As a German guerrilla in the Yugoslav wars


Roland Bartetzko served in the armed forces. Later, he fought as a Volunteer in Bosnia and Kosovo. About his war experiences, he has written a book. Nemanja Rujevic has spoken with him.

As a German Legionnaire in Kosovo: Robert Bartetzko 1998/99

“To me, as the soldiers call, I thought, I had to fight. Otherwise, I would join a Paintball Club.” So easy Roland Bartetzko describes his Motivation, why he left in the early 1990s, the newly unified Germany, in order to draw in the Bosnian war. His book, “The smell of war – Lessons of the battle”, is now also available in German.

Roland Bartetzko was a soldier when he was still with the German army

Bartetzko lives on today in the Kosovar capital of Pristina. Born in 1970 in Würselen in the extreme West of Germany, he served as a Teenager in the German army. His logic, a soldier could only call, those who fight, irritated and sit up and take notice.

From the answer to a Minor Interpellation of the parliamentary group of the Left in 2001, that “R. B.” was discharged in accordance with Paragraph 55 (5) of the soldiers act. Only the Bundeswehr will put soldiers in front of the Kasernentür, in breach of their duty “imprisonment for debt”, or their whereabouts “would endanger the military order or to the Reputation of the Bundeswehr seriously”. But Bartetzko want to know nothing.

Guerilla tactician and motivation coach

The question of the Left in the German Bundestag revealed also different: That on the Croatian side, around 100 Germans were fighting – most of the time quite extreme. Bartetzko a Nazi? By no means, replied he. An abomination he calls you. “For me, it was simply a lust for adventure. The other may have had problems with the police, the wife or the family. There was also a war tourist, who found it cool to spend a week at the Front.”

In retrospect, it was research very problematic for the reasons. “Because you are already dishonest, and told that you only have fought for the freedom of Croatia, or Kosovo. Of course this is bullshit,” he says in a DW Interview about why he has the Croatian defense Council (HVO) in Bosnia and later the Kosovo liberation army (UÈK) is connected.

Fought for the Kosovar KLA, and now lives in Pristina

Bartetzko appears to be driven, to describe the soldiers ‘ everyday life. For many years he served Quora, a world-renowned Forum that some of his Posts spread for an audience of millions. He describes how to keep in the war his ass and the teeth clean, if the water is scarce, why the cigarettes are a popular means of payment can be, or how a deadly ambush. Or how to deal with anxiety without going crazy.

“The next Morning I woke up slowly, no one shot, the sun was shining in from the outside into the basement, and I thought to myself: ‘What a beautiful Morning!’ Slowly, I came but in the sense of where I was and my next thought was: ‘shit!'”

Anyone expecting a structured field report, will be disappointed after the 172-page reading. His book is rather a collection of anecdotal episodes. Also Bartetzko as a tipster in terms of guerrilla tactics tried, or ruled, the Amateur psychologist and motivational coach. “It is told so much crap. The book is intended against these turbo-Patriotic Mythologizing fight.”

Croatia, and later Kosovo have ultimately achieved their main goal: the detachment of their territories from Yugoslavia. In both countries, the wars as a defence be interpreted in a struggle against the “Serbian Aggressor”.

There is not perceived to be a foreign Volunteer who also reported on the taboo subject, the trauma of the soldiers, or the alcohol and drug use on the Front, too. “As soldiers, we did not every day, necessarily thought about, the Land of free. This is not the soldiers ‘ everyday life.”

The second life in Kosovo

Unfortunately, Bartetzko hiding in his little book a lot, even though his personal Experience is valuable. The brutal wars in the disintegrating Yugoslavia in the first half of the 1990s, more than 130,000 people and brought the death of approximately two million lost their homes. However, while the former fighters describe the Serbs committed crimes in detail, is read by the Croatian or the Kosovar human rights crimes. “I haven’t seen any crime, which means that it has not given,” Bartetzko, compared to the DW. “If you come as a foreigner, you will not be telling you about this kind of stuff.”

He had a number in mind, how many people were killed by his Kalashnikov. Or how many of them came through the from him, laid mines killed. The number he omits, however,. “I haven’t looked up whether the are actually dead.”

The book ends with the NATO bombing and surrender of Serbia in June 1999. Almost two years before the life of Roland Bartetzko took a decisive turn. 18. April 2001 was chased a car of the Yugoslav Consulate in Pristina in the air. A Colonel in the Yugoslav police died and four other people were injured. A little later in the “earned” UÈK fighter Roland Bartetzko was arrested.

Bartetzko as a photographer: Two fighters of the KLA during the war in 1999

As was the case before the court, denied Bartetzko also to the press of his guilt. He senses behind the allegations against him a conspiracy of the UN Mission in Kosovo, which is controlled in the protectorate of the judiciary. The twenty year sentence he had to serve to the end – since 2015, he is on parole. The time behind bars he has used to complete a law degree. His wife, a Kosovo Albanian, had to wait patience enough to him. That’s why he lives in Pristina, speaks fluent Albanian and is well connected.

From some of his former military friends and war enemies – Had become Dogs. The So-called, want to know in addition to the war, nothing more, and nothing else. You as the legionaries through the world. In appearance they sometimes occur on the media, if of foreign legionaries in Croatia, Serbian mercenaries in the Donbas, or Albanians, which have become Dschichadisten, is reported. Bartetzko, however, is in Pristina at home and very happy as a lawyer in the company, which produces television series.

Isn’t that a bit like being in a Paintball Club? “Nah, I’m too old for war. This is a closed Chapter.”