German ambassador on Xhafer Deva’s house restoration: This is memory culture the wrong way

Foto: Jorn Rod, Tviter

“Very concerned about restauration plans for Xhafer Deva’s house, a known Nazi collaborator/protagonist of infamous SS Skanderbeg Division,” the German ambassador to Pristina, Jorn Rohde, tweeted today.

Rohde’s reaction arrived after the EU and the UNDP boasted that the restaurant works, valued at €300.000, on the house of Xhafer Deva were recently initiated. Serbian historians, however, recalled that Deva was actually a prominent Wehrmacht figure.

“No history whitewashing! Don’t distort the truth about the Holocaust or war crimes committed by the Nazis and local collaborators,” the German ambassador said.

According to Rohde, memory culture and preserving cultural heritage must be taken as opportunities to deal with the past “in an open, truthful way.”

“The German Embassy is ready to support any reasonable approach to memory culture in Kosovo,” he adds, stressing:

“This is memory culture the wrong way!”

The Minister of Culture and Information of Serbia, Maja Gojkovic, also reacted today, via a letter to the EU and the UNDP in which she called on them to give up on the reconstruction of the house of Xhafer Deva.

“He was a notorious Nazi collaborator, who was active in the formation of the SS division ‘Skender-beg’, known for arranging and committing crimes against Serbs and Jews, the mayor of Mitrovica during World War II and the Albanian interior minister during the occupation during World War II, who was decorated by Adolf Hitler in 1944,“ Gojkovic wrote.

In early February, the EU and the UNDP boasted that the restaurant works, valued at €300.000, on the house of Xhafer Deva were recently initiated.

After the news about the restoration of Xhafer Deva’s house was published, several Serbian-language media outlets reported about controversies surrounding Deva. Dr. Nenad Antonijevic, museum advisor to the Museum of Genocide Victims, and Stefan Radojkovic, curator of the Museum of Genocide Victims explained in detail who exactly Xhafer Deva was in an op-ed published by KoSSev.

For the people unfamiliar with the history of World War II in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1941-1945) or those who only have a superficial knowledge of it, Xhafer Deva (1900/904-1978) – who was born in Istanbul in 1900 according to one source, or in Mitrovica in 1904, according to another – was a prominent associate of the Wehrmacht, the armed forces of Nazi Germany entrusted with managing the occupation zone „Serbia“ (which spans the area of today’s Banat and the territory from Belgrade to Kosovska Mitrovica and Podujevo), which together with Thessaloniki formed a larger occupation unit called “Southeast. In addition to being the district chief of the Kosovo-Mitrovica district during the German occupation, General Hans Gustav Felber, the commander of the occupation unit „Southeast“ and the zone „Serbia“ from August 15th, 1943 to September 26th, 1944, describes Deva in his report as the main driving force in Kosovo and Metohija, noting that his actions against the partisans exceeded all Wehrmacht expectations,” they wrote in a op-ed published by KoSSev, after the international organizations boasted that the reconstruction works on Deva’s house have been initiated.

The EU and the UNDP then expressed concern over the controversy connecting the building’s past, saying they are “currently working on alternatives for the future benefit of the local community and inter-community dialogue.”

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