German Ambassador to Kosovo Joern Rohde has criticized a UNDP-funded renovation of the house of Kosovo-Albanian politician Xhafer Deva who was Minister of Interior in Albania’s Nazi collaborationist government in 1944.
In 1944, a police unit under his command allegedly murdered 86 Tirana residents suspected of being anti-Nazis. Deva was then involved in recruiting Kosovo Albanians into the Nazi Party’s armed force, Waffen-SS.
After losing his job, Deva fled to Croatia and Austria with German help. He lived in Damascus before moving to the US.
His previous home, located in Mitrovica, has fallen into ruin. Earlier this month, the UNDP in Kosovo announced it would fund the restoration works of “one of Mitrovica’s most remarkable heritage sites”.
Rohde reacted to the news, accusing the project of “whitewashing” history and sympathising with a war criminal.
“Very concerned about restoration plans for Xhafer Deva’s house, a known Nazi collaborator/protagonist of infamous SS Skanderbeg Div. No history whitewashing. Do not distort the truth about the Holocaust or war crimes committed by Nazi’s and local collaborators,” he wrote.
Very concerned about restauration plans for Xhafer Deva’s house, a known Nazi collaborator/protagonist of infamous SS Skanderbeg Div. No history whitewashing! Don’t distort the truth about the Holocaust or war crimes committed by the Nazis and local collaborators #ProtectTheFacts
— Ambassador Jörn Rohde (@GermanAmbKOS) February 7, 2022
He added that, “Memory culture and preserving cultural heritage must be taken as opportunities to deal with the past in an open, truthful way. The German Embassy is ready to support any reasonable approach to memory culture in Kosovo.”
Following the outrage, the EU and UNDP released a statement “taking into account the controversy connecting the building’s past” and said they are looking at alternatives.
“Tolerance, peace, and respect for all human beings are at the heart of shared values of the European Union, UNDP, and Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports (MCYS),” the partners on the joint project “Cultural Heritage as a Driver for Intercommunity Dialogue and Social Cohesion,” the statement said.