Background on the Balkans war

Following the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Yugoslavian Communist Party was freed of restraints imposed by USSR need to avoid entanglement in European war. Communists became leaders in organizing resistance forces against Nazis. The party moved its organizational apparatus into Serbian mountains and began the Partisan campaign that changed the course of Yugoslavian history. Communists developed a successful policy widely recognized to have been instrumental in the victory over occupation forces.

Communists had a difficult time persuading Albanians in Kosovo to join Partisan ranks because the latter were chauvinistically inclined towards the Serbs (whose nationalism could be a problem but who also comprised the majority of both crack-unit Proletarian Brigades and regular Partisan formations). Also, Albanian Communists supported the claims of Albania to Kosovo but Yugoslavian Communists refused to consider any concessions to Albanian nationalist sentiment in the province.

The war years and their immediate aftertmath were marked by growing hostility between Communists (who initially took measures to ensure impartial treatment of minorities but later engaged in repressive actions) and intransigent nationalist elements in minority populations (of which Albanians were the most hostile). Imer Berisa, an advocate "Greater Albania" led an open revolt against the Partisan movement in 1944 that continued against the new Communist regime in 1945. Kosovo Albanian separatist militias eventually went underground (and were never completely eliminated), the Kosovo Albanian population remained aliented from the government, and the post-war position of the Communists was never secure in the region.

Kosovo was designated as one of two autonomous regions in the Yugoslavian federal system that was formally established in the fall of 1945. It was not considered a homeland area for minorities but was considered a place of mixed nationality requiring special status because of problems associated with relations among different national groups. Early on, a group of Kosovo Albanians tried to take advantage of the break with the Soviet Union by provoking the police into arresting and killing innocent Albanians in order to turn Albanian sentiment even more against the Yugoslavians. Communist distrust of Kosovo Albanians (based on perception that they were political unreliable) increased which in turn heightened ethnic Albanian nationalist sentiment. The situation reached a state of emergency in the mid-1950s. In 1959, the Yugoslavian League of Communists enacted plans to improve the status of minorities and initiated a program of economic development for Kosovo. Despite these actions, there was an uprising of Kosovo Albanians in 1960 and an aborted coup in 1964.

Following the Yugoslavian gov't's 1966 forced resignation of the country's vice-president (Aleksandar Rankovic, a Serb) and purge of the secret police accused of mistreating ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, the latter sta