Prishtina on October 23, 1912 and 1915
In the three-year time period 1912 - 1915, today's capital of Kosovo experienced two occupations, first the Serbian occupation and then the Bulgarian occupation. In the following, we will bring images from the time of the two occupations presented by Serbian and Bulgarian authors, at the end of October 1912 and 1915, together with materials stored in the two state archives of Serbia and Bulgaria. Based on the official population census statistics of 1912, 1917, 1921 and the end of 1924, as a result of wars, murders, deportations and other forms of violence, it results that Pristina has "lost" a total of 3414 inhabitants
All the Serbs in Pristina are looking for weapons and putting crosses on their religions
The correspondent of the newspaper "Zastava" from Novi Sad, Jasha Tomić, who was accompanying the headquarters of the Serbian army, stayed in Pristina in the last week of October 1912, that is, in the first days when Pristina was occupied by the Serbian army.
"Twenty-four hours have passed (October 23, 1912) since I was in Pristina, where I noticed some liveliness, movement of the inhabitants, but surprisingly I did not see any women on the street! Turkish women are locked up at home, while our Serbian women do not show up anywhere! It's these strange, unusual sights! Albanians who fought against the Serbian army seem to be now hiding in Pristina. There are thousands. All day long they have been handing over weapons, ammunition and other military equipment. Entire warehouses will be filled with the delivered weaponry! Weapons and military equipment belong to the Turkish state. Albanians from here have been shooting at the Serbian army from their homes. Among other things, there is also a large number of Albanians captured and it is certain that they will be sent to the city of Nis. The Albanians fought against our army until their last breath", wrote Tomić, which suggests that the prisoners from Pristina were then sent to the center of Nis, while those from the eastern parts of Kosovo, the surroundings of Kumanova and those from Skopje, as it is known, as prisoners of war after the "parade" in the streets of Belgrade, they were imprisoned in the fortress of the Serbian capital.
He further continued that "when the Serbian army entered Pristina, the church bells rang and now all the Serbs in Pristina are looking for weapons and putting the cross on their religion!"
"Our Serbs here are counted to be 600 houses and there are approximately 3000 inhabitants. Meanwhile, Pristina has about 25.000 Turkish residents. The new government is now being organized. Although it existed earlier, now the Serbian Church Council has started functioning, as every Orthodox Serb over the age of twenty-one has had the right to elect the church council and assembly. This was tolerated by the Turks and allowed by the metropolitan himself, who previously elected the Church Council himself... We journalists are now in the headquarters of the head of the district and the court in Pristina. In each hyqymet office there are many tables, protocols and slippers that serve the employees to feel more comfortable!", he writes.
Two days later on October 25, Jasha Tomić could not ignore the above-mentioned error about the affiliation of the people of Pristina, but he also presented the situation of indiscriminate shootings in all corners of the capital of Kosovo.
"Ever since the Serbian army entered Pristina, the shooting does not stop and it is fired from all sides. Prishtina is the cradle of Albanians and this city is their capital in Kosovo. I would like to say two or three words about the Albanians. From the beginning of the road, the valley of Llap from Prepollc to Kosovo, those areas are inhabited exclusively by Albanians. They live in the blessed land, but it is desolate, unusable! The animals here are small, thatanic, the houses are miserable and pitiful. There would be room for others here, but the Albanians, the people of Llapjani, do not tolerate anyone among them. They do not tolerate Muslims in their midst let alone Christians! Llapjans do not pay tax to anyone. Today I have seen them capture more than a thousand Albanians!"
The hungry children and the rush to the Adriatic Sea cried the most
As a journalist who came from the territories where the Serbian mentality was different compared to the places below Belgrade, Jasha Tomić had expressed his desire to visit a Serbian family from Pristina at that time.
"While I was in Pristina, I had the opportunity to meet some Serbian citizens and the council where they gathered, but my wish was to enter one of the Pristina houses and my visit was carried out, but unfortunately, on the same day, the order was given that headquarters to continue, so I turned to the nearest Serbian house. The host met me at the gate with the usual greetings here. I told him who I am and what my desire was. She took me to the upper room where there were lots of children, but not all of them were hers. This is the home of the three Vančevi brothers who have eight children. While the children who were in the avlli, maybe ten or more were Albanians! The host, the old mother of the Vančevs, told me that the Albanian parents entrusted us with their children so that we would take care of them! I told the old mother of the Vančevs that our army will not kill the children, but neither will the Albanian men if they stay calm!" wrote Tomić who had also visited Graçanica.
"Graçanica has seventy houses, fourteen of them are Albanian. There are many pastures all around. In Kosovo, the soil is very fertile. This land is adjacent to that of Banat". The only good side of Albanians that this author has emphasized is the treatment that Albanians give to women.
"The best part of Albanians' character is that they don't beat their women", but Tomić has not expressed any mercy for Albanian women and children, who have now become refugees from the army, for which he gave the guarantee that he would not killed neither children nor Albanian men!
"Almost from all the countries that Serbia took, Albanians and Turks started to move. All the roads were almost occupied by the residents who were fleeing at large. On the cart or sleigh they had loaded all the household items, while around the carts went women, old people and children. None of them turned their heads to look back! The hungry children cried the most, and this prompted the Serbian soldiers to think about their children who had left them at home, therefore sometimes in the direction of the crying Albanian children, the outstretched hands of the soldiers were seen giving them a piece of bread. It is clear that most of the refugees will move to Asia. While the Third Serbian Army is now rushing through Prizren and Gjakova to reach the Adriatic Sea as soon as possible", concluded Tomić.
No memories of past times
The gloomy Pristina of October 1912 was also visited by the journalist and writer Ivo Qipiko of Italian origin, who at that time reported for the Belgrade newspaper "Politika". He had arrived in Pristina by train traveling from Skopje.
"The wide, desolate, magnificent field! Through it, nowhere and not a trace of the memory of the old Serbian fame! Across these plains and shores scattered behind copper-red oaks stand our rare villages that seem to be trying to hide and not be seen anywhere... I just got off the train... Pristina. Let's go - the Albanian told me and whipped the horses. In front of us on the lap of the coast, the Albanian city of Pristina has gathered. The Prishtina men we pass by look at the ground and are always silent. While women can't even be found for medicine! Only one young man exchanged a few words with us after we entered an inn. Talking and walking along the main street of Pristina. In the majority, we are followed by the dark shutters sitting like stanzas and the foxy looks of the sellers. Nothing unusual anywhere. No memory of past times! Just somewhere in the middle of Pristina, we can see the beautiful mansions of Jashar Pasha where in the colorful fountain under the sound of glass glasses, the water is distributed in all directions. We also saw the church of St. Nicholas, to enter it you have to go down the stairs that lead to the underground basement! Raja was afraid of the light, so he prayed to God in the dark! And now the new day has begun! The carving on the altar of the church is the only artistic thing in it. This is a varied, precise and harmonious work. We also came across the Pirinazi Mosque, which is said to have once been a church. There is a cave in which a Turkish saint is buried, where holy water flows continuously...".
See Mehmeti and his suffering
Undoubtedly, apart from Pristina and Graçanica, not only for journalists, but also for curious Serbian officials, Gazimestani was also a stop for their visits and where they seemed to be looking for the beginnings of the "former fame" of Serbia! That's why Ivo Qipiko had mercy on Sultan Murat's tomb.
"We pass near Gazimestan. Nearby are the scattered graves and in the middle of them is a lodge - that is the tekke in which the candles are always lit. The famous flag bearers of Kosovo are buried there. While riding here and there we meet some Albanians and as before, they always look down at the ground without saying a single word to us. Finally I greeted an elderly man. He winked at me and smiling cynically addressed me briefly: Serbian soldier! Oh, the serbian serbia! The Turbja of Sultan Murat is a typical Turkish building like a mosque, but without minarets, surrounded by high, whitewashed walls. Some of our (Serbian) soldiers are on guard and at the entrance we met the old sheikh, Mehmet. In his company we entered the tomb. In the middle of the space is the coffin covered with a silk cover, while a turban wrapped in white silk is placed on the head. In the variegated afternoon light I look at the archmort and strangely my thoughts take me to the distant past. Nothing unusual. In front of me is a dead man who was almost buried yesterday... While the (Serb) gentleman is looking at the Quranic writings on the walls of the teke, I was looking at the old sheikh. I looked at his calm and sad face, but also his eyes soaked with tears. Time has killed the shekh in the soul, she has trampled him! Sheh Mehmet, whose family has guarded the tomb of Sultan Murat for generations, his only son died of typhus two days ago. So his son disappeared with the death of his empire! We finished the visit. Dusk has fallen. Our soldiers talk among themselves. The old shehu was leaning on the dry tap that was there, after the kahmoti had run out of water in it. In front of him lies the fresh grave and the deserted "Salamllek", where the guests who come to bow to the shadow of Sultan Murat are received. While a little further on the ground, the Roman archaeological findings lie and when I see them, the past centuries appear in front of my eyes one after the other", concluded Ivo Qipiko.
Prishtina at the end of October 1915 - the occupiers escape
Defeated in the Second Balkan War in 1913 and left empty-handed by Serbia after the agreement on the partition of Macedonia, but also "left in oblivion" by Russia, which now supported Serbia, on the eve of the start of the War During the First World War, Bulgaria lined up alongside the Tripartite Powers, hence the Central Powers, along with Germany and Austria-Hungary. On the other hand, Serbia was positioned on the side of the political-military bloc of the Entente Powers, which included France, England and Russia.
In the course of preparations for the start of combat operations against Serbia, at the beginning of September 1915, the Austro-Hungarian Third Army was assembled in northeastern Bosnia, while the German Ninth Army was assembled in South Banat. All the military forces of the three Central Powers were placed under the command of the German general August von Mackensen.
In accordance with the agreement reached with the Allies on September 8, 1915, the Bulgarian army began mobilization and concentrated on the western border of the then Bulgaria, while three weeks later, on October 1, Bulgaria declared war on Serbia. As is known throughout the years 1918, the capital of Kosovo, Prishtina was included in the Bulgarian occupation zone and the frictions between the allies regarding the inclusion of Albanian lands within the Bulgarian occupation never stopped.
But, as has been proven in the last century, the anti-Albanian attitude of the Serbian governors was at the same time an official or state attitude. Such an attitude appeared in the spring of 1915, and evidence for this is the document kept in the State Archives of Serbia in Belgrade. The head of the Administration Section, Dragutin Stanković, at the end of May 1915, proposed that in the "liberated villages" all the properties of Albanians and Turks should be confiscated, because the right moment for action had come.
"In the 'new villages' there are many Mohammedans (Turkish and Albanian) who have abandoned their properties, leaving for Turkey or Albania. Some of those who left are rogues and from time to time they attack with weapons in hand, crossing into our territory. Their properties could be confiscated today... Now is the perfect moment for this matter to be settled, but this should be investigated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, under whose competence it is. So, this ministry must find a way to execute the confiscation of properties!", wrote Stankovic.
To be continued in the next issue of the Culture Supplement
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