Elezovic Zvezdana Milutin
The Institute of serbian Culture Leposavic, Serbia
Research Associate

This paper discusses the political circumstances in which the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija found themselves after the Second World War, and the consequences for the Serbian cultural heritage in this area that followed. After the Second World War, the Serbian cultural heritage was in a bad position, especially in Kosovo, due to the emigration of the Serbs because of the terror of the Albanians and the demolition of monuments as tacit truths at the top of the political authorities in former Yugoslavia.

Keywords: Albanians, culture, Kosovo and Metohija, politics, Serbia, Serbian cultural heritage, Serbs, Yugoslavia

Category: Cultures

Article reference:
The political situation in Kosovo and Metohija after the Second World War and the consequences for the Serbian cultural heritage // Humanities scientific researches. 2015. № 2 [Electronic journal]. URL:

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The relations between the Serbs and the Albanians, for more than a century, have been one of the key political neuralgic points in the Balkans. Two nations that have a very rich history of mutual contacts, close relations, alliances and hostilities, which go back to the Middle Ages. However, the separation that occurred during the Ottoman period, and then a complete schism with the emergence of nationalism in the nineteenth century, influenced the fact that these two nations have been on opposite sides in recent history, almost as a rule. The cultural closeness and significant common historical experience have been put aside in front of the advancing government projections that did not allow even the best-intentioned representatives of the elite to establish a lasting and productive contact and cooperation. Ignorance, fear, denial, a denial of political, civil, and even basic human rights to the “other” side were at certain moments the dominant characteristics of the ruling political discourse in both countries [9]. As I. Pleskova writes, traditions and customs of each nation become more attractive, more interesting and of a richer content, when reflecting progressive traditions of other nations [10].

Although the state frameworks in which the Serbs and the Albanians made contacts have been changing, the center of attention from both the public and politicians in Serbia has almost always been confined to the point of direct contact of the two nations, primarily in the territory of Kosovo. On the other hand, the relations between Belgrade and Tirana, the capitals of the countries that gathered the largest part of both nations, were neglected most of the time. For official Belgrade, at one time, Albania was a potential access to the sea and a lever for relations with the Albanians in Kosovo. For official Tirana, Serbia was an occupant of a part of the Albanian territory and number one external enemy [9].

Even wise Mihailo Valtrovic writes that artistic monuments – architectural, sculptural and picturesque – are a valued and trusted source of knowledge about a nation’s spiritual and real properties and their aspirations and expressions. They show what the nation feels in their soul for God, for themselves and the world, how much they work for the general human progress in the spiritual field. The great abundance of cultural and historical monuments in Kosovo and Metohija has attracted the attention of numerous domestic and foreign scientists. Kosovo and Metohija is an area in which the most important Serbian monasteries are located [6], but it is also the center of Serbian literacy, where the firsts Serbian printing houses were founded, which is of great importance to the culture of each nation [7]. Djurdje Boskovic was a pioneer of Serbian medieval architecture research. His research interests were the monuments located in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija. In the article “The report and brief notes from the travel” („Izveštaj i kratke beleške sa putovanja“), it is stated that, in February in 1930, the subjects of his study were the Patriarchate of Pec, the ruins of the church in Banska, the town of Zvecan, the ruins of the church in Stari Trg in Trepca, and in August – the Patriarchate of Pec, where he also examined the work on the excavation of the Holy Virgin of Hvosno Monastery. The work of Djurdje Boskovic, which lasted more than two decades, was very significant because he contributed to the understanding and protection of the cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija [3].

After the Second World War, the Serbian cultural heritage was in a bad position, especially in Kosovo and Metohija. Due to the emigration of the Serbs because of the Albanian pressure and the demolition of the monuments, as tacit truths, at the top of the political authorities in former Yugoslavia, Serbian priests addressed the highest institutions in the country, asking for help. According to their letters, “Kosovo and Metohija is not simply a biological issue for the Serbs and not only an issue of an area, a province or republic. It is something infinitely greater and more than that. It is a grave, the grave in which everything is buried. The issue of Kosovo and Metohija is the issue of spiritual, cultural and historical identity of the Serbian people. With seven hundred years of its duration, it is inherent in our present and future. With the Patriarchate of Pec, Decani, Gracanica, the martyrs of Kosovo, and the Serbian vow and commitment to Kosovo, Kosovo and Metohija is our memory, our hearth, the focal point of our being. And to deprive a nation of their memory – means to kill and spiritually destroy them” [1, 295-296].

After the liberation of Kosovo in late 1944 and then calming down the military rebellion in Kosovo and Metohija in early 1945, there followed a period of apparent calming of the relations of the Albanians towards the Serbs, due to the period of amnesty, appeasement and complete courtship of the new government of communist Yugoslavia towards the Albanian population. Due to the decision of the National Committee for the Liberation of Yugoslavia – the new government of Democratic Federal Yugoslavia, the return of displaced settlers from Kosovo and Metohija of 6 and 17 March 1945 was banned, and thus the invading, Albanian war crime against the Serbian population of Kosovo and Metohija was sanctioned. As a result, 1,638 exiled Serbian families did not return to this area, and 2,064 Serbian families from Kosovo were then resettled to Vojvodina. Then 5,744 Serbian families lost their land in Kosovo, out of which the land was given back to some. Many natives from Kosovo were among the refugees and the Serbs who did not return. These events were in accordance with the wishes of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, which, in 1940 at a conference in Zagreb, took the anti-Serb stance regarding the fate of Kosovo and Metohija [2].

Kosta Cavoski wrote about the mentioned events in the article “The Beginning of Post-war Expulsion of the Serbs from Kosovo,” published in May 1989 [3]. A Serb from Kosovo witnessed: “The migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo is of an earlier date. It has not stopped since 1941 until today. First, with the help of the occupiers and domestic traitors, who mostly forced the colonist Serbs and Montenegrins to exile to Serbia and Montenegro, where they stayed until the liberation of our country. They left all their movable and immovable property in Kosovo. The Albanians shared it (then) as they wanted. The emigration was continued at an accelerated pace with the outbreak of demonstrations in 1968, to the eyes of the then provincial, state and party leaders, who informed the party and state leadership of the Socialist Republic of Serbia and SFR Yugoslavia that the emigration was performed only for economic reasons. The emigration was continued at an accelerated pace with the outbreak of demonstrations in 1981, and it is still in progress [2].

The annual reports of the Diocese of Raska-Prizren to the Holy Synod in Belgrade serve as evidence of the violence, since in them, almost every year the number of parishes in this Diocese has been reduced, especially near Podujevo, in Drenica, and near Djakovica. The fact is, as well as the reduction in the number of believer homes in Kosovo, these events have occurred as a result of antireligious campaign of the new government of Marxist ideology, and lead to a growing number of attacks on the church and its properties, and on numerous Serbian monuments in Kosovo and Metohija. Many documents, numerous complaints, litigations without a positive outcome for the Serbs, speak of this kind of vandalism by the Albanians. The violence performed against the monuments implied a denial of hope for a better future for Kosovo Serbs, disregard of their historical traces and Serbian culture in this area [5, 51-53].

In July 1951, archpriest Steva Dimitrijevic wrote about these demolitions of the sights of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija. The new government, which was discontented with the Albanians, did not provide support for the reconstruction of destroyed Serbian holy places, thus directly disparaging their importance for the Serbian people. Despite these catastrophic actions by the Albanians and the expulsion of the Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija, the statement of the Albanians that they were abused and that the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija were privileged until 1966 appears as contradictory. However, the position of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija at that time is clearly stated in the following text: the Report of the Board of Directors of the Diocese of Raska-Prizren, from 1967: “After the entry into force of the Social Reform (after the Brioni Plenum 1966-A. J.), which is, according to the unanimous assessment (of the Serbs), considered to be negative for the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija, as this will further incite emigration of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija, considering the fact that they will no longer be able to withstand the growing pressure of the Shiptar majority population, who uses and abuses the government. The Shiptars and other minorities in Kosovo and Metohija have stressed that they are prosecuted, and that the Serbs and Montenegrins have been favored since Rankovic’s regime. If so, many ask the question: why have the Serbs been emigrating from Kosovo and Metohija so far? If they enjoyed special protection by Rankovic, which is certainly not true, many reasonably wonder: will the emigration be greater now when the Serbs no longer have this protection, and the Shiptars will have it, using the self-government and the majority of their population, and probably some, if not everyone, will abuse it…” [8, 802].

As an example of the atrocities done to the Serbs, there is the demolition of several monuments, which will be discussed in more detail in further text. In this way, an extreme disrespect of basic human rights of Kosovo Serbs and their oppression through indirect aggressive actions against Serbian holies have occurred. Such abolition of basic human and constitutional rights by depriving the right of people to their ethnic identity, for which it can be said to be closely associated with the destroyed monuments, as holies of the Serbian people. This state has also caused the situation in which the press itself has the right to write about the real situation in Kosovo and provide information about daily violent events as an everyday form of psychological pressure on the Serbs throughout Kosovo [8].

The political situation in the Yugoslav state after the Second World War had negative effects on the position of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija. The Serbs were increasingly moving out of the area and their property was usurped. The Serbian cultural heritage was particularly endangered, primarily the heritage of religious nature. It was a target of the Albanian extremists, but it was also neglected by the communist government of the then state.

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