Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of Ali Shefqet Shkupi and his brother, Naxhiu, of early origin from the Rusi family of Dibra e Madhe, where some of its branches later came and settled in the city of Shkodra and in Shkupi, where and Ali and Naxhi were born. Ali’s education at the Istanbul Military Academy, where he was a classmate of Mustafa Kemal, who, during a meeting with him in Vienna, proposed that he return to Istanbul, offering him several senior positions in the Turkish army. Ali Sheqeti refused to return to Turkey and came to Albania after Ismal Qemali called on some Albanian patriots to give their contribution to the establishment of the newly formed state. Testimony of Prof. Dr. Dëfrim Shkupi, for the engagement of his father, Naxhiu and uncle, Ali Shefqet, in various civil and military duties and functions, giving their contributions to the establishment and consolidation of the new Albanian state. Ali Shefqeti’s participation in the June Revolution alongside the fanatical forces, the death sentence as organizer of the Fier Uprising, the pardon of life by Zogu, and the death in deep misery in the communist regime of Enver Hoxha in 1953, in the city of Shkodra, for the communists did not forget his attitude during the War, where he had said, “For Stalin’s mustache, I do not give even a dead dog”!
Only a few months after the declaration of Independence of Albania, on the proposal of the Minister of Defense, Mehmet Pasha Dërralla, the Prime Minister of the Provisional Government, Ismail Qemali, appointed the first Chief of Staff of the Albanian Army, decreeing him in that high position, Major Ali Shefqet Shkupi. But who was Ali Shefqeti, what was the origin of his family, where was he educated, and how did he come to Vlora? What was the activity of Ali Shefqet, after the fall of the government of Ismail Qemali and that of Prince Wied. What was the attitude of his family during the period of the Monarchy, that of the Nazi-fascist occupation, and during the communist regime of Enver Hoxha? Regarding these and the whole unknown story of Ali Shefqet and his brother Naxhiu, his nephew Dëfrim Shkupi, Prof. testifies for Memory. Dr. and former Director at the Geological Research Institute in Tirana.
Origin of the Shkupi family
Ali Shefqet Shkupi, was born in 1883, in the city of Shkupi, in a very well-known family in that north-eastern part of Albania, which at that time was in very good economic condition. This family in those areas was known as the descendant of a family originating from Berisha of Rugova (near Peja) with the surname “Russia”. During the Skanderbeg period, his general command, which consisted of 12 captains (generals), included two well-known men from the Russian family, who served near our National Hero and participated for many years in many battles alongside him. . The “Russians” of Shkodra, a well-known tribe in this region, also originate from this tribe. After the fall of the city to the Turks, they emigrated to Calabria, where even today they are known by the surname “Rossi”. Some of them later left Calabria and returned to Shkodra. While another branch, from the same tribe moved to Mirdita, Dibra, Blace, and Kicevo. At a later period, these families settled in the cities of Tetovo and Shkupi, including the family of Ali Shefqet who bore the surname “Russia”. Shefqet’s father was named Hysni and was born in Skopje, where his family was one of the richest in the city and owned many properties. After being educated in the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul, he graduated from the Faculty of Theology and then returned to his homeland, where as long as he lived, he devoted himself solely to Theology. In his youth Hyseni was married to a girl named Refika, who came from a very wealthy family in Skopje. From that marriage they had three children, Ali, Ismet, and Naxhiu.
Ali Shefqet Shkupi, classmate of Ataturk
Ali Shefqeti received his first lessons in Shkupi, finishing primary school in 1893 and then he attended the military school in Thessaloniki, which he graduated with honors in 1895. After that, he attended another military school in Bitola , which he completed in 1899. In this regard, Prof. Dëfrim Shkupi says: “After the completion of those two military schools, my uncle Ali Shefqet Rusi won the right to continue the Military Academy in Istanbul. After its completion in 1902, he transferred to the Academy of General Staff, which he completed in 1905. The surname Shkupi was added to the records of that academy, which was done to indicate where the student came from. And since then, that surname has remained with Ali Shefqet and his family. They had come from Thessaloniki and settled in the late 19th century, living near the house of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the later leader of Turkey. Ali and Mustafa have been close friends ever since. Although Ataturk was two years older, they attended the same military school, were in the same class, and sat in the same bench. During their studies, they were both involved in the “Unity and Progress” organization, and for this fact, the Sultan’s secret service arrested them both to be later released for lack of evidence. In 1905, Ali Shefqeti was appointed Chief of Staff in the Rumelia Army, based in Thessaloniki. In 1908, Ali actively participated in the uprising against the sultan, together with Mustafa Qemali, and after the victory of that uprising, he worked as an officer in the Thessaloniki Garrison, until 1910 “, says Dëfrim Shkupi.
Commander of the Istanbul Garrison
After the beginning of his excellent military career in the ranks of the High Gate in Istanbul, where Ali Shefqet Shkupi, served as an officer in various vilayets, he received high praise for his work, personally from the then Minister of Defense. In this regard, Dëfrim Shkupi tells: “As my father, Naxhiu, told me, after a military career in Thessaloniki, my uncle Aliu was called by the High Gate, which communicated to him the transfer as Commander of the Istanbul Garrison, a task that would carry it out until 1912. After the proclamation of the Independence of Albania, the National Salvation Committee called on the Albanian officers everywhere in Europe to return to their homeland, because the Albanian army had to be organized, the new state had to be defended, it had to be fought for other territories, etc. In response to that call, like many other Albanian soldiers who immediately responded to the call from their homeland, and our uncle Ali, left Istanbul. He went to Romania and after staying for a while, got in touch with some patriots of the Albanian colony in Bucharest. Then he left for Austria and then went to Trieste, where he met a large number of Albanian patriots, such as Faik Konica, Fan Noli, Hamdi Ohri, Dom Pjetër Tusha, Doktor Adhamudhi, Tef Curani, Pandeli Evangjeli, etc. They participated in the National Congress organized there on March 2 to 4, 1913. That congress aimed at consolidating the independence of Albania, its self-government, the opening of Albanian schools, the liberation of Kosovo and other lands, etc. ” confess Prof. Dr. Dëfrim Shkupi, regarding the departure of his uncle from Istanbul.
Chief of Staff of the Albanian Army in 1913
After the congress held in the city of Trieste, Ali Shefqet Shkupi tried several times to enter Albania, but he arrived only on April 25, 1913, when an Austrian ship, along with several other officers, landed in the Seman gorge, in a marshy area that had once been the property of the large Muzakaj family. Regarding the arrival of Ali Shefqet Shkupi in Albania and his military career as Chief of Staff of the Albanian Army, his nephew, Prof. Dr. Dëfrim Shkupi, says: “As soon as he arrived in Vlora, Ali Shefqeti was received with high honors by the most famous Albanian patriots who were in that city, as well as by the Prime Minister Ismail bej Qemali himself. Only a few days after his arrival in Vlora, with the intervention of the Minister of Defense, Mehmet Pasha Deralla, Prime Minister Ismail Qemali decreed Ali Shefqet to the high position of Chief of General Staff, the first Albanian army that had just been created. After assuming that task, in cooperation with his assistant, Captain Hysni Doko, he immediately set to work to repel the Serbo-Greek invading troops from the Albanian territory and to erect pyramids at the borders set by the congress of the great European powers in in 1913. Ali also dealt with the organization of all army structures, creating branches of its most necessary weapons and policies “, says Prof. Dëfrim Shkupi, for his uncle Ali Shefqet.
Conflict with Esat Pasha
Together with Ali Shefqet, at the beginning of 1913, his younger brother, Naxhiu, who had been born in 1895, also returned to Albania, also in the city of Shkupi. After finishing primary school in that city, in 1904, Naxhiu then attended the city school of Thessaloniki, where at that time his brother, Ali, was the Commander of the Garrison. He finished that school in 1907, and then attended three gymnasium classes also in the city of Thessaloniki, which he finished in 1910. That same year, Naxhiu left the city of Thessaloniki and went to Istanbul with his brother. his, Ali, and a year later, in 1911, enrolled in the Faculty of Law of Istanbul University. He failed to attend more than two years at that faculty, after discontinuing his studies, also leaving Istanbul, to join his brother, Ali, who was preparing to leave for Vlora. . Since then, Naxhiu was found close to his brother, in all his great efforts in the military organization of the Albanian state. Regarding this and the military career of Naxhi Shkupi, his son, Prof. Dëfrim Shkupi, says: “In 1914, when the capital of Albania was transferred from Vlora to Durrës, the General Staff of the Army was transferred with him. My uncle, Ali Shefqeti, continued to hold the post of Chief of Staff, while Esat Pasha Toptani was appointed Minister of War. During that time Ali Shefqeti had many clashes with Esat Pasha and opposed him for many problems, which were not in the interest of the national cause. After the escape of Esat Pasha, Ali Shefqeti, together with Bajram Curri, engaged in the defeat of the Assad forces and their waste in the Tirana-Durrës-Peqin area. In August 1914, the First World War began and after the departure of Prince Wilhelm von Wied from Albania, our country became a battlefield of warring armies. At that time Ali Shefqeti, with a group of officers, crossed into the city of Shkodra and there he was arrested by Montenegrin forces, who sent him to the Podgorica prison, together with a group of other Albanian patriots. “In that prison, Ali Shefqeti remained isolated until 1913, when he was liberated from Austrian troops and at the beginning of that year he returned to Shkodra”, says Prof. Dr. Dëfrim Shkupi, regarding the release from prison of his uncle, Ali Shefqet Shkupi.
After his release from the prison where the Montenegrins had put him, due to a constant concern from an old stomach disease, Ali Shefqet Shkupi was forced to leave for Austria, in order to be cured. There he passed from one hospital to another, in Vienna and Karlsbad (present-day Karlovy Vary, in the Czech Republic). To stay with Ali while he was hospitalized, Naxhiu also went there, as the two brothers were very close to each other. At that time Naxhiu enrolled in the Military Academy of Vienna in the department of organization-intention, where he attended studies Ahmet Zogu, the future King of the Albanians, with whom Naxhiu had close acquaintance. As the war was raging at that time, teaching practices took place on the Russian-Austro-Hungarian front line, Naxhiu was sent for several months, being a direct participant in that war, on the Austrian side, where he performed the task of chief of armament of a corps. After the end of the First World War, in 1919, Naxhiu graduated from the Academy in Vienna and returned to Albania. He settled in the city of Tirana, where he was charged with opening the school for the preparation of graduate students, which was the first military school in Albania, where he was appointed its commander with the rank of lieutenant “, says Prof. Dr. Dëfrim Shkupi, related to his uncle Ali Shefqet Shkupi and his father, Naxhiu.
Rejects Ataturk’s offer
During Ali Shefqet’s stay in Austria, Mustafa Qemali also went to Vienna, where he sought to meet with his old friend Ali Shefqet Shkupi. In this regard, Dëfrim Shkupi reports: “The meeting between the two old friends took place at the Imperial Hotel and according to the oral testimonies of Ali Shefqet, recorded by his children and two Albanian students of that period, Ahmet Demi and Zenel Hekali, who that day happened to be near that hotel and had met Ali, Mustafa Qemali invited his youth friend to return to Turkey, and work together for the rebirth of a new and modern Turkey. Where in Ataturk’s grand projects for the future, Ali Shefqet could be entrusted with the task of reorganizing and leading the new Turkish army. But Ali Shefqeti rejected that offer, telling his friend that: he had set himself the task of returning and contributing to his homeland in Albania. After that meeting, Ali left to return to Albania and upon arriving in Shkodra, he was arrested by the French, as he was at the forefront of a demonstration that the people of that city had organized for the removal of French troops from Shkodra. But Ali did not stay very arrested, as revolted crowds of people surrounded the French Consulate in Shkodra and under their pressure the French authorities were forced to release Ali. After his release from prison, demonstrators held him in their arms to the house where he lived. As he was not engaged in military life at that time, in 1919, in collaboration with the geographer Ahmet Gashi, he composed a detailed ethnic map of Albanian lands, which he had trampled on himself. He prepared that map to send to the Versailles Conference, in order to serve the protection of the national rights of Albanians. But unfortunately, the delegate Mehdi Frashëri lost him during the trip to Paris. Many years later, in 1952, Ali Shefqet risked the aforementioned map, which is now in the Central State Archive “, says Dëfrim Shkupi regarding his uncle, Ali Shefqet, who rejected Ataturk’s offer to serve in the Turkish army.
In defense of the Congress of Lushnja
At the end of 1919 and the beginning of 1920, together with many other patriots, Ali Shefqeti was fully engaged in the preparations of the National Congress of Lushnja that was held in that city from January 31 to February 2, 1920. His brother, Naxhiu, was also an active participant in the siege of the city to protect the normal conduct of the work of the Congress. Among the many decisions taken at that Congress was that of Ali Shefqet, who was reappointed Chief of Staff of the Albanian Army, being promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In this regard, his nephew, Dëfrim Shkupi, testifies: “After being reappointed to that position, Ali started working by organizing a regular army, with the decree of recruitment, created three regiments, implemented the military service of mandatory and new military uniform. In June 1920, he organized the provision of government aid, with weapons and food, to the Vlora insurgents against the Italian invaders. Meanwhile, my father, Naxhiu, after the creation of the new Army Headquarters, was promoted to second captain and appointed to the organization-intention section. In 1921, Ali together with the commander of the gendarmerie, Ali Fehmi Kosturin, took part in the suppression of the Mirdita Uprising, led by the Gjonmarkaj of Orosh. After that, from Mirdita he moved to the village of Arras in Dibra, where the Committee for the Fight against the Serbian occupiers was formed, consisting of career officers and other patriots, such as: Elez Isufi, Isuf Xhelili, Bajram Curri, Ramiz Daci, Ramiz Dibra, Zija Dibra et al. In that committee where Ali Shefqeti and Ali Fehmi Kosturi were also elected, it was decided to fight against the Serbs for life and death, and under his leadership, the Albanian forces broke the Serbs, forcing them to withdraw from the outskirts of Dibra and Luma. When he returned to Tirana, in 1922, Ali Shefqeti and his brother Naxhiu, lined up on the side of Elez Isufi, against Ahmet Zogu. After the failure of Elez Isufi’s uprising, Zogu, then Minister of Interior, exiled Ali to Gjirokastra. Ali was later imprisoned by Zog and his death sentence was sought in court. Thus he was in prison when he won the Fan Noli uprising otherwise known as the June Revolution of 1924, and, as a result of that movement, was released and joined the insurgents. At that time, Ali Shefqeti was appointed chairman of the Military Committee of Noli Government “, testifies Prof. Dr. Dëfrim Shkupi, regarding his uncle Ali Shefqet, who in the June Uprising, joined the fan forces.
Organizer of the Fier Uprising
After the failure of the June Uprising and Noli’s departure from Albania, the Shkupi brothers did not leave Tirana and for their participation in that uprising, Ali Shefqeti and Naxhiu were interned in Korça, where they stayed from 1925 to 1930. During the time they were in Korça, (in 1928) Ali Shefqeti married there a young girl originally from Cologne, named Ikbale, who was the daughter of the patriot, Fetah Hysaj, the courier of Çerçiz Topulli’s gang, which dealt with the bringing of Albanian books to Korça and Kolonjë, which were sent by Albanian patriots from Sofia. With the intervention of some nationalist friends, in 1930, Ali Shefqeti was allowed to return to Tirana. While his brother, Naxhiu, in 1932, was appointed head of the Recruitment Office in Berat, with the rank of first captain, which he earned during the Noli Government when he worked at the General Command. To make a living, from 1928 when he was in Korça, and then until 1933 in Tirana, Ali Shefqeti was forced to teach French in several high schools, from the Lyceum of Korça to the Madrasa of Tirana. In 1934, a secret organization was created in Tirana with the aim of overthrowing the Zog Monarchy, which was led by Ali Shefqet Shkupi, Ramiz Dibra and Ali Fehmi Kosturi, all three academic officers, close friends of each other. and with ideas similar to those of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. But the uprising that was organized by them, broke out two days before the set date, on August 16 and only at one point, in Fier. It was deconstructed before it started and suppressed by Zog’s loyal government forces. Its leaders were captured and in September 1935 sentenced to death. The list of convicts was published on September 9, 1935 in the government newspaper “Besa”, and at the top of that list was Ali Shefqet Shkupi. The penalties were extremely severe and provoked a strong reaction in Europe. It is said that the protests for their release were also signed by Albert Einstein and Henry Barbys. As a result, Zog reduced the sentences to 101 years in prison for key executives. In addition to Ali Shefqet, his brother, Naxhi Shkupi, also played a very active role in the Fier uprising.
Ali does not help the communists
At the end of 1938, King Zog opened the prison doors and together with all the organizers of the Fier Uprising, released Ali Shefqet. After April 7, 1939, the economic situation of the family was almost critical and Ali Shefqeti also suffered for a living. In 1942, the two brothers, Ali Shefqeti and Naxhiu, moved from Tirana and settled in Tetovo, which at that time had passed under the administration of Albania. In this regard, Defrim Shkupi testifies: “In Tetovo, my father, Naxhiu, was mobilized by the Italians because he was a military academician and in the newly annexed lands of Albania, Kosovo and Western Macedonia, there was an urgent need for staff. He was appointed head of the Recruitment Branch with the rank of first captain. While performing that task, he risked being arrested for systematically avoiding the mobilization of the most capable young men, Albanians and Macedonians, in the fascist army. But he could escape by justifying himself, because he did not know the recruits. Based on those circumstances, Naxhiu and Ali were forced to return to Tirana, where in September 1944, the Germans had burned down our house where we lived on Kuka-jve Street, near the Madrasa. The reason for this was an action taken there by some partisans led by Safet Kurti, the nephew of Naxhiu’s wife. But after November of that year, for the first time in their lives, Ali Shefqeti and Naxhiu were forced to separate from each other. So my father, Naxhiu, found a shelter in Tirana, while Ali Shefqeti went to Shkodra. As Ali was known as an anti-Zogist, one of the well-known communists of the city of Shkodra went to his house and told him to give him five francs to help the Movement. But Ali replied: “For Stalin’s mustache, I do not give a single dead dog”, testifies Dërfrim Shkupi, regarding the refusal of Ali Shefqet to help the communists.
The death of two brothers in misery
In the first years after the war, Naxhiu worked as a surveyor with the agrarian reform implementation groups in Tirana and then he held several small positions until he retired. Meanwhile, Ali Shefqet Shkupi, who lived in the city of Shkodra, on December 26, 1953, died in deep economic misery and completely forgotten and ignored by the communist regime of Enver Hoxha. Apparently the communists had not forgotten “Stalin’s mustache”. Nine years later, in 1962, his brother, Naxhiu, also died in Tirana. Thus ended the life of the two brothers Ali and Naxhi Shkupi, who years ago had given their contribution to the establishment and strengthening of the new Albanian state. In addition to comprehensive military training, they were two erudite intellectuals with a generally western background and spoke six foreign languages. In their multi-volume library, which burned down completely along with the house, there were also three large encyclopedias: the German “Brockhaus”, the great French “Larousse” and the Turkish encyclopedia. Although the two Shkupi brothers experienced the most stormy periods of the birth and consolidation of the new Albanian state, with many ups and downs, they found time and opportunity to cultivate and enrich their knowledge from life and the big world, which they also passed on to their children who had the opportunity to be educated and give their contribution in the respective fields where they worked, such as education, culture, geology and diplomacy./Memorie.al