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Brothers with the Yugoslavs

Josip Tito
Josip Tito

Because in Kosovo, as opposed to Albania, communism was associated with the Serbs and thus with Yugoslavia - and reincorporating Kosovo into it - Tito and his Partisans found it hard to recruit Albanians. The Germans and Italians also skilfully played up these points, so in the end, writes Judah, the communists resorted to what amounted to a ruse in their bid to gain support."

Meeting in Bujan, in northern Albania, over the new year of 1943-4, the two Yugoslav Communist committees which covered Kosovo issued a key declaration:

Kosovo-Metohija is an area with a majority Albanian population, which, now as always in the past, wishes to be united with Albania…The only way that the Albanians of Kosovo-Metohija can be united with Albania is through a common struggle with other peoples of Yugoslavia against the occupiers and their lackeys. For the only way freedom can be achieved is if all the peoples, including the Albanians, have the possibility of deciding their own destiny, with the right to self-determination, up to and including secession.

Right up to the end of the war, the Partisans were never able to recruit significant numbers of Kosovo Albanians to join them. However, those that did come to the colours in 1944 did so comfortable in the belief that they were fighting not just for Communism but for an Albania in which Kosovo would be included. They were to be betrayed. The return of Yugoslav forces was resisted in several areas, especially Drenica. Here widespread fighting broke out when troops led by Shaban Polluzha, a former member of the Albanian nationalist Balli Kombëtar, who had gone over to the Partisans, refused to be sent north to help crush German resistance in Croatia. He had become angry because he, like others, had thought that the Yugoslav Partisans would soon be replaced by troops from Albania. At the same time it was discovered that a massacre of 250 men had taken place in Skenderaj, which is called Srbica in Serbian. Skenderaj is a mile away from Donji Prekaz, where the 1998 uprising began, and five miles away from Galica

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