A Kosovan Hitler lookalike is making news for claiming to be the reincarnation of the infamous German dictator. Emin Djinovci regularly stuns locals by walking around the town of Mitrovica, in the partially recognised state of Kosovo, with a toothbrush moustache and jet black hair brushed over to one side.
Mitrovica is a city of simmering ethnic tensions and political instability. Emin moved there from Germany in 1998, to join the fight of the Kosovan Albanians for secession from Serbia. But it wasn’t until he returned to Germany for a surgery to treat multiple war wounds, that he realized he could make a living by dressing himself up as Hitler.
“It was when I was there for my operation that I was forced to grow out part of my mustache. The doctors would come into my room and just look at me,” he recalled. So he realized the potential for profit, and when he got back to Kosovo, he started to impersonating Hitler and charging for photographs.
“I can earn between 20 and 80 Euros per photo. Sometimes, I earn even up to 200 Euros per day if there’s an event or if there are international tourists hanging around Mitrovica,” the 49-year-old explained. He also sells ‘Hitler trinkets’ such as Swastika badges and necklaces, and copies of Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf. He is regularly invited to make appearances at weddings, funerals and other events. “I go to funerals dressed as Hitler. That sometimes has a negative effect because those who’ve come to mourn stop crying and talk to me instead,” he said.
Kosovo is in fact an ideal location for Emin to dress and act like Hitler. His appearance in any other part of the world would have been met with outrage. In Germany he would have been immediately arrested, given the country’s strict postwar laws that ban anything Nazi-related in public.
The Kosovans, on the other hand, seem to have no problems with Emin’s strange ways. In fact, they believe that he ‘shows great enterprise’, and often stop to raise their hand in a salute when they see him. Even the NATO peacekeepers stationed in the city as part of the Kosovo Protection Forces (KFOR) stop their cars to say hi.
“People respect me here,” he said. “Young, old, men, women children. They all greet me with a ‘Heil Hitler.’”
“I am proud of my likeness to the Fuhrer because, like him, I fought against the Serbs – my enemies. It is easy. I find myself in Hitler’s character because he fought against my enemy. Enemy of my enemy is my friend. Yes, Serbs are my enemies, I make no bones about that.”