Template:History of Serbia The Kingdom of Serbia was one of the main parties in the Balkan Wars during the early twentieth century. Serbia, victorious in two Balkan wars, gained significant territorial areas of the Central Balkans and almost doubled its territory. During the Balkan Wars of 1912, most of Kosovo was taken from the Ottoman Empire by the Kingdom of Serbia while the region of Metohija (known as the Dukagjini Valley to ethnic Albanians) was taken by the Kingdom of Montenegro. Over the centuries, populations of ethnic Serbs and Albanians tended to shift following territorial handovers. As a result of the multi-ethnic composition of Kosovo, the new administrations provoked a mixed response from the local population. Whilst Albanians did not welcome Serbian rule, the non-Albanian population in Kosovo (largely Serb but other Slavic ethnicities too) considered this a liberation.
After the First Balkan War of 1912, Kosovo was internationally recognised as a part of Serbia and northern Metohija as a part of Montenegro at the Treaty of London in May 1913. In 1918, Serbia became a part of the newly-formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later named Yugoslavia. Disagreements regarding the territory of Macedonia among the members of the Balkan League led to the Second Balkan War. Here, Serbia and Greece fought against Bulgaria in 1913. Finalisations concerning which country took which parts were ratified at the Treaty of Bucharest the same year. Serbia came to control the land which became known as Vardar Macedonia, which today stands independent as the Republic of Macedonia.
At the end of 1912, the Kingdom of Serbia occupied most of the land of Albania and the Albanian Adriatic coast. Montenegro troops were still in part of Northern Albania around Shkodër. During the occupation in 1912 and 1913, Serbian and Montenegrin armies committed numerous crimes against the local Albanian population. In order to investigate the crimes, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace formed a special commission, which was sent to the Balkans in 1913. Summing the situation in Albanian areas, the Commission concludes:
The number of victims in the Kosovo Vilayet under Serbian control in the first few months was estimated at about 25,000 people. The Serbian government has officially denied reports on war crimes. After this war, Kosovo was part of Kingdom of Serbia again. These events have greatly contributed to the growth of the Serbian-Albanian conflict.
Campaign in Albania
Prior to the outbreak of the First Balkan War, the Albanian nation was fighting for a national state. At the end of 1912, after the Porte recognised the autonomy of Albania, the Balkan League (comprising three neighboring states: Serbia, Montenegro and Greece; along with Bulgaria) jointly attacked the Ottoman Empire and during the next few months partitioned all Ottoman territory inhabited by Albanians. The Kingdom of Serbia and the Kingdom of Greece occupied most of the land of what is today Albania and other lands inhabited by Albanians on the Adriatic coast. Montenegro occupied a part of today's northern Albania around Shkodër.
At the dawn of the Balkan wars, Serbia had aspirations of reclaiming "historic Serbian territory" beyond its southern border, which was called Old Serbia. On the eve of the war, Serbian propaganda implemented a strong anti-Albanian campaign.
In particular, Serbia had strong aspirations to take part of the Albanian Adriatic coast:
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In 1912, with the outbreak of the First Balkan War, the Albanians rose up and declared the creation of an independent Albania, which included today's Albania and the Vilayet of Kosovo. At the end of 1912, after the Porte recognised the autonomy of Albania, neighboring Balkan states Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Greece jointly attacked the Ottoman Empire and during the next few months partitioned nearly all Ottoman territories in Europe, including those inhabited by the Albanians.
The Kingdom of Serbia occupied most of the Albanian inhabited lands. Serbian general Božidar Janković was the Commander of the Serbian Third Army during the military campaign in Albania. The Serbian army met strong Albanian guerrilla resistance, led by Isa Boletini, Azem Galica and others. During the campaign, General Janković forced notables and local tribal leaders to sign a declaration of gratitude to King Petar I Karađorđević admitting to "Liberation by the Serbian army".
During the campaign, the Serbian army committed numerous crimes against the Albanian population "with a view to the entire transformation of the ethnic character of these regions." After the Luma massacre, the Daily Telegraph reported the following: "All the horrors of history have been outdone by the atrocious conduct of the troops of General Jankovic". The Serbian government has officially denied reports of war crimes.
During the First Balkan War of 1912-13, Serbia and Montenegro – after expelling the Ottoman forces in present-day Albania and Kosovo – committed numerous war crimes against the Albanian population, which were reported by the European, American and Serbian opposition press. In order to investigate the crimes, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace formed a special commission, which was sent to the Balkans in 1913. Summing the situation in Albanian areas, Commission concludes:
The goal of the forced expulsions and massacres of ethnic Albanians was a statistic manipulation before the London Ambassadors Conference which was to decide on the new Balkan borders. The number of victims in the Vilayet of Kosovo under Serbian control in the first few months was estimated at about 25,000 people. Highest estimated number of total casualties during the occupation in all the Albanian areas under Serbian control was about 120,000 Albanians of both sexes and all ages.
Even one Serb Social Democrat who had served in the army previously commented on the disgust he had for the crimes his own people had committed against the Albanians, describing in great detail heaps of dead, headless Albanians in the centers of a string of burnt towns near Kumanovo and Skopje:
Please note that the following names of settlements are primarily listed by their Turkish language names to reflect the English name of the cities for the time in question.
During the attack of Serbian army on Priştine (present-day Pristina) in October 1912, the Albanians (led by Turkish officers) abused the white flag on the city fortress, and this way killed many Serbian soldiers. Then came the brutal retaliation of the Serbian army. Reports said that immediately upon entering the city, the Serbian army began hunting the Albanians and created a bloodshed by decimating the Albanian population of Pristina.
Once Ferizoviç (present-day Uroševac (Template:Lang-sq)) fell to Serbia, the local Albanian population gave a determined resistance. According to some reports, the fight for Ferizoviç lasted three days. After the fall of the city to the Serbian Army, the Serbian commander ordered the population to go back home and to surrender the weapons. When the survivors returned, between 300–400 people were massacred. Following that, Albanian villages around Ferizoviç were destroyed.
Yakova (present-day Đakovica (Template:Lang-sq)) was mentioned among the cities that suffered at the hands of the Serbian-Montenegrin army. The New York Times reported that people on the gallows hung on both sides of the road, and that the way to Yakova became a "gallows alley." In the region of Yakova, the Montenegrin police-military formation Kraljevski žandarmerijski kor, known as krilaši, committed many abuses and violence against the Albanian population.
In Yakova, Serbian priests carried out a violent conversion of Albanian Catholics to Serbian Orthodoxy. Vienna Neue Freie Presse (20 March 1913) reported that Orthodox priests with the help of military force converted 300 Đakovica Catholics in the Orthodox faith, and that Franciscan Pater Angelus, who refused to renounce his faith, was tortured and then killed with bayonets. The History Institute in Pristina has claimed that Montenegro converted over 1,700 Albanian Catholics in the Serbian Orthodox faith in the area of Đakovica in March 1913.
After the Serbian army achieved control over the city of Prizren, it imposed repressive measures against the Albanian civilian population. Serbian detachments broke into houses, plundered, committed acts of violence, and killed indiscriminately. Around 400 people were "eradicated" in the first days of the Serbian military administration. During those days bodies were lying everywhere on the streets. According to witnesses, during those days around Prizren lay about 1,500 corpses of Albanians. Foreign reporters were not allowed to go to Prizren. After the operations of the Serbian military and paramilitary units, Prizren became one of the most devastated cities of the Kosovo vilayet and people called it "the Kingdom of Death". Eventually, General Božidar Janković forced surviving Albanian leaders of Prizren to sign a statement of gratitude to the Serbian king Peter I Karađorđević for their liberation. It is estimated that 5,000 Albanians were massacred in the area of Prizren.
When General Janković saw that the Albanians of Luma would not allow Serbian forces to continue the advance to the Adriatic Sea, he ordered the troops to continue their brutality. The Serbian army massacred an entire population of men, women and children, not sparing anyone, and burned 27 villages in the area of Luma. Reports spoke of the atrocities by the Serbian army, including the burning of women and children related to the stack of hay, within the sight of fathers. Subsequently, about 400 men from Luma surrendered to Serbian authorities, but were taken to Prizren, where they were murdered. The Daily Telegraph wrote that "all the horrors of history have been outdone by the atrocious conduct of the troops of General Janković".
The second Luma massacre was committed the following year (1913). After the London Ambassador Conference decided that Luma should be within the Albanian state, the Serbian army initially refused to withdraw. Albanians raised a great rebellion in September 1913, after which Luma once again suffered harsh retaliation from the Serbian army.
In December 1913, the official report was sent to the Great Powers with details of the slaughter of Albanians in Luma and Debar executed after the proclamation of the amnesty by Serbian authorities. The report listed the names of people killed by Serbian units in addition to the causes of death:, such as by burning, slaughtering, bayoneting, or other methods. The report also provided a detailed list of the burned and looted villages in the area of Luma and Has.
Under strong international pressure, Balkan neighbors in 1913 were forced to withdraw from the territory of the internationally-recognized state of Albania. The new Principality of Albania included only about half of the ethnic Albanian territory, while a large number of Albanians remained in neighboring countries. These events greatly contributed to the growth of the Serbian-Albanian conflict:
After this war, Kosovo belonged to Serbia and was placed under military rule. According to the Report of the International Commission on the Balkan Wars, Serbia considered annexed territories "as a dependency, a sort of conquered colony, which these conquerors might administer at their good pleasure". Newly acquired territories were subjected to military dictatorship, and were not included in the Serbian constitutional system. The opposition press demanded the rule of law for the population of the annexed territories and the extension of the constitution of the Kingdom of Serbia to these regions.
As a result of the Treaty of London in 1913 which legally awarded the former Ottoman lands to Serbia, Montenegro and Greece (namely, the large part of the Vilayet of Kosovo being awarded to Serbia), an independent Albania was recognised. As such, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro agreed to withdraw from the territory of the new Principality of Albania. However, the principalty included only about half of the territory populated by ethnic Albanians and a large number of Albanians remained in neighboring countries.
Immediately after the annexation of Vardar Macedonia to the Kingdom of Serbia, the Slavic population of Macedonia were faced with a policy of forced Serbianisation. Those who declared themselves to be Bulgarians were tortured, imprisoned or deported to Bulgaria. Many of the high clergy of Bulgarian Orthodox Church were expelled: Cosmas of Debar (Bishop), Axentius of Bitola (Archbishop), Neophytus of Skopje, Meletius of Veles, Boris of Ohrid and others.
The Bulgarian population of Macedonia was forced to declare themselves Serbian. Those who refused were beaten and tortured. The worst crimes were committed by the Serbian secret military organization "Black Hand". Prominent Bulgarian individuals and teachers from Skopje who refused to declare themselves as Serbs were deported to Bulgaria. Serbian authorities carried out ethnic cleansing within the policy that whosoever calls himself an Bulgarian must betake himself to Bulgaria. The International Commission concluded that the Serbian state started in Macedonia a wide sociological experiment of "assimilation through terror."
Specific denials related to Balkan Wars have included:
During the Balkan Wars, the Serbian government has countered most reports of Serbian Army atrocities with official denials. Writing about Serbian war crimes denials in 1913, Austrian socialist Leo Freundlich stated that "such grave and detailed accusations cannot be repudiated by a simple statement that the events in question did not occur". He concluded that different international reports from various sources have more weight in any court of human justice than all the formal denials issued by the Serbian Press Office.
Military groups reported of committing war crimes
- Archbishop Lazër Mjeda: Report on the Serb Invasion of Kosovo and Macedonia Cite error: Invalid
<ref>tag; name "Archbishop" defined multiple times with different content
- Leo Freundlich: Albania's Golgotha
- Robert Elsie, The Conference of London 1913
- Miranda Vickers, The Albanians: a modern history
- Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan War (1914)
- Dimitrije Tucović, Srbija i Arbanija (in Izabrani spisi, book II, pp. 56) Prosveta, Beograd, 1950.
- Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia at peace and at war: selected writings, 1983 - 2007, by Sabrina P. Ramet
- The policy of ethnic cleansing
- Civil resistance in Kosovo, by Howard Clark (p. 9, 10)
- Otpor okupaciji i modernizaciji
- Justice, Intervention and Force in International Relations, by Kimberly A. Hudson
- Kosta Novaković, Srbizacija i kolonizacija Kosova
- The New York Times, 31. december 1912.
- Leo Trotsky: Behind the Curtains of the Balkan Wars
- Civil resistance in Kosovo, by Howard Clark
- Krilaši, Istorijski leksikon Crne Gore, Daily Press, Podgorica, 2006.
- Zef Mirdita, Albanci u svjetlosti vanjske politike Srbije
- EXPULSIONS OF ALBANIANS AND COLONISATION OF KOSOVA II (The Institute of History, Pristina)
- Dole in Dibra: Official Report Submitted to the Great Powers
- Dejan Đokić (2003). Yugoslavism: histories of a failed idea, 1918-1992. C. Hurst & Co.. p. 123. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZMyZdvTympMC&pg=PA123.
- R. J. Crampton (1997). Eastern Europe in the twentieth century - and after. Routledge. p. 20. http://books.google.com/books?id=SGnKpNf2RbAC&pg=PA20.
- Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars (p. 52)
- Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars (p. 165)
- Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars (p. 53)
- Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars (p. 169)
- Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars (p. 177)
- The Serbian Denials