Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of Shahin Toçi, originally from the village of Urxallë in the district of Mat, who after graduating with honors from the Royal School of Officers in Tirana in 1935, won a state scholarship from the government of the Zog Monarchy to pursue higher studies at the Royal Military Academy of Rome in Italy, where he graduated with honors in 1938, in the Armory of the Cavalry, Finance branch. Toçi’s refusal to take the military oath in front of the Italian flag in May 1939, while he was specializing in the Military Academy of Rome, being the main organizer of the Albanian military students who refused to take the oath, such as: Reshit Çollaku, Shaban Strazimiri, Hamit Keçi, Veledin Musaraj, Asim Zeneli, Elez Braha, Skënder Çaçi, Spiro Shalësi, Qazim Kapizyzi, Hajrulla Ishmi and Ilia Naska. The mystery of Toçi’s physical elimination by the Italian secret services after the answer he had given to General Parian in the general rehearsals of the military oath ceremony and the long ordeal of the return of his bones to Albania, only in 2011, thanks to the devotion of his two nephews, Osman and Shahin Toçi, who did it privately, even though the Albanian state since 1970, had declared him “Martyr of the Fatherland”!
It was the morning of May 28, 1939, almost two months after fascist Italy carried out military aggression against Albania, when in one of the dormitory rooms of the Royal Military Academy of Rome, one of the Albanian soldiers who had been studying there for four years was found dead. was a graduate. The news of the murder of the Albanian military in the first hours of that day, in addition to Radio Rome, was broadcast by some of the radios of Western European countries, such as Paris, London, etc. But who was the Albanian soldier who was found dead in his room, what were the circumstances of the murder and why was his body not given for burial to his fellow students from Albania, who were studying at that Academy?
Who was Shahin Toçi?
On November 7, 1917, the family of Osman Toçi in the village of Urxallë in the district of Mat, gave birth to their first child, who was baptized in the name of his grandfather, Shahin. Although in a bad economic situation, Osman Toçi took care of the education of his son hinahin, who received his first lessons in the village of Derjan. The teacher of that village, Rapush Stringa from Elbasan, seeing hinahin’s skills from an early age, began to take care of him and keep him closer and closer, doing a differentiated job with him, as he differed from other peers. After finishing his studies in the village of Derjan, with the help of some of his friends, Osman Toçi was able to arrange Shahin to continue his further studies at the Royal School of Officers in Tirana. Seeing Shahin’s progress in that school where he finished with high results, the directorate recommended him to the Ministry of Education, to receive a state scholarship, to continue his higher studies abroad. Hinahin’s desire as a young man was for him to become a military man, so he chose to continue one of the military academies in Italy. After graduating from military school, as a result of the late arrival of the Italian Government’s response to the right to study, Shahini lost one school year. That year he did not return to his native village in Urxallë i Matit, but stayed in Tirana, working in various jobs, to make a living and waiting to leave for Italy, where the dream would come true. it’s to become military.
At the Military Academy of Rome
In September 1935, riding in an old Italian steamer, Shahin Toçi, together with many other friends from the high school of Tirana, but also from other districts of the country, left Durrës and left for Italy, where he would study for four years at the Royal Military Academy of Rome. In that academy, where several other Albanian students were enrolled, Shahin Toçi was assigned to the Cavalry weapon, Finance branch. In the four years of study at that academy, Shahini was distinguished as one of the most regular students and at the end of it, he received a diploma with very high results. After graduating in 1938, he returned to Albania and the National Defense Command, led by General Xhemal Aranitasi, seeing his high results, assigned him to work for that Command, in the branch of Finance. In his new position, Shahini did not manage to work for more than two weeks, because the heads of the General Command of the Albanian Army thought that he would go back to Rome, to continue a specialization at the senior level… A few days before leaving for Italy, hinahin’s father, Osmani, gathered at a large lunch at his home in Urxalla, all friends and relatives on the occasion of escorting the boy to Italy. During the four years that Shahini studied in Italy, he gained a high level of preparation both in military terms and in general training. He carefully studied the entire policy of the Italian state, towards Albania and the attitude of the great states around it. Based on the information he had from the constant press and news coverage of relations between the two countries (Albania and Italy), he told his fellow villagers and friends who had gone to follow him: “Based on the information I have, Italy will invade Albania. This could have happened quickly, perhaps without me returning from Italy. “Our duty as patriots is to rule the country.”
The first incident in Rome
After the invasion that Italy made of Albania, on April 7, 1939, the official Italian diplomacy and propaganda, with all the means and means at its disposal, tried and worked to present it, not as an invasion, but as if it had been asked by the Albanians, as help. from the great backwardness. Based on this, the Italian Government and the Ministry of War, at the end of the school year 1938 – ‘39, had introduced in the curricula of the Military Academies and Colleges of Rome, Modena, Turin, and Naples, the military oath ceremony. This was done because in these academies and colleges, studied a large number of Albanian students, where their number reached about 365 cadets, and all of them would gather in Rome, where they had to swear in the presence of the authorities high-ranking fascists of the country, the diplomatic corps, and a large number of local and foreign journalists who covered those events. By taking this oath, the Albanian military students in front of the Italian flag, in a way, automatically approved of their invasion of Albania, which had its full effect, as stated by the Italian propaganda. Based on this, the Italian Ministry of War began the first preparations for the swearing-in ceremony, in the presence of many high Italian and foreign authorities, who were in Italy. In the great “Victoria” square of Rome, where the military oath ceremony would take place in the presence of high military authorities and under the direction of the Undersecretary of State for War Problems, General Alberto Periani, military cadres among them and that of the Albanians, would approach the rostrum where the large Italian flag was placed and there the reading of the oath formula would begin. A large number of journalists and diplomats from the diplomatic corps accredited in Italy at that time were also invited to this general rehearsal. Looking at the squares of the military, General Parian could not help but notice the uniform of Shahin Toçi, who was dressed in that of the Albanian military. As soon as the squad where he belonged and Shahin Toçi approached near the tribune, according to the orders they stopped them and General Pariani immediately approached the Albanian quadrant and addressed the 22-year-old boy from Albania, saying: “What is it? this uniform, and who ordered you to wear it?” With the typical pride of an Albanian, Shahin Toçi immediately responded to the general directing the rehearsals of the swearing-in ceremony, saying: “I am Albanian and this is our uniform.” This greatly irritated the fascist general, but as an old military man, he kept his composure so as not to cause any serious incident that would take on political colors and passed it quietly. After that, seeing the unfavorable situation for the further development of the ceremony rehearsals, the Italian authorities ordered the dispersal of the military cadres, who entered their barracks. From that moment on, Shahini was “surrounded” by the secret services and SIM agents.
May 26, 1939, the failure of the oath!
Seeing the situation in which they were, to realize their plans with the Albanian military students, by the authorities of the Italian Ministry of War, it was considered reasonable to postpone the swearing-in ceremony until May 26. In order to eliminate any surprises and any possible incidents, such as the case of Shahin Toçi with General Parian, the Ministry of War decided to work by all means and means to make May 26 a success. Thus, the Italian secret services and those of the army (SIMI) were used, with promises and pressures, to make impossible any similar incident. On their part, Albanian elements were found and used within the military students themselves, who reported on everything that was done between them and who were the main organizers who propagated the boycott of the military oath in front of the Italian flag. For the most disobedient Albanian students who had full information that they would not swear, another path was followed, notifying the competent Albanian-Italian authorities in Albania, who sent people to their families, putting pressure on them., so that their sons would not object to taking the military oath in front of the Italian flag. Shahin’s father, Osman Toçi, replied to them: “I once told my son where the borders of Albania fall and who the Albanian flag is.” Although the situation for taking the oath on the appointed date, May 26, was not optimal for the Italian authorities, they decided it, knowing full well that out of about 300 Albanians who would take the oath, 13 of them had made public statements. in writing, refusing the oath. One of the main organizers of this statement was Shahin Toçi, followed by two other officers, Reshit Çollaku and Shaban Strazimiri. After them, came the students: Hamit Keçi, Veledin Musaraj, Asim Zeneli, Elez Braha, Skënder Çaçi, Spiro Shalësi, Qazim Kapizyzi, Hajrulla Ishmi, Ilia Naska. Thus, on May 26, the pre-determined day of the oath, in front of dozens of military cadres in the “Victoria” square of Rome, stood the high Italian fascist military authorities and other guests. After the Italian general and the command, to approach the tribune where the Italian flag was standing and repeated the oath formula, Shahin Toçi, came out of the line and approached the tribune. He addressed the general, saying, “I came here in Italy to study, not to take the oath in front of your flag.” After that, the Italian authorities gave the order for the distribution of the Albanian student military cadre, where for them, other methods of “persuasion” would be found.
The mysterious murder of Shahin Toçi in his room!
Seeing Shahin Toçi as one of the main serious obstacles, as he was the organizer of the Albanian students not to take the military oath, the Italian secret services (OVRA) and the military (SIM), organized his physical elimination, the next day of the ceremony. failed oath. Thus, on the morning of May 28, 1939, in Trastevere Street no. 45, was found killed in his room, 22-year-old military student from Mati, Shahin Toçi, who had two months left to complete his postgraduate specialization at the Military Academy of the Italian capital. Immediately after that event that morning, the Italian authorities, declared that they were dealing with a premeditated suicide, or simply accidental. The Italian police also stressed that: no matter how the investigation process went, this event would be solved in the end. But according to the testimony of hinahin’s former friends, who were studying with him in Rome at the time, the news of his murder was heard by the news agencies of London, Paris and Warsaw. In that news, it was emphasized that Shahin Toçi was killed by the Italian secret police and that his murder had a political character. After this event, many Albanian military students gathered and started protesting, demanding the clarification of the event and its true version. They demanded that his body be buried with honors and military ceremonies, but their request was not considered by the Academy Command and Shahin’s body was buried secretly and without the knowledge of his colleagues. After numerous protests, one of his closest friends, Mark Arapi (military student), very secretly paid a lot of money to one of the dormitory maids and asked her to take an interest and tell the truth about of that event. A few days later, she told Mark and hinahin’s other friends that they (the Italians) had killed him, but the killers were unknown to her. At the same time, Shahin Toçi’s colleagues discovered the name of another Albanian student who had collaborated to eliminate him. Although his friends discovered the truth of his murder (with several bullets in the head and body) they could do nothing but protest. Two months after the assassination of Shahin Toçi, the Italian authorities brought to the port of Durrës, through three Italian officers, his personal belongings, as well as the clothes which were packed in a total of 8 suitcases. They handed him over with a proper protocol to his father Uthman, who had come out to meet them. At that moment, one of the three officers (who was of Calabrian origin) approaches Osman and confidentially declares “I know you are in pain, but be proud, that your son did not bow down but gave his life, the heart of fascism. ” Shortly afterwards, hinahin’s father was approached by a second officer, who asked him to complete and sign some documents, explaining that they would then be sent to Rome and through them, the Italian government would contact his family. his, a substantial pension. But Osmani, very blunt, said to the Italian officers: “Thank you, but I cannot accept that pension, as it seems I want to eat my son’s blood. The only thing I am asking you is to tell me the truth of his murder. ” The three Italian soldiers were surprised and declared to him that they had no knowledge of his murder and their mission was only to bring those things to Albania.
Why did Shahin’s bones not come to Albania?
During the communist regime, Shahin Toçi’s family and relatives made several requests for the Albanian government to do something about bringing their son’s remains from Italy. Although Shahini was the second ‘Martyr of the Fatherland’, whom the communist regime officially recognized and proclaimed after Mujo Ulqinaku, he did nothing to bring his remains from Italian soil. Even after 1990, Shahin Toçi’s family repeated their request to send his remains to Albania, but nothing was achieved by the Albanian government. In 1993, hinahin’s nephew (who bore his name) went to Italy privately and after many months of searching, finally located the remains of his uncle who was killed five and a half decades ago. They were located in the cemetery of ‘Verona’, ‘General Camp no. 1, Muslim ward, grave no. 16’. Confirmation of his identity was made with the help of the general director of the military cemetery, Placido Cappodiferra. After a great deal of work done at that time by the Albanian consul, Jozef Zamputi, who was associated with the National Directorate of Cemeteries in Italy, it was managed to become a precaution for bringing his remains to Albania, where in 1994 Shahin Toçi I was awarded the “Order of the Flag” of the first class. But unfortunately, due to bureaucracy this work was not resolved. Even after this failed attempt, Shahin’s family and his nephew did not give up trying to bring the bones. They managed to communicate with the International Directorate of the Past, which through an official letter, informed the Albanian embassy in Rome: “While waiting for an announcement and review of the license plate that will come to the ‘Verona’ cemetery of To Rome, to carry out the transport, we give you the best greetings “. Rome, 4 May 1994. Even after this announcement, the autofunnel car did not appear in the ‘Verona’ cemetery in Rome. Thus, even for several years, the remains of the martyr Shahin Toçi, secretly executed by the fascist (Italian) secret service in the distant year 1939, remained again on that plot, as if to show visitors that he ‘was the man who, in the culmination of Mussolini’s fascist regime, in my heart in Rome, would raise the dignity of his country, Albania ‘.
The arrival of the bones in Albania, on March 26, 2011
The two brothers Shahin and Osman Toçi, dedicated themselves to the maximum until they realized their goal of returning home the remains of their uncle. Shahin Toçi, who bears the name of his uncle, “Martyr of the Fatherland”, devoted himself and set a goal for himself to find at any cost and bring home the bones of his uncle. And he achieved that goal. Thus, on March 26, 2011, the remains of Shahin Toçi arrived in Albania, where a magnificent ceremony was organized in the district of Mat, with the participation of senior state figures from the Ministry of Defense, etc., where his family members, from the relevant bodies, was awarded the “Gold Eagle Medal”, which was awarded by the President of the Republic, Alfred Moisiu. /Memorie.al