In the Associated Press story “Albanian family honored for helping Jews”, Marcus Franklin rehashed and regurgitated the Albanian propaganda claim that Albanians “rescued” Jews during the Holocaust and played no role in the Holocaust. This is a total falsification, distortion, and manipulation of the Albanian role in the Holocaust.
The Holocaust Chronicle, researched by prominent Holocaust historians and scholars, documents that 10 to 12 Jews from Albania proper were sent to the Nazi death camp at Bergen-Belsen. This research disproves the Albanian propaganda claim that 100% of Albanian Jews were “rescued” during the Holocaust. Moreover, Harvey Sarner reported that the Ardel family, an Albanian Jewish family, was killed by the Nazis in Albania proper, although he qualified this by saying they were killed because they were partisans, not because they were Jews.
|Albanian Nazi Waffen SS Unterscharfuehrer in the Bosnian Muslim 13th SS Division Handzar. He would be transferred to the Albanian 21st Nazi SS Division Skanderbeg. The Albanian Nazi SS troops are wearing the SS-issued gray Albanian skullcaps or Albanerfez. (Source: Siegrunen, Albanian SS Volunteers, 55, January 1994. ISSN 0733-0367.)|
Two factors explain why Albanian Jews were “rescued” in Albania proper. First, the Italian occupation authorities did not support the Final Solution in Albania and did not implement it. Albanian Jews were allowed to disperse within the population and to lose their Jewish identity. Second, there were only 33 known Jewish families in Albania proper before the war. The Wannsee Conference listed only 200 Jews in Albania. Italian non-enforcement of the Final Solution and the minuscule Jewish population, dispersed in the rural areas, explains why so few Jews were sent to the death camps.
But the Albanian governmentÂ did make a major effort to exterminate all the Jews of Albania proper.
In a July, 1944 report by US intelligence, the OSS, on Albania entitled â€œPolitical and Internal Conditionsâ€, it was reported that â€œXhafer Deva, Rexhep Mitrovic[a] and Midhat Frasheri are with the Germans. … Anti-semitic measures are being adopted now. A captured SS document â€œrevealed that Deva had been responsible for the deportation of â€˜Jews, Communists and partisansâ€™ to extermination camps as well as for punitive raids by the SS Skanderbeg Division. The small mountain territory had few Jews, so relatively few were captured and killed.â€ This proves that the Albanian government instituted anti-Semitic measures and did deport Albanian Jews to the death camps.
Christopher Simpson, in Blowback: Americaâ€™s Recruitment of Nazis and its Effects on the Cold War, noted that relatively few Jews were captured and killed but â€œnot for lack of trying by the Balli Kombetar organization and the Albanian SSâ€ which had orchestrated â€œa series of anti-semitic purges that rounded up about 800 people, the majority of whom were deported and murdered.â€ There was no “lack of trying” by the Albanian government. Anna Kohen recites only selective instances when Albanian Jews escaped capture and deportation. The Albanian government, however, did try to round up and deport and to kill every single Albanian Jew.
The Albanian government and Albanian authorities took an active part in the extermination of Albanian Jews: â€œIn June, 1943â€¦the Albanian police chief suggested the jailing of certain Jews:
â€˜According to our investigation the Jews listed below are dangerous because they are propaganderizing [sic] against the Axis (Rome-Berlin) and they want to organize and hold meetings. We think these people should be taken away from here as soon as possible to one of the concentration fields, because their staying here could be dangerous to the regime.â€™â€
Sarner conceded that the Albanian government and the Albanian people did play a major role in the Holocaust and Final Solution: â€œIn April, 1944, the Germans shipped 400 Jews from the annexed territories to Bergen-Belsen; 100 survived the war.â€
|A company of the Albanian Nazi SS Division Skanderbeg awaiting orders in the Kosovo-Metohija city of Pec, 1944. The Albanian Nazi SS troops, wearing the SS-issued gray Albanian skullcaps, areÂ assembled under a large Albanian flag between two Nazi swastika banners.|
The 21st Albanian Nazi SS Division Skanderbeg played a key role in the Holocaust. This Nazi SS Division was made up of Albanians from Albania proper and Kosovo. The first operation of Skanderbeg in Kosovo-Metohija was the raid on Kosovo Jews in Pristina on May 14,1944. The Albanian SS troops raided apartments and homes belonging to Kosovo Jews and looted their possessions, and rounded them up for deportation to the death camps. Kosovo Jews were then placed in makeshift jails. The 21st SS Division Skanderbeg apprehended 281 Kosovo Jews, which included men, women, and children. From May to June 1944, the Nazi SS Division Skanderbeg apprehended a total of 519 Kosovo Jews and Serbs.
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. 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.
Albanians collaborated with the Nazis in exterminating the 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 had been put under the supervision of members of the Albanian Committee.
The seizure of Jewish businesses and property was conducted by Albanians: 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. This Albanian leader 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 by 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. Albanians were collaborating with the Germans in expropriating the property of Jews.
Yugoslav Jewish survivors put the responsibility on 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 Albanian role in the Holocaust does not end here. In fact, Albanians made up two Nazi SS Divisions, Skanderbeg and Handzar, the 13th Nazi SS Division formed in Bosnia and made up of Bosnian Muslim and Albanian Muslim Nazi SS troops.
The role of Albania and of Albanians in the Holocaust has been carefully falsified, manipulated, and covered-up.