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 25, 1939
King Zog then turned to me – the adjutant remembers – and explained to me what he had discussed with the president of the Turkish Republic, Ismet Inonue, in Yallove. The king was very pleased with the manly and generous behavior of President Inonue. And as a result of these talks, he decided to make a trip to France and Great Britain. During the passage, he would also meet with King Karol of Romania, to discuss some issues, which he agreed with President Inonue. The Zog, for his part, thought that, if he wanted, he would make a meeting in the Black Sea. This that this issue, is in the interest of the Balkans, as well as Romania and Turkey. For this reason and because of this, the King hastened to make visits to Europe. While, as far as the Government is concerned, it would stay in Turkey. And when the King returned from Europe, he had to talk about where would be the most suitable place.
Then the adjutant continues: When we finished these words, I got up and asked the King’s permission to go a little to see the Queen and the Prince. “Okay, – he told me, – my colonel, – go and the Queen will see you. But, we will have lunch, because I also have Mehmet Konica here. You two will also stay, so we can talk.” “I immediately went upstairs, when the Queen smilingly said to me: ‘Welcome, dear Colonel, how are you? And you have had a very good time, because the King is very pleased with your actions in Yugoslavia. Indeed, you have done a lot of good work good’. ‘The prince is very well’, – I answered. I also saw the princesses a bit; I took them downstairs, where they were gathered in the salon, full of ministers and other people”.
After lunch comes, the adjutant adds: We sat on the bread; the King, the Queen, the Princesses and Prime Minister Kotta, I, Asaf Xhaxhuli, Sotir Martini, Mehmet Konica and we started to eat bread. Mehmet Konica explained to the King: ‘Since the colonel came to Belgrade, in the “Sirbce Kral” Hotel, I lived there too. He told me that I had come to see Belgrade a bit, when the next day, at 9 o’clock in the morning, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Loitiçi, arrived in his car and they left. When he came back at lunch, he told me; Mehmet Bej, take Gani Begu and Bazi, and we will have lunch together. Okay, where were you, – I addressed him. As always, as in a joke, he missed the point. In the evening, at 8:30, General Nedic’s adjutant arrives, with all the official cars, in front of the Hotel where Ganiu was. He knew the colonel of General Nedić well and said: Why did you come?! He answers: Let’s take Colonel Selman, because he is at the general’s house for dinner tonight. So he never told me.
The king, laughing, replied: “It’s very difficult with the soldiers. But it went very well and I’m satisfied.” “Okay, okay, – Mehmet Konica takes the floor again, – again the next day, he tells us; we will have dinner together with everyone. But, he was nowhere to be seen, only with Avni Deralla. When he comes to us at 8 o’clock in the evening, together with Loitić. And, we were waiting for him, as he had told us. Indeed, he kept his word and came with Lotić to dinner. We said goodbye to each other and then introduced ourselves to Baz, because he, he did not recognize him at the table of bread”. While talking, Loitić told us: “The colonel suffocated us. Not only me, but also Minister Çincar Markovic, until he made us accept his suggestions. I again looked at the colonel, but he ignored Loitić’s words. He here understood that we are not aware and no problem was opened for a long time”. The King and the Prime Minister burst out laughing.
“How bad it is, – said the King, that he did not inform you. But, however, he had a very good time and did great work, especially with the arrangement of 800 or so immigrants, with housing and food, and everything. Because today, with our conditions, we were never able to help them. This only morally and something small”. After having lunch, drinking coffee, we dispersed to rest. Then the King and Queen rode upstairs and I went to my apartment. There I saw my children, who were very happy to see me. I rested a little, because I was completely sleepless and slept until 6 o’clock in the evening. After getting up, I went straight to the “Pera Palace” Hotel.
There I found all the ministers and Abdurrahman Mati, Abaz Kupi, Taf Kazi and Murat and Miftar Kaloshi, continues the adjutant. As we all said goodbye and while talking, the King called me to go upstairs. I went there, but there was not a single person there. I laid out everything about each action and we talked together about a report with all the right details. “The king, rather, liked the fact that I presented to him about the internal situation of the Yugoslavs. Especially about General Nedel Ković, the adjutant remembers. This interested him a lot. For this work, he made me repeat it often. Especially then, when I spoke to him about the connection of the army, with the British and the French. This pleased the King immensely. The reason was that even Iliči did not know this. “As I put it, this is very secret, don’t tell anyone,” the King told me, says Selmani.
The King himself spoke to me about Gani Kryezina, because Mehmet Konica had spoken to him. I answered that: “I didn’t have much time to talk with him. Only at lunch and dinner, which I had. He behaved very well and of course the Yugoslavs believe him. And I repeated the words he told me, when escorted to the airport. I remember that there is to come, when you return here from Europe.” After that, he asked me about Lleshaj and all the people, such as: Naim Starova, Myslim Peza, Professor Mustafa Gjinishin, Professor Hasan Recin, and others. Also, on the officers. Here I explained to him that: “Professor Gjinishi, he is a very valuable element, with all his friends. Of course, they lean to the left, but today, they are united and sworn and nothing divides them. They don’t even look at different trends, only the interest of the Motherland. They have a lot of respect for you and are chiefly under the leadership of your Majesty”.
“Also, Akif Lleshi, Himçe Kaba, Haxhi Lleshi, are doing very well and have taken over, as you can see in the program of actions, all the responsibility of the Kreshnik Center, based in Dibër, – I added to the King. As well as the arrangement of the messengers, who will go out and enter Albania twice a week. They have sworn and are very satisfied. I have always had them by my side, in Skopje and Gostivar. Also, Mehmet Ali Bajraktari and Zenun Binaku, Gani Serdari and Jashar Lela, as well as Jusuf Selmani, are together, but connected with Akif Lleshi. The officers are very good and very active. Of course, with a strong conviction and discipline, under the orders of Colonel Kuçuk Ullogaj and Major Murat Basha . There are more than 400 officers, quite capable. Major Murat Basha works very well with a satisfactory will and discipline”.
In the following, the adjutant reports to King Zog that: “For any eventuality in the Government, as well as in the Skopje Army Command, and in the Chief of Police, I have assigned the relevant responsibilities of the Albanian immigrants. Because, it must be said that for days, they run away to Yugoslavia. For their administration, they have been appointed: for the soldiers, N/Colonel Kuçuk Ullogaj and Major Murat Basha; for the intellectuals, professors, students and employees: Professor Mustafa Gjinishi; and for the Kreshniks, Bajrakts and other civilians: Akif Lleshi and Himçe Kaba. The three responsible groups each have a connection with the three Skopje authorities in hand. For any need, they will be closely connected with the section that deals with this task of Albanian immigrants. To begin the work: I gave each center a sum of money, to buy a typewriter and a small expense, for the messengers’ travels; to the officers’ center, I gave 200 napoleons of paper; to the kreshniks’ center, 100 napoleons of paper; to the intellectual center, 300 paper napoleons.
Because these have more work and are all active, as writers. Just like General Nedic in Belgrade and also the Governor in Skopje, and the Commander of the Skopje Army, General Nedel Kovic, have assured me that they will not receive these aids. Even when the budget is finished, according to the decision of the Ministerial Council, until the release of the new budget, according to the decision, which is for 6 months: In these, we will cover our other expenses. And when the authorization is complete, don’t worry. They gave me this assurance in their personal promise”. As for Albania, the adjutant reminded the King that: “The centers in Albania, around the time I stayed in Skopje, are connected to Librazhdi. Captain Ahmet Cami, Mati, Lura, Çermenika and Belshi of Elbasan, Krraba, Shëngjergji, Bulqiza, Bllaca, Reçi, which are precisely being organized in secret, to be ready for anything. But the army on its own, the Kreshniks on their own, the schools on their own, adding here that, so far, the schools, and some teachers, have shown a more willing will than others, we believe that the others, within a short time, have to to be okay”.
Istanbul June 26, 1939
In talks at “Pera Palace”, with His Majesty, King Zog, Prime Minister Kotta, Minister Asaf Xhaxhuli, Colonel Husein Selmani, the whole problem was discussed, regarding the King’s visit to Europe. It had come to the King and Justin Goudardi, with a whole other. He never imagined that we will have a quick war. However, the adjutant recalls, – His Majesty, the King, as he had once told Count Ciano, reminded those present, that: “When the German armament has reached its peak, it would prepare plans for a war. This is because, still other countries, such as; France and Great Britain, are not ready at all. And Germany will benefit today with this great armament, which it has prepared. Therefore, it has spent all its reserves and finances. Because, if it does not benefit at the moment, with this armament, at that time, he will not be able to put it in place. Thus, – Ciano also told me, adding that, since 1940, Germany is at war, and as a reason for this, will take Dansing,” said the King.
Below he continued: “In the same way, even President Inonue, does not believe in a quick war. But, however, it is quite necessary that you should go to France, he told me – and also to Great Britain. The whole question of the future hangs there. And the ambassadors of Turkey are available to help you with any problem. That, if they recognized you as an alliance, these two Great States, the whole democratic world, has recognized you, Inonue added to me,” said Zogu I. “And the meeting with the King of Romania, Karol, you have in mind. If he gave you his word, he doesn’t play it. Although, he can tilt in time, on the German side. It should not be forgotten that he has a lot of influence in Yugoslavia and that he has the opportunity to change the current situation of the Yugoslavs.” Below, the King continues: “President Inonue added to me that: When you will talk with King Karol, you can also say my opinion, which is necessary. The replacement of today’s Yugoslav state is possible, because it has reached a very bad crisis. But it is best for the army to take over, the other, if he wants, he met with me; I am ready when he wants. With a place in Karadenize, the high Turkish representative advised me, – said the King.
Turning to Turkey’s position, the King was told: “As far as the Albanian Royal Government and the Legation are concerned, it will function regularly, in their programs. The Legation is with the same rights it had. So it is equal to the other legates. You’re Majesty, he told me: Your place is here in Turkey, and we expect you to return as soon as possible, with all the necessary additions, for the interests of your Motherland. Be very careful with the British, that all the work, it depends. The conversations with President Inonue, for 6 hours, in Yallove, have been quite cordial and friendly, full of heart. He himself escorted me to the steamer, and after we said goodbye, with these words we parted.”
Returning to the state of Yugoslavia, the King recalls that: “As for the Yugoslav state, this is based on what the colonel tells us. As Inonue is well aware, King Karol has a sister, who is the Queen of Yugoslavia. And the army is loyal to the Queen. Here in is that King Carol, will have it all, then he with heart, can play a quick role, in this situation. This, changing the Government of today. But, I, anyway, in the talks I had with King Karol, he will understand well, his attitude, is he pro-German or pro-Anglo-French”. The king, as he concluded the talks with the president of the Turkish Republic, Ismet Inonuen, in Yallove, said: “Regarding the Yallove talks, it is completely confirmed, as you have claimed, Colonel. In Yugoslavia, what you said is true. Because, I know General Nedić well. And since he has been waiting for you and spoke honestly, I want to say that: he is really a great soldier and today the Minister of War. But since he is now united with this Government, he , has lost importance in the army. And today, really the strongest person and the one who has a big role to play, is General Nedel Kovic, the commander of the Skopje Army.
All that your report contained, regarding the talks in Yugoslavia, was really great. At first, I didn’t believe it, until Milo Iliçi confirmed this to me, in the talks I had with them, and even Iliçi added to me that: Whenever the need begs, Colonel Husein Selmani should be sent. This is because everyone knows and respects him. They have faith in the few but precise words you have spoken.” The King then turned to Prime Minister Kotta and said: “Unfortunately, the Prime Minister, despite his great efforts, was unable to achieve anything, with the Greek Government. They are very afraid of fascism, and as it seems, even the English advise them not to give fascism any cause for anger.
I’m just telling you – the King addressed us – in the event that Italy learns from Greece, Great Britain is ready. But even if it is not ready, it will go to war against Italy, because the British Fleet in the Mediterranean has the most important bases in the Greek Islands. There is nothing to endure here. Well, I wonder why Greece is so scared – said King Zog. And I don’t understand that; what the reason is for the Greek Prime Minister, Metaksai, to immediately recognize the occupation of Albania by Italy. He declares that he is satisfied because he became close to fascism. King Zog turned to Colonel Selman, saying: “What do you think about the personnel we have in Greece. They do not help and use them badly. What can we do about this?” Colonel Husein Selman then presented to the King, that when he was in several talks with General Nedel Ković, he had referred to the situation of this personnel, giving him a list.
He answered, according to the words of the adjutant: “If you want, you can bring them here too. Because they have been there for days, they are crossing the border and they are coming. And they are not a large amount. But, another told me, reminding me that: Wouldn’t it be better, for any eventuality, for them to be there, because this situation has to change, both in Greece and in us. Therefore, he told me – think carefully about this.” . I submitted to the King that, hey, let them remain there. “Let’s expect that, for each day, we have new ones and with small sacrifices, we will keep them there.” “Very well, Colonel, that you spoke about them as well. And, what you say is completely reasonable. Do you think that they will stay there? I, too, am convinced that, very soon, this situation has to change, and even, in the talks I will have with the French, as well as with the British, I will talk about the personnel in Yugoslavia and in Greece and Turkey. Only, prepare for me a framework of: how many officers, how many professors and clerks and how many ensigns, there are.
This figure must serve, so that I can have it on my own. Because, I hope for some help. Especially with the French, that the army can help us, for keeping them. It’s not a big deal to the French and they may need you to link to our information. This, because with what you tell me, they are connected, with the Yugoslav army”. After this, His Majesty, King Zog, spoke about the delegations of the Albanian colonies. National congress. This congress will be competent to discuss and examine everything related to political, administrative and financial affairs. The government is closely related to this problem. For this, he said that: The Congress will be as the provisions between the Parliament and the Government is. Yes, in that way, the connections and agreements with the States and the League of Nations will work, even eventually, they will be common.
Don’t forget that the colonies will play the main role in the democratic world”. The king then continued: “I am of the opinion and I hope that I will be here in the fall. By that time, you will have prepared all the relevant programs and provisions. Immediately, this congress is convened, so that you are always in close contact. So at this time, be ready to go. As soon as the call is made, at this time, we will also know the position of Great Britain and France, against the recognition of the Albanian Royal Government in exile”. After that, the King spoke about the general situation based on the talks he had with Justin Goudard, the adjutant remembers. He came directly from Paris, to King Zog, to talk about the current situation. This, as is known, is a high personality and a close friend of Albania. But, this one persistently asserted that: The war has been banned for another 5 years. On the day I left for Turkey, I had many talks with Minister Daladier. There is no war, heh heh. And when I told him that: There will be no war to pass the year, in no way, he didn’t believe it. Later, Goudardi added that: “Minister Daladier told me that France never recognizes the occupation of Albania.
Therefore, he has made the decision, he recognizes the Albanian Royal Legation in Paris, with the rights he has always had”. To recognize the Albanian Government in exile. This is what prompts me more, what I am telling you, that: Give all due importance to the preparation for calling the delegations of the colonies, in the form of a congress. So, as we mentioned, that upon my return here, the calls will be made immediately. As I told you: All the programs and provisions should be finished when they are called”. His Highness, King Karol. Of course, the King continued – I can wait for the Albanian colony and talk to you about what we talked about. Then, I will go to Poland and there I would like to have a meeting with the president of the Republic and, The Foreign Minister, Colonel Beg. From here, he will go to Sweden. I am only there for a holiday, and I only want to see the atmosphere of the King, from Sweden. Then, I will go directly to France. However, I have to let you know, wherever he goes.”
On this very day, there was Justin Goudarde, with a whole French professor, for lunch. Goudardi, would leave in the afternoon directly for Yugoslavia and Italy. “We will meet in France,” Goudardi had told him. Together with Goudard, the King also had Prime Minister Kotta and Minister Asaf Xhaxhul for lunch and ordered them to accompany him to “Jesil Koy”, the airport. Memorie.al
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