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Sandžak (//; Serbo-Croatian: Sandžak / Санџак, pronounced [sǎndʒak]; Albanian: Sanxhaku), also known as Sanjak, is a historical geo-political region in Serbia and Montenegro. The name Sandžak derives from the Sanjak of Novi Pazar, a former Ottoman administrative district founded in 1865. Serbs usually refer to the region by its medieval name of Raška.
Sandžak / Санџак
|Countries||Serbia and Montenegro|
|Largest city||Novi Pazar|
|• Total||8,686 km2 (3,354 sq mi)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||45.33/km2 (117.4/sq mi)|
Between 1878 and 1909 the region was placed under Austro-Hungarian occupation, following which it was ceded back to the Ottoman Empire. In 1912 the region was divided between the kingdoms of Montenegro and Serbia. The most populous city in the region is Novi Pazar in Serbia.
Sandžak is the transcription of Turkish sancak (sanjak, "province"); the Sanjak of Novi Pazar, known in Serbo-Croatian as Novopazarski sandžak. In Serbian, the region is known by its pre-Ottoman name, Raška.
Sandžak stretches from the southeastern border of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the borders with Kosovo and Albania at an area of around 8,500 square kilometers. Six municipalities of Sandžak are in Serbia (Novi Pazar, Sjenica, Tutin, Prijepolje, Nova Varoš, and Priboj), and five in Montenegro (Pljevlja, Bijelo Polje, Berane, Rožaje, and Plav). Sometimes the Montenegrin municipality of Andrijevica is also regarded as part of Sandžak.
The most populated municipality in the region is Novi Pazar (100,410), while other large municipalities are: Pljevlja (31,060), and Priboj (27,133). In Serbia, the municipalities of Novi Pazar and Tutin are part of the Raška District, while the municipalities of Sjenica, Prijepolje, Nova Varoš, and Priboj, are part of the Zlatibor District.
The Serbian Despotate was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1455. During the Ottoman era, many inhabitants converted to Islam. The conversions were caused by number of factors, mainly economic as Muslims paid lower taxes. The Muslims were also privileged compared to Christians, who were unable to work in the administration or testify in court against Muslims. The second factor that contributed to the Islamisation were migrations. A large demographic shift occurred after the Great Turkish War. The Turks drove the mostly Slavic-speaking Christian Orthodox population northwards, while Muslims were driven to the Ottoman territory. The land abandoned by the Serbs was settled by populations from neighbouring areas who either were or became Muslim in Sandžak. Large migrations occurred throughout the 18th and 19th century. The third factor of Islamisation was the geographical location of Sandžak, which allowed it to become a trade centre, facilitating conversions amongst merchants. The tribal migrations to Sandžak had contributed a large role to its history and identity along with culture.
The second half of the 19th century was very important in terms of shaping the current ethnic and political situation in Sandžak. Austria-Hungary supported Sandžak's separation from the Ottoman Empire, or at least its autonomy within it. The reason was to prevent Serbia and Montenegro from unifying, and allow Austria-Hungary's further expansion to the Balkans. Per these plans, Sandžak was seen as part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, while its Muslim population played a significant role giving Austrian-Hungarians a pretext of protecting the Muslim minority from the Christian Orthodox Serbs.
Administratively, it was part of the Sanjak of Bosnia until 1790, when it become a separated Sanjak of Novi Pazar. However, in 1867, it become a part of the Bosnia Vilayet that consisted of seven sanjaks, including the Sanjak of Novi Pazar. This led to Sandžak Muslims identifying themselves with other Slavic Muslims in Bosnia.
A mixture of Slavic and Albanian speakers made up the Muslim population of Sandžak at the end of the nineteenth century. Albanian speakers gradually migrated or were relocated to Kosovo and Macedonia, leaving a primarily Slavic-speaking population in the rest of the region (except in a southeastern corner of Sandžak that ended up as a part of Kosovo).
Some members of the Shkreli (known as Škrijelj/Serbian: Шкријељ) and Kelmendi beginning around 1700 migrated into the lower Pešter and Sandžak regions.The Kelmendi chief had converted to Islam, and promised to convert his people to. A total of 251 Kelmendi households (1,987 people) were resettled in the Pešter area on that occasion, however five years later part the exiled Kelmendi managed to fight their way back to their homeland, and in 1711 they sent out a large raiding force to bring back some other from Pešter too. The remaining Kelmendi and Shkreli converted to Islam and became Slavophones by the 20th century, and as of today they now self-identify as part of the Bosniak ethnicity, although in the Pešter plateau they partly utilized the Albanian language until the middle of the 20th century particuarily in the villages of Ugao, Boroštica, Doliće and Gradac. Starting in the 18th century many people originating from the Hoti tribe have migrated to and live in Sandžak, mainly in the Tutin area, but also in Sjenica.
In October 1912, Sandžak was captured by Serbian and Montenegrin troops in the First Balkan War, and its territory was divided between Serbia and Montenegro. Many Slavic Muslims and Albanian inhabitants of Sandžak emigrated to Turkey as muhajirs. There are numerous colonies of Sandžak Bosniaks in Turkey, in and around Edirne, Istanbul, Adapazarı, Bursa, and Samsun, among other places. During World War I, Sandžak was occupied by Austria-Hungary between 1915 and 1918, as it had been previously between 1878 and 1908. Following World War I, it was included in the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. It was a link between the Muslims in the West in Bosnia and Herzegovina and those in the East in Kosovo and Macedonia. Sandžak was the only region in Serbia populated by the Slavic Muslims. The Sandžak Muslims suffered from the loss of their economic status since the decline of the Ottoman Empire, and during the agrarian reform carried out in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. This led to the Muslim emigrations to the Ottoman Empire.
World War IEdit
At the time of the First Balkan War, General Živković ordered the slaughter of 950 Albanian and Turkish notables at Sjenica after ten thousand Albanians delayed the advance of Serbian troops.
In 1919, an Albanian revolt, which later came to be known as the Plav rebellion rose up in the Rožaje, Plav and Gusinje districts, fighting against the inclusion of Sandzak in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. As a result, during the Serbian army's second occupation of Rožaje, which took place in 1918-1919, seven hundred Albanian citizens were slaughtered in Rožaje. In 1919, Serb forces attacked Albanian populations in Plav and Gusinje, which had appealed to the British government for protection. About 450 local civilians were killed after the uprising was quelled. These events resulted in a large influx of Albanians migrating to Albania.
World War IIEdit
In World War II, Sandžak was the battleground of several factions. In 1941, the region was partitioned between the Italian Montenegrin protectorate, the Italian protectorate over the Kingdom of Albania and the Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia. The Muslim population was in general anti-Partisan. They were organized in small formations known in historiography as the Sandžak Muslim militia. These formations depending on their location and regional politics were affiliated to Albanian nationalist groups linked to Balli Kombëtar in central and south Sandžak or to Muslim Ustaše groups in the north. Many Orthodox Serbs organized in the Serbian nationalist Chetniks. The stance of these factions towards the Nazi forces ranged from armed resistance to open collaboration. Smaller groups of both Orthodox Serbs and Muslims organized after 1943 in the Yugoslav partisan Anti-Fascist Council of the People's Liberation of Sandžak. Each faction sought the inclusion of Sandzak in the post-war situation in separate states. Albanian militia fought for inclusion in Greater Albania and Ustaše formations wanted at least part of Sandzak to join the Bosnian Muslims of the Independent State of Croatia. Within the Yugoslavs, Muslims, Serbs and Montenegrins adopted different strategies. Muslims wanted either unification with Bosnia under a federal Yugoslavia or the establishment of an autonomous Sandžak region. Serbs and Montenegrins wanted the area to either pass entirely to Serbia or to Montenegro.
The formal partition of Sandžak between Italian and German spheres of influence was largely ignored as local politics shaped control over the area. Prijepolje which formally was within the Italian area of rule in Montenegro was in fact under the NDH-affiliated Sulejman Pačariz, while Novi Pazar in the German sphere was led by the Albanian nationalist Aqif Bluta. Clashes between Albanians and Serbs in south Sandžak began in April 1941. In other cities of Sandžak similar battles between different factions played out. Otto von Erdmannsdorf, the special envoy of Germany to Sandžak mentioned in his correspondence that up to 100,000 Albanians from Sandžak wanted to be moved from Serbia under the jurisdiction of Albania. The Italian and German forces considered to enact population exchange from Sandžak to Kosovo to stop interethnic violence between Serbs and Albanians. Peter Pfeiffer, diplomat of the Foreign Office of Germany warned that relocation plans would cause a great rift between the German army and Albanians and they were abandoned. In November 1941 as clashes continued Albanians defeated the Chetniks in the battle of Novi Pazar. The battle was followed by reprisals against the Serbs of Novi Pazar. In 1943, Chetnik forces based in Montenegro conducted a series of ethnic cleansing operations against Muslims in the Bihor region of modern-day Serbia. In May of 1943, an estimated 5400 Albanian men, women and children in Bihor were massacred by Chetnik forces under Pavle Đurišić. In a reaction, the notables of the region then published a memorandum and declared themselves to be Albanians. The memorandum was sent to Prime Minister Ekrem Libohova whom they asked to intervene so the region could be united to the Albanian kingdom. It has been estimated that 9,000 Muslims were killed in total by the Chetniks and affiliated groups during the war in Sandžak. The Jewish community of Novi Pazar was initially not harassed because the city didn't have any considerable concentration of German forces, but on March 2, 1942 the city's Jews were rounded up by the German army and killed in extermination camps (the men in Bubanj and the women and children in Sajmište).
1943 year saw the creation of the SS-police "self-defence" regiment Sandžak, being formed by joining three battalions of Albanian collaborationist troops with one battalion of the Sandžak Muslim militia. At one point around 2,000 members of the SS regiment operated in Sjenica. Its leader was Sulejman Pačariz, an Islamic cleric of Albanian origin.
The Anti-Fascist Council of People's Liberation of Sandžak (AVNOS) had been founded on 20 November 1943 in Pljevlja. In January 1944, the Land Assembly of Montenegro and the Bay of Kotor claimed Sandžak as part of a future Montenegrin federal unit. However, in March, the Communist Party opposed this, insisting that Sandžak's representatives at AVNOJ should decide on the matter. In February 1945, the Presidency of the AVNOJ made a decision to oppose the Sandžak's autonomy. The AVNOJ explained that the Sandžak did not have a national basis for an autonomy and opposed crumbling of the Serbian and Montenegrin totality. On 29 March 1945 in Novi Pazar, the AVNOS accepted the decision of the AVNOJ and divided itself between Serbia and Montenegro. Sandžak was divided based on the 1912 demarcation line.
Economically, Sandžak remained undeveloped. It had a small amount of crude and low-revenue industry. Freight was transported by trucks over poor roads. Schools for business students, which remained poor in general education, were opened for working-class youth. The Sandžak had no faculty, not even a department or any school of higher education.
Sandžak saw a process of industrialisation, during which factories were opened in several cities, including Novi Pazar, Prijepolje, Priboj, Ivangrad, while the coal mines were opened in the Prijepolje area. The urbanisation caused a major social and economic shift. Many people left villages for towns. The national composition of the urban centres was changed to the disadvantage of the Muslims, as most of those who inhabited the cities were Serbs. The Muslims continued to lose their economic status, continuing the trend inherited from the time of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the agrarian reform in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The emigration of the Muslims to Turkey also continued, caused by the general underdevelopment of the region, disagreement with the communist authorities and the mistrust with the Serbs and Montenegrins, but also due to the nationalisation and expropriation of property. Serbs from Sandžak also moved to the wealthier regions of the central Serbia or to Belgrade or Vojvodina, while the Muslims moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina as well.
With the democratic changes in Serbia in 2000, the ethnic Bosniaks were enabled to start participating in the political life in Serbia and Montenegro, including Rasim Ljajić, an ethnic Bosniak, who was a minister in the Government of Serbia and Montenegro, and Rifat Rastoder, who is the Deputy President of the Parliament of Montenegro. Census data shows a general emigration of all nationalities from this underdeveloped region.
The population of the sanjak of Novi Pazar was ethnically and religiously diverse. In 1878-81, Muslim Slav muhacirs (refugees) from areas which became part of Montenegro, settled in the sanjak. As Ottoman institutions only registered religious affiliation, official Ottoman statistics about ethnicity do not exist. Austrian, Bulgarian and Serbian consulates in the area produced their own ethnographic estimations about the sanjak. In general, three main groups lived in the region: Orthodox Serbs, Muslim Albanians and Muslim Slavs (noted in contemporary sources as Bosnian or Herzegovinian Muslims). Small communities of Romani, Turks and Jews lived mainly in towns. The Bulgarian foreign ministry compiled a report in 1901-02. The five kazas (districs) of the sanjak of the Novi Pazar at that time were: Akova, Sjenica, Kolašin, Novi Pazar and Novi Varoš. According to the Bulgarian report, in the kaza of Akova there were 47 Albanian villages which had 1,266 households. Serbs lived in 11 villages which had 216 households. The town of Akova (Bijelo Polje) had 100 Albanian and Serb households. There were also mixed villages - inhabited by both Serbs and Albanians - which had 115 households with 575 inhabitants. The kaza of Sjenica was inhabited mainly by Orthodox Serbs (69 villages with 624 households) and Bosnian Muslims (46 villages with 655 households). Seventeen villages had a population of both Orthodox Serbs and Bosnian Muslims. Albanians (505 households) lived exclusively in the town of Sjenica. The kaza of Novi Pazar had 1,749 households in 244 Serb villages and 896 households in 81 Albanian villages. Nine villages inhabited by both Serbs and Albanians had 173 households. The town of Novi Pazar had a total of 1,749 Serb and Albanian households with 8,745 inhabitants. The kaza of Kolašin had 27 Albanian villages with 732 households and 5 Serb villages with 75 households. The administrative centre of the kaza, Šahovići, had 25 Albanian households. The kaza of Novi Varoš, according the Bulgarian report, had 19 Serbian villages with 298 households and "one Bosnian village with 200 houses". Novi Varoš had 725 Serb and some Albanian households.
The last official registration of the population of the sanjak of Novi Pazar before the Balkan Wars was conducted in 1910. The 1910 Ottoman census recorded 52,833 Muslims and 27,814 Orthodox Serbs. About 65% of the population were Muslims and 35% Serbian Orthodox. The majority of the Muslim population were Albanians. 
The last Yugoslav pre-war census of 1931 counted in Bijelo Polje, Prijepolje, Nova Varoš, Pljevlja, Priboj, Sjenica and Štavica a total population of 204,068. They were mostly counted as Orthodox Serbs or Montenegrins (56.48%) and Bosnian Muslims (43.09%).
Sandžak is a very ethnically diverse region. Most Bosniaks declared themselves ethnic Muslims in 1991 census. By the 2002-2003 census, however, most of them declared themselves Bosniaks. There is still a significant minority that identify as Muslims (by ethnicity). There are still some Albanian villages (Boroštica, Doliće and Ugao) in the Pešter region. There were a larger presence of Albanians in Sandžak in the past, however due to various factors such as migration, assimilation, along with mixing, many identify as Bosniaks instead. Catholic Albanian groups which settled in Tutin and Pešter in the early 18th century were converted to Islam in that period. Their descendants make up the large majority of the population of Tutin and the Pešter plateau.
The Slavic dialect of Gusinje and Plav (sometimes considered part of Sandžak) shows very high structural influence from Albanian. Its uniqueness in terms of language contact between Albanian and Slavic is explained by the fact that most Slavic-speakers in today's Plav and Gusinje are of Albanian origin.
The total population of the municipalities of Sandžak in Serbia and Montenegro is around 385,666. A plurality of people in Sandžak identify as Bosniaks. They form 49.05% (189,186) of the region's population. Serbs form 33.5% (129,198), Montenegrins 6.90% (26,604), ethnic Muslims 6.19% (23,893), and Albanians 1.05% (4,062). About 12,724 (3.3%) people belong to smaller communities or have chosen to not declare an ethnic identity.
|Municipality||Ethnicity (2011 census)||Total|
|Novi Pazar (Serbia)||77,443||77.13||16,234||16.17||44||0.04||4,102||4.08||202||0.20||2,385||2.38||100,410|
|Bijelo Polje (Montenegro)||12,592||27.34||16,562||35.96||8,808||19.13||5,985||13.00||57||0.12||2,047||4.45||46,051|
|Nova Varoš (Serbia)||788||4.73||14,899||89.55||31||0.19||526||3.16||3||0.02||391||2.35||16,638|
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Легију „Кремплер", састављени од три батаљона албанских квислиншких трупа и муслиманске фашистичке милиције у Санџаку.
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Немци су тада на подручју Сјенице имали ... и око 2000 СС добровољачка легија Кремплер
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- Bartl 1968, p. 63:Die Kaza Bjelopolje ( Akova ) zählte 11 serbische Dörfer mit 216 Häusern , 2 gemischt serbisch - albanische Dörfer mit 25 Häusern und 47 albanische Dörfer mit 1 266 Häusern . Bjelopolje selbst hatte etwa 100 albanische und serbische.
- Bartl 1968, p. 63:Die Stadt Novi Bazar hatte 1 749 serbische und albanische Häuser.
- Bartl 1968, p. 63:Die Kaza Novi Varoš zählte 19 serbische Dörfer mit 298 Häusern und 1 „ bosnisches Dorf mit 200 Häusern .
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- Bartl 1968, p. 64:Die Bevölkerung des Sancak Novi Bazar war zu etwa 65% islamisiert. Der muslimische Bevölkerung santeil bestand zum grössten Teil aus Albanern.
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