Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of the well-known Shkodra family, Kuçi, where one of her sons, Hamzai, after being educated at the Franciscan College of the city of Shkodra, in 1912 was called and served as an interpreter and military assistant to the warlord of the Turkish garrison of Shkodra, General Hasan Riza Pasha who was also Valiu of that city, fighting for several months against the Serb-Montenegrin armies that besieged Shkodra.
Hamzai’s brilliant military career, which after earning a degree from Prince Widi, went to a Vienna military school in Austria, where he graduated with high scores and returned to Albania, where he served in several senior military positions. The monarch with the rank of Major, until King Zog in 1935, decreed him a member of the Supreme Court where he worked until April 1939 when Italy fascist carried out military aggression against Albania and exiled him to Montova Gittadela in Libya.
Arrested and imprisoned by the Communists for 15 years in Burrel Prison, where he was released in 1960, and his son Selimi’s escape from Lake Shkodra in 1963 by small boat with four more things left without State Security and without being dictated by the border guards, first settling in Turkey and then in Sweden, from where in the late 1970s, he settles in South Africa, in Rhodesia near the Royal Court, where he served as the bodyguard of King Leka the First, like his father, Hamza, near King Zog. Selim’s return to the city of Shkodra after the 1990s, when he had only a few months left to live in his birthplace forever …
“Given the treatment, our family received by the Communist regime over grandfather Hamza Kuçi, who had served 10 years in the Burrel political prison, for having served for many years as a Zog Monarchy military major and also as a member of the High Court of the Kingdom, the future of my father, Melek, and uncle, Selim, or as he was otherwise known, Javuzi, seemed pale and hopeless. Under these conditions, my uncle, Selimi, decided to flee Albania, which he accomplished in 1963, where he and four other friends, by a small boat, fled the lake of Shkodra and came to on the other hand, in Montenegro of then Yugoslavia, to end up as a political asylum first in Turiq to his aunts who were married to the Zagolli family and then in Sweden to settle in Southern Rhodesia, near the Court Royal of Leka Zog, where he served for years in his Royal Guard. ”
The man who speaks and testifies for the first time exclusively for Memorie.al, is Gezim Kuçi from the city of Shkodra (graduated in Physics and Economics), the only heir and sinner of that Shkodra civic family, who narrates all of his histories. to his ancestors, by grandfather Hamza Kuçi, Major of the Zog Monarchy who in his youth had also served as an interpreter for the commander of the Turkish garrison and at the same time Valiu of the city, General Hasan Riza Pasha, during the siege of Shkodra and his uncle Selimi, otherwise known as Javuzi, escaped from Albania in 1963, to settle as a political asylum seeker first in Turkey and Sweden, and later in South Africa in Rhodesia, near the Royal King’s Guard, First Leka, where he served for years.
Hamza, one of Selim Kuci’s four sons
Among the four sons Selim Kuci had, the one who made a bigger name and entered the history of his native town and beyond was Hamzai (or Hamza as he was known in the Shkodra dialect and official documents also of the Zog Monarchy period). ), who was born in the city of Shkodra on April 1, 1891, in the Dudas neighborhood and received his first lessons at the “Franciscan” school in Shkodra run from 1902 onwards by Father George Fishta. He personally taught the younger students of that college the stories and deeds of Oso Kuka in the Tower of Vranin, and the other brave and wise men who had brought Shkodra and the wider North of Albania, who would then be his raw material, in the famous and monumental work, “Lahuta e Malcis”.
Translator of Valiu of Shkodra, Hasan Riza Pasha
In 1912, when Hamza was 21, thanks to some foreign languages he had learned at the Franciscan College but also as an autodidact, he was summoned by the commander of the Turkish military garrison of the city of Shkodra, General Hasan Riza Pasha, to serve with him as an interpreter. He also served in that capacity at the end of 1912 and the first months of 1913, when he was garrisoned under the command of General Hasan Riza Pasha, who was at the same time the city’s Valiu, for several months fighting against Serb-Montenegrin military forces that besieged Shkodra with its suburbs. According to some evidence, which is confirmed by a well-known scholar and historian, prod. dr. Bajram Xhafa from the city of Shkodra, Hamz Kuçi not only served as the translator of General Hasan Riza Pasha but he at that time also engaged and fought with his own arms in the defense of the city, a war which is considered a site of the glorious history of the city of Shkodra and also of Albania as a whole. In addition to various testimonies, Hamz Kuci’s participation as a translator and military defender of the city of Shkodra alongside Hasan Riza Pasha is also revealed by some old, but well-preserved photographs available from the family and also from the photo archive “Marubi” in the city of Shkodra.
Graduating as a military officer in Austria and the Koplik War
According to some evidence and archival documents also collected by the sucker and the sole heir of this family, Gezim Kuçi, at the end of the war in defense of the city of Shkodra from the Serbian-Montenegrin siege in the first months of 1913, for his contribution. his Hamza Kuci would be valued by the nobles of the city of Shkodra, and with the arrival of Prince Wade in early 1914, he would be selected and rewarded with a right to study in Austria, where he would begin his studies in Austria. a military school in Vienna, which he would finish with high scores in 1917, earning the rank of lieutenant. This is clearly illustrated by his diploma (published later in this article) preserved today by the Kuçi family in the city of Shkodra. Upon his return to Albania, Hamza Kuçi joined the Albanian Volunteer Divisions within the Austro-Hungarian Army, serving as a lieutenant commanding officer. According to some evidence, after the Congress of Lushnja, Hamz Kuçi, already with no previous experience as a military serviceman, served in the Albanian National Army, receiving the rank of lieutenant, where together with other servicemen from the district of Shkodra, such as Hamit Gjylbegu, Colonel Rexhep Shala, Major Dode Nikolla, in July 1920, participated in the Koplik War, where Serbian-Montenegrin forces undertook a military intervention in the direction of Shkodra. In this regard, in a long study by a prominent journalist and scholar from the city of Shkodra, Kabil Bushati, he writes, among others: Prime Minister Sulejman Delvina’s presidency would begin on July 27, 1920, and end on February 14, 1921. An August 1920 archival document indicates that the city of Shkodra had come to the war front 459 volunteers and 130 gendarmes commanded by Hasan Bushati, while in the suburbs there were 313 volunteers coming from Drishti, Boksi, Suma, Sheldija, Shllaku, Temali, Jubani, etc. Three battalions of fighters were formed, commanded by Sylço Beg Bushati, Hamit Gjylbegu, and Taip Shkodra. Volunteers of Shkodra surrounded by Shuk Gurakuqi, Muharrem Kazazi, Zef Serreqi, Hamza Kuçi, Qamil Kadri Boksi, Shaqir Omari, Dyl Grizha, Maliq Bushati, Maliq Sokoli, Ndok Gjeloshi, Rasim Gjyrezi, Cuf Kuçi, Man Hoti, Dom Loro Caka, Xhemal Bushati, Abdyl Lluja, father Ciril Cani, Oso B. Koplik, Ramo Halluni, Ahmet Bushati, Adem Haxhia, and Can Osmani, (Contribution), Vat Sokoli (Shala), Touch Lula Vuksani, etc. ”
In the operation to suppress the Mirdita Uprising
According to Guzim Kuci’s testimonies based on archival documents he possesses, in October 1921, Hamz Kuci participated in government military forces in an operation to suppress the Mirdita Uprising that was erupted by Orosh’s Captain, John Marka John, who refused to recognize the government of Tirana. In this regard, according to some archive documents, Hamza Kuci would be one of the lieutenant commanders of the infantry unit, a task which he would continue in the following years, where his career as a military officer went on to rise. in 1922, he would be a lieutenant in an infantry unit, specifically for the SPE Battalion Group II and III His career as a military officer would again be on the rise, as on January 1, 1925, he would be appointed commander of the Infantry and Volunteer Forces in the Shkodra district. And then, a short time later, his second appointment would come, on March 17, 1925 (by Order No. 291-10 of the Presidency of the Republic), and he would be appointed a member of the Military Court in Shkodra. , instead of Colonel Muharrem Bajraktari. (This is also stated in the Official Gazette of 1925). Hamza Kuci’s military career continued with various duties and appointments very often, which was after he was sent to those military units where he had trouble reshaping them. Thus, on February 20, 1926, Hamzai was appointed Commander of the Gendarmerie of Kurvelesh and Fier, and on January 21, 1928, he was promoted to Class I Captain, being appointed as an integral part of the Battalion Infantry Corps. of the Border, with the duty of the commander of the first company. Shortly afterward, he was transferred again as commander of the 2nd Company, in the 7th Infantry Battalion, and on April 12, 1928, he joined the “Shkumbini” Battalion as Commander of the 2nd Company”.
Member of the Supreme Court of the Zogu Monarchy
As a result of the various developments that took place in Albania with the arrival of Zog in power in early 1925, Hamza Kuci’s military career would also change, but ever-increasing. In this regard, his nephew, Gezim, referring also to archival documents, states: “In 1928, when Albania would return from the Republic to the Monarchy, my grandfather Hamza Kuçi, in addition to his military duties, would be assigned another duty with no less responsibility, being involved in the Military Court of Tirana, which happened on December 21, 1928, thus being made available to the National Defense Forces. These years mark Hamza Kuci’s military career, a continuous increase, which was also due to his valuable contributions to the creation of the Albanian Gendarmerie weapon and the reform of the Albanian Army based on laws and regulations that other western countries had at that time. As a result, on December 19, 1930, he was sent to the Officer Training Course in Tirana, where more would be formed by the military. In 1932, grandfather Hamza Kuçi would marry our grandmother, Hamidije Zogolli, the daughter of Brahim beg Zogolli and his wife, Fiqiriye, (the distant cousin of King Zog), who had four daughters: Mahmude, Refije, Zekiye, Hamidije. One of them was the wife of Ali Riza Topalli (Kosovo), lieutenant colonel of the Zog Monarchy and loyal to the King, where for years he would serve as the President of the Supreme Court of that time. Perhaps even from these friendly ties, King Zog would entrust Hamza Kuci with the high duties that he conscientiously performed in accordance with the legislation of the time and with high loyalty to King Zog.
So in those years, grandfather Hamza Kuci made a small contribution to the creation and reform of the judicial system based on the principles and western legislation of that time. But the culmination of his military and judicial career is his major promotion and appointment as a Member of the Special Court in Tirana, (Supreme Court, presided by Ali Riza Topallin), on August 17, 1935, a task he will assume. it exercised until April 1939, when fascist Italy carried out military aggression against our country. At this time, Grandfather Hamzai, after opposing the fascist occupation of the country, would be interned for a month in Montova-Gittadela, Libya, for his anti-fascist views. Upon release from exile, Grandfather returned to Albania with his family in Tirana, and throughout the period of the Italian occupation of the country, he remained in the military as a reserve, without interfering with political affairs. Likewise during the German occupation, having graduated from Austria and possessing excellent German, Hamza Kuci’s grandfather had offers from the Germans to approach various posts and functions in both the army and government, but he refused to do so, ”recalled his nephew, Gezim, during the Nazi-fascist occupation of the country, where his grandfather, Hamzai, remained indifferent.
Sentencing to 15 years in a political prison in Burrel
After the Communists came to power in November 1944, Hamza Kuci and his family would begin different problems, which was due to the duties he had held during the period of the Zog Monarchy. Concerning this, Gezim recounts: “Grandfather, Hamzai and his entire family, apart from being the strongest of the Zog Monarchy, at the same time his beliefs were extremely strong anti-Communist. What he did in 1955 was to remove him from Tirana where he had lived until then and he would move to Shkodra in the Dudas neighborhood of the old house. Perhaps this could have been planned by the State Security, after only a short time later, he was arrested on charges of joining an anti-communist organization in the city of Shkodra, including Smajl and Olimbi Baruti, Xhevat Quku, Xhelo Oroshi, etc. He would initially be sentenced to 25 years in prison, with the main charge being “agitation and propaganda”, but after a wanted writer himself, the court reduced his sentence to 15 years, which he served in prison. Burrel. As a result of the grandfather’s conviction, my father, Melek, and his brother, Selimi, or as he was known, Javuzi, would be subjected to severe persecution by the communist regime. So, even though my father, Leka (Melek) Kuçi, was fluent in two foreign languages (German and Turkish), not only would he not be allowed to study at university, as he had also completed high school high, but he would be chased by the State Security and his people. As a result, he would be allowed to work at the Wood Combine in Shkodra, the sawmill, where he was obliged to keep it in his arms, as all the persecuted or ‘dangerous’ were sent to that position. of the communist system ”, recalls Gëzim Kuçi, regarding the privations suffered by his family after the imprisonment of his grandfather, Hamza Kuçi in Burrel prison, who, after being released at a young age, lived for several more years and died. on March 19, 1978, in the city of Shkodra.
Escape from Shkodra Lake
But what happened to Hamza Kuci’s family after he was released from Burrel prison? Concerning this, Gezim recounts: “The future of my father, Melek, who worked extremely hard carrying lumber at Sharrat, and his uncle, Selim, (or as he was otherwise known, Javuzi), seemed quite hopeless for a normal life like everyone else. Under these circumstances, my uncle Selimi, who in those years was known throughout the city of Shkodra as a brave and physically strong boy, decided to flee Albania after realizing that his arrest by State Security, it would not be too late. Departing from this situation, he and four other companions, by a small boat, fled from the lake of Shkodra and made their way across Montenegro to Yugoslavia at the time. The story of their escape is a very rare one, and it was long remembered in the city of Shkodra, as it was one of the few cases that a group of five, (besides the boatman named Balani, included Cesk Jana, Hajrulla Zaganjori, and a cousin of his, Zaganjor (I can’t remember the name), had made plans to escape and the State Security could not penetrate there. Which showed that they were loyal companions and did not cut each other’s lips. Their escape occurred on September 23, 1963, from Lake Shkodra, in the village of Zogaj, where a person with the surname Balani, working with fishing boats, hid them fifth under sacks of lime covered with plastic so that not be dictated by the border patrols that controlled how often the boats went out into the lake. Due to the fact that the management was considered a trustee of the State Security and Border Post that controlled the area, the control of the boat became cursory and dark, and Uncle Selimi and his companions came out and gave o speeding, crossed the state border and landed on the other side of the lake, in the village of Krajë, Yugoslavia at the time. They were held for six months in a secluded police station, where the UDB interrogated them to find out whether they had been sent by State Security on a special mission. But after six months, when the UDB convinced them that they had really escaped, they released them and their uncle, Selimi, along with his other friends, were dispersed to different directions and countries, according to their means and desires, ”says Gezimi. in the escape of his uncle and other friends by boat from Shkodra Lake in 1963.
From Turkey to Sweden and the incident with the Ensemble from Albania
But what happened to Selim Kuci and his friends after the UDB released them from the isolation where they held them for six months in the vetting process ?! In this connection, Gezim recounts: “Upon being released from the UDB, his uncle, Javuzi fled the mountains on his way to Austria and thence to Turkey, to his aunts, Refiya and Zakiya, who were the daughters of Brahim Beg Zagolli, cousins. far from King Zog, who had named my brother Selim’s brother, Melek, because of his friendship with our grandfather, Hamzai. After living for several years in Turkey with his aunts, from 1967, he settled as a political asylum seeker in Sweden, where he engaged in political activity against the communist regime in Tirana. This is also confirmed by Adil Bicaku, a fugitive political immigrant from Albania, wherein a piece he also published in the Albanian press, he tells of a 1976 event in Stockholm, where the Ensemble of Songs and Dances had gone. of Albania. Among other things for the event that was attended by his uncle, Selimi, he writes: “I remember all the participants, some no longer live. The thought was to distribute the manifesto I wrote and make many copies. We said we would not provoke, just slogans against Enver Hoxha. Without a concert, a Chilean, Communist, called us fascists, then Chris…! A Shkodra native, Selim Kuçi (Javuzi) knew some artists and spoke their name, then Chilean chess. Selimi rubbed the paste, I went and grabbed her by the throat. So the concert broke down. It was between us and Chilean communists and the scene was attacked with a bottle. Mediu spoke with Irfan Bushati before. This will take time to show. I know because the initiator I prepared a few days ago laughs. And beside me came the threatening telegram of State Security. I was an ‘enemy of the people’ family and later a kulak with 7 inmates and the missing father in dictatorship prisons, ”Gezimi quotes the memoirs of Adil Bicak, the Albanian political immigrant in Sweden, for the event with the State Song and Dance Ensemble of Albania. who had gone there to give concerts.
With Xhevdet Mustafa and Leka Zog in South Africa
But what about the future of Selim Kuci’s life as a political immigrant and a member of anti-Communist groups who engaged in vicious activity against Enver Hoxha’s communist regime? In this regard, Gëzim points out: “The activity of my uncle, Selimi, culminated in 1972-1982, with various attempts to penetrate Albania into overthrowing the communist dictatorship. This is confirmed, among other things, by Halit Bajrami, the State Security agent who had penetrated the so-called “Xhevdet Mustafa gang”, wherein his testimonies to investigators (which were published several years ago in some TV channels in Tirana), he inter alia stated: ‘Weapons in Italy were bought by an anti-communist Shkodra resident in Sweden with a mechanical car profession, who came from Sweden with his car. He was very strong physically and agile and he found the opportunity to buy weapons, as Xhevdet Mustafa could not perform such a mission because he was wanted by international police. I could kill this person because I was sleeping in a room with him at the time, but I didn’t have a silent pistol, because the noise would be heard and his friends would annihilate me. ‘ With Xhevdet Mustafa, uncle, Selimi had been known since the early 1970s and both had been invited to King Leka Zogu’s wedding in Spain. Another incident involving his uncle occurred in 1979, where Selim (Javuz) Kuçi, along with Ylli Spahi, attacked the Albanian embassy in France with throwing flames together and with another person. In the late 1970s, Selimi fled Sweden and went to Rhodesia, South Africa, where he met King Leka Zogu the First, who immediately provided him with Albanian Royal documents and passports and admitted to his Royal Guard. , where there were many other Albanians, fleeing Albania, or the families who had accompanied King Ahmet Zogu since 1939 when he was forced to flee the country because of fascist Italian military aggression. Concerning Selim Kuci’s visit to the Leka Zog Royal Courtyard in South Africa, Gezim recounts: “My uncle Selimi, like our whole family, have been deeply zealous and adherents of the Zog Monarchy, since my grandfather, Hamza Kuci had been Zog’s major and from his friendship with King Zog, he had named my father Melek. Given this, his uncle, Selimi, in his youth, when he was in the city of Shkodra, dreamed of one-day meeting King Leka Zog and the main reason for his escape from Albania was for him to go and serve near the Royal Court, as his father had served, and at the same time our grandfather, Hamza Kuçi. As Selim himself told us when he came to Shkodra after the 90s, King Leka Zog not only welcomed Selim’s return but throughout the time he stayed there, King Leka had one of his most loyal people. and his most trusted and the entire Royal Family as well. This is also confirmed by many documents, passports and various photographs that have been fixed since that time when Uncle Selimi came out with King Leka and other Royal Guards serving there, such as Ylli Spahiu, etc. ” with his uncle, who after escaping from Albania in 1963 for more than a decade, served with the Royal Guard of Leka Zog in South Africa.
Return to Albania after the 90s and the illness that separated him from life
How long did Selim Kuci stay at the Leka Zog Royal Court in South Africa and how his life went on? In this regard, his nephew, Gezim testifies: “Uncle Selimi or as he was known in the city of Shkodra, like Javuzi, remained in the Royal Guard of Leka Zog until the end of the 80s when the Berlin Wall collapsed and he came to Albania in 1992 after the collapse of the communist regime. After spending some time in our home, he fled to Sweden again and in 1993 brought ten tons of aid to the Municipality of Shkodra, which he had collected in Sweden. In 1995, he became seriously ill with incurable lung disease and asked to come to Shkodra to spend the last days of his life in his hometown, after doctors in Sweden had told him he had only two months to live… Javuzi devoted his whole life to the cause of the overthrow of the communist dictatorship in Albania. He could not create a family, as he had long dreamed of escaping from Albania and did not want the regime’s revenge to fall on his family. At the will of a patriot, although he was not more than two months old, he came and died in Shkodra in 1995, in the city where he grew up and devoted his entire life even when he was emigrating. ” Kuci, about the story of his family, from grandfather Hamza Kuçi, a former Major of the Monarchy and loyal to King Zog, to his uncle Selimi, who fled Albania in 1963, to fulfill his dream of serving near the Court of King Leka the First, as his father Hamza once did, to King Ahmet Zogu. Memorie.al