By Hysen Selmani
Memorie.al/ European and American press have often addressed the subject 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
Istanbul June 27, 1939
Prime Minister Koço Kotta, convened the Ministerial Council at the Royal Albanian Legation in “Kunt Palace”, Istanbul, where he was engaged in talks with the formation of a commission for the compilation of all the provisions and the program of actions of the Congress composed of the colonies. He said to this end:
“The government must be closely connected with the Albanian colonies: Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Egypt, Yugoslavia, France, Belgium and the United States of America and, especially, ‘Vatra’. Notifying them that the Royal Albanian Government has prepared all project programs for the formation of a congress of colonies”. A material would be sent immediately, which we are sending to you to choose as soon as possible, from 5-6 most skilled and cultured people, to let us know that you are ready to set the date of your arrival in Istanbul, Turkey . The elected delegates will have with them the approval of the colony”.
Then he continued: “From the delegates of the colonies, the National Congress would be formed, which would take the place of a Parliament in exile. This, with all political, administrative and financial rights. Where the Government does not have the approval of the Congress, it cannot take any action, only in agreement agreed by the Government together with the Congress or the Parliament. This will be held in Istanbul. Also, his position will be discussed where it is most suitable for the interests of the Motherland, together with the Government”. Then he gave an overview of the diplomatic situation:
“The countries that have officially recognized the Albanian Royal Government in exile, as well as the Royal Legations, with all the rights equal to others and do not recognize the Italian occupation, are: Turkey, France, Egypt. And, as for Great Britain Great Britain and the United States of America, they have not informed us yet. Only that our minister in England, Lec Kurti, has left the Legation and gone to Tirana. Also, Xhemil Dino, Rauf Fico and Tahir Shtylla have also gone to Tirana .
The commission, which will be appointed for the drafting of provisional regulations and draft laws, will include all the responsibilities that will be developed, both in the political, economic, financial and administrative fields. When the Congress convenes, it has to examine them in detail, taking into account the situation in the whole world, in relation to Albania’s interests. In particular, the appropriate element will be chosen by the Congress to fill some missing ministerial positions, giving a vote of confidence to the Congress”.
The Ministerial Council finished the negotiations and dispersed, to meet the next day, for the appointment of the preparatory commission, for all the annexes of the Congress of Colonies.
King Zog, in talks with Milio Ilic, had put the following words to him: “The Yugoslav Government is extremely affected in its attitude, on the unfortunate occasion of April 7. But, Your Majesty, you are very well aware of what the reasons were Consider that we, like Albania, were isolated and we are in the same situation today. For Yugoslavia, that unfortunate day is a dangerous crisis that we will soon be in the same situation as Albania. You’re Majesty, appreciate that the interests of the Balkans are the same, and this had no difference with that of 1934.
Yes, at that time, France did not advise us wisely, but told Italy: Slowly, that in case Yugoslavia enters the war, I have allies and we did not remain indifferent. But it must not be forgotten that, at that time, there was no prepared Germany, as it is today, looking for a reason to empty itself into war. And ours are not ready yet, because even the Anglo-French do not like this. Until they are ready, then they will say stop that you are dealing with us. The Germans know this very well, therefore, as you say; Your Majesty will take advantage of their unpreparedness.
Your Majesty, the Yugoslav Government, appreciates the situation very well. Just have a little patience, because one day will come to talk. Even openly, not secretly like today. We expect this at any time. What I am telling you is the firm decision of the Yugoslav army, in opposition to the current Government, where I am also inside, but with my heart, I am with the army as well as connected to them.
These were Milo Ilic’s last words. The king listened to them with caution and said: “There is a meaning in his talks, since Milo Ilic, in the Balkan war, was a major of the Yugoslav Army. The Government also used him in politics, because he was quite a smart person, but of course also a soldier”.
King Zog said to Ilic: “To some extent you are right, especially about the Great States, who were not ready. They gave us the same advice to make a compromise. But what was the compromise with Mussolini, that his nose has grown, until one day, he will break his neck head-on. Because, that great mind of his does not pass long, without giving him the lesson he deserves.
I know very well what was mentioned to me from the year 1934. But I also know that: one thing that does not forgive their conscience is that we were forced to fight against fascism, which attacked all Albanian lands. It’s good that you are not able to help us materially, but at least morally, why did you act differently. But, he sided with fascism as an ally, with threats and propaganda, not manly against Albania, friend and neighbor. You forced us to go overseas. As for us, we had decided to fight for at least 6 months, among the fires of the Albanian mountains that this was also in your interest. But one day you will pay for these mistakes and guilt my friend. Now let’s leave these and look at the situation ahead. That for you, it will be a help, a mutual friendship with us”. These were the last words that Milo Ilić answered you.
After that, the King asked him at length about the current situation, both in Yugoslavia and Greece, and about fascism. How did they predict the future? Because this one was very smart and connected with the Yugoslav information, both of the Government and the Army. Milo Iliçi answered you: “I’m sorry, this is my personal opinion. Today, as was discussed, Your Majesty will not have to go that long without a change in the situation. Because, this terrible frenzy, of Nazi-fascism, of woke up the Great States, Great Britain and France, as well as Russia. Well, it will not be long before these dictatorships stop. Because now, with an unprecedented speed, they are preparing. The British have strengthened, just like in wartime and they have the Navy in the Mediterranean. Likewise, France, in parts of the Mediterranean, as well as speed in military armament.
They are also taking quick measures, in the northern bases, but this news, as I submitted to you, is from what I predict, I hear. So not an official form of my state. One thing Your Majesty, the day Germany attacks Poland, the Anglo-French are automatically at war. This is the misfortune of Yugoslavia and Greece, but however Greece can be protected by the British Navy and fascism is not that strong. But Yugoslavia is in the greatest fear of Germany. Because, either it will become an ally, at least under German leadership, or it will be occupied.”
With these words, King Zog thanked Milo Ilić for everything he presented and ordered Colonel Husein Selmani to take our friend on a tour of Istanbul, such as the Museum, etc. “Until I leave, this is our friend. There is no way to leave without getting comfortable here.”
Of course, this was at the Pera Palace Hotel, a friend of the King, and with these words, we honored the King and left. Although it was late, we went to ‘Bjuk Ada’ and ‘Sarijere’. We had a very good lunch there, in Sarajevo, because in that place, there was an Albanian named Emin Alla, who was very rich and a noble man.
The journey of King Zog, in the direction of Europe
His goal is to travel towards France and England, because these are the countries that will dictate the war. The King, meanwhile, will make a full European tour, to see one more opportunity for his future. He continues to hope that: many of those he will meet will help him. But it is not so. From Poland, it seems that there are no good signs, for fear. He believes in King Karol, whom he has met before. And indeed, the reception in Romania exceeds his expectations. The monarchs talk and reach an agreement to support each other.
The king travels straight to Latvia and from there to Sweden and then to Oslo. On the other hand, he follows the situation in Albania: “With the last messengers, we have informed the commanders of the battalions, Major Ndrec Prenga, Major Fuat Dibra, Major Spiro Moisiun, Major Mahmut Golemin, Major Xhafer Shkëmbi, Captain Xhafer Balin, that in no way, it is not good for the soldiers to escape, because from this, there is no benefit, only damage for a day…”! Meanwhile, the delegation is being prepared for the protest of the invasion of Albania in the League of Nations.
Istanbul, March 10, 1940
Prime Minister Kotta received the answer from Greek Prime Minister Metaksai. This informed him that it would be very necessary to have a conversation in the interests of the two states, which were related to the common events. With the sentence: “I am waiting for you in Athens”, the letter ended.
“This news made us extremely happy. This made us understand that now is the time for an agreement with Greece. A mutual alliance could be discussed between Greece and Albania, and we expected this, if we saw that Italy would not to go too long without showing mercy to Greece”, recalls the adjutant.
Prime Minister Kotta, in a completely secret way, submitted to King Zog the answer of the Greek Prime Minister, Metaksai. He offered a piece of advice: “Just don’t fall into the ear of the Italians.” And he was waiting for instructions before he left for Athens. Prime Minister Metaksai’s answer was not discussed in the Ministerial Council by Prime Minister Kotta. “This was a very secret thing and apart from me and Asaf Xhaxhuli, no one knew. Anyway, the departure was of course known. Yes, not Metaksai’s”, recalls the adjutant.
Istanbul March 12, 1940
Major Murat Basha sends an urgent report from Yugoslavia, where he says that: The reporters returned from the assigned mission in Albania, who declares: Again today they crossed the border in Struga and other places, 2 officers and 16 non-officers and 83 soldiers. In total, there are 101 people. They declare to us that; they will all escape and that they do not stay in the Italian service. On that day, many officers and soldiers escaped to the Greek border, but Greece, fearing Italy, exiled them all to its islands.
The Italians have started deporting again in bulk and sending them to Italy. Of these, the majority are professors, teachers and teachers. But, we immediately sent the messengers that the officers and soldiers should not escape in any way, if they stay in the places where they have been assigned. Until, they will receive the instructions of their activity. This hurts us, because the interest is to be on staff at the right time. Also, we talked about not raising the alarm ahead of time, because these deportations weaken us. After that, messengers were immediately sent out, full of posters.
Lieutenant Jusuf Alushi, from Kukësi, was the commander of the second company of the “Taraboshi” Battalion, escaped from Tepelene. He declares that; the entire Albanian army is ready to escape, just waiting for orders from here. They, at the same time, are waiting for instructions that, in the event that Italy has to punish Greece, the latter will fall to the Italian army and join the allied Greek army against the common enemy. And now the Italians do not trust the Albanian Army. They have started to retreat, behind their lines, because they have a news that; The Albanian army, in case of an Italian-Greek war, these will be placed next to the Greek army, exactly at the time of the lesson.
In the Italian army, a quarrel has begun between them, and a great demoralization is felt, with fascism. In case of a strong war, which Greece can do, they are ready to throw down their weapons, because the career officers do not agree with those of fascism, because they are like drunks, and we see incidents between them every day.
All centers in Yugoslavia are tasked with preventing the escape of officers and soldiers from the places where they are stationed. Therefore, immediate measures were taken, sending thousands of posters to be distributed in the centers and among the officers and professors. As you will see, where we are sending you a copy, the messengers are also instructed to contact many specific people”:
The hour of liberation is not yet. Do not get damaged before time; do not give rise to escapes, imprisonments, exiles, etc. Fascist Italy will be crushed. The enslavers of the peoples, the tyrannical fascists, will soon give an account.
Albania will be the grave of fascism and the epic of Vlora will be repeated. The invaders of our country will eventually be thrown into the sea, the false building that Mussolini’s fascism has erected as a tool, will collapse. Traitors will pay for their betrayal with their heads.
So hey, keep calm. Do not give any cause to the damage, because soon, we will announce the hour of arrival, to free the Motherland, to be all united, and organized, in the holy task that will soon be required of us.
“Long live Albania”, “Long live the King”
You must have patience, because anything, or premature movement, causes the loss of victory, and for this reason, we advise you wisdom and patience. Don’t let unbelief get you down in any way.
Versace Diber Valjava
Mustafa Gjinishi, Akif Lleshi, Colonel Kuçuk Ullogaj
Hasan Reçi, Jusuf Selmani, Major Murat Basha
Abedin Çiçi, Himçe Kaba, Captain Shyqri Baftjari
Shaban Tirana, Haxhi Lleshi, Captain Hamza Drini
These were the Heads of the Centers in Yugoslavia, who were very active. They performed their services with full sacrifice and honesty, continues the adjutant.
Istanbul March 20, 1940
King Zog, on this day, sent a letter of instruction to Colonel Husein Selman, as we note:
“Dear Colonel. I read the reports you sent me on March 7, 1940, like yours, as well as the parts of the Groups in Yugoslavia, with many remarks. They made the greatest impression on me. Thank you for all the active actions.
Until we grow up together, act as you are acting. It was a very big work that of providing aid, to the element in Yugoslavia, to all the groups in action, and especially to those in Yugoslavia. I am communicating to you: I have followed your actions with caution, that is, the patriotic deeds and sacrifices, in great difficulty that you bear and are ready from time to time, at the top of your duty. These give me great hope.
We are doing our best to fix the situation we are in, where we hope that the favorable moment we are waiting for will not be too late. We intend to summarize you in the place of the goals we are pursuing.
So, your patience, wisdom, patriotism, gives me hope that at that moment, we will be given the opportunity to join the ranks of the Allies. Unpleasant acts will never happen. I am very pleased with your patience and patriotism, which are known to us. For soon, I hope to give you further instructions, in which case I send you my cordial greetings”, the adjutant quotes the letter. Memorie.al
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