Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of a French lady who in the period of the Zog Monarchy was married to a young Albanian boy from Puka who was studying in Paris, who had told her that; after disembarking from the steamer at the Port of Durres, they would take the train on the subway and then in the carriage to go to his house, but he had ridden him on a mule and sent him among the distant mountains to a deep village of Puka, at the foot of Munella Mountain.
How did the charming Frenchwoman remain in Albania due to the beginning of the Second World War and how did she postpone her life there among the high mountains until 1964, when during a reconciliation that Mehmet Shehu did with the senior military of the Ministry of Defense, for the construction of The Deputy Commander-in-Chief noticed the special house and ordered that the charming Frenchwoman be brought to his attention, which she immediately sent to France with her husband from Pukë, after ordering Nesti Nasen to immediately provided with passports and relevant documents… ?!
Yes, there was a woman whom former Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu sent to France in the early 1960s. At his behest, I took him to the prime minister’s office, where I was accompanied by Mehmet’s security guard, Gilo Lame. The conversation between her and Mehmet Shehu was first in Albanian and then in French. At the end of the conversation, Mehmeti ordered the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nesti Nase, to prepare his passport and the necessary documents for her to leave immediately for France “. This is what Ahmet Mehmeti, a former senior soldier in the Ministry of Defense with the rank of colonel, told us a few years ago, who told us the whole story of the mysterious lady that Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu sent to France. Who was that woman, under what circumstances did she meet Mehmet Shehu, what connected her to France and how did former Prime Minister Shehu help her to travel to Paris to never return to Albania?
Mr. Mehmeti, under what circumstances did former Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu recognize the woman you say sent him to France?
Around 1964, after the completion of the reconnaissance and partial construction of facilities of special importance in the Skrapar district, such as the General Army command post in Qafë-Devri, the Treasury tunnel and the 4 villas of the main leaders on the outskirts of Çorovoda, (in Guak neighborhood), the Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu, who followed their construction directly and with special care, ordered that some objects of that nature be built in the North of Albania. So, after a few days, Mehmeti together with a team of the Ministry of Defense, consisting of its main cadres and led by Beqir Balluku and Petrit Dume, left for Munella Mountain, in the district of Puka. The trip from Tirana to Puka was made by helicopter, while a part of the team of the Ministry, together with some of the main cadres of the northern corps, traveled there with their cars.
Were you part of that team?
I was part of that team of the Ministry of Defense, as at that time I was working as an inspector in the branch of Defense Planning at the General Staff.
More specifically, in which village of Puka did the helicopter land where Mehmet Shehu was traveling with the team of the Ministry and what would that military facility be used for?
The helicopter landed on the northern plateau of Munella Mountain, where there were only a few rare houses, and I do not remember which village in Puka summed them up. There, the Army Country Command for the North of the country would be built, which would serve to lead the state and the war, in an eventual attack of our northern neighbors. It would be a copy of that of Skrapar, which was built for the South of the country.
What did you do after the ministry team arrived in that country?
At the end of the work, Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu took the binoculars and began to observe the houses of the villagers lying on the northern plateau of Munella Mountain. He focused his gaze on that plateau where a detached house was located, which was built in the middle of a green field. Without removing the binoculars from his eyes, Mehmet Shehua addressed the military, saying: “I am impressed that the house is not built in the same style as the other ones in the northern provinces.”
What did you say to one of the soldiers?
Nobody spoke, but it seems that that house left an impression on him and aroused a curiosity, because when we were going down to the sidewalk, where our cars were waiting for us, to go to Fush-Arrëz for lunch, Mehmeti told me: “Go and see who lives in that house”. I immediately set off towards that house and when I got there, I called the owner of the house.
Did anyone answer you?
Yes, out of it came a woman in her 50s, very charming, who was dressed not in the clothes usually worn by women of that province. After we said goodbye, I very tactfully asked her, telling her that I was impressed by that particular style house and wanted to know if its owners were locals or newcomers.
How did she respond?
She spoke to me in a lame Albanian, stammering: “I am French, but I came here because I fell in love and married an Albanian boy.”
Was there anyone else in that house and were you invited inside as is the custom of the Albanians and mainly the highlanders of the northern provinces of Albania?
She came in to call her husband and they both went out into the yard where I was waiting. I am unable to describe the appearance and physical construct of that man. After we met, with a laugh I addressed his wife, saying: “Even if I were a girl in Paris, I would come with this man to the mountains of Albania.”
Were they told you under what circumstances she had ended up as a foreign woman in the mountains of Puka?
Yes, while he was telling me the story of his marital relationship with the woman he had known in Paris when he was studying during the War, his French wife came into the house and took out our usual coffee and brandy rents.
What was the story he told them?
The Albanian student, originally from Puka, was married to a French girl in Paris and two daughters were born. He told me that he had persuaded her to come to Albania, telling him that: after getting off the steamer they would enter the subway, and then the carriage, but he had only ridden it on a mule and brought it there between the mountains.
He had deceived her…?!
In a way, yes, he had deceived her, but while he was telling that story, his French wife told me that she had stayed with her wish in her Albanian husband’s hometown.
Why had they decided to stay there in the mountains?
She told me about this: “We came here temporarily, but unfortunately the War took us and it became impossible to return to France. “We were forced to build this house and we continue to live on this plateau.” At this moment, with tears in her eyes, she added: “Our greatest misfortune is not that we both came and stayed here, but that we gave birth to two daughters and left them with my people in Paris.” After these words, her husband cried and they both told me that he missed them a lot.
Did you promise any help, so that they would bond with their two daughters…?
As they invited me home for lunch, I tried to calm them down and promised to go there again to talk more about their concerns.
What were they called and why did you not stay for lunch?
I do not remember their names, as almost 40 years have passed since then. As for lunch, I could not stay, as I had a mission from comrade Mehmet Shehu and I could not stay there longer.
How did you break up with them…?
After greeting them, I went down to the sidewalk where my car was waiting for me and immediately left for Fush-Arrëz where Mehmeti was with the whole team of the Ministry. They had just started lunch where the main leaders of the Executive Committee and that of the Party of the Puka district also assisted. I sat down next to Mehmet and introduced him to their whole story.
How did Mehmeti react, what did he tell you?
Mehmeti felt a despair but did not say a word. But after we finished lunch and we were going to drive towards Puka, he called me to his car and said: “You will go back there again and tell them to come to Tirana. You will wait for them. “And with Gilo Lame, you will take them to my office.” I started immediately, fanatically implementing the Prime Minister’s order.
What did they tell you when you went there for the second time?
They greeted him with great joy when they saw me for the second time at the door of their house and they cried when I told them the message of Mehmet and they both threw themselves on my neck. I parted with them, after I was assigned the day and the place where I would wait for them in Tirana?
Did they come?
They came to the place where the bus ticket was, behind the Clock Tower, next to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and I immediately accompanied them to the Prime Minister. There Gilo Lame received me and together with him we went up to the office of Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu, where at that moment was also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nesti Nase.
How do you remember meeting Mehmet, what did he tell them?
After we met, Mehmeti asked them for further explanations about their lives, how they had come from France to Albania. The conversation between them, which took place in our presence, first started in Albanian and then ended in French. At the end of the conversation, Mehmeti expressed his regret for their fate and promised to send them both to France immediately. At that moment, in our presence, he instructed Nesti Nases to immediately leave for the Foreign Ministry and prepare their documents and passports, to be sent to Paris. We left and that night, they both slept in my house that I had at that time on “Mine Peza” street.
Was their departure for France realized?
After a few days, with the direct care of Nesti Nases, they both fled to Paris and from there after two weeks sent me a letter of thanks (to my home address) expressing their high consideration to all of us who had helped. It was the first and last letter they sent me.
“Munella plateau in Puka, where the French woman from Paris lived”
What did she do and how did she live in the mountains of Puka, the French woman whom fate had struck away from her homeland and her relatives? Regarding this, the retired colonel, Ahmet Mehmeti, the man who caused her to return to Paris, told us, among other things: “Their house was two-storey and in a completely different style from those of other houses. of the northern provinces of Albania. It was surrounded by a not very high stone wall and inside it was a green steam. As the French woman and her Pukjan husband told me, they had remained there since the time of the war and all their attempts to return to France legally had failed. After that they had fallen asleep and had built that new house in the middle of the mountains, away from other houses in the nearby villages. They lived on agriculture and livestock, as they had many livestock and some dynyms of land they worked on their own. That was all I could learn from them that night they slept in my house “. / Memorie.al