From: Alice Taylor
UNDP and EU Suspend Renovation of Nazi Collaborator’s House

Following outcry from civil society and two ambassadors, the UNDP and EU have announced the suspension of the renovation of Kosovo Albanian politician and Nazi collaborationist Xhafer Deva.

The news that the house would be reconstructed with funding from the two organisations was met with outcry from those who called it “whitewashing” of history.

In 1944, a police unit under Deva’s 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”, until making a u-turn this week.

“UNDP and the European Union express our strong regret for any unintentional offence caused when announcing the initiating of works while omitting the historical background of Xhafer Deva,” they said in a joint statement.

Additionally, they condemned anti-semitism and said that the project had intended to “bring communities together and contribute to social cohesion by using cultural heritage as an instrument for inter-community dialogue”.

This decision marks a progression from their previous statement where they said they would assess possible alternatives.

The project had been criticised by EU rapporteur for Kosovo Viola von Cramon, and the German ambassador to Kosovo Joern Rohde.

“There must be no place for WWII history revisionism and Holocaust denial,” von Cramon said.

Meanwhile Rohde said there should be, “No history whitewashing. Do not distort the truth about the Holocaust or war crimes committed by Nazi’s and local collaborators.”

Meanwhile, Kosovo’s Minister of Culture Hajrulla Ceku argued the property was of architectural importance and the building should “serve the community”.