By Hysen Selmani
The twentieth 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
Istanbul, June 1, 1940
Germany, on June 1, 1940, with great speed and fury, taught Holland and Belgium, Luxembourg and France. The war becomes very fierce, where the German army completely occupied Holland and part of Belgium. They march at a rapid pace against France, and as it is proved, the German weapons, in aviation and engines, are far superior to those of France.
At this moment, Colonel Husein Selmani was talking with the French military attache in Istanbul, about the organization of the Albanian legions, as well as about some informational bases on the Albanian-Yugoslav border. The French command had liked and accepted the proposal that had been made. Together with the French military attache, Colonel Husein Selmani, he was discussing whether the authorization would come from Paris and how it would be done, in order to immediately implement it.
Colonel Husein Selmani was very happy with this job. Yes, he was just waiting for the authorization of His Majesty, King Zog I. The same report was presented to him with an overview that included a division of Albanian soldiers, as well as 4 free centers, on the Yugoslav-Albanian border. Of course, the cost of transporting personnel, some from Albania, Yugoslavia, Turkey based in Syria, was also foreseen. There was also a large part from the Albanian colony of Turkey, officers and soldiers. This report was also signed by Colonel Selman and the French military attaché, as well as that of King Zog, as well as that of the French Command.
On June 3, 1940, Colonel Husein Selmani, with Captain Avni Deralla and Lieutenant Faik Elmaz, went to the French military attaché, as they had left him, to discuss the formation of the cadres of the Albanian division. They would also talk about the centers around the Albanian-Yugoslav border, as well as the authorization of the command.
“The French representative had come. But we can see that he was so upset and shocked that he couldn’t even give me any answer.” Colonel Selmani remembers the words he said to the Frenchman: “What is it, Colonel? I don’t see you well. Do you have any unfavorable news”?
He answered you, Colonel Selman: “Oh, my friend. France is coming to an end. The war is going very badly, for the German arms, both in air and motor, are far superior to those of France. We had better leave the talks for today, that I’m not well at all”. In this way, we left the conversation for another day. But I did not miss it and sent a cipher telegram to the King in Paris, at our Legation.
King Zog conveys to Paris with concern the dire situation of France. For this reason, he insistently seeks in Istanbul, his Prime Minister Koço Kotta, who has not responded to him for three days. It is June 7, 1940, when the time comes for the attack on France by Italy and Germany. The French military consul has long sought cooperation in Istanbul and will talk with the Albanian representatives. It seems that the French cannot afford the war. Meanwhile, secret talks have begun for an armistice between France and Germany.
The latter has started bombing with a great frenzy in London and all British countries. And, indeed, German planes do a lot of damage in London. “But the English are not surprised at all, they are sure of their victory,” says the adjutant. Together with them, the war has started in Africa and with some French Armies. They fight together in Syria, Algeria, Morocco, Senegal. The Italian army has been reinforced against Greece in Albania, in this line: Belshi, Voskopojë, Vaskop, Selenica, Borovo, Vithkuq, Këlcyre, Delvinë, Përmet, as well as a militia brigade, under the command of Hazis Çami in Delvinë. Wars show the souls of peoples.
The situation in Paris becomes ever more uncertain and the King contemplates his new move. He is in constant contact with his government, telling her that he is looking for Prime Minister Kotte in Paris to discuss the future. Meanwhile, the situation for France is tragic. She is terrified of the invasion of her country by Germany. And indeed, on June 12, Italy declared war on France and England.
Meanwhile, small Albania declares war on Italy for the second time. The Albanian king, seeing the chaotic situation in France, thinks of going to Great Britain and finally settles there on June 22. In Europe, the situation is dire. France, unexpectedly, gives up territory, while England is being bombarded in every way by the fascists. However, England resists and is the only example of real efforts against fascism. On the Italian-Greek front, in the Albanian territory, the fascist troops are ready to attack.
Istanbul, June 7, 1940
His Majesty King Zog sent a telegram to Colonel Hussein Salman, saying: “I have received the telegram you sent me by the Legation. Proceed, but as you have been proceeding. Instructions will come to you by letter, by of a special person. The situation here is very worried and I haven’t received any news from Prime Minister Kotta, neither a telegram nor a letter, for three days now. I looked for him on the phone, but I couldn’t find him. It seems he has changed address. He needs to leave for France as soon as possible.
In, is that you know the new address, telegraphically notify me to get in touch with him, because the time is not prêt. He needs, as soon as possible, to come here, or return to Istanbul. As you can see, now the signs of Italy and the Mediterranean (Mediterranean) are visible, it is not so easy to cross by steamboat. This is because Greek steamships no longer travel to France without touching in Italy. So only Egypt, Algeria and France are traveled. Prime Minister Kotta has had a very difficult transition for France and the Greek Government, the talks are not over yet. However, the journey is difficult.”
As soon as I received the latest reports with new news, I sent Lieutenant Faik Elmaz to the French military attache, the adjutant recalls. “It was very necessary to have a conversation about the recreated situation in Albania, where the French colonel is very shocked. But, on the other hand, Colonel Selmani had told him to order. We went together with Captain Avni Deralla. And he welcomed us well, but he was very upset. The first thing he said to me was, ‘I have not yet received the answer to the telegram I sent. That means they are not in Paris. For the war is going very badly for France, and it is said that passed or fought in Sedane’ and went to tears like a child'”.
“I,” says Colonel Selmani, told him “No, my friend. France is not occupied so easily because Germany and France know each other well. Don’t let this bother you and don’t forget that next to France, there are also Anglo “Sanctions”. That was a dare, he says – and with that, we left, but we were very upset.
Istanbul, June 12, 1940
“The Anglo-French and Italian War: Today, June 12, 1940, Fascist Italy declared war on France and Great Britain and immediately annexed Corsica, the French border. At this time, France was reeling from heavy German attacks. Where did it find this time of fascism?! France feels itself very weak (fragile) before the German heavy weapons. The reason is, it feels alone, since Holland and Belgium were quickly occupied as well. Great Britain, too, is still not in a position to pour a great army in France, and today all this storm, will remain on France’s back. ‘God help them against these dictators.’
On this day, the French military attaché calls Colonel Hussein Selman and says: can you come to talk for a while? Colonel Selmani answered positively. And immediately it went. The Frenchman was waiting for him on foot and was “so shocked that he didn’t know what to say,” the adjutant recalled. He replied that: “My friend, the war is going very badly. The German troops are marching through the French lands and, as far as the fortifications are concerned, they are completely out of order. The German army has passed through Belgium and then passed Sedan. They are much more superior from France. This time France is really in danger”.
The Albanian Ministerial Council met at the Royal Albanian Legation in “Kunt Palace” in Istanbul and decided to repeat the declaration of war against fascist Italy. She informed the Albanian Royal Legation in Paris of the situation. A copy of the declaration of war on Fascist Italy, for the second time, was presented to the League of Nations in Geneva, as well as to the ambassadors of France and Great Britain in Ankara. Also, the Turkish, Greek, Yugoslav, Egyptian Governments and the Embassy of the United States of America. Although, Albania was at war with Fascist Italy, but still she repeated the request “since now with the Allies, they had nowhere to take cause”, says the adjutant.
Istanbul, June 15, 1940
Colonel Selmani and Minister Asaf Xhaxhuli went together to the Turkish “Dyzem-Biro” (Security Service) in Beyoglu in Istanbul, where they were received by the head of the office, Colonel Emin Akyn. They, with a cordial friendship, immediately asked him about the French situation, how it was going. And he answered, the adjutant remembers:
“France is in danger, because it was not at all prepared, based on its important fortifications. This was not used, because the German armies passed Sedan and the French fortifications remained out of use.” Then, Colonel Emin Akyn, added that: “The German army is nowhere near that obstacle of 1915. They almost march with little opposition. France is now in decline, at least the news we have so far is this. Only in it is a miracle to retreat to Africa. But even Great Britain still does not have a prepared army. It is at the front with France and is retreating under French protection.”
We ask you to ask a question by telegram to the Turkish embassy in Paris about the condition of King Zog I, because the Turkish Embassy was free and also aware of the King, continues the adjutant. “At the same time, we, in our Legation in Paris, had sent him two telegrams, but we had not received any response. Were they not there or was the French censorship prohibiting them? Colonel Emin Akyni, immediately sent a cipher telegram to the attache Turkish military in Paris, asking him about the condition of King Zog I. These were the last words and after that we thanked him. We went out and left him orders, he informed us in our legate”.
Istanbul, June 15, 1940
As soon as we returned to Legate, continues the adjutant – there we found a telegram from Milto Nočka, informing us that King Zog, with his entire Family and Suite, was in Boudou. It looked like he was going to leave for England. Well, this telegram somehow calmed us down.
According to the notebooks, France is almost over, and now a special notebook came out, which said: “Paris was liberated.” It can be seen that the French Government has intervened for a ceasefire near Germany. France fights at Dunkirk and other places, just to give the British army time to land, to cross the English Channel to England. But the German army is bombarding them heavily, with airplanes, damaging them on a large scale. Hopes continued for a resistance, but it was not possible, – continues the adjutant.
It is said that the French Government, with a large part of the army, will withdraw to Africa, Algeria, Morocco, and continue the war to the end. But the German aviation, far superior, did not give him that opportunity to withdraw. A large part of the French army surrendered and there was a great panic throughout France.
The situation is described as follows: France is over, the British are trying to save their forces, which are under German fire, on the banks of the English Channel, Djepe Kale; Italy occupied Corsica and Nice and is marching on Toulon.
Another news that France is surrendering is that Marshal Peten has gone to Germany with some conditions for this agreement. He fled from Spain to France and started talks with the Germans.
“On June 16, 1940, the adjutant recalls – at 10 o’clock in the morning, Colonel Emin Akyni, head of the Turkish secret office, comes to us with the telegram in his hand, which he received from the Turkish military attaché in Paris. Laughing, he tells us: “The King Zog, with the whole family of the suite, have left for England. But as soon as they arrive, they will telegraph you and that’s fine.”
We thanked him heartily for his friendly and noble gesture. We stopped for a small drink. After that, the government ministers came and we introduced him to everyone. After we read you the telegram, the Speaker of the Parliament, Hiqmet Delvina, stood up and in a very brotherly way, thanked the Turkish Government with the President of the Republic at the head, the great man and Turkish hero Ismet Inonue: For standing by us today in front of the whole world, etc. ,… and thanked his friend Colonel Emin Akynin.
After Colonel Emin Akyni left, we started talking about France. This was also for us Albanians, a great disaster. The misfortune was that France had recognized us and that we had entered into actions with her. And now we had to see Great Britain, because America still felt silent. Undoubtedly, she would go to war against Germany, after all, only England remained.
“In the talks that began in the Ministerial Council, on our situation, it must be said that, on the one hand, that Italy entered the war with France and Great Britain, we were happy; but the fall of France, demoralized us, because for us, well, it was a big loss. Anyway, – says the adjutant – we still have a hope that the French who are outside France, such as in Syria, Algeria, Morocco and Senegal and India-China, do not have to recognize the armistice with Germany. They will continue the war, together with Great Britain. And, of course, the United States of America will soon be at war, against Germany. So, the Anglo-Saxons have won the war one hundred percent.”
On June 22, 1940, at 10 o’clock in the morning, Colonel Emin Akyni called us, where he tells us that; King Zog, along with his family and Suite, arrived safely in London. It was installed in the “Ritze” Hotel in London. The Turkish military attache in London telegraphed me about this matter. Where we thanked him and invited him to come to Legate, as a cocktail would be served, for this joyful news.
The minister accredited to the Turkish Republic, Asaf Xhaxhuli, immediately at the Royal Albanian Legation, raised the National Flag and called all the ministers of the Albanian colony in Istanbul. Breaking the news that; His Majesty, King Zog, arrived safely in Great Britain, London. This joy would be celebrated at the Royal Legation.
Immediately all the ministers came, as well as Mehmet Konica and all the others. Likewise, the colony gathered, men and women, inside and outside the Legation. Where a ceremony took place so magnificent that it cannot be described. This, throwing other dances and where all Turkish friends also participated.
Minister Asaf Xhaxhuli, on behalf of the Albanian colony, submitted a telegram of congratulations to His Majesty, King Zog I, pointing out that the entire colony is gathered at the Royal Legation, celebrating the health and happiness of Your Majesty. The Speaker of the Parliament, Hiqmet Delvina, on behalf of the Government, submitted a telegram of congratulations. Memorie.al
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