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
CENTER OF OPERATION IN THESE LOCATIONS:
A – Valjevë Military Center:
- Colonel Kuçuk Ullagaj
- Major Murat Basha
- Captain Hamza Drini
- Captain Shyqyri Baftjari
- Captain Muslim Tushi
- Captain Kadri Rustemi
- Captain Abdulla Ymeri
- Father Gjek Luli
Center of Paris, Skopje
- Aqif Lleshi
- Mehmet Ali
- Shaqir Dema
- Yusuf Selmani
- Zenun Binaku
- Haxhi Lleshi
- Himce Kaba
- Gani Serdari
- Mustafa Gjinishi
- Shaban Tirana
- Hasan Reçi
- Abedin Çiçi
- Mustafa Kacaçi
- Ibrahim Fatka
- Vasil Kosturi
- Kadri Vasili
These are familiar and reliable with those elements that will be connected inside the Motherland. And, with the officers, as well as with the professors and students of the upper classes, everyone was full of courage. They were fully convinced that they have to complete everything in order. As for the Versace Center of professors, although they were a little scattered, with different tendencies, left or right, they were very active and closely united, for the interests of the homeland and true patriots.
Everyone swore that today, they don’t find a nest. No tendency among us, only the high interest of the motherland. But, just as His Majesty, King Zog himself, has stated that: “Every tendency, wherever the compatriots are, is that; today we needed unity and brotherhood, among each other, despite the enemy, who occupied our common place. Whereas, as far as ideological changes are concerned, this is left to the Albanian people to choose with their own will and freedom”.
Now, the manner of the expenses that will be needed both for letterpress and paper was taken up in negotiations. One was calculated for each center. Yes, especially now, it is necessary for an intellectual part, who will print posters in bulk, to send them to Albania. It was decided that the General Command will be in Istanbul, both for instructions and for the expenses of the cases. Whereas, in terms of the personnel in Yugoslavia, there will be the element that will enter and leave the Motherland. But these, in a completely incomprehensible way, for their names, since they can move from here to the countries of Albania.
Today I was informed that the Governor and Commander of the Army, General Kovic, will be paid 30 dinars per day. This seems to us to be enough. In particular, it will be free for officers to participate in the House of Yugoslav Officers. It will also be free, even for students. Although, the authorization has not yet arrived, to introduce them to colleges and universities, but, by the way, to stay where they are on the Agricultural Farm. They have all the expenses there. The Commission was very satisfied with the preparation of the services, but rather, with the help that the Government of Yugoslavia had assigned. And certain help is quite enough for you. The commission, declared to Colonel Hysen Selman, that they are very grateful and loyal. “Above all, as far as we have decided”, he added: “We never had faith to arrive at this program, so useful to serve the interests of the homeland and, we are completely loyal, to this agreement and this the decision”.
February, June 7, 1939
Today, I had the Governor and Commander of the Army, General Nedel Ković, and the Chairman of the Army Staff, General Kovačević, as well as the Chief of Police of Skopje, at the “Bristol” Hotel. In the ongoing conversation, I thanked and expressed my gratitude for the generosity of the friendly and neighboring Government, for the noble gesture at this critical time, which gave a helping hand to the neighboring friends, the Albanian emigrants. This friendship remains indelible, from the Albanian Nation. After we finished eating, very satisfied, at 2 pm, they got up to go out. We accompanied them to the cars, when we were shaking hands, they told me: “As soon as possible, a good lunch, this is how we will eat it in Albania, with King Zogu I in charge”.
Skopje, June 14, 1939
About this date, the adjutant remembers: At 9 o’clock in the morning of this date, I was talking with Akif Lleshi, Himce Kaba and Haxhi Lleshi. “They wanted to return to Diber, but I kept them until I left for Turkey, maybe we could have something else new. At this time, I instructed Major Murat Basha and Professor Mustafa Gjinish to go to the Turkish Consulate, to visit Prince Xelal Zogu, with the Family, as well as Murat Kaloshi, the five of them, as well as Sefedin Çollak and Hajredin Dallulli, and how many others. All of them would come with me to Istanbul. At 10 o’clock of the day, I went to the Skopje Army Command, to the Commander, General Nedel Kovic”.
The adjutant continues: “I missed the appointed time and he welcomed me with a smile.” “Hello dear friend,” he said to me. Then he took me by the side and we entered the office. We were alone, the general, me and Avni. He told me: “How was your time in Belgrade”. I said, “Very well.” Then I told him everything, what I had talked with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as with Loitić, and with General Nedić. I told him that; they received me very well and of course sad, from the bad situation we are in. I also talked about Milio Ilić, about the fact that the Government had instructed him to go to Istanbul, to talk within the possibilities “as the circumstances have to bring”.
As we finished the Belgrade talks, the adjutant recalls, I said to him: “Noting that, with Your Excellency’s support, I would like to make a small organization.” Then I gave him a copy of the program, in Serbian of course. He took it and dropped his eyes immediately. Then he told me: “You proposed this in Belgrade.” “No, not at all” – I told him.
“This, we only told you. This remains completely secret and unnoticed, not only by the enemy but by no one and as the program contains”. After he had sung it a little, when he was studying it attentively, I added, “I never wish to put you in a difficult position.” The general, as he studied it, seemed to like it very much. He turned to me and said: “My friend, this is not only an action in the interests of Albania, but it is also in our interests. Tomorrow I will agree.”
Immediately, he called the Chief of Staff, General Kovacovic. And, as we greeted each other, he spoke about this organization of Albanian immigrants. He said: “Obviously, this is in the greatest secrecy, and that interests us. That this service is done in those centers of ours, which are not visible to anyone. And, as far as the inside is concerned, it is their job. These people, who have to play the mail, they must have our arms, to give them every facility. For this, Colonel Selmani, he has not opened the conversation to anyone. You are left alone between us and I like this action. But, you study, so that you are well aware that in my absence, this will not hinder you, but will be facilitated”.
The Chairman of the General Staff, for his part, studied it and said: “This does not bring us any harm, except benefit. However, it is necessary to work in great secrecy, because if they dictate to us, with any facts, they will definitely draw attention to the government, with heavy protests. That’s all we have to remember”. So, we completely agreed. After that, General Nedel Ković said to me: “My friend, you did very well to tell me. I am aware of these actions, from Struga to Podgorica. I want to tell you that now we are completely agree. Only, give us the names of the messengers who will cross the border, as well as their areas so that they are known to us, when these will be considered as ours and not yours, in order to have all the insurances”.
The commander of the Skopje Army, General Nedel Kovic, continues the adjutant, – he then told me: “As far as you wanted on the organization, we are in complete agreement. Just as we talked. But now let’s talk about another thing: Let us know His Majesty, King Zogu I, what I am talking to you about. But in the friendly word, which will be kept absolutely secret, until this program is completed, which, it seems, will not be long. Now, here as you have understood and discussed: Between the army and the Government, there is a great conflict. So much so that ninety percent of the army can decide to make a ‘Coup d’état’ and overthrow this Government. Even, a part to to bring out of the State, and the rest, to imprison them. At that time, my friend, we shall be here, and talk in detail, at length. I shall always be, His Majesty’s faithful friend, Zog Your Majesty, the King of the Albanians. But before you leave, we will talk longer. Because friends are waiting for you at the Hotel.” Then we said goodbye and immediately left.
When I returned to the Hotel, continues the adjutant – there I find Professor Mustafa Gjinish and agronomist Abedin Çiçin. They informed me that the students were taken out of the Farm. At the moment, they had no way to fix them. The two Albanians said that they were left very badly: both for housing and for instructions. Immediately, I sent Captain Avni, together with Professor Mustafa Gjinish, to the Governor. Those who had presented the situation to him, the Yugoslav official, immediately gave the order that; not to be taken out of the Farm, until the scholarship is issued, to the various colleges, as was proposed by the Ministry of Education in Belgrade.
At this time, the adjutant was in talks with Ferhat Draga and Iliaz Agushin. They told him that they want to leave for Istanbul as soon as possible, “but they are very shocked and scared”. I, continues Hysein Selmani – I told you that: “Whatever this intimidation of yours means, I just left the Army Commander, with full honors. As you can see, a major has left me at my disposal.” They didn’t mind, they just wanted to leave as soon as possible. “Okay, – I told them – after we eat bread, get the tickets and leave tonight. They then went to the salon, because there were also Akif Lleshi, Himçe Kaba, Major Murat Basha, and Professor Mustafa Gjinishi.
In the bakery, we talked about old things and after we finished eating, we went out for coffee. At this time, Prince Jelal Zogu also comes to us. I introduced them to Ferhat and Ilias Agushin and they started the talks. But they wanted to go and buy train tickets to Istanbul. That was the reason, that I took them and went upstairs to the room, where I gave you 100 gold napoleons, to have them with you, all the way to Istanbul. Then, I told you that: See you there. After they went and got the tickets, they left immediately”, recalls the adjutant.
Meanwhile, the adjutant continued talks with the Heads of the Operation Centers. “I informed you that we agree with the Commander. It’s just that, as we discussed and based on the program, it should not be found out by anyone in any way. That not only our activity fails, but we also lose trust in Yugoslav friends. This will be kept in the utmost secrecy because fascist agents are circulating everywhere. And don’t forget that there may be some of our own elements who may fall victim unintentionally. Enemy messengers may hinder …….to have obstacles, but all facilities”.
Skopje, June 18, 1939
For this, the adjutant adds that: “When we were talking with the Heads of the Centers, I received a telegram from Istanbul, where they ordered me to leave for Istanbul as soon as possible. Singing the telegram, they called me on the phone, Istanbul, from “Pera-Palac” Hotel. There was Sotir Martini, the minister of the Albanian Royal Court. He communicated to me the order of King Zog, that I should be on my way as soon as possible, so that; “on the 25th of June, you should be here for some important talks. And the thing is, you haven’t finished work there yet, you can go again”. Although I insisted that I have not finished my work yet, I am waiting for some people from Albania, who were of great importance. At this time, the King himself picked up the phone and told me: “You have to come because I’m leaving for France. How can we talk, you can go to Yugoslavia again, but on the 25th, you have to be here.”
The friends I was talking to overheard my conversation and the sudden departure. It is understood that they were sorry because they were used to me talking every day. “They saw a lot of aid that the Serbian authorities provided us, although in some parts of the program, it has not been completed yet”. But we always continued the talks on the beginning of the works. And you told Major Murat Basha that you visited Prince Xelal Zogu, etc. At the Turkish Consulate, he answered me that; I gave everyone their passports, with all the visas, completed, as of today at lunch, these are ready. When we are in these talks, they inform us:
That in Resnje, 27 people have come out and among them, there are 12 high school students. I also tasked Professor Mustafa Gjinish, together with Captain Avni Deralla, to go to the Governor, to withdraw them. Captain Avni Deralla also went with them, so that, on my behalf, he could pray to the Governor that, when we go to Turkey, Professor Mustafa Gjinishi is in charge here, in terms of teachers and students, and in terms of officers and soldiers, N/Colonel Kuçuk Ullogaj and Major Murat Basha are in charge. Akif Lleshi, Ibrahim Kaba and Haxhi Lleshi are in charge of the relationship with the Bajraktars and other civilians. Immediately there, the Governor ordered the section, as it was in charge of Albanian immigrants, and from there, they compiled a list of those responsible. They immediately gave an order to 27 people who had gone out to Resnje, to immediately bring them to the others.
After they came, they were very pleased. Especially Professor Mustafa Gjinishi, who thanked me, saying that: “Actually, your stay here completes everything and boosts our morale. Before you came, we were here, as prisoners of war, without any help, without any freedom of movement, without any rights. But today, I go to the Governor, he stands up and gives us his hand. We are free to go where we want, as well as to work. So, sorry, not for a compliment., indeed, you deserve the high position that His Majesty, Zog I, the King of the Albanians, has entrusted to you, because you are a patriot and an honest man.
Everywhere they give you the deserved price, the trust of the word. This is fact and not words. They never believed that we would reach a level where we are valued and respected as people and even as friends. This is dedicated to your honesty and trustworthiness. And when foreigners value you and trust you, why don’t we give you our vote, our contribution and our trust. I don’t know how to show myself, how much my heart wants, I just tell you, we are sworn to you, flesh and soul. We have you at the head of the leaders, who honor us and make us look white, everywhere. God bless you and in good care, etc.”.
Skopje, June 22, 1939
Here’s what the adjutant remembers about this day: “At 10 o’clock on this day, I was with the Commander of the Skopje Army, General Nedel Kovici. I told them that I had to go to Istanbul as soon as possible, so that I could be there on the 25th. “My friend, the general told me, – I’m sorry, that we got used to each other. But, come back to us, as in your country, consider Yugoslavia, for everything, as your country”.
“Yes, – I told him, – here is Major Murat Basha, Lieutenant Colonel Kucuk Ullogaj and Professor Mustafa Gjinishi and your friend, Akif Lleshi and Himçe Kaba, who are very good.” In the first conversations, he opened up to me, as I explained to you, about the situation here. A quick and timely change is foreseen. “I ask you to come here immediately, not to Skopje, but directly to Belgrade, to your friend, General Nedel Kovici. Because then, I am convinced that, if time permits, we can do a lot of work. And really, Nazism will take wild measures against Yugoslavia. But we will have hope that by then, the Anglo-French will be prepared, if not completely, but to some extent. This is because, the army is in close contact, as with Great Britain and France. And when this change is to be made, they will be immediately aware.” Then he continued: “Nazi-fascism must seriously demand that Yugoslavia sign an act and not as an ally, but at least, be on their side. As this Government has acted today. But, we have not to accept it, no way.
This is similar to the demands that Mussolini made to you, as a cause. These words are completely secret, but as I told you, in the friendship and manhood of Husein Selman. I tell you, and present it to His Majesty, King Zog I, because the attack has been decided, but the time has not yet been determined. But it won’t be long before, within these 6 months, this Government can enter headfirst under Nazi-fascism. It is understood that the Anglo-French do not want this, we are in close contact with them. We want it to happen as soon as possible, but it also depends on them.
And, with that, my dear friend, I wish you a good journey and full success in the service of your Motherland. With a quick release. And as for your element here, don’t worry at all, they will have my full support, both in operations and assistance. I hope that, when you are called, you will come immediately, on what we talked about, and I will beg His Majesty, Zog I, the King of the Albanians, to present the homage, and with my loyalty, to adamantly. Always keep friendship and I’m telling you, I’m even stronger than I was. Tell this to the King, because he understands”. Then, I got permission and we went out. On the way out, he hugged me and we parted./Memorie.al
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