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 Zpg the King of the Albanians.
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The Albanian Parliament on April 6, 1939: The Monarchs leave
The speech of the Minister of the Interior, Musa Jukes, in front of the Parliament, shocked everyone. Above all, the Albanian Monarch, who did not believe this description, before this situation. However, His Majesty decides to make a reference before the Assembly, explaining the long period of Albanian-Italian relations. He is disappointed with the Great Powers and explains that he has always doubted Italy. Meanwhile, the King is aware of the situation in Albania and explains that with the defense plan presented by the General Command on March 18, 1939, the country could be defended. But his commanders are not up to the task. This is already a reality. At midnight on April 6-7, the Albanian Parliament finally invites the Queen and the Prince to leave
“At this hour that we are in, the internal situation is in this state as explained. That’s why it is necessary to take quick measures, to realize as far as they see necessary, for the Prefects to act. Because, in the event that they will not be authorized in the demands they put forward, I can no longer bear any responsibility, on the situation of the country, how you see it, the propaganda is so much that every day it is getting worse and the Gendarmerie has been withdrawn from the posts. This should be studied well “, said the Minister of the Interior, Musa Juka, before the meeting on April 6, 1939, in front of the Government and the Parliament, the adjutant recalls.
Prime Minister Koço Kotta addressed you to the Minister of the Interior, Musa Juka, and said: “We heard what you explained to us about the internal situation. But why are you telling us today, and not before?! You don’t understand that we are now in the threshold of the events and you, Mr. Minister, until yesterday you told us that calm is in order, and you took every responsibility. Whereas today, it is no longer an excuse for you. You are responsible for keeping the peace of the country. You have had you have all the powers, this responsibility is not forgiven”, addressed Prime Minister Kotta.
Then, Prime Minister Kotta stood up and said to me: “Could he look at the King for a minute?” I, the adjutant remembers, entered the office where the King and Mehmet Konica were and I told him that Prime Minister Kotta would like a minute to to be seen. “Yes, the King told me to come.” After the Prime Minister entered, the King said to me: “Come too, Colonel.” Kotta presented to the King, as Musa Juka spoke about the internal situation. “I found very worried this time the minister, about what he presented to us”, Prime Minister Kota told the King.
The King ordered me to call the National Defense Commander, General Xhemal Aranitas, the Chief of Staff, General Gustav Myrdashi, the Gendarmerie Commander, Colonel Shefki Shatku and N/Colonel Sami Koka. They should come to the Palace immediately. “As soon as they come, put it in the Council and let me know,” the King told me. We came up with these. The Prime Minister entered the meeting and I called the commanders to come to the Palace. Immediately they came, like the commander of the National Defense, general Xhemal Aranitasi, with both subordinates: the Chairman, the deputy chairman of the General Staff, as well as the commander of the Gendarmerie, colonel Shefki Shatku.
After bringing them into the meeting, I immediately informed the King. At this time, the King entered the Council and Mehmet Konica came out. After that, – the King ordered me to accompany him and we left. “While we were passing through the flower garden, he stretched out his arm and said: ‘Colonel, remember a lot, the King opened his eyes, because things are not good at all. I am leaving in two hours for Yugoslavia, and I presented everything to the King. With that that Minister Milčič told me under my breath that there is a possibility that Shkodra will be occupied by Yugoslavia, given as a reward by the Italians.
I said: Why are you going to Yugoslavia, or did the King send you?! ‘No, I go to make sure that tomorrow, there is a possibility that the car will not be found’. I have taken Osam Tarakun’s wife and two daughters. With these words we parted with Mehmet Konica.
When I entered the meeting, Zogu I, the King of the Albanians, was speaking to the Assembly, about all the past events, how Italy has always had dark intentions against Albania. Here’s what he said: “Today we are in the most critical situation, almost at war with Italy. As you know, Mussolini’s intentions have never been sincere towards Albania, like the one on December 26, 1926, with Baron Alois With great difficulty we passed the one of 1933, with Koke, as it was a very critical situation, but at that time, some interests of the Great States did not allow him to do what he will do today, therefore we passed it.
When Italy attacked Abyssinia, we as allies loyally supported them, while the whole world sanctioned them. We, for our part, kept them loyal and as allies we abstained, because they could not come against the Allies. And from this behavior of ours, friendship began to improve a little, as in warmth with softer relations. So we said we passed it. In December 1937, the agreements between Stojadinovic, who was the Yugoslav Prime Minister, and Count Ciano, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, in Belgrade, touched us very much. Because the Minister of Albania in Belgrade, Tahir Shtylla, did not participate in the talks, nor was he called, that is, according to the Alliance Pact, he was ignored. And we, although we had detailed news of the chords, which were to the detriment of Albania, did not make a sound.
Count Ciano, after returning from Yugoslavia, came to us officially to pay a visit to the Albanian Government, where he explained to his heart’s content that the Italo-Yugoslav talks have nothing to do with Albania. We wanted a communique to be issued, together with the Foreign Minister of Albania. Of course, this was not accepted and from that time, I realized that Count Ciano has a lot of influence on Mussolini. He tried to approach us in a friendly way, but he was very megalomaniac and unstable in his talks and conceited.
Count Çiano, from the 5 days of his stay in Albania, you were honored everywhere as a friend and ally. He was accompanied more and more everywhere by the ministers with many honors, because he wanted and liked them. But, in the talks I had with them, on the first day, they were not so warm. Although I kept it very well, but the second day, when I had him for lunch, I talked more openly with him and he promised me personally, as a kind of trust, and he would do his best, for a sincere Italian-Albanian friendship. So that, as you know, to take advantage of this, I also made him the witness of my marriage. I also stopped him two days ago, I talked to him again, where he gave me a lot of promises, but in vain. And here I understood that Mussolini listens to him a lot, and this filled Mussolini’s mind. We explained all these obstacles in a few words from the circumstances.
From the efforts we have gone through, with great difficulty and as you know, they were made with economic and financial shortages and poverty. But, at every moment, we have not left the country’s developments behind. So, as I told you, since November 1926, I have clearly understood Mussolini’s dark intention against Albania. I have never been mistaken in them, but the great necessities, as you know, always let us reach them, in the Italian apprehensions. I have not left a tool unused, for securing Albania, since 1934. I have proposed to the Balkans, for a Balkan connection, Albania being also inside. I prayed to Ataturk, that he would intervene on behalf of Greece and Yugoslavia, who had an alliance between them, so that Albania would be accepted as well. He was showing me Greece, which I had proposed to him many times, until Mussolini heard it.
The Greeks themselves showed it at that time. For this, the Italian Government gave us a protest, how can the Albanian Government enter into an agreement with the Balkan States, to make an alliance, without discussing with its ally Italy, according to the alliance treaty?! But she herself, with Yugoslavia and others, has no problems. Of course, before that, we did not deny that we had a conversation with the Greeks. But when we saw that we would arrive at an agreement, then, as the alliance imposes on us, we had to discuss with our ally, Italy, before an alliance was signed, so that the interests of our ally are not harmed.” Then the King continued: “As in recent times, as early as February 14, 1939, I have really informed Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey about Italy’s demands, and because the various rewards promised us, for a great Albania etc.
Also, enlightening them that Italy will occupy Albania, for a “Bridgehead” against Yugoslavia and Greece. Because this is the plan of Nazi-fascism, and this more than Germany will have secured the Balkans with an Italian army. This is to be free in the actions against Poland and that the arrogance of today’s Germany does not leave without occupying Dancing. There is a war there, not only because Poland is strong, but neither Great Britain nor France will remain sidelined and uninterested in this, because they are at war. The Balkan states have well understood the fascist goals, but they are afraid. They have no security. And, after seeing Austria and Czechoslovakia guaranteed by the Anglo-French and Russia, they retreated because they were not ready; this has also scared the Balkans, who today become indirect allies of fascism, against Albania.
Forgetting that tomorrow, they have it at their gate. Even to the Great States, Great Britain, France and the United States of America, I have openly explained my intentions, because Italy wants these bases in Albania. And the promises and guarantees, rewards offered to us, also by Germany, which sends us with the help of our Minister in Berlin, Rauf Ficos, that Hitler and Gering himself, guarantee us for a great Albania. But they don’t even give us the right, they are closing their eyes and giving us wisdom. Great Britain, as I have explained to you, sent me on March 25, 1939, Sir Thomas Hohler, together with the minister accredited here, Sir Andreu Ryani, who, they openly told me, to negotiate with Italy, that you are completely isolated.
And as far as Greece and Yugoslavia are concerned, today they depend on German threats, that’s why they said: ‘In the name of Great Britain and France, find a way to compromise and get past this very dangerous darkness’. Of course, we had no way of accepting the Italian demands. This was a betrayal that we would bring to the Motherland. These requests, whenever they have been presented, have been discussed and examined in detail, both by the Government and the Parliament, where they have been found incompatible with the independence of the Motherland. So many of you, wholeheartedly and unanimously, have unacceptably regressed. I, on April 5, 1939, when Italy gave us the last ultimatum, the Parliament of the Government together, I declared everything to you and I told you that; In no way do I accept the slightest violation of Albania’s independence as a free state.
And I never accept that; to put a stain on the Albanian Nation. But, if the National Assembly has the possibility to save the Motherland from this danger, I am ready and for the salvation of Albania, I resign and retire. You can proclaim a new regime, to resume new talks with Italy”, King Zog explained to you. “On the contrary, you did not accept it in any way, on the violation of the territorial independence of Albania, and unanimously, you voted to reject it outright. of the Italian requirements. Accepting the most critical situation, to give rise to war, and this is unacceptable. Also, like me and today’s Government, you gave us even more confidence, with full power. And, this power applies internally and eventually abroad, to serve the interests of the Motherland.
Now we have arrived before this threat and, we can tell you, that we are at war, but I have heard from some ministers and deputies, who still have hope, in Mussolini’s telegrams and talking in cafes, that they were at odds, etc… So, I’m telling you: This is not manly at all. Man is openly lacking, to show his opinion, for the benefit of the interest of the Motherland. Here, as I told you, that for years and years, I have tried to secure Albania from robbers. Yes, I couldn’t because the interests of the big ones in Albania are few and far between. Once again, I am telling you that in no way will there ever be a compromise with me, that the state is not my fiefdom, but it is the homeland of the people who have the heritage of their forefathers.
And, he has washed it more than hundreds of times, with his pure blood and with his own blood, he will win it and make it happy. Well, I prefer my death and the Throne, then betraying the Albanian people. Well, I would like you to tell me that; do we have another way, besides the one we have taken, and what is it, this I ask you, is not an accusation. But an opinion that is the right of everyone to express his opinion, for the good of the people, who have given us their trust, to preserve it with honor and inviolability. Is there anyone who can answer me, an opinion that we can escape this danger”, said King Zog. After that, the speaker of the Parliament, Pandeli Evangjeli, stood up and said: “Your Majesty, on behalf of the whole Parliament, which charged me that, in efforts and studies, in brainstorming, we have no path, except what has been decided”, said Pandeli Evangjeli. Everyone clapped their hands, that the given decision is acceptable.
After all this, the King explained to you that: “I ordered the commander of the National Defense, General Xhemal Aranitas, as early as February 23, 1939, to prepare in secret, without being seen by the Italians, a defense force, bringing them closer to nearby coastal bases. But this has been very difficult because, in our small army, there have been Italian organizers, and there was no possibility of any movement without being dictated by them. This did not interest us, because we did not want to call us instigators of the events. For nothing, they have accused us by warning us, all the way to the League of Nations. Seeing that this is difficult, I ordered the commander of the Gendarmerie, Colonel Shefki Shatku, on this very date, to prepare 6 light gendarmerie battalions and that of the Gendarmerie School, which within a very short time, will be made available to the National Defense Command.
But this of the Gendarmerie cannot be called a mobilization, because it is put as a reason to ensure peace. This is prepared, as far as the commanders have informed me. On March 18, 1939, the commander of the National Defense, together with the chairman of the General Staff, as well as the commander of the Gendarmerie, presented me with a plan, which contains the 4 areas of defense of the Motherland, divided in depth, according to the events to be presented. This plan is very appropriate, in that they will have the opportunity now to implement it. Because today, all the Italian organizers went to Italy. The Defense Command has taken quick measures, according to the orders given, based on the plan it presented, because time is not waiting.
I am convinced that, with the strengthening of the 6 battalions of the Gendarmerie, which can be organized in the places that have been presented to me over time, as they told me. Because Durrës was completely filled with the forces that were assigned and Vlora is also expected, which is an important point in other countries. However, we have learned that it has not yet been completed at all. Even the weapons, 1,200 rifles, have not been distributed yet! A great Italian propaganda takes place there. Also, on that date, February 22, 1939, I ordered the Minister of the Interior, Musa Juka, together with the commander of the Gendarmerie, Colonel Shefki Shatku, – said the King, – to take quick measures, to ensure internal peace, giving them all the power to change the officials, putting those who are capable of internal security.
In case of war, they gave me the assurance, both one and the other, that all measures have been taken, they have brought full confidence. As far as the Prime Minister informs me, about some reports of the Minister of the Interior, Musa Jukes, this surprised me tonight. Where it seems that, the situation comes in contradiction with those assurances given, on the assurance of tranquility. And this, now, cannot be changed, either by the District Commander or by others. Because, time does not allow, that this should be taken a little earlier. I say that: this measure should have been taken since I gave you all the powers. Regarding the behavior of the Yugoslav Government, this does not surprise us at all. Because, as we explained, it is rather from fascism and from fear, it can help Fascism, against us. This was because we are giving up Shkodra and Homeshin as the center.
I told you to choose from the South, because Greece has not yet presented us with any obstacles, but even she, as I mentioned, is very afraid of the insecurity from the Great Anglo-French States. The Minister of Internal Affairs, Musa Juka, and the Commander of the Gendarmerie, Colonel Shefki Shatku, are responsible for ensuring internal peace. To take the measures, in any way with the Prefects, only that the responsibility lies with these two, unforgivable. They should now immediately be put in charge of ensuring the peace of the country, having all the powers of appointments and transfers”, the King told you. Memorie.al
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