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L‑7 The Balkans War

Down­load MP3s: Part 1 [1] Part 2 [2] Part 3 [3] Part 4 [4] (Approx. 152 min­utes)

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.)