By Hysen Selmani
The third part
Memorie.al / European and American press have often addressed the topic of the memories of the Albanian King, Zogu i-r, which he wrote and dictated during his exile from Albania. Considering the notes and syntheses that his assistant, Colonel Hysen Selmani, compiled over the years in his service, – always, next to the King of the Albanians, both at home and in exile, these notes, more or less with parts of disconnected, without strictly following the usual criteria of memoirs, and without having the definite, final form of an edition, they are prepared by Hysen Selmani himself, who has dedicated most of his life, as in Albania, as well as during the exile, serving the First Zog, the King of the Albanians.
TIRANA, ON MARCH 30, 1939
The capital is on alert day and night. Now even where the demonstrations of the people have broken out, men and women are brought around the Royal Palace, and the legates of the States of America, Great Britain, France, Turkey, Greece, etc. Calling against the threats of fascist Italy, and asking for the help of the democratic States and singing the Royal Anthem and the Flag, and other National Anthems, and shouting: “Long live our beloved King, the protector of Albania”, “We are all ready, men and women, I die for the Fatherland and the King”. Such a sad call has covered the entire capital.
King Zog, deeply saddened by the cries of pain of the people, at 10:00 in the evening, appeared before the people of his youth: “My sisters and brothers, I understand your patriotic feelings, so you do not lose courage and just in case take into account the protection of the Motherland, sparing nothing against violations of Albanian freedom and sovereignty. I will do what is possible to avoid this darkness that is woven through the diplomatic route, but in any case, I assure you that with every sacrifice, together with you, we will protect our Motherland. And the Albanians will not be tarnished by anyone: Long live Albania”.
When the people heard these words, to their Leader, they left, calling out and swearing that this hour cannot be described. There was no one left without trembling, from an atmosphere that persevered from the pure spirit of the brave people, who did not feel sorry for anything, for the Motherland and for their beloved King.
The king, as soon as he entered, ordered Colonel Husein Selmani to tell the Minister of the Interior that no action should be taken against the youth. However, very strong measures should be taken to secure the Italians in the capital. Likewise, ordering all the prefects by phone to take measures to secure the Italians, so that nothing happens against them. Be it for those who are in Albania with services, especially those of Kuçova and Sukth. And, they immediately get an answer on the phone.
After that, the King ordered his adjutant, Selman, to call Mr. Mehdi Frashëri, together with Kasem Radovicka and Abedin Neprevishte. They immediately came at 12.30 at night. As soon as they got inside the King, Mehdi Frashëri said: “Majesty, Your Majesty’s words enraged the people more than they were and Your Majesty’s words are being sung as a decree, for all honest Albanians.”
King Zog answered Mehdi Frashër’s words like this: “I understand the truth that what I told you is an unbreakable and unchangeable decree. So, you, Mehdi Bey, as of today, I charge you to be the head of organizer of the Albanian Youth, against anyone who comes to harm Albania’s independence and honesty. It’s just that wisdom is lacking, because you know that we don’t want to be caused to break friendly relations and violate the alliance, in any way. This shouldn’t come from us, because we always try to straighten things out, but that doesn’t stop us in our preparation.”
With these words, Mehdi Frashëri and his friends came out and attacked Boyhood, shouting harmlessly and singing, the demonstrations continued.
TIRANA, ON MARCH 31, 1939
The Minister Plenipotentiary accredited to the Albanian Royal Court, Jacomani, returned from Rome, and immediately requested an audience to appear before King Zog. He was accepted and at 10.00 in the morning, on the same date, he presented Mussolini’s sincere friendship and forgiveness. He guaranteed and gave the words of Mussolini, with the following:
“The Duce, is very shocked about the misunderstandings that were caused between two friendly and allied states, for nothing,” Jakomani said and then added: “I am in charge, to assure you Your Majesty, that the Duce, has to be faithful to the alliance treaty and the friendship we have with Albania, and is a steadfast friend, for the good of Albania and Your Majesty, stay calm because these propagandas are rather developed by the enemies , who do not want Italian-Albanian friendship, as always”.
After finishing all these guarantees and promises of friendship, Minister Jakomani, red in the face, put forward these words:
“Your majesty, the Duke, has never thought of an offense against Albania, nor against your majesty, so I give up on the proposal did I make to you. Only, accept two divisions of infantry soldiers, and one motorized division, on the ground Albanian, when Your Majesty wishes. Which would be completely under Your Majesty’s Command? These would be solely for the good of Albania.
And, it is that your Majesty accepts these conditions, completely under your command, even when you want to decide, all the expenses are of Italy, as far as these divisions are concerned. And they are for Your Majesty, together with the Albanian army, to have as reinforcement. That, as your majesty can see, the whole world situation is complicated, and for this purpose, it is necessary that Albania, together with its army, also have an Italian corps as reinforcement, under the command of your majesty.
In the event that you accept this wish of the Duke, he grants you and guarantees you with treaties, and officially assures you: the Dynasty, the great Albania, the great wealth, for the King and others, a palace in Rome”. These were the proposals that Jakoman presented to King Zog I on March 31, 1939.
King Zog I, against these proposals and words, gave a clear answer to Minister Jakomoni, with these words: “I understood everything, Mr. Minister, both about the assurance for Albania and also about the sympathy and friendship that the Duke has sent me with on your side, against me and Albania, thank you.
Mr. Minister, – said the King, – say along with my sincere apologies to His Excellency Mussolini, I assure you at all costs that neither I nor my government are impressed at all by foreign propaganda, but we have to respect to the end, the treaty of alliance and friendship that we have with Italy. Mr. Minister, tell the Duchess, I have faith in the words of a great man like you, from me, and from my government, there will never be betrayal to Italy, but we will continue with full sincerity, as the centuries-old customs of Albania impose on us, between two friendly peoples.
So, Mr. Minister, – he said to Jakomon, – if this love and friendship that you are showing us from the Duce, if he has it with all his heart in us, he has gained a priceless sympathy and admiration. Only one thing should be known – Mr. Jakomoni – that any proposal or conversation, even if it is, that violates the sovereign independence of Albania, is unacceptable, every effort is futile. We, from a nationalist and great man, the Duce, always expect support and favors.
But, – as his Excellency, Mussolini says, – it is in case of any world or European war. At that time, based on the alliance treaty we have, about mutual interests, we have to talk with full loyalty, but no, today there is no black cloud in the sky.
As for the personal sympathy that Ducja has for me, giving me precious things, thank you very much. Only, – tell the Duchess, that these gifts are too big for me, because I am used to less wealth, I like to live in a small house, as much as the weight of my nation does. But the entertainment, the wealth, the taste, the greatest that is for me, is to serve my Motherland, and to protect its rights, against anyone who comes to harm its independence and honesty.
Please, Mr. Minister, tell the Duce that, as a great statesman that you are, I and all the small Albanian people, prêt from you, your sincere friendship and your great support, of all the great Italian people, disappear these bitter sparks, which were caused between two friendly peoples, and let us return to joy and trust, which is in your hand, tell the Duchess”.
These were the words of King Zog, who responded to the Duke’s proposal through the Minister of Italy, Jacomoni. But as Jacomon came out, the Council of Ministers entered, and the King literally said these words, which we mentioned above. As well as the translator, who was the Albanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ekrem Libohova. And the King himself understood Italian very well. The king ordered Prime Minister Kota to take all these talks to the government, as well as to give them to the Parliament, to keep them with the others.
These were nothing but massive maneuvers that are not accepted by anyone, but even Mussolini himself already saw that he used all the means, but to no avail. And now, he had no choice but to use military force. But, there is no shade at all, words, empty promises, with daily lies.
The Ministerial Council, under the Chairmanship of the King, continued above all regarding the very serious situation, which was already recreated by the people’s manifestations, against Italy. And this is not even useful, as the situation is criticizable, because it hardens and, in a word, cuts off all relations with Italy. And, to stop them, it is not easy because we have no hope of getting along with fascist Italy. Also, as for Mussolini’s word, he is no longer trusted.
From the ministers of the big states, nothing was moving, there is no hope. It’s just that they advise Albanians to stay calm, so that we don’t cause any protest from Italy, because they expect that, and this demonstration against Italy, Italy may protest, although the people everywhere are free, but not to attack.
In the Ministerial Council, a part of the ministers were of the opinion that, in any way, we should stop the demonstrations, because this will cause, not only the aggravation with Italy, but also a serious protest, enough to impose an apology , that the people are swearing with insulting words, the Italians take it as a weapon in their hands. And, no, that it is a benefit, that Italy itself is the cause, but only that it can be a cause.
I saw the king very upset and tired, say Colonel Hyseni. He told me, I’m resting a little, it’s true that he hadn’t slept or woken up for a week, he hadn’t done it right, but after an hour, Prime Minister Kotta called me and told me to go to the National Command . This, to see if all the arrangements have been completed according to the plan presented to us and to see a little, also the morale of the officers of the Command Headquarters. It’s just that, in the Command, I found a dissatisfaction between the Commander, General Xhemal Aranitasi and the Minister of the Interior, Musa Juka, for many things.
When I was returning from the National Defense Command to the Palace, there I found the Minister of Internal Affairs, Musa Juka. He approached me and said: “Husen Beg, I have a lot of important things to present to the King, I wanted to tell you. We are giving ourselves the reason for getting tough with Italy, because it doesn’t happen the way we are doing. we, that I assure you with facts, that from these demonstrations that we call night and day in the streets and foreign legates, for three days now, do not consider it for nationalism, but rather to provoke resentment and acrimony with Italy, than I I know most of them very well. In fact, we have facts that they are pushed by Italian agents, but we must stop them.”
Minister Musa Juka added to me; I want to tell you one more thing: “The Italians came to my office, Hysen Bey, and told me that we know all the orders that the King has given to the Gendarmerie Army, from now until a week ago., as well as for the order of mobilization and forces, as well as for those of the Gendarmerie. These news, received from the National Defense Command, I have facts that most of the Command are connected to the Italians, that I will I submit it to the King, but I want you to talk to us first, don’t believe in today’s Army”.
As Minister Musa Juka finished, I laughingly said to him: “Have the Italians filled your mind too, Mr. Minister? But, nevertheless, I said to him; well, present it to the King, how much the King fell down in his office. I told him that ; it’s Musa Juka. The king ordered me to bring him in. “And you – he told me – go to the Gendarmerie Command, see if they have any need for transporting the battalions to the designated places and, in case the commander of The Gendarmerie wants trucks, tell the National Defense Command”. While I introduced the minister to the King, I immediately went to the Gendarmerie Command.
When I returned to the Palace, the King called me. I saw him very upset. He told me: “Call me Kotta, because I didn’t like what Minister Musa Juka said to me. And when Prime Minister Kotta comes, you should also be here, and we will talk about what Musa told me.” “It’s quite important,” I laughed a little. When the King immediately answered me: “Why are you laughing, or did Musa tell you”. Yes, he told me, he is very upset by the demonstrations, as they also have a conflict with the Commander of the National Defense. The king was impressed by this and told me; when the Prime Minister comes, we talk about everything, because there are serious things, and Musa is right about some things.
At 02.00 in the afternoon, Prime Minister Kota came. The king was upstairs talking to the prime minister, and I told him that Musa Juka was here. I don’t know what they had with us, these words. The king came down. After greeting the Prime Minister, he ordered me: “Order me three coffees, – and added: stay, Colonel.” He was quite upset when he spoke: “Today, I had the Minister of the Interior, Musa Juka, who informed me about some not good things and they have a special importance. But they must be studied well and without alarm, until where is the truth, in some my mind is full, that they are true, so I am telling them.
First, he told me that; we must stop the demonstrations that are pushed by the Italian agents, in order to insult and insult Italy and make the issue big, that Italy will protest heavily. And a large part among these demonstrators is Italian agents. He himself knew them well, and the one who said it.” Then he added: “After the Italians went to the office, they told him everything we talked about, about the military preparations and all the orders given, from 6 weeks ago: like the Army, as well as the Gendarmerie. This news has come from the National Defense Command and that many officers are in contact with the Italians and no action has been taken so far by the Army or the Gendarmerie.
They had a conversation, where Fejzi Alizoti, Hiqmet Delvina, Javer Rushiti, Fiqiri Rusi, Abdurrahman Dibra, Sali Vuçiterna, and several others went home. Where everyone is of the opinion, that we should soften it with Italy, that they do not believe that Mussolini’s Italy would do a shameful act, to attack its small ally, today in this atmosphere. In a word, they are not of the opinion to break with Italy, that any action of ours is unenforceable as far as we can see, and as far as the Italians are concerned, it is true, Musa told me, that they went to his office and told him everything.
One more thing. Yes, that doesn’t matter, – the King told me – in no way, we must not let the demonstrations continue and the youths must not arm themselves, as you have ordered, because they can bring us a burden, so much so that we cannot cover it, even to ensure the peace of the country.
“Yes, this is useless, – I told him, – in any way, I do not allow measures to be taken against the people in demonstrations and no minor offense will be done against the youth, who are full of fire and patriotism for the Motherland, that they will die and they will make the nation happy, no offense against them”.
“So, you should talk to the Minister of the Interior, Musa Juka, once again, but in wisdom and clarify this situation well, how the truth is, that we are not interested in those who supposedly anger Italy with the demonstrations, but what the Italians have taken hear, on what we ordered for military preparations, I do not like this at all, that this may be true, that the Italians are still among the sections of the National Defense Command, as well as among the groups. There is no doubt that this has been understood. But we have nothing to do about this.
What annoys me more is this: That no preparation has been made by the National Defense Command and that a large part of the officers are in contact with the Italians. These, like Musa on his part, who investigated, as they told him. You, talk to him well and clarify who are those officers and what is the purpose that Musa is in close daily contact with the prefects and they have told him that, so far, we have not had any request for help from the military commands nor that any movement is confirmed”.
Following the King’s order, Prime Minister Kota, Interior Minister Musa Juka, and adjutant Colonel Hysen Selmani, gathered at the Prime Minister’s office, where Musa Juka confirmed these words. He even added that: “Regarding an activity by the Army, remove that mind. I told this to the King as well. Not only from the statements of the Italians, but also from the news I have from the prefects, who are in telephone contact with them every day, no movement has been made anywhere, except for those powers that have been completed, in Durrës.
Group commanders, like the one from Shkodra, as well as the one from Elbasan, no sign of them can be seen. They have not even contacted the prefects, according to the King’s orders, to come to your aid for any need. “Well, these soldiers are not flies, so that they cannot be seen anywhere. And this does not happen in Vlora either, with the exception of the captain, Dodë Nikolla, with a company of the Border Guard, in Pasha Liman and the District Command of the Gendarmerie, with 50 gendarmes in her service”.
Prime Minister Kotta said: “According to the information you have from your sources, through the prefects and the Police as well as the Gendarmerie, and from others, how does the internal situation turn out for you in general?! Since you are in charge of ensuring inner peace, and from this is also understood the intrigue that you like to muddy the waters, in these times”.
The Minister of the Interior, Musa Juka, answered, “As I presented to the King, and not all of them, because I saw that he was upset, I am telling you what it is and for this, we have facts that the Italians have worked here and these demonstrations , are pushed by their agents.
So that they become like this and there is a reason for it. I didn’t have to spare them a minute, I was going to disperse them and those agents, I had to imprison them and all of them to come out in the square. But Colonel Hysen Selmani came to me and said: “The King’s order is that no measures be taken against the demonstrators. You just told me that measures should be taken to secure the Italians, as you can see.” Memorie.al
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