Expatica news

Kosovo, Germany ink WWII graves accord

Kosovo and Germany have struck a deal that will allow Berlin to oversee the preservation and maintenance of Nazi graves from World War II in the Balkan territory.

Under the agreement reached this week, Berlin will have “the opportunity to maintain the German war graves and the German war cemeteries in the Republic of Kosovo at its own expense” and will also be allowed to exhume and relocate the remains of soldiers.

Germany will also be able “to build memorials in a simple and dignified form” in areas where they are unable to exhume the remains of German soldiers.

During the war, Kosovo was occupied by a variety of Axis Powers, including German, Italian and Bulgarian soldiers.

There are believed to be about 900 “burial sites” that officials are hoping to verify in Kosovo in the coming years, according to the National Association for the Preservation of German War Graves.

Most of the graves have not been maintained and remain unmarked, with some only discovered decades later by farmers cultivating their land or during digs at construction sites.

The new arrangement will also pave the way for experts to help identify the remains of German soldiers buried in Kosovo.

Throughout World War II, Kosovo was largely spared the large-scale fighting seen across Europe.

But in the final year of the war, a large number of Nazi soldiers were killed during clashes with Yugoslav partisan guerrillas as German forces withdrew from the territory.