Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of Colonel Sami Koka, originally from Delvina, a descendant of one of the richest families as landowners in all of Albania, about which many foreign scholars have written, such as: Huges, “Voyage a Ioannina ”, Remerand,“ Ali de Tepelena ”, Leake,“ Travels ”, Pouqueville,“ Historie de la regeneration de la Grece ”etc., and in the Turkish archives, there are still documents where it is known that at the end of the century In the past, members of this family, such as: Abdyl Bey Koka and Selim Bey Koka, were the main leaders of the uprisings in southern Albania, against Turkey. Sami’s education in Ioannina and later at the Military College of Vienna, which he completed with honors in 1916, was awarded the title of “Officer of the Austro-Hungarian Empire” and was twice decorated with the “Bronze Cross” of the Emperor. Frank Jozef. Sami Koka’s excellent military career during the period of the Monarchy, after he graduated from the Higher Institute of War in Turin, (where he was awarded the titles of nobility “Cavalier” and “Commander of Savoy”), serving as Commander of Border Guard and later as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Albanian National Army, headed by the general of Croatian-Austrian origin, Gustav Myrdash. The unknown memoirs of former Colonel Zog, which he secretly wrote while serving a 30-year sentence in Burrell Prison, in connection with the events of early April ’39, when Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy the military aggression against Albania and King Zog, called him to the house of his uncle, (Prince Xhelal), where after initially thanking him, describing him as one of the most loyal officers of the Kingdom, charged him with a very important mission, on which the fate of Albania would depend…!
“I met King Zog in the living room downstairs at Prince Xhelal’s house. He was standing and dressed in civilian clothes, while I, when I started to show myself to him militarily, he did not leave me and said to me: no one else. I chose you, because you are the faithful of the Kingdom “concluded the first words Zogu. “Now I know better than ever, that I have tried anyone who for our years, I have avenged, but that it was not my fault.” The king, as far as I understood, was talking about the dalkauks and servile people he kept close to them and who left nothing untold for capable people. There I immediately remembered my aunt’s son, Faik Konica, when he once visited Albania, and after meeting with members of parliament, he said to Zog: “Albania has changed, but the thieves have plagued the government and Parliament.”
This is what former colonel Sami Koka, one of the highest military men of the Zog Monarchy, wrote in his memoirs about the events of April 1939, when Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy carried out military aggression against Albania and King Zog called him to the house of his uncle, (Prince Xhelal), where after initially thanking him, describing him as one of the most loyal officers of the Kingdom, he charged him with a very important mission, on which they would depend the fates of Albania.
Regarding these events that took place 82 years ago in April of ’39, with all its behind-the-scenes and unknown aspects, as well as the life story of the military career of Colonel Sami Koka, we will get acquainted in this article, which we have prepared based on the testimonies of his family members, as well as the memories that the former senior military officer Zogu had written since serving his 30-year sentence in Burrel Prison, which his nephew, Mr. Asim Koka, very kindly made them available for us to publish exclusively on Memorie.al
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Memoirs of Colonel Sami Koka on April 7, ’39
During the time that former Colonel Sami Koka was serving a 30-year sentence in Burrell Prison (where he twice attempted suicide) he was able to secretly write down his memoirs and get them out of prison through family members who came to him. Some of those memories, those related to the events of April ’39 when Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy carried out military aggression invading Albania and King Zog called him to the house of his uncle (Prince Xhelal), for entrusting him with a top secret mission, telling him that: “from its realization, the fate of the nation would depend”, we are publishing them in this part of the article, without any change.
“Convinced of the King’s determination, I immediately went to my Command and gave the necessary urgent orders for preparation for war, including the coast and land border units. The Minister of War, Xhemal Araniti, did not allow me to mobilize new recruits, even provisionally, so I organized the forces that were. The night before, on the afternoon of April 3, all the Italian military organizers who served in the Albanian army, had fled being reloaded in Durrës and from there to Italy. A few days ago, the assistant Italian military attaché, Lieutenant Colonel of the Border Guard, together with Colonel Aqif Përmeti, had invited us to dinner at his house. I did not go to that dinner because I knew what was going to be discussed there. When I went to the National Defense Command the next day, there I found unprecedented confusion. Except for General Araniti, General Myrdashi and his adjutant Spiro Zheit, everyone else had fled and was missing. Nervous from this situation that I did not expect, I entered Xhemali’s office, where I found Lieutenant Colonel Bilal Nivica and Ali Riza Topalli, who had been called by Xhemali, who gave them orders to go to Vlora, as commanders there. After they left, I said to Jamal: “What is all this confusion? Will we fight to fulfill the duty towards the homeland with a regular army, or will you be ridiculed? Remember that you are dealing with operations like those against Et’hem Toto? “Whatever the situation, we must work and act as a regular and unique command to conduct the operation and not so taken as children’s toys.” In response the minister asked me what I thought. I immediately replied that: in the first place, all emergency personnel should be called, wherever they are, to come to the forefront of the situation and to urgently establish the Operations Office, (which did not exist until then) and this to deal with the needs of the war. Xhemali immediately accepted my proposals and charged me to do what I saw fit. After I left the general, I immediately started working, opening the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, who was Italian and had fled with the others, closing the office and taking the keys with him, sure he would return again. I called the guard officer and ordered him to call all the Command personnel, who in my opinion, would be able to perform the military duties of the war, which Xhemali immediately accepted without hesitation and immediately said to be carried out. The list I had made to lead the war operations, consisted of several officers with Military Academy graduated and devoted to the situation in which he presented himself for the homeland. When I had finished all the preparations, I asked to meet the King alone, without the presence of anyone. When I returned to the Command in the afternoon, to check the implementation of the orders I had given, Xhemali (Minister of War) told me that I had been appointed with Rrok Gera, Minister of Economy, to meet with Guzzon and see what Italy’s intentions were, or whether this was her pressure, like that of 1936, when she sought other concessions.
First meeting with General Guzzon?
The meeting with Guzzon was fruitless, and there I was convinced that Italy had finally decided to invade our country. So even war with them, although it was a great power, was inevitable. We reported his requests to King Zog. I in Command, waited for his order to start the operation of the war in defense, not to let the Italians invade the Albanian land, as long as we would resist. Within hours, I was informed that the King was urgently looking for a new assignment. I looked for him in the Palace but he was not there, I looked for him at Koço Kota’s house, but he was not there either, because he had not left an exact address. I justified his situation that the opposition had risen up everywhere and “accepted the devil at the table”! Kota later told me that the King had gone to the house of his brother, Xhelal, who was called Prince.
Why did King Zog ask me?
In the living room downstairs, I met the King. He was standing and dressed in civilian clothes, while I, starting to show myself to him militarily, he did not leave me and said to me: “Sami, sit down without hesitation, because I have a heavy and responsible task that you will perform and no one else. I chose you, because you are the faithful of the Kingdom “concluded the first words Zogu. “Now I know better than ever, that I have tried anyone who for our years, I have avenged, but that it was not my fault.” The king, as far as I understood, was talking about the dalkauks and servile people he kept close to them and who left nothing untruthful for capable people. I immediately remembered my aunt’s son, Faik Konica, when he once visited Albania, and after meeting with members of parliament, he said to Zog: “Albania has changed, but the thieves have plagued the government and the Parliament.” Zogu, in fact, knew well the situation and mentality of the Albanians, but he had nothing to do. That is why Nebil Çika came to criticize the government in the press and Sotir Martin, to make jokes on the phone. They were both “hands” of the King. At Jalal’s house, the King was as anxious as ever, but barely made a fuss. I sat down as if to tell me, but he himself walked across the room.
Zogu: Sami meet Guzzon again!
“You have to meet Guzzon once again, but this time you will be alone. I ordered him to come with you and Eqerem Bey Libohova, the foreign minister, but he is likely to be in the Italian Legation with the others. Above you and your loyalty, is all of Albania. God help you “, he told me, shaking my hand and reminding me that the passage permit was signed by Xhemali (Aranitasi). ‘Your Majesty, have you saved this for me?! This is a very difficult task, especially since I am alone but I am afraid of any trap of the Italians’. “Sami,” the king told me, “this task is entrusted to me by the homeland, may God help me,” he tells me, and grabs my hand for the second time. I went out urgently and with the few American cars we had, I went to the Defense Command. I assigned reinforcements to Qafë-Kërrabë, and I started in Shijak, a young man from Korça, who was a lieutenant in the Academy and who commanded an artillery battery. that was, I also had permission from the King.From there I went home and after meeting my people, I took a revolver and hid it in uniform.I arrived in Durrës without any trouble.From the port you could see the open sea, the Italian crusaders and the gas stations I asked the commander of the unit, but I was told that he had gone to the Kavaja Rock for inspection, so I charged the non-commissioned officer Mujo Ulqinaku, who was killed along with several other soldiers. money of the Italians to s trampled our land, had killed on both sides. The Italians, through the Red Cross, dragged the dead and wounded to the ship. We did the same for ourselves, but with primitive means and with a bigger heart. By radio, I announced my arrival on shore, as a plenipotentiary of the King and the Kingdom. After half an hour, the white-flagged petrol station and three officers of the Italian Royal Navy arrived. After presenting and exchanging documentation, I, together with them, set off for the cruiser where General Guzzoni was, together with his headquarters. I climbed into the boat from the stairs and Guzzon was standing there and behind him, all the military advisers I knew after they had been with us. They talked to each other and laughed. Closer I had never felt myself. I saw them, too, but what did I do to Zog, who had kept them as advisers, trusting the Dalkauks around him. Without entering into negotiations yet, Guzzoni saw his slain soldiers boarding the ship and nervously at the top, exclaiming to me, “These want satisfaction, Colonel.” Meanwhile, I responded immediately, saying: ‘At the High Institute of War, which you know, Mr. General, the Italian professors taught us that satisfaction is mutual. So those on shore also want satisfaction. ‘ The officers behind Guzzon laughed as he got angry and I do not know how he did not kill me. And so, he on foot, began to dictate to me the demands on behalf of Mussolini. According to him, Italy demanded what happened later, that is, the unification of Albania with him, and that Zogu stay at the top temporarily, as the Sultan of Morocco. They demanded that Zog be taken by surprise in Tirana and forced to submit. For such a thing, they flattered me and proposed that I not return and would give me 50,000 gold francs, add here and the rank of general. They told me to choose where I wanted to live in Italy. Guzzoni, came out openly in talks and there was a possibility that they would hold me hostage. Then I had to use the trick to get away from their Crusaders.
How did I leave the Italian Crusade, where could I be held hostage?!
“This thing you are proposing to me, General, is beyond my competence even though I am the King Almighty here with you. However, I will refer to the King and give you radio answers, or when I return myself, that the children of In Tirana, anything can happen to you. ‘It is a necessity, it is enough to give me your code and your waves, as I have my own radio broadcaster. And if your people come with me, I will not be able to secure their lives from the revolted people. ‘ “I agree with the answers,” said Guzzoni, “and my people will accompany you.” After we went ashore, we got in my car and left for Tirana, with a white flag. Going up to Shkozet, some terrified Italian scouts come up to us and start talking to their colonel who was in the car with me. He took his binoculars and went out to a high place to observe. One of the detectives addressed me: “You are attacking us by surprise, even though we are in a ceasefire, your troops are coming towards Durrës”. His voice was shaking and I did not understand what was happening! Did the general mobilization take place when I was on the ship?! I also took binoculars but saw nothing but some sheep villagers. The Italian colonel’s office vented and kicked the detective who was a young lieutenant. Then I broke away from them and said to them: ‘Go back, for it is not known what it’s like’?! Guzzoni was sure that if Zogu accepted the demands of the Italians, my signature to him would still be almost the same. The Italians were wrong when they remembered that the Albanian officers were like those of the clique, who were taking the breath of King Zog. After Shkozet, I arrived in Shijak, where I met the young boy who had the task of protecting together with the ‘Field Battery’, where I had appointed him with the firm of Xhemal Aranitas. I’m sorry I do not remember his name. He showed me the installations of the cannons and the points where the first blows would be made when the Italians came. I gave a written order to blow up the bridge with dynamite and he did so. In Tirana I faced the revolts of school students. While the others could not wait to shout: “Duce, Ciano”, as they did a day later with Xhaferr Ypi! Without returning home, I sought out the King who was at my uncle’s house. I reported to him what I had talked to Guzzon and waited for orders from Zog to open the front. But the King changed his mind. Indeed, it had been several years since the atrocities of those around him had come to the tip of his nose, but he had nothing to do with keeping up with them. The bird, from this condition, had begun to drink. Marriage, wife, and son, made a big difference in his life. Likewise, the betrayals by the Italian people in Shkodra and Mirdita were leaving a complete ‘back’ exposed. The threat of the King of Serbia as a friend of the Italians created a completely unaffordable military front. The approval that England and France gave to the Duce for the invasion of Albania, made Zogu say: “We cannot fight” and flee to Greece, which in those days had opened the border for us “. /Memorie.al