By Hysen Selmani
The fourth 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 detached, 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.
Continues from last issue
Some Italians came to me that I have friends with. I am not telling you the names because it is not in our interest. Above all, they informed me why the King ordered us since February 14, 1939 and added that these troubles you want to make are not good, that it is not the importance you want to give, you will not to take any kind of military measure by Mussolini, against Albania. But with these things, you are giving cause to an Italian anger, without being necessary. They assured me that nothing is as you think and for the Army, they told me not to try in vain. What army do you have, you told me, only that you have the King and no one else?!
“These are,” said Musa Juka, “and not collected words but facts, and last night several ministers were at my house, such as: Abdurrahman Dibra, Fejzi Alizoti, Javer Hurshiti, Sali Vuciterna, etc., and these with the information that have and who listen, are of the opinion that we should not make it tough with Italy, but on the contrary, we should think carefully and a commission can be sent to Italy again, for an agreement on the dark sphere that results to us today. And this, here I told the King that he didn’t listen to me, that he was a little upset. He told me that he will talk to you.”
The minister of Yugoslavia came to me and he told me that; you are not doing well with these actions, which are done against Italy. The government of Belgrade does not look favorably on the fact that you are seriously inciting Italy, which can take serious measures against Albania, and you will be responsible before the world.
Prime Minister Kotta said to him: “Mr. Minister, in all the talks that have taken place, you have always been present to the King, and under your responsibility, you have ensured the peace of the country, as well as in all the decisions taken, you have been you have been stricter regarding the events with Italy. It is true that we have never harmed the Italians, on the contrary, we have covered many events that happened by them.
Here there is a point of great importance, where even your master’s opinion is convinced, as you say, that the Italians who have come to you as friends have told you that, in no way should we doubt that Mussolini will take military measures against Albania, the second, say that even with some friends who have come home, you are of the opinion that you should behave wisely, and appoint a commission to take him to Italy, to enter into negotiations to defeat and for them fixed the dark sphere, created between the two places.
You say that the minister of Yugoslavia came to you and told you that you are not doing well with the serious behavior against Italy. Even that the government of Belgrade does not look favorably on this event, that you are badly inciting Italy, which may take serious measures, against these behaviors and insults. In particular, confirm with certainty that no measures have been taken by the Army, nor are they to be taken, and many others.
Mr. Minister, we are now on April 1, 1939, and these talks began on February 14, 1939, where you received all assurances of the peace of the country and in close cooperation with the Command of the Army and the Gendarmerie, until today, almost every day, we have met and talked about this activity. And you have always been strong in this decision, and now we have new news. Don’t you have it from the demonstrations?! We did not cause these, but the people, listening to the behavior and actions of Italy, which we are not inventing. And you yourself, who signed first, for not accepting Italy’s demands.
Well, I am telling you, by the order of the King, if they, the Italians or our friends, can find a way of making amends with Italy without prejudice, as the decisions have been made, that the request of Italy which they made, are unacceptable, we are ready, but not empty words. That we have never used any bad behavior against Italy, nor do we wish to. And we are telling you that there are no honest Albanians who will break with Italy, but they want friendship and alliance, but they have all the work in hand to restore sincerity.
As far as the Army is concerned, it is a responsibility that belongs to the National Defense Command, which it has taken on itself with every responsibility, but also requires your support, in the needs it will see. Demonstrations cannot be stopped even with imprisonment, because there has been a big fuss in Italy. The people have their rights, that they will sacrifice for their country. How can you stop it?! What if we make sure now and immediately stop them even without imprisonment? But in a word, that otherwise, they would have risen other times, but now, he is on fire in his soul and begs to be sacrificed by death, for his homeland”.
With these words, Prime Minister Kotta and Colonel Hysen Selmani left and went to the Palace. The minister, Musa Juka, was with them when they entered King Zog’s Palace. In the latter, Mehmet Konica was. Mehmet Konica left, Prime Minister Kotta, Musa Juka and Colonel Selmani entered. The Prime Minister submitted to the King, as far as had been discussed, all by order of His Majesty the King.
His Majesty, after hearing what Prime Minister Kotta presented to him, told us: “It is true that under these circumstances, all kinds of talks are made, and sometimes intrigues, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally, always find a place. They understood this situation in time, but what to do?! I tried to smooth things over with Italy, but I saw that it was not possible, and finally, I tried to convince the Balkan countries that this danger, which today appears first for Albania, tomorrow is also for Greece, and then for Yugoslavia. I told you openly that, to Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey, for the promises that Italy made to me, but as you know, these countries did not value them, because of the propaganda and, moreover, from their fear and insecurity, they are forced to close their eyes, although they see it very well.
So, Mr. Minister, you say that we are getting tough with Italy, when it is decided to land militarily in Albania. So, those who have told you that there is a possibility that friendship with Italy can be restored, nothing is always separating you, so that, with the desire of Mussolini and Count Ciano, to be able to find a way, that all these colds, come and improve in faith. For this, we sent the chief adjutant, general, Zef Serreq, as a friend of Ciano, and we have not caused anything to make Italy angry with us.
As for the demonstrations being held by the people, we cannot stop them, because this homeland is not only ours, but everyone’s. They have their right and I am telling you that, with all their hearts and pure souls, they want to give their lives for their country. This is not propaganda, but the pain that the people feel in their hearts, that it is the Italians themselves who announce, and that, supposedly, Italy is going to be angry, and they have to take it as the cause, they say, like that wolf with the sheep, who said it muddies the water.
We must get along well: Italy has it in hand, if it wants to maintain friendship with Albania, because there is no Albanian who does not want friendship with Italy, and for that we are trying, and as far as “Violations of Albania’s independence, these are unacceptable”. I remind you that you all know and have signed this decision, including the ministers, as well as the entire Parliament, and this is not discussed. We, until the end, will remain loyal to the friendship and alliance with Italy, without any compromise, and of course, we love friendship, if they love it too.
As far as the preparation of the defense is concerned, it is a bit difficult, because we did not want to give them a reason to say that: Albania is mobilizing. This was the reason that the Gendarmerie was ordered to prepare 6 battalions, because this cannot be called mobilization. This is rather to ensure the peace of the country and that the Army, which has been secretly ordered, should be more prepared with the personnel it has, of course, and not to make a call, since it doesn’t even have weapons. And don’t forget that, in all the departments of the Army, there are still Italian organizers, and it is very difficult to prepare without being noticed.
As for those forces that are under arms, I remember that they will be listed together with the Gendarmerie, as they have presented me with the defense plan, of course, our defense with these small and unarmed forces, as I have explained to them, cannot withstand one so big and armed, with the most modern weapons and tools, which the great powers are afraid of, not us.
For this, I ordered Colonel Hysen Selman to do a fine check. Together with the commander of the National Defense and if possible, fill in the gaps included in the Command’s plan. However, we will do our duty with the means we have. Just to be sure that: “Albanian blood, however little, will ensure the independence and honesty of the Albanian nation”.
These were the advices that the King gave to Prime Minister Kotta, Minister Musa Juka and Colonel Hysen Selman.
Tirana on April 1, 1939
At 06.00 in the evening of this date, Mehmet Konica and Ferid Dervishi came to the Palace and wanted to appear before King Zog. The king accepted them immediately and they both went inside. They came from the Yugoslav Legation and about what they had discussed with the minister, Milčić of Yugoslavia.
They had been in the Yugoslav Legation because they were friends with Minister Milčič. At that time, they had asked him: if Italy takes any military action against Albania, what would be Yugoslavia’s attitude towards Italy?! Of course, the Albanian government has informed the Yugoslav government about the Italian demands.
Minister Milčič, Yugoslavia’s chargé d’affaires in Tirana, answered you as follows: “You have done very well to come and moreover, in terms of these talks which are of great importance, not only for Albania, but also for the Balkans good. As you are asking me, I submitted to the Albanian Foreign Minister, Ekrem Libohova, that, in case of any Italian-Albanian event, the Belgrade government remains neutral, neither for nor against. But I will tell you all that that the government of Belgrade informs me. I tell you this, so that you can submit it to King Zog, that he will understand it himself then.
Two days ago, they appeared separately at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Yugoslavia, in Belgrade, before the Minister of Germany, Von Heren, and then the Minister of Hungary, Baroni Villani, who informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Yugoslavia , that for any help of any kind, that Yugoslavia will give to Albania, it will be considered an act against Germany and Hungary and this will have bad consequences for it, i.e., war against Yugoslavia”.
I add that, after that, the minister Milčič said that: “The Yugoslav government is not able to come to the aid of Albania in any way in this case. With the greatest regret of the Yugoslav government, we understand very well, after you, it will be our turn and the whole of the Balkans, but what shall we do?! Present these to King Zog, I command you, I am at the disposal of the King”, said Milčič and he had escorted them to the gate out. These were the words of the Minister of Yugoslavia, Milčić, on April 1, 1939.
They presented these to the King, according to the words of Minister Milçiç, where they had kept all of them with notes, in a letter that they handed over to Colonel Hysen Selman. After these words, Mehmet Konica and Ferid Dervishi came out together. Colonel Hysen Selmani himself escorted them a little, while they were passing through the flower gardens, they told him that they had a word to present to the King, but they did not have the opportunity to say it. They said to Colonel Selman: “We are telling you, to present it to him, that it is of great importance, especially now, that it makes an impression on the people everywhere.
Already recently, some ministers and MPs have started, united, using the words that the government’s policies and bad behavior are taking us by the neck. That Italy is very angry with this government and it is said that they will present it to the King. This is true and it is the closest people who are saying these words more and more”. Colonel Selmani greeted them and then they parted.
As soon as Colonel Selman returned to the Palace, he immediately presented the words of Konica and Ferid to the King. The King laughed and said: “Here is what Musa told us. This is true.”
At this time, Prime Minister Kotta and Foreign Minister Libohova arrived with a telegram from the Minister of Albania in Berlin, Rauf Fico. The telegram was: “I had a meeting with Marshal Gering and Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, who, on behalf of the German government, communicated these words to me, which I am writing to you: You present our respectful homage, Zog I, King of the Albanians. Tell him that Hitler and the German government maintain the best love and friendship for the generous Albanian people.
In particular, the German government guarantees the independence of Albania, and for a large ethnic Albania, but accept Mussolini’s demands, which are also in your interest. This was the intervention of Germany, where for an Italian army to be in Albania, it was more in the interest of Germany, to facilitate the subsequent actions, which it would develop against Poland, and others. Unfortunately, neither our neighbors, nor the Anglo-French, want to know.”
King Zog ordered Prime Minister Kotta, after studying with the government this proposal of the German government, to bring it to the Parliament, to study it like the others, and after consent has been obtained, to prepare a response from the government, for the German government. This would be done by Prime Minister Kotta and the Foreign Minister, Ekrem Libohova, on behalf of Marshal Gouringuu and Ribentrop, as they have also sent.
The Prime Minister, together with the government, at 5 o’clock in the afternoon on April 2, 1939, appeared in the Parliament, with the telegram sent by the Minister of Albania in Berlin, Rauf Fico, they were examined and for this, many opinions were expressed. But, by majority, it was decided to give him a friendly answer. But as far as the Italian demands are concerned, they are unacceptable as they violate Albania’s independence.
After the consent of the Parliament was obtained, the government immediately prepared the answer to the German government, as follows: “We are very grateful for the friendship that the great German Government had the honor to communicate to us through our Minister in Berlin, Rauf Ficos. We assure the Führer and his Government that Albania will be faithful to the “Treaty of Alliance and Friendship” with Italy to the end, and that no betrayal will ever come to Italy from Albania.
Regarding the demands that the fascist Italian government has presented to the Albanian government, they are unacceptable, as they undermine the independence of Albania, we want from our great ally, Italy, and especially from the Duce, friends and sincere support. We also pray for the intervention of the government and the great people, our German friend, next to the Duchess, so that we can start again in friendship and complete trust”.
This was the answer given to the German government by the Albanian government. The letters are missing here, only that I remember when they were read like theirs, by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ekrem Libohova, as well as the one that was sent to the Minister of Albania in Berlin, Rauf Fico, to present it.
After this reception by the Germans, some intervention near Mussolini was expected. But this was also hindered by the interests of Germany, which was ready to take further actions, as proved with Poland. However, Rauf Fico was ordered to be in close contact with Marshal Gouring and Ribentrop. However, no great hope was expected from the German government, because the interests were the same as those of Italy. / Memorie.al
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