The Skenderbeg SS Division and the Holocaust
The 21st SS Division Skanderbeg played a role in the Holocaust or Shoah, the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem,the extermination of European Jewry. The first operation of Skanderbeg in Kosovo-Metohija was the raid on Kosovo Jews in Pristina which occurred on May 14,1944. The Albanian Kosovar SS troops raided apartments and homes where Kosovo Jews lived, looted their possessions, and rounded them up for deportation to the death camps. Kosovo Jews were subsequently placed in makeshift jails. The 21st SS Division Skanderbeg apprehended 281 Kosovo Jews, which included men, women, and children.From May to June, 1944, Skanderbeg apprehended a total of 519 Kosovo Serbs and Jews.
During the initial German occupation of Pristina in 1941 before it was turned over to Italian administration, the property of Kosovo Jews was seized and they were conscripted for forced labor like Kosovo Serbs. In Kosovska Mitrovica, Jewish shops and stores were closed down and Kosovo Jews were ordered to wear a yellow band to identify themselves as Jews. The seizure of Jewish property was organized and conducted by the Gestapo and members of the Albanian Committee. On May 20, 1941, Dzafer Deva, the leader of the Mitrovica district, ordered the seizure of Jewish property. Jewish businesses were supervised by members of the Albanian Committee. The seizure of Jewish businesses and property was conducted by Mamut Perijuc, Ramiz Mulic, and Osman Ibrahimovic, who worked in conjuction with the German Gestapo. Ibrahimovic was the head of the commission overseeing Jewish property. He ordered the demolition of the Jewish synagogue and the destruction of papers and documents in the Jewish archive.In Pristina, the seizure of Jewish property and anti-Jewish measures were undertaken by the Kosovar Albanian regime placed in control and members of the Albanian Kosovo Committee, Maljus Kosova, president of the Committee, Dzemal beg Ismail Kanli, head of the police, Rasid Memedali, and Rifat Sukri Ramadan.
Yugoslav Jewish survivors blame the Kosovar Albanian Committee for inciting the first and second internments of Kosovo Jews. In the Jewish historical archives of Yugoslavia, the role of the 21st SS Division in the Holocaust and in the genocide of Kosovo Jews and Serbs is described as follows: "From May 25 to July 2, 1944 the Division "Skanderbeg" apprehended 510 Jews, Serbs...They were put in jails, while 249 were sent as forced laborers to the Reich."
The Skanderbeg Division played a hitherto unacknowledged role in the Holocaust, the genocide of European Jewry. In Kosovo: A Short History, Noel Malcolm noted that in the Djakovica region of Kosovo-Metohija, the Skanderbeg Division engaged in "the round-up and deportation of 281 Jews" to the concentration-extermination camps in May, 1944. According to Malcolm, "they took part in the most shameful episode in Kosovoís wartime history." Malcolm, for the most part, ignored the actions or war crimes of the Skanderbeg Division against the Kosovo Serbian population during the same period. Of these 281 Kosovo Jews which the Kosovars deported, more than 200 were killed by the Germans at the Nazi death camp of Belsen. By 1945, 210 of the 551 Kosovo Jews known to reside in Kosovo had been killed.The division sought to create an ethnically pure, homogenous Kosovo, supported by Italy and Germany, a Kosovo ethnically cleansed of Orthodox Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, and other non-Albanians, the untermenschen rayah, not part of "enlightened Latin Christendom", not part of the so-called West, not Aryans, but Slavs, who were targeted for extermination.
During the occupation of Kosovo-Metohija by Nazi Germany during World War II, an Albanian Waffen SS Division, Skanderbeg, was formed which committed war crimes against the Serbian Orthodox and Jewish populations which constituted genocide and crimes against humanity. The Skanderbeg Division engaged in a systematic policy of ethnic cleansing against the Kosovo Serbian and Jewish populations. This genocide contributed to the Albanian goal and policy to create an ethnically pure and homogenous Kosovo.
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