Summary of the poisoning

In Kosovo, during a few days in March 1990 more than 4000 patients, above all school children, got ill with symptoms, indicating they could have been poisoned. The mysterious disease, as it was called, continued to strike the population for the rest of the year, and probably more than 8000 Kosovars were stricken with illness.
It could start in a school with a pupil noticing a strange smell, after which he opened a window but in vain “as I saw my class-mates faint and collapse in their benches”.
Another pupil tells this about what happened nine class-fellows: “I saw foam getting out of their mouths and their eyes were filled with tears, and some of them lost consciousness.”
The Serbs denied the patients had been poisoned. Albanian doctors, who treated the patients, were convinced most patients were  poisoned. Many Albanian doctors were maltreated or arrested by police.
At first, the Serbs maintained that the patients had simulated; they were actors, who could go to  “the film festival in Cannes”. But in April a federal commission (Jugoslavian) came to the conclusion that the symptoms were caused by mass hysteria. The chairman of the commission, Anton Dolenc, later confessed he regretted he had accepted that conclusion. He had done it because of pressure.
A study of the symptoms shows that there is ground for his hesitation. Almost all patients had inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis) and most of them had redness in the face. Is there really a single mass hysteria causing such symptoms?
You can say the same thing about patients feeling smarting pain in eyes, noses and throats. And presumably also inflammation in mucous membranes must be caused by something else than mass hysteria.
The pupil above seeing what happened to nine class mates observed hypersalivation.That symptom characterizes nerve gas-poisoning. But mass hysteria?
A very common symptom was also rotating eyeballs (oculargyric crisis), usually caused by strong drugs.
There was another eye symptom, sensitiveness to light. The many symptoms affecting the eyes mean you could get the impression the mysterious disease was an eye illness.′s
A French doctor, Bernard Benedetti, took blood samples from 150 patients and declared somewhat later that a “massive poisoning had taken place”. A Fact finding Mission from Geneva was “100 procent sure” the patients had been poisoned and that the poison could be an “organophosphate such as employed against the Kurds in refugee camps in Turkey”. They add one important thing. The poison was used against school children but also against “factory workers”. Western authors writing about what happened, generally only mention “school children” as the victims.
   But there was a setback for the Albanians in 1991, when the British doctors, Alastair Hay and John Foran, who had also taken blood samples, published their result in a short notice in the well-known medical paper the Lancet. They had not found any poison.
   That short notice has had a very great influence. (Go to The British Doctors and you will find much more information about how Dr Hay has influenced the opinion to the poisoning!)
In 1996 Zoran Radovanovic, a Serb professor, published a long article in another medical paper, where he tried to prove Kosova in 1990 was hit by mass hysteria. He and the British doctors are the main reason the world outside Kosova believes in the Serb version about what happened in 1990.
   But there are many shortages in his work. In my book I have tried to describe most of them. Here I will point at some important.
Radovanovic´ (and also the British doctors) made the mistake of believing the mysterious disease occurred some days in March 1990. Then game was over. He also had to admit that he had problems with his sources, because the hospital archives were in a bad condition. His description of the symptoms is based on too few individuals. Inflamed eyes, the most common symptom, is uncommon in his description. It is easy to get the impression that he avoids to mention symptoms, which hardly could be caused by mass hysteria (as inflamed eyes).
His starting-point seems to be to find similarities between Kosova 1990 and mass hysterias. If he had also pointed at differences, then his conclusions could have been different.
Mass hysteria experts usually mention a list of typical characteristics for mass hysteria. Radovanovic´ says that all of them were found in Kosova. Three of them are rapid spread and rapid recovery of the symptoms, which also are quite modest.
But you can raise an objection against the use of rapid spread as a proof Kosovo had mass hysteria. It is true there was “rapid spread (after one single day there were cases all over Kosova) but this fact can also be used as a “contra argument.”, or proof that the epidemic was not mass hysteria. “Was the hysteria spread via telephone?” is one commentary.
More important is that there are many patients who can give evidence of something quite else than rapid recovery and modest symptoms. One example is a doctor, in 1990 17 years old: In her class room she felt a smell like perfume. When she had taken her place, it was suddenly difficult to breathe and her head started to ache. She must have fainted, because suddenly she was – in an hospital. “All my body was shaking, blood was flowing from the nose, tears from eyes and they were burning”.
The shaking started again after five minutes. After two weeks she had lost 11 kilo of her weight.
She writes that she still has problems “with the breathing, big changes of the blood pressure…I have tachycardia” (rapid heart) This witness must have had symptoms at least five years after 1990. And no one can say she had moderate symptoms!
Of course, symptoms lasting such a long time were not usual, but many patients had them more than a month. So Radovanovic´ makes another mistake by saying “it was normal” the patients had recovered after 1-2 hours.
Worst of all: there are some patients, who still have symptoms, which are very serious.
Read about a man, in 1990 student in a high school:

He says that the day it happened was an unusual day, as the Serb students were not in the school.

(Did they know what would happen?)

During a lesson he saw that under the class-room door “smoke started to come”. Students opened the door and discovered a lot of smoke in the corridor and he felt a “smell like orange.” On the floor students had fainted.

“I and my friends grabbed the collapsed students in order to get them out in the school yard but on the way we were going crazy and we collapsed… I also started  vomiting”

At last they reached the schoolyard and there a lot of students were lying in the ground.

My nose, my eyes were running like a rain and I was vomiting so much and my head turned crazy, I could not see people around me or anything else… I can not remember what happened then and I don’t know how long time it took, but I guess after a while I opened my eyes a little and discovered I was at home and a lot of other poisoned students were in my house…my parents put something on my eyes”


“We couldn’t go to hospitals, because the police was accusing us as liars.

But after deserting the Yugoslavian Army in Croatia in 1992 I went to Switzerland.

I stayed in a Zurich hospital for three weeks without getting a clear diagnose from the doctors; they just told me that I have to be checked from doctors very often. One of them said for the rest of my life. After the hospital my eyes went on hurting and hurting me very bad and sometimes pushing me almost to grab a knife and kill my self!!! “


“Now doctors in Belgium told me that my eyes have been burned with some war chemicals and they said they almost never have seen eyes in so bad condition as mine.

But I was not alone getting poisoned; My sister was also a victim at that time, and I have friends around Europe, who still have a lot of problems with their eyes and weird headaches.

From the moment the smoke reached me in my school my life was destroyed!”

Mass hysteria experts also say the hysteria always takes place in segregated groups, and so it was in Kosova, according to Radovanovic’ , as all patients were Albanians. He had made this conclusion after having completed his bad archive study by looking in (Serb?) papers. Also there he only found Albanian patients. But if he had studied Albanian patient lists, he had even found a Serb police-man among the patients!
Here an evidence from a Serb woman:
“I was sitting outside my house at around eight o’clock. I could scent a strong aroma, it penetrated my lungs and I started choking. I started crying for help. I was told by the women around that Serbs would kill me if I spoke of this”.

There are more Serb witnesses and there are Serbs, who don’t want to talk publicly.
And how does Radovanovic’ explain that a Serb policeman, maybe convinced that the Albanians were simulating, got ill? Mass hysteria?
Many things indicate that Radovanovic´ and other Serbs have based their conclusions from unsatisfying sources and little contact with the patients. A Serb professor, Ljubumir Eric, was shocked when he learnt that the supposed teenage hysteria also hit children 2-3 years old. Could children of such young age take part in a mass hysteria?
Radovanovic´ states that no poison was found in Kosova. He doesn’t mention Bernard Benedetti, which may be excused, because the French doctor never could show a lab report about his blood samples. According to Benedetti a French minister had stopped the publishing of the report. But Benedetti has not said a word that he himself took part in this stop process by urging Albanian media to be silent about what had happened. The relations between France and Serbia could be disturbed!
But Benedetti was not alone finding poison. Also Franjo Pllavsic, biochemist in Zagreb, found poison in samples taken from school children with symptoms. He should have presented his investigation together with an Albanian doctor, Besnik Bardhi, on a symposium in Zagreb 1990, but had disappeared, when he should do it! However, Besnik Bardhi had the report in his hands, so he took over and described it.
There are other circumstances, strengthening the suspects about poisoning. In many clinics police took or destroyed journals.
Albanian doctors, who hadn’t done anything else than treating their patients, got visits from Serb security police. And worse, if they had expressed their suspects about poisoning. In that case it could be threat, maltreatment or arrest.
   A doctor student, now living in Sweden, was called on by policemen, who urged him to sign a testimonial that no poisoning had taken place. His commentary to this: “it was the first time I experienced torture.”
Serb police seemed to be prepared about what would happen: When the first patients arrived to hospitals, they were met by police. Also the behavior of the Serb doctors is strange. In the beginning they behaved as the Albanian doctors. But suddenly they retired and refused to treat patients. One illustrative example is the Serb chief doctor Baljosevics. At first he accepted a statement from a Serb-Albanian expert group: It is necessary to make toxical analysis to be sure about what has caused the symptoms. But some hours later he talks in television about a “play like the Film Festival in Cannes”.
And how could Serb doctors in Serbia already 22 March protest against Albanian doctors? They had not been close to a single patient. Pressure?
Schools in Kosova were segregated in 1990. Albanians and Serbs weren’t allowed to stay in school at the same time. After the “reform” Serb pupils stayed in school in the forenoon, Albanian in the afternoon. The change was carried out just before the epidemic started, and exactly because of that fact Albanians believe the segregation was a preparation for the poisoning. However, more facts are needed for such a conclusion. But there are some interesting witnesses.
At first the student who saw what happened to nine class-mates:
“In my school we also had two classes with Serbs (60 pupils) but just that day (the poisoning) no one of them came to school”.
Here a girl, describing the day her school was poisoned. At that time she was 8 years old:
” In my school we had Albanians, Serbs and Romanies. But that day only Albanians were there, which we reacted against. We were small children, but we understood that something was wrong, because it had never happened earlier that both Serb classes stayed away”.
There are more witnesses, who have delivered the same message.
   The segregation had not been carried out everywhere. And in such schools there is a tendency that Serb children stay at home the day the epidemic hit the school.
An accidental occurrence?
The Geneva Commission, convinced about poisoning, made a presentation to United Nations. One of the members of the Commission Dr Charles Graves, has written this about what happened:
“The general reaction to our report in 1990 U.N. Sub-Commission of Human Rights Commission was polite but hardly enthusiastic. In those days no one was interested in human rights in Yugoslavia. Only later after the Bosnian and Kosovo wars (and ethnic cleansing) did the international community wake up to human rights abuses by the Serbs. By that time our report was forgotten and, anyway, the international community was against the Serbs in general and any previous abuses were overlooked in the wake of the atrocities at Srebrenica or the mass expulsions and killings of Kosovars.”
Yes, the mysterious disease was shaded by burnt villages, massacres and the expulsion of one million human beings. Maybe those in power today in Kosova accept that the poisoning is forgotten. After all, they have to show that the relationship with the remaining Serbs works. So, reminders about what happened in 1990 could cause disturbance.
The mysterious disease has been transformed into the forgotten disease.

What happened in Kosovo in 1990 – Göran Wassenius