Expulsion of the Albanians – V. Cubrilovic, 1937
DR. V. CUBRILOVIC
on March 7, 1937
THE EXPULSION OF THE ALBANIANS The problem of the Albanians in our national and state life did not arise yesterday. It played a major role on our life in the Middle Ages, but its importance became decisive by the end of the 17th century, at the time when the masses of the Serbian people were displaced northwards from their former ancestral territories of Raska and were supplanted by the Albanian Highlanders. Gradually the latter came down their mountains to a fertile plains of Metohija and Kosovo. Penetrating to the north, they spread in the direction of Southern and Western Morava and, cross-sections of the Vardar. In this war, by the 19th century the Albanian triangle was formed, a wedge which abased on its Debar-Rogozna axis in its ethnic rear, penetrated as far into our territories as Nis and separated our ancient territories of Raska from Macedonia and the Vardar Valley.
This Albanian wedge inhabited by the anarchist Albanian element hampered any strong cultural, educational and economic connection between our northern and southern territories in the 19th century. This was the main reason why Serbia was unstable, until 1878 when it managed to establish and maintain continuos links with Macedonia, through Vranje and the Black Mountain of Skopje, to exercise the cultural and political influence on the Vardar Valley that was anticipated because of the favorable geographical and road links and the Historical traditions on those regions. Although the Bulgarians began their state life after the Serbs, at first they had greater success. This explains why there are permanent settlements of southern Slavs from Vidin in the north to Ohrid in the South. Serbia began to cut out pieces off this Albanian wedge as early as the first uprising, by expelling the northernmost Albanian inhabitants from Jagodina.
Thanks to the broad state concepts of Jovan Ristic, Serbia cut another piece off this wedge after the annexation of Toplica and Kosanica. At that time, the regions between Jastrebac and Southern Morava were radicaly cleared of the Albanians.
From 1918 onwards it was the task of our present state to destroy the remainder of the Albanian triangle. It did not do this. There are several reasons for this, but we shall mention only the most important of them:
1. The fundamental mistake of the authorities in charge at that time ins that, forgetting where they were, they wanted to solve all the major ethnic problems of the troubled and bleeding Balkans by western methods. Turkey brought to the Balkans the customs of Sheriat, according to which victory in War and the occupation of a country confers the right to the lives of subject inhabitants. Even the Balkan Christians learned from the Turks that not only the state power and domination, but also home and property are won and lost by the sword. The concept of the relations of private ownership of the land n the Balkans was to be softened to some extent through laws, ordinances and other international agreements issued under pressure from Europe, but this concept has been to some degree the main lever of the Turkish state and the Balkan states right to do this. We shall mention only few cases if recent rimes. The removal of Greeks from Asia Minor to Greece and of Turks from Greece to Asia Minor, the recent removal of Turks from Bulgaria and Romania to Turkey. While all the Balkan states since 1912 have solved or are on the way of solving the problems of all minorities through mass removals, we have stuck to slow and sluggish methods of gradual colonization. The results of this have been negative. That this is so us best shown by the statistics from the 18 districts which compromise of the Albanian triangle. From these figures it emerges that in those regions the natural growth plus new settlers (from 1921 to 1931 Albanian population increased by 68.060 while the Serbs show an increase of 58.745 – a difference of 9,315 in favor of Albanians). Taking into account the intractable character of the Albanians, the pronounced increase in their numbers and the ever-increasing difficulties of the colonization by the old methods, with the passage of time this disproportion will become even greater and eventually put in question even those few successes we have achieved in our colonization from 1918 onwards.
2. Even the method of gradual colonization was not properly applied. Worse still, in a problem of such importance, there was no definite plan of such importance, there was no definite state plan which every government and regime would have to adhere to and implement. Work was intermittent, in first and starts, each new minister undid what his predecessors had done, while himself created nothing solid. The laws and regulations were amended, but even weak as they were, were not implemented. Some people, deputies especially from other regions, when they could not manage to secure the mandate in their own regions, would go to the south and butter-up non-national elements to gain the mandate, thus sacrificing the major national and state interests. The colonization apparatus was extremely costly and inflated loaded with people were not only incompetent but also frequently without scruple, so that their work truly constitutes a separate problem. Finally one need only total up the huge sums this state has invested in colonization and divide them by the number of families settled, to prove how costly every new household established since the war has been, regardless of whether or not this expenditure was met by the settlers themselves or by the state. Likewise, it would be interesting to compare the amounts paid out by personal expenditure and those for the materials used for our colonization. Serbia went about this question quiet differently in the past. Karageorge during his first uprising, as well as Milos, Mihajlo and Jovan Ristic had no special ministry of land reform, general land inspectors, or costly apparatus, and stil purged Serbia of the foreign elements, populating it with its own people, who felled the endless forests of Sumadia, which was transformed from its rough state into the fertile Sumadia of today.
3. Even those few thousand families that were settled after the war did not establish themselves where they were placed, There was more success in Kosovo, especially in the Lab Valley, where the Toplicans penetratedof their own accord, from north to south. Our oldest and most stable settlements, with elements from our different regions, were established there. In Drenica and Metohija we had no success. Colonization should never be done with Montenegrins alone. We do not think that they are unsuitable as colonists, because of their pastoral indolence. This applies only to the first generation. The second generation is quite different, more active and practical. Petrovo village in Miroc, above the Danube, the most advanced village of Kraijina is inhabited exclusively by Montenegrins. In Serbia today there are thousands of advanced economies, especially in Toplica and Kosanica which have been established by Montenegrins of the first generation, who have mixed with more advanced elements. This is especially valid for the old costumes managed to survive. A visit to the coffee-houses of Pec is sufficient to convince one of this. This is why our colonization has had so little success all over Metohija. It must be admitted, on the other hand, that these colonies have been poorly situated on unfertile scrub-covered land, and almost totally lacking in the most essential agricultural implements. But these should have been given more assistance than the others, because they are made up of the poorest Montenegrin elements.
4. Without doubt, the main cause for the lack of our colonization in those regions was that in those regions was to take the land from the Albanians. The only possible way for our mass colonization of those regions was to take the land from the Albanians. After the war, at the time of the rebellion and actions of the insurgents, this could have been achieved easily by expelling part of Albanian population to Albania, by not legalizing their usurpation and by buying their pastures. Here we must return again to the gross error of our post-war concept. About the right to possession of the land they had usurped – scarcely any of them had title-deeds issued by the Turks, and those only for land purchased, to the determent of our nation and state, we not only legalized all these unsurpations, but worse still, accustomed the Albanians to West-European ideas about private property. Prior to that, they could have never have had these ideas. In this way, we ourselves handed them a weapon to defend themselves, to keep the best land for themselves and make the nationalization of one of the regions most important to us impossible.From all this it is apparent that the methods of our colonization policy in the south to date have not yielded the results which we ought to have achieved and which now impose themselves on us as a major state necessity. We have not criticized these methods merely for the sake of criticism , but so that on the basis of the experience, we can find the right ways to solve this problem.
THE PROBLEM OF THE COLONIZATION OF THE SOUTHERN REGIONS Reading the first part of this paper, one immediately observes that, in examining the problem of colonization of the southern regions, the issue is mainly about the regions to the north and south of the Sar Mountain. This is not accidental. This is not accidental. This block of Albanians around the Sar Mountain has great national, state and strategic importance for our state. We have already mentioned the way it came into existence and the importance of this region for linking the regions around the Vardar Valley firmly with our ancient territories. The greatest force of the Serbian expansion ever since the beginnings of the first Serb State in the 9th century has always been based on the continuity of this expansion, as well as on the expansion of the ancient territories of Raska in all directions, hence including the expansion towards the south. This continuity has been interrupted by the Albanians and, until the ancient uninterrupted connection of Serbia and Montenegro with Macedonia along the whole of its extent from the Drin River to Southern Morava is reestablished we will not be secure in our possession of this territory. From the ethnic standpoint the Macedonians will fully unite with us only when they enjoy true ethnic support from Serbian motherland, which they have lacked to this day. This they will achieve only through the destruction of the Albanian block.
From the military-strategic standpoint, the Albanian block occupies one of the most important positions of our country – the starting point from which the Balkan Rivers flow to the Adriatic Sea, the Black Sea and the Agean Sea. The holding of this strategic positions, to a large degree, determines the fate of the Central Balkans, especially the fate of the main Balkan communication line from Morave to Vardar. It is no accident that many battles of decisive importance for the destiny of the Balkans (Nemanja against the Greeks the Serbs against the Turks in 1389, Hanyadj against the Turks 1446) have been fought here. In the 20th century, only that country that is inhabited by its own people can be sure of its security; therefore it is an imperative duty for all of us that we should not allow these positions of such strategic importance to be in the hands of the hostile and alien element. The more so since this element has the support of the national state of the same race. Today this state is powerless but even in this condition, it has become a base of Italian imperialism, which aims to use it to penetrate into the heart of oru state. Our elements will be willing and able to defend its own land and its own state, is the most reliable means we have against this penetration.
Besides this block of 18 districts, the Albanians and other national minorities in the other parts of the southern regions are dispersed and therefore, not so dangerous to our national and state life. To nationalize the regions around the Sar Mountain means to bury any irredentism forever.
The colonization from the north should be reduced in the regions inhabited by Macedonians. In these regions land is scarce, they are passive regions and, for this reason, the Macedonians resist the flow of settlers from the north, the more so because in these actions they see our distrust towards them. The truth is that even that small degree of colonization does us more harm than good. If people are to be sent down there south of Black Mountain of Skopje, they should be people from Vranje, Leskovac, who are closer to the Macedonians in mentality and culture and by no means the people from the Dynaric regions with their irritable uncontrolled temperament because such elements arouse the hatred of the local people. We repeat that this problem will be solved only when our colonies, advancing from the north through Kosovo and Metohija, towards the Sar Mountain, Polog meet the Macedonian settlements.
The problem of Sandjak of Novi Pazar is solving itself and is no longer playing the role it played in our state life until 1912. We shall only mention that with the removal of the Albanians, the last link between our Moslems in Bosna and Novi Pazar and the rest of the Moslem world is cut. They are becoming religious minorities, the only Moslem minority in the Balkans, and this fact will accelerate their nationalization.
Recently Montenegro has become a very grave problem. The poor land cannot sustain the population, but despite the removal this increased by 16 per cent from 1912 to 1931. Through the centuries, this turbulent pastoral element has contributed essential features in our race. Channeled in the right direction, their energies will not be destructive, but we can be employed to the general benefit of the state, if they are directed to southeast.
The Albanians cannot be repulsed by means of gradual colonization alone; they are the only people who, during the last millennium managed not only to resist the nucleus of our state but also to harm us by pushing our ethnic borders northwards and eastwards. Whereas in the last millennium our ethnic borders were shifted to Subotica in the north and Kupa in Northwest, the Albanians drove us from the Skadar and its region, the former capital city of Bodin, from Metohija and Kosovo. The only way and the only means to cope with them is the brute force of an organized state, in which we have always been superior to them. If since 1912 we have had no success in the struggle against the, we are to blame for this, as we have not used this power as we should have done. It is not possible to speak of any national assimilation of the Albanians in our favor. On the contrary, because they base themselves on Albania, their national awareness is awakened and if we do not settle accounts with them at the proper time, within 20-30 years we shall have to cope with a terrible irridentism, the signs of which are already apparent and which will inevitably put all our southern territories in jeopardy.
THE INTERNATIONAL PROBLEM OF COLONIZATION If we proceed from the assumption that the gradual displacement of the Albanians through our gradual colonization is ineffective then we are left with only one course – that of their mass resettlement. In this case we must consider two states – Albania and Turkey.
With its sparse population, it’s many undrained swamps and uncultivated river valleys Albania would be in position to admit some hundred thousands Albanians from our country. With its large uninhabited and uncultivated territories in Asia Minor and Jurdistan, modern Turkey has almost boundless possibilities for internal colonization. However despite all the efforts of Kamal Ataturk, the Turks have not yet filled the vacuum created as a result of the removal of the Greeks from Asia Minor to Greece and some of the Turks to Persia. Hence the greatest possibilities are that the bulk of displaced Albanians might be sent there.
First, we stress that we should not limit ourselves to diplomatic steps with the Ankara government only, but should employ all means to convince Tirana to accept some of our displaced people. I believe that this will come up against difficulties in Tirana, because Italy will try to hinder this process. However, money plays great role in Tirana. In the talks about this question, the Albanian Government should be informed that we shall stop at nothing to achieve our final solution to this question, while at the same time we should tell them about subsidies for colonization, over which no control will be exercised; eventually, through secret channels, the notables in Tirana may be persuaded by material gain to raise no opposition to this whole business.
As we have heard, Turkey has agreed to accept some 200.000 of our displaced people initially, on condition that they are Albanians, something which is most advantageous to us. We must comply with this desire of Turkey readily and sign a convention about the resettlement of the Albanian population as soon as possible. In connection with the resettlement of the Albanian population we must study the conventions which Turks has signed recently on these questions with Greece, Rumania and Bulgaria, paying attention to two things: that Turkey should accept the largest contingent, while from the financial aspect it should be given the maximum assistance, especially in the matter of organizing their transportation as quickly as possible. Undoubtedly this problem will give rise to some international concern, which is inevitable in such cases. Over the last hundred years, whenever such actions have taken place in the Balkans, there has always been some power which has protested because such an action did not conform to its interests. In the present instance, Albania and Italy may make some protest. As to Albania, we have already pointed out that attempts should be made to conclude a convention with it over this problem and if we don’t achieve this we should at least secure its silence over the question of removal of the Albanians to Turkey. We repeat that skilful action and money properly used in Tirana may de decisive in this matter. World opinion, especially that financed by Italy will be upset a little. Nevertheless, the world today has grown used to things much worse than this and should not be a cause for concern. At a time when Germany can expel tens of thousands of Jews and Russia can shift millions of people from one part of the continent to another, the shifting of few hundred thousand Albanians will not lead to the outbreak of a World War. However, those who decide should know what they want and persist in achieving this, regardless of the possible’ international obstacles.
Italy, no doubt will raise more difficulties, but at present it is extremely occupied with its own problems in connection with Abyssinia and Austria and will not dare go very far in its opposition. To tell the truth, the greatest danger lies in the possibility that our great allies, France and Britain might interfere. They must be given a clear and resolute answer that the security of Morina-Vardar line in their interests, a thing which was confirmed on the last great war, and it will be made more secure, both for them and for us, only when we completely dominate the regions around the Sar mountain and Kosovo from the ethnic aspect.
THE MODE OF REMOVAL As we have already stressed, the mass removal of the Albanians from their triangle is the only effective course for us. To bring about the relocation of a whole population and the first prerequisite is the creation of the suitable psychosis. It can be created in many ways.
As is known the Moslem masses, in general, are very readily influenced, especially by religion, are superstitious and fanatical. Therefore, first of all we must win over their clergy and men of influence, through money or threats to support the relocation of the Albanians. Agitators to advocate this removal must be found, as quickly as possible, especially from Turkey if it will provide them for us. They must describe the beauties in the new territories in Turkey, the easy and pleasant life there, kindle religious fanaticism and awaken pride in the Turkish state among the masses. Our press can be of colossal by help well they have settled down in the new regions. These descriptions will create necessary predisposition to shift among the mass of Albanians here.
Another means would be coercion by the state apparatus. The law must be enforced to the letter so as to make staying intolerable for the Albanians: fines, and imprisonment, the ruthless application of all police dispositions, such as on the prohibition of smuggling, cutting forests, damaging agriculture, leaving dogs unchained, compulsory labor and any other measure that an experienced police force can contrive. From the Economic aspect: the refusal to recognize the old land deeds, the work with the land register should immediately include public debts, requisitioning of all state and communal pastures, the cancellation of concessions, the withdrawal of permits to exercise a profession, dismissal from the state, private and communal offices etc., will hasten the process of their removal. Heath measures: the brutal application of all the dispositions even in the homes, the pulling down of encircling walls and high edges around the houses, the rigorous application of veterinary measures which will result in impending the sale of livestock in the market etc. also can be applied in an effective and practical way. When it comes to religion the Albanians are very touchy, therefore they must be harassed on this score, too. This can be achieved through ill-treatment of their clergy, the destruction of their clergy, the destruction of their cemeteries, the prohibition of polygamy, and especially the inflexible application of the law compelling girls to attend elementary schools, wherever they are.
Private initiative, too, can assist greatly in this direction. We should distribute weapons to our colonists, as need be. The old forms of cetnik actions should be organized and secretly assisted. In particular, a tide of Montenegrins should be launched from the mountain pastures in order to create a large-scale conflict with the Albanians in Metohija. This conflict should be prepared by means of our trusted people. It should be encouraged and this can be done more easily since, in fact, Albanians have revolted, while the whole affair should be presented as a conflict between clans and, if need be, ascribed to economic reasons. Finally, local riots can be incited. These will be bloodily suppressed with the most effective means but by the colonists from the Montenegrin clans and the cetniks, rather than by means of the army.
There remains one more means, which Serbia employed with great practical effect after 1878, that is, by secretly burning down villages and city quarters.
THE ORGANIZATION OF THE REMOVAL From the attached map it is apparent what regions must be cleared. They are: Upper Debar, Lower Polog, Upper Polog, Sar Mountain, Drenica, Pec, Istok, Vucitrin, Stavica, Lab and Kacanik. Among these regions which together compromise the Albanian wedge, the most important for us are: Pec, Dakovica, Prodrimja, Goda, Podgor, Sar, Istok, and Drenica – north of the Sar Mountain as well as the Upper Debar and the two Pologs, in the south, and the Sar Mountain These are border regions which must be cleared of Albanians at any cost. The internal regions such as Kacanik, Gilan, Nerodimje, Gracanica, Lab, Vucirin, etc must be weakened if possible, especially that of Kacanik and Lab, while the others should be gradually and systematically colonized over a period of decades.
The above-mentioned means should be used in the first place in the border regions, if we wish to clear them of Albanians.
During the resettlement the following must be kept in mind:
In the first place, resettlement should begin in the villages and then in towns. Being more compact, the villagers are more dangerous. Then, the mistake of removing only the poor should be avoided: the middle and rich strata make up the backbone of every nation, therefore, they, too must be persecuted and driven out. Lacking the support which their economically independent compatriots have, the poor submit more quickly. This question has great importance, and I emphasize this because one of the main causes for the lack of success of our colonization in the south is that the poor were expelled while the rich remained, thus we were no further forward, because we gained very little land for the settlement of our colonists. During the creation of the psychosis for the resettlement, everything possible must be done to send off whole villages, or at least whole families. The situation that part of the family is shifted while others remain behind, must be prevented at all costs. Our state is not going to spend millions to make life easier for the Albanians, but to get rid of as many of them as possible. For this reason the purchase of the land of the Albanians who shift by those who remain behind must be absolutely prohibited. The shifting of individuals and whole villages must be linked with this question, if they want things made easy for them during the process of the relocation.
Once they agree to shift, all-round aid should be given them. The administrative procedure should be simplified, their property should be paid for on the spot, travel documents should be issued without the least formality and they should be assisted to get to the nearest railway station; trains should be made available for them, as far as Salonica, and thence they should be immediately shipped to Asia. It is very important, that the journey should be easy, comfortable and cheap. Possibly, the travel by train should be free and they should be assisted with food because whether or not large masses will shift, depends largely on this. The fear of difficulties on the journey will be a major obstacle to their moving. Therefore this must be combated by solving all the problems connected with the journey, quickly and energetically. Particular care must be taken to ensure that they have the fewest possible difficulties over the journey, because simple folk orientate themselves with difficulty, therefore it would be advisable to study the system of workers transport by the big travel agencies and use that. The displaced person must pass from hand to hand without feeling the burden of this movement. Only in this way it is possible to create that flow of displaced Albanians which will empty our south of them.
POPULATING THE DEPOPULATED REGIONS The problems of the establishment of colonies in the depopulated regions is not less important than the removal of the Albanians.
The first question emerges: Who should be settled there? The most natural thing is to people them with our elements from the passive regions, in the first place Montenegrins are the most appropriate for several reasons, because Metohija, Drenica, and Kosovo are most natural places into which they flow from their impoverished mountains. The increase of population in Montenegro has brought about poverty, which in recent times has given rise to continual socio-political unrest unfavorable to our state power and very dangerous to law and order in the future. Giving them maize and pensions is useless. The only solutions is to send them to the fertile regions of Metohija, Drenica and Kosovo. Then, since they are akin to the Albanians in mentally and temperament, the Montenegrins are the most appropriate as instruments to overcome them. In the first place, they must be used in the regions north of Sar Mountain; however along with them some people from Lican, Krajsnica, Serbia, Cacak, Uzice, and Toplica should be used as colonists. This is necessary in order to create better habits of work and organization among the Montenegrins, to break down their nomadic-group psychology, the spirit of collectivity which characterizes the highlanders, by means of mixing and intermarriage with people from various Dinaric regions; in this way a new type of Montenegrin with a less local but broader, more Serbian outlook, will be formed.
Suitable conditions should be created for the Southern Serb Emigrants living in the regions south of Sar Mountain so that they can take possession of the fertile lands. They are honest, hardworking people, who will be grateful to this state all their lives if pleasant conditions for life in countryside are created for them. The rural Southern Serbs in general have a right to expect more care and attention than we are giving them today. The colonization of Polog (Upper and Lower) and Debar with these paupers, as well as allocating pastures to them instead of the Albanians, will make them feel that this is their state, and they will know to defend its borders.
Apart from them, the colonization south of SAR Mountain and the Black mountain of Skopje can be done with Serbs from Vranje, Leskovac, Pirot and Blasenica, especially those from passive mountain villages. We repeat that the Dinarics should not be allowed to extend to the south of the line formed by the Black Mountain of Skopje and the SAR mountain.
During the colonization of the villages emptied of Albanians, it is essential to avoid bureaucratic delays and petty formalities. The first immediate action is to give the colonists title to the land on which they are settled. One of the main reasons for the lack of success of the colonization so far has been that the colonist has not felt secure on the land on which he was settled, because he did not receive title to it immediately, and thus was exposed to ill-treatment at the hands of unscrupulous clerks and politicians. The peasant feels secure in his possession of land only when he knows that no one can shift him for it. Therefore he can not have unrestricted ownership of this property. Because there are many different people among them, such as village proletarians who have lost their feeling for the land, or herdsmen who have to adopt themselves to agriculture, they must be linked with the land by the force of law. This is because they must begin to love their new regions and home, and if they, themselves, do not succeed in this, at least their children should. For this reason the colonists should be prevented by law from gaining full ownership of the land for not less than 30 years, even though they are given the title immediately. According to our law, in our country the woman does not enjoy the right of inheritance to land. In order to avoid fragmentation of the land into small parcels, women must be excluded from the inheritance to colonized lands, expect in cases when the colonist has no male descendants and plans to bring a bridegroom into the household. The properties which have been given to the colonists up till now have been small. Bearing in mind the extensive methods of farming, the fall of prices for agricultural products, as well as the large families of the colonists, 5-10 hectares of land is insufficient to ensure the conditions for the economic development of the colonists. It is better to settle a region with smaller number colonists with better conditions for development, rather than a large number of rural semi-proletarians. This, too, has been another major cause of our lack of success to date in the colonization of the south and the north.
Elements so suitable for colonization in such difficult conditions as we have are rare among other peoples. Those few successes we have achieved in the policy of colonization are the result of these colonizing qualities of race. Only our peasant, up against scrubland and ground that had never been worked shifted from one environment to another was capable of surviving in such different circumstances. What wouldn’t he be able to do if the state were to give him the things it has the duty to provide.
On February 10, 1865 the Government of Prince Mihajlos promulgated the law on the Settlement of Foreigners in Serbia. Under this law, the Serbian Government granted poor colonists from neighboring regions 3 jutra of arable land and 3 jutra of non arable land, a house, a joke of oxen, a cart, two goats, or sheep, a sow, the necessary work tools and 120 grosh in cash. Apart from this, obviously maize for food to last them till the first harvest. One plough was provided for every two families. These fixed and movable assets were given to the colonizers for use without the right to sell them for a term of 15 years. At the end of this term, they became property. For the first 5 years the settlers were exempt from all kinds of state taxes, for 10 years they were exempt from the Universal compulsory military service in the regular army and exempt from service in the people’s militia for 5 years. The response from all sides was such that within a few months all the places were filled and more territory was colonized than we have been able to do in several years since the war. If the state had created these favorable conditions for the colonists after 1918, our situation both in Vojvodina and in Southern Serbia would not be as it is. This is how we must act in the future, if we want success.
The method of colonization of Toplica and Kosvanica after 1878 when the Albanians were expelled from these regions, is also full of lessons. The method for our colonization of these regions was laid down in the law of January 3, 1880. On February 3 of the same year, the People’s Council approved the law on the amendment of agrarian relations according to the principle the land to the peasants. Without hesitation, Serbia sought its first foreign loan in order to pay Turkey for the lands taken. It did not set up any ministry of agrarian reform or costly apparatus for the problem of colonization, but everything was done in a simple and practical manner. The police organs distributed the land to all those who wanted to till it. People came from Montenegro, Sjenica, Vranie, Kosovo, Pec etc. and 30 years after 1878. Toplica and Kosanica, once Albanian regions of ill-repute, gave Serbia the finest regiment in the wars of 1912-1918, the Iron Second Regiment. In those wars, Toplica and Kosanica paid and repaid, with blood of their sons, those tens of millions of dinars which Serbia had spent for their resettlement.
Only by following these examples and knowing what is required, sparing neither money nor blood, can our state create a new Toplica in Kosovo and Metohija. Hence, if we want these colonists to remain where they are, they must be assured of acquiring all the means of livelihood within few years. We must ruthlessly prohibit any speculations with the houses and properties of displaced Albanians. The state must reserve for itself the unlimited right to dispose of the fixed and movable assets of the people transferred and must settle its own colonists there immediately after the departure of the Albanians. This must be done, because it will rarely happen that a while village departs at once. The first to be settled in these villages should be the Montenegrins, as arrogant, irascible and merciless people, who will drive the remaining Albanians away with their behavior, and then colonists from other regions can be brought in.
This paper deals with the problem of the colonization of the Southern Serbia Only. The problem of Vojvodina especially the Hungarian triangle in Backa, Senta-Kula-Backa Topola is not less important to us. To destroy this triangle in Vojvodina is tantamount to destroying the Albanian Block around the SAR Mountain. Following the division of the big estates, there remain tens of thousands of Hungarian farm-hands who today are a great burden on the Serbian and German middle peasant of Vojvodina. Some of these Hungarian and even German farm laborers and small proprietors must be sent to the south, because in Backs, on the border with Hungary, they represent a danger, the more so since the Serbs in Backa comprise only 25 per cent of the population. In Southern Serbia, by defending their properties against Albania, they will become good citizens, who will integrate themselves with our masses and, what is more important, being more progressive and of a higher cultural level than our peasants, they will provide an example of advanced methods of the cultivation of the land. We emphasize in particular that the Serbs of Vojvodina should not be sent to the south for colonization. In Vojvodina there is still land for colonization, therefore, they must be given land there. We stress also, that during the period of 1928-1929 there was a widespread movement among the Hungarians and Germans of Vojvodina to move to Southern Serbia, but not knowing the problems our unclear opinion opposed this movement and nipped it in the bud. Another such attempt in this direction should be impended and our public must be instructed to support the movement of the Hungarians and Germans from Vojvodina, and especially from Back to the South.
THE COLONIZATION APPARATUS Of special importance for the solution of the question under discussion is the existence of an apparatus to direct the whole business. The poor work of the apparatus which has implemented our policy of colonization so far is the reason for the good part of our lack of success to date. To avoid this in the future, a reorganization must be carried out.
No other question demands such continuity in its implementation as colonization does. We have pointed out that one of the main reasons for the lack of success of our colonization in the north and in the south is the inconsistent work and changing policy with each change of government. If this is to be avoided in the future, the colonization should be entrusted to General Staff. Why? Simply for the reason of defense. Our army is interested in settling our own elements along the borders especially the moste delicate sectors. To this end, it will do its utmost to secure the borders with the firmest possible colonization. The General Staff, as the prime institution for the defense of our National Interests, can contribute a great deal to our whole policy of colonization. The General Staff will know how to protect the implementation of the policy of colonization from private interference by those who want to used it for their personal interests and from any external influence. Another important fact is that it would be easier for the General Staff to convince the responsible bodies of the importance if the issue and make them take effective decisions. The People’s Council will have more faith in it and will grant the necessary credits to it more readily than to others.
The General Staff would guide all the work through a State Council for colonization. This council would be quiet independent, but directly under the control of the Chief of the General Staff, and would have all the organs of our colonization under its control. Representatives of several interested ministries, the national association, technical and scientific institutions, should be brought into this council.
The greatest mistake of our colonization policy lay in the fact that the untrained and incompetent bureaucracy had the main say in it, and it dealt with the problems a bit at a time, without going into them thoroughly. Let us only recall the colonization of our
volunteers from Hungary at Ovce Polje, Kadrifikovo or the emigrants from Istra and Gorica who settled around Demir Kapija. This requeires the close linking of the state power, private initiative and scientific institutions with our colonization policy. Private initiatives can operate operate in many directions. The People’s Defense, the Sokolasas, the Cetnik Association, etc. could undertake actions against the Albanians, in which it is appropriate for the state to be involved. The association of agronomists, doctors, engineers the cooperatives etc. can assist very well through their technical councils to solve many problems which arise during the process of our colonization. The cultural associations, too, such as Prosveta in Sarajevo, Matica Srbska in Novi Sad, the Sv. Sava association in Belgrade etc. also have their tasks in connection with this question.
Undoubtedly, our higher scientific institutions have begun their former prestige. The main reason for this is that the University and the Academy of Sciences are becoming more and more removed from real life and neglecting the chief task they have in a relatively backward country, such as ours – opening the ways for the application of the scientific achievements of the 20th century. Many billions would have been saved in this country, many mistakes would have been avoided in our state policy, including our colonization policy, had the problems been studies seriously and objectively in advance by our competent scientific workers before they were taken up for solution. Our policy of colonization, likewise, would have acquired a more serious approach, greater continuity and effective application had the opinions of experts and scientific workers been sought in advance. In the first place, the Royal Serbian Academy of Sciences and the University of Belgrade ought to take the initiative to organize thorough scientific study of the whole problem of colonization in our country. This would be possible for many reasons. At the University we have experts on every question connected with colonization in our country. The teachers and academicians at the University are independent workers, less subject to external political influence. They already have good experience in such work and their scientific activity is a guarantee of objectivity. Therefore they should take the initiative to set up the colonization institute, the task of which would be to engage in the study of colonization. The state for its part, should detach from several ministries all the institutions which have been engaged with this problem so far, and create a special institution, “The Colonization Inspection Office”.
The Colonization Inspection Office would be headed by the Inspector General, appointed by decree on the proposal of the Minster of War, the Chief of General Staff, and the Prime Minister. All the work in the colonization institute and the Colonization Inspection Office would be carried out on orders from and under the supervision of the State Council, while the Inspector General would be answerable to the Chief of the General Staff.
The Colonization Institute would be divided into the following sections: 1) Organization, 2) Education and Culture, 3) Finance, 4) agriculture, 5) construction, 6) hygiene etc. In agreement with the scientific cultural-educational associations, the sections would study problems of colonization and prepare directives, thus supplying our colonization policy with a solid, scientifically worked out material from which to make decisions. At the head of this institute would be people from the State Council, made up of the representatives of the ministries mentioned, the University, the Academy of Sciences and those of private, national and educational-cultural organizations who would be elected or appointed to this council. In this case care must be taken not to bring people just for honor’s sake, but men who love and are dedicated to this great work.
The heads and employees of the Institute should be selected through competition. The institute would supply the Colonization Inspection Office with scientifically worked out materials for the implementation of the colonization policy. In cases of differences of opinion between the Colonization Inspection Office and the institute over some fundamental question, the Chief of the General Staff would have the decisive way.
The Colonization Inspection Office must have its executive organs in the territory, made up of people selected for their enthusiasm and readiness for this work, whether or not they are employed by the state. Therefore they should possible be selected through competition and be appointed upon proposal by the Chief of the General Staff, while as to its work, the Colonization Inspection Office and its organs must avoid the bureaucratic formalities as much as possible, while keeping in mind only one thing – the removal of the Albanians as quickly as possible and the settlement of our colonists.
The police apparatus will play a very important role in this matter. Therefore it is necessary to select the most energetic and honest officers and send them there. Their transfer should be done with the approval of the Chief of the General Staff, and for such a difficult job they should be paid from secret credits. Stern measures must be taken against any of them who commits the slightest infringement. A special commissar would execute the orders of the state colonization inspector must be appointed for the whole territory of the 18 districts mentioned. Prefects of districts must be given special wide powers for the work and the respective instructions. Our political parties should be told curtly that rivalry between parties in elections is categorically prohibited in those districts, and that any interference by the deputies in favor of Albanians is categorically forbidden.
The state Institute and the inspection Office for colonization will work out the technical details of organizing the removal of the Albanians and the establishment of our settlers. It would not be bad, perhaps, if another private organization were created besides these two official institutions, which would be based on the existing associations and have the task of assisting the implementation of our colonization policy through private initiative. It would be best if the League of our cultural-educational associations were to undertake this work. It would concern itself with coordinating the work of the private associations with the state policy for colonization and would assist liaison between them and the Colonization Institute.
FINANCIAL MEANS Whenever our colonization policy has been criticized for its lack of success, its defenders have always excused themselves with the inadequate financial means the state has allocated for this work. We do not deny that it is sup op to the point, although it must be admitted that more has been spent in our country on the maintenance of this apparatus and its irrational work than on the colonization itself. Nevertheless, if we the state has not provided as it should, it must be understood that every state to ensure the holding of the insecure national regions, by colonizing these regions with its own national elements, must be included among the primary interests. All other commitments rank inferior to this task and this commitment. For this problem, money can and must be found. We have already mentioned the instance of Toplica and Kosanica and the benefits it had from this. When the small Serbian Kingdom did not hesitate to make great financial sacrifices, indeed did not hesitate, as a free and independent Kingdom, to seek its first loan for colonization, can it be said that our present-day Yugoslavia is unable to do such a thing? It can and must do it, and it is not true that it lacks the means to do it. Let us reckon approximately how much it would cost our state to transplant 200.000 Albanians and establish as great a number of our settlers.
The resettlement of 40.000 Albanian families – taking an average family as 5 members and an average of 15.000 dinars per each family would cost a total of 600 million dinars. The colonization expenditure for the settling of our 40.000 of our families may reach a total of 200 million dinars. In any case the whole thing will not cost more than 800 million dinars. This is why:
1. The transplanted Albanians will leave not only the land but also their houses and implements. Thus, not only will the overwhelming majority of our settlers assistance with live stock and food, they will recover themselves economically and become independent. For this reason we emphasize here, too, that private speculations with the possessions left by the Albanians must not be permitted in any way, but the state must take them and give them to the settlers.
2. During the settling up of the new colonies, military forces should be employed, where required, as was the case with construction of Sremska-Raca and the reconstruction of the villages destroyed in 1931 by the earthquake in the south. To this end, the army should be given the right and possibility a kind of obligatory labor service for public projects, just as Stambolisky in Bulgaria created the Trundova Pronist and Hitler created the Arbeitsdienst, in Germany by calling up reservists or extending the term of the military service. It would be especially good that our trained youth, after their graduation from the University are charged with this task. In this case, by taking part in constructive work in general interest, many of them would become more conscious and look at things more realistically. This can be easily applied by giving priority in entering state employment to those youth who spend a definite period in work for our colonization policy. This would also reduce the unemployment among our young intelligentsia, which is becoming an increasingly difficult social problem in our country.
3. In the agreement with the specialized organizations and associations, the least costly ways must be sought for clearing land of scrub, irrigation, draining swamps, etc. well as for building houses. Private entrepreneurs should be informed that during their work to secure the necessary materials, the state helps them with reduced customs and railway tariffs, credits and other means, so that for such an important work the state has the right to demand from them supplies of materials at the lowest possible prices. The question of securing the materials should be solved directly through cartels and then, in agreement with them, the state will define both the quantity, quality and the price of the materials without fictitious deals. The state enterprises, the railways and especially forest enterprises such as Sipad etc. should be placed totally at the disposal of the State Council for Colonization.Taking this as a basis, the state can find the means from two sources. The State must undertake all the expenditures for the administration of this work and cover it from its normal income. This it can do by pruning unnecessary expenditure or expenditure from other spheres which are not so immediately urgent. The other possible financial source would be loans, which would be provided by the state banks, alone or jointly with our private capital through a compulsory internal loan. This would be based on securities issued by the state as well as on the contributions of the settlers, when they become independent.
4. During the colonization the state may grant the settlers property on credit or for cash. Many of them will buy land in new regions, selling their properties in their birthplaces. From this the state will regain a good part of the money it has laid out. However, we stress that the land must be sold only who provide proof that they will settle it permanently and work it. The land given on credit must not be very dear. The rate of interest must be minimal and the repayment should be deferred for several years to give settler time to establish himself i.e. until he has gained strength from the economic aspect.
It might not be a bad idea if financing and purchase of lands were done by the agricultural banks in collaboration with the cooperativist unions, under the direct supervision and on the basis of the directives of the State Council for Colonization. However, it is still early to give any definite opinion on this problem, because the conditions on which Turkey will accept the population displaced from our territories are not known.
Altogether, a sum of few hundred million dinars is a small expenditure for the state, in comparison with the real benefits it will gain from such a move. By securing our most sensitive point in the south through the settlement of our national elements we have several divisions in case of war. By settling these tens of thousands of families from our passive regions, especially Montenegro, as colonists, the intolerable economic crisis in those regions will be eased, and on the other hand, as a result of the great amount of work that will be opened during the colonization, it will be possible to find employment 10.000 workers, thus giving an impulse to our sluggish economy.
For such an important national, military, strategic and economic task, it is the duty of the state to sacrifice a few hundred million dinars. At a time when it can spend one billion dinars for the construction of the international highway from Subotica to Caribrod, and possible benefit from which we shall enjoy only in the distant future, it can and must find a few hundred million dinars, which will put us back in possession in the cradle of our state.
CONCLUSION In the view of all that has been said above, it is no accident that in our examination of the question of colonization in the south, we proceed from the view that the only effective method for solving this problem is the mass resettlement of the Albanians. Just as in other countries, gradual colonization has had no success in our country. When the state wants to intervene in favor of its own element, in struggle for the land, it can be successful only if it acts brutally. Otherwise, the native with his roots in his birthplace and acclimatized there, is always stronger than the colonist. In our case, this must be kept especially well in mind, because we have to do it with a rugged, resistant and prolific race, which the late Cvijic describes as the most expansive in the Balkans. From 1870 to 1914 Germany spent billions of marks for the gradual colonization of its eastern regions by purchasing land from the poles, but the fecundity of the Polish mothers defeated German organizations and money. This Poland regained its Pozan in 1918. Our statistics of the 1921-31 period, which we have already mentioned, show that the fecundity of the Albanian women defeated our colonization policy too. From this we must draw a conclusion, and do so quickly while there is still time to correct matters.
All Europe is in a state of turmoil. We do not know what each day and night may bring. Albanian nationalism is mounting in our territories too. To leave the situation as it is would mean, in case of any world conflict our social revolution, both of which are possible in the near future, to jeopardize all our territories in the south. The purpose of this paper is to aver such a thing.
D. Vaso Cubrilovic