Hasani: Deva is a Nazi collaborator; Rohde is right; Ceku’s reaction was pathetic

Enver Hasani
FOTO: N1, caption

Translation provided by KoSSev

When it comes to the character of Xhafer Deva, Enver Hasani has a rather firm stance. For this law and international relations professor, Deva was a collaborator, a local Nazi ideologue, and a servant of Hitler’s Germany. According to Hasani, this is what all archival and historical documents say.

The former president of the Constitutional Court pointed out that, after the end of the Cold War, the spirit of rehabilitation of figures and events „from the pre-communist past into a positive nationalist light“ reigned in the former communist countries. According to Hasani, this is not right.

Commenting on the reaction of the German ambassador to Kosovo, Jorn Rohde, who demanded that the restoration of Deva’s house be halted, and linked his name to the Holocaust, Hasani assessed that the German diplomat „judging by historical facts, which are very convincing, is right.“

In an interview with Gazeta Express, Enver Hasani spoke about the concrete reason why Deva’s house should be renovated, the reaction of the Minister of Culture, Hajrulla Ceku, Xhafer Deva as a CIA man, as well as about analysts and historians who presented Xhafer Deva in a positive light and as the creator of the Albanian state.

What is your opinion of Xhafer Deva – based on the facts published about him, what you read about him, the stories you’ve heard, based on the official version of history you learned as many generations did in schools, but also based on post-communist history?

After the end of communism and the Cold War, there was a general trend in the countries of the former communist east to reshape history, projecting personalities and events from the pre-communist past into a positive nationalist light. In countries that were directly oppressed by the Russians, such as Poland, the Baltic states, and Ukraine, there was a complete rehabilitation of political figures and leaders who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. The same happened in the former Yugoslavia, but with a reference to Serb hegemony: not just Croats and Slovenes, but Albanians and Muslims were also inclined to view everyone who was against communism as a deserving Puritan hero and patriot deserving of respect and a place in the pantheon of national heroes. This is very wrong because both cooperation with the Nazis and blind submission to communism were non-national actions. However, there is an essential colossal difference between them: in the case of Nazism, it is a state practice that is not only directed against ideological and political opponents, as was the case with communism, but it is a state practice aimed at destroying certain nations of men, Jews, primarily. Judging by all the authors who wrote competently and by using archival sources, Xhafer Deva was a convincing supporter and local Nazi ideologue, a collaborator of the German policy of recruiting Muslims (not only Albanians) for the German cause, from 1943 (with the „Handzar“ division) until 1944 (with the „SS Skanderbeg“ division).

While many believe that he was a nationalist who fought to create the Albanian state, others see him as a collaborator and an official who committed crimes against anti-fascist Albanians. What can you tell us about its ideological formation?

Authors relevant to the history of Albania and the Balkans, such as Noel Malcolm, O.J. Shmit, Ivo Banac, Barbara Jelavic, Norman Cigan, Sabrina P. Ramet, Tim Judah, Bernd Fisher, and many others, show without exception and based on first-hand archival documents, that the formation of the Albanian state – with monarchical regency and after the Italian capitulation – was the result of Germany’s intention to avoid problems during eventual withdrawal from the Balkans, thus creating an Albanian political organization with the help of the then nationalist elite. After all, the German occupation of the Balkans itself was temporary and episodic in the general Nazi military engagement, so as not to repeat the mistakes of the German headquarters from World War I, which left the German back unprotected. Even during the Cold War, the Balkans was not of strategic importance in global rivalries between the great powers. All the foreign authors I mentioned say that Xhafer Deva and members of the Draga family from Mitrovica were German servants and that they pushed the Nazi agenda without compromise, killing and persecuting their opponents, while after the Wannsee Conference in Berlin (1942), both Jews and those whom the Germans considered as nations of men and individuals unworthy of life. I visited the camps in Dachau and Bergen Bilzen in Germany. The geography of the Holocaust has been proven here, even based on the writings of a certain Dr. Ali Kuçi, who survived the camp and published the book The Last Days in Dachau, concerning the places and regions from which Jews and others were brought. Those are Jews and political opponents from Albanian countries, from the north of that Albanian state, whom Xhafer Deva served with great zeal, in the capacity of the Minister of the Interior. The people in those camps, who were from Pristina and other places in Kosovo, did not go voluntarily to find death in the harsh conditions of those Nazi camps.

Some analysts, historians, however, justify Deva’s cooperation with the Third Reich by the fact that it was an opportunity to create an Albanian state, while others see it as his sin and crime. What is your opinion on this?

Those who are doing something like that, as you can see in the media, will not find support for that in any kind of archival document or history book published outside the Albanian universe. Nowhere in the world! Such a discourse is existential for some people in Kosovo, because in the years after the end of the Cold War, the flag was raised by people of pure Nazi orientation, in order to become heroes, at a time when the whole of Europe, even those who were far above the Albanians in support of the Hitler regime, was in the process of giving up on it. In short, for those in Kosovo who nurture such a discourse, without any historical facts, this is the perfect time to remain present on the public stage. That is all!

Albanians in Albania and Kosovo constantly underscore that Albanian countries are the only place where the number of Jews has increased. Did Xhafer Deva bring Jews to the Germans at that time?

The number of Jews in the part of London Albania has increased, while Jews and others have been persecuted abroad as much as possible. This is evidenced by the historical archival facts in European countries, which housed the centers of Nazi power. Exceptions are individual and sporadic cases, but the general orientation of the Mitrovica-led government, where Xhafer Deva served as the Minister of the Interior, did not differ at any time from the German orientation. During the time of fascist Italy, however, it is worth noting that the facts show that there was a more lenient policy towards the Jews. Count Ciano himself testifies to this in his diaries, as did others, so does the fact that one of the oldest synagogues in Europe and the Jewish community have been preserved undamaged in Rome to date. It is well-known that Hitler and Mussolini strongly disagreed on this issue. This also affected the Albanian countries under Italian rule, until September 1943, which was further aggravated by the arrival of the Germans and the Mitrovica-led government.

What is your opinion of Xhafer Deva as a CIA man? He lived in the US. As far as we are aware, he was not persecuted by Nazi hunters, let alone Simon Wiesenthal or the Israeli secret services.

The founder of NASA was a Nazi, the person who led the counter-espionage against the Soviets was also an SS general. Many others who fled and took refuge in the United States had a Nazi past. This argument does not rehabilitate Xhafer Deva, nor does it give him amnesty for crimes committed against civilians during his time as interior minister. Until the late 1970s, the Americans were fully engaged in the fight against the Soviets, and anyone who could be of help in this war was welcome. At the same time, they were described as „useful enemies“. Xhafer Deva was one of them because he was an anti-communist until his death. In the early 1980s, this policy was loosened and the surrender of former Nazis began, as was the case with the Croat Andrija Artukovic, the Ukrainian John Demjanjuk, and so on.

The German ambassador demanded that the restoration of the house of Xhafer Deva be halted. He asked for the history rewriting to be stopped, and he linked Deva’s name with the Holocaust. How do you assess this attitude of the ambassador?

Judging by the very convincing historical facts, some of which I mentioned above, he is absolutely right. The Deva family, on the other hand, is highly respected in Mitrovica: Xhafer’s father was devout and loyal to the fatherland, judging by those who received their doctorates in the SS Skanderbeg Division, which is closely linked to the name Xhafer Deva. I am talking about an Austrian woman who studied this division in the archives and published a book in German. Her works are available online in English for those who wish to know more.

The style of the house is certainly a value in itself, but specifying that it is Xhafer Deva’s house is an unacceptable project that does not do honor to Kosovo and the history of its statehood. I think that the house should be renovated because of its architectural values, turned into a documentation center for crimes committed in Kosovo during the former Yugoslavia and World War II. Designating it as a project to rebuild Xhafer Deva’s house is an attempt to turn local ideologues of the Nazi regime into heroes who committed shameful acts of killing civilians and members of other nations that Hitler described as inferior. Carefully reading the memoirs of Neubacher, Hitler’s successor to the Balkans, together with the books of the author I mentioned above, would be enough to see the truth of what I’m saying. Historical facts are ruthless and leave no room for personal speculation and reflection, unlike some that are not based on tangible facts.

At the same time, there were reactions from Serbia objecting to the renovation of the house. Serb officials have even raised the issue with the Russian ambassador to Belgrade. Our Minister of Culture even said that all this originated from Serbia and that it is propaganda aimed against Kosovo. Do you agree?

The reaction of our minister is pitiful. It does not matter who started the debate, what is important is what the relevant documents and books of Balkan history say about the character and work of Xhafer Deva. That’s what matters – not who is saying what! What the minister says and what others say about the character and work of Xhafer Deva, no one is saying or thinking – except for what Xhafer Deva himself wrote and the works of the political press in exile. Nobody else!

International organizations involved in the renovation of Deva’s house withdrew, and the Ministry of Culture announced that it would continue the works. Do you think the renovation should continue?

Renovation should continue only after the Ministry of Culture explains, once and for all, that this is not about Xhafer Deva, his character and work, but about the architectural values ​​of the building, as a site to be turned into a center that speaks about our common history, as a space for the documentation, archives, children’s home for the poor, leaving no doubt that Xhafer Deva follows the fate of the political regime he served, the one judged by history via consensus. One such person cannot have a different destiny!

KoSSev: In early February, the announcement of the initiation of the restoration works on Xhafer Deva’s house in South Mitrovica caught the attention of the public and media, both in Kosovo and Serbia, as well as in the region and beyond.

The project, which was supposed to be implemented by the Kosovo Ministry of Culture along with the EU and UNDP, has since been canceled, after several parties, including the German ambassador to Kosovo and the EU rapporteur for Kosovo, highlighted Xhafer Deva’s role as a Nazi collaborator.

The decision was met with dissatisfaction from part of the Kosovan public, which also criticized the German ambassador. Despite the project cancellation, the Kosovo Minister announced that he will not give up on the restoration as Kosovo has enough money for it, but that the work must continue with international partners.

Read more:

Surroi supports the renovation of Xhafer Deva’s house : “A building cannot carry the sins of its owner“

The head of Simon Wiesenthal proud of helping stop the restoration of Xhafer Deva’s house

Ceku: We won’t give up on the restoration of Xhafer Deva’s house, the false narrative came from Serbia

UNDP and the EU put on hold the restoration of Xhafer Deva’s house

Pacolli: Deva protected the Jews; an avalanche of negative reactions to the statement of the German ambassador

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

The EU and UNDP concerned over the controversy surrounding Xhafer Deva’s house and are working on alternatives

The case of the house of Xhafer Deva – Cultural heritage of Mitrovica as a Driver for Intercommunity Dialogu





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