10. The conquest/ liberation of Kosovo 1912

In the first months of 1912, Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Greece had forged a Balkan alliance to prepare to stage war against the Ottomans. As part of this alliance the Serbian Army moved into Kosovo in October 1912 starting a campaign that would take them through Albania to the Adriatic coast.
The Serbs thereby regained territories which they had lost in 1389, the cradle of Serbia. Independent historical sources have recorded the particular brutality used by the advancing Serb army and their allies. Thousands of Albanians were killed, mutilated, and violently abused, their villages and homes were systematically destroyed. Historians have concluded that the scale of these atrocities was aimed at changing the demographics of the Kosovo area to strengthen the territorial demands of these Balkan states.

The Serbian army conquered Kosovo in October 1912 and headed for other parts of Northern and Middle Albania. Conquest by the armies of neighbouring states was accompanied by bloody terrorist acts against the Albanian people, who were the victims of violence and nationalist terror exercised by Balkan states.

[Rexhepi, Fehmi and Frashër Demaj. Historia 5. Prishtina: Libri Shkollor, 2013, pages 68-77; Bajraktari, Jusuf, Fehmi Rexhepi and Frashër Demaj. Historia 10. Prishtina: Libri Shkollor, 2011, pages 74-81; Abdyli, Ramiz and Emine Bakalli. Historia 11. Prishtina:
Libri Shkollor, 2012, pages 188-195; Bajraktari, Jusuf and Arbër Salihu. Historia 12. Prishtina: Libri Shkollor, 2013, pages 144- 154.]

The Third Serbian Army liberated Kosovo with a lightning thrust and went on to penetrate to the Adriatic Sea. On 23 October 1912, on the plain where the Battle of Kosovo was fought in 1389, the Serbs celebrated the liberation of Kosovo, the cradle of Serbian nationhood, which many generations had waited for during the nineteenth century. There is no mention of the crimes committed by Serbian forces between October 1912 and March 1913.

[Đurić, Đorđe and Momčilo Pavlović. Istorija 3. Belgrade: Zavod za udžbenike, 2010, page 67.]

After the Ottoman regiments had started to leave Kosovo at the end of September 1912 and with the declaration of war by Montenegro, and later by other members of the Balkan League (Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece) against the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of October 1912, Serb forces entered Kosovan territory. The Albanians decided not to take part in the war between the Balkan Allies and the Ottomans. Thus on 23 October 1912, on the plain where the 1389 Battle of Kosovo had been fought, the Serbs celebrated ‘…the liberation of Kosovo, the cradle of Serbian statehood, which many generations had waited for during the nineteenth century.’

The report, Albania’s Golgotha, written by the Austrian Social Democrat Leo Freundlich, says that the number of Albanians killed at the end of 1912 and the beginning of 1913 was as many as 25 000. These crimes are mentioned in articles of the war correspondent Leon Trotsky for the Russian and Ukrainian daily newspapers, and the findings of the ‘Report of the International Commission for Investigation into the Causes and Conflict of the Balkan Wars’ drafted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Likewise, the Serbian Social Democrats Dimitrije Tucović, Kosta Novaković, Dušan Popović, Dragiša Lapčević and Triša Kaclerović also mention these crimes in articles published in the Belgrade socialist newspaper, “Radnićke Novine”.

[Malcolm, Noel. Kosovo – A Short History. London: Pan Macmillan, 2002, pages 245-257; Schmitt, Oliver. Kosova: histori e shkurtër e një treve qendrore ballkanike. Prishtina: Koha, 2012, pages134-142; Schmitt, Oliver. Shqiptarët – një histori midis Lindjes dhe Perëndimit. Tirana: K&B, 2012, pages 168-169; Bartl, Peter. Shqipëria – nga mesjeta deri sot. Prizren: Drita, 1999, pages 123-131; Schwartz, Stephen. Kosovo: Background to a War. London: Anthem Press, 2000, pages 41-42; Gawrych, George. Gjysmëhëna dhe shqiponja – sundimi otoman, islamizimi dhe shqiptarët 1874-1913. Tirana: Bota Shqiptare, 2007, pages 291-301; Castelan, Georges. Histori e Ballkanit. Tirana: Çabej, 1996, pages 390-396; Freundlich, Leo. Golgota e Shqipërisë. Prishtina: Rrokullia, 2010. Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conflict of the Balkan Wars. Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1914.]