Faik Bey Konitza:
Faïk bey Konitza (1875-1942) was one of the great figures of Albanian intellectual culture in the early decades of the twentieth century. [see in this collection: Konitza 1899]. In the summer of 1926, the dictator Ahmet Zogu (1895-1961) appointed him as head of the Albanian legation to the United States, a post he held until the Italian invasion of his country in April 1939. In this letter to the editor of the “The New York Times”, published on 18 June 1939, Konitza explains to readers his view on the events of Easter 1939.
Albania’s Position – Italy’s Stand on Personal Union Questioned
Letter to the Editor of the New York Times
May I express my sincere thanks for your appropriate use of quotation marks in a recent dispatch from your Rome correspondent? It is said there that “the Albanian armed forces asked to be incorporated with the Italian forces.” Both in this text and in the headlines, you put the word “asked” in quotation marks—a punctuation sign which has never been used more to the point.
Let us take the question of the Albanian resistance. The Italians, in their hopeless desire to make the world believe that they were not aggressors but friends called in by the people for help, assert that there was no resistance at all. The Albanians, on the other hand, reckon that there were about 12,000 Italians killed, and the Greeks, as close neighbors and observers, agree.
Let us, however, dismiss these figures as exaggerated by emotion. I have in
hand letters from disinterested, neutral foreigners who happened to be in Durazzo at the time at the Italian aggression. They put the number of Italian soldiers killed in Durazzo alone at a minimum of 1,000. But the Italians declare that there were only twenty-five Italian soldiers killed in the whole of Albania, and this, we are told, was done by “bandits,” although there were 300 young Albanian students, almost all killed, among those resisting the invaders.
Let us for argument’s sake accept this Italian figure, but we are entitled to some conclusions. As the landing took place at four points, there must have been an average of six killed at each point, and as it is known beyond doubt that the Italians were several times compelled to run back to their ships, we may fairly assume that each time one soldier was killed, the rest took flight.
Italian invasion of Durrës, April 1939
Second, a few remarks about this question of a Personal Union, which is supposed to be the status of Albania with regard to Italy.
In a recent book, of scientific value, by two German scholars, “Hilfswörterbuch für Historiker” by Harberkern and Wallach, Berlin, 1935, the Personal Union is defined as the union between two states which have no constitutional features in common, except the person of the sovereign. The best historic example of a Personal Union is that of Great Britain with Hanover.
In contradiction to the Personal Union, the Real Union is the union between two states which have certain constitutional features and certain authorities in common, without impairing the respective sovereignty of the two partners. The best historical example of a Real Union is that of Austria with Hungary.
German thoroughness is at fault in the failure of the two authors to mention a third type of union, known in legal history as the Incorporate Union. Britain and Ireland had the Incorporate Union from 1801 to 1920. The Incorporate Union is just short of outright annexation.
Incorporate Union Seen
It will be seen by this that Italy, by maintaining an army in Albania, by imposing fascism on the Albanians, by making the teaching of Italian compulsory, by suppressing the sound gold currency of Albania, by doing away with Albanian customs barriers, to name only a few points, not only has destroyed the Personal Union before it was born, but has not even replaced it by a Real Union. What we have is nothing else than an Incorporate Union.
Previous to the Personal Union with Hanover, the English, from 1603 to 1714, had a Personal Union with Scotland. When in 1603 James VI, King of Scots, became King of England, he became James I as English King, while remaining James VI as Scottish King. If Italy meant to have a sincere Personal Union with Albania, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy ought to have been proclaimed as Victor Emmanuel I of Albania. The two first Victor Emmanuels were not Albanian Kings. But why should violators of obvious rights have any regard for legal niceties?
Albanian Legation, Washington, June 12, 1939
[Published in the New York Times, New York, 18 June 1939]