The Big Lie About Kosovo
April 14, 1999
"Save the Albanian Kosovars!" Clinton cries. "Save
the Sudeten Germans!" Hitler
trumpeted in 1938. The names have changed, but the
strategy remains the same.
For more than 50 years, we Americans have looked
down our noses at the Germans, for
having followed Hitler so blindly. But now it's our
turn. We are proving no more resistant to
propaganda than those cheering crowds in Leni
Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will.
Back in the 1930s, Adolf Hitler needed an excuse to
seize Czechoslovakia. So he invented
one. Three and a quarter million ethnic Germans
lived in the Sudetenland, under Czech rule.
As William L. Shirer recounts in The Rise and Fall
of the Third Reich, Hitler secretly funded
an extremist group called the Sudeten German Party
and ordered it to provoke an uprising
against the Czechs.
Kosovo, too, appears to have been destabilized by
outside forces. For years, Kosovars
protested Milosevic peacefully. But in 1997, a
group called the Kosovo Liberation Army
(KLA) suddenly started shooting. Who were these
The Times of London (March 24, 1999) described the
KLA as "a Marxist-led force funded by
dubious sources, including drug money." European
police suspect the KLA of connections
to Albanian gangsters. At least two of the group's
backers appear to have been the CIA and
the German spy agency BND, according to
intelligence analyst John Whitley, quoted in
Truth in Media Global Watch Bulletin (April 2,
The purpose of staging a provocation is to create a
backlash. This strategy certainly worked
for Hitler in 1938. As unrest spread in the
Sudetenland, the Czechs cracked down. Czech
President Eduard Benes ordered troops into the
region and declared martial law.
Right on cue, the German press went wild. "Women
and Children Mowed Down by Armored
Cars," ran a typical Berlin newspaper headline in
September 1938. "Poison Gas Attack on
Aussig" cried another.
Hitler accused Benes of waging a "war of
extermination" against Sudeten Germans. "The
Germans he now drives out!" cried Hitler, in a
September 16, 1938 speech. "We see the
appalling figures: on one day 10,000 fugitives, on
the next 20,000... and today 214,000.
Whole stretches of country were depopulated,
villages are burned down, attempts are made
to smoke out the Germans with hand-grenades and
Sound familiar? Hitler's rhetoric bears an eerie
resemblance to the CNN news blitz on
Kosovo. Of course, Hitler was exaggerating. Many of
the atrocities he alleged later turned
out to be fabrications. But the same is true of our
newscasts on Kosovo.
Take the alleged massacre of 45 Albanian civilians
at Racak, for instance, reported in
January 1999. Forensic and other evidence now
suggests that the bodies were those of KLA
guerrillas killed in combat.
The hoax has been widely discussed in the European
press (including Le Monde, Die Welt,
Le Figaro and the BBC). But U.S. news outlets have
been as silent on the controversy as if
they were taking orders from Goebbels himself.
In the Sudeten crisis, Hitler claimed to be
inspired by internationalist ideals. "Among the
fourteen points which President Wilson promised
..." the Fuhrer proclaimed, "was the
fundamental principle of the self-determination of
all peoples ..." By freeing the Sudeten
Germans, Hitler argued, he was fulfilling Wilson's
Clinton too claims he is fighting for human rights.
But ethnic cleansing does not bother
Clinton when his friends are the ones doing the
cleansing. He ordered no bombing when the
Croatians drove 300,000 Serbs from Krajina, burning
their homes and killing many. Nor did
he intervene when our NATO ally Turkey slaughtered
over 35,000 Kurds.
Every schoolchild today knows that Hitler's real
goal, in seizing Czechoslovakia, was to use
it as a stepping stone for his planned invasion of
But what is Clinton's real interest in Kosovo?
Many theories have been floated. Some point to the
Trepca mines of northern Kosovo, rich
in gold, zinc, silver and lead. The New York Times
called them the "Kosovo war's glittering
prize" (July 8, 1998).
Others see a more far-reaching strategy. The
Russians claim that NATO, like Hitler, wants
use the Balkans as a stepping stone for extending
its power eastward -- eventually meddling
in the affairs of Russia itself.
But this is all speculation. Only time will reveal
Clinton's true intentions, as it ultimately did
In his memoir Inside the Third Reich, Albert Speer
recalled the anxious mood of Berliners, in
September 1939, as they digested the news that
England and France had declared war.
"The atmosphere was noticeably depressed," he
recalls. "The people were full of fear about
the future. None of the regiments marched off to
war decorated with flowers as they had
done at the beginning of the First World War. The
streets remained empty. There was no
crowd on Wilhelmsplatz shouting for Hitler."
A wise man once said that those who fail to study
history are condemned to repeat it.
Should Clinton actually succeed in sparking a world
war, Americans will no doubt react with
the same shock and fear as Berliners did in 1939.
But we will have only ourselves to blame.
Richard Poe is a freelance journalist and a New
York Times-bestselling author. He writes
frequently on historical themes. Poe's latest book,
"Black Spark, White Fire", explores the
Afrocentric controversy concerning ancient Egypt.
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