war in europe

three Albanian victims of Serbian ethnic cleansing and atrocities

how it was fought
ethnic cleansing
for moral values?

B. is an 11 year-old girl who survived the massacre at Precaz, where Serb forces killed over 50 people in an attempt to eliminate a group of KLA leaders, including her father and uncle.

What do you remember from the war that went on in your house?

We heard gun shot noise, we heard the tanks. . . .We went in the basement, covered ourselves with the blankets and laid down. [My uncle] and his wife were upstairs. My father . . . was saying in a loud voice "Take the positions." They started shooting at the tanks and they were singing at the same time. While [my aunt] was coming down she was killed. [My cousin] said, "They killed my mother" . . . [and] began crying. My mom said that we should be quiet because they would kill us too. We heard my dad and someone else singing.

How long did the fight last?

Three days and three nights.

What did you do?

We would cover when the round of bullets was coming though. My mum went outside to take some water because we were thirsty. We all drank a little. We were given bread after a time. My mother went to see our [sitting room] and she said that it was all ruined. My sister begun to cry because she saw somebody killed outside. My mother told her to be quiet.

Did you sleep at all?

No, we couldn't sleep when we heard the shooting, we were just staying there and didn't make any noise. The second day we heard the tanks. The third day they shot at us and killed my uncle. He was in the other room. [My cousin] saw him and said "They killed our father," and started crying and he shot three times in the air. [Then the Serbs] threw a grenade in the room. [My cousin] got wounded and almost everyone else. [His sister] was trapped because something from the sofa was on her leg. My mother said we should help her but they threw another grenade in another room. All were killed almost. Me with my sister were alive, and [two of my cousins.] . . . My sister was asking for water, and I had none to give her because the Serbs had stopped it. . . . I went to the door and was looking through the hole in the door. I saw that everything was burned. One policeman saw me and he shot in my direction. I ran back in. . . .

They tied our hands, and told us to leave. We ran, and fell in a hole.They fired at us, and we didn't move so that they would think that we were dead. I asked [my cousin] where [her brother was]. She said he went out. Two policemen came near the door and they threw another grenade in. They killed [her]. I was left alive with my other sister only. They called me. They were speaking Serbian, I didn't know what they were saying so I thought I'd run away. My sister was screaming. I realized they had taken her. They were looking if anyone was left alive and he noticed that I was breathing. They captured me and they took me out and I saw my sister dead outside. They put me in a truck. There was a doctor there and he wanted to give me an injection. I told him I wasn't wounded.

One policeman asked me where was [my uncle and my father]. I told him they were in Germany. They asked who was the man downstairs in the KLA uniform. I said I didn't see him. One policemen was fooling around with me, he touched my hair. I took his hand away and said "Don't touch me." . . .

They put me in a van and took me to the factory. They left me there and covered me with a sack. . . . Then they took me with the other people and left me with them. Then they let us go. . . . Some friends of my sister took me with them. I stayed with them three days and then my uncle came and took me to K.

Where did you run away?

I stayed in the mountains in the bunkers. We had food to eat. We were OK. There were a lot of people. There was a river where we washed our shoes and other things. We had a water pipe. At night we slept in the bunkers and some in the plastic tent. Together with the KLA we were about 70. My family had two bunkers. I was only carrying water.

I was in M. when NATO started grenading. The earth was all lit up and the windows got broken. We were staying in the basement of the house. We put plastic bags instead of the windows. The earth was moving when they were bombing. We wanted that because we thought it will bring us freedom. . . .

What did you think when you saw the NATO soldiers?

They were like policemen! They were in tanks and they were driving in the streets.

What do you feel when you look at your destroyed house?

I think it is very bad, but they died for freedom.

Did you know that your uncle and your father were in the KLA?

Yes, but they were keeping it secret first because they thought we might tell to someone. It is not a secret now.

S., a 45 year-old survivor of the January, 1999 massacre at Racak, Kosovo.

Can you tell us what happened ?

At six in the morning we were asleep. We heard shootings. My daughter said we should take some things, but I said we should just run away. My brother came [and] called us to go to him; as we were going they shot him first in the leg. We lay down . . . One of my cousins wanted to help my brother but he was killed. Also my brother was killed at that time. My daughter was between them. Then they injured one cousin of mine with her daughter.

We tried to run away. We knew that the [OSCE] observers were in Shtimje, and we tried to go there. I crawled to the house. I left the dead there. I tried to save the others of my family. But here they fired again and more civilians tried to run away. They fired with all the weapons they had. We went in one house where lot of people were hiding. . . . I asked one man where his brother was, he replied, "They just killed my brother in the front of the house."

Then were some other people killed and injured. The police came later and found us there, around 50 people, men, women and children. They took us men out. When I went out I saw the policemen putting their masks on. Some of them were local Serbs who worked in the police force. Three of them I knew very well and I recognized them. . . . We were 22 men. They put us in line. They told to one of them, "You are in the KLA." They tied our hands, and told us to leave. We ran, and fell in a hole. They fired at us, and we didn't move so that they would think that we were dead. We were like that for some time. Afterwards I came to take the bodies of my brother and my nephew. . . .

One thing we know. We don't want to see any Serb here. They killed, massacred, raped our children. I can't imagine living with them anymore. I learned later that the others in that place were massacred very bad. They cut the head from one of them, took out a heart from the other. Later the OSCE observer came and saw all the bodies. They told us to bury them. We prepared them and put the bodies in the village mosque as our religion requires. The Serbs came and took the bodies, and fired again at us . . . till the night came. We had to run away again. They took the bodies to Pristina. We were hiding in the mountains, without food and water. We couldn't come in our houses even to take some food, because there were firing at us all the time.

[OSCE observer Bill] Walker managed to bring the bodies back and we had to make the funeral very quickly. Observers kept the soldiers from firing at us. Walker made a speech in the funeral, very brave of him. If he was not trying so hard, we couldn't have made the funeral. After the funeral we all had to run again. The Serbs held again our women and children, beat them and took some of our young women. They did terrible things, and we couldn't go down because they would kill us too.

Where did you stay?

In plastic tents, to save us from the rain and the cold nights.

When you heard that NATO was bombing the Serb positions, what did you feel?

We were happy, but from air, it was not possible to do anything. There were many people in mountains hiding, but the foreigners saved us.

When NATO started to bomb did Serbs do more things to you?

In the beginning yes. They were very angry. They did every possible thing. We were happy that NATO was bombing them. We were happy for that. But till they stopped the electric and the water, only then they started to think what to do.

What else do you want to tell me?

The world must know that Serbs left women without husbands, mothers without children . . . There are still people missing. We have open graves waiting for the bodies when they are found. Some children can't still find their mothers' bodies.

Do you think all this was worth it?

Yes, I think it is worth it. I am 45 years old, and all these years no Albanian did anything to any Serb. But they did terrible things to us.

E., a survivor of the January 15, 1999 massacre in Racak, Kosovo.

Can you tell us what happened?

We were sleeping around six a o'clock. My husband heard the noise and we ran. . . . All our family ran for their lives. They started shooting at us. My husband was shot. One cousin also. My husband was shot for the second time and died. My second son was shot also, my husband 's brother as well. . . . We ran then, when I came back I saw my son dead. I couldn't check if he was alive or dead. I had to leave him there and try to save this woman and her daughter which were injured. We hid ourselves in an empty house and stayed there for nine hours. We were in danger there also. We stayed there until the evening. They drank, sang and enjoyed their action.

We were afraid to stay in our houses so we just left the bodies there and we went in the bushes hiding. We were without water, without food. It was very cold. In the morning my brother-in-law came for us and told us that it was safe for us to stay in houses. We hoped that we could bury the dead as they deserved, but the Serbs came with tanks and took our bodies from the mosque. They didn't want any one to see what they'd done. . . . We were in mountains, it was cold. Then the observers from OSCE found us. . . . I begged them to send me in some warm place and drink some water or tea, I was going to die from coldness. They were good to me and they took me and one old woman, two children and sent us into my brother's house.

Serbs did terrible things to our people. I have lot of pain. I have five others [remaining in my family] but my pain for the two [I lost] is so big. The international community helped us but I don't know what is going to be in the future. One thing we know. We don't want to see any Serb here. Our heart is burned. They killed, massacred raped our children. I can't imagine living with them any more.

After the NATO intervened did you leave Kosovo?

Yes, in May. They drove us out of the mountains and beat us, separated the men and finally we arrived in Albania. They took money from us, they took women, they killed a child in the main street. . . . I thank them [NATO] they did what they could. Thank God they came with the land forces, because from air they were doing nothing. . . . I am still afraid. I don't know why NATO still takes care of Serbs. I am a woman but if I can I would do something to them. Personally I can't see a Serb living here. What did the children do to them? [My son] woke from bed and was killed . . . .

home . interviews . how it was fought . ethnic cleansing . fighting for morals . video . discussion
facts & figures . readings . chronology . links . map
synopsis . press . tapes & transcripts . FRONTLINE . pbs

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation