By Hysen Selmani
Part thirty eight
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
Cairo, November 5, 1948
“The king went to rest for a while, when immediately, His Majesty, King Farouk of Egypt, came with Doctor Reshat. After asking about the health of the Princess, the Albanian King told her that: The situation is quite serious. I admitted my sister to the French hospital, because that’s what the professors advised me to do. There are some modern tools there, but Dr. Reshati knows better.” After this conversation, talks about the events of Palestine immediately began. King Farouk was very upset. It seemed that they did not leave him alone. They kept prompting him by saying that it would be better to take war measures, because that’s not how it went! The mufti of Jerusalem had fled with 2,000 people and came to Cairo. And, this whole situation depended on King Farouk. The reason was that this was the most bigger and richer above all, the importance of the situation weighed more heavily here.
King Zog always objected to such an act. His Majesty advised him for wisdom and to talk with the Americans, the British and the French. “To find a museum suitable for both peoples. And, the only way was, to divide Palestine into two states. Of course, it would also cost you (Egyptians) a big front. But, rather the Anglo-Americans, will make the greatest payment, that the uprooting of families requires an expense of installation.”
King Zog went on to say, “I love you as a brother to you. I am telling you what I foresee. In case you make a mistake, to take military action, it will be a loss. It will remain unimproved for you, as also those one million Arabs, will come to your countries. Thus, the Jews will immediately occupy Palestine completely. As, I have often told you, that the Israelis have Great Britain and America and, France back. They, since they have installed them there, have provided them with everything, both politically and financially. Moreover, they do not allow you to attack them at all. This, you must take in wisdom and conversations with the British, but also with the Americans and the French. Form a commission, from very intelligent elements, such as: Xemil Madam Begu and choose one from Egypt like Nehas Pasha; also from Jordan, a well-known person; also take Chamun or Charre, in Lebanon. So, make a committee that is also friends and well-known among them. They will definitely find a way to fix it.”
Also, he advised his Egyptian host that: “In particular, in no way should the Palestinian Arabs leave the country and flee to different countries, such as: to Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. It is not good , that the country is represented by people, not a land without people. Advise them to be wise, and not to give them any reason for strife and to be patient. From these, let no interference be caused to you because, Juifet, you may give cause, but the Arabs must see their work”.
With these words, they ate dinner and stayed until 2 o’clock after midnight. King Farouk went and the Albanian Monarch escorted him to the car. He was the third himself. They went together with Doctor Reshat and Qerim Sabit. A few moments later, the adjutant remembers, the King asked Princess Sanija in the hospital about Ruhija. The princess replied that: “He sleeps a little, but he is not well.” Then the King went to sleep. He said to Colonel Husein Selman: “Notify me about anything, and you sleep here, in the living room.”
Cairo, October 8, 1948
Today, January 8, 1948, Mehdi Frashëri and Hiqmet Delvina, with their entire family, landed in Alexandria. “Immediately we were notified and Colonel Husein Selmani told you to take a seat in Alexandria”. He himself assumed that he would call as soon as the King came to the salon. They asked about the Princess’s health and the colonel told you briefly that she was not well.
Mehdi Frashëri and Hiqmet Delvina, who were part of the Royal Council, immediately informed the Egyptian Minister of Foreign and Internal Affairs that they will stay in Alexandria. “In this way, the authorities of Alexandria immediately ordered,” continues the adjutant. When King Zog came to the salon, Colonel Husein Selmani told him that Mehdi Frashëri and Hiqmet Delvina came to Alexandria with their whole family.
“I told you to stay there, he told the King – and at the same time notify the Egyptian Foreign Minister and the Egyptian Interior Minister. This, so that they are free to stay in Alexandria.”
“Very well,” said the King, “that they have come.” Then he continued by advising the adjutant: “As soon as I return to Alexandria, I will call them to discuss many problems with them. Don’t be upset, forgive me.”
Cairo, January 9, 1948
On 9 Kallnur 1948, Mustafa Kruja, Omer Beshiri, Ago Agaj came from Italy to Cairo. They immediately called Colonel Husein Selman about their arrival and that they were at the “Hilio-Police” Hotel. Colonel Selmani again informed the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Egyptian Interior about these. This had to be done in order for them to be allowed to stay in Cairo. Then, he immediately entered His Majesty, King Zog, where he presented to him their arrival and the measures taken. His Majesty, the King, ordered: “Tomorrow at 10 o’clock, before lunch, to come to the audience: Mustafa Kruja, Professor Omer Beshiri and Eng. Ago Agaj”. Immediately the next day, at 10.00, they came to the audience.
“His Majesty, King Zog I, welcomed the newcomers very well, especially Mustafa Kruja. He had not seen him personally for 25 years. Likewise, the other, Professor Beshirin, and also Engineer Ago Agajn. He didn’t stop them long after that, because he had to go to the hospital, to see his sister, who was still very sick. He told you to come the next day for lunch and ordered me to call the Queen and The Crown Prince, Leka. When they saw him, their eyes filled with tears and longing and they couldn’t even speak,” writes the adjutant.
In Egypt, strikes began. Rather, there are problems at the University every day. This was prepared by foreign agents, especially of Soviet Russia, who were openly circulating everywhere. They had put their noses in all the departments, in the police, in the customs, and almost too much, even among the officers. “The situation is getting worse, all the more and it is not easy at all to ensure peace. Any cabinet that comes has no chance of stabilizing the country’s peace. Both Cairo, but rather Alexandria and Ismailia, are filled with foreigners, so that it is not known what tendencies they develop. But, rather, they are Soviet agents.”
Cairo, April 15, 1948
The Emigration Committee in Syria sent an urgent report on the critical situation of the Albanian emigration in the country. Here’s how it was written: “Now in Syria, more than 2,000 Palestinian refugees have arrived. They don’t know what to do with them either, and our 500 people are in a very difficult situation. The President of the Republic, His Excellency Kueatly, they try, but they have no budget for anything. Take quick action.”
His Majesty, King Zog, ordered Colonel Hussain Salman, to immediately summon His Excellency, Peterson. In order to possibly appear before the King in Cairo, Peterson was luckily in Athens. He, within the day, came by plane and presented himself to King Zog. Of course, the King apologized and thanked him for showing up right away.
After greeting each other, King Zog called Colonel Hussein Selman and ordered him; to sing the report of the Committee, which came from Syria. There, Peterson was very moved and turned to King Zog, and said: “Madhni, leave it as far as the Albanians are concerned. We will fix them right away. But why was this big mistake made by the Arabs? Haven’t they thought a little about where they are, where did they come up with a road that is going to hurt them very badly?! As it is said, more than 100,000 Palestinian Arabs have left their country. But this goes in favor of the Jews. Haven’t they thought a little, – Peterson said?! Madhni, really let me tell you, you are very far-sighted. You have done very well to stop the emigration from moving to the Arab countries. Today, it would be a great disaster “.
Peterson said after that: “Tomorrow, I will go to Syria myself. I will go only for the regulation of the Albanian emigration, until we transform them into the countries that will be assigned. After that, we can quickly send a part to Australia. We received an answer about the acceptance of a part and it said that: don’t worry about the Albanians. They are now regulated by the organization,” he said.
Before Peterson left, King Zog I asked him: “There is no way to help these Palestinian refugees either. They are left on the streets, with all their families.”
“No,” Peterson told him, “this is another job. They don’t go into immigration funds. These are jobs of anger and they have to administer those who have advised them to follow this path. In no way, the organization ours, it cannot. This can only be done by the League of Nations, when an agreement can be found between the Arabs and Israel. Only in this way, measures can be taken.” With these words, Colonel Husein Selmani accompanied him to Cairo Airport. The senior immigration official left for Damascus, Syria. I called Salih Muftia, so that he and the whole committee would meet him at Damascus airport, Syria, recalls the adjutant.
But as soon as Peterson had left, King Farouk arrived. He was very upset and entered the King’s private salon. There they talked a lot, but only the two of them, the Kings. We only heard the words, when King Zog told King Farouk that he had prayed to the Director of Immigration that if there is an opportunity, helps the Palestinian immigrants as well. They are left, with women and children, on the streets and are no worse. “I was told no,” he told King Farouk, “our organization cannot get involved in that, except for the UN, and that, he told me, is very difficult.” And, he was much moved, according to the adjutant, because, such a measure was taken, it was well thought out.
On January 31, 1948, at 6:40 p.m., Princess Ruhije died at the French Hospital in Cairo. It was Friday. When he died, King Zog, King Faruk, Queen Geraldine, Prince Omer Faruk and the Princesses were present. Along with these, there were many other friends. And, of course, the entire suite of the Albanian Royal Palace there. After all the religious formalities were done, the body was placed in the coffin. Then, with great ceremony, he was sent to the house where King Zog lived. And, for that whole night, hundreds of people and also the entire diplomatic corps and the Egyptian elite, men and women, were gathered in the salons, until morning. At that time, everyone dispersed, for an hour, to put on jackets.
“Immediately, His Majesty, King Umberto and Queen Giovanna, Prince Ramonof, and the entire Albanian colony in Alexandria came from Alexandria. At 11.00, the ceremony began near the “Sulejmane Pasha” Grave, in front of the Mosque, the usual tent was placed. A squad of cavalry accompanied the carriage and with them, a battalion of soldiers. While the capanoni, held the presence of King Zog, King Farouk, King Umberto, the Crown Prince, Mehmet Ali and all the Egyptian princes, the Government, the Diplomatic Corps, etc. Almost, there were more than 5,000 people at that funeral, where he was buried in Teqen Mangalli”.
After the burial ceremony was over, everyone wanted to shake King Zog’s hand. But, he told you that; with Albanian customs; the hand is given at home. “And, tonight there will be an exhortation at the Mosque and we will have a dinner at the Shpette Hotel”, he told the attendees. Thus, they all accompanied the King to the house. There, some stayed in the salons, some in the Bahce and later, they all went to the Mosque. Like those who were Mohammedans and others, it was said that; at 9:00 in the evening, to go to the “Shepet” Hotel. Halls were reserved there, for 260 people with all the things.
“It cannot be left unmarked, the very manly and friendly generosity of His Majesty, King Farouk, that His work, in this case, always remains alive in the hearts of all Albanians. He did more than what should have been done, as in the tent, but also in the military ceremony and others”.
King Zog, for 10 days in a row, received visits in Cairo. Telegrams and letters, condolences, came to him from all sides, by the thousands. Of these, those that were necessary were immediately thanked. And, as for the others, the answer came later, when we returned to Alexandria, because we had all the archives there.
What was interesting at this time, had to do with the fact that: Answers to grades, which were sent to the States regarding immigration, such as: the United States of America, Great Britain, France, Australia, Canada, etc., they all answered us. We also notified the Commissariat in Geneva that they had been accepted. His Majesty, King Zog, with the entire Queen and Princesses, as well as the Suite, on February 12, 1948, returned to Alexandria. There, once again, a reception was given for the Albanian and Greek colony, for consolation. “Later, the King calmed down, writes the adjutant – but he was never calm because, as soon as one thing was finished, another one appeared, always with trouble.”
Alexander, February 18, 1948
His Majesty, King Zog, convened the Royal Council, under his chairmanship, which was attended by: Mehdi Frashëri, Hiqmet Delvina, Musa Juka, Husein Selmani, Kemal Mesareja, Sotir Martini and Abdyl Sula. The King informed them that the planned program on the installation of emigration to the Arab States was suspended. “This, not from the Arab States, but from me, he explained to them: As you can see the situation between the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs is very critical. Thousands of Arabs are fleeing and going to those countries, like in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and the rest are no worse.”
Then he ordered Colonel Husein Selman to read the latest reports sent by our Committee from Damascus to Syria. They ask for an hour before, to take measures to get them out of here. Accordingly, I called the Director of IRO, His Excellency, Peterson. He immediately left for Damascus and assured me that; as far as you Albanians are concerned, all measures will be taken, with food, housing, medicine and to some extent with clothing. “Don’t worry in the slightest”, he assured me.
In particular, we have received all the responses to the notes that you had addressed to the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France and Canada, and Australia, all of whom have read the responses. They are completely in favor and the immigration organizations have been ordered to take quick measures.”
After these things were read, as far as emigration was concerned, the King informed you about the Greek delegations. “Often, they have come to talk, said the King – but without any result. They have, as always and from me, received the same answers, both here and in London, about the Second World War. And, I have told them, unequivocally, that without renouncing the demands on Albanian land, you have no agreement with us. It is pointless to talk, and as friends, come when you want. But, not for such talks”.
Then the King spoke to you about the very complicated situation: “I, as a friend of the Arabs, have advised them. I have gathered them here dozens of times, letting you know that the Israelis, who saved them from Hitler’s sword, do not allow with your sword, against them. Of course, I advised them to choose four persons, well known and friends of the Anglo-Americans. They, in my opinion, should be; an Egyptian, a Syrian, a Jordanian, and a Lebanese; to come to an agreement in wisdom; for the regulation of the two nations. This would be done; by dividing them into two states under the control of the Anglo-Americans and the French, both economically and politically, because otherwise, they would have lost the whole war”.
“Yes, the same proposals, the King told them – and even more serious, I have proposed to the United States of America and Great Britain, as well as to France. So, that they speed up in stopping the events of the Arabs and Jews. In this way, you have lost almost 100 million Arabs, so that disturbing agents are circulating everywhere, in the Arab countries, and especially in Egypt. They have poked their noses, everywhere and reached the deserts, paying money and giving instructions. They are dressed in Arab clothes, galabins, etc. But they don’t listen and we’re sorry, how about me,” he explained to his interlocutors.
With these talks, for the first time, they were dispersed. Even the King was a little tired from the death of the Princess and went to rest. Memorie.al