By Hysen Selmani
The twelfth part
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
“The Commander of the National Defense, General Xhemal Aranitasi, the Chairman of the General Staff, General Gustav Myrdash and the Chief of Staff, Colonel Sami Koka and Baron Kishner, and as assistant to the Commander of the Army, Colonel Shefki Shatku, according to the orders given by time. I am confirming to you once again that, all the responsibility of the non-fulfillment and implementation of the defense of the Motherland, you are responsible and you have given me all the assurances of fulfillment, in terms of the presented plan, and this is enough for the lines of money. So, until now, put yourself in charge of the task and have all the shortages filled, because time does not wait. And you must know yourself, that you are at war and now nothing prevents you, for any military movement and mobilization, that what hindered us before was the fact that we should not be noticed by our ally Italy.
Today, she is determined to attack us militarily, so you are put in charge of the sacred duty that belongs to you for the defense of the Motherland, not allowing the violation of our land, without blood. We know, like the rest of the world, that our Army, unarmed and small, against a great colossal power, about 50 times bigger than ours, armed with the most modern weapons, we cannot stop it. But let the whole world know that the Albanian does not humble himself for his rights, but dies with honor. And I assure you that: the pure blood of our soldier is there to ensure the independence of the State itself, with full honesty and respect, in front of the civilized world. And the responsibility is on you, and there is no excuse, we must be ready to do the job right now, because time does not wait now. You in charge of the National Army, put yourself in charge of the sacred task and I shake your hand, telling you, may God be with our brave Army”.
After that, the commanders immediately came out. This was the speech before the National Assembly, of His Majesty. After the commanders came out, the King, going upstairs for a few minutes, left the meeting to talk. What was expected was some news from the commander of the National Defense, on the completion of some centers that have not yet been completed, since generally, they were ordered to be organized in certain bases, the adjutant recalls.
National Assembly 12 o’clock in the evening
After King Zog came out, the assembly took into consideration the matter of Her Majesty, the sick Queen, and the Crown Prince, who had not yet reached the age of 30, as to how they should be placed in a safe and convenient place. Also, and as soon as possible, to get out of Tirana, recalls the adjutant.
“Discussing and since the North-Eastern Areas are no longer suitable from the Yugoslav suspicions, as I take Shkodra and Homeshi as a basis, these were left only in the South. And, as for the South, it was considered more reasonable in every point of view, where the center of the Government would also be located in those areas, Korça. This was the safest place, for the placement of Her Majesty the Queen, the Crown Prince. So, this was seen as the most right. After beating the thoughts, studied point by point the possibilities and eventual events that may arise, it was deemed most appropriate, Korça and its provinces, and thus unanimously, the meeting of the National Assembly, decided that today, Her Majesty the Queen, with the Crown Prince, depart from Tirana to Korça”.
Zog I, the King of the Albanians, entered the general meeting of the National Assembly, at 12 o’clock at night on April 6, 1939. But as soon as he sat down, the Speaker of the Parliament, Pandeli Evangjeli, on behalf of the National Assembly, presented the decision thus taken : “Your Majesty, the Parliament and the Government together, taking into account the eventual events that may occur to us minute by minute, for the interest of the Motherland and the honor of the good Albanians, and to be free in the actions that the Motherland asks of us , decided that: Her Majesty, the Queen, together with the Crown Prince, as of today, will leave Tirana for Korça, that place was designated as the most suitable”.
The King initially refuses to let the Queen and Prince Leka leave. “She will suffer the same as all other Albanian families, whose sons will be killed. Now let’s look at the duty of the homeland”, he says. But, after a while, Mehdi Frashëri takes the floor and after him, Pandeli Evangjeli. He explains to the King that measures must be taken so that he too must leave, because the reality is difficult. “All the wishes and prayers of all these others are mine, because I am old. Well, give me your word that you accept the decision of the People’s Representatives, that I will not sit down without taking your word. Because this decision, it is not taken for granted, but the interests of the nation are connected with them historically”, says Pandeli Evangjeli. But in Tirana, morning has dawned. On April 7, 1939 at 4 o’clock in the morning, the Queen and the Crown Prince left Tirana for Korçë, with the direction to: Krrabë, Elbasan, Librazhd, Qafë-Thane and Pogradec and Korçë. The Queen greeted Prime Minister Kotta, as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekrem Libohova and Colonel Hysen Selman and departed. Meanwhile, an hour later, the Italian fleet entered Saranda, Vlora, Durrës and Shengjin. From the first reports, as expected, there are only a few forces protecting the ports Lamtumire Albania.
Tirana, April 7, 1939 – 10.30 am
Zogu I, the King of the Albanians, at this hour went to the Radio-Tirana station and directed the Albanians and the whole world, a call and support, against fascist Italy, noting that; its large forces and the most modern weapons for sea, air and land, attacked Albania, where it is fighting without weapons and completely isolated from the world. After King Zog’s message, Mehdi Frashëri also spoke on the radio, letting the world understand that Fascist Italy, armed with the most modern weapons, attacked small, unarmed Albania and a member of the League of Nations. from sea, land and 300 planes, maneuver over Albanian cities, bombing a small and unarmed state!
Tirana, April 7, 1939 – 7 p.m
At this time, the Parliament, studying the situation well, as well as the silence of the protests, decided to withdraw from Tirana, to the provinces of Korça. This is because the first decision taken for Shkodër and Homesh was canceled by Yugoslavia’s behavior, which was very harmful. This led to the support of fascism propaganda by any means. Not for anything else, except that today for our evil and, tomorrow for the blackness of Yugoslavia, they don’t allow us. Since now, they have started circulating propaganda that; Shkodra will be occupied by the Yugoslavs, which was given to them as a reward from fascism. Also, fascism in all parts of the world announced that; in Albania, a large uprising has broken out against the government, they are desperately seeking the intervention of the Italian army.
After all these. The Parliament together with the Council of State, at 7 o’clock in the evening, as soon as it got dark, they left for Pogradec, in the direction of Krrabë – Elbasan – Librazhd – Qafë-Thane – Pogradec, one by one, they would stay there, having with them and an R.3 radio station, to connect with the government, and measures were taken to secure them and the country. King Zog, together with the Government, is still in Tirana. It is 8 o’clock in the evening and he was trying, brainstorming every way, with the commanders, to make a lesson from the reserve, since the enemy is too scared. He does not progress and is systematized at the height of Shijak. In Vorë, Prezë, Yzberisht, Valijas, our small forces are still located, while the Kreshniks have not yet approached. Whereas now, there is a great propaganda going on everywhere.
King Zog, however, made many attempts both near the Anglo-French and near Turkey, Greece and Yugoslavia, because he did not want to leave the country without a strong fight. And then, he was determined to continue the war in the foothills of the Albanian mountains for 6 months, because he was fully convinced that the European war would not pass the year, so he was determined that the general war had entered in Albania. But unfortunately, they advised him to leave Albania, because events that are not beneficial for Albania may be caused.
Tirana, April 7-8, 1939
The Commander of the National Defense, General Xhemal Aranitasi, Chief of Staff, General Gustav Myrdash, Commander of the Gendarmerie, Colonel Shefki Shatku, at 1 o’clock after midnight, appeared before His Majesty, Zog I, King of the Albanians. They submitted that: not that there is no possibility, for even a small preparation, but a counter-teaching, it is impossible. “Now, they don’t give any answer to the area commanders. Apart from Colonel Ali Riza, now after the incident in Gjirokastra, he has retreated to the gorges of Këlcyra, but only with the company of the Border Guard, under captain Dod Nikolla, while captain Haxhi Xhilaga, with the two companies of the course, has retreated to Gjirokastër.
They submitted to the King: “Your Majesty, now please withdraw from Tirana, because your Majesty, as well as the Government, that there is no reason to stay here, lest we suffer some useless event.”
The commanders, when presenting to the King this newly caused, very critical situation, were extremely worried and shocked. King Zog immediately ordered them to present these events in detail to the Government and together, both the Government and the commanders, come to the palace. This will discuss the removal as well as the method of withdrawal. Of course, leaving a power in the capital, so that the capital does not fall into their hands before a week, while the commanders submitted that: “We will study this, but without fruit, because the Italian motor forces are now approaching Vora and marching on Rrogozhin, that we are not well and in no way, the recreated situation does not allow us to take a measure, according to Your Majesty’s wish”. Immediately, they then went to the Prime Minister.
On this date, at 2 o’clock after midnight, the Government and the commanders gathered in the Palace, after they were engaged in detailed discussions. According to the commanders, they made the decision to retreat to Elbasan and later to Librazhd and Pogradec. In the latter, the Parliament was also located, together with the Council of State. Security measures were immediately taken on the Peqin-Elbasan Road, for any eventuality, while the great propaganda, hour by hour, which was being developed by Italy and Yugoslavia, allegedly that a very large uprising had broken out in Albania, and Italian forces were requested, enter Albania to stabilize the peace of the country. After this decision, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, His Majesty, King Zog, the Royal Government and the Command, vacated the capital of Tirana and left for Elbasan, Librazhd, Qafë-Thane. The king did not stay in Elbasan, but in Rrajcë – Librazhdi area and Qafë – Thane, he stayed for several hours. From Qafë-Thana, he ordered the command to connect with Tirana, Krraba, Bejlika and eventually with other countries, but it was not possible, because it seemed that the telephone lines were cut by Italian-Yugoslav agents.
From 10 o’clock on April 8, 1939, he arrived in Pogradec together with the Government. As mentioned, the Parliament was also located there. The King immediately ordered the Commanders there to contact Tirana, Shkodra, Burrel, Dibra, Kukës, Beljika, Elbasan and Këlcyra, by means of radio R.3, while he sent the Prime Minister, together with Colonel Hysen Selman, to Korça, to possible contact with the Greek Prime Minister, Metaksai, through the Greek Consul, in Korça.
The Greek government, very scared, not that they did not respond to our requests, for a help of weapons, but with persistence, they insisted that within 10 hours, we will close the border, from a very harsh Italian note, and other things that in no way from the Greeks, nothing was expected. Then, we went to the Prefecture. The Prefect, Vili Vasjari, was there. The tranquility of Korça was good, although there were no gendarmes.
But immediately, we ordered Colonel Preng Pervizi, that with the Garrison of Korça, as well as the Battalion of Border Instruction, which had not gone to Këlcyra, we put them at the disposal of the Prefect and returned to Pogradec. There, of course, the Government together with the Parliament, under the chairmanship of King Zog, were talking, beating all the problems. Prime Minister Kotta presented what he talked about with Athens, as well as the situation in Korça, the King said: “This does not surprise us, that we have understood in time, that since I saw the talks I had with the representatives of the big states, how It was proved to Great Britain, France and the United States of America that Mussolini had been given a free hand in Albania.
This, not only from his ally, Hitler, but indirectly, also from the democratic world. Because the latter, they hoped that with such an attitude, they would be saved from a general war. Unfortunately, the examples of Austria and Czechoslovakia, since they were not enough, to understand that the goal of the coup: Berlin-Rome, was the predominance of the entire Europe and in this direction, the occupation of Albania, was not presented as an enlargement, for Fascist Italy. But rather, it was worth as a bridge-head of lessons, against the Balkan states”.
At the same time, two points clearly proved Mussolini’s intention: first, when the fascist army was gathering in Brindisi and Bari, Mussolini tried with various promises to convince King Zog to accept his conditions, second, Yugoslavia and Greece, threatened by Nazi-fascism, was scared, and with the hope of salvation, gave free rein to fascism in Albania, letting them understand at the same time, the Albanian Government, that they did not see its attitude against Italy with good eyes. And they were constrained not to allow any warlike movement near their border.
Albania, therefore, not only had no hope of material support, but also lacked any moral help from its neighbors. As it has been mentioned before that the plan of Zog, the King of the Albanians, was to continue the resistance against the fascist powers, at least for six months. But, having no hope of support, which was rejected by the Great Powers and Albania’s neighbors, this plan failed. King Zog tried until the last minute to convince these countries, at least, not to indirectly hinder the Albanian resistance, when the Duce’s airplanes bombed the ports of Albania, flying no higher than 100 meters above houses of Albanian cities. The states of the Balkans were watching and did not answer us.
Pogradec, April 8, 1989, 5 p.m
On this date, at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, based on the above-mentioned difficult situation, the Parliament together with the Government, gathered in the form of an assembly, studying in detail the circumstances, both external and internal, after a discussion long, judging it in general, it was seen that any military action would not bring any benefit, on the contrary, it could cause damage. He decided, for the second time, wearing His Majesty, the First Zog, with all the constitutional powers, to act, both inside and outside Albania, together with the Government, to freely and as best as possible protect the rights and the interests of the Nation.
Prime Minister Kotta, on behalf of the Royal Government, as well as the Speaker of the Parliament, Hiqmet Delvina, with a delegation of deputies, on behalf of the Parliament, went and presented to King Zog, the decision of the National Assembly, which was taken in relation to the events of the day, whether from foreign countries, as well as the internal situation. “Seeing that every action does not lead to any action, based on the facts, he decided to leave the Albanian state”.
King Zog was very upset and was still pressuring the commanders in every way to communicate with the troops in the first areas. No matter how few, they must be withdrawn to the second lines, previously designated, such as in: Vithkuq, Kukës, Martanesh, Qafë-Murrë, Neshët and Pukë, and in these mountain centers, with the few weapons and ammunition, he he expected them to be assigned to groups of small detachments, that even the war against the fascist occupier, does not stop, as well as their movements, are easy, convenient, and so on, he did not accept the decision of the National Assembly.
The commanders did their best to contact the Zone Command, but they did not respond, finally it was announced that the III Group in Shkodër, with all its forces, has crossed the border and entered Yugoslavia, in Podgorica, yes as well as a large part of the Kreshniks and officers, have entered Yugoslavia, such as: Major Murat Kaloshi, and many others. Likewise, Major Abaz Kupi, Murat Basha, Hamza Drini, with 400 officers, went to Dibër te Madhe, while the area in Bejlik of Elbasan, as well as Berati, did not respond. Only Colonel Ali Rizaja, retreating to Grykat e Këlcyra and Captain Ali Xhilaga, entered Gjirokastër.
This was presented to the King and the commanders; they saw no way to fulfill the King’s wishes. Even the Minister of the Interior has lost contact with some Prefects and now, he is not at all satisfied with the internal peace. Likewise, in the districts of Vlora, Berat Prefecture, Elbasan and Shkodra, no one answers. Now there remains that of Kukës, Dibra and Korça. Likewise, the Yugoslav propaganda is very widespread everywhere and tries to create an uprising in some places in Albania, to prove what the Italian Government did without measure, in front of the world, slandering that; in Albania, a great revolution has broken out, they demand the destruction of the Italian army, etc.
King Zogu I once again gathered the commanders, as well as the Minister of the Interior, to call some people by name and charge them to form some detachments in the mountains, because their influence, in the people, has to do a lot. “My goal is – said the King – not to end the war against the occupier, with small detachments, however small. I am fully convinced that the general European war will not pass the year. Thus, we should have several combat centers in the mountains of Albania, so that at that time they will be connected with those states that will eventually be at war”.
But, neither the commanders, nor the Minister of the Interior, had any hope on such an activity. The Government, together with the Parliament, submitted to the King, pointing out, even recreated events, which did not agree at all with the interests of the Motherland. “Your Majesty, you must accept the decisions of the National Assembly, that every hour is getting worse from enemy propaganda” they told the King. /Memorie.al
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