Huntington Lecture: History teacher presents on Kosovo


The Newtonite

by Andrew Mannix and Jacob Sims Speyer

History teacher Gregory Drake discussed the history of the Balkans Thursday after school in the Film Lecture Hall as part of the Huntington Lecture Series. Drake focused on the Kosovo Crisis in 1999 and talked about his own personal experiences in the region.

The Huntington Lecture Series runs throughout the school year and features several educational presentations by faculty and community members. The program is organized by principal Jennifer Price and the Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO).

Drake was invited to Kosovo just out of college by a German organization that needed German speakers. He spent the next two years in Kosovo and witnessed the NATO bombings of Kosovo in 1999, during which he had to evacuate to Macedonia along with most of the other organizations in the region.  Drake started off the lecture by discussing the borders of the Balkans, which have been continuously shifting for much of history. “To zoom in on this part of the world and watch those borders change is pretty awesome,” Drake said.

The Lecture then focused on the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans in the 1600s when the Turks controlled almost the entire peninsula. Drake explained how the Ottomans did not use brutality in their conquests; rather they convinced people to convert to Islam by offering tax benefits and other business incentives. Many Muslims remain in the region today.

Drake followed talking about how World War II devastated Yugoslavia. It brought Civil War in the Balkans between democrats, communists and fascists.

The lecture finished with Drake explaining the Kosovo crisis. After World War II, almost all of Kosovo was dominated by the the Albanians, but it was still run solely by Serbians. In the late nineties, the Kosovo Liberation Army, comprised of mostly Albanians, rose up against the Serbians which resulted in a bloody war and eventually required NATO intervention.