (they were fired from government jobs, denied employment in the media, subjected to heavy taxation, forced to carry identity cards identifying them as Serbs and, finally, ethnically cleansed); the Croatian clergy’s blessing of the ethnic cleansing of 250,000 Serbs in 1991 and 92; the Islamic fundamentalism and anti-democratic orientation of Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic; the overriding and extreme bias against the Serbs in Western diplomatic and military policy; the exaggeration and/or fabrication of war crimes evidence against the Serbs during the various Balkans wars; Germany’s arming of the Croatian armed forces in the early 90s; how Germany bludgeoned the rest of the European Union into endorsing the breakup of Yugoslavia (the EU initially voted 11 to 1 in favor of maintaining the unity of the Yugoslav Federation.) (Recorded at Foothill College in July of 1999.)