The 1937 Memorandum – measures to protect Yugoslavia
The Memorandum’s author as a professional historian quite clearly understood that the only way and the only means to cope with them in order to protect Yugoslavia from Albanian separatism, terrorism, and Albanization was to use the legitimate force by a legal state’s security authorities after WWI as any other democratic state would do in a similar case dealing with the brutal uprising of the part of its citizens who prefer to live in another state breaking all historical, cultural, and moral reasons for such irredenta policy.
Vaso Chubrilovic claimed based on historical pieces of evidence that the Yugoslavs (in fact, the Serbs) up to the 1912−1913 Balkan Wars did not have any success in a struggle with aggressive Albanians but after WWI it was not so much done in a struggle with them as Yugoslavia did not use a legitimate power to suppress Albanian terrorism, separatism, and oppression of the Serbs in Kosovo-Metochia and Yugoslav Macedonia. He was quite clear and right that it was not possible to speak of any national assimilation of ethnic Albanians in the Yugoslav favor. However, on the contrary, because Yugoslav Albanians mentally, culturally, by origin, politically, and historically base themselves on neighboring Albania, their national awareness was always linked to Albania and if Yugoslavia will not solve the Albanian Question on its own territory as a consequence in some 30 years (in the 1960s) Yugoslavia had to cope with terrible Albanian irredentism, the signs of which have been already apparent and which will inevitably put all of the Yugoslav southern territories in jeopardy. Nevertheless, that Vaso Chubrilovic concerning the time was right it clearly demonstrated the first secessionists Kosovo Albanian political mass protests organized in 1968 (31 years after his Memorandum) when the Yugoslav Government of Josip Broz Tito was finally forced to use oppression in order to pacify the province. Nevertheless, the 1968 mass Albanian demonstrations, protests, and riots in Kosovo-Metochia marked the beginning of the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
For Vaso Chubrilovic, the mass emigration of the Albanians from their ethnic triangle in South Yugoslavia was the only effective course to protect the country and save Yugoslav (in fact, Serb) lands from Albanization and secession. Further, he proposed certain prerequisites to bring about the emigration of Yugoslav Albanians in order to save the territorial integrity of the Yugoslav state and protect the Orthodox Slavic population from Muslim Albanian oppression and torture. The first of them was the creation of a suitable psychosis which could be created in many ways:
- As it was known, the Muslim people, in general, are very readily influenced, especially by religion, and are superstitious and fanatical. Therefore, first of all, Yugoslavia must win over the clergy of Muslim Albanians as well as persons of influence on the masses. The tools to win were by money or threats for the sake to support Albanian emigration from Yugoslav land. Agitators to advocate this emigration must through found, financed, and supported, as quickly as possible, especially from Turkey, if the regime of Kemal Pasha Ataturk would provide them for Yugoslavia. Shortly, Yugoslavia had to work on this issue as faster as possible as the time was running for Albanians.
- Another way can be democratic and lawful coercion by the state’s bureaucratic apparatus. In other words, he required that the law must be enforced on the Albanians to make staying intolerable for their crimes. Legal fines and imprisonments had to be applied as well as the ruthless application of all police dispositions, such as the prohibition of smuggling, cutting forests, damaging agriculture, leaving dogs unchained, and any other measure that an experienced police force can contrive in order to make the order from Albanian barbarianism.
- From the very economic aspect of the issue, the refusal to recognize the old land deeds, the work with the land register should immediately include the lawful collection of taxes (which Muslim Albanians did not want to pay as they used not to pay in Muslim Ottoman Empire) and the payment of all private and public debts which Muslim Albanians also used not to pay up regularly in the Ottoman time. In other words, just the imposition of lawful and democratic rules of life would hasten Albanian emigration from Yugoslavia as they never became accommodated to respect the law, rules, order, and live in the arranged state.
- Health measures as well as could be applied effectively and practically as, for instance, the application of all the dispositions even in homes, pulling down encircling walls and high hedges around houses, rigorous application of veterinary measures which would result in impeding the sale of livestock on the market, etc.
- When it is dealing with religion, the Albanians are very sensitive and, therefore, certain measures done in this direction could be effective like the prohibition of polygamy or giving more rights to women and especially the application of the law compelling girls to attend elementary schools, wherever they are.
- Private initiative, too, could assist greatly in dealing with the Albanian Question. In other words, the Yugoslav state should distribute weapons to Yugoslav (Serbian and Montenegrin) colonists in Kosovo-Metochia as needs for the sake to defend their lives and properties from the aggressive Albanian policy of banditry. The ancient well-known and effective forms of Serbian guerrilla (Chetnik) actions from the time of the Ottoman Empire and WWI should be reorganized and secretly assisted. The author of the Memorandum especially recommended a tide of Montenegrins to be launched from the mountain pastures and in such a way as to try to pacify warmongering Albanian tribes in western parts of Kosovo-Metochia who are constantly rebelling against the Yugoslav state.
- Finally, the local Albanian riots in different parts of South Yugoslavia had to be suppressed by the most effective means in the hands of the state’s authorities. However, for Vaso Chubrilovic, those “effective measures” have not been the direct intervention of the army and/or security (police) forces but rather by the Serbo-Montenegrin colonists from Montenegrin clans and by Chetnik guerrilla units.
As an effective method was one of the colonization of the region of Toplica and Kosanica in South-East Serbia after the 1876−1878 Serbo-Ottoman War when the Muslim Albanians, who in previous centuries colonized this region by expelling the Serbs and appropriated their land and houses with full assistance by the Ottoman authorities, left the region to Kosovo-Metochia as did not want to live in Christian Serbia preferring rather a Muslim Ottoman Empire (however, according to the Albanian historiography, they have been expelled from the region). The method for the colonization of this region was founded in the law issued on January 3rd, 1880. On February 3rd, 1880, the People’s Council of Serbia approved the law on the amendment of agrarian relations according to the principle of the land to the peasants. Without hesitation, now internationally recognized as an independent state by the 1878 Berlin Congress, the Principality of Serbia sought its first foreign loan to pay the Ottoman Empire for the territory taken in 1878. However, Serbia did not set up any ministry of agrarian reform or costly apparatus for the problem of colonization. Nevertheless, everything was done simply and practically as, for instance, the police organs distributed the land to all those who wanted to cultivate it. Colonists arrived from different territories around including Montenegro and Kosovo-Metochia. Thirty years later, the region of Toplica and Kosanica, once ethnically Albanian region of ill-repute, gave the Kingdom of Serbia one of the best regiments in both the 1912−1913 Balkan Wars and the 1914−1918 Great War – the Iron Second Regiment. In those wars from 1912 to 1918 (the Liberation Wars), the region of Toplica and Kosanica paid and repaid, with the blood of their sons, those tens of millions of dinars that Serbia had spent for their resettlement (colonization).
Vaso Chubrilovic was clear and rightful by writing that if the Yugoslav state want the Serbo-Montenegrin colonists to remain in Kosovo-Metochia, they have to be assured of acquiring all the means of livelihood within a short time – several years. Otherwise, the colonization policy of Yugoslavia will fail. The state’s authorities of Yugoslavia have to prohibit any speculation in regard to the houses and properties of those Albanians who left the region. Yugoslavia had to have unlimited right to dispose of the fixed and movable assets of the transferred people and has to settle its own loyal colonists there immediately after the departure of the Albanians either in their homeland of Albania or in Turkey if they prefer. Such policy must be done as it will be not expected that all villagers would live the village at once village. However, the first colonists to be settled in these villages have to be Montenegrins, as arrogant, irascible, and merciless people, who will influence remaining Albanians to migrate with their behavior of the highlanders (like Albanians themselves are), and then the colonists from other Yugoslav regions could arrive at those villages.
Why the Yugoslav policy of colonization failed?
The Memorandum’s author recognized that up to that time since 1919 the Yugoslav policy of colonization within the area of the so-called “Albanian triangle” failed what can have in the recent future catastrophic consequences for the country as, in fact, very soon it became realized during the period of the Greater Albania in WWII when Albanian populated territories of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia became annexed by Albania and ethnic cleansing of the Serbo-Montenegrins done by the local Albanian population.
Nevertheless, all defenders of the Yugoslav policy of colonization during the inter-war time who have been criticized for their lack of success, always have been excusing themselves with the inadequate financial means which Yugoslav governments allocated for the purpose of colonization. Vaso Chubrilovic did not deny that it was so up to a point, but on the other hand, it had to be recognized that more has been spent in Yugoslavia on the functioning of the bureaucratic apparatus and its non-productive work than on the colonization itself. Nonetheless, if Yugoslavia did not provide as much as it should, it had to be understood that every state in order to ensure the holding of the insecure national regions, by colonizing these regions with its own national element, must be included among the primary national political interests. Consequently, all other national tasks had to be inferior in ranking compared to this task and commitment. Therefore, to solve such primary state’s problems, financial sources can and must be found. The successful colonization policy of the regions of Toplica and Kosanica in South Serbia after 1878 and all benefits Serbia had from such policy are well-known. If at that time, a small Serbian state did not hesitate to get its first international loan to be used for the purpose of colonization, can it be said that the great Kingdom of Yugoslavia was not able to do the same in 1937? According to Prof. Chubrilovic, Yugoslavia could and was obliged to do it, and it was not true that Yugoslavia as a state was lacking the financial means for the purpose of colonization.
Vaso Chubrilovic required the Yugoslav authorities to sacrifice a few hundred million Yugoslav dinars to fulfill such an important national, military, strategic, and economic task of colonization. At a time when the Yugoslav government is spending one billion Yugoslav dinars for the construction of the international highway from Subotica to Caribrod (to connect Hungary and Bulgaria via Serbia), any possible benefit from which Yugoslavs would enjoy only in the distant future, Yugoslavia could and must find a few hundred million Yugoslav dinars, which would put Yugoslavs (in fact, Serbs) back in possession of the historical cradle of their state (Kosovo-Metochia).
Conclusions of the 1937 Memorandum
The author of the 1937 Memorandum concluded that in view of all written above, it was no accident that his examination of the question of colonization in South Yugoslavia was necessary for the survival of the country followed by Albanian emigration from the “Albanian triangle”. Like in many other states, the policy of gradual colonization was unsuccessful. Consequently, the international experience was telling that when the state wanted to intervene in favor of its own ethnic or national population, in a struggle for land and regions, it can be only successful if the state is acting with hard policy, otherwise without final success as the colonists without direct support by the state are weaker compared to the local inhabitants. However, in the Yugoslav case, this must be kept especially well in mind, because the Yugoslav authorities have to deal with Albanians who are a rugged, barbaric, savage, primitive, and warmongering race to be and the most expansionist in the Balkans who have been historically occupying the lands of their neighbors and murdering them.
Finally, he warned that all Europe was at that moment in a state of historical turmoil and, therefore, it was not clear what each day and night may bring. Albanian nationalistic chauvinism was rising on the territory of Yugoslavia and with the help from outside in the case of war and the occupation of Yugoslavia they would commit terrible crimes against the Serbo-Montenegrins (what exactly happened during WWII). Consequently, the time was running against Yugoslavia, and to leave the situation as it was would mean, in case of any world conflict or social revolution, both of which were possible in the near future, to jeopardize all Yugoslav territories on the south. The purpose of this Memorandum was to avert such a thing.
Instead of epilogue
The latest in a series of eruptions of great ethnic violence of the Albanian population in Kosovo-Metochia against the Serbo-Montenegrins living in this autonomous province of Serbia was organized and done on March 17th−19th, 2004, having all the features of a pogrom. During those tragic events of March 2004, in a destructive assault of tens of thousands by Albanians led by armed groups of extremists, former warlords, and the members of the Kosovo Protection Corpus under the umbrella of NATO, a systematic ethnic cleansing of the remaining Serbs and Montenegrins was carried out across the province of Kosovo-Metochia. The pogrom was followed by the destruction of private houses, flats, other property, Serbian cultural monuments, and Serbian Christian Orthodox religious sites.
The 2004 March Pogrom resulted in the loss of several dozens of lives, several hundreds of wounded including the KFOR’s (NATO) security members, more than 4,000 expelled Serbs, more than 800 Serbian houses set on fire, and 35 destroyed or severely damaged Serbian Christian Orthodox churches and cultural monuments. The pogrom did not only revealed the real situation in the province but, in fact, revealed the importance of the 1937 Memorandum by Prof. Vaso Chubrilovic about historical justice and state’s security in the southern regions of the former Yugoslavia.