Leo Freundlich and The Roots of Anti-Serbian Propaganda

Posted on April 26, 2013 by


The racist and hysterical anti-Serbian propaganda during the 1990s breakup of Yugoslavia did not originate with the U.S. government and the so-called Western media. The roots and origins of the anti-Serbian propaganda paradigm go back to Austria-Hungary before World War I. It was Austria-Hungary that developed the propaganda construct of a “Greater Serbia” and that Serbia was committing “extermination” or a genocide against Albanians. In particular, an inflammatory propaganda tract published by Austrian Leo Freundlich (1875-1954) in 1913 epitomized the Austrian anti-Serbian propaganda campaign. The propaganda tract was entitled “Albania’s Golgotha: Indictment of the Exterminators of the Albanian People”, published in Vienna in 1913 in German as Albaniens Golgotha: Anklageakten gegen die Vernichter des Albanervolkes. Gesammelt und herausgegeben von Leo Freundlich .


Picture: From today’s perspective the Orthodox Christian characteristics in flames reminds Albanian arsoning and blasting Serbian churches and the Serbian Golgotha, which was, probably,  the case when the picture was taken. But the former German, Austrian and Albanian books entered the opposite version – and nobody asked why, if the victims were Albanians, there were Serbian Christian insignia and crosses in flame,  and  not Islamic (Albanian).  (Even though it’s just a drawing in a newspaper article)

Who was Leo Freundlich? He attended the 1913 Congress of Trieste, then part of Austria-Hungary, with Austro-Hungarian Baron Franz Nopcsa von Felso-Szilvas. The Congress was promoted by Austria to “ensure the selection of a prince of its choice.”  In other words, Austria organized the Congress to be able to put an Austrian as the king of Albania. Albania was an Austrian proxy, client state, surrogate, and satellite statelet at that time. Indeed, Nopcsa sought to be installed as king of Albania himself. He described Freundlich: “I brought with me Dr. Leo Freundlich, a former Socialist Member of Parliament from Vienna who, at the very moment Albania became ‘in’, had skilfully founded the periodical ‘Albanische Korrespondenz’ and was now on about ‘imperialist power politics’.” His racist anti-Serbian propaganda track was written after the Trieste Congress, on “Easter Sunday, 1913″.

In 1914, the Great Powers would install German army officer Prince William of Wied as the first internationally recognized political leader of Albania, who was supported by Austria-Hungary. The New York Times reported in 1913 that even former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was being considered for the position of the first King of Albania.


Robert Elsie, an Albanian propagandist and advocate, described Freundlich as follows: “Leo Freundlich (1875-1954), was a Jewish publicist living in Vienna. … Freundlich was born of a wealthy Jewish family in Bielitz-Biala in the then Austro-Hungarian Empire.” He was a politically active socialist who became a member of the Reichsrat in 1907, the Austrian Parliament. He edited the left-wing newspaper the “Volkswacht”.  He attacked the Catholic Church and was imprisoned for three weeks. In 1910, he resigned from the Reichsrat with the defeat of the socialists in Bohemia and financial problems with his newspaper.

In 1900, Freundlich had married Emmy Koegler (1878-1948), who was a member of the Social Democratic Worker’s Party of Austria (Sozialdemokratischen Arbeiterpartei Österreichs , SDAP).

He was a soldier in the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I and was part of the Austrian occupation force in Albania. Austria-Hungary invaded and occuped northern and central Albania during World War I. Austria-Hungary created an Albanian Legion, an Albanian military formation, that was part of the Austro-Hungarian Army. After World War I, he worked for Ahmet Zogu, born Ahmet Bey Zogolli, who became King Zog of Albania in 1928. He became an “honorary consul” from Albania to Austria, representing Albanian economic and political interests. He was described as the “Royal Albanian press chief” to Albanian King Zog.


Austro-Hungarian and Albanian members at the 1913 Congress of Trieste where the selection of a  foreign, proxy ruler for Albania was discussed.

During the 1930s, Freundlich promoted trade relations between Albania and Nazi Germany. He worked with Nazi officials during this time. Elsie reported that in response to the Nazi salute “Heil Hitler!”, he would respond with “Heil Zogu!”. Because he was Jewish, he moved from Vienna to Geneva, Switzerland, to flee the Nazis. After the Communists took over Albania in 1944, he wrote a letter to Albanian Communist deputy prime minister Koci Hoxe asking that he be made an honorary Albanian consul to Austria again.

Leo Freundlich was an opportunistic, amoral businessman who sought to exploit Albania  to enrich himself in the process. He was a ruthless profiteer and sycophant. What credentials does he have to write a pamphlet on the alleged atrocities committed by Serbian forces, “the crazed barbarians”, in Albania? Freundlich has none. He has a self-interested motive in promoting the interests of Austrian satellite and proxy Albania. He will stand to gain and benefit financially from his propaganda screed. The primary source for news reports of alleged Serbian atrocities against Albanians was the “Albanische Korrespondenz”, a bogus newspaper that Freundlich had set up himself. In other words, he was the source for his allegations. He admitted in the preface that the objective of the tract was to persuade: “The aim of this work is to rouse the conscience of European public opinion.”

Moreover, he was willing to do business with Nazi Germany in the 1930s so long as he benefited financially from the deals. While others boycotted the Adolf Hitler Nazi regime in Germany and refused to do business with it, Freundlich had no qualms about economic relations with Hitler so long as he was personally enriched. He was an amoral opportunist and profiteer. His racist propaganda screed “Albania’s Golgotha” is an example of racist incitement to hatred and ethnic and religious enmity. Ironically and absurdly, he applied the Christian “Golgotha”, referring to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, to Albanians, the majority of whom are Muslim. “Albania’s Golgotha” stands next to “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” in its racist incitement to ethnic and religious enmity and hatred.


An Albanian infantryman of the Albanian Legion, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I, 1916. The Albanian Nazi SS Division Skanderbeg, formed in 1944, would be modeled by Heinrich Himmler on the Austro-Hungarian Albanian Legion from World War I.

Carl Savich, Serbianna.com,

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